“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, ‘A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU’) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, ‘SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.’ Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
--- End of Scripture verses ---
God made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17), and that he would be a blessing to all the families of the earth. God made this promise (actually 3 promises—Genesis 12:1-3) to Abraham several years before He commanded him to be circumcised, and several hundred years before He delivered the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. So, in other words, these promises had nothing to do with the Law of Moses, or any other law as far as that is concerned.
God made these decrees through promise, and God always makes good on His promises. And Abraham received and believed the promises of God by faith. Those who are of faith, like “father” Abraham, are recipients of the promises of God. They are a part of Abraham’s prolific spiritual family that still increases to this day; and they partake in the spiritual blessings of Jesus, the seed of Abraham that blessed the whole world with His life, death, resurrection and ascension (verse 25).
Those who would “boast in the Law” (Romans 2:23) make an empty boast because law is impotent to produce the blessings that come through faith in Christ Jesus. As a matter of fact, “the Law brings about wrath” (verse 15), not blessings. Law consists of commands that must be obeyed, and punishment for those who refuse or neglect to obey them.
Laws are necessary. Laws are good. Law helps to provide structure and order and tranquility. But law cannot offer salvation, only punishment, because no one perfectly keeps law. Salvation is offered by God’s grace through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son Jesus.
Make no mistake about it, we are still under God’s law today (Romans 8:2), and we are required to obey it to the best of our ability. Obeying God’s law is an integral part of a vibrant faith (Romans 1:5). But since we will not keep God’s law perfectly, we can only be saved by His grace. When we sin God provides forgiveness through our godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11), and through His grace and Christ’s blood.
“God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist” (verse 18). This is one of the most comforting and emboldening verses in all the Bible for me. God called the universe and our world into existence from nothing. He spoke, and it was so. God told Abraham that He and his wife Sarah would have a son through whom he would be the father of many nations and through whom he would bless the world. God delivered on this promise even though Abraham was 100 years old and his wife was 90 years old. This leaves no room for doubt that these blessings did not and could not have come from human will and influence. This great miracle was delivered by the promise and power of God. God spoke, and it was done.
There is a good and logical reason that Abraham had such strong faith in God and firm conviction for His promises! We can and should trust God and submit our will to His. He has all the power, and precious and magnificent promises, and we can always count on Him, even when the world lets us down! God promises heaven to all who trust and obey Him (1 Peter 1:3-5). Believe it! Count on it! He spoke, it is done!
Please read Romans 5:1-11 for tomorrow.
- Louie Taylor
“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: ‘BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.’
“Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, ‘FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Consider what Jack Cottrell wrote in his College Press Commentary on Romans as an introduction to Romans chapter 4 for today and tomorrow I will have some commentary on these Romans 4:1-12 specifically.
“The next section of Romans (the entire fourth chapter) is a presentation of Abraham as a paradigm or pattern of grace. Paul seems to have several purposes in mind here. Most generally he uses Abraham’s example to explain what it means to be justified by faith apart from works of law (3:28). More specifically, this appeal to Abraham provides OT confirmation for Paul’s teaching. Perhaps Paul’s most specific purpose in this section is to make it easier for the Jews to accept the gospel of grace.
“An appeal to the life of Abraham is ideally suited for these purposes. He is indeed an object lesson of the main truth that Paul is explaining in these chapters, i.e., that God’s way of saving sinners is by grace, which means that we are justified by faith apart from works of law. Paul sees Gen 15:6 as a summary statement of this truth, and Romans 4 is basically an exposition of this verse.
“With regard to the Jews, their supremely high regard for Abraham makes an appeal to his life a perfect means for correcting their legalism and exclusivism. Showing that Abraham was in fact accepted by God on the basis of grace, i.e., that he was justified by faith apart from works of law, will be a major step for Paul in breaking down Jewish resistance to the gospel.
“In keeping with the thesis statement in 3:28, the major theme throughout this section is the contrast between law and grace as ways of salvation. The categories of law and grace are represented by the following concepts:
|Works (vv. 2,4,6)||Faith (vv. 2,5,9, 11-14, 16-20, 24)|
|Boasting (v. 2)||Glorifying God (v. 20)|
|Wages (v. 4)||Imputation (vv. 3-6, 8-11, 22-24)|
|Obligation/debt (v. 4)||Gift/grace (vv. 4,16)|
|Sin (vv. 5,7,8,15)||Imputed righteousness (vv. 3,5,6,9,11,13,22)|
|Law (vv.13-16)||Promise (vv. 13, 14, 16, 20, 21)|
|Wrath (v.15)||Forgiveness (vv.7-8)|
“While the contrast between the corresponding items is not as precise in every case as this chart might suggest, viewing the two lists together makes it clear that Rom 4 is indeed showing us the difference between these two possible ways of relating to God.”
—Commentary on Romans by Jack Cottrell, page 156
Please read Romans 4:1-12 again for tomorrow.
If you have no plans for worship, we would love for you to come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
3741 Taylorsville Road. 9:30 AM Bible class. 10:30 AM worship period. 5:00 PM worship period.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
- Louie Taylor
"But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
"Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law."
---End of Scripture verses---
Okay so now for the good news… The Apostle Paul used the better part of the first three chapters of his letter to the Romans to tell us that everybody is doomed! It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, all are “under sin” (Romans 3:9, 19), and “worthy of death” (Romans 1:32). All that law can do is convict you, condemn you, not rescue you. Unless, of course, you keep God’s law perfectly, which no one has done but Jesus. So what is a person to do?!
Well, thanks be to God, Christ has satisfied the law’s requirement that sinners must be punished BY keeping God’s law perfectly FOR us and dying for us! All people can be “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24), by “faith in Jesus Christ” (3:22). To “justify” means to “declare righteous”.
“Justification is a legal or judicial term; it has to do with one’s relation to the law. It is best understood as the declaration made by a judge once his final decision as to guilt or innocence has been made. When he justifies a defendant, the judge declares that he is in a right standing with the law. Some say it is equivalent to the judge declaring the defendant ‘not guilty’; I prefer to say it means that the judge declares, ‘No penalty for you!’” (Jack Cottrell—Commentary on Romans)
This righteous declaration is granted to all people (whether Jew or Greek) as a gift of God’s grace when they choose to follow Jesus in humble, obedient faith. The word “redemption” bears the concept of paying the price to set someone free from bondage or slavery. What was the price that was paid to set us free from the bondage of sin? “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
The blood that Jesus shed for the salvation of all mankind is called a “propitiation” in verse 25. This is a tough word to define, but it conveys the idea of “satisfaction” or “appeasement”. The corresponding Old Testament word is “covering” and is used for the “mercy seat” of the arc of the covenant. That was the object on which the sacrificial blood of atonement was sprinkled in the most holy place of the tabernacle or temple for the sins of the nation of Israel.
Jesus satisfied or appeased God’s wrath for our sinfulness when, after He lived a perfect, sinless life, He willingly sacrificed His own life in place of our lives, and intercepted the punishment that was due us. Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice was also an appeasement of God’s wrath for “the sins previously committed” by all His FAITHFUL children who lived under any previous covenant prior to Christ’s atoning sacrifice. What an awesome God we serve! What an amazing Savior we have!
Please read Romans 4:1-12 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
- Louie Taylor
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, ‘THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.’
“But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), Let us do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just.
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.’ ‘THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING, ‘THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS’; ‘WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS’; ‘THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.’ ‘THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.’
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Paul had rebuked the Gentiles for a catalogue of sins in chapter one, and concluded that list by saying that those who commit such atrocities are “worthy of death” (1:32). Then in chapter two he proceeded to put the Jews in the very same category by chastising them since “they practice the same things” (2:1). He went on to scathingly rebuke his Jewish brethren in verses 17-29 for taking such pride in God’s law and will, but for not practicing what they preached. He even quoted Old Testament Scripture by combining Isaiah 52:5 and Ezekiel 36:20 when he wrote, “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU” (2:20).
Paul used some very harsh words to criticize his unfaithful Jewish brethren in chapter 2, so he spent the entirety of chapter 3 answering objections that he anticipated some would raise (or maybe actually had been previously raised), because of his critique of the Jewish nation.
Paul posed the first question that a Jewish person might ask, or objection they might raise, in verse one. If both Jews and Gentiles stand condemned before God because of their sinful ways, was there ever really any big “advantage” or “benefit” in being a Jew? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” in verse 2. “Great in every respect!” “Much in every way!” “First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.”
The nation of Israel was chosen to be the stewards of the inspired “oracles” or “words” of the living God of heaven! What a great honor and privilege they possessed over all Gentile nations, that they be the standard bearers of the perfect revelation of the Almighty God! God hand-selected them over all other peoples to reveal His word to, and entrust its safe-keeping to.
Jack Cottrell wrote in his commentary about verse 2 the following: “Of special importance is the fact that the Jews knew God’s intention to send a Messiah, a Redeemer. They possessed the many predictive prophecies of his coming, and they nurtured the hope for his appearing. Thus those who happened to be living at the time of his coming would be the first to know him and to have the opportunity to believe in him and receive his salvation (1:16). Who could ask for greater advantages than these?”
Unfortunately, the vast majority of God’s chosen people rejected the very Savior that the “oracles of God” had prompted them to wait for with such great expectation. Being the chosen stewards of God’s word put them in a prestigious position, but it did not guarantee the salvation of each and every individual Israelite. Along with the honor of being entrusted with the word came great responsibility. God fully expected that their hearts belong to Him, and that they believe the prophecies and obey the commands, and that they be faithful in the execution of their duty toward Him. Unfortunately, throughout the long and privileged history of the children of Israel, they repeatedly rebelled against their loving Father in heaven.
The next possible question or objection is raised in verse 3. The unfaithfulness of the majority of God’s chosen people “will not nullify the faithfulness of God” will it? The continual unbelief and unfaithfulness of God’s people doesn’t mean that God has failed in His purposes or promises does it? The answer in this instance is a resounding “No!” “May it never be!” This is the Greek phrase “mē genoito” and Paul used this emphatic term repeatedly in his letter to the Romans. It means “Certainly not!” The King James translators render the expression, “God forbid!”
“Let God be found true, and every man be found a liar!” God is always true, and right, and just, and faithful! No matter how foolishly and pitifully His people may sometimes (often!) behave, and how hatefully and cruelly they may treat Him, God is always faithful!!!
The third objection is found in verse 5. The question might be asked (through purely flawed human reasoning), “If our unrighteousness” brings to light “the righteousness of God” in such obvious ways, is God unrighteous when He “inflicts wrath”? Jack Cottrell wrote, “The false inference suggested by the Jewish objector is this: ‘If our sin magnifies God’s righteousness, this is to his advantage and glory, and thus he really ought to reward us rather than condemn us. And if this is so, then God’s condemnation of us is really unjust.’”
Objection number four is found in verse 7 and is basically a restatement of the ridiculous objection found in verse 5. Paul emphasized the absurdity of these false complaints when he wrote in verse 8 that you might as well say, “Let us do evil that good may come!” It is never right to do wrong! It is never good to do bad! Righteous ends never justify ungodly means!
In this regard, the Jews are not “better” than the Gentiles (verse 9). Were the Jews privileged and blessed and honored because they were entrusted with the oracles of God? Most certainly! But will that make them individually any better off on Judgment Day if they are not found to be obediently faithful to God? Certainly not!!!
Paul went on verses 10-18 to quote numerous Old Testament verses (from the very oracles of God that they so proudly professed to possess) to prove that both unfaithful Jews and unfaithful Gentiles will suffer the same eternal fate.
“By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (verse 20). The Law revealed sin, but it could not remove sin! Only Jesus can do that!
Please read Romans 3:21-31 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
- Louie Taylor
"But if you bear the name "Jew" and rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For 'THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,' just as it is written.
"For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God."
---End of Scripture verses---
Let's keep in mind that all of this reasoning is tempered by the fact that no one can be justified by the works of the law (3:20). Paul is making some hypothetical argumentation in chapter 2, but the truth be known, neither a Jewish person nor a Gentile can find the salvation they so desperately need through any law. Salvation can only be provided by God's mercy and by a Savior.
"He is a Jew who is one inwardly: and circumcisions is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit..." (verse 28). With God, there is neither Jew nor Gentile any longer for He shows no partiality to physical lineage or traits (Galatians 3:28). The physical land of Israel and ethnical Jews are of no special interest to God any more. God's main interest and His dwelling place is the human heart (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Jesus said to the woman at the well in Samaria, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:21-24).
God wants us to love Him with all our hearts, obey Him as best we can, serve Him with zeal and vigor and worship Him in spirit and truth. Then we will be considered the true Israel of God, no matter where live or who our physical ancestors are (Galatians 3:29).
Please read Romans 3:1-20 for tomorrow.
Have an awesome day!
- Louie Taylor
"Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
"For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”
--End of Scripture verses---
In the previous section (1:18-32), Paul taught us that all Gentiles were and are sinners, and therefore under God’s condemnation, and in need of His saving grace through His Son Jesus. In today’s section, he makes the very same point about Jewish people who were once in a special covenant relationship with God. Taken together, both Jews and Gentiles represent all people who ever lived in the world. Everyone is condemned by law (any law including the Law of Moses), for “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God” (3:24). Everyone needs the righteousness that can be accounted to them only by Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and grace.
“Therefore you have no excuse” (verse1). Just as the Gentiles were said to be without excuse for their sinful behavior (1:20), the very same is true for the Jews. Many of the Jewish people thought that their special relationship with God through His Law exempted them from the Law’s punishment. But not so. As a matter of fact, the very Law that they clung to for justification condemned them. Any law only condemns and does not justify if you do not obey it completely in every point. Once you have violated one aspect of law, you stand condemned by it. And the only person to ever keep God’s law perfectly without sinning was Jesus (3:10).
"The kindness of God leads you to repentance" (verse 4). Why did God deal patiently with His rebellious children, Israel? The same reason that He is patient and longsuffering with all of His creation. Because He doesn’t want anyone of us to perish, but to repent of our sins and turn to Him in loving submission and obedience so that we can be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Paul’s point here is that Israel’s special status with God as His chosen covenant people did not give them a “get out of hell free card.” Just because they knew and understood and took pride in the Law of Moses, that didn’t exempt them from the consequences of their sins. The Law could not justify them because no law is designed to do that (3:20). God has always extended His salvation through His mercy and grace, and only to people with humble and contrite hearts who can be convicted and crushed by the weight of their own sins, and turn to Him for forgiveness and salvation (Psalm 51:17).
"For there is no partiality with God" (verse 11). This is the main point of the section we have read today. Jack Cottrell wrote in his commentary the following: “The justice of the law is truly blindfolded; who the person is makes no difference.” Paul is aiming this conclusion specifically to his Jewish brethren, but this is a true statement across the board, even for Christians. Even if we have believed in Christ and repented of our sins and been baptized to have our sins forgiven; that does not guarantee us His favored status forever. If our hearts do not belong to God and we do not remain true to Him and faithful to His word, we will not receive His grace and pardon and mercy on Judgment Day.
Please read Romans 2:17-29 for tomorrow.
Hope you all have a very blessed day!
- Louie Taylor
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
“Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
"For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
---End of Scripture verses---
Yesterday we read that the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel (verse 17). In today’s reading, verse 18 tells us that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. God’s wrath is actually a part of and a revelation of His righteousness. His perfect holiness will not allow Him to leave sin unpunished. It may appear that God has closed His eyes to all the sin that is running rampant in the world today, but God is not ignoring sin.
As a matter of fact, verse 18 says that God’s wrath is revealed against “all” ungodliness and unrighteousness. People may think that they can pull one over on God, but you can’t even slip one sin by Him without His knowledge of it. But just how does God reveal His wrath from heaven against man’s willful rebellion? I think He does that in many ways. It might be anything from the heavy weight of a guilty conscience to a prison sentence for criminal activity.
But the nature of God’s wrath that is specified in today’s passage is the “giving over” of people to the harsh consequences of their lustful desires and sinful lifestyle choices. Three times the writer says, “God gave them over” (verses 24, 26, 28). This is the Greek word “paradidomi” which means “to give into the hands of another.” If we refuse to follow the benevolent will of a loving God, He will let us go and deliver us over to the clutches of our malevolent and hate-filled adversary.
Let’s notice just a couple of things about the nature of sin depicted for us here. First of all, sin is progressive. Each time it is said that “God gave them over,” their sinful behavior went from bad, to worse, to worst. They (the ungodly Gentiles in this instance) went from idolatry to sexual impurity to homosexuality (yes homosexuality is sinful!!!) to “a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness…” (verses 28-29). In other words, anything goes. Please don’t misunderstand. This doesn’t mean you have to be a total reprobate in order to garner God’s displeasure. That’s not the point here. But once you delve into Satan’s realm, there’s no telling how far your life might spiral out of control.
And please let’s notice where this sinful chain reaction all began. Verse 21 tells us that “they did not honor Him as God or give thanks.” A major source of the problems in people’s lives, and in the world in general, is that the creature does not appreciate the Creator. An ungrateful heart is the wellspring of a bitter and miserable existence. If we are unthankful for the wonderful gifts that our merciful Father has blessed us with, we open the door for any and all types of failure and heartache.
Finally, please notice that this downward spiral didn’t begin from a place of ignorance. Verse 21 also says, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God…” Verse 19 says, “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” The people who have chosen to abandon God should know better. They actually do know better, but they have opted for a crooked and dark path in which to walk. There is ample evidence in the universe around us (and within us) that God exists…and that He is good (verse 20). Therefore the writer (the Holy Spirit) tells us that “they are without excuse.”
There is no good reason to find yourself in a far country of sin away from a righteous Father who loves you deeply. And there is no good excuse for that either. Has God given you over because you have let go of His loving hand? He’s just waiting for you to come to your senses and turn back around.
Repent of your sins and He will forgive you. If you’ve never been baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), please do that and He will make all things new for you spiritually (2 Corinthians 5:17). The only way to avoid the eternal consequences and punishment for your sins is to turn to Christ in humble and obedient faith (Romans 1:5). If we can help please let us know.
Please read Romans 2:1-16 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
- Louie Taylor
“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”
---End of Scripture Verses---
Let’s start our study of Paul’s letter to the Romans with a quote from Jack Cottrell’s introduction to his commentary on Romans by College Press Publishing Company:
“God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Ps 119:05), and no part of it shines more brilliantly than the book of Romans. The truth of God’s Word sets us free (John 8:32), and Romans teaches us the most liberating of all truths. God’s Word is sharp and piercing like a sword (Heb 4:12), and no blade penetrates more deeply into our hearts than Romans. Overall the book of Romans may be the most read and most influential book of the Bible, but sometimes it is the most neglected and misunderstood book.
“In 1 Cor 15:3-4 Paul sums up the gospel as these three truths: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised up again on the third day. The reality of the historical facts of the Savior’s death and resurrection is stressed over and over in the book of Acts. Romans, however, is an exposition of the meaning of these facts. In the language of 1 Cor 15:3, Romans focuses not on ‘Christ died,’ but on the next three words: ‘for our sins.’ Acts explains what salvation consists of and how we may receive it. Romans does the same, but carries the explanation to heights and depths that thrill and satisfy the soul, providing it with an experience that is at the same time intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic.”
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Rome with the hopes that he would be able to come and visit them personally and preach the gospel to them (Romans 1:15; 15:23-28). But he had many important things to tell them in anticipation of his protracted travels prior to his arrival. Some of the more prevalent “topics” or “themes” he addressed are, justification by faith, salvation by God’s grace (not law), equality of Jews and Gentiles, and God’s righteousness in dealing with both groups.
Paul felt an obligation to all people to share with them what the Lord Jesus had so graciously shared with him. Paul was saved from his sins but by the grace of God, and he knew that all people, rich or poor, wise or foolish, Jew or Gentile, desperately need this life-giving, life-saving grace. He also knew that God’s saving grace is contained in and transmitted by the words of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel that he so frequently suffered for, because “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
The subject and focus and thrust of the Gospel is Jesus Christ. Jesus, who “was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (verses 3-4). He had two natures simultaneously—He was both human and deity, man and God. The Old Testament prophets had prophesied of His human lineage through the direct descent of the great king David. His resurrection from the grave declared Him to be God’s Son with supreme power over life and death.
All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Praise Him for His power, majesty and goodness. Profess His indescribable love and gift to everyone!
Please read Romans 1:18-32 for tomorrow.
Have a super day!!!
- Louie Taylor
“‘I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Homer Hailey commented on verse 1: “The words of the prophecy are the thoughts, principles, judgments, and messages of the book. The Lord is not speaking of an honest error in judgment and interpretation, even though this is serious. Rather He condemns the presumptuous and all who manifest a careless or flippant attitude toward the Word. As Lenski intimates, this makes writing about the book a serious and sublime matter to be pursued with the deepest of reverence for God and His truth.” Anyone who “adds to” it will multiply his own affliction, and anyone who “takes away from it” will suffer loss on the grandest scale.
The word of God is far too perfect, pure and important to be tampered with. All who would dare alter the inspired word of Truth will not escape the consequences of their insolence. That principle is true for “the words of the book of this prophecy” (verse 19), and pervades throughout the entirety of the Bible. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12); and “is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). To “play God” by attempting to “improve” upon His perfection, or to portray Him as a liar by refuting the aspects you are not fond of is each an act of arrogance of the highest degree.
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32). “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9).
“‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (verse 20). “This is the equivalent of the transliterated Aramaic word, ‘Maranatha’ found in the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:22). What a wonderful finish for a people whose only wish is to please the Lord and whose overriding desire is to live with Him in eternity. (Harkrider) “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (verse 21) “These last words are a fitting benediction to this wonderful book. God’s scheme of redemption is by His grace. His continued involvement in guarding and preserving His kingdom against the onslaughts of Satan, is an expression of great favor. And His promise to restore the tree of life for all who keep His commandments, is a promise founded in grace. Indeed, only one word remains to be said, Amen, be it so!” (Harkrider)
We made it all the way through the New Testament!
Thanks for walking through it with us!
- Louie Taylor
“‘I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the change curches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”
---End of Scripture verses---
The Apostle John has been shown many visions through the agency of various angels, but from the beginning it has been declared that this is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bondservants…” (Revelation 1:1). Jesus personally sent His “angel to testify” with His authority “these things for the churches” (verse 1). He is both “the root and the descendant of David.” As God Almighty who has existed from all eternity, Jesus is David’s Lord (Matthew 22:43-44) and therefore his “root” and Creator. As God “manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16) and a direct “descendant” of King David, He is David’s “son” and successor (Matthew 22:42).
Jesus also called Himself “the bright and morning star.” Robert Harkrider wrote that this term signals “the beginning of a new day at dawn. By fulfilling the purpose and plan of God through His birth, life and death, Jesus shines forth a morning of victory for all who follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes (2:28; 14:4).” Homer Hailey wrote: “A prophet long ago declared that out of Jacob would come forth a star, a sceptre (symbol of royalty) that would smite His enemies, breaking the sons of tumult (Num. 24:17). Jesus now declares that He is that star, ‘the bright, the morning star,’ who, as the offspring of David, has conquered His enemies. And as the morning star, He heralds the approach of eternal day.”
God wants you to wash your robe in the blood of the Lamb so that you “may have right to the tree of life, and enter by the gates” of pearl “into the” eternal heavenly “city” (verse 14). The Holy Spirit through the inspired writers of the Bible invites you to “come” (verse 17). The members who make up Christ’s church body (the bride) that is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) say “come”. “Let the one who is thirsty come” and “take the water of life without cost.” Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14).
Jesus says “come”: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) The “dogs…sorcerers…immoral persons…idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying” (verse 15) live “outside” of Christ, and “their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8), forever and ever and ever. That is no place for you to waste an eternity. You don’t want to go there, God doesn’t want you to be there, Jesus died so that you need not burn there. It is all so tragic and unnecessary to ignore the Lord’s loving invitation and forfeit a home in heaven. “Repent and…be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Hear the invitation. Come whosoever will!
Please read Revelation 22:18-21 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Homer Hailey made the following observations about verse 10: “A ‘sealed’ book is one beyond the comprehension of uninitiated persons. When John heard the voice of the seven thunders he was told to ‘seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered’ (10:4), and so we cannot know what they were. Daniel was instructed to shut up the vision he had seen and the words he had heard, for they pertained to the end of Hebrew history (Dan. 8:26; 10:14; 12:4, 9). But John’s prophecy was not to be sealed up, ‘for the time is at hand’; the events of its revelation were not in the distant future but were for the immediate period. The book was to be sent to the churches at that time, (1:11), and its content made applicable to all churches (22:16). Its message was to be made known, its warnings were to be heeded, and its hearers encouraged by the divine assurance of victory.” Amen!
“Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy” (verse 11). A person is either with Lord or against Him, loves Him or hates Him, practices truth or unrighteousness. In Jesus’ eyes there is no middle ground—we are either filthy wrongdoers or holy practitioners of righteousness. Many of the world’s rebellious and sinful are so deeply entrenched in their self-serving ways that these words of warning (or any of God’s word) will have zero effectiveness for positive change. They have already carved out their future. Their own blood is on their own hands. But if anyone is of a mind to listen and softhearted enough for the word to penetrate, the time to make changes is now. When we stand before the Lord in judgment, He will “render to every man according to what he has done” (verse 12).
When Jesus returns, His “reward” will be with Him. He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (verse 13). In the beginning, as the Almighty God, Jesus created all things (John 1:1). When He returns to redeem His creation, He will do so as a perfectly divine, fair and impartial Judge, having left no one in the dark about His expectations and the consequences of not meeting them. The Lord will “reward” the unbelieving and disobedient “according to what” they “have done,” and say “well done” to His “good and faithful” servants, “enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
The King James Version renders verse 14 with the more familiar phrase, “Blessed are they that do His commandments.” Robert Harkrider has suggested that the two Greek phrases, “those who have washed their robes” (hoi plunontes tas stolas) and “those who do His commands” (hoi poiountes tas entolas) so closely resemble each other that perhaps a scribal error accounts for the differences in the manuscripts. The variations in translations make very little difference, however, because the two phrases carry essentially the same meaning. You can only wash your robes in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ by obeying the precious and perfect commandments of God.
“Blessed are they who do His commandments,
They shall claim the tree of life’
Into the city they shall enter,
They are victors in the strife.
Blessed are they who do His commandments,
They shall wear the robes of white;
Under the portals God shall lead them,
They shall serve Him day and night.
Blessed are they who do His commandments,
They shall stand before the throne;
Into the life of joy eternal,
God shall claim them for His own.”
(Henry R. Trickett)
Please read Revelation 22:16-17 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“And he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true’; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. ‘And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.’ I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
“Jesus was designated as the ‘faithful and true witness’ (3:140, and ‘Faithful and True’ as He judged and made war (19:11). Now, through the angel, the Father endorses both Christ and the message as He says, ‘These words,’ the words of the entire revelation, ‘are faithful and true.’” (Hailey) The Lord God is the Father of all spirits (Hebrews 12:9), but, through His Holy Spirit He has empowered certain men to speak and teach His mind and will, and we do well to pay heed (2 Peter 1:21). The same inspired author of Revelation insists that we “believe not every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
But “blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of THIS book” (verse 7) for he will not have a part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, but will dwell eternally in the glorious, gilded citadel of God. This pronouncement is the sixth of seven “beatitudes,” and bears the tenor of the first (1:3) and last beatitudes (22:14). John encouraged the immediate readers to take good comfort and cheer in the fact that the Lord was “coming quickly” to fly to the need of His beleaguered spiritual soldiers who keep His commands and heed His warnings. These words would not have provided much “blessing” to the first century Christians had He not promised them relief and reward, and reprisal for their persecutors that would “soon take place.”
The Apostle John endorsed “the prophecy of this book” to be “faithful and true” as “the one who heard and saw these things” (verse 8). He was so overwhelmed by awe and emotion that, for the second time, he “fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed” him “these things” (verse 9). Homer Hailey wrote: “It is surprising that so shortly after John had been reproved for worshiping an angel that he would again commit the same error… Possibly John was overcome because the angel stood so near to God in revealing His testimony; however no one knows why re responded as he did. But let us not be too critical of John; for when a person brings to one of us the glorious gospel, points us to the Lamb and makes life and heaven real to us, we are prone to give him reverence beyond his due, though he is merely a man and nothing more than a servant (1 Cor. 3:5). Even angels are just fellow servants with God’s faithful prophets and servants who keep or hold sacred His word. The divine command is, Worship God; for all adoration, praise, and devotion belong to Him.”
Please read Revelation 22:10-15 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”
---End of Scripture verses---
John was previously shown visions of and has given us glimpses into the stunning materials and structures of the beautiful city of God in heaven (21:9-27), and of its holy inhabitants (21:1-7). In today’s verses we see how blessed and wonderful life will be for those saints privileged enough to claim heaven as their home. We are carried back to the beginning perfection of the Garden of Eden before the earth and humanity were corrupted by sin and its destructive consequences. In heaven, the reverse of the “curse” (verse 3) will bring about the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). The presence of God (Genesis 3:8), the “tree of life” (Genesis 2:9), a living “river” (Genesis 2:10), and the absence of sin (Genesis 3:22-24) are the markings of an everlasting habitation perfectly equipped for sustaining eternal life. Paradise lost will be fully recovered in heaven for God’s people, and His purposes will be ultimately and completely accomplished.
Unlike the waterways of the world that are tainted with pollution and corrupted because of the curse of sin, the “river of the water of life” is as “clear as crystal” that brilliantly sparkles with purity and splendor. This river is spotless and pure because its wellspring is “the throne of God and of the Lamb,” where the Father and the Son sit as coregents ruling as benevolent Monarchs, ever supplying spiritual sustenance and refreshment. “The tree of life” is firmly planted beside the river of life “bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month” (verse 2). This tree actually provides perpetual and plentiful “healing” from its “leaves” as well as nourishment from its life-giving fruit.
Robert Harkrider wrote concerning verse 3 and 4: “Even as sin was driven out of the original garden of Eden, so the ‘curse’ of sin with its pain, sickness, sorrow and death shall be entirely absent in heaven. ‘His servants shall serve’ shows that heaven will not be a place of indolence… Man’s yearning to meet God was first expressed by Moses (Exod. 33:17-23) and later by Philip (John 14:8). But to see God’s face is not possible while man lives in the flesh (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12); however, this desire shall be realized in heaven. The thought is that the people of God shall be clearly identified because His name will be engraved in their foreheads (3:12; 7:3; 14:1). They shall see Him as He is because they will be forever in His presence (1 John 3:1-2).”
“In the land of fadeless day
Lies the city foursquare;
It shall never pass away,
And there is no night there.
God shall wipe away all tears,
There’s no death, no pain, nor fears,
And they count not time by years,
For there is no night there.”
(John R. Clements)
Please read Revelation 22:6-9 for tomorrow.
Have a bright and shining day!
Before we delve into the incredible last chapter of the amazing last book of the Bible, I think it is important to consider some observations made by Robert Harkrider in his “Truth Commentaries” publication by Guardian of Truth Foundation about a major misconception that some brethren have with chapters 20-22. This will serve as an excellent summary for the chapter that we have just recently wrapped up, and a good introduction to the one we are about to embark upon. Unfortunately the attractive bullet pointed outline style of his book will be lost in the plain text of this post, but here is what Harkrider wrote:
“Some excellent scholars see in this last section the church on earth throughout all time. They interpret the ‘new heaven and a new earth’ to mean the New Testament order by which sinners wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb and thereby are adorned with purified white robes. They see God’s protecting care and counsel as He comforts Christians in their afflictions and provides for every spiritual need. Although these truths are taught elsewhere in Scripture, this interpretation does not match the context of Revelation 20-22 for the following reasons:
1. The chronology of this text ‘follows’ the final judgment scene rather than occurring before it (20:11-15).
2. The former things are passed away (21:4). The earth and the heaven have fled away (20:11), and John saw a new heaven and a new earth (21:1).
3. The drinking of the water of life is occurring while others are in the lake of fire, the second death (21:6-7; 20:15; 21:8).
4. The rewards are comparable to those spoken of earlier in the book as blessings ‘after’ death.
“The faithful: (a) Wear robes of white after coming out of tribulation (6:11; 7:14). (b) Serve God night and day in His temple (7:14-17). (His temple is in heaven, 11:19). (c) Are in heaven where God is the temple (21:22). (Note the difference: on earth the church is the temple of God [1 Cor. 3:16]. He dwells in us now, but then we shall dwell in His presence.) (d) Experience neither hunger, thirst, nor heat of the sun upon them (7:16). (e) The Lamb shall feed them and wipe away all tears (7:17). (f) Shall eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God (2:7). (g) Will be given a crown of life and not be hurt of the second death (2:10-11). (h) Shall see God’s face (22:4) which cannot be done on earth (1 John 4:12). (i) Shall reign forever and ever whereas before judgment they reigned 1000 years (22:5).
“The kingdom of God on earth is called the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:23-24). Both terms apply because: (1) it originated in heaven according to God’s purpose (Eph. 3:10-11); (2) its citizens bear the characteristics of heaven (Matt. 5:2-12); and (3) it has the eternal destiny of heaven (Phil. 3:20-21). Therefore many of the eternal blessings that will be enjoyed in heaven are partially realized by the saints who are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ while they still live on earth (Eph. 1:3). However, to apply Revelation 21-22 as the description of earthly blessings before the final judgment is to strain the text.”
Please read Revelation 22:1-5 for tomorrow. Really this time!
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Robert Harkrider commented the following on verse 22: “In the Old Testament the structure in which God would manifest himself was at first the tabernacle, then later the temple in Jerusalem. In the New Testament, construction of a building is unnecessary because the church on earth is the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph 2:21). After the final judgment, the sanctuary is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. Expositors who see these verses describing the church on earth reverse what the text says. The church on earth is the temple ‘of’ God, but this text says that in the new heaven and new earth the divine indwelling will be perfected so that God ‘is’ the temple!” I would also point out that God the Father (the Almighty) and God the Son (the Lamb) are clearly depicted as coequals in their eternal status, vastness and magnificence as the everlasting habitation of the inhabitants of heaven.
“The glory of God” will be all the light the heavenly city will need for perfect illumination (verse 23). As the saints of God trod upon the face of the earth, His word is “a lamp unto” our “feet and a light unto” our “path” (Psalm 119:10), but in the eternal realms above, “the lamp is the Lamb.” Homer Hailey wrote, “His glory, which the Jews called ‘the Shekinah,’ filled the tabernacle and temple. His glory is in the church by His Spirit…and now that glory is full and complete as He and the Lamb fill the new temple.” And yet again we see the equal glory shared by both the Father and the Son. While the unbelievers, the unrighteous and the disobedient will be “cast” to the realm of the “outer darkness,” separated from the illumination of the Almighty and the Lamb “in that place” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:2); the redeemed in heaven “will walk” in the “light” of the city “for there will be no night there” (verses 24-25).
It is a beautiful and blessed thing to realize that “the kings of the earth will bring their glory” into the eternal abode of heaven (verse 24). Inspired Scripture assures us that “we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7). But this is a guarantee that we will transport none of our earthly wealth or possessions into the Great Beyond, and not that we will enter into eternity “emptyhanded”. Let’s draw our memory back to the words of Revelation 14:13: “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.’” If we lead obedient and upright earthly lives, as kings and priests of God (Revelation 5:10) we will enter into eternity with our righteousness and integrity intact. Robert Harkrider astutely noted that this “shall stand as proof that God has not imposed upon man anything that was beyond one’s capacity to obey.”
People who choose the “wide path” of destruction over the “narrow way” of salvation cannot avoid the eternal consequences of their sinful decisions. No “unclean” person “who practices abomination and lying, will ever” set foot upon the streets of gold in beautiful city of God (verse 27). If your name is not “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” it is because you have poorly chosen the inferior pleasures of sin and disobedience that last but for a short season, and forfeited the excellent, eternal, exquisite riches and glory that God has prepared for those who love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Friend, it ain’t worth it!
Please read Revelation 22:1-5 for tomorrow.
Have great day!
“The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Homer Hailey wrote concerning verse 15 the following: “In John’s earlier vision of measuring the temple, the seer was given an ordinary reed like a rod and told to measure the sanctuary, its altar, and worshipers. This was interpreted to be the church of the present age (…11:1). But the heavenly city must be measured by an angel, apparently the one who had called John to see the holy city (vv. 9f). Unlike the reed used by John, this one is golden, befitting the majesty and glory of the heavenly tabernacle or sanctuary which is identified later as the eternal one. The angel is to measure the city, the gates, and the wall.”
The city measured “twelve thousand furlongs” (KJV), or “fifteen hundred miles” (verse 16). It is uncertain whether this is the total measurement of the four sides of the city added together or that of each individual facet, but either way you look at it the dimensions are staggering to the mind! And that is likely the whole point of the astounding figures given! These are not the measurements of an earthly city that could fit within the boundaries of literal Palestine, but a depiction of the vastness of the eternal, heavenly dwelling place of the saints! There will be ample room in the spacious “mansions above” (John 14:6) to comfortably accommodate all the saved who ever walked the face of the earth!
Robert Harkrider wrote of the “twelve thousand furlongs” of verse 16 and the “seventy-two yards, or “an hundred and forty and four cubits” (KJV) of verse 17: “‘Twelve’ is the apocalyptic number to represent the people of God, and a ‘thousand’ is a multiplication of ten which is the complete, full number… ‘An hundred forty and four’ is twelve multiplied by itself, and this it is an apocalyptic way of indicating the full security for the people of God who dwell within its confines.” These, of course, are figurative numbers and not literal, the first set measuring the dimensions of the city, the second set the thickness of its walls.
Let’s consider just a few of the precious materials that make up this magnificent city. “The city was pure gold, like clear glass” (verse 18), and “the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (verse 21). “‘Gold’ of such purity that it is transparent is unknown to this world, but perhaps it signifies the glorious light of God reflected by its shining appearance.” (Harkrider) “The wall was” made of “jasper” or shimmering diamonds that dazzle the eye as the perfect, pure light of the Son ricochet off its millions of multifaceted mirrors. “The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone” (verse 19).
This is a portrayal of the most stunningly beautiful place imaginable to the mortal mind, a description in human terms of beauty that is indescribable and unimaginable. “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Oh what a splendid procession it will be to pass through those perfect gates of lustrous pearl!
Please read Revelation 21:22-27 for tomorrow.
Have a wonderful day!
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
---End of Scripture verses---
One of the seven angels “carried” John UP to a mountain to show him a vision of the “the wife of the Lamb” “coming DOWN out of heaven…” (verses 9-10). Notice that this “holy city, Jerusalem” was not brought down to rest upon the earth because John’s best vantage point to view her splendor was atop “a great high mountain” as she was “coming down”. The heavenly Jerusalem will not be an earthly city as many in the religious world claim, and verse 10 is a very shaky “proof text” for their position. We must keep in mind that the holy apostle is being shown heavenly visions in signs and symbols. The kingdom delivered up to God in all its glory is depicted as a beautiful bride, magnificently adorned and arrayed on her special day of marriage, and also as a radiant city having sturdy walls and a firm foundations.
The angel promised to show John a bride, but what he actually observed was a city. “The precise phrase, ‘new Jerusalem,’ occurs only twice in Scripture, both times in Revelation (3:12; 21:2). ‘The holy city’ occurs three times (11:2; 21:2; 22:19), and ‘the beloved city’ once (20:9). It is now called ‘the holy city Jerusalem,’ not ‘great’ as in the KJV. The ‘great city’ is applied nine times to the harlot city Babylon, the world city… One is great, the subject of the wrath of God; the other is holy and beloved, the object of His favor.” (Hailey) “Having the glory of God, her brilliance was like a…crystal-clear jasper” (verse 11). “The ‘jasper’ is the same stone that represented God in 4:3. Scholars have generally concluded that in Revelation the jasper stone is the same as a diamond. The beauty and grandeur of the city reflect the glory of God. Its brilliant light is pure and perfect, for the Lord God gives the light (22:5).” (Harkrider)
The beautiful city of God “had a great and high wall” (verse 12). Walls were built around cities to fortify and protect them from enemy invasion. But this wall is merely a symbol for the total and perfect security provided by God for all His saints in glory because all of their enemies will be completely destroyed when the Lamb receives His bride. Cut within the “great and high wall” were “twelve gates”. Homer Hailey wrote: “Ezekiel’s city likewise had three gates on each side; but in Ezekiel’s vision the gates were ‘egresses,’ exits through which each tribe went out to possess its inheritance (Ezek. 48:30-35). In John’s vision the gates are portals of entrance, identified with the twelve tribes of Israel and by which each enters the city.”
The “twelve tribes of the sons of Israel” may imply that God’s faithful children under His previous covenant arrangement unite with the holy ones called by the Gospel of Christ to comprise “the Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26). The “twelve angels” standing at the gates are there as “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14) and not sentinels standing guard, for their will be nothing wicked remaining to assail the saints of God. That three gates are situated on the east, north, south and west (verse 13) likely indicates that people of faith from all nations and tribes and all points of the compass are welcomed by God and dwell freely in the eternal city. These are the ones who walked by the faith that was built upon the “foundation” of the Gospel of Christ which was proclaimed by “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (verse 14; Ephesians 2:19-20; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
Please read Revelation 21:15-21 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
We live in a broken, fallen, deteriorating world because of wickedness and the worsening results of sin’s curse. All of us are hurting in some fashion or another, every one of us is growing older, most of us feel the effects of gravity weighing us down, time winding down, our bodies and even our minds wearing out. Allow your spirits to be buoyed and your countenance to be lifted by this one glorious promise from God: “Behold, I am making all things new” (verse 5)! If God is your Father and you are His faithful child, things are going to get so much better for you in the very near future! Infinitely better in fact! Write it down! “These words are faithful and true.” Our God cannot lie and He wouldn’t even if He could! There will soon be a new and improved you, perfectly fitted and suited for a heavenly eternity in the spiritual realm, evermore in the presence, protection and providence of the One who created you and loves you the most!
Both God the Father and Jesus the Word rightfully and equally lay claim to being “the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8; 22:13). Yahweh God has set His predetermined plans and times and the fullness thereof, and He alone can truthfully declare, “It is done” (verse 6). “The scheme of redemption and its revelation originate and terminate with God. As ‘the beginning and the end,’ He created and He determines the objective and consequence of all things planned and brought forth. In the Old Testament He repeatedly claimed to be the sole Deity, ‘the first and the last,’ and that beside Him there is no God (Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 44:6; 48:12). This claim is verified by the fulfilling and consummation of His purpose in Christ, for only an infinite being could have so accurately foretold and carried out such a plan.” (Hailey)
“I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost” (verse 6). Robert Harkrider wrote: “Though people have spent great sums of money to find a fountain of youth, God holds it out freely to all who come to him. All good things men vainly work to acquire and retain in this world will be inherited for ever and ever by faithful saints (John 14:1-3; Rom. 8:18-24; 2 Cor. 4:18-5:4; Col. 3:1-4).” Jesus offers and provides the only living water that can truly satisfy the thirsty, immortal soul a human being (John 4:10; 7:38). He bids us to freely drink of His life-giving water (truth) here on earth, and then provides “a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1), in the eternal holy city whose maker and builder is God.
“He who overcomes will inherit these things” (verse 7). Homer Hailey wrote: “In each of the seven letters to the churches the Lord promised a reward to him that overcomes (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21) even as He overcame (3:21; 5:5). The saint would conquer by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of his testimony and by loving not his life even unto death (12:11). Now to each who prevails is given the assurance that he shall inherit these blessings of the new earth.” If our dynamic faith overcomes the trials, temptations and tribulations of life through Christ Jesus, we will prove ourselves to be God’s “son” or daughter, and He promises the richest and most exquisite of inheritances to His faithful children.
But “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars” (verse 8) will find no refreshment from the waters of the river of life. Their eternal lot will be to suffer the agony of “the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.” The unbelieving, unfaithful and unrighteous will feel the fury of the eternal fires of “the second death”. Death is always depicted as separation in the Bible. Faith without works is effectively dead, the body without the spirit is physically dead (James 4:26). A living human without the living God is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-2). If his eternal spirit separates from his mortal body in that wretched condition, he is eternally dead. This condition is fatal. It is final. It is forever.
Please read Revelation 21:9-14 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
Revelation chapters 21-22 comprise some of the most encouraging and comforting words in all the Bible. John shows us that remaining faithful to the Lord through all of life’s ups and downs, challenges and distresses, trials and temptations will be more than worth as the glories and splendors of an eternity in heaven are symbolically unfolded before our eyes. The everlasting dwelling place of the ransomed/redeemed will be a realm of God’s constant and abundant fellowship, protection and provision.
After Judgment is finalized and eternal sentences are decreed, after death and hades are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15), there will be a new and everlasting arrangement, completely different from anything that now exists in the temporary realm. In eternity there will be “no longer any sea” of separation between the King of kings and His royal subjects (Revelation 4:6), or a sea of humanity from which arises corrupt nations and empires that rage against God and His elect (Revelation 13:1; 20:13).
In the current vision John is shown “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (verse 1). Although many in the religious world have set their sights and hopes upon a splendid abode in a renewed and regenerated terrestrial planet, this terminology is just as symbolic as the vast majority of the rest of Revelation’s content. John describes in figurative terms what life will be like in heaven, which is the eternal dwelling place that God has appointed for those whose names are written in the book of life (John 14:1-4; 1 Peter 1:3-4).
Robert Harkrider wrote the following about the new heaven and earth: “Isaiah used this same imagery when he prophesied of the new order that was to replace the Mosaic economy (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). Isaiah and John did not prophesy about events of the same point in time, but both used the term ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ to describe a future destiny of the people of God. Isaiah was speaking of the period of the church age, the ‘new’ testament era (Heb. 9:15), whereas John spoke of the period that follows the church age. From Isaiah’s position in time, the covenant of which Christ is the mediator was ‘new’ and stood in contrast to the first covenant which became ‘old’ (Heb. 8:6-13). John’s prophecy in this vision was about things beyond final judgment (20:13).”
Next John was shown “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (verse 2). This holy, heavenly city is comprised of all of God’s covenant people from all places and times, including His culminating covenant through Christ Jesus and His church (Hebrews 12:22-24). All those who have confessed that this world is not their home (Hebrews 11:13), but have chosen to serve God in the hopes of a better inheritance, are “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory…” (Philippians 3:20-21)
“This heavenly city is also prepared as a bride (19:7-8), dressed in spotless white, a picture of innocence purity, and love (2 Cor. 11:2; Rom. 7:4; Eph. 5:22-23).” (Harkrider) At the eternal uniting of Christ and His blood-bought bride, God Himself will “dwell among them, and they shall be His people” (verse 3). When the Word, who “was God” (John 1:1), “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), He only did so for a few, short years. But what He accomplished endures for eternity, and thus we will dwell with Him in heaven forever and ever and ever, nevermore to be estranged. Never again will we shed the bitter tears of fear, pain, heartache, death or separation (verse 4). “The first things have passed away,” behold, all things have truly become new, perfect, resplendent, eternally joyful! Won’t it be wonderful there?! I wouldn’t miss it for the whole wide world!!!
Please read Revelation 21:5-8 for tomorrow.
Have a wonderful day!
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Other than visions of eternal victory to encourage the overcoming saints given in interludes and snippets, the majority of the book of Revelation deals with “the things which must soon take place” (Revelation 1;1). But today’s verses clearly comprise a concise depiction of the Final Judgment that will take place at the end of time. Homer Hailey wrote concerning other judgment scenes in the book: “Thus far in the book several scenes of judgment have been described, but none depicted the final judgment. There was a judgment of the nations on behalf of the saints (11:18), one of those who poured out the blood of the saints (16:5), one of the harlot (18:8; 19:2), and of the beast and the false prophet (19:11-12); but all of these pertained to the period of Roman rule.” Now we get a glimpse into the grand finale.
John was shown a vision of “a great white throne and Him who sat upon it” (verse 11). This throne is “great” because of the greatness of the One seated there, and it is “white” because, as the symbol of purity and holiness, all of His judgments are perfectly just and purely unassailable. There can be little doubt that Jesus, “the righteous Judge” (2 Timothy 4:8), is the “Him” who sits as the great adjudicator of all mankind in verse 11. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Great Conqueror “called Faithful and True” who sat upon a white horse judging and waging war “in righteousness” (Revelation 19:11), now executes that righteous judgment seated upon a white throne.
From His “presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 102:25-27: “Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But you are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.” At the coming of Christ in judgment, John sees a vision of “the day of the Lord” coming “like a thief, in which the heavens…pass away with a roar and the elements” are “destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and all its works” are “burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
John saw “the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne” (verse 12). This is one appointment that no one will be able to postpone or cancel. ALL people must stand before the judgment throne of Jesus the Righteous. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, weak or strong, beautiful or repulsive, a king or a servant, red, white, black, yellow or brown (verse 13). On that great and final day, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and…every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). And all will receive the sentence of eternal life or eternal death.
Robert Harkrider wrote concerning the “books” that were open in verse 12: “The ‘books’ (plural) at the judgment scene signify the different standards by which all the living shall be judged (Heb. 1:1; Rom 2:14; 2 Cor. 5:10). The dead were judged by the word God gave in each dispensation and how they responded to it (Rom. 2:6-11; 2 Cor. 5:10). ‘Another book was opened’ which included God’s roll of righteous people throughout all ages, for this is the ‘book of life’ (Exod. 32:32-33; Mal. 3:16-17; Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 21:27).
Friend, is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life? How have you responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What will your answer be to the Lord’s invitation (Matthew 11:25-30)? What will you do with Jesus? Where will you spend your eternity? Jesus Himself said: “He who as believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
Please read Revelation 21:1-4 for tomorrow.
Have a super day!
“When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
---End of Scripture verses---
After Christ’s literal reign for a figurative “thousand years,” “Satan will be released from his prison” (verse 7). Even though the Lord “bound” the devil by limiting his freedom and sphere of influence when He threw him into the bottomless pit (verses 3-4), mankind’s adversary still wields great power for wickedness in the world. It is likely that Satan’s “loosening” corresponds directly and proportionally with the world casting off its moral restraints, and especially when God’s people become less and less distinguishable from the evil world in which they live. Robert Harkrider commented: “This section is difficult to analyze because the details are brief. Perhaps it signifies a period of great wickedness just before the second coming of Christ, comparable to the days of Noah before the flood (Luke 17:26-27).”
At this future time, Satan “will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth” (verse 8). Instead of working through a single superpower like the Roman Empire of old, he will gather his evil forces from around the globe to do battle against what is left of God’s holy saints dwelling upon the earth. The old devil will use his greatest power for persuasion to achieve his purposes: deception. Satan “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), and if God’s people let their guard down, he can “show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
Robert Harkrider wrote the following about “God and Magog”: “Gog and Magog are mentioned in Ezekiel 38 and 39, where Gog was the king of the land of Magog and symbolically stood for the pagan forces which fought against the kingdom of God. Ezekiel wrote about a battle that involved the fleshly kingdom of God, the nation of Israel. Wicked forces came against it, destroyed the temple, and put them in bondage. Ezekiel assured them that God would keep his promise to Abraham and deliver a faithful remnant out of which the Savior would be born. Based on Ezekiel’s figurative use of God and Magog to symbolize the enemies who fought against God’s kingdom, Revelation employs these symbols again to represent all of the world’s spiritual pagan forces that Satan can marshal in one last attempt to overthrow God’s spiritual kingdom.”
But, no sooner than Satan can amass his forces against “the beloved city” (Christ’s church), “fire came down” at the command of God “and devoured them” (verse 9). As surely as God thwarted Satan’s advances against His people by destroying the Roman Empire at the “Battle of Armageddon,” any future attempts by the adversary to overthrow the kingdom of God will be met with equal, blunt, decisive force. The continuous battle of good versus evil, Satan versus the Lord and His people, rages on even to this day. “Evidences of Satan’s allies are abundant: secularism, materialism, atheism, astrology, false religion, fleshly lusts, drug cults, and all manner of evil. The Lord’s church is under attack from the paganistic advocates who tolerate every immorality secular humanism can conceive, from abortion and homosexual marriages to the abolition of any faith that advocates trust in God.” (Harkrider)
And the sinful assaults will continue unto, and even increase greatly at, the end of man’s time on earth. But Satan will lose. The forces that array themselves with the devil against God and His people will lose. The devil and all who reject the Lord’s offer of salvation will be “thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (verse 10). And God’s righteous, obedient servants who patiently and faithful endure to the end, will reign with Him “forever and ever” in heaven. This is THE main point and central moral and grand theme of the whole of Revelation.
Please read Revelation 20:11-14 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
---End of Scripture verses---
This vision of “thrones” that John saw was undoubtedly one in heaven and not on the earth. “Leon Morris notes that John ‘uses “throne” forty-seven times in all, and except for Satan’s throne (2:13) and that of the beast (13:2; 16:10) all appear to be in heaven.” (Harkrider). This is significant because what is described here is not a “thousand-year reign” on earth by Christ and the redeemed, but the spirits of the departed saints seated in heavenly realms. Notice that these were “souls” (verse 4) and not fleshly bodies that John saw sitting upon thrones. These were the faithful Christians who “had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and…the word of God, and…had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received” his “mark”.
“The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed” (verse 5). This is a reference to those who did not come “to life and” reign “with Christ for a thousand years.” “The ‘rest of the dead’ refers to the wicked servants of the beast killed with the sword of Christ (19:21). Their cause which had been advanced through the beast and the false prophet does not prevail until the thousand years are finished. Then they shall experience a resurrection (figuratively) in Satan’s revived effort as described in 20:7-9.” (Harkrider)
John depicts the triumph of the persecuted and martyred saints who “came to life” as “the first resurrection” (verse 5). This is not a reference to the bodily resurrection that will take place at Christ’s Second Coming, but is a symbol for the great victory over Satan that the faithful saints were guaranteed through their fidelity to the Lord. “Christ’s victory was manifested and exemplified in His resurrection and His being seated on His throne which stands as a symbol of His total triumph. The figure is not new, Old Testament prophets pictured Judah’s and Israel’s triumph over idolatry and Assyrian and Babylonian captivity as a resurrection, a return from the dead (Isa. 26:19; Hos. 13:14; Ezek. 37:1-4).” (Hailey)
“Over these the second death has no power” (verse 6). “All human beings are destined to experience the first death, that is, physical (Heb. 9:27). However, only those who have rejected the worship of God shall suffer the second death. Reportedly, in the margin of Martin Luther’s Bible were written the words, ‘Born once, die twice; born twice, die once.’ How true! Those who are ‘born again’ (spiritual birth, John 3:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:22-23), shall die only once (physical death…). But those who reject the grace of God shall die twice (physical and spiritual).” (Harkrider)
Please read Revelation 20:7-10 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”
---End of Scripture verses---
A “key” is a symbol for authority to lock and unlock, to bind and loosen (Matthew 16:19). When the fifth seal was opened, John saw the vision of “a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him” (Revelation 9:1). Satan used the key to open the abyss and release noxious smoke and hideous locust creatures to inflict pain upon God’s enemies. That key has now been transferred to an angel, along with “a great chain” with which to bind that “fallen star” for “a thousand years” (verse 2). With his allies, the great beast and the false prophet having been thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), the dragon’s previous power to control the nations has been stymied, but he is by no means a toothless beast.
Christ first spoke of “binding” Satan when He was accused of casting out demons by the power of the devil in Matthew 12:24-29. He asked the rhetorical question: “How can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matthew 12:29). Jesus came to live and die as a man and sacrifice His life for the sins of all mankind in order to break Satan’s death-grip over the grave (Hebrews 2:14-15), and to release us from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 6:12-16). Satan no longer has the power to bind people by demon possession or to accuse the brethren before God (Revelation 12:10). But our adversary still “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” so we must continually “resist him, firm in” our “faith”. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Homer Hailey astutely commented on verse 2 about man’s greatest enemy: “As a dragon, he is strong and ferocious; as the old serpent, he is the cunning deceiver, who from Eden has beguiled with his craftiness (II Cor. 11:3); as the devil, he has been the accuser and slanderer, the malignant enemy of God and man; and as Satan, he is the adversary, opponent and antagonist of all that is good.” Concerning the “thousand years” of verses 2-3, Robert Harkrider wrote: “The total of a thousand is reached by the number ten multiplied and raised to the third degree, the apocalyptic symbol of highest completeness. ‘the thousand years’ symbolizes a full, uninterrupted period of time. Neither Satan nor any other force can alter God’s purposes. His kingdom ‘cannot be moved’ (Heb. 12:28). Christ was born when the ‘fulness of time was come’ (Gal. 4:4), and he shall return in the fullness of the time at God’s own bidding, not Satan’s.”
Again, Homer Hailey made the following keen observation about verse 3: “The abyss was the place dreaded by the demons, and apparently was their proper place of habitation (Luke 8:31). The sealing of the abyss is reminiscent of the tomb of Jesus which was sealed that it might not be tampered with and the body stolen (Matt. 27:66). Also the book in the hand of God was ‘close sealed with seven seals,’ safeguarding its content (5:1). The purpose of casting the devil into the abyss was not punitive, for his punishment comes later (v. 10); but it was preventive. He was now restrained from deceiving the nations, trapping and controlling them as he did before Jesus came, for his power and the power of paganism are now broken.”
Please read Revelation 20:4-6 for tomorrow.
Have a wonderful day!
Before we delve into Revelation chapter 20, it is of great benefit to read some introductory commentary offered by Robert Harkrider and Homer Hailey in their respective commentaries on the book of Revelation. Lord willing we will begin with the text recorded in the first three verses tomorrow.
“Revelation 20 has been the favorite text of religious speculators perhaps more than any other passage of the Bible. It bristles with questions. When is the battle of Armageddon? What is signified by the 1,000 year reign? Why must Satan be let loose after he has once been sealed in the abyss? Whatever answers are found, they must be consistent with the rest of the Bible and in harmony with the theme and purpose of Revelation.” (Harkrider)
“Significantly, the first seven verses of this chapter are the only Scriptures in all the Bible that mention a thousand year reign. Yet from this text is spun a theory that has been enlarged upon by its advocates to the point that one might be led to think that it is found throughout the Bible. This theory of premillennialism…teaches there is yet to be a future thousand year reign of Christ on earth.” (Harkrider)
“The theory must read into the passage (vv. 1-10) all that it claims to draw from it, for the following are not mentioned in the text: (1) the second coming of Christ, (2) a bodily resurrection, (3) a reign of Christ on earth, (4) the literal throne of David, (5) Jerusalem of Palestine, (6) conversion of the Jews,, or (7) the church on earth. A theory that rests on a passage of Scripture in which not one of its peculiar tenets of doctrine is found cannot be true!” (Hailey)
“In the battle of Har-Magedon the beast and the false prophet were cast into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone (19:19-21). With the defeat of these two and the destruction of the harlot, Satan has lost his allies. What becomes of him and the victory of the saints is the chief subject of 20:1-10, rather than the ‘thousand years,’ which usually receives the emphasis.” (Hailey)
“Not only does the doctrine of premillennialism indiscriminately add to the text, but the theory is inconsistent with plain Bible teaching. The kingdom of Christ has already been established and citizens have been added to it through His blood (Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10; Col. 1:13-14). His reign began when He ascended to the right hand of God and He is now King of kings (Eph. 1:20-23; Acts 1:9-11; 2:20-26; Rev. 17:14). His second coming will be the ‘end’ (1 Cor. 15:23-26; John 6:44; 5:28-29; Matt. 25:31-46).” (Harkrider)
Please read Revelation 20:1-3 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, ‘Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.’ And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Before the “Battle of Armageddon” even begins, “an angel standing in the sun” summons “all the birds which fly in midheaven” to the feast of a lifetime (verse 17). The devastation of Satan and his Roman cohorts is such a guarantee that preparations are made in advance for the “cleanup crew” to come in and deal with the aftermath of the Almighty King’s resounding victory. One of the most demeaning and horrid images is that of wild scavengers picking at and devouring the remains of a human carcasses. Jeremiah’s dreadful words to disobedient Judah come to mind: “The dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away” (Jeremiah 7:33). Consider also Ezekiel 39:17-20. Just as the “blessed” elect assemble for the glorious “marriage supper of the Lamb” (verse 8), the birds of the air gather for a feast of their own.
Of course we must continually remind ourselves that the images described in the book of Revelation are symbolic in nature, and the horrific results of this battle are no different. A literal interpretation of this prophecy is just too atrocious to seriously consider, and misses the point of the vision and the Apocalypse altogether. What the Lord is describing here in graphic, vivid, even repulsive imagery is the certainty of the Lord’s victory over all of His enemies, “small and great” (verse 18). This is the grand theme of the entire work. There is a great battle between the forces of Satan and God Almighty, and it is a total “no contest”. The Lord wins, hands down, because no power can be arrayed against the Creator of the Universe that poses even the minutest legitimate threat. If you fight faithfully at His side you are guaranteed the eternal victory. If not, everlasting destruction is inescapable. There is no middle ground. You are either stand with the Lord or fall against Him (Matthew 12:30).
The beast and the false prophet were “seized” and “thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (verse 20), but they will not be left there to sizzle alone. This is the eternal domain of all “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars” (Revelation 21:8), which is also known as “the second death” (Revelation 20:14). “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It has been appointed for people who do not know and love the Lord and obey His Gospel to die a second time, and this death is eternal separation from Yahweh and all His grace and glory (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Robert Harkrider wrote: “Through lying miracles the false prophet caused the majority of the world to marvel and receive a mark that confirmed their allegiance to the beast… Yet in the final analysis, the saints who looked foolish when they refused that mark, are the ones enjoying overwhelming victory… The kingdom of God which Rome attempted to stamp out, still stands. This particular battle of Armageddon was fought centuries ago. The Roman Empire backing the pagan god-Caesar worship was destroyed, thus the persecuting force against the church was brought down. In principle, other ‘Armageddons’ have taken place and perhaps shall yet be in the future because Satan continues to wage battle against the purpose of God… But not since the time of the Roman Empire has he had a world dominion enforcing his policies.” Of course some would argue this last point.
Homer Hailey wrote: “The Roman power and the paganism which it supported are now destroyed forever. The vision of Daniel is fulfilled (Dan. 7:11), and in this defeat and destruction is revealed the destiny of all such powers that should ever arise to fight against God and His kingdom. This is God’s guarantee of victory to the saints who lived then and to all who would come after them, even until the end of time… The sword of truth and judgment prevailed over the sword of political force and human wisdom in false worship.”
Please read Revelation 20:1-3 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
Now “heaven” is “opened” and One sitting on “a white horse” (verse 11) emerges, arrayed for “the war of the great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). The great beast, the false prophet and the great red dragon muster all their forces of evil against the saints of the Lord, including “the kings of the whole world” and their armies (Revelation 16:13-14) to do battle against them. If not for this mighty Warrior mounted on the hoary horse, they stand no chance of victory but face certain, swift and absolute annihilation. He wears the names “Faithful and True” (verse 11), “The Word of God” (verse 13), and “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” (verse 16). The Lord Jesus alone is exponentially greater in power and strength than the sum total of Satan’s collection of wicked forces.
“His eyes are a flame of fire” (verse 12) that see directly into the hearts of men (1 Samuel 16:7), and nothing can be hidden from His all-seeing and omniscient sight (Revelation 1:14; 2:18; Genesis 16:13; Jeremiah 23:24). “On His” once-thorn-crowned “head are” the “many diadems” of comprehensive and definitive sovereignty that belongs exclusively to the “King of kings and Lord of Lords” (Ephesians 1:20-23; 1 Timothy 6:15: Revelation 11:15). Even though He has been ascribed three names of exaltation in these few, short verses and “the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9), He also “has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.” “His unknown name perhaps signifies He possesses heavenly characteristics that are beyond the grasp of finite minds (Matt. 11:27).” (Harkrider)
As “The Word of God,” Jesus possesses all the attributes of deity, simultaneously existing “with God” and possessing the same eternal nature as Him (John 1:1-5). He also “declared” the Father to the world by the fullness of the “grace and truth” of His incarnate perfection (John 1:14, 18). The “robe dipped in blood” He wore upon His regal frame is either symbolic of the drenched blood of His enemies resulting from the treading out of “the wine press of the fierce wrath of God” (verse 15), or the crimson tide which flood freely from His veins on Calvary’s cross. “The armies which are in heaven” are “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (verse 14) because of the cleansing power of that precious flow, and constitute the bride of Christ which is said to be clad in the exact same fashion (verse 8).
Their weapons of warfare are not the physical armaments of an earthly military because their “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this wickedness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The “sharp sword” (verse 15) that proceeds from the mouth of the King of kings serves as the single, invincible, offensive weapon in “the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). It possesses the potent power to pierce good and honest hearts (Acts 2:37), and to judge the wicked and disobedient (John 12:48), condemning them to an eternity in “the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (verse 20). As we will see in tomorrow’s verses, “Armageddon” is not much of a “battle” at all, but a thorough and total thumping of Satan/Rome/Paganism by the Almighty King and His bride/army!
Please read Revelation 19:17-21 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
In stark contrast to the judgment of the wicked harlot (Rome), today we see the glory of the “bride” of Christ (His church). “His bride has made herself ready” in preparation for the great day of “the marriage of the Lamb” (verse 7). It may seem strange to us that the “marriage ceremony” of Jesus and His church is still yet to come when she is delivered up to Him at the end of the age, but as Robert Harkrider wrote: “The one who was espoused (betrothed) was considered to be the bride of the groom even before the marriage supper (Deut. 22:23-24)…(Matt. 1:18, 20)… The church is currently ‘espoused’ (betrothed) unto the Lord (2 Cor. 11:2); therefore its relationship to Christ is that of a wife (Eph. 5:22-33; Rom. 7:4).
“The marriage supper” (verse 9) was an immensely important aspect of a wedding ceremony in the time and place that Jesus lived. To refuse to attend or to wear appropriate clothing to the event was considered a great insult to the wedding party. In the Parable of the Great Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-14, the king was greatly offended when those who had been invited to the feast refused to attend, and when one of the guests was found wearing improper attire. The members of Christ’s bride must be properly adorned in obedience to the word and “in the righteous acts of the saints” (verse 8) lest they be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for all eternity (Matthew 22:13).
Christ “gave Himself up for” His church/bride “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:26-27) To be properly espoused to the Lord we must be washed in the waters of baptism (Revelation 1:5), and live “holy and blameless” lives before Him in all righteousness and reverence for His own holiness.
Robert Harkrider wrote: “Christ paid the dowry for the church; He has bought his bride with His own blood (Eph. 5:25; Acts 20:28). The actual occasion of the perfect union with Christ, the complete and final blessed consummation of the church with Christ, is reserved until after the final judgment day. This great union is described in chapters 21 and 22. During the betrothal period the bride must make herself ready by arraying herself in righteous apparel.” “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (verse 9) at the consummation of the ages. They will be the ones clothed in the “fine linen, bright and clean” that are washed in the blood of the Lamb.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him” (verse 7)!!! Those who are espoused to Christ in a privileged covenant arrangement have much to take delight in and be exceedingly happy about! Even in the face of persecution and tribulation. It is interesting to note, but probably not coincidental, that the only other time this phrase is used in the New Testament was by the Lord in His Beatitudes: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“Worship God” (verse 10) and God alone! Sing praises of thanksgiving to Him for His unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)! Worthy is the Lord of all our undivided love, devotion, praise and appreciation!
Please read Revelation 19:11-16 for tomorrow.
Have a wonderful day!
“After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.’ And a second time they said, ‘Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’ And a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.’ Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
We read earlier in Revelation 18:20, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” In today’s verses we are shown a detailed vision of the jubilation that reverberates in the heavens when God’s righteousness triumph’s over the wickedness and ungodliness that reigns on earth from Satan’s influence. “The rejoicing stands in bold contrast to the helpless weeping and wailing of the kings, merchants and mariners who mourned the fall and destruction of the great harlot city. The first voice John heard is that of ‘a great multitude in heaven,’ which probably was the voice of the victorious multitude that had triumphed in the great tribulation and was before the throne singing the praise of God and the Lamb (7:9ff.).” (Hailey)
“Hallelujah!” literally means “Praise Jehovah!” and is only found these four times in these six verses in all of the New Testament. A number of the Old Testament Psalms begin or end with the exhortation to “Praise the Lord!” “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the Lord, or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times! Remember me, O Lord, in Your favor toward Your people; visit me with Your salvation, that I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance.” (Psalm 106:1-5)
God alone is worthy of all praise and “glory and power” and honor because He is perfectly holy and powerful and “His judgments are true and righteous” (verse 2). When He “judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality,” and “avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her,” He was only doing so in complete consistency with His perfectly righteous and intrinsically just and ethical character. We can patiently and confidently wait on the vengeance of the Lord in full knowledge that His word and will and people will be vindicated. “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)
“And a second time they said, ‘Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever’” (verse 3). In the words of Robert Harkrider, “The multitude in heaven…wore the white robes of victory and now rejoice and praise God. Their future in the spiritual realm is eternal life, whereas the future of the beast and those who worshipped him and his image is a smoke rising up for ever and ever, eternal punishment (14:9-11; 20:10; Matt. 25:46).” “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’” (verse 4). Homer Hailey wrote, “At the last mention of these…(14:3) they were before the throne… From the time the angels were given the seven bowls of wrath, no one was able to enter the sanctuary of Jehovah’s presence until the seven plagues were completed (15:8). These had been finished (16:17), and now again the throne and those who stand before it come into view. The marvelous creatures and elders before the throne can add only their ‘Amen’ (Be it so!) and their ‘Hallelujah’ to what is being said.”
The sounds of praise and rejoicing and triumph grow to a crescendo with “something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns’” (verse 6). All you, His chosen and faithful saints rejoice and be of great cheer! The Lord God Almighty sits upon His perfect throne of power and justice, and all who love and serve Him will forever reign victorious in heaven with Him! Hallelujah!
Please read Revelation 19:7-10 for tomorrow.
Please come worship and praise Jehovah with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, in the company of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work, and His righteousness endures forever.” (Psalm 111:1-3)
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
“Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”
---End of Scripture verses---
“A great millstone” was thrown into the sea to symbolize the great “violence” and destruction that will be levied against the great city, Rome (verse 21), because of all of its violent aggression against “the prophets and… saints” (verse 24). Jesus’ words of Matthew 18:4-6 come immediately to mind: “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” The “children” of the kingdom are so held in the protected status of their Great Sovereign, that to bring harm against those who believe in Jesus is to engulf yourself in the Lord’s fury and plunge headlong into certain destruction.
Rome would be reduced from the habitation of “all things that were luxurious and splendid” (verse14) to the rubble of decay and despair. No longer would the merriment and amusement of the “sound of the harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters” be heard within her borders (verse 22). The industrial prosperity of the “craftsman” and his venerated “craft” would be no more. The ordinary “sound of the mill” stone grinding out daily bread would be but a faint memory. “The light of a lamp” (verse 23) would no longer be seen burning to illuminate the extravagant evening festivities of the wealthy, or the burning of a candle in the hovel of the destitute. One of the typical signs of the unsuspecting living out their in lives pleasure and prosperity is “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:38). But, within the confines of Rome, “the voice of the bridegroom and the bride will not be heard” any longer. Robert Harkrider wrote, “Those who possessed the mark of the beast would no longer be able to enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and powerful ‘queen’ of the world.”
“For the merchants were the great men of the earth” and “all the nations were deceived by” her sorcery (verse 23). When business tycoons and captains of industry are ascribed the greatest and most revered status of society, the general populace places its misguided adulation upon the idol of materialism and the god of greediness. Homer Hailey wrote that John “offers two reasons for the desolation which had come upon this modern Babylon: (1) Her merchants had made the accumulation of wealth and its luxuries their goal in life. In doing this they had provided themselves with incentive to deception and avarice for the harlot’s greatness. (2) And with her sorceries—deceptions—the harlot had caused all the earth to drink of the cup of the wine of her fornication. She had deceived, enticed, and seduced by her magic wiles and influence to bring all under her power.”
Please read Revelation 19:1-6 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’ Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”
---End of Scripture verses---
The merchants “who became rich with” (verse 15) and because of Imperial Rome weep and mourn over the fact that “such great wealth has been laid waste” (verse 16). To the wealthy of this world, “money is the answer to everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19). “The rich man’s wealth is his fortress” and “the ruin of the poor is their poverty,” but from heaven’s perspective “the wages of the righteous is life” and “the income of the wicked is punishment” (Proverbs 10:15-16).
Great riches can prove to be a great blessing when they are accompanied by righteousness and a wealth of good works (1 Timothy 6:17-19), but more often than not they become an obstacle to godly living and making good kingdom choices (Matthew 19:23-26; 1 Timothy 6:9-10). We brought neither money nor material assets into this world when God formed us in the womb, and we will take nothing with us that is not credited to our spiritual account when we leave (1 Timothy 6:6-8). Lay your treasures up in heaven or else they will be buried here on earth and decay along with the body you leave behind (Matthew 6:19-21).
“They threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning” over the loss of “the great city” (verse 19). “The completeness of this destruction, signified by ‘in one hour,’ astounded the seamen and ship owners who had brought to Rome’s nearby harbor the produce from throughout the world. In their view no city was like this city; similarly, no destruction would compare with her downfall. Although the world’s merchants really did not like Rome, they loved the wealth gained through her.” (Harkrider)
Homer Hailey wrote: “Trade and commerce of themselves are not wicked; they are good when used for the welfare of humanity. However, when used for selfish luxury and the gratifying of fleshly lusts, they become unrighteous, profane, and wicked. As Blackwood so aptly said of Tyre, ‘Like the uprooted vine that generated the self-consuming fire (Ezek. 19:14), a culture that worships commercial success will strike the sparks that ultimately burn it to ashes’ (Blackwood, p. 186).”
What brings weeping and moaning to the wicked and worldly is cause for rejoicing among the righteous and other-worldly (verse 20). But God’s people are encourage to celebrate the overthrow of sinfulness and the triumph of righteousness, and not the collapse of a great city or nation. “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!’” (Ezekiel 33:11) The fall of such a great “civilization” was indeed a bittersweet moment—simultaneously a time for lamenting and jubilation.
“In this instance to rejoice is to make merry because of gladness (cf. Luke 15:23, 24, 29, 32). The earth-dwellers made merry over the death of the two witnesses (11:10), but the tables have been turned. The heavens and they that dwell in them had been called upon to rejoice at the casting down of Satan, although woe would be the fate of the sea and earth (12:12)… The interest of the heavens continues, and they now rejoice with the saints in their victory. Included in the rejoicing are saints, apostles, and prophets, in contrast to the mourning of the kings, merchants, and seamen. These who rejoice had together fought a bitter battle against the enemy.” (Hailey)
Please read Revelation 18:21-24.
Have a blessed day!
“And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more—cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them.”
---End of Scripture verses---
The “smoke” of Rome’s “burning” (verse 9) symbolically arose from the “fire” that would consume her (verse 8). Robert Harkrider wrote concerning this all-consuming fire: “Two things must be remembered: (1) figurative language does not demand that the city be literally burned; and (2) the power and authority of the harlot is what the Lord promised to destroy, not actual buildings of the city itself. Verily, Rome was never completely destroyed as a city. It has had a continuous history of more than twenty-five hundred years… However, the magnificence and power of the Rome of John’s day was brought to naught. Rome fell from its position as the world’s leading city of commerce and wealth and as the capital of a world empire whose religious life centered upon pagan god-Caesar worship. In the fourth century the capital of the empire was moved from Rome to Constantinople; invasions came from barbaric tribes of the north; and finally, the empire was no more after A.D. 476. The power and authority of Rome were utterly destroyed; in fact, its population of more than a million people in John’s day declined to only about 20,000 in the Middle ages.”
“The kings of the earth” (verse 9), “the merchants of the earth” (verse 11), and “as many as make their living by the sea” (verse 12) will “weep and lament over” the great city, Rome, and her utter ruination. But they do not mourn out of love for her, but “because no one buys their cargoes any more” (verse 11). They “weep” for themselves with an empty and self-centered sorrow because they would no longer make a profit from the horrid harlot who sits upon many waters with whom they committed spiritual fornication. They selfishly “lament” their own, personal loss in anguish as they helplessly look on at “the smoke of her burning,” but they do so as cowards “standing at a distance” for “fear of her torment.” The only ones who rejoice over her destruction are the “saints and apostles and prophets” (verse 20), because “God has pronounced judgment against” the persecutors of His people. God’s judgment came upon Rome figuratively “in one hour” (verse 10), not in a 60-minute segment of time but suddenly (from heaven’s perspective), certainly, decisively.
Sadly and sadistically, as is true in the 21st century world, human life was devalued and reduced to the status of mere merchandise to be trafficked in. “Slaves (Sōmatōn, literally, ‘bodies’), and souls (psuchos, literally ‘lives’) of men, may mean ‘slaves, even the lives of men.’ The slave market was widespread throughout the empire. Slaves were a household commodity, being used in all aspects of social life and as gladiators in the arena for the amusement of a depraved people.” (Hailey) Because of the human degradation and moral degeneration of this corrupted “civilization,” the luscious “fruit” of “luxurious and splendid” living (verse 14) would be nonexistent, and the basic necessities of life would be scarce. “Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city!” And woe to any individual who lives an immoral and sensuous life in disregard for the love of humanity and fear and reverence for God and His commandments!
Please read Revelation 18:15-20 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.’ For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Christians must endeavor to live IN the world, while being careful to not be OF the world (John 17:16). God does not desire for us to “go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10) in order to separate ourselves from it, but we dare not participate in its evil deeds (verse 4). “Therefore do not be partakers with them, for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord, walk as children of the Light (for the fruit of the Spirit consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:7-12)
Homer Hailey wrote regarding verse 5: “In His longsuffering God allows man to continue his own way until his sins have reached an intolerable point of saturation; then judgment falls. The phrase used by Amos, ‘For three transgressions, yea for four’ (Amos 2), expresses the idea. The rage of Israel against Judah ‘reached up unto heaven’ (II Chron. 28:9); the judgment of Babylon reached ‘unto heaven,’ and was ‘lifted up even to the skies’ (Jer. 5:19); and the iniquities and guilt of the Jews had ‘grown up unto the heavens’ (Ezra 9:6). Iniquity piles upon iniquity until it becomes a stench in the nostrils of God—it reaches into heaven. When this point is reached, then ‘the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath’ (16:19) is given into the hand of the offender.”
We have no one to blame but ourselves for the consequences of our own sins. Until we can take an honest look at the person in the mirror we will never see an end to the problems that our foolish choices usher into our lives. Rome certainly deserved “twice” the mixture of wrath returned upon her head for the evil that she committed, but verse 6 is likely a plea for paying her back justly with an equal measure for her wickedness. The prophecy in verse 7 is “to the same degree” that she “glorified herself and lived sensuously” she would be given “torment and mourning” (Luke 16:19-25). The Psalmist’s prayer of righteous indignation was much the same for prototypical Babylon of old: “O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, how blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us” (Psalm 137:8).
Once again the words Isaiah spoke against ancient Babylon are used in regard to Rome in verse 7. “Yet you said, ‘I will be a queen forever.’ These things you did not consider nor remember the outcome of them. Now, then, hear this, you sensual one, who dwells securely, who says in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me. I will not sit as a widow, nor know loss of children.’ But these two things will come on you suddenly in one day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come on you in full measure in spite of your many sorceries, in spite of the great power of your spells. You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; for you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ But evil will come on you which you will not know how to charm away; and disaster will fall on you for which you cannot atone; and destruction about which you do not know will come on you suddenly.” (Isaiah 47:7-11)
Like Babylon before her, Rome was a great world power and fancied herself indestructible, that her lands would always be fertile and her prosperity inexhaustible. But eternal power, strength and permanency belong to the Lord and Him alone (verse 8).
Please read Revelation 18:9-14 for tomorrow.
“After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
About 150 years before the fall of the literal Babylon, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “‘Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.’ And one said, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon’” (Isaiah 21:9). In verse 1 a powerful, radiant angel “having great authority,” came down from heaven proclaiming the same fate for Rome and her mighty world empire. By all appearances to earthbound mortals she seemed rock-solid and indestructible, but the King of kings and Lord of lords would reduce her to rubble just as He had done the domain of such celebrated kings as Nebuchadnezzar and Marduk over 1000 years earlier.
Instead of being “clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls” (Revelation 17:4), “She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison for every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird” (verse 2). Read Isaiah’s scathing rebuke of Israel’s ancient enemy, Edom for the punishment of her wickedness, and the empty wasteland that she would become for similar imagery. Like the wicked cities of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:19-21) and Babylon (Isaiah 13:17-22) before her, Rome would receive her just deserts. “Like these ancient enemies of righteousness, Rome is worthy to fall, and with its pagan god-Caesar worship, her once glorious temples will become the habitation for the foul and gruesome. This is not a literal prophecy but a word-picture to describe Rome’s fall.” (Harkrider)
Robert Harkrider wrote concerning verse 3: “Babylon was not content to sin by herself, so she brought others to share in the wine of her fornication (14:8; 17:2). The world nations have joined with her, attempting to capitalize on her imperial wealth and power, and as they do so they have committed spiritual fornication. They had turned against the one true God of heaven and adulterated themselves with the idols of paganism. Thus, they bore the ‘mark of the beast’ upon themselves.”
On the individual and congregational level, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Please read Revelation 18:4-8 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“‘These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.’ And he said to me, ‘The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
---End of Scripture verses---
The dragon was bent on destroying the Lamb from the very start (Revelation 12:4). But, since there was nothing in the Lord (John 14:30) by which Satan could defeat Him or stop His glorious plan of salvation from coming to fruition through His death, burial and resurrection; the adversary has thrown all his forces behind the destruction of those who “are the called and chosen and faithful” (verse 14). The kings of the earth had been summoned by the power of the dragon to make war against the Lamb and His elect (Revelation 16:4), and their soul purpose is to “give their power and authority to the beast” for the furtherance of his objectives (verse 14). But, the decisive statement and primary theme of the entire book of Revelation is, “the Lamb will overcome them.”
All of God’s children can take ultimate confidence and comfort in the fact that they serve the “Lord of lords and King of kings,” who cannot be defeated or dethroned. Jesus Christ reigns as Supreme Ruler over all the kings of the earth, sharing the equal nature and holding the very title of God Almighty (Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47; 1 Timothy 6:15). Not only shall He emerge triumphant in His war against evil and corruption, but all of His “faithful” followers will share in the eternal triumph. God has “called” us to do battle at His side against the forces of wickedness through the invitation of the Gospel of His Son (2 Thessalonians 2:14), and we all can be a part of the “chosen” few (Matthew 22:14; Ephesians 1:4) if we answer the Gospel call and do not harden our hearts against the will of the one who calls us.
Homer Hailey wrote in regards to verses 15-16: “Though she was introduced as ‘sitting upon many waters’ (v. 1), when John saw the harlot she was sitting upon the scarlet-colored beast (v. 3). The angel next explains that the many waters represent the empire and the many ethnic groups and nationalities over which Rome held sway (cf. 5:9; 13:7). A major weakness of Rome was its inability to amalgamate the diverse peoples into one. Rome could conquer and control by force, but it had no cohesive power with which to cement the conquered into a homogenous kingdom. This weakness had been revealed in a dream to Nebuchadnezzar, when he saw the fourth great empire to come, the Roman, as ‘part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken…and they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay’ (Dan. 2:42f.)…
“The ten horns—the future kings or kingdoms which would arise—that would join themselves to the world power…would hate the harlot. Love among men or nations has often turned to hatred as intense as the affection it replaced. This change would result in the destruction of the harlot; she would be made desolate, stripped of her grandeur and wealth, her flesh eaten and consumed, and her remains destroyed by burning with fire. This is an example of evil’s self-destruction. The principle of love being corrupted to lust and turning to hate, which in turn destroys, can be illustrated by nations today. As long as nations can get what they want from one another, they continue to commit economic and political fornication. But actually, nations and states hate all government, which is being destroyed by greed and lust. And so it is with individuals. First, allured by the world, they commit fornication with her. Then, realizing their delusion, they hate what they have done, but too late—they are irrevocably lost and destroyed.”
Please read Revelation 18:1-3 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“‘The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast.”
---End of Scripture verses---
The angel explains “the mystery of the woman and the beast that carries her” (verse 7) in today’s verses. Homer Hailey wrote: “This woman and the beast are indivisible, for lust rides upon, controls, and governs any ravenous, persecuting, and self-seeking political beast. At the same time the beast supports the harlot.” This beast “was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction” (verse 8). We got our first glimpse of this beast in Revelation 13, and in verse 3 it was noted that “one of his heads” had a “fatal wound’ that was subsequently “healed”. We noted then that the “seemingly” deadly wound was likely inflicted upon the beast as a whole and not on any one particular ruler. The “healed” wound represented the succession of world empires, and the Roman Empire was just the latest manifestation of the ruling, global power with its wickedly corrupt leaders. This is also the best explanation for how the beast “was, and is not” and yet “is”.
The fact that the latest manifestation of the beast comes “up out of the abyss” only makes sense because this is the abode of Satan and his agents. This was the source of the hideous locust-beasts that had lion’s teeth and scorpion’s tails (Revelation 9:1-10). Verse 11 reads, “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon” (Destroyer). After the fall of one persecutor of God’s people another arises from Satan’s domain to take its place, but it is destined to “go to destruction” (apoleaia) as well. This word means “devastation” or “utter ruin,” which is the eternal fate suffered by Satan and everyone who yields to his evil influence, from vagrants to monarchs. All the earth-dwellers whose names were not “written in the book of life” were filled with “wonder” and amazement at the beast that seemingly defied death, and maintain perpetual power over the kingdoms of the earth. But those whose “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) understand that the days of the beast are numbered, and that power over life and death belongs to the God of heaven alone.
These are some of the most difficult verses in Revelation to come to terms with, but “the mind which has wisdom” (verse 9) can spiritually appraise the vision explained by the angel. In other words, let’s keep in mind as we try to interpret this vision that the numbers and images represented her are symbolic in nature. “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings.” “Five” of these kings “have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come” (verses 9-10). Robert Harkrider wrote concerning the number seven, “Throughout Revelation this number consistently has a symbolic reference to that which is complete and whole. It is the perfect divine number.” He goes on to write about the heads-mountains-kings: “Since seven represents the whole, ‘five’ is a broken, incomplete number. This suggests that of the total number of kings who have been and shall be, the greater part has come and gone. ‘One is’ refers to the current reigning power. The ‘seventh’ king is yet to reign, and that only for a brief time. Next, consider the meaning of the word ‘kings’. In Daniel 7:17 the word ‘kings’ refers to the four ‘kingdoms.’ Since Revelation seems to involve the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 7, ‘kingdoms’ is probably the best interpretation. This beast (13:1-8) represented a ‘kingdom’ and not merely one of the Caesars.”
“The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction” (verse 11). Only by rich symbolism can we make sense of this perplexing equation where the math just doesn’t add up. One way that the “eighth” can be viewed as “one of the seven” is that he is the sum total of all of the world empires, and he embodies all the kingdoms of mankind throughout human history. Robert Harkrider wrote: “John simply is being shown that in the overall picture of the kingdoms of men, this seemingly invincible Roman Empire shall be destroyed. However, if the Roman Empire is the one that ‘is,’ what empire is the one which ‘is not yet come’ (v.10)? The answer seems to be in 20:3, 7-8 when, after the thousand years is expired, Satan is briefly loosed and gathers God and Magog to compass the camp of the saints one last time. At the end time God’s kingdom will be oppressed by Satan’s last grand attempt to destroy the cause of God on earth.”
“The ten horns…who have not yet received a kingdom” (verse 12) represent the total (ten being the number of completeness) of future kings and rulers that ally themselves with the beast in opposition to Christ and His eternal kingdom. Homer Hailey wrote concerning verse 13: “As the saints are to be perfected together in one mind and one spirit, with one soul, striving for the faith of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 1:27), which mind is the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5), so the beast and his associates are of one mind—the mind of the dragon. These with one accord give their power and authority to the beast in opposition to the Lamb.”
Please read Revelation 17:14-18 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.’ And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly. And the angel said to me, ‘Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.”
---End of Scripture verses---
“God’s judgment, as portrayed by the seven bowls of wrath, was poured out against the beast, the false prophet, and those who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image (16:2, 10; 14:9-11). It is important to remember this while identifying the harlot, because nothing is presented here to indicate a change of subject from the Roman Empire and its paganism to any other world power, present or future.” (Harkrider) This woman that “one of the seven angels” described as the “great harlot who sits on many waters” (verse 1) is further identified as “the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth” in verse 18. That she “sits on many waters” links the capital city of Rome to spiritually bankrupt ancient Babylon as portrayed by the “weeping prophet” in Jeremiah 51:12-13, and she is further identified as “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth” in verse 5.
This “woman sitting on a scarlet beast” (verse 3) was quite a spectacle to behold, and even the Apostle John “wondered greatly” (verse 6) at the splendor of this drunken harlot decked out in “purple and scarlet,” and “gold and precious stones and pearls” (verse 3). “While the earth-dwellers were drunk with the wine of her fornication, intoxicated with the enticements of lust, she herself was drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs of Jesus.” (Hailey) There is little doubt that the beast depicted here is the same one representing the Roman Empire that emerged from the sea in Revelation 13:1. The color “scarlet” worn by the harlot and emanating from the beast are symbols of the luxury and magnificence of Rome and her vast kingdom, but scarlet was also the color of her horrendous sins of hedonism and idolatry, and oppression and murder of God’s saints (Isaiah 1:18). Her domain was a “wilderness” of wickedness and she gulped from the “gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality” (verse 4).
Chapter 18 will give us a closer look into the destruction of the “great harlot” and the pouring out of God’s “judgment” against her, but today’s verses demonstrate vividly why His wrath was emptied upon her so thoroughly and stridently. Though she appeared to be glorious, sophisticated and appealing, underneath she was a hideous, idolatrous beast. Although she was a “mystery” (verse 5) producing wonder and amazement in the hearts of those who beheld her glittery exterior, spiritually she was depraved, impure and “the mother of…abominations.” No matter how powerful, prosperous and picturesque a culture may appear to be, when its underpinnings have come unloosed from reverence for God and respect for His righteous will, it is doomed form certain destruction. Robert Harkrider quoted Robert H. Mounce as saying, “Society set free from God is its own worst enemy.” The same is true for any kingdom, nation, province, community or person.
Please read Revelation 17:8-13 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed and safe day!
Instead of reading the assigned Bible verses for today, I decided to post these excellent observations made by Homer Hailey in his Nevada Publications “The Book of Revelation, An Introduction and Commentary” found on pages 341-342. They serve as a good summary of some of the things we have read so far, and a good introduction to what we will be reading over the course of the next several days.
“The character and lot of two women and two cities occupy a prominent place in the second section of the book. Chapter twelve opened with the introduction of a woman arrayed with the sun, having the moon under her feet and a crown of stars upon her brow. She gave birth to a man child, the Christ, and was then forced to flee into the wilderness, where she was nurtured and protected. She had other children, those who kept the commandments of God and held the testimony of His Son. Now a second woman is introduced—a harlot, the direct opposite of the first—who is arrayed in all the embellishments of earthly splendor. She has on her forehead a name which identifies her as the mother of the harlots of the earth. Each woman is further identified as a city, the latter as the great city, Babylon, which holds sway over the kings of the earth who make war against the saints. The fall of Babylon has been introduced and now the nature of the city and its complete fall are enlarged upon. The first woman, arrayed in light, is identified as ‘the beloved city’ (20:9), the holy city, New Jerusalem, ‘made ready as a bride adorned for her husband’ (21:2). These two women, and the cities they personify, stand in direct antithesis to each other in character, position, and destiny.
“In the comments on chapter twelve the woman was identified as the faithful remnant of God’s people; she represented all His redeemed ones—His church or people in the broadest and most inclusive sense… The harlot symbolizes pagan Rome, which in turn represents the world of lust, all that is seductive, enticing, and appealing to the desires of the flesh and mind… Satan has three approaches by which he seeks to destroy the work and people of God: (1) Political or brute force, symbolized by the beast out of the sea; (2) false religion, whether paganism or perverted revealed religion—apostates who hold and teach false doctrines—symbolized by the beast out of the earth; and (3) the world of lust, all that appeals to the flesh and mind (Eph. 2:3; 1 John 2:15-17), represented by the harlot. Against these three the early church waged relentless war; and against these the saint of today must stand immovable and uncompromising. There may be less political force used today, but it continues to operate through political, economic, or social pressures brought to bear on the Christian’s actions to turn him from Christ, or cause him to deny the faith.”
Lord willing we will read Revelation 17:1-7 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, ‘It is done.’ And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Homer Hailey wrote concerning verse 17: “The seventh bowl poured out upon the air symbolically completes the gamut of natural elements: earth, water, fire (sun), and air… There can be little or no doubt that ‘air’ is used symbolically… The key to an interpretation may be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians when he said, ‘Wherein ye [Gentiles] once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers [Greek, ‘power’] of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience’ (Eph. 2:2). The prince can be none other than Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)…the seventh bowl would affect the whole sphere of Satan’s operation. Air would be an appropriate emblem of the prevailing influence or surroundings of the realm in which the wicked live, move, and breathe, being dominated by the devil. Thus the course of this world, which is itself evil, a life of trespasses and sin, ruled by the prince of its power…is not brought under judgment.”
With the pouring out of the seventh bowl of God’s wrath, it is said of His fierce judgment that, “It is done”. When John wrote of the visions that God revealed to Him, the reign of terror of the Roman Empire was as good as finished. “There were flashes of lightning…peals of thunder,” and the greatest “earthquake” that ever rocked the “earth” (verse 18). This blow was so severe, this fall so thunderous and earthshaking, because it marked, not only the toppling of the greatest of human world empires, but also Satan’s own sphere of spiritual wickedness was dealt a devastating jolt. “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell” (verse 19). “The division of the great city points to the completeness of its destruction; likewise, cities of all nations fell who were in league with Rome in opposition to God.” (Harkrider) As Rome was trampled underfoot in the winepress of God’s wrath, all the cities of all the nations that partook in her harlotry (Revelation 17:2; 18:3) suffered with her.
“Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (verse 20). There is nowhere to run and no place to hide from the Father of heaven to whom we all must give an account. He sees all and knows all, and no one escapes from His inexorable judgment. The consequences of our sins constitutes the wrath of God revealed from heaven (Romans 1:18), and they are designed to lead us to repentance. Unfortunately, the Lord can hit some people over the head with “one hundred” pound “hailstones” (verse 21), and they still don’t get the message. Let it never be said of us that we blaspheme the name of God when we reap the whirlwind because of the sinful seeds that we sow. The best we can do with our lives is learn from foolish mistakes, conform to God’s perfect will in humble submission and escape the severity of His righteously wrathful judgment for all eternity.
Please read Revelation 17:1-7 for tomorrow.
Have a super day!
“And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (‘Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.’) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Yesterday we ended with verse 12 and the pouring out of the sixth bowl of wrath which spelled certain doom for the Roman power: “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.” According to Homer Hailey, the literal Euphrates River was “the northernmost frontier of Israel’s territory and the boundary between east and west” which “symbolizes a barrier or deterrent to invasion, which now is removed.” At the sounding of the sixth trumpet, the four angels “who were bound at the great river Euphrates” were released (Revelation 9:14), and a fierce army of 200 million horsemen killed “a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:15-19). With the pouring out of the sixth bowl of wrath the symbolic waters of the figurative river are “dried up” completely removing any protection from the weakened Roman Empire against outside invasion that eventually toppled the global giant.
But before Satan’s wicked agent of sin and oppression would be destroyed, the adversary would make a last-ditch effort to destroy God’s people. John “saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs” (verse 13). “Frogs are thought of as unclean, loathsome, a nuisance and an aggravation; their croaking probably symbolizes confusion. It is likely in this sense that these unclean spirits are called frogs. According to the law such creatures were to be held in abomination (Lev. 11:9ff), and coming from such a source as these three came, there was no doubt that they were unclean.” (Hailey)
These “frogs” are also described as the “spirits of demons, performing signs” (verse 14). “These three diabolical spirits use deceptive signs to persuade the kings of the earth to unite with Rome. In order to enlist followers, Satan must use false propaganda to deceive people. Through Rome he used a system that appeared to be a righteous cause, i.e., through a system of religion. But Caesar-worship was a vain system of religion, and it was destined to failure in its conflict with the only true God.” (Harkrider) Although this battle is not addressed in any detail until Revelation 19:19-21, we must understand that it is not a bloody battle of physical warfare fought with martial armaments. God’s kingdom was not established and will never be advanced with manmade weaponry (Ephesians 6:10-18). What is depicted here is one particular skirmish in mankind’s ever-present, ongoing spiritual war “against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
So Jesus warned His soldiers in the first century Roman world, as He alerts us and all His enlistees living in all places and eras, to always be on heightened, spiritual alert. Jesus frequently spoke of His coming as “a thief” (verse 15) in order to encourage preparedness on the part of His people (Luke 12:39-40). “Stays awake and keeps his clothes” are both present tense phrases that indicate a continual threat that needs constant alertness and readiness. Satan is always on the prowl and looking for sitting targets so we must not be caught with our clothes off! The temptation for our first century brethren was to compromise their faith and give in to the false sense of comfort and safety offered by the idolatrous governmental forces serving as Satan’s emissary. Rome may have appeared to be an invincible juggernaut but no one can prevail against the Almighty God of heaven, and His plans and purposes cannot be derailed or overthrown. When in Rome do not do as the Romans do! Never defect to the enemy! Always stay on the Lord’s side!
In verse 16 we have the Bible’s one and only reference to the over-hyped Battle of “Armageddon” (KJV). “Har-Magedo” literally means “Hill of Megiddo”. While the Bible makes no mention of an actual “hill,” Megiddo is an oft-mentioned and significant location in the Jezreel Valley. Homer Hailey wrote: “Megiddo was a strategic point in the protection of Israel and Judah, since it guarded the northern entrance to Israel. It was in this area that several decisive battles had been fought, the most memorable being that of Deborah and Barak against Jabin and Sisera of the Canaanites; a decisive victory was given Israel by Jehovah (Judg. 4, 5). It was in this valley of Esdraelon (Jezreel), ‘west of the hill of Moreh,’ that Gideon’s three hundred men defeated and drove out the Midianites, another decisive battle determined by Jehovah (Judg. 7:1). Saul and Jonathan were slain at the eastern extremity of the plain (1 Sam. 31:1-6), and it was at Megiddo that Ahaziah, king of Judah, in league with Joram of Israel, died, having been slain at the command of Jehu (II Kings 9:27). King Josiah fought against Pharaoh Neco in the valley of Megiddo, where he was slain (II Kings 23:29f.; II Chron. 35:22)… In view of these battles of historical significance we conclude that John used the word symbolically to describe a great decisive spiritual battle between the army of Satan and the forces of God, which would determine the fate of each. This battle was fought and won by the Lord in complete defeat of the Roman Empire and paganism behind which Rome threw its total power.”
Our greatest battles are of a spiritual nature friends! Suit up daily! Stay alert every second! Our eternal victory depends on it! Those who stay on the Lord’s side cannot lose!
Please read Revelation 16:17-21 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds. The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.”
---End of Scripture verses---
When the fourth trumpet of warning was sounded, “a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck” causing partial darkness to fall upon the earth (Revelation 8:12). The “fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun” (verse 8), but instead of blocking its light, God’s wrath intensified its heat tremendously. Picture the scene in your mind of living in a world devoid of water, flowing with putrid blood (verses 3-4) and charred by a blazing sun that “scorched” men with “fierce heat” (verse 9). God’s wrath is revealed from heaven (Romans 1:18), and this vivid imagery of His fury is designed to evoke intense emotions within the mind and illicit change in the lives of sinful men. But, in spite of all of God’s appeals and the pain of wickedness, “they blasphemed the name of God” and “did not repent so as to give Him glory.”
Mark Harkrider quoted Howard Winters from his “Commentary on Revelation” as writing: “This shows the depths of their degradation. When a criminal gets to the point where he blames his victim, his parents, society, the courts, and the prison system for his suffering the penalty of his crime rather than seeing himself and his crime as responsible, we call him a hardened criminal. So it is here: these men are hardened sinners, so hardened in fact that repentance is completely absent from their thinking.” The Bible speaks of those who “being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:19). This describes the mentality of the first century, Roman world at large, and it certainly is an accurate description of the condition of the leadership of the Empire.
Homer Hailey wrote concerning verses 10-11 the following: “The realm affected by the plagues moves from the natural to the moral and spiritual. When the beast emerged from the sea it was said that ‘the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority’ (13:2). This throne was the seat of world power, which would have been thought of by the saints of John’s day as the world rule from Rome. But this throne should not be restricted to Rome only; for wherever world power is worshiped, there the beast has his throne.” Starting at “the throne of the beast,” his whole “kingdom became darkened” by hearts filled with foolishness and ignorance and arrogance (Romans 1:21-28). Once again, we see here the consequences of sin left unchecked—of reaping what you sow. The pain and misery incurred by living a life of unrestrained sin is depicted by men gnawing on their own tongues in anguish (Proverbs 13:15).
“Rome had its season of sinful pleasures, but internal rottenness brought this great empire down.” (Harkrider) Now they were primed for invasion from their outside enemies and their time had come to be toppled: “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east” (verse 12).
Please read Revelation 16:13-16 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’ So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.’ And I heard the altar saying, ‘Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
God’s time for patience and warnings have now ended, and the outpouring of His unrestrained wrath has begun in earnest against the oppressors of His people. The fulfillment of these verses, of course, is past tense for those of us reading this in the 21st century, but it was prophetic in nature for the persecuted Christians living in the first century Roman world. Even though this is not a depiction of God’s Final Judgment, it is still very severe and complete, and any nation or kingdom with the same predilections for wickedness ultimately suffers a similar fate. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). No people, no matter how mighty and arrogant, can stand against the righteous indignation of the perfectly just and completely powerful God of creation.
Whereas the sounding of the seven trumpets brought devastation to only 1/3 of every affected area of concern (Revelation 8:7-12), the results of the outpouring of God’s bowls of wrath was not partial in nature. All of “the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” were plagued with a “loathsome and malignant sore” (verse 3). All of the water of “the sea” (verse 3) and “the rivers and springs” (verse 4) “became blood”. What is depicted here is ruination of physical vitality and those things which comprise the basic necessities for human survival.
Robert Harkrider wrote the following about these “plagues” in his commentary: “Any attempts to find in history specific application of these signs has always met with reasonable objections. Rather than trying to identify definite historical occurrences that would fit these scenes of God’s wrath being poured out, the reader should simply accept these in the apocalyptic style as symbolic. God brought to naught the false religion of paganism which was backed by corrupt rulers of a world empire. These signs are revealed in God’s picture book, not as specific events of history, but as scenes in which to visualize the awesome terror of His judgments.”
Some people see the harsh and inevitable judgments of God as cruel and unusual punishment, but the perpetrators of wickedness always “deserve” (verse 6) the wrath that is returned unto them and heaped upon their heads. We live in a God-created Universe governed by the inescapable laws of “cause and effect”. This is true on the physical, intellectual and spiritual planes of existence. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8). It is only right for God to give “blood to drink” to those who have “poured out the blood of the saints and prophets” (verse 7).
The only way to escape the eternal consequences of the sins that we all are guilty of is to turn to Christ Jesus in believing, sorrowful, repentant, obedient faith. We must be genuinely remorseful for every violation of the God’s commandments that we are guilty of committing or omitting (2 Corinthians 7:9), and this “godly sorrow” must lead us to practical repentance to be forgiven (2 Corinthians 7:10). Anyone who has not been baptized for the forgiveness of sins remains guilty of them and answerable to the just wrath of God until he is immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38) and into Christ’s body and death (Romans 6:1-6). We cannot be good enough to save ourselves, but through the plan, blood and resurrection of Jesus, God has provided us the Way to clemency and heaven. Follow His plan. Jesus is The only Way to the Father in heaven (John 14:6).
Please read Revelation 16:8-12 for tomorrow.
Have a wonderful day!
“After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their chests with golden sashes. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”
---End of Scripture verses---
As the stage is set for the pouring out of the seven bowls filled with the fullness of the wrath of God (similar to but distinguished from His cup in Revelation 14:10), John was shown yet another awesome heavenly vision, in which the temple (inner sanctuary) of the tabernacle was opened before his eyes (verse 5). This was “the Holy of Holies” (Exodus 26:33) located within the “tent of meeting” (Exodus 39:32) constructed by Moses which housed the tablets of the “testimony” that God gave to Israel (Exodus 25:21). John had previously been shown a vision of the ark of covenant seated within the “Most Holy Place” to remind God’s people that He would always be true to His covenant with them (Revelation 11:19). Now it is opened to release God’s righteous judgment against those who rejected Him and His holy covenant and perfect law.
Homer Hailey wrote concerning the angels of verse 6: “Seven angels…appear bearing the seven plagues to be poured out upon the earth. These plagues of judgment come from the very holiness of God, for ‘righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne’ (Ps. 97:2)… Linen, pure and bright, describes the attire of the Lamb’s bride (19:8), while that of the heavenly horseman is similarly described as linen, white and pure (19:14)… These golden girdles seem not to identify their work as priestly, but to signify that they were angels of high rank, entrusted with a solemn obligation.”
The “bowls” that “one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels” (verse 7) was a broad, shallow dish or saucer that, according to Vine’s Dictionary “is suggestive of rapidity in the emptying of the contents.” Robert Harkrider suggest that we, “Visualize bowl-like containers which could jettison these plagues with overwhelming force and disastrous effect. Indeed, it is a fearful thing ‘to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Heb. 10:29, 31).” These seven angels emerged from the sanctuary and were poised in position, awaiting the divine instruction to empty the devastating contents of the vials they held within their hands. While the seven seals revealed God’s unfolding plan, and the seven trumpets warned about the judgment that was to come, the seven bowls executed the inevitable condemnation against unrepentant ungodliness.
Homer Hailey wrote in regards to verse 8: “When the tabernacle was erected, the glory of Jehovah filled it, and Moses was not able to enter it (Exod. 40:34f.). Likewise, when Solomon had completed the temple, the glory of Jehovah filled the house, ‘so that the priests could not stand to minister’ (1 Kings 8:1-11). And so now, until the seven plagues would be finished, no one could enter the temple. The smoke from His glory was being vindicated by the smoke of His anger, demonstrated in expression of His great power. Swete has well summed up the significance of this verse as he says, ‘The Divine judgments are impenetrable until they are past; when the last plague has fulfilled its course, the smoke will vanish, and the Vision of God be seen’ (p. 200). No intercessions can change the determined counsel of God; but when it is fulfilled, we can then see clearly that which is now obscured.”
Please read Revelation 16:1-7 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished. And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
“The last three chapters exhibit the spiritual reasons behind the struggle between the church and her persecutors. Satan was identified as the great red dragon who gave power to two allies, the great sea beast and the false prophet. Having failed in a direct conflict with God, Satan then attempted to destroy the kingdom of God left on earth. A glimpse of the church was then portrayed in its heavenly state, redeemed from the earth and victorious. In contrast, the allies and followers of Satan were cast into the great winepress of God’s wrath. The present vision enlarges upon that judgment and reveals its intensity.” (Harkrider)
The “seven plagues” in today’s vision are “the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished” (verse 1). At a certain point in time God’s patience with the sinful men and His forbearance with their reckless folly runs out. When the measure of the fullness of sin has reached the top (Genesis 15:16), the wrath of the perfect and just Creator attains its full measure (Revelation 14:10). This present “sign in heaven” is also “great and marvelous” because John beholds the glorious gathering of the saved singing redemption’s jubilant victory song. As dark and despairing as chapters 12 and 13 were, chapters 14 and 15 exceed them in cheerfulness and assurance for God’s elect.
In Revelation 4:6 we were given glimpse of “something like a sea of glass, like crystal” stretched out before the throne of God; “and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.” We noted in an earlier commentary that “This ‘barrier’ places a bit of shimmering separation between the glorious Creator and His lowly creation, but when the Lord returns and His people are perfected, there will be ‘no longer any sea’ of severance (21:1).” Today’s rendition of this sheer, still, solid sea contains an admixture of “fire” (verse 2). This is very likely a symbol for the “trial by fire” that the saints who had emerged “victorious” endured at the hands of Satan’s ministers (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2-4; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 1 Peter 1:7).
Homer Hailey wrote regarding verse 3: “The song of Moses is sung by victorious warriors who had overcome in the conflict set forth in verse 2. The song is one of victory and praise to Jehovah and the Lamb who gives victory. ‘The song of Moses’ is the song sung by Moses and the children of Israel after crossing the Red Sea (Exod. 15), praising God for their deliverance from the Egyptians. Pharaoh’s army lay dead in the sea; Jehovah had redeemed His people and would bring them in ‘and plant them in the mountain of [His] inheritance.’ And now, under the same mighty hand of God, the Lamb had given deliverance and victory to these who had overcome the forces of the dragon.”
“Great and marvelous” are God’s works! “Righteous and true” are God’s ways! Even though most people and nations refuse to show reverential “fear” for the Lord and “glorify” His holy name, “all the nations will come and worship before” Him sooner or later (verse 4; Psalm 86:9). At the great and awesome day of Final Judgment, “every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and…every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11) Those of us who do so worshipfully and willingly upon this earth will be spared God’s wrath for eternity, and will be gathered unto His throne to sing His righteous praises forever in glory!
Please read Revelation 15:5-8 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.’ So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.”
---End of Scripture verses---
John sees a new vision of “one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head” riding on “a white cloud” (verse 14). This seems to be an obvious reference to our victorious King Jesus coming with a favorable judgment for the persecuted people of his kingdom. Daniel wrote in prophetic tones of Jesus ascending His heavenly throne: “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14) This “Son of Man” who reigns over all the kingdoms of the earth now appears in the visions of Revelation saving His royal subjects and exacting vengeance against the enemies of His domain.
“The Scriptures speak of bright clouds, thick clouds, a dark cloud, a swift cloud, and a great cloud, but this is the only reference to a white cloud, and thus it must carry special significance. White is the symbol of purity and holiness…therefore, whatever the cloud symbolizes is associated with these two attributes. Clouds often symbolize judgment or the appearing of judgment. Jehovah came in judgment against Egypt, riding ‘upon a swift cloud; (Isa. 19:1), and He would ‘come up as clouds’ against wicked Jerusalem (Jer. 4:13). Jesus would come against Jerusalem ‘on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (Matt. 24:30; 26:64…), and John describes His comings in judgment as coming ‘with the clouds’.” (Hailey)
It seems likely that this is not a depiction of Final Judgment, even though it is said that “His mighty angels” will be present with the Lord on that day when He comes “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). It also seems likely that verse 14 refers to “the Lord of the harvest” (Matthew 9:38; 13:30) coming to “reap” a “righteous harvest” of His “select vintage,” while the angel with “the sharp sickle” (verse 18) delivers a crushing blow to the evil empire of Rome.
Homer Hailey wrote: “In thrusting away the offer of the gospel men judge themselves unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13:46), and therefore remain under the judgment of damnation. We conclude that as the Lord reaps His harvest through preaching the gospel, judgment falls on all who reject it (vv. 6-7; 14-16)…While He will be gathering His own harvest, the judgment of the wicked in time will come. The metaphor of the winepress indicates this idea rather than the final judgment at His second coming. Jehovah’s treading the winepress of His wrath symbolized judgment against the heathen nations of earth at that time (Isa. 63:1-6; Joel 3:12 f.). Also, the judgment against the nations, which would include the beast and the kings of the earth, is likewise described as treading the winepress of His wrath (19:11-16…).”
In regards to verse 20, Homer Hailey wrote: “The city is probably the holy city, spiritual Jerusalem… As the bodies of the sin-offering were burned outside of the camp, and as a sin-offering Jesus ‘suffered without the gate’ (Heb. 13:11f.); so it is appropriate that the world that rejected Him and His salvation should be trodden without the city… Probably the picture intends only to indicate the magnitude and completeness of the judgment… The picture indicates the gory completeness of God’s judgment upon the wicked, as the horsemen wade through the sea of blood that reaches to the bridles.”
Please read Revelation 15:1-4 for tomorrow.
“Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
It must be admitted that it is not always easy to be a faithful child of God, as the brethren living in the first-century Roman Empire could easily attest to. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ were estranged from their families, expelled from society and even killed for their vocal and visible faith in the Lord. But, it is equally clear from today’s verses that the outcome will be much, much worse tor those who choose the path of least resistance, and follow the world instead of the Word. The third angel proclaimed with a loud voice that anyone who “worships the beast” would sorely and eternally regret it (verse 9). The undiluted “wrath of God” will be “mixed in full strength” (verse 10), and poured out profusely upon all who worships anyone or anything other than the One deserving of all worship, praise and glory.
The Old Testament prophets often depicted God’s divine wrath as a wine-filled cup (Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15-38). The inspired authors use figurative terms to describe the nature of the punishment that God will mete out to those who refuse to honor and obey Him as the Lord and Master of their lives (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). The “Spirit” says (verse 13) that the disobedient and ungodly will be “tormented with fire and brimstone,” which depicts the same fiery judgment that God rained down upon the horrid cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinfulness and gross, sexual immorality (Genesis 19:23-28). This vivid symbolism of God’s literal displeasure should prompt us to want to do whatever it takes to avoid His divine disfavor and retribution.
Please notice that God’s punishment for denying His Son and disobeying His commands (verse 12) is “eternal” suffering. “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever” (verse 11). “Religious materialists such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists speak of ‘hell’ as only the grave. They deny that the divine punishment is endless. This context speaks of torment that is ongoing, not annihilation of the soul. In fact, the Bible speaks of the eternal judgment of God against sin as worse than death (Matt. 10:28)… Jesus spoke many times of the wicked being cast into a place of torment where there will be ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Luke 16:19-31; Matt. 22:13; 25:30). (Harkrider)
As the victorious saints serve and worship before the throne of God and His temple “day and night” (Revelation 7:15), there is “no rest day and night” for “those who worship the beast and his image.” “Those who attempt to minimize these horrible descriptions of eternal punishment usually ask, ‘How could a loving God cast anyone into a lake of fire and brimstone?’ but this approach plays on man’s emotion and reasoning that is based on his own shallow experience. Before anyone dares to redefine the consequences of God’s wrath, he should explain why a God of love would allow His only Begotten Son to die on the cruel cross of Calvary! Man is not in a position to assess the heinous nature of sin nor to determine what might be its just punishment (Isa. 53:4-6).” (Harkrider)
The saints who believe in the eternal victory and reward for God’s faithful, and the everlasting defeat and punishment for His enemies will find reason and motivation for “perseverance” in the face of trials and tribulations. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!” (verse 13). This is one of the seven “beatitudes” pronounced for us in the book of Revelation (1:3; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). “Happy are the dead ‘who die in the Lord,’ that is, in a proper relationship to the Lord. These would be exalted in a heavenly joy; blissfully complete even in death. These are the ones who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (v. 12)… It had been revealed to John that the martyrs underneath the altar were at rest (6:9-11), and that those coming out of the great tribulation were before the throne serving God day and night (7:9-17). Now the Lord adds an additional word of hope and assurance for future sufferers—‘from henceforth’… the assurance is not limited to John’s contemporaries, but includes all faithful saints in every age who need comfort and consolation, who have seen their loyal brothers and sisters in Christ laid to rest.” (Hailey)
Please read Revelation 14:14-20 for tomorrow.
Have a great day!
“And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.’ And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
John saw the vision of “another angel flying in midheaven” (verse 6). Homer Hailey says that midheaven “indicates that point where the sun has reached the meridian, ‘the highest point in the heavens,’ which it occupies at noon (Thayer). At this point the angel can be seen and heard throughout the earth, for the message is ‘unto them that dwell on the earth…” The apostle describes the angel’s message as “an eternal gospel,” but there is clearly only one. The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8, “even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” This angel is a symbol for all of God’s “messengers” who announce the word of judgment and salvation throughout the world, even in times of intense persecution.
This is THE Good News that, at the behest of its Originator and focal point, was to be carried “into all the world,” and preached “unto every creature” under heaven (Mark 16:16). Just as the beast persuaded “all who dwell upon the earth” to worship at his feet, including people of “every tribe and people and tongue and nation” (Revelation 13:7-8), likewise the Gospel is intended for and made available to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” The blessed Gospel is for all, and the Lord will turn none away whose good heart is pierced by its penetrating, transformational, saving power. Anyone can resist the pressures to bow down to the gods of materialism, popularity, prestige, self-indulgence and self-preservation if they are so inclined, and if they have the vision to see beyond the passing pleasures of the impermanent present. But God sets life and death before all people, and each and every one must decide for himself to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Even though the Gospel message is “good news” for those who choose to “fear God and give Him glory” (verse 7), it declares certain and unavoidable “judgment” and destruction upon all the disobedient, idolaters and abhorrent oppressors of God’s people. The angelic herald declared “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” (verse 8). Robert Hark rider wrote: “This is the first of six times ‘Babylon’ is named in Revelation (16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21)… The angel uses the same words as did Isaiah who prophesied the downfall of ancient Babylon on the Euphrates; ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen’ (Isa. 21:9). The victory of God over His enemies is so certain that it can be announced before the battle is fought. Even as Isaiah prophesied the destruction of literal Babylon about two hundred years before it took place, John likewise speaks of the downfall of Rome, the figurative Babylon, in the same manner… By seducing the world with her corrupt practices, Rome was like a prostitute. The ‘wine of the wrath’ points to the pouring forth of God’s wrath as fully explained in Romans 1:18-31.”
Please read Revelation 14:9-13 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
“Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.”
Following the horrifying image of the Roman imperial cult, we have a completely antithetical image after the same style of chapter 7. As monstrous and grotesque as the images of the enemies of God have been in Revelation, this image depicts complete and total serenity! Given the death, denial, and dastardly betrayal the church experienced during the first few centuries, particularly under emperors like Domitian and Trajan, this deliverance picture would have been sorely needed.
The Lamb is Jesus (compare chapter 5). Such was the trademark of His identity and the image is made all the more picturesque by the reflection that God so often characterizes His people as sheep. The Lamb is the One on Whose account the martyrs are dying and Who Himself had been slain. Notice that He is STANDING on Mount Zion; He does not rise up off of the land or from the sea; He is above and over them (compare Psalms 2:6-12). The fact that He is standing indicates two complimentary ideas: power/control and interest. Knowing that the Lamb was in control during this persecution would be hard to keep at the forefront of one’s mind. Nevertheless, to spiritually survive the ordeal was to keep this image burned into one’s mind. That He is standing on Mount Zion is also notable. Mount Zion was the literal hill in the Old Testament where David established his throne. This becomes a symbol of God’s presence among His people via the rule of the Messiah (Psalms 2:6; 110:2, 5-6). The law would go forth from Zion (Isaiah 2:2ff), and those ransomed would “come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads” (Isaiah 35:10).
The number of these “redeemed from the earth” who are with Jesus is 144,000, the same numbered in chapter 7 with the same symbolic significance. From chapter 7, we learned that they wore white robes and they waved palm branches. Here in chapter 14 is added: “they were not defiled with women” (i.e. they were virgins), they “followed the Lamb wherever He goes”, and “there was found no guile in their mouth/they were without fault”. The imagery of the virgin symbolizes purity and fidelity to God (cf. 2 Corinthians 11.2f; Ephesians 5.27). This should be understood in contrast to the imagery of adultery, which is used of idolaters. That they follow the Lamb wherever He goes alludes to submission to the ultimate sacrifice, martyrdom. There is also the striking irony that the Lamb was leading when lambs typically are led. That there was no guile found in them is to be understood as the antithesis of what came out of the mouths of the sea beast and his followers (13:5-6, 15). It also references their blamelessness in regards to rejecting the temptation to lie about their faith when challenged by authorities. Pliny the Younger attests to this in his letter – “Others who were named by that informer at first confessed themselves Christians, and then denied it; true, they had been of that persuasion but they had quitted it, some three years, others many years, and a few as much as twenty-five years ago. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, and cursed Christ.” (Pliny, Letter #96)
And what is this great multitude doing with the Lamb? They are singing of course! They are learning a new song from Heaven's hymnal (5:9ff). This song is reserved for them alone. The blood of the Lamb has purchased these special people. Compare Exodus 15:6 – “Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of your arm they are motionless as stone; until your people pass over, O Lord, until the people pass over whom you have purchased.” No doubt the inspiration behind this new song is praise and thanks for the salvation given to them. The allusions from the Old Testament are many. “O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wonderful things, his right hand and his holy arm have gained the victory for him.” (Psalms 98:1) “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the congregation of the godly ones. Let Israel be glad in his maker; let the sons of Zion rejoice in their king. Let them praise his name with dancing; let them sing praises to him with timbrel and lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Let the godly ones exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, To execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written; this is an honor for all his godly ones. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 149)
While we are much distanced from the enemy that was the Roman Empire and imperial cult worship, there remains today the hope and reality that God’s people who would remain faithful to Him, will join the angelic chorus and pay homage for all eternity to our God and Father. Such blessed faithful individuals are labeled by the very name of God upon their foreheads. For those who would falter and stumble, they will be trademarked by the enemy of God and devoted to destruction for an eternity. Let us all be found without guile at the end of our life, rejecting all temptations to disavow ourselves of Christ. In so doing, we will join God’s firstfruits before us!
Please read 14:6-8 for tomorrow!
Have a blessed day!
“And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
---End of Scripture verses---
In verse 15 we see that if a person refused to recognize the idol, the statue or “image” (verse 14) of Caesar, as a living, breathing object worthy of praise and worship, they could have their own breath of life snuffed out. Often in the Old Testament, inspired prophets mocked the powerlessness and lifelessness of a chunk of metal or wood that God’s own people would shape into the form of an idol and worship. “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat. those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them.” (Psalm 115:4-5) “Every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; for his molten images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery; in the time of their punishment they will perish.” (Jeremiah 10:14-15). At the time that John wrote the book of Revelation, the Roman authorities attempted to coerce God’s people into worshiping the image of Caesar by the threat of death, or losing their financial livelihood (verse 17).
No one was exempt from the pressure of pledging allegiance to the emperor and the state authorities by worshiping the image of Caesar. “He causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead” (verse 16). This could have been an actual “stamp” or “brand” upon a person’s skin, or even a government-issued certificate of some sort that a citizen would carry on his person to show as verification to the authorities that he had fulfilled the ritualistic requirements of emperor worship. But, “in all probability this mark was not visible to the human eye any more than the ‘seal of God’ which, in contrast was said to be upon the foreheads of those who followed Jesus Christ… Unqualified allegiance to Christ meant that the saints of God would rather suffer martyrdom than compromise their faith by honoring a different Lord.” (Harkrider)
Much wild speculation has been made about the number “six hundred and sixty-six” being the number “of a man” (verse 18). People have assigned numbers to the letters of the alphabet and added the letters of the names of historical figures together to determine who “the Anti-Christ” would be. Men who have names that have added up to 666 by using this method include Napoleon, Adolph Hitler, Henry Kissinger and Saddam Hussein to name just a few. But nowhere in the Bible is the number 666 assigned to a specific figure known as “the Anti-Christ,” and the letters used to tabulate this number are not taken from the alphabet of the Greek language in which the New Testament was written. The truth is that the number 666 is a figure rich in symbolism and is used figuratively as many other of the numbers in the book of Revelation are used.
Here is what Homer Hailey wrote in his commentary regarding “the number of the beast”: “Since the Apocalypse abounds in the symbolic use of numbers which express ideas rather than persons or literal quantities, the same principle should be followed in the interpretation of this number. Throughout the book, seven expresses the idea of perfection or completeness: the seven churches, seven horns, seven eyes, seven spirits and so forth. So six, which falls below the sacred seven, can never be seven or reach perfection; therefore, it symbolizes the imperfect, that which is human and destined to fail. It is said that to the Jews the number six was an omen or symbol of dread and doom, so when it was tripled, 666, it represented the completeness of doom and failure… the number of the beast, six-six-six, stands for the complete and total failure of all human systems and efforts antagonistic to God and His Christ—all are doomed to ultimate and complete defeat and failure.”
Please read Revelation 14:1-5 for tomorrow.
Have a great day and a Happy New Year!
“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.”
---End of Scripture verses---
“This land-beast represents false religion; in fact, in all other references to him he is known as ‘the false prophet’ (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). Four characteristics clearly identify him: (1) ‘two horns like a lamb’ (religious appearance); (2) ‘spake as a dragon’ (an agent of Satan); (3) ‘exercised all the power of the first beast’ (backed by political power); (4) ‘caused the earth to worship the first beast’ (represents the pagan false religion that worshiped Caesar as god.” (Harkrider)
The “beast coming up out of the earth” had a harmless and inoffensive outward appearance, seemingly as meek as a lamb. Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-16, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
The goal of the “land-beast” was to make “the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast” (verse 12). We see here the combining of political authority and religious observances, which may find further symbolism in the beast’s “two horns”. The Roman Empire exercised its absolute power both politically and religiously by declaring Caesar to be a god, and demanding the full participation of its citizenry in the state religion and emperor cult as an expression of allegiance to his throne.
“He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth…” (verse 13). “The role of the false prophet was to entice men to worship the first beast. To achieve this end he was empowered to do ‘great wonders’. The devil has the power to cause ‘lying wonders’ (2 Thess. 2:9-12; Matt. 24:24), and men were deceived by the apparent miracles he could perform. Whatever signs God allows Satan to perform, they are never of the same quality as those worked by God’s servants. This difference is clearly set forth when the sorceries of Simon are seen in contrast to the attesting signs performed by Philip (Acts 8:5-13). In the biblical sense, an authentic miracle is an observable act directly produced by God with means other than physical laws of nature. If Satan could do the same, there would not be a way to determine the true message of God from the devil’s false words. Whatever signs Satan has attempted to duplicate have only been counterfeit, as Moses proved before Pharaoh (Exod. 7:10-12). (Harkrider)
The lamb creature with the dragon’s voice “deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast” (verse 14). Satan’s great power lies in his ability to deceive the masses into doing his will by his cunning and craftiness (2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Timothy 3:13). He takes things that are deadly to us, both physically and spiritually, and makes them look so enticing and beneficial (Genesis 3:1-7). He speaks like a gentle little lamb, but he bites like a venomous serpent. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:8-11)
Please read Revelation 13:15-18 for tomorrow.
Please come worship God with us today in spirit and truth at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!