The Great and The Marvelous Sign

“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest.
And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: and the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.” Revelation 15:1-8 (KJV)

There is a phrase used several times throughout the Revelation which becomes quite obvious after a while. It is the phrase “Inhabitants of earth”. The fullness of God’s wrath is in view upon this group, therefore it is fitting for all who will call upon the Lord, to do so before that day comes, do so by trusting exclusively in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross, believing that He died, was buried, and rose again bodily from the grave, that He ascended unto the Father, and that He is coming again.

Since we have been in an interlude, the Scriptures have three different times which  take us to the brink of the destruction of wickedness in chapters 11, 14, and will again in 16 only to stop and fill in some details until chapter 19 where it happens.

John is shown seven angels, probably different from the others, “Having seven last plagues”. “Last plagues” seem to certainly indicate these events will precede the coming of Jesus in power and glory. In these plagues is the bringing to completion of God’s wrath upon wickedness on the earth.

These “That had gotten victory over the beast…” are probably those who refused the mark, and all the things of the beast, and died by his hand. They are alive.

The “Sea of glass mingled with fire” certainly implies a persecuted people by the trials and fires of the Great Tribulation. There is another “Sea of glass”, but without fire in 4:6.

These, like the 144,000, sing a song. This song is clearly called “the song of Moses”. I mentioned in the previous chapter the possibility that the 144,000 sing the song of Moses from Exodus 15. These in this chapter, most likely, would fit in singing the “Song of Moses from Deuteronomy 32. The 144,000 being delivered physically would fit Exodus 15, while these of our present chapter of Revelation, being delivered by death would be in accord with Deuteronomy 32 because it is a song of God’s vengeance on the wicked persecutors. The “Song of the Lamb” is a song of grace, apart from which no one can be saved. As the Lamb, it speaks of His blood sacrifice; “Without shedding of [His] blood is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22b).

The Lamb of God is worthy of our worship and one day every tribe, and tongue and nation will worship Him. All shall see that He is holy in His judgments, He is righteous in all His assessments. All the earth shall bow at His feet and call Him “Lord”.

I am going to let John Walvoord describe this scene…

“Another vision now introduced by John as a later development constitutes the immediate introduction of the judgments represented in the vials. Our attention is arrested by the phrase ‘I looked and, behold.” This expression always introduces something dramatically new. As John observes, the Holy of Holies in the heavenly Tabernacle is opened. The expression ‘the temple’ (Gr., naos) refers to the inner holy place of the Tabernacle, the design of which God gave to Israel during the wilderness wandering. The expression ‘the tabernacle of the testimony’ is a reference to the whole tentlike structure, a portion of which contained the Holy of Holies. It is described as ‘the tabernacle of the testimony’ because of the presence of the tables of stone containing the ten commandments which were placed in the ark of the testimony in the Holy of Holies (cf. Exodus 32:15; Acts 7:44) and is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament (Exodus 38:21; Num. 1:50, 53; 10:11; 17:7-8; 18:2).” From THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pg. 229 (1966).

It seems quite obvious that this “Temple” is not the Church. It is actually the temple from which God gave the design to Moses for the tabernacle in the wilderness.

John describes these angels as coming out of the temple. It almost seems to be a quiet, hushed, reverent procession.

These angels are clothed in white. These are angels of God. The white represents the righteous character of Holy God, and the justness of His wrath which is about to proceed from the heavenly throne. The golden girdle speaks of justice and righteousness of His wrath. The truth is bound in this golden girdle.

Each of the seven angels holds in their hands one vial of judgment, which seems to be given to them after they proceed out of the temple. God in His holiness will be glorified.

There is never a wrong time to praise and worship the Lord and to thank Him for His mercy and grace.  Those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb always have a song in the heart. Fill your heart and life with Christ Jesus.  Receive His gift of grace paid on the cross for the redemption of the world.

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Earth Dwellers Worship

“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” Revelation 13:1-10 (KJV)

The devil is a showman and desires the attention of mankind, and in this chapter, we will be able to see his mode of entertainment, and his seeming attempt to overthrow the Kingdom of God and His Son, and no matter how vicious it may be, he will come up short.

Some translations of the Bible read, “And he stood” referring to the dragon. It really does no harm to the text to read it either way. If this is a reference to John then he is referring to what he is seeing in the revelation; while, if to the dragon, standing so would place him among the people of earth; them that dwell upon the earth”.

The description given of the beast would imply a great empire. It would be the Roman Empire revived and empowered by the dragon (Revelation 11:7; 17:8). Daniel speaks of these same beasts (Daniel 7:1-8) only he refers to seeing four – the fourth being indescribable. Daniel mentions a lion, a bear, a leopard, and the fourth beast being “Dreadful and terrible”. John sees the leopard, the bear, and the lion; and the fourth must be the dragon.

Let’s look at these as Daniel has them interpreted to him (7:17):

  1. The lion would be Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar the king;
  2. The bear would be Medo-Persia – Darius the king;
  3. The leopard would be the Alexandrian empire – Alexander the Great being the king.

Each of these kingdoms were “Swallowed up” by the one following it. All three of these are swallowed up by the “Indescribable beast” or the Roman empire.

Why are these likened to these beasts? Babylon had majesty and power likened to the lion. The Medo-Persian empire had strength and tenacity like the bear. The Alexandrian empire moved swiftly like the leopard (Daniel 8:5 “…touched not the ground”).

If you will note John sees and writes of these in reverse to Daniel. Daniel is seeing these in the future tense. John is seeing them in the past tense.

The seven heads and ten horns probably refer to the remnants of the Confederacy that formed the Roman empire in the beginning. In Scripture, the horn is symbolic of power. Ten nations of which three were overthrown by the “…little horn” of Daniel 7:8. The ten crowns referring to the symbols of governmental authority. The kings of these confederacies exalted themselves as gods, thus having the “name of blasphemy”.

If we look at this in the light of the other Scriptures the head “…wounded to death” would be one of the Confederacy, probably the Roman empire itself. Since the empire fell many of the confederate nations have risen and fallen silent, but the Roman empire is dead. Of course, the empire is represented by an emperor. For a period of time, the dragon [Satan] will be given the power to deceive. It seems he may even give the appearance of raising an individual from death. It would be so much like him to counterfeit what God has done.

Because of this “resurrection” “…all the world” will follow him. Worship will be directed to the dragon. The dragon giving power to this resurrected beast could be Satan himself possessing this one who has yielded himself to Satan’s will (11:7; 17:8). This individual would probably be the ruler of the revived Roman empire, promising peace to Jerusalem and the world.

It is quite possible that the resurrected beast is a form of government represented by an emperor. The renewed life is the “resurrected” nation able by satanic influence to deceive people and nations.

Here we even see Satan’s counterfeiting the Holy Trinity. The dragon, and he within the anti-christ. The third being the second beast “…out of earth” a messenger of the anti-christ. Antichrist not only means “Against Christ”, but also, “In place of”, or “Instead of”.

This ruler is probably only over the Roman empire until the last three and one-half years of Daniel’s seventieth week. He makes peace with Israel, only to be slain in the midst of the week, raised up in Satan’s power of deceit, then, breaks the covenant with Israel, and becomes the world ruler.

His mouth to speak, is against God and His saints (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), calling himself god, blasphemes the name of God Most High. In this state of satanic power, he is given 42 months to rule (1260 days or 3.5 years).

The dragon’s purpose instilled in the antichrist will be to attack all that is holy and of God (Daniel 7:21). All those on earth “…whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb” will worship the beast. Only those redeemed by the blood of Jesus will not worship this beast. These are those who have been won to Christ by the 144,000 Hebrew witnesses of Revelation 7. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12. They are not exempt from worshiping the beast. They will give their lives (6:11). “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). This is where this verse fits into the interpretation of Scripture.

An appeal, maybe even an invitation or warning is given us in verse nine. Listen up! John appeals for us to hear and heed the awfulness that is about to come upon the earth. Verse 8 is quite clear in showing a great ecumenical peace will come at last. A world religion where all give up their beliefs to join one religion. The worship of Satan.  Some today promote peace at any price.  There can only be peace through the Prince of peace, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice this plea is similar to the ending statements of the letters to the seven churches. The only difference being, this one does not end with “Unto the churches”. This tends to give support to the teaching of the absence of the Church because it has been raptured out at this time.  It is also a word to those who profess Christ as their Savior today, but their lives bear no evidence, no fruit of the Spirit, and no Holy Spirit within (Romans 8:9).  If you are without Christ you could find yourself at this time worshiping the Beast.

Divine retribution is the topic of verse 10. Those who persecute these saints will be tormented likewise. The faith and patience of the saints, of all ages, is in the fact that that “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay’, saith the Lord”.

Trust the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation.  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).

“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:11-18 (KJV)

The first beast (v. 1) is said to come “out of the sea”, cast out from heaven (chapter 12), and from the mass of humanity. “Sand of the sea” is often a reference to a great mass of humanity. This second beast is come “out of the earth”. This seems to imply that this one is simply a man, not possessed by Satan; because two men could not be possessed by Satan himself at the same time. Satan is not omnipresent. The “horns like a lamb” show that he is a man of religion. He will be the leader of the world religion leading people in the worship of the first beast. This one is truly a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, for he speaks “as a dragon”.

He is given power as the first beast and deceives the people into worshiping the dragon. He deceives “with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9), with such intensity that, “if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). We may even now be asking, “Why would God allow such things? The answer which is plausible is only to say, “To bring an end to sin”.

People always want to see the miraculous, but miracles, or at least what appears to be miracles, can only lead to deception, when not tested by faith in Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. The miracles of God point to Him. Some of what seems to be miracles today often point to something or someone other than God.

Some in Jesus’s day asked Him for a sign, and He told them no sign would be given, except the sign of the prophet of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-41), and they did not get it. The Word of God is sufficient enough for those who believe God. The sign of the prophet Jonah, was he came alive out of the belly of the fish, and Jesus was raised alive out of the belly of the earth. The resurrected Jesus is all the proof God needs to generate faith in His children (Romans 1:3-4).

Verse 14 says that every one should make an “Image to the beast” (probably similar to the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s of Daniel 3; of course, maybe a lot smaller). It almost sounds as though every home would have an image of the beast. It would only be speculation, but this could be some electronic device to keep track of his followers. It wold be a way of determining those who worshiped the image and put to death those who did not give him laud. Of course those who are God’s would not have the image in the first place.

These worshipers of the beast are identified by a mark, another counterfeit of God’s work. Here Satan, the dragon, counterfeits the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God seals those who are God’s to the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). The mark “in the right hand, or in their foreheads” would seal these people to eternal destruction. The Church today needs to hear this message and take the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the perishing, because what awaits the lost is doom. These with the “Mark of the beast” would be able to buy, sell, and trade. They would be able to obtain the things of earth, but be kept from the eternal blessings of God.

“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The number of man is six (6). It falls short of God’s perfection, “short of the glory of God”.

When man tries to obtain the glory that belongs solely to the Lord he will always come up short. So will the devil.

No one knows what this number means. There are numerical equations which figure into names. For example each Hebrew letter is also a Hebrew number. Since I do not know these things I can only share what I have read and studied. There has been a whole lot of numerical accusation and fraud, and I will not indulge in the hysterics, neither do I want to lead into conspiracies or suppositions.

As discerning Christians we can see an antichrist spirit; but let us be certain, first, that we have the Spirit of God concerning the matter. One thing we can be sure of, is that, the attempt by Satan through man will come up short. Sin will be eternally put away and Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords. Satan’s final attempt and fall is certain because of who Jesus is.

If you are outside the righteous/holy character of God, then you need to know Jesus Christ the Son of God who is God the Son who died on the cross for our sins, so that, we might have fellowship eternally with Him.  Trust the God/Man who died for you.

Great Wonder in Heaven

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her Child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man Child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her Child was caught up unto God, and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”  Revelation 12:1-6 (KJV)

Jesus is the embodiment of God’s glory, born by Israel through Mary; the virgin at the time of His conception and birth; for the deliverance of sin, and to bring Israel through great tribulation to fulfill the promises of God, made to Abraham, David, Jesus, and all who believe, with much tribulation.

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 12:1-2 (KJV).

John sees a “Great wonder in heaven”. This is the first of seven persons…

“1) The woman, representing Israel, 2) the dragon, representing Satan, 3) the man-child, referring to Christ, 4) Michael, representing the angels, 5) Israel, the remnant of the seed of the woman, 6) the beast out of the sea, the world dictator, and 7) the beast out of the earth, the false prophet and religious leader of the world”. JOHN WALVOORD.

Beginning with chapter 12 through chapter 14 we have a parenthetical section which fills in some gaps during the trumpet and vial judgments.

The first of the seven characters is a “Great wonder”. Who is this woman? Is she the Church? Israel? Mary? When looking at her from scriptural understanding she is Israel (Romans 9:5). The nation, historically, gave birth to Jesus by Mary.

This woman being “Clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” can be identified with Genesis 37:9. The “sun” is Jaco, the “moon” Jacob’s wife, and the “eleven stars” Jacob’s eleven sons and Joseph making the twelfth.

Verse 2 seems to imply Israel’s trials and tribulations rather than Mary’s.

The second character in this scene is the “Red dragon”. He is evidently revealed to us as God sees him. Bloodthirsty and wicked. His “seven heads and ten horns, and crowns…” seem to identify him with earthly kingdoms – especially Rome. He is clearly representing the revived Roman empire and Satanic power.

Jonathan Edwards commenting on Hebrews 1:6-8 wrote, writing of Jesus’s birth…

“At that time when the Son of God appeared a poor little infant in a stable and manger then God said, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’ and then the angels had a great trial of their obedience greater than ever they had before.”

John Gerstner commenting on Edwards writes…

“…According to Edwards the fall of the angels occurred when announcement was made that they were to be ministering servants to men’s salvation.”  From THE RATIONAL BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF JONATHAN EDWARDS vol. 1, pg. 256

So we might assume that before the foundation of the world, before time, before history ever began, when Lucifer found out he was going to be a “Ministering servant” to mankind, he rebelled and took one-third of the angels with him. Some were confined to chains and some are loose.

Satan, the devil, hated that he was going to have to worship a baby human being, so instead of yielding allegiance to his Creator, he determined to do things his way. He set out to destroy this baby. He tried to tempt Him away from His destiny. Then, he tried to defeat Him in death. Lucifer, the devil has certainly tried to “Devour her child”. The child is the Messiah, the Savior of Israel. He is Jesus, my Savior, and Lord.

Verse 5 certainly makes clear who the man-child is. He is “To rule all nations” (Psalm 2:8). He will rule them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 19:15).

If we look at this verse simply as read it would seem, that the child is born and is immediately “Caught up unto God and to His throne”, however, we must understand the way biblical prophecy works. In many Old Testament prophecies, there are gaps. Take for instance Luke 4:18-19 which is a quotation from Isaiah 61:1-2. Note, however, that Jesus only quoted through “…the acceptable year of the LORD”. The fulfillment of the rest is yet to come. The same is true of verse 5 of Revelation 12. “She brought forth a man-child who was to rule…”, but in the gap He was crucified, for the sins of men, was buried, rose again, then forty days later “was caught up unto God…”. The day is yet to come for Him to rule on earth.

The gap between the resurrection of Christ “Pentecost” and the “Rapture of the Church” is the Church age. The gap between the “Rapture” and the “Abomination of desolation” is a period of false peace. The time between the “abomination” and the rule of Christ on earth is the “Great tribulation”, or “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). “The time of Jacob’s trouble” is the final 3.5 years of “the tribulation” and that is when Israel will be divinely protected by God, according to verse 6. Evidently for the whole 1260 days of sorrow. This will work in them to bring out a remnant who trust Jesus as Messiah.

Will you trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son for your eternal redemption?  Hear His voice, call on His name, and believe and be saved.  The greatest wonder of Heaven, and on earth is the Lord Jesus Himself.

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Revelation 12:7-12 (KJV)

When we read the book of Job in the Old Testament it appears that Satan has access to appear before God (Job1:6).

It seems that in the middle of the 7 years that Satan is cast out of Heaven, no longer having access to God. Because of this, he is allowed to wreak havoc on the earth – “cast out into the earth”. The last 3.5 years are catastrophic. In Colossians, we read…

“And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist…” Colossians 1:17

It is an encouraging thing for the Christian to know that God, through His Son Jesus, holds all things, all the elements under His control during the opening of the seals, the sounding of the trumpets, and the pouring out of the vials of wrath; Satan (the serpent) is deceiving minds and destroying mankind as never before.

“There was war in heaven”, John says. Michael [the fourth personality in this parenthetical scene], is representative of the great angelic host. These angels, ever faithful to God, stand firm to get the devil from before the throne of God.

In Scripture there are four references to the curtailing of Satan’s activities:

  1. Somewhere around the dawn of creation satan was cast out of his exalted position as an angel of God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15);
  2. Mid-way through the Great Tribulation Satan will be cast out from any access to God as accuser of believers (Revelation 12:10);
  3. At the beginning of the millennium he will be shut up in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3);
  4. At the end of the millennium, he will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

We will see, that since Satan will be cast out from even appearing before God that he will indulge in an all-out attack on the seed of the woman – anti-semitic attacks against all of Israel. He has always hated God’s people, whether it be Israel or the Church. Being no more able to accuse he attacks in all his limited wrath. God protects Israel.  We can see a great attack against Israel today.  Our President of the United States of America has declared Jerusalem as the Capital City of Israel.  His declaration was that the U. S. of A. will have our Embassy there going along with God’s declaration that Jerusalem is the City of David.

The “Loud voice” is one of rejoicing. It is not said whose voice it is.

It could be God’s. It could be the twenty-four elders. It could be the angels. It might be all the voices of heaven blended together as one.

It will be a glorious day in heaven when Satan will be cast out from being “The accuser of the brethren”.

HOW IS THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE WON?

  1. By the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross;
  2. By the testimony of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God;
  3. By loving Jesus with our lives [“loved not their lives unto the death”] (Mark 8:34-35; 10:31).

At this time there will be rejoicing in heaven, but great “woe” to those “Inhabiters of the earth”. Those refusing God’s grace through Jesus Christ will suffer both the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God. Satan will go all out. He will even try to destroy those who are his to lead them into eternal torment with himself. He knows his time is short. Satan is already defeated.  His head has been crushed.  All he can do is steal, kill, and destroy and wreak havoc in the world.

O will you turn your soul, heart, mind, and strength over to the Lamb of God who died to deliver you from Satan and from sin’s bondage?  Call on Him. He will hear you and save you.

“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man Child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:13-17 (KJV)

I have not mentioned it for some time, but one of my favorite Scripture verses is Isaiah 40:31…

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

I have come to the conclusion that if the Old Testament promises are for the Christian today, then, we need to be accepting of the negative promises as well.  If God says it; then, it is true.  It will come to pass.

The woman represents Israel (the remnant seed of the woman, and the fifth personality in this scene) and is persecuted by Satan. This is because of great hatred for the Hebrew people.

As mentioned in verse 6, though a little clearer here; she is protected by God. The Scripture gives references as to “bearing on eagle’s wings” (Exodus 19:4). This implies swiftness. The place God has prepared for them is an earthly place not known to us. Some believe it to be a place called “Petra”, but no one can be certain. God supplies them their daily needs just as when He led them out of Egypt. There are striking similarities in both deliverances.

Verse 15 mentions a “water as a flood”. It is not certain whether this is a literal flood of water. It is just as probable to be just all out persecution. The flood does represent wrath in the same sense that the “serpent” represents Satan. In that “the earth helped the woman” we can see this as, though Satan intended it for Israel, instead it affected the “earth” or the “Inhabiters of the earth”. Remember these “Inhabiters of the earth” (Revelation 12:12) are the unredeemed who have on their own, by their own choices have chosen to reject God, His Son, His love, and His grace; and hold on to the material world.  Loving the world rather than God.

It is clear from this verse that Satan’s attacks are against the godly remnant. This remnant is the Hebrews who have looked upon Jesus and believed Him to be the Messiah. Satan hates and is greatly enraged against anyone “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”.

It is not said, but it seems that just as in the Egyptian deliverance, so too, in this one there will be some who will not believe despite God’s providential care.  They have an “evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12) and refuse to have Jesus as Messiah.

The persecution, up to this point has been “anti-semitic” against all Hebrews. Now it is solely against those who “Have the testimony of Jesus Christ”.

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12).

He made deliverance for us on the wings of eagles through the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Make haste to come to Him.

The Beginning of Three Woes

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”  Revelation 9:1-6 (KJV)

In this chapter, I will endeavor to show that after man has made a mockery of Satan, hell, sin, and death, God will unleash all the forces that had been seen as unreal and fictional, sources for jokes and humor. That man has trifled with evil at the expense of their eternal souls, and that the very evil they mocked and practiced will be judgment upon them.

We have come to the fifth trumpet, which is also the first “Woe” of chapter eight verse 13, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth…”. The word “Woe” is related to great calamity. Jesus Himself as He walked among men pronounced “Woe” on Chorazin and Bethsaida in Matthew 11:21.

The star mentioned is different from the stars previously mentioned in verse 12 of chapter eight. This star is a personality. The implication is that the star has fallen. “To him” shows this as a person. So, in this case, it is not a literal star. It can be likened to the “stars” of chapter 1 verse 20 and to 2:1.

This star is one who has fallen from Heaven. He will no longer be allowed to come into God’s presence to accuse “The brethren”.

Where the judgment of the first four trumpets dealt with things man can see, hear, touch, taste and/or smell, this fifth trumpet judgment appears to deal with the demon horde. We know the chief of demons to be Satan. To him is given a key to unleash the demon swarm, held captive, upon the earth.

Because these unbelievers have mocked the spiritual and believed no connection to life or living the unholy spiritual beings will be set free from their abode and attack those on the earth.
The smoke out of the pit goes up like out of a furnace. It will be like hell was unleashed upon lost mankind.

What came out of the “Abyss” is likened unto locusts. We cannot say these are literal locusts. God used a plague of locusts against Egypt (EXODUS 10:1-20), and in Deuteronomy 28:38, 42 we find that God used locusts as judgment against Israel in times of their unfaithfulness. We also see judgment upon Israel with locusts in Joel 2. These in Egypt and Israel were literal crop-eating locusts.
What makes these something other than literal locusts is their description. The first being, they have a scorpions tail [“…power, as the scorpions on the earth have power”]. The literal locust has no such tail.

These were also given a commandment. They could do no harm to the grass, nor any green thing, nor to any tree. They could do no harm to the people who had “The seal of God in their foreheads”. God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19).

The genuine locust eats any green thing in its path and is a great cause of famine throughout the world. The locust here, though, attack and torment men. They are to torment, but not to kill. This is to go on for a period of five months, which, I have heard, is the lifespan of locusts.

The torment will be so great and fierce that men will seek to die, but “Death shall flee from them”. These could be some of the same ones who seek eternal life by searching for a “Fountain of Youth” use of “Cryogenics”, or even searching for the supposed “Holy grail”. Now they are seeking death and cannot find it.

“What the scriptures here convey is that in addition to the natural plagues of the first four trumpets, now wicked men are afflicted by torment of demons” JOHN WALVOORD The Revelation Of Jesus Christ pg. 161.

O, friend, this is not a time we must go through.  Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we are delivered from this judgment.  Only through Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  Call on Him and He will deliver you.

And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. Revelation 9:7-12 (KJV)

Now we are given a more complete description of these locusts creatures. A demon horde; the most vile and hideous of creatures; whose main purpose is to steal, kill, and to destroy all of humanity.

When this “Woe” takes place on the earth it may be possible that wicked men will not even see their tormentors.

John’s description of them is horrendous. Sometimes demons can manifest themselves as beautiful beings, but when we see them in the light of God’s Word and eternity they are the most hideous and deceitful of beings.

As also stated in verses 5 and 10 they are only given a period of five months in which to inflict their agony. There is no reason to try and make something more of the months than is indicated. It is probably a literal five-month period.

“Five months is the ordinary time in the year during which locusts commit their ravages” (HENRY ALFORD as copied from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Walvoord pg. 161).

These demon creatures have a king of sorts. This is probably the one to whom “Was given the key of the bottomless pit” or the other name is “Abyss”. A demon while speaking to Jesus mentioned this place (Luke 8:31).

The name of this king is given in Hebrew and Greek. “Abaddon” is the Hebrew, and “Apollyon” the Greek. Both names mean “Destroyer” and Satan is known as the destroyer. SEE John 10:10. So the one who was given the key to the pit and the king of the demon realm is probably one and the same, Satan, the Destroyer.

Verse 12 announces the end of the first woe. The enemy of all mankind is given a free hand with some limitations that clearly show us that the God of Heaven and all creation is in complete control. Remember “Woe” is great calamity, and what a calamity it will be when the demons of hell are unleashed on a God-hating people.

There are some people who have trouble believing a loving God could allow such to take place. It is because of His love, mixed with His holiness and righteousness that this does happen. In His love, He has chosen a people by His grace. In His holiness and righteousness, He judges the unrepentant to declare and manifest that there is a holy race of people. All those are redeemed through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ shed on the cross, for the atonement of man’s sins.

“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”  Revelation 9:13-21

The sixth trumpet sounds and John hears a voice from the “Golden Altar”. This altar is the same altar as in chapter 8:3-6. The horns of the altar are mentioned in the Old Testament. There are times when men fled to the altar and “Caught hold on the horns of the altar” (1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28). It was a place for pleading. Evidently pleading for one’s life as other men sought them. From this place of former mercy proceeds a voice of woe. The second woe. The first has passed.

The voice heard tells the sixth angel to “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates”. These four angels are not the same four of chapter 7:1. There is nothing said about the chapter 7 angels being bound.

Since these four are bound it would lead us to conclude that these are evil angels or otherwise known as demons (Jude 6).

Today there is demonic activity, but not as the like of which when God removes His restraints.

The release of the four evil angels comes at God’s appointed time. “Were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year” has nothing to do with duration, but with God’s timing. The dastardly work of the four is to kill one-third of all people on the earth. Remember, one-fourth part of mankind has already been killed at the opening of the fourth seal (6:7-8). This means more than one half of the world’s population will be killed by the time this “Woe” is carried out. The judgment of the flood will pale in the comparison of these judgments.

The released angels kill by means of a two hundred million man army. China boasts to have such an army, and it is to the East of Jerusalem and the Euphrates river.

This also could be another demonic attack upon mankind, but it could be this in the form of an actual army of men. And, of course, the way things are in the world today there are probably women in this army as well. It seems that the horses are the sources of destroying power, “Out of their mouths issued fire and smoke, and brimstone” (vv. 17b-18). This almost sounds like a nuclear war.
Where the demonic mass of verses 3-11 was only allowed to torment and not to kill this army, vast in number, is allowed to kill.

Have there ever been events such as these on the earth? We have never read of them in history. This is clearly prophetic and not historical.

There is further mention of the Euphrates in 16:12 in connection with the “Sixth vial of wrath”.

The move of this army could be a move during the middle of the tribulation when the “Peacemaker” breaks the treaty with Israel and then havoc rules.

Isn’t it amazing how people can continue in sin and rebellion against God when they can see His mighty and judging hand at work. Rather than turning to the true and living God during this time of His wrath upon wickedness they lift up their idols of stone, gold, silver, brass, and wood. They cry out to gods who are no gods, becoming like them (Psalm 115).

Morris Ashcraft in the Broadman Bible Commentary wrote, “One cannot overlook John’s conviction, though voiced as a lament, that idolatry has a hold on man so great that he will go on worshiping the works of his own hands even while the infinite power of the true God is displayed all about him” BROADMAN COMMENTARY vol. 12 pg. 297.

It is a sad day when men turn to things made of their own hands and imaginations rather than to the God who displayed His love and wrath on a cross of wood judging our sin on the account of His Son.

Every kind of evil is mentioned in these verses. John is lamenting. It is nothing but outright, willful rebellion against the God of Heaven. There is no reason for rejoicing here, other than the fact, that God will destroy and put away all sin. All of sin, darkness of evil, and evil will be brought to an end.  Amen.

The One Who is Alive Forevermore

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)

Facing sorrows through trials of our faith we find assurance, in this letter to the church in Smyrna, of the eternalness of Jesus, and His promise of eternal riches to those who are overcomers. The “Crown of Life” is promised to those who are “Faithful unto death”.

The church at Smyrna was a suffering church. They had nothing of the world’s goods or praise. They did have the praise of Jesus. That means more than anything.

Polycarp was the bishop of the church and he was put to death for his faith. In John Walvoord’s “THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST” he writes, speaking of Polycarp,

“When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, he replied, ‘Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”.

Polycarp seems to characterize the whole church at Smyrna.

The city of Smyrna is still in existence today, known as Izmir, unlike Ephesus which is in ruins. When Christians are willing to stand no matter what, it has redeeming qualities for all of society. There is also a Christian church in the city. How? By overcoming.

The church of Smyrna needed to hear from the One who is the “First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive”. Smyrna is located approximately 35 – 50 miles north of Ephesus. Like Ephesus, it too is a port city. The two cities probably struggled over which was the chief city of the region.

The word ‘Smyrna’ means “Myrrh”. Myrrh was used for embalming the dead. It was also used in Tabernacle worship, and as a perfume. The significance of this is the way in which Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Smyrna. “I Am the eternal One [the First and the Last], which became dead [myrrh was used for His burial], and I Am alive forevermore”.

These are certainly encouraging words. Our Savior who was humiliated and put to open shame upon the cross, and put to death is encouraging the church to stay on course, because they too will live eternally. They too, may die; you may someday get to die for your faith in Jesus, but that is not the end. You have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His “I know” of verse 9 is somewhat different from His “I know” for the church of Ephesus.

The church is suffering fiery persecution. “Poor” means they were poor in this world’s material things. This partially due to them, as followers of Jesus, having no rights to worship. Their lands and houses could be taken freely, because they had no legal protection, no constitutional protections as we have.

Their persecution came by means of the unregenerate people of Smyrna. Both the Gentiles and Jews persecuted the Christians.

“…Jews, and are not” implies a racial identity without a Christ’s identity. In Pauls letter to the Romans he wrote,

“…He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29).

If these “Jews” had been anywhere near obedience to their faith they would have remembered God’s law which says,

“…the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

Therefore, Jesus says that they “…Are the synagogue of satan” – lost, no relation with God, condemned, and needing salvation.

They are known by those who persecute them as being “Poor”. They are known by Jesus as being “Rich”. How are you known by people? More importantly, how are you known by Jesus? It is much better to be poor to the world and rich with Christ, than to be rich to the world and poor with Jesus.

Jesus is so very gracious. He speaks quite often in the gospels, “Fear not”, or “Be not afraid”. Here in verse 10 He speaks the words again. “Fear none of those things…”.
“If they come and take away your houses or land, do not be afraid. If they come to take you away for torture, pain and death, do not fear. If they come to take your family, do not be afraid. If they come to ridicule you, do not fear. If they bring false charges against you, do not fear. If they come to take your life, do not be afraid. It is not over. Your life is still in My hands”, Jesus says. My paraphrase.

Tribulation and suffering should not be strange for the follower of Jesus. He told us, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33).

Trials and testings come into every believer’s life. Sometimes we suffer because of our faith in Jesus. Sometimes it is because of sin left unconfessed and an unrepentant heart, or paying the consequences of sin forgiven. Sometimes it is to keep us from something for our own benefit and His glory.

“Tribulation ten days” is probably a reference to a short period of time. All the troubles we encounter as Christians are of only short duration compared to eternity. Many Christians suffer bad health for years, not because of sin, but for their good, and the glory of Jesus. It is only a short time compared to the glory and splendor of God’s eternal home.

The “Ten days” have also been compared to a period of time from Nero in 64-68 AD., through Diocletian of 303-313 AD.. Nero 64-68 AD., Domitian95-96 AD., Trajan 104-117 AD., Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD. (According to some this is when Polycarp was martyred), Severus 200-211 AD., Maximinius 235-237 AD., Decius 250-253 AD., Valerian 257-260 AD., Aurelian 270-275 AD., and Diocletian 303-313 AD.. This would have represented the ten days as being periods of persecution under these leaders.

How faithful would you be to public worship and faith in Jesus Christ if our government suddenly declared worshiping God in Jesus to be illegal? Would you be in Bible study and worship next Sunday? The worship of the church of Smyrna was illegal, yet they worshiped and lived their faith. They suffered. Jesus words were, “Be faithful unto death”. “Don’t be afraid, be faithful”. Even if it means your life, be faithful. Jesus was. He gave His life as not only as an act of love for you and me, but also an act of faithfulness to the Father. The reward? He will give a “Crown of life”; “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12). This crown is often equated with being the “Martyrs crown”, but probably received by all who are faithful in life without fear for their lives.

Finally, Jesus says to the church of Smyrna, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…” (v. 11). Those who are followers of Jesus Christ will hear His voice.

The Spirit gives understanding. He is our ears to the words of the Lord Jesus. The message is now to the individual – “Hear”.

“The second death” is total and eternal separation from God. The word ‘death’, in essence means separation. Physical death is the separation of the body from life. Spiritual death is the condition all people are born into, separated from God. The “Second death” being different only in that it is eternal separation from God. There is an eternal place where the eternal wrath of God is suffered.

All who overcome are “Born of God”. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4). All who are “Born of God” [born again] overcome. The “second death” has no hurt to the born again (Revelation 20:6). The second death is reserved for those not found in the book of life (20:14), ‘the fearful and unbelieving…the abominable, …shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (21:8).

The only way to miss the “Second death” is to be born twice. The second time through faith in Jesus Christ. Someone once said, “If you were born once, you will die twice. If you were born twice, you will die once.”

Troubles, inevitably will come, at least while we live on earth. Some people will ridicule our faith and faithful practices. Sickness comes occasionally or regularly for some. Nevertheless, we are called on to be faithful.

If we keep in mind the humiliation of Jesus and His suffering, even though He was sinless, and the glory that is His after His resurrection, we can overcome every trouble and trial of suffering that comes our way. No material possession can keep us from the “Second death” only Jesus can. After all He is THE RESURRECTED ONE.

Living As Christians in The World Today (4)

A Rock Solid Faith

To build up the believer to a purity of life and faith in the sight of God, and to be prepared ro the glorious appearing of Jesus our Lord.

INTRODUCTION:
When we are not with our children we wonder, “How are they doing without us present?” We may be away a little longer than expected. Some unexpected traffic jam, or we make a detour to WalMart, or the bookstore, and we are there longer than expected. Parents seem to never end in their wondering abou their kids.

Paul was in a similar situation, only he was being hindered from his “Parental” duties by Satan. He just could not take it any longer, and sent Timothy to be with them in his place, to find out how they were doing.

Timothy brought back that encouraging report, but still, Paul longed to be with and to see his kids; to visit with them and to encourage them.

Looking at Verses 1 – 2 —

“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith…” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (KJV)

The word “Wherefore” means this carries on from chapter two – especially verses 19 and 20. Paul sharing with the Thessalonians how he could not wait to be with them, and find out how they were doing in their lives of faith.

Verses 3 – 5 —

“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.” vv. 3-5

Many times when afflictions hit us we tend to think that God has forgotten us. When we feel that way we can get to a place where we can not-care, and really get into a state of depression. You could say , “We faith” in the faith.

Suffering for Christ’s sake should not come as a surprise to us. When we live holy in Christ Jesus it will come (See 1 Peter 4:12-14 and 2 Timothy 3:12).

Verses 6 – 7 —

“But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith…” vv. 6-7

There is a mutual love between the parent and the child. There is great comfort,even in persecution for the one who founded the Church, to hear of the people’s desire to see him again as well.

Verse 8 —

“For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” v. 8

Caring can steal the strength away. Being unable to build up the Church in faith Paul was fearful for them, that they migh fall away. The heart was heavy. Sleep was slow in coming, if it came. When Paul was not working, preaching, or sleeping he was praying for the Church. They were “Babes in Christ” and they needed nourishment and care.
At receiving the news Paul rejoiced. He could now live free from the worry and care of this infant Church.

Verses 9 – 10 —

“For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?”  vv. 9-10

A desire to see them and help them grow in the faith. A new born child does not have all it takes to grow. A baby needs to be fed. A baby needs to be nourished, and sheltered from harm; and a baby needs to be loved. The same is true of the spiritual child or Church.

Prayer is for the Church what breathing is for the body. The study of God’s Word is for the Church what food is for the body.

Verse 11 —

“Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.” v. 11

If we are to care, and to be cared for we must trust our directions to be led by Jesus in us – which is the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Verses 12 – 13 —

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” vv. 12-13

Paul’s prayer:
1. Increase and abound in love (agape’);
2. In order to “Establish” [be grounded] in heart; set them up as stable, unshakeable sanctuaries of peace;
3. Blameless in God’s holiness – To be holy is to be clean and fit for God’s Spirit to use.
We are called upon throughout the Word to be fit, to be holy for His use and service. Here we are told to be “Blameless in holiness” meaning God’s holiness. We must be clothed in that if we are to be caught up with the rest of the saints.
The saints mentioned here are the souls and spirits of the departed dead in Christ referred to in chapter 4:14.

 

The Faithful and the Unfaithful

“After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents” Matthew 25:19-28 (KJV)

The lord has been away for some time, and he returns to find some to bless, commend, and give. These servants appear before their lord with what they have done while he was away.

Everyone is a STEWARD of what they have. It has been given by God to all human beings to be STEWARDS of this planet and creation. It has also been given us, by God, to be STEWARDS of the blessings of this life. The problem arises when mankind has chosen to rebell against God, and chose to go his/her own way. Though mankind is basically in rebellion against God we are all still STEWARDS of all created things. We are not doing real well, mostly due to the sin condition in the hearts of all humanity.

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden the devil has had a hand in disguising his plans and purposes, and making them appear to be man’s and usually for the evil of the planet, mankind, and the universe.

There is coming a day of RECKONING. A day when all will give an account of their lives, and what they have done with what they have. We are not responsible for what we do not possess, but we are responsible for what we touch, and control. We are responsible for our personal relationship with the Lord. We are responsible for our sins. We are responsible for our family’s well being. We are responsible for our neighbors well being. We are responsible as citizens of the town, State, and Nation in which we live. We are responsible, and an give an account for every word we speak – good or bad. Here in the United States we have been given much, and with much comes much responsibility, and accountability.

Notice the justness of the lord. He tells the servant whom he had given “five talents”, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”. He was a responsible and good STEWARD with what he had been entrusted, and he was rewarded for his STEWARDSHIP. The servant who had received “two talents” was told, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”. He too was rewarded for his faithful STEWARDSHIP. The third servant was foolish with what he had received and buried it in the ground, and gaining nothing. It could give reference to Jesus’s words, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” Matthew 5:15-16 (KJV). This servant took what he had been given and hid it, buried it in the ground to rot, rust and/or decay. Could it be correct to say, “A gift unused is a gift abused”?

Let’s look at this third servant for a moment. What has been given him? An opportunity to expand his life’s work, and mostly that of his lord. An opportunity to do well for his family, yet he has shunned his gift. According to Jesus the words for him is, “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents”. “Wicked and slothful servant…” those would be sad words indeed to hear from the mouth of our Lord. We must understand something, and that is that what we have been given; we have not earned; it is a gift. This life is a gift. Every breath we breathe is a gift. Every beat of our heart is a gift. What do we do with what we have? The “wicked and slothful” servant lost what he had hid in the ground, and it was given to the one who had been given the “ten talents”.

I can almost hear, “Well, that just ain’t fair.” “That’s not right.” “That’s not fair.” According to whom? You. Are you the one who determines what is fair, just or right in this world. If I were the owner of a large ranch or farm and hired people would I not have the right as the owner to pay what was fair and agreed on by all who work for me. I could pay according to what I saw in the individual. Much work and done well would warrant that I pay well. Little work, and work done without care, and done badly would warrant little pay, and maybe even firing. That may not be right for a nation which has labor laws, minimum wages, and laws which govern wages; but it is so in a land that is truly free.

Our God is just, right and good, and He will judge, and award as He sees fit. He will award those who will be faithful STEWARDS of what He has given. The first and greatest thing He has given is salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. What will you do with Jesus? Jesus is returning soon; it would be in your best interest to believe Him today.

LAST DAYS: No Man Knows

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Matthew 24:36-44 (KJV)

There are some who try and date the Second Coming of our Lord. It has always been ended with embarrassment, and loss of credibility. Why is it that we cannot believe what Jesus has taught us; “No man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only,”. He gives us a clue as to the conditions of the times, but still without a date.

Some have looked at this verse and indicated that since Jesus didn’t know the day or hour this was surely evidence that He was not divine. Jesus was divine, but limited His knowledge as a man, to only what the Father would have Him know. It would seem to me, that now that He is seated on the Father’s right hand, and all things have been “Placed under His feet”, that Jesus would definitely know the day and hour of His coming.

Jesus gives us some signs to look for before that great and notable day of the Lord comes. There is the sign of Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, and God called him to build a huge boat, with its inhabitants being the animals of the earth, and eight human beings – Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives. The days of Noah were evil. Everyone was going about life without much thought and little to no thought of God. They were wealthy, comfortable, and there seems to have been no war; all is well! At least on the surface. Then Noah comes along, hears the Word of the LORD, obeys, and begins building this large floating boat, and ark for deliverance. Not only is Noah preaching to the people around him, but the building of the ark itself is a message to the people. Let’s hear what the writer of Hebrews says of this;

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (KJV)

The culture of Noah’s day was probably very similar to our own. Jesus describes it as, “…before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…”. To see this and read it just seems like the casual, everyday thing. People were going about their daily task, play, work, as though everything were fine. Jesus is most likely getting us to see that cultural laws had become common place. Cultural law basically being if it is alright for the culture your in then it is right. We could look at this way – if exchanging marriage partners is culturally okay, then it is okay to practice for all; if homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable then, it should be acceptable for all; if giving the unborn babies up on the altar of abortion is the going and approved thing, then by all means don’t over burden yourself; if prostitution is just another way of making a living, and can be unionized, then don’t criticize those who must earn their keep by slaving themselves out for pleasure oriented people; you see the phrase of the cultural elite is “You got to go along, to get along”.

As long as you don’t “rock the boat” or “make waves” you are an okay sort of person. However, if you speak out about these culturally acceptable vices, and call them “evil”; the culturally elite will turn that around on you and call you the “evil”. Remember Isaiah the prophets words, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 (KJV). There has been a changing of words and semantics plays a large part in our understanding. It used to be that the word “Gay” meant “Happy, merry, cheerful”. Now the word “Gay” is used culturally to define a deviant lifestyle which is growing more and more acceptable by our world, and culture.

That is probably the like of Noah’s day. The cultural thing is to be accepting of all fads, frauds, and failures; with one exception, and that exception being those who will have the courage and boldness to say what is right and wrong. That day when Jesus comes back to earth to set up His kingdom will be a dramatic day. Most of those who hold power positions will be put down. Every nation who exalts itself against the God of heaven will fall. Every individual who exalts themselves against the Lord Jesus will crumble and bow in His presence. There will be no humility here from these; they will be pleading for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them.

On that day it seems there will be a separation which takes place in that moment; at least in that very day. Two working side by side – one will be left to live on in the kingdom of Jesus because of their faith in Him, and the other will perish. Matthew’s gospel mentions two men in the field, and two women at the mill, and would probably cover every situation of the workers in that time to come. It leaves us to understand that no gender, or workplace, is without the separation. One believes and is left to live on in the Kingdom or our Lord, while the unbelieving perish, and await the final judgment.

Jesus gives us these words to cause us to be “watchful” and vigilant concerning the matter of His Second Coming. Though this Sermon on Mount Olive is probably a message solely for the Jewish people it should have a profound impact on the Body of Christ – the Church. Though there are many preachers who use these words of two being together and one taken as referring to the rapture of the Church, the rapture of the Church does not seem to be mentioned in the sermon; at least in this part of it. We are uncertain of when the LORD may return, but we can know that since these signs are having to do with the Second Coming of Christ and not the Rapture, then the Rapture of the Church is closer. Therefore, we are to be ever vigilant, and diligent to do the works that will glorify our Lord.

LAST DAYS: THOUGH LAWLESSNESS SHALL ABOUND THE FAITHFUL WILL ENDURE TO THE END

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13 (KJV)

The Spirit of God has always been at work in the world, but not as He has been working since the departure of Jesus in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus had promised that He would send the Comforter (John 14:16; 16:5-16) when He returned to the Father. We read in the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit coming on certain individuals, however, the Spirit of God doesn’t seem to abide with them, or continue with them, it is for occasional needs that arise. The Spirit came on Saul who had just been chosen as the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 10:9-12), and it is seen in Samson one of the judges of Israel (Judges 14:5-6), and there are other Biblical examples of the appearances of the Spirit of God upon His chosen people. The Spirit of God came on these individuals as the need arose, and to put away evil from Israel.

There has been evil in this world since the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden. The Spirit of God has kept that evil in check, even through the freewill of man. We can see the power of God throughout the Old Testament in the flood, in the call of Abraham and Sarah, the bondage of Joseph to Egypt, and eventually the bondage of Israel in Egypt as slaves. We definitely see God’s delivering power as the Pharoah is confronted to let God’s people go, and by his will he refuses, thus opening a floodgate of judgment upon Egypt; until finally after the death of his son Pharoah breaks, lets the children of Israel go, only to then change his mind, sending his army after them to kill them or bring them back; and the army of Egypt perishes in the Red Sea.

There has been lawlessness, evil, and sin since the fall, and it has always been kept to a minimum by the work of the Spirit of God. That may be hard for some to see and understand, however, when we realize that human beings are totally depraved – not meaning that we are as sinful as we could be, but that if we were left to ourselves, without God, we grow increasingly worse in wickedness – we might get better understanding of the hindering of evil by the work of the Spirit of God. It is almost horrifying to think what the world would be like without God’s intervention in human affairs. Those who want that will one day see what the world will be like without God. Atheists cry for a world without God, evidently thinking the world would be a better place, without Him. Thinking mankind is getting better, progressing in knowledge [science], technology, and medicine the non-theist mind believes that mankind can solve his own ills and problems and have peace on earth. But first, in the thinking of the non-theist, there must be no God.

During the time for which Jesus is speaking, there will be such lawlessness as has never been seen before. We think that things are bad now with men killing their wives, wives killing their husbands, mothers and fathers killing their children, children killing their parents, parents and step-parents raping, molesting and killing their children, students going on murderous rampages in schools and colleges; yet, with all of this the Spirit of God reigns, rules and overrules for now. We are only seeing the introduction of what is to come, a prelude, a very small sample of the horror which will come on the world. Maybe using some exaggeration; that day will make today look like the millennial reign of Christ in comparison.

As Christians before this day comes we must be ever vigilant in proclaiming the gospel message of Jesus Christ. We don’t want any of our loved ones; family, friends, or close relatives, or even those who may have made us their enemies to go through the event that is going to try those who “dwell on the earth” and be the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). We are to love the appearing of the Lord (2 Timothy 4:8). It seems that the appearing of the Lord is getting to be the farthest thing from many professing Christian’s hearts and minds. We want to see Jesus, and to see Him face to face.

There will be a multitude who will believe in Jesus Christ after the disappearance of the Church. It will probably be the largest number of people believing in such a short period of time, that has ever happened in the history of salvation. This time will not be peaceful for those who believe. Their lives will be in constant jeopardy; any property they own will probably be lost – taken by the hater of Christ; and any business(es) owned by believers will be confiscated and given to the estate of the Christ hater. In order to live many will flee to remote areas, to the mountains and the hills, and will be trusting their lives to the hands of God. They will be unable to buy or sell, therefore groceries, and goods will be hard to come by (Revelation 13:16-17). However, no matter what comes their way, they will endure to the end. They will endure to the end of their lives. They will endure to the end of the tribulation. They will endure till Christ comes again.

Let me pose this thought or question for the Christians who are citizens of the USA and other free nations, of 2015: If I will not stand for Christ today when I have freedom, why should I believe I would stand and speak for Him when those freedoms are gone? We are losing our freedoms today. It is seen in the arrest of Kim Davis, and law suits against others who have refused to violate their Christian convictions, and conscience in the name of “civil rights” of others. If I am ashamed to speak for Him today, I will certainly be ashamed of Him when I have no freedom. In fact Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of Me I will be ashamed of you before My Father in heaven.” (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26)

The apostle Paul writes, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV).

Surely the Christian of 2015 can see that we are in perilous times for sure. We too must endure though the times be evil. Jesus is coming soon, and we need to be ready.