The Apostle John described what he saw – good news mixed with bad; bad only in the regard that those on the earth at this time will have to endure more tortuous wrath.
Question: What do you believe? If you are “non-religious” – meaning you refuse to take part in any religion, as you are a religion unto yourself, then you either have no idea what to believe; or, you merely refuse anything that conflicts with you personal moral standard. You noted that I said you are a religion unto yourself, that is because you have a moral standard upon which your personal religious system is based. To prove you have a moral standard consider a few examples and ask yourself how you would honestly react:
To someone raping your wife or little daughter?
If someone stole your drugs or personal belongings?
To someone trying to kill you?
Why would it matter to you? It matters because you have a moral standard and there are some things that are just not right, even to you.
The next, and obvious question is, upon whom or what do you base your moral standard, because all standards have some baseline of good. Think about a particular food you like to eat; have you had some that causes you to think back on it with fondness? Of course you have. It then becomes the standard upon which you decide if something called by the same name is good or not, because you have a baseline upon which you judge something.
Since you have a moral standard, then do you declare that standard to others? If you contrived your own standard for living, it may sound something like this, touch my stuff and I will kill you. Admittedly, there is no attractive draw to your religion, but it is a common mantra among those who also include the idea that what is yours is mine.
(I wanted to sound like Norm Geisler: normangeisler.net, or Ravi Zacharias: RZIM.org, giving you a clear, profound definition, but I did not have time, nor do I have the enthusiasm to do so. I kept thinking about man left to his own inclinations, because that seems to the theme without God. Most believe that they are making the decision to be or do good on their own, however scripture does not tells us that.)
Gen 6:5-7 LITV And Jehovah saw that the evil of man was great on the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the day long. (6) And Jehovah repented that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved to His heart. (7) And Jehovah said, I will wipe off man whom I have created from the face of the earth, from man to beast, to the creeping thing and to the birds of the heavens; for I repent that I made them.
Genesis chapter 6 describes man making his own decisions, and it was not good. Sure there were exceptions, like Methuselah, Enoch, and Noah’s family. But do you realize that the entire time Noah worked on that ark he was telling people about the character of God and what was coming. They all had the option of joining him. How many followed Noah and God? NONE.
The obvious point I am making here, is that God is the moral standard, and if you were honest, you would admit that you know that. I know you know that because an aspect of the original sin was to know good and evil. Since God is good, then you do know Him and are going to be held responsible for that knowledge. Doesn’t that just suck!
God did an amazing thing for the people who walk upon this earth; since they choose to ignore his moral standard, something he knew they would do, he sent his own son to die in our place, on a cross, at the hands of the Jewish high priest, just as prophecy said he would. God had to do that because Adam, the first man, chose to flex his own moral standard and apparently tweaked our DNA. From that moment forward we all had a preference toward doing our own thing, some just take it farther than the others and in time they are killed or caught.
So this amazing, unselfish act by God, bought us out from under the penalty of that brokenness we have within us. We no longer have to pay the penalty of death for our sins (as far as God is concerned), but we now have to make a decision, what will we do with the Son who died on our behalf. We have to either accept this Jesus, as the Son, the Sacrifice, and the Savior, OR, we reject him.
And this brings me back to my question, what do you believe?
If you believe that Jesus Christ is your salvation, that is a good thing, that makes you a follower, and as a follower, we have the promise that he will come again (soon) and extract those that are his out of here before God pours out his wrath upon those that have rejected Him. The bad news is that Jesus himself said that those who choose to follow him will have tribulations in this world. There is no escape from the evil that people will commit, and much of that will be in the name of their religion. And there is little relief, for most, from the pains of scratching out an existence. Yeah, I know, there are always exceptions, but the filthy rich will have their day of judgment as well – I see them described in my bible as well.
In my last post I focused on verse one of Revelation 15, (NIV) “I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues–last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.” I noted that this does not give the reader any precise time frame, but if we are to read chronologically, this is a continuation of the wrath, but when it is done there will be a glorious end.
This seven years of wrath if filled not only God’s judgment being poured out on earth, but the extreme violence that man can and will do upon their fellow-man.
Inserted into this pain and destruction are three verses that exude God’s magnificence.
Rev 15:2-4 ESV And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire–and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. (3) And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! (4) Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
This sea of glass mingled with fire might be the same as Rev 4:6 AMP And in front of the throne there was also what looked like a transparent glassy sea, as if of crystal..” However, they are clearly different in description.
“and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.”
Who do we see standing beside the sea of glass?
“Those who had conquered the beast the and its image and the number of its name”
We need to stop and ponder this a moment. What is one of the first things prominent within this sentence?
“Those who had conquered the beast”
Why should this demand any special consideration?
As followers of Christ, just as the disciples were, what is our method of operation? To answer that you need to consider what James and John were willing to do.
Luke 9:52-56 ESV And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. (53) But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. (54) And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (55) KJV But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. (56) For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
(Take note: Infiltration and the watering down of something to the point that you no longer hold that belief tightly, but merely accept what you hear as truth, is subtle. An example of this just presented itself to me as I was looking at translations, trying to find one that clearly conveyed the destructive nature of James and John’s question, while demonstrating the true nature and character of God – that Jesus was living out in front of them. If you paid attention, you noticed in the verse above that I switched translations when I got to verse fifty-five. Why do that? Because in the ESV, which I use with frequency, it merely says: “But he turned and rebuked them. (56) And they went on to another village.” Why, it might as well tell us that they stopped to pick daisies along the way. The ESV stripped the power right out of the moment, and it eliminated your ability to see the true nature of not only God, but our mission here on earth.)
A second verse to take note of comes from Matthew’s gospel.
Matthew 10:16 AMP Behold, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves; be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity) as doves.
Jesus never told us to be mindless, spineless sheep. We do however have the admonition to be wary, and strangely, wise like a serpent. Since we really only have the one serpent for an example – Satan in the garden, his actions prove that he listened and thought through some of God’s reasons for the purpose of watering them down with some twisted logic.
(The Greek word for wise, as used by Matthew, also means thoughtful, or discreet.)
How do I apply that to my life as a believer?
Paul had something to say about that.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV (4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds😉 (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
So you are to analyze what is being said. Not only what the “world” dishes out, but anything the “Church” tosses out as truth, as well. Things sometimes sound logical. As I pointed out, this twisting of the truth worked for Satan.
(Since the church is really the people that comprise it, then the admonition is to pay attention to everything thrown at you. Your ability to judge quickly is in proportion to your understanding of God’s Word, and that only comes through your thoughtful reading of scripture.)
Look at the words again: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”
Casting down – is the Greek word kathaireo, and it gives us two levels of approach “to lower (or with violence) demolish”. Some things just need to be pushed down and out-of-the-way, but some ideas and teachings need to be destroyed and demolished. Keep in mind that we are using God’s word as the basis for assessment, not our opinion.
Imaginations means to reason. No one is asking you to stop thinking. Just stop thinking on things that destroy God’s character and diminish his love for you, because God will never stop loving you, and you certainly can’t destroy his character. You take in enough garbage and you might destroy how you think about God, and your own good will toward him.
Every high thing – are the things man has lifted up. At least once a week I hear about a “pastor” or a collection of them, exalting some new governmental atrocity, as though God had changed His heart and we are to now accept it as normal.
That exalts itself against the knowledge of God – This seems to imply that it is raising itself up. The Greek word also defines the word as exalt self. Any thinking person can take this two ways, and neither are good in the context of this verse.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 goes on to tell us to be “innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity) as doves.” Doves seem to do little else besides eat and make cooing sounds. The question really is, how do I blend all these attributes in one package: Wary; wise, and harmless in appearance? My answer to that question is, just allow God to deal with that in us. That is why we have His Word and the Holy Spirit – remember: the Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you into all truth.
John 16:13 KJV Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Again, our passage in Revelation 15:2 says, “Those who had conquered the beast the and its image and the number of its name”.
Of the thousands in the Middle East who have been tortured and lost their lives, how many were victorious or conquered the beast? It is hard to perceive of any, unless of course standing their ground, and not denying the name of the Lord is really what we are talking about here.
The problem is, the human mind does not perceive conquering in that way; it sees the beast as done away with and gone. Where is the problem with that? The problem in seeing this as a destruction of the beast lies in the fact that the beast is only truly dispatched when Jesus returns to earth and physically casts the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire.
What then does it mean to conquer?
Since conquer is the Greek word nikaō / nik-ah’-o, and means to subdue (literally or figuratively): – conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.
It becomes a little easier to see that we do something to that effect when we apply some faith to our lives.
One last thing on Revelation 15:2. It speaks of conquering not just the beast, but the image, and the number of its name.
The beast does not even present itself until the church is removed from the earth. Okay, fine, I will show you.
2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ESV (7) For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. (8) And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
[The word restrain was also translated as let or letteth. Let is old English for hinder, prevent. In Greek it is katecho and means to hold down (fast). Much like a policeman might.]
How does one conquer what they cannot see?
Let me explain. In Revelation 13 we get a tremendous amount of information, however, it is rather cryptic, and like the decoder rings we used to get as children, you have to decipher the code by going back through scripture, comparing terminology.
By the time we get to Revelation 13:11 we have already seen a multi-headed beast arise from the sea. While this aspect of the sea throws some people, by doing our homework we find that it merely means a vast quantity of people spread over a wide area. Verse 11 presents us with another beast, but it rises out of the earth. Again it is coming out of a people group, but the earth tells us that it is from a locale. While these things play a role, the important for people living during this time period (the seven years of God’s wrath and judgment) is what it does.
Revelation 13:11-18 ESV (11) Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. (12) It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. (13) It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, (14) and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (15) And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. (16) Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, (17) so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (18) This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
If I only consider the imagery of the first and second beasts I have no way of visualizing what I am looking for outside of some bizarre mythical characterization. I will give you some clues to understand this mess.
Beast number one – Revelation 13:1-2 GNB “… Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads; on each of its horns there was a crown, and on each of its heads there was a name that was insulting to God. (2) The beast looked like a leopard, with feet like a bear’s feet and a mouth like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his own power, his throne, and his vast authority.” The prophet Daniel had problems with this as well and he asked for an explanation. What he got was that it was empires and the Babylonian empire was the first. So, in this form, it is ruling bodies or governments.
In Revelation 13:3, one of its heads sustains what the world perceives as a mortal wound. In other words the world thinks this ruling body is dead. Why would the “world” care, unless it affected their economy, or was a threat to their safety. Well there was an entity like this. It started around 640 A.D., and continued being a thorn in the world’s flesh until 1924. This was the Islamic caliphates; the last being the Ottoman empire.
Out of this particular empire – No, scripture does not specifically label the empire, but we have some great clues – comes a spokesman, (a mouth.) This is the Antichrist we see in scripture. (A common description of this spokesman says that he makes a seven-year peace treaty with Israel, and therefore we look for someone to do that. But that is not what scripture tells us. It says he makes a seven-year treaty with many. We just assumed that Israel would be included. The things that have alerted the Christian community is the fact that America leadership has turned its back on Israel, while making treaties with the sworn enemy of Israel – Iran. Someone is making treaties for something we never thought we would see is Russia and China inserting themselves in Syria.) Some have speculated that the American President Obama is the Antichrist. I do not think so, but the White House posted a picture on their twitter account showing Obama holding a crown, and there is a bow lying on the floor in front of his feet. This is symbology that we see in Revelation 6:2. Those that republished the photo say that it is photoshop’d but note that the White House may be trying to say something by publishing it.
The second beast – another man who quickly represents all that the beast is and wants – rises up from the earth. If we are talking about the Muslim world, then I suspect this person will come out of one of those nations. So in a sense the beast out of the earth represents someone more local for the Muslim community. Therefore I anticipate this man coming out of the Middle East.
This second beast – Islam calls him Jesus, just as we do – shows up around the 1260 day mark of the time of God’s wrath. Because of the signs he performs, he is believed by many, and he causes many to convert to Islam. He will also create an image of the beast. Remember how the beast is introduced to us as a seven headed monstrosity. Since these multiple empires have a common theme, that theme may be Allah. Allah was a creation of Muhammad, therefore no one knows what he looks like either. Nonetheless, this “beast” makes an image, animates it, and causes everyone to worship it. Those refusing to worship the beast, the image, and take its mark, are killed.
So I am overcoming a beast, which I am not even sure what it looks like, and, its image and number of its name.
Because of the chronology and the known entrance of the second beast, I can guarantee that these who are portrayed as standing around the sea of glass mixed with fire, were well aware of who each of these enemies are. Since I kinda covered the image aspect in the bullet-ed overview section, I want to talk about something I noticed, and it is this phrase – the number of its name.
Our first encounter with this cryptic description is found in Revelation 13. I want you to see the typical representation first and then the Amplified because in a strange way, the Amplified may shed a little light. However I cannot explain either of these adequately, and this playing with numbers is Gematria and confusing at best.
Revelation 13:18 ESV This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
Revelation 13:18 AMP Here is [room for] discernment [a call for the wisdom of interpretation]. Let anyone who has intelligence (penetration and insight enough) calculate the number of the beast, for it is a human number [the number of a certain man]; his number is 666.
As I pondered this phrase: “those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name,” it occurs to me that this could convey the number, in total, of those who march under the orders or name of this entity/beast. Since this verse 15:2 makes no directive to interpret “the number of its name” I felt compelled to look up the Greek words.
G706 – arithmos/ar-ith-mos’
From G142; a number (as reckoned up): – number.
of his name
G3686 – onoma/on’-om-ah
From a presumed derivative of the base of G1097 (compare G3685); a ?name? (literally or figuratively), (authority, character): – called, (+ sur-) name (-d).
If the central core of the multi-headed beast we see in Revelation 13 is Islam, then the name may well be Allah and the rules of engagement come from the Qur’an. The number, and as we can see from the Greek, is a calculated quantity. The implication of that is an overwhelming quantity. Is this starting to make sense to anyone? An overwhelming quantity of people, submitted to Allah, running around the world, killing anyone who does not submit.
Wow, that sounds like Islam to me.
Ask yourself why any of this is important. If, you are a believer, and not just the person who says, “I go to church”, but you have an active exuberance for Christ. That means you personally know, the one who died on the cross and rose again, fulfilling God’s promises so that you might have an abundant life. It also means you have a lively hope in his return which is specifically to catch his church away. That catching away is intentional so that those who are part of that church, and still alive here on earth at that time would not have to go through the wrath that is coming.
If by some chance, the rapture has come and you are reading this, then know this – His love and arms are still extended to you. The Holy Spirit of God is in the earth drawing you to him. Accept his love for you, turn your life over to him, and you will be received into the kingdom. That’s the good news. The bad news is that some crazed group of people will probably kill you for taking a stance for Christ instead of the god they are pushing. Stand your ground and shortly you will find yourself standing before the one who has loved you since the beginning of time.