Hard Hearts – Exodus 7:1-7

In this passage of Exodus, we have the reiteration that God tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh, and that Aaron will be his mouthpiece. It it interesting that God tells Moses that he shall be “Elohim” (God) to Pharaoh, and Aaron shall be the prophet. This is actually how the chapter begins. We saw this same declaration back in chapter 4, but here it is in a slightly different context. It is one thing for God to tell Moses this at the burning bush, but for it to be said again just before entering the court of Pharaoh is something altogether noteworthy.

When the Bible says the same thing twice, it needs to be noted. Something is trying to be conveyed here. Why would Moses be “Elohim” unto Pharaoh? Why isn’t Moses the spokesman of Elohim, and therefore Aaron is just the guy who is speaking on Moses’ behalf? The answer lies within Egyptian tradition. Pharaoh is not simply a human prophet or “frontman” for the gods, but the Egyptian Pharaohs were claimed to be gods incarnate. Certain Pharaohs were considered to be one of the gods in the flesh, and they had their palace and burial place decorated to commemorate that. Moses is “Elohim” unto Pharaoh, just like Pharaoh is supposedly “incarnate god” to the Egyptians.

The passage as a whole revolves around a certain notion: God will harden the heart of Pharaoh. Why is Moses and Aaron to go unto Pharaoh? Because God will release His people through mighty acts and judgments. Why can’t God just perform the mighty acts and judgments, and thus cause Israel to go out apart from Moses and Aaron addressing Pharaoh? There are a couple reasons for this, and probably the most difficult to grasp is that God works alongside of humanity, and not independently.

Pharaoh is to know of the judgments of God. He is to know of the coming wrath. In fact, there is extremely good Scriptural support that God does not send judgment without also first sending warning. Thus, between God’s fairness and His drive to work hand-in-hand with His creation (instead of independently), we have the reasons for why God would send Moses and Aaron at all. He certainly has every ability of bankrupting Egypt and causing it to collapse, thus giving more than sufficient means for Israel to leave. But, that isn’t how God works. Ever.

Instead, God will harden the heart of Pharaoh. Even here, the question can be asked: Why?

Why does God need to harden the heart of Pharaoh? Why can’t the command go forth, and then let Pharaoh to decide whether he wants to obey or not? Why would God deliberately harden the heart of Pharaoh, and thus keep His people in tribulation for another few weeks or months? These sorts of questions will ruin you. You will either find no comfortable answer, and therefore be left with questions that force you to lose your faith, or you will find the deepest, most intimate, and apostolic answers, which will uncover to you the very essence of who God is.

So, why does God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Notice Deuteronomy 2:30. What does it say? “But Sihon, king of Heshon, would not let us pass through, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day.” Notice Joshua 11:20. “For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses.”

This phrase is specific to the deliverance from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan. Maybe you can find it elsewhere (and please correct me if I’m wrong), but I can’t find the phrase anywhere else. It isn’t in Judges, it isn’t in Samuel, it isn’t in Kings, and it isn’t in the later history after the exile. You don’t find this hardness in the New Testament, except to point it our from the past. Even Paul saying, “God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and hardens whom he will harden”, it is only a statement in a larger context pointing back to Pharaoh, and decreeing that God has hardened Israel in these last days so that they would now be “not His people”, as Hosea has proclaimed, only the then be the selfsame people that God will turn to and proclaim, “they are my people”.

What am I getting at?

Go to Revelation 16. This concept of hardening the heart is only found in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, only to then be used of Paul to claim that Israel has now been hardened so as to no longer be God’s people (but only temporarily). Notice Revelation 16:13 and onward: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. (Jesus speaking) Behold, I am coming as a theif. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”

Two things: first, notice that the gathering together of the nations for the final battle against Jesus at His second coming is prompted by demons. Second, notice that Jesus’ “thief-like” coming isn’t the rapture (as if it happens before the tribulation), but His legitimate, actual second coming, which is what all of the prophets and apostles have always declared.

Now go to Revelation 17. There is a great harlot that sits on many waters, and she is riding the scarlet beast. This beast is the self-same beast mentioned in Revelation 13, which is the Antichrist Kingdom. There is something happening here, a mystery. The beast somehow represents the whole kingdom of Antichrist, and yet the Antichrist himself as well. The beast that comes out of the waters is a hybrid, or a composite, of the four beasts of Daniel 7. There are seven heads on the beast, just like when you add up the heads on the four beasts of Daniel, there are seven altogether. Here we have the seven-headed beast, along with the ten horns, which is the Antichrist Kingdom.

How do I know this?

When you look at Daniel 7, you find that each beast represents a different kingdom, just like the statue of Daniel 2 represented different kingdoms. Yet, there is a continuum from Genesis 4, the city called Enoch, unto the Tower of Babel, and ultimately unto Babylon, which is the first kingdom mentioned in Daniel 2 and 7. Look at Revelation 17:9-11. The seven heads represent more than just the amount of heads upon those four beasts, and the kings are more than just the kings of Daniel 11. We have here the seven oppressors of Israel: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and finally the Antichrist. This is why “five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come.” The first five of those kingdoms by this point were no longer oppressive super-powers. Rome was the dominating force, and there was to be another oppressive force against Israel that would rise up as a world super-power after Rome.

Let us look at the woman for a minute. Who is this woman? Look at verse 6: “I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.” Now examine the words of Jesus. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who have slain all the prophets.” Or, what about, “Would it be right for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem?” What about Peter ending his first epistle, saying that the “saints in Babylon greet you”? Peter wasn’t in Babylon; Babylon didn’t exist anymore. Peter is writing from Jerusalem.

The woman is called a harlot. Go to Ezekiel 16. In Ezekiel 16, you have the prophet speaking the word of God over Judah and Jerusalem. In verse 15 you have it begin, “But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.” Now, just because Israel is called a harlot doesn’t mean that Israel is the harlot of Revelation 17. Let us get better evidence than this one verse. When you continue through Ezekiel 16, you come to verses 35 and onward, where we find statements like, “I will gather your lovers with whom you took pleasure… I will gather them all around against you and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. And I will judge you as women who break wedlock… I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy… They shall also strip you of your clothes, take you beautiful jewelry, and leave you naked and bare. They shall also bring up an assembly against you, and they shall stone you with stones and thrust you through with their swords. They shall burn your houses with fire, and execute judgments on you…”

Go back to Revelation 17. You find in verses 16 and onward, “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh (compare Psalm 14:4, Micah 3:3, Jeremiah 10:25, 1 Corinthians 10:21, etc) and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.” Now look at Revelation 18:4, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

What am I getting at here?

When we look at Exodus 7:1-7 and the other places where God hardens the hearts of the wicked kings, it is in relation to Israel being freed from oppression and bring brought into the Land of Canaan. When you examine the Old and New Testament in regard to the end times, it seems like there is a small pattern in only a handful of verses. Jeremiah 16:4-5 is a more obvious depiction of this small pattern. It claims that Israel, after they have been judged for their iniquity, will no longer say, “As the Lord who brought us out of Egypt,” because what God is going to do is going to surpass what He did when He brought Israel out of Egypt.

You have in the end times a “new exodus” of sorts. Somehow, Jerusalem itself is made to be the “Egypt” and “Babylon” that must be judged. Somehow, Israel herself is the one hardened, but unlike Egypt and Babylon, she shall not be utterly destroyed. Instead, the cry goes forth to “come out from her”, and God speaks over and over again (even in Romans 9) that though “not all Israel is Israel”, and though they are the people who have been made “not my people”, as Paul will conclude later, “all Israel shall be saved”, and they who were “not my people” shall be the very ones who are now called “my people”.

Here is the great mystery, and incredibly difficult concept to grasp. Somehow God only hardens the hearts of they who He shall send judgment upon in regard to His people. Yet, there comes a time and place – which has indeed already come, and is at hand – when God shall send judgment upon His own people, hardening His own people’s hearts, so as to bring deliverance and salvation. Do you see the extreme difficulty that this produces? The pre-tribulation rapture then neuters this view by claiming that the mechanism of Israel’s deliverance (the church – Rev 12:6, 13-17, Rom 11:11, 25-31, etc) is supposed to be gone. Replacement theologians neuter this understanding by claiming ethnic Israel means nothing, and neither does the land itself. But, if it means nothing, then why does the entirety of God’s cosmic redemptive paradigm utterly revolve around that people, and that land, to such a degree that God gathers all nations at the end of the world unto Israel and Jerusalem – at Har Megiddo – where Jesus shall then return? It has great significance, and we need to know our place as His people in this end time stratagem, or else we will be destined to always seeking “more”, “deeper”, “bigger”, and “powerful”, because we have not the actual authentic thing.

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Harvest of the Earth – Rev 14:14-20

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud [was] sitting one like the son of man, having on his head a golden crown and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, “Put forth your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth has ripened.” And the one sitting upon the cloud put forth his sickle upon the earth, and the earth was harvested. And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, having also a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the altar, having authority over the fire, and he called with a loud cry to the one having the sharp sickle saying, “Put forth your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth; because the grapes of it have fully ripened.” And the angel put forth his sharp sickle to the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth and cast them into the winepress of the wrath of the great God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed out of the winepress as high as the bridles of the horses, to the distance of one thousand six hundred stadia.

Here we have the harvest of the earth. This is another one of those passages that is a little controversial. Why would it be controversial? To they who claim Revelation is a chronology of events, the difficulty is to explain why there is a harvest of the earth before the second coming. To they who claim a post-tribulation pre-wrath rapture, this would be the rapture of the church. Yet, the exact same language is being used here as what we expect with the second coming. This isn’t some sort of rapture because it mentions Jesus in the clouds, but not on the earth. What we’re seeing here is final judgment.

The overall flow of the text reveals to us the wrath of the Lamb at the sixth seal, which is pretty easy to figure out is the return of Jesus. Then, at the final trumpet, we find that the kingdoms of the earth have become the kingdoms of the Lord and His Christ. Once again, where do we see this? We expect it at the second coming of Jesus, and not before or after it. Then we enter into the twelfth chapter. Here we have the complication of whether the chapter goes back to the birth of Christ or whether it is during the tribulation, but whichever way we take it, it is nearly impossible to claim that this chapter is somehow after the seventh trumpet. Some have said it is the seventh trumpet, because it mentions a “woe to the earth” for Satan’s being cast down. Once again, how do you have the kingdoms of this world becoming the Kingdom of God without the return of Jesus? In our progression forward, we’ve seen the abomination of desolation in chapter 13, along with the mark of the beast, and now we’re seeing the harvest of the earth.

When we went through Daniel for a brief framework, where does the harvest of the earth fit best? I would say it is at the same time of the resurrection (Dan 12:2). That resurrection is at the return of Jesus. This glimpse into the harvest of the earth can be compared with Matthew 13:24-29, 37-43 where Jesus tells a parable regarding the end of the world and the return of the Son of Man. He likens it to a harvest of the earth where the weeds and the wheat are gathered together, and the weeds are thrown into the fire. In Revelation 19, we find that Jesus’ robe is dipped in blood. Why? Could it be that this is a reference back to this chapter and the winepress of God’s wrath? There is no mystery here. The one identified as “the son of man” is defined in Rev 1:13.

The language of “another angel” comes from the first part of 14, where we find three angels. The “other angel” of 14:6 goes back to that John has already seen angels in his vision. He is saying that this angel is not one of the ones that he had already seen. There is no confusing passage here unless we purposefully try to find something that isn’t obvious. The “son of man” phrase comes from Daniel 7:13, Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27, and in all of these cases it is the son of man coming at the end of the tribulation. The only possible exception is Daniel 7:13 where it mentions the son of man coming to the right hand of the Ancient of Days. Here He is wearing a golden crown instead of the diadem in Rev 19:12.

Notice that when you go to Matthew 13, you find that Jesus explicitly mentions the angel’s involvement with the harvest of the earth. He also mentions the angel’s involvement in Matthew 24 and parallels. Once again, no mystery here. It is as plain as plain could be unless we start referencing texts that are not the obvious.

In Joel 3:13, we read that after the nations are aroused and brought together for the final war (Armageddon), the cry goes forth to “swing the sickle”. In Mark 4:29 we find end time significance to the reaping with a sickle as well. The parable is about the Kingdom of God being like a seed that is planted, which we can take as Christ’s first coming, and it grows all by itself. The seed goes from being a seed to being a big plant until the day comes where the sickle shall reap the harvest of the plant. So it is with Jesus’ two comings. He came, and planted the seed of the Kingdom of God. Thus, He did come and smash the statue of Daniel 2. However, the extent of Daniel 2 is not fully present with us. Therefore we await until the day that this plant (the Kingdom of God) has fully grown, for in that day the sickle shall reap the harvest.

In verse 16, it mentions that Jesus harvested the earth. Then, when we begin verse 17, it begins to mention the angels harvesting the earth. Once again, no mystery here. This isn’t trickery and magic trying to create a contradiction. Yes, Jesus harvested the earth. Along with Jesus harvesting the earth, the angels harvested the earth. When was the last time that you saw a farmer go out into the field and reap the harvest in a moment? It takes time, especially if the field is large. Obviously Christ has the ability to reap instantaneously, but there is no reason to assume this is what is happening.

We can compare the gathering of the “clusters of grapes” with Isaiah 63:1-7. The question is asked, “Who is this that comes from Bozrah with his garments stained crimson?” The answer is that this man has trodden down the nations in his anger, trodden the winepress down in his wrath. “For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of redemption has come.” The man claims that he trod the winepress alone; he looked, but there was none to help. And what shall we make of this, because we see angels helping. Read the text of Isaiah 63 in context, and the text of Revelation 14 in its own context. Isaiah 63 is making the point that there was no man, no nation, no people that were righteous to be able to tread the wine of God’s wrath with him. It signifies nothing of the angels.

The city mentioned in verse 20 is Jerusalem. That is the focus of Revelation all the way through. We can also compare Joel 3:2, 12, Zechariah 14:2-15. The flowing blood seems to come from Ezekiel 32:6, Isaiah 34:3, 7, and/or Genesis 49:11-12. In Genesis, to begin with the beginning, it is prophesied concerning Judah that there will be a ruler to rise from his tribe that will “wash his garments in wine” and “the blood of grapes”. In Isaiah, we find the judgment of the nations resulting in “the mountains being soaked with blood” and the “land being drenched with blood”. Ezekiel 32 laments the slaying of Pharaoh, where God will “drench the land with your flowing blood all the way to the mountains.” Where precisely the 1,600 stadia comes from, it is quite possible this is a new revelation given to John.

The Eternal Gospel – Rev 14:6-13

And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach upon those dwelling on the earth and on every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship the one having made heaven and earth and sea and springs of waters.” And another angel, a second, followed saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, who of the wine of the passion of her immorality she has given all the Gentiles to drink.” And another angel, a third, followed them saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he will also drink of the wine of the wrath of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up to ages of ages, and those worshiping the beast and its image [will] not have rest day and night, and if anyone receives the mark of its name.” Here is the endurance of the saints, those keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice out of heaven saying, “Write: Blessed are the dead in the Lord dying from now on.” Yes, says the Spirit, that they will rest from their labors. And their works do follow with them.

Let us break down each of these messages from the angels. Overall, we can see they speak the destruction of Babylon, and the terrifying fate of those who worship this “Babylon”. This first angel doesn’t acknowledge the wicked and what their fate shall be. Instead, we’re told that this angel proclaims the “everlasting Gospel”. You can compare this with Matthew 24:14. The Greek word for Gospel is a derivative of the same word for evangelist. The word for preach is another derivative. There is a reason for this. Though there is a message, and there is a Gospel to be preached, it is intimately tied up with the bearer of that message. The man is the message, and the message is the man. The two cannot be divided.

In Matthew 25, when Jesus separates the sheep and the goats, how is it that neither of them knew when they treated the Lord poorly or very well? Righteousness is not something that we attain, but something that are. The righteous are righteous, therefore they act righteously. The actions that the sheep perform unto the least of these are righteous, not because of the “right-ness” of those actions, but because it is the righteous who perform them. The statement of being righteous is not a statement of doing rightly, but because you are righteous, the acts that you perform are righteous. Here, with the Gospel, it is not that you are preaching the Gospel because you know it, but because you are it. The message cannot be rejected without rejecting the one who proclaims it.

We can compare the message this angel brings with Acts 14:14-15. Paul and Barnabas not only speak similar words, but their actions show forth exactly what the words declare. The sentence “fear God” is found in Ecclesiastes 12:13, and is even the conclusion of the whole book. “Give him glory” comes from Joshua 7:19, 1 Sam 6:5, Isa 42:12, and Jer 13:16. “Judgment has come” reflects what has been said in 6:10, 16-17, and 11:18. “Springs of waters”, see 1 Kings 18:5, 2 Kings 3:19, 25, Exodus 15:27, Numbers 33:9.

What is it about this message that is “the eternal Gospel”? There is no mention of sin, no mention of repentance, no mention of Jesus, no mention of redemption, and no mention of the cross/resurrection. What makes this the eternal Gospel is not the words in themselves, for the Gospel is not a formula. What makes this the eternal Gospel is that it is absolute truth and reality being expressed through the character of the angel, the radical separation it calls for from the world, and the weight of glory in the proclamation. That is true evangelism.

A second angel comes behind this proclamation. He continues to declare the Gospel. His message is one of fallenness unto Babylon. Compare these words with Jer 51:7 and Isa 21:9. Here we find the wine of her fornication is now coupled with the wine of wrath. We find in 14:10 and 17:2 these as two distinct things. Though there is distinction, there should not be separation. It is like the Church and Israel. They are distinct, but don’t allow that distinction to dictate a separation. See Jeremiah 25:15. The two are one and the same.

Interestingly, the wine of her adulteries seems to be a play on communion. Think about it. You have the wine of the table of the Lord, which represents the blood of the sacrifice (or even the drink offering) prescribed in Leviticus 1-7. Ultimately, Jesus is that sacrifice. Yet, here we have the table of demons in that there is a wine of Babylon, which is adultery. This wine is maddening, whereas the wine of the Lord brings clarity.

The third angel then plays off of Revelation 13 in what he says. Most likely the worship and the reception of the mark are the same thing. To receive one is to receive the other. We can see in Jeremiah 25:15 this cup being offered to Babylon, and now she drinks it in full. Isa 51:17, Psalm 75:8, and Job 21:20 all speak of drinking God’s wrath. This cup is given to Jerusalem and Babylon. (In our text they are one and the same; a duality of Antichrist kingdom and unfaithful Israel.) There comes a time when the cup of wrath leads to Jerusalem’s redemption, but it leads to Babylon’s destruction. What precisely is it about the cup of wrath that will lead to this one’s salvation, but to another’s final damnation?

“He is tormented with fire and brimstone.” See Isa 34:8-10, Gen 19:24, and Eze 38:22. This concept of fire and brimstone was first introduced in 9:17-18, and is again repeated with 19:20, 20:10, and 21:8. While some maintain that hell is not eternal, but instead is about the destruction of the soul, I’m not sure that this verse supports that claim. Please note: the claim is not a rejection of hell, but of the eternality of hell. They believe that hell exists, and they don’t believe that after spending time there you’ll go to heaven. Annihilationists advocate that hell destroys the soul, thus giving reason to fear Him who can kill body and soul in hell.

They are tormented in the presence of angels and the Lamb. Why in the presence of angels? We can possibly compare Isa 14:15-16 and Ezekiel 28:16-18. This would advocate that the angels shall behold the demise and judgment of Satan. In beholding that demise and judgment, they shall also behold the demise and judgment of Babylon and all the people who worship Babylon. We do find the exact statement made by Jesus in Luke 12:9.

We can compare this first statement in verse 11 with 18:19, 19:3, 20:10, and Isa 34:10. “Have no rest” occurs in 4:8 as voluntary worship. See Isaiah 48:22 and 57:21.

This statement in verse 12 is a repeated statement from 13:10 and 12:17. We can also compare it with Rom 3:22 and Gal 2:16. Why does the judgment of Babylon require the patient endurance of the saints? It only makes sense in the understanding that there will be Jewish people in flight in the last days, running from the Antichrist’s fury into the wilderness where she will be taken care of by the Church for that stretch of time. While God sends judgment upon Jerusalem, which inevitably affects the Jewish people, the Antichrist is establishing his kingdom in Jerusalem. The cup of wrath shall not be solely given to Jerusalem with the judgment upon the Jewish people, but shall be given also unto the Antichrist and his followers.

This requires the patient endurance of the saints. We must be willing to invite the refugees into our own homes, knowing that this will be both illegal and threaten our very lives. Without that understanding, it just seems ludicrous that this verse would be here. This should be our rejoicing, and not our need for patient endurance. In chapter 19, heaven rejoices at the destruction of Babylon. Here we must patiently endure. John is pulling from the duality of Jerusalem/Babylon.

Our final verse in this section can be compared to Romans 14:8. This comes after declaring there is no rest for they who worship the beast. Though the beast and his followers shall have no rest, the saints of God shall eternally rest. Their deeds shall follow them. Yet, what does that even mean? This goes back to our discussion at the first. The righteous do righteously because they are righteous. Righteous deeds are not righteous simply because they are “good”, but because the righteous perform them. We find in Rev 19:8 that the Bride’s apparel is the righteous acts of the saints. We’ll be clothed in righteousness, just as we’re clothed with Christ.

Zion or Babylon – Revelation 14:1-5

And I looked, and behold the Lamb was standing upon Mount Zion, and with him a hundred forty four thousand having the name of him and the name of his Father having been written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice out of heaven as the sound of many waters and as the sound of loud thunder. And the voice that I heard was like that of harpists harping with their harps. And they are singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. And no one was able to learn the song if not of the hundred forty four thousand, having been redeemed from the earth. These are they who have not been defiled with women. They are indeed pure. These follow the Lamb wherever anyhow he shall go. These have been redeemed out from men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb, and in their mouth was not found a lie. They are blameless. Before the throne of God.

Let us begin with some general statements. In our timeline that we’ve been trying to keep, the verses that follow this speak of the destruction of the Antichrist’s kingdom, and the harvest of the earth. Therefore, it follows that this is somehow a leap to the end of the timeline. We left off in chapter 13 with the abomination of desolation, which is halfway through the Tribulation. Now we’re at the very end, where the Lamb is seen upon Zion with His saints. With that much being said, what precisely is this scene? It is my belief that we are seeing the wedding of the Lamb, which is mentioned again in Revelation 19:7. Just like we saw the beast in 13:2-7 is further explained in chapter 17, so we will find this chapter being further explained in chapters 18-19.

In the first verse we see the Lamb set opposed to the beasts, and His followers against the followers of the beast, and His mark against the mark of the beast. Mount Zion is the place of God’s dwelling. It is where His temple sits. And, in Joel 3:5 and Obadiah 17, it is the place of deliverance. Zion is somehow dual. It is heavenly as much as earthly. They are counterparts to one another, and neither are complete without the other. This is also seen in the Body of Christ, where the Church is not complete without Israel, and Israel is not complete without the engrafted Gentiles. The two need one another, and until they are all under the one Head, the deliverer cannot come out from Zion.

It is important to note the character difference between the Lamb and the beast. This beast has been given his throne through self-exultation, but the Lamb has obtained His throne through sacrifice. While the world is steeped in “me first” mentality, it is the character and disposition of the Lamb to defer to another, and to suffer on behalf of that other. The Lamb is gentle, meek and mild. The two poles in Revelation are significant, and should not be ignored in our worship.

We first saw the 144,000 in chapter 7. I defined them as the first fruits of the nation of Israel to be redeemed. It is important to note that they have been redeemed from the earth. They are called sexually pure, as opposed to the prostitute in 17. Jerusalem and the rest of Israel is that prostitute (we’ll get into this with much detail, but see Ezekiel 16, Zechariah 5:5, and 1 Peter 5:13). They are first fruits to God, which we also are called. Here I the mystery. I believe these to be the Jewish people – the true nation of Israel. Yet, notice what Paul says in Romans 11. The chapter begins with a praise that God has preserved a faithful remnant within Israel. There are still some Jews who believe in Jesus.

At this moment in our timeline, there is great likelihood that this 144,000 is actually all of Israel, but that detail is not mentioned here. There is a reason for that. We have not yet gotten to chapter 17 where the prostitute is revealed, and we have not yet heard the cry, “Come out from her my people!” If I am correct in my thinking that this is the wedding of the Lamb, then this is the Church, Israel, and the Land all being married unto the Lamb. We’ll get into that later as well.

For the names upon the head, see Exodus 28:36-37. This seems to reflect the crown placed upon the priests in the Old Testament.

In verse 2, we hear a sound, and we recognize that sound as harpists playing their harps. Compare Revelation 1:15, Ezekiel 43:2, and Revelation 5:8-9.

We can also compare verse 3 with Rev 5:9. “No one was able to learn the song.” There is a certain revelation only given to these 144,000. Something has been displayed to them that no one else has comprehended. It is quite possible that this is new revelation only for them, but it is also quite possible that this is a mystery hidden in God until the appearing of Christ at the end of the age. While it seems these 144,000 are Jewish in 7:5-8 (nowhere else is Israel or the tribes explicitly mentioned), it is difficult to reconcile that here. Somehow the overcomers of 12:11 seem to also be represented. The two have become one. They have been “redeemed from the earth”. Whether that redemption is speaking of our salvation, or whether it is speaking of the overcoming, it is up for debate.

The mystery that Paul expresses in Ephesians 3:1-6 is that the Gentiles shall receive inheritance with Israel at the return of Christ. We have been grafted in, and therefore, like Ruth who has declared, “Your people shall be my people, and you God shall be my God”, we have separated from our original nationalities and inheritance to be engrafted into Israel. We are no longer Ham or Japheth – or even some other part of Shem – but are now “Israel”. Together the Jews and Gentiles in Christ shall inherit glorified bodies at the return of Christ to rule with Him as priests.

In verse 4 we find these 144,000 to be sexually chaste. Compare Matthew 19:12. These are the people who are solely married to their God. What that means is that they do not commit idolatry. For the following of the Lamb, see Luke 9:57. For first fruits, see Jeremiah 2:3, Romans 8:24, 29, and James 1:18.

For verse 5, we can compare Zephaniah 3:13, 1 Peter 2:22, John 1:47, and Malachi 2:6. They are blameless, because they have overcome. It is after this scene that judgment comes to Babylon. It is after that scene that we find the harvest of the earth. This follows the exact pattern we’ve seen all along. In the seals, the wrath of the Lamb comes in the sixth seal, and the end of the age with the seventh. The sixth trumpet seems to bring judgment upon the beast that comes out from the Abyss, and in the seventh trumpet we find the kingdoms of this earth have become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. Now we find the same thing in chapter 14. The rest of the book of Revelation shifts focus. While the first half seems to revolve around Israel and outward unto all the world, the last part seems to revolve around the Antichrist kingdom and its downfall. The ultimate question of Revelation is thus posed: Which shall be the City of God – Babylon or Zion?

Mark of the Beast 2 – Rev 13:16-18

In the previous post I examined a bit of the character of the kingdom of darkness, specifically the characteristic that will distinguish between Christ and Antichrist. I also came down rather hard on they who perpetuate falsehood, hoping that it might make abundantly clear the need for truth and reality. They who continue to give themselves to deception will not be able to discern the difference between the two witnesses and this False Prophet. They will be liable to following one or the other simply because they heard them first. Discernment is necessarily stunted when we will not consciously pursue truth in absolution.

Here I wanted to get into some of the specifics. This is probably one of those posts that many readers will want to know. What exactly is the mark of the beast? What exactly should we be looking for? I think there are a couple things to note. First, the Greek word is epi, and therefore “on” or “upon” the skin. Second, John is referencing things that would be known to his readers, and not some sort of future microchip that only this generation would know about. That isn’t giving you reason to get a microchip implanted into yourself, but to say that we need to be a little less tossed about by the winds and waves of doctrine.

I’m not one for sensationalism. We noted last time that the statue here in Revelation 13:14 is much like Daniel 3. In fact, I think this might be one of the things that John is referencing. After all, John did write this, even though he was transcribing a vision. In Daniel 3 we find Nebuchadnezzar builds a statue. This statue is 60 cubits high. It is 6 cubits wide. There are 6 instruments played when people are forced to worship it. Did you notice the three sets of 6 there? What John is beholding here is something like Nebuchadnezzar’s decree. That isn’t to say that John is seeing Daniel 3, but that John is seeing something like Daniel 3.

John knew the Hebrew Bible extremely well. He knew that Solomon’s annual income was 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14). Did you catch the three sixes? He knew that up to Solomon’s throne there were six steps. On the left of each step was a lion. On the right of each step was another lion. Therefore, you have six lions on the left, six steps, and six lions on the right (1 Kings 10:20). Did you see the other set of sixes? John would have also known that Goliath, the warrior from Gath, was clothed in six pieces of armor. He stood 6 cubits and a span high. His spear weighed 600 shekels. Do you see the other set of sixes?

In the Hebrew Bible, when someone wants to make the point that a human being stands for Satan, they might use the three sixes. It is a reference that is often not noticed. Three sixes is not the number of man, in the sense that man is inherently wicked like Satan. It is the number of man in the sense that you can go back to the Hebrew Bible and find these three instances – each time revealing to us something of the character of Satan – and find the same application to the Antichrist. It is a pattern, and with patterns there are always the archetypes. The Antichrist is the archetype of Goliath. Goliath was one who stood opposed to the people of God and spoke forth blasphemous words against their God. Solomon used slavery to build the Temple, build his palace, and to build military bases. Nebuchadnezzar built the statue already referenced, and in Daniel 4 was humbled because of his pride.

Notice also that the mark goes on the right hand or forehead. We’ll see in Revelation 14:1 that the 144,000 have their Father’s name on their foreheads. Here is what I find interesting. The Jewish people today wear tefillin. Tefillin goes on the left arm and forehead. This mark of the beast goes on the right. You can see the practice from Deuteronomy 6:8. This is once again a hint (as in 13:13) of the Jewish nature of this false Christ and prophet. It isn’t necessarily that they will be Jewish, but that they will specifically be targeting the Jewish customs. It is true that certain Muslim customs and ‘prophecies’ are also found bearing witness, but that would not be something John is familiar with.

It has also been posed that when you compare 13:1 and 17:3 that you find similarity. When you compare 13:16 and 17:9 you also get similarity. Could the number have to do with the blasphemous names?

My last thought here concerning the mark of the beast comes from Domitian. Since I believe that John is writing this during the reign of Domitian, it would not be odd that he might reference the mark that Domitian forced upon people. Once again, this isn’t to say that John is saying the mark of the beast is Domitian’s mark, but to say it will be like his mark.

Domitian enforced everyone to get a mark on their right hand or forehead. It worked like this: When you enter the marketplace, you would have to burn incense to Caesar in order to buy, sell, or trade. In order to make sure that you have offered the incense, you would be marked after you’ve payed tribute to Caesar. Thus, the issue coming forth here in the letter is two-fold. First, John is pushing that they who are under the reign of Caesar should not get the mark. Second, this vision is speaking to a future time when this kind of mark will again be enforced. What is behind this mark is an entire system and mindset.

There are commercials playing where everyone is in line for food or groceries. Everyone is moving quite quickly until someone decides to pay with cash instead of credit card. Though the concept is brilliant when we are speaking in marketing terms, the problem arises when we examine it spiritually. It is a lie. When was the last time that you went to a store and everything went quickly and smoothly? I don’t care if everyone pays with a credit card; it still takes 20 minutes before the 6 people in front of you are done.

The mark is a sign of propaganda. John is giving all of the clues for us, though layered in mystery and uncertainty. We just have to be willing to dig a bit. Of course, this is not the last word, and I’m sure that some will disagree with me. I hope that this has helped to take away the veil of mystery and uncertainty, at least a bit, for some of you. The mark of the beast is quite interesting, but it is also quite simple. Speculation and sensationalism will drive us to believing some very bizarre things.

Mark of the Beast 1 – Rev 13:14-18

And it deceives those dwelling on the earth because of the signs that were given to it to perform before the beast, telling those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast, that has the wound of the sword and has lived. And it was given to it to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should also speak, and should cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast would be killed. And it causes all the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the servants, that it should give them a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and that no one should be able to buy or to sell if not having the mark – the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here the wisdom is. The one having understanding let him count the number of the beast. It is indeed man’s number. And the number of it is 666.

We spoke briefly previously about this image. The signs are warned of in Matthew 24:24 and parallels. Paul tells us to watch out for false signs in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. Something beyond dubious signs should be expected. It isn’t enough to consider that this man will come out claiming Satan to be god, and here is the proof! We can’t simply expect a Muslim Antichrist, and therefore these things will be done in the name of Allah. These signs are warned against. It would imply, therefore, that there is a seduction that can take place in beholding these signs. They aren’t fake. This man truly calls down fire from heaven.

The people who flock to televangelists and other phenomena, whether true or not true, are in danger at this point. What is it within the human mind that miracles and signs are the signet ring of heaven? There is something here that needs to be burrowed out. We identify heaven by the character, and not by the miraculous. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will give every sign of being authentically in God the Father, yet are not. They somehow are able to deceive, thus we have warnings of their coming, but at the same time blaspheme the very name of God and they who dwell in heaven. What is it that is so drastically neutered in our thinking to be so placated?

One thing is certain: they who are cheap in their walk with Christ are in far more danger than the devout. To read the Bible, whether New Testament or Old Testament, and to still be searching for what it says ‘to me’ is a grave disgrace. Herein lie the glory of eternity, and we would rather see ourselves. There is something calibrated within our souls. We hope to find a mirror instead of a pool. A mirror will reflect back to us what we are, and we’re happy with that. A pool reflects us, but also reveals what is beyond the surface. It is much better to find self in the Scriptures than to find God, for in finding God we are confronted with something much more grand than ‘me’.

The deception comes when we are not lovers of truth, as Paul would tell us in 2 Thessalonians 2:10. To love the truth is more than desiring truth. We can desire truth and hate it. We can seek truth and not love it. We can be content to ‘know’ truth, and yet not live by that truth. We might even delight in the knowledge, but as soon as requirement hits to live by that truth we show the reality of our condition. In the olden days, back when you used gold and silver for currency, one of the ways you knew whether it was true silver was by throwing the coin to the ground. It would hit the floor and make a *ping* that resonates for time after the incident. If the coin be fake, it would hit the ground with a *thud* and the ring would instantly stop.

Either we are true through and through, or the truth is not in us. Truth is something that we live, and not simply something we ‘agree’ with. Doctrine is a strange thing. It goes beyond what we believe. It reverberates into the very soul itself. It finds lodging in the deepest cracks, and from there it shows forth its reality. Whether we are truly believers will come through in all instances in life. For example, when you are in the midst of joy, that joy will overflow into praise unto God. When you are in the midst of trial, no matter how adverse the trial, that will drive you into the loving arms of God the Father. If you be true, you find in all things, in all moments, Christ is there. If you only have the outward appearance of silver, but lack the actual thing, you will find that no matter what circumstances life brings to you, you will continue to emanate your ‘self’, and not a new creation either.

I have often found it bizarre that in the midst of the Charismatic miracles and healings there is always a personality. In the midst of the prophetic, there is rarely a word. It is almost always characterized by ‘getting the Bible out of the way’. You give the quickie sermonette so that people will hear what the Bible says, but the real action is within the healings. The real action is within the prophetic word. Why do we so quickly pass by the Scriptures in order to come to something ‘more glorious’? Could there truly be anything more glorious? This isn’t a critique against prophecy or miracles, but against our mindsets.

This sort of quick grab-bag mentality stinks. It comes up into the nostrils of God and reveals our inner hearts. We don’t truly want Christ. We want manifestations. We want prophecy. We want excitement. We want something bigger, louder, more ‘hit you in the chest’. Our desire is tangibility, but the reality is not found there. How is it that the two witnesses perform signs explained in Revelation 11, and yet just across town people are lining up to get marked? Does this not blow the whistle on the whole thing? The true is abandoned because it is true. The false is embraced because it is easier.

Don’t think that by ‘easier’ it means without hard preaching. They who speak harshly against cults and leaders can be quite easy. Condemn the outward sin, but let’s not talk about the inward problems. Talk about death and death and death, but let’s neglect resurrection. Crucify the leaders who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, but let’s not mention that we too have our struggles. The preacher who stands on a platform lies to you. Any elevation is a lie. They are ‘over’ you only in their imaginations. The elevated platform perpetuates the lie, but Jesus has said that we’re all one. If that is true, that we are all one, then the person behind the pulpit is no greater than you are. To perpetuate that lie is to give yourself over to deception. It is the love of truth that will raise the banner. I cannot give myself to that performance. It is blaspheme to continue in the system called ‘church’ when we know good and well that it is only a building and a service. Calling it church doesn’t make it church. Gathering together doesn’t mean Jesus is in the midst. The whole thing is based off of pretense and error, and to continue in that is dangerous.

The False Prophet makes a monument unto the beast. This is much like when Absolom made a monument unto himself in 2 Samuel 18:18. The Davidic kingdom was orchestrated by God. It was given from heaven, and blessed by God. Yet, this man in his arrogance attempts to steal the kingdom with force. So it is today that they who would call themselves the ‘head’ of any congregation is perpetuating a lie. It is an Absolom anointing, which ultimately is an anointing of Satan. It is antichrist at the heart. We have kicked out the people of God in order to continue in our games and events and programs. We have neglected the Jewish people, some even calling them cursed, and in that have rejected David as king. We have run out the prophets and apostles from our midst, because they won’t allow the pretense. They who are Davidic, whether Jew or Christian, are shunned – even from the Messianic congregations.

The Davidic character is one of tears. It is one of authenticity. It desires truth in the inward parts and will not allow the lie to be perpetuated. David is humble. He is gentle. Yet, when you oppose the Lord his God, you will find that he can also be a man of war. For this reason they are considered rude and bringers of division. They goat kick and wolf back, but to the sheep they are lovers beyond what can be worded. They protect the flock and destroy any who devour. For this reason they are opposed most strictly by the leadership within the walls. They are an affront to anyone who would claim leadership as a job instead of a function in the Body. To receive income for your ‘calling’ is an abomination.

We see in Daniel 3 the story of Nebuchadnezzar building a statue. Why is it that only these three men were caught opposing it? The same question can be asked of chapter 1. Why is it in Daniel 1 that these four men are the only ones unwilling to eat the defiled meat? Did no one else know the Law? Or, more correctly, could no one else discern the abomination? Here it is that the other Israelites considered themselves as blessed and being taken care of. Daniel and his three friends could see that this meat is anathema. What was it that Daniel and his three companions had that the rest of the nobility lacked? What wisdom did they draw from?

I speak quite harshly in this post concerning the religious system that we’ve made. The reason for this is to shock you into reality. By what wisdom do you know whether what you are doing is right or wrong? How is it that you know that wherever your attending is not an Absolom? How do you know that the meat is not defiled? Is it because you pray? So did the rest of the nobles. Is it that you read the Bible? So did Absolom. What makes you so different? This is the heart. This is the nub of the argument. How can we discern whether the miracles are true or false? How can we know and recognize this deception? It is by knowing intimately the culture and character of heaven, because we’ve spent time with God in heaven.

Heaven is the place of intimacy with Christ. It is where you and I are one. From that place, where Christ revealed Himself to you, you are united unto Him and all the holy brethren. If you are unable to love the brothers and sisters of Christ, then you do not love Him. You cannot love Him and then despise His brethren. They who claim they love Jesus and then hate their brother shows themselves to be a liar, and the truth is not in them. This is your antidote. This is the litmus test. The man or woman who would willingly cast out or oppress someone else because they don’t get along together is antichrist. It is true that some people are difficult to get along with. Are they your brother? Are they your sister? Are they truly of Christ? If yes, then you have no excuse. If no, then you cast out the unbeliever from your midst. This is what is important, and not whether you all play nicely.

What will distinguish the Antichrist and False Prophet will be their words. With their lips they’ll claim one thing, but with their actions show fruit of something else. Anyone who opposes them will be vehemently opposed. How is this possible if the love of God is within them? Did not Jesus show us that God’s character is one of servanthood and gentleness? Does not David show us that he was unwilling to harm the Lord’s anointed? This is the character of God. He is willing to endure suffering on behalf of the other person so that they might receive greater glory. If that character is lacking, then there is a problem.

I’ll pick up next time examining the mark of the beast more specifically. Until then, grace and peace in Christ.

The False Prophet – Rev 13:11-14

And I saw another beast rising out of the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb, and it spoke like a dragon. And it exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence. And it causes the earth and those dwelling in it that they shall worship the first beast, of whom its fatal wound had been healed. And it works great signs, that it should even cause fire to come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And it deceives those dwelling on the earth because of the signs that were given to it to perform before the beast, telling those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast, that has the wound of the sword and has lived.

In the book of Revelation, we find an unholy trinity. Each of these dragon-like beings are distinct from one another, and yet share the same throne and power. This is called the mystery of iniquity, as Paul expresses in 2 Thessalonians 2. We read of the pole to that – the mystery of godliness – in 1 Timothy 3:16. The dragon in chapter 12 is Satan. The dragon then gives his throne and authority to the first beast of chapter 13. Then, here in the latter part of 13, this second beast (identified as the false prophet in 16:13) another dragon like beast is displayed. He has the horns of a lamb, but the mouth of a dragon. Something about this character is reflective of the messiah, and yet is only filled with deception, accusation, and lies.

What is strange about this text is that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of expectation of an antichrist figure AND false prophet in any of the prophetic texts. This is something that has been hidden, but is now being revealed. Daniel 7:17 speaks of beasts from the earth, though the four beasts in Daniel 7:2-8 come out of the sea. This false prophet is the absolute wolf in sheep’s clothing, though it is true that Jesus wasn’t giving us a hint at only one false prophet. All of the false prophets throughout the ages seem to culminate in the deception of this one. The pattern that Moses has given in Deuteronomy 13 is the end time salvation from this deception. Of course, Jesus has also given us quite an explicit warning in Matthew 24 and parallels.

The miraculous signs that this man performs has been prophesied from long ago. Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22 speak of counterfeit miracles. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 claims that the ‘lawless one’ (whom I’ve heard argued is this false prophet instead of the beast) will perform miraculous works. This does cause us to wonder if the lawless one is distinct from the man of sin. Such consideration is beyond the scope of availability at this time. The miracle expressed here parodies 1 Kings 18:38 and 2 Kings 1:10. The point is abundantly clear: this man is claiming to be the Elijah. Malachi foretold of the coming of Elijah before the messiah (Mal 4:5). In this, the Jewish people will certainly be in confusion. This man holds the power of Elijah, and is even performing dubious signs, but then defies the Torah by erecting an image to worship.

In the days of Elijah, the principalities and powers could not perform the miracle of calling down fire from heaven. They were unable to mimic God. Something has taken place, though. Something drastic has changed. Now, at the end of the age, the demonic forces of darkness are endowed with the ability for these false miracles. In the time of Moses, the magicians were able to perform the same miracles to an extent. Yet, there was a further extent to which the magicians were utterly bankrupt of ability to imitate the LORD. Now all restraint has been cast off. Notice that this particular sign was not mentioned in Rev 11:4-6. While the two witnesses are quite distinctly being paralleled with Moses and Elijah, this particular miracle that emanated from the hands of Elijah is not mentioned in chapter 11.

Notice that Jesus warned of these signs, but our text only references the wicked to be deceived. These sorts of miracles were foretold by Jesus so that even the elect might be deceived – if that were even possible. However, given that the first beast will ‘overcome’ the saints, they who take this mark forfeit eternal life. Everything about this is counterfeit to oppose what God has claimed through all of Scripture, and what the Jewish people also maintain: God will rule over the nations through that small piece of land called Israel. Israel is to be the priestly nation to the nations, and this false prophet is coming before all men to ask the question, “Who is Lord?” The God who answers by fire is God, and this man is calling down fire. The point is to utterly deceive, but we cannot miss the Hebraic backdrop and context.

They who at this point are technically saints, but do not hold to the opinion that Israel is the apple of God’s eye, will without wavering be deceived into following this false prophet. Though the outward signs be false, and the words spoken be entirely demonic in origin, the sad truth is that many of my Christian brethren are all too anti-Semitic to resist. This man parodies the God of heaven, and yet is not a true prophet. He mocks and blasphemes with his false messiah, the beast out of the sea. They jeer against the LORD God Almighty, and they expect for you and I to follow them in that jeering. One might wonder how it is that such a taunt can be subtle enough to convince anyone that they are truly of God. The question could be pressed even today. How do you determine that anything is of God, even that which is technically doctrinally correct, but leads you away from Christ?

With these miracle we find a double edged sword. They who seek miracles in the Church will be staggered. They who deny miracles will be nonplused. How many will fall away because of this? How many will follow the beast simply because they look for signs and miracles? How many will be dumbstruck, because they don’t believe in signs and miracles, and therefore question everything that they had believed up to this point? Imagine not believing in signs, and then this guy comes on the scene performing them with the outward appearance of a lamb! The deception is real, and it is foolish to think that it won’t be a powerful deception.

There is great possibility that in this we find politics and religion marrying. That was to be the case with the messiah as well. Yet, there is a false marriage – like with Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab was king, and this beast is given throne and authority over all mankind. Jezebel brought forth the false religion of Baal, and this false prophet is establishing monuments unto Satan. This is the establishment of a false religion, just like the worship of the State was a religion in Rome. You worship the emperor, and you don’t simply ‘follow’ the emperor. The whole passage here displays the exact pattern of Roman emperor worship.

The ‘image’ recalls 2 Samuel 18:18, Ezekiel 8:3-5, Daniel 3:6, 9:27, 11:31, 39. This is a pattern in the Old Testament. The wicked build monuments unto themselves, and force everyone to worship them. It is almost as if these things are intrinsic to one another. The heart filled with pride will exalt itself, and refuse to be humbled. The heart filled with love for God will humble itself and refuse to be exalted. Throughout the book of Revelation this contrast is shown. The Lamb was slain, the beast suffers a wound as if slain, but was not slain. The Lamb thus is exalted, but the beast shall ultimately be thrown down to the pit.

The Antichrist – Rev 13:1-10

We explained a little bit of this mysterious “Antichrist” in the previous post. Somehow he is one with Satan, but is not Satan, nor Satan incarnate. Notice the similarity between Revelation 13:2 and the temptation of Jesus. Jesus was promised all of the kingdoms of the earth, but He rejected that promise. Why? Satan demanded Jesus’ worship as a trade. Here we find the exact same promise enacted through this man. Thus, he will gain the whole world and lose his own soul. We left off in verse 4:

And they worshiped the dragon who had given his authority to the beast, and the worshiped the beast saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to make war against him?” And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemy was given to it, and authority to act 42 months was given to it. And it opened its mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme the His name, the His tabernacle, and those dwelling in heaven. And it was given to it to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and was given authority over every tribe and people and nation. And all dwelling upon the earth will worship it, of whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life having been slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone with the sword will kill, it behooves him by the sword to be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints.

The worship in verse 4 is an intentional parody of certain praises in the Old Testament: Exodus 15:11, Psalm 135:10, 71:19, 89:6, 113:5, Isaiah 40:25, 46:5, Micah 7:18. We find the parallel in Daniel 11:38-39.

In verse 5 notice the similarity between this mouth that utters blasphemies and Daniel 7:8 and 20 concerning the ‘little horn’. Also note Psalm 12:3. This goes back to verse 1. See also Daniel 8:11, 25, and 11:36 in regard to this king that will ‘exalt himself’. Notice the timeframe in verse 5. 42 months was mentioned in Rev 11:2, which means that this beast out of the sea is one and the same as the beast from the abyss in 11:7. This man is the one who will kill the two witnesses. The same time that Satan is cast down, and there is therefore time, times and half a time, this man “rises up”.

There is similarity in verse 6 with Psalm 73:9. However, Daniel 8:10-12 is more likely in the mind of John. Also see 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Leviticus 24:11. Back in Revelation 12:12 we saw that they in heaven rejoice. Here the beast blasphemes they who dwell in heaven. What good is it to blaspheme them, though? Does it affect the saints? Nay, but I assume it gives a false sense of supremacy to the beast nonetheless.

In verse 7 we have the nub of this section. This is where the message truly lies. Compare the first line with Rev 11:7 and Daniel 7:21, 25. Overcoming in Revelation is about fully submitting unto a certain kingdom. Either we overcome by self-sacrifice, or we will be overcome by self-gratification/preservation. Jump ahead to verse 10 briefly. Notice that it says anyone who kills with the sword shall be killed by the sword. There is an entire wisdom based around self-preservation – which encapsulated self-defense – and another wisdom based upon denying self for the Gospel’s sake. This is where the rubber meets the road. It isn’t simply about denying self because we have to. This is an honor. There is something intrinsic to the true believer that it makes sense.

We are dealing with flesh and blood reality here. These things aren’t just written for our enjoyment to mete on. This isn’t so that we can write best selling fiction books and make movies based on them. These events are real events. Anything that strips us from that understanding robs us of the very blessing that we are to receive from reading this text. How can we read and thus live accordingly if this is nothing more than a story to fascinate our minds? This needs to be living reality to us; otherwise we will end up taking lightly the very call that God has placed upon us.

In verse 8 we find the future tense. All inhabitants of the earth “will worship” the beast. See Rev 17:8. This tells us that this is not in the past. Notice that many of the commentaries hold to this beast being Nero. Whether John is writing during the Neronic era or the reign of Domitian, this cannot be fulfilled in Nero. John is writing in the future tense. Not to mention the number doesn’t add up to 666 when you use the fancy numerology. You must not only use his name, but also his title – Caesar – which goes beyond the text of verse 18. John is writing in AD 95, and is looking forward to a future fulfillment.

Compare the last part of verse 8 with Matthew 25:34, Luke 10:20, Daniel 12:1, 1 Peter 1:19-20, and Ephesians 1:4. Verse 9 reminds the reader what it means to overcome, and indeed is urging the reader to overcome. Verse 10 comes from Jeremiah 15:11 and 43:11. It goes with verses 7-9.

The Beast – Rev 13:1-3

And [the dragon][1] stood upon the sand of the sea. And I saw out of the sea a beast rising, having ten horns and seven heads and ten diadems on its horns, and names of blasphemy upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and the its feet was like a bear’s, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave to it his power and his throne and great authority. And one of its heads was as having been slain to death, and the wound of its death was healed. And all the earth marveled after the beast.

This first beast is what we refer to as “the Antichrist”. In this chapter we find John using an insurmountable amount of Old Testament prophecy. The symbolism, like we’ve seen through all of Revelation, takes root in Old Testament symbolism, and therefore we need to know what is being referenced to know what is being spoken of. For the description in verses 1-2, we can go back to Daniel 7:3-8. Before coming into the text and trying to behold all of the different Old Testament allusions, let us first wrestle with the ‘why’ question. Why does John not give us this information up front?

We have read through 12 chapters by this point. We’ve seen Jesus in His glory, read the messages to the churches, seen the heavenly throne room, seen the Lamb that has been slain, watched as the seals were opened, been given an introduction to the 144,000, seen the trumpets, been given understanding of some ‘beast’ that comes out of the abyss, been shown the two witnesses, and we’ve seen the woman in the wilderness being chased by Satan who has just been cast down. Why does all of this come before even introducing this ‘beast’ character?

Understand what I’m asking. We see in Rev 9:11 and 11:7 allusions to this character, and we see the dragon explicitly in Revelation 12, but now – after over halfway through the book – John begins to tell us of this beast. Why? And, when we continue reading we find that it isn’t until chapter 17 that we have the conclusion of this explanation. Why must we wait until chapter 17 before we finally see the complete picture of this composite beast? Here is our first significant discussion of the Antichrist. He is always there, but lurking in the shadows behind metaphor. Now he is revealed and out in the open. Why now?

There is a progression that John is keeping here. He first focuses upon Jesus, then the church, and then we go back to God and Jesus. It isn’t until we reach chapter 6 that there is significant discussion on the end of time. From chapters 6 through 12, the focus is almost exclusively upon Israel and what is to come upon Israel (chapter 9 might also revolve around the nations around Israel). Little by little John has been revealing to us the depth of this mystery. It started out as a statement of they who are to overcome, and progressed toward the Olivet discourse being reiterated. From there we were introduced to Israel having a significant role (the 144,000). From that mention onward we see that there is indeed more blatant mention of Jerusalem in Revelation 9 and 11. Then, in chapter 12, there is almost explicit mention of Israel as the woman, if we are willing to see the correlation between Rev 12:1 and Gen 37:9.

Here enters a new depth. The Antichrist here is not in Rome. This isn’t a Roman Antichrist. We saw in Revelation 11 that this beast is in Jerusalem. We saw in Revelation 9:1-13 that he takes Jerusalem captive. The description here is not something outside of what has been explained up to this point. We are still at the midway point in the week. Just like when you go back to Daniel 7:25 you read of “time, times, and half a time”, the timeframe here is 42 months according to verse 5.

The four beasts of Daniel 7 correspond to the four elements in the statue of Daniel 2. We have Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then, both Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 have an extra component. Daniel 2 mentions that the feet are of iron and clay. Daniel 7 mentions a ‘little horn’. This beast here in Revelation 13 is that ‘little horn’. His kingdom is the mixture of iron and clay. How do we get past the Roman Empire? How do we know this isn’t a Caesar? The answer is again very simple. Notice Daniel 7 separates and distinguishes all of the beasts. Yet, here John makes them one. This is a composite beast. He is somehow ‘with’ the beasts of Daniel 7, but is also somehow a hybrid. This is mentioned in Rev 17:9-11.

We shall explain the mystery of the seven heads and ten horns when we reach Rev 17. If we add the amount of heads in Daniel 7’s beasts, we come to seven. That is not the mystery expressed in Revelation 17. Yet, we see again that this goes back to the fact that this is a composite, and is not to be taken as one of the beasts specifically. The seven heads and ten horns description was given to the dragon in 12:3. At the end of verse 13:2 we read of this beast having Satan’s throne. This is the mystery of iniquity Paul spoke of (2 Thess 2:7), as opposed to the mystery of godliness (1 Tim 3:16). Some believe this to be Satan incarnate. I hold to a less radical approach that this man is the image of Satan (John 1:14, 18), but not Satan. See Rev 16:13 where we have distinction between the dragon, Antichrist, and false prophet – how can they be the same?

Notice in 12:3 that the heads are mentioned before the horns, and that the crowns are upon the heads of the dragon. There are seven kingdoms that the dragon has manifest his name upon – the kingdom of darkness upon the earth. We’ll discuss this more fully in chapter 17, but know that this is almost exclusively known as “Babylon” in Revelation.

Notice that on each head is a blasphemous name. Daniel 7:8, 8:11, 25, and 11:36 all speak of one man who shall be full of boasts and blasphemy. He is identified as the ‘little horn’ and the ‘vile prince’. He is the Antichrist of Daniel, and here John is also using similar language to reveal this as the Antichrist.

The man ‘comes out of the sea’. Compare Isaiah 27:1 where God slays the Leviathan. There is great likelihood of some sort of connection.

In verse 2 we read of one mouth being like a lion. Instead of this being a plastic image, I think that we are dealing with symbolic language. There are seven heads, this is true, but those seven heads represent something. This is one man, and not seven, and it is one mouth, not seven. “The dragon gave to it his power and throne” – compare Daniel 8:24 and 11:21.

Notice that ως εσφαγμενην has already been used in 5:6 in reference to the Lamb. There are a few possibilities. 1) This man has been resurrected. 2) This is an allusion to Genesis 3:15. 3) One of the seven ‘kingdoms’ has ‘died’ and resurrected (17:9-11). In verse 14 this wound is referenced to the beast, and not merely one head. 17:8 calls the beast ‘he who was, is not, and yet will come’. Here we have our answer. The beasts in Daniel have all perished, but one will come as a composite of all four. The kingdoms of the vision in Daniel are all manifestations of the kingdom of darkness upon earth, but none have been so united with Satan as this one. It is not that this Antichrist will resurrect, but that we shall again see the kingdom of darkness upon the earth when Satan is cast down.

Thus, instead of being a resurrected man, now incarnate Satan, I promote the idea that there are types in the Bible. Korah, King Saul, and Judas are the three ‘types’ of Antichrist. We see specifically in King Saul and Judas that Satan “enters them”. With King Saul we see the pattern of some sort of political leader being overcome by Satan to persecute the Davidic people of God. With Judas we see the pattern of one of the companions – see Psalm 55:13, 20 in relation to Saul – of Jesus contending against him. I don’t know that I agree with the idea of a Jewish Antichrist or false prophet, but I can see where such things could be validated. Korah, of course, wasn’t content to be a Levite, but had to also have the priesthood. His destruction was that the earth itself opened and swallowed him. Judas was called the man of perdition (John 17:12), which the Antichrist is labeled in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Those are the only two usages of that Greek word in the New Testament. Also compare John 13:27 with Revelation 13:2 with 2 Thessalonians 2:9. This man is not Satan incarnate, but one with Satan as Jesus was ‘one with the Father’.

[1] The original says “and he”, but it goes back to the dragon of 12:17.

The End Shall Come Like A Flood – Rev 12:13-17

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down into the earth, he persecuted the woman who had brought forth the man-child. And two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness in the her place, where she is nourished there a time and times and half a time from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast our of his mouth water as a river after the woman, that he might make her carried away by a flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon had cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, they keeping the commandments of God and holding the testimony of Jesus.

This first verse (13) parallels Rev 12:5, and the following verses expand verses 5-6. We saw the woman being chased into the wilderness to a place prepared for her, and ‘they’ take care of her for 1,260 days. Here in verse 14 we read of a time, times, and half a time. This comes directly from Daniel 7:25 and 12:7. John is claiming that whatever was spoken of by Daniel in his prophecies is what is unfolding before us here.

For “eagles wings” see Ex 19:4 and Isa 40:31. Just as God rescued Israel from Pharaoh, He shall rescue her from the Antichrist. “She was nourished there” goes back to verse 6 where “they” take care of her. The 1,260 days is 42 months, which is thee and a half years. Time, times, and half a time is based upon the feasts, that a full cycle takes us from Passover to Passover. Thus, a time is one year. In chapters 11, 12, and 13 the time period is given over and over explicitly so we all know exactly what John is referring to. This is the last three and a half years of the Tribulation. The time of Israel’s peace during that first half is over. She is now being persecuted.

There is a multiplicity of Old Testament references to the end of the age being “like a flood”. Compare Daniel 9:26, Psalm 18:4, Isaiah 8:7, 2 Samuel 22:5, Psalm 32:6, 69:5, Jeremiah 46:7-8, Hosea 5:10, Daniel 11:40, and Psalm 124:4. We can also see the dragon called a ‘water monster’ in Ezekiel 29:3, 32:2-3, and Psalm 74:13. The Leviathan of Isaiah 27:1 most likely refers to the Antichrist that comes out of the sea (see Rev 13:1). It has occurred to me, whether right or wrong, that Jesus’ teaching of the wise and foolish builders could certainly apply to this. He who is wise, which certainly has a Daniel-ish flare to it (see Dan 11:33-35), builds their house upon the rock so that when the floods come, their home is not taken away by that flood.

We have see previously that the woman is Israel, and we also took a look at the end time stratagem of her final sifting through the wilderness to come to the knowledge of her God. Who is the earth that swallows the water? There is much interest in that the woman stands on the moon and has her face like the sun, but the earth is not mentioned (12:1). Here the earth plays a vital role. Now, in Revelation 12:12, the saints are in heaven, but woe to the earth and sea. Is there a correlation? I actually doubt it. The result of the earth swallowing up the river is that the dragon then goes after the woman’s “other offspring”.

It is assumed by some that because the “other offspring” are the Church that this man-child cannot be they who overcome. I don’t mock this thought, but do wonder why John would have such a largess gap between verses 5 and 6. I also wonder how verse 4 is before the birth of Jesus and His ascension. Whether we take verse 4 to mean saints or demons, the latter being explained in verses 7-9, it causes us to wonder when that took place before the coming of Jesus. I hold to the notion that these “other offspring” are they who have not yet overcome, and therefore are still very much on the earth (rather than being ‘caught up’ and rejoicing in heaven).

To overcome is simply to come to a place of maturity in Christ that you are no longer anything like the world. You have ‘overcome the world’. We will see in Rev 13:7 that the Antichrist “overcomes” the saints. This overcoming is in relation to temptation as much as it is with death. For John, the issue of overcoming is not the issue of martyrdom. There is an overcoming by the laying down of our lives, just like Jesus said to take up your cross and follow him, but that does not entail your physical expiration. We take up our crosses, yet we continue to live. That is the mystery of eternal life. Somehow heaven is here and now, yet it shall come later.

The earth swallows the river, much like the earth swallowing up Korah in Numbers 16:30. I believe that this is a pattern that John is referring us back to. Korah was not content with being a Levite, but demanded the priesthood also. Satan was not content being the angel of light, and some claiming he was even the very worship leader and light bearer of heaven, but demanded to sit upon the throne of God. Similarly, the Antichrist is not content to simply be a great world ruler, but must be the sole dictator of the world who is worshiped by all peoples and nations. The earth swallows up the river, which is to say, takes the full force brunt of the persecution spewed at the woman.

Satan desires the woman to be slain. This is the scandal of specificity. Satan has always had his eye upon Zion and upon that Jewish nation. Even before the Land was significant, Satan had established the cursed Canaanites in that land to defile and pollute it. Even before the people were anywhere near their prophetic destiny, Satan desired to destroy them in Egypt. He has sent various nations and peoples against them throughout history (Philistines, Assyria, Babylon, Rome, and even much of Christian history is plagued with anti-Semitism). Even now, while they are obviously outside of God’s plans and purposes for her, Israel is quite explicitly targeted and hated among the nations.

That opposition and hatred shall culminate at the end of the age into a flood of overwhelming persecution. Just like Nazi Germany hunted down every Jewish man, woman, and child, so too at the end of the age will only one thing matter: blood. If you have Jewish blood within your veins, you shall be a target. It has nothing to do with whether you are of a different religion, a significant figure in society, or if you pledge allegiance to this ruler. All that matters is that you are Jewish, and therefore God’s elect.

The Christian Church, both Jewish and Gentile, shall in that day rise to her ultimate destiny. She shall take in the Jewish people, just like Corrie Ten Boom and others, and thus receive the full force of that flood of anti-Semitism. In that day sentiment will not save you. It will not be enough that you have sentimentality toward Israel. To stand with Israel in that day will mean your death. You will not have food, water, shelter, or safety. All things will be taken from you – all rights and luxuries. Unless you ‘repent’ and take the mark of the beast, you shall have no way of living.

This, of course, begs the question: how shall we live? If we cannot buy, sell, or trade, then how shall we even have food and water to survive any amount of days or weeks? Don’t forget verse 6. God has prepared a place in the wilderness for that woman to flee. How shall you survive? It shall be in taking seriously the call of God to establishing communities of believers in the wilderness places of the nations. You need to flee, even now, before the time has come, so that God might prepare you into a vessel that can take in the Jewish people.

It might very well be that they who overcome are they who take seriously the call of God, knowing the testimony of Jesus (namely, this testimony that we are reading through – the book of Revelation – which is the spirit of prophecy), and therefore flee into the wilderness before the appointed time to be established as a place of refuge in that appointed time. The “rest of her offspring” may very well be they who did not take seriously, nor even consider the possibility, this high calling, and therefore are existing in the hostile places along with Israel who is now fleeing. To remain in Babylon, which is the entire world system, is dangerous. It places you directly in the mouth of the enemy, so that at any moment, if he should desire, you can be devastated, if not killed.

What do we do now? I would seriously consider these things, and in light of considering them, I would seek the Lord to see if He shall reveal unto you precisely what you are to do. Should you sell your home to buy a place in the wilderness? Should you seek out someone who has a place already? Should you gather with a few other families to pool together and buy a property where you can go from house to house daily? Should you find an old apartment complex, or a street in a suburb, to buy up all of the houses and fill them with your community? These are only thoughts. Only the Lord knows where He shall need you. This is why it is called “overcoming”. To have no part with the world means to seriously consider these hard questions. Selling everything to take up the ultimate purposes in God is something that many take lightly. Does God actually command us to do this? It depends on what you mean by “command”.

In the next series of posts we shall examine the Antichrist and False Prophet. We’ll see a bit of their kingdom, and how it opposes the Kingdom of Christ. While the spirit of Jesus is one of sacrifice – even to love not your life unto death – the spirit of this other kingdom is one of gratification. It is not expedient to be a Christian, but it is worth it. We are not promised an inheritance with this world. We are promised to inherit with Israel when Christ Jesus shall return and establish Zion upon earth.