Saturday, December 29, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 44 - Revelation 18:9-24

And the kings of the world who committed adultery with her and enjoyed her great luxury will mourn for her as they see the smoke rising from her charred remains. They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out,

"How terrible, how terrible for you, O Babylon, you great city! In a single moment God's judgment came on you."

The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is no one left to buy their goods. She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; things made of fragrant thyine wood, ivory goods, and objects made of expensive wood; and bronze, iron, and marble. She also bought cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, chariots, and bodies—that is, human slaves.

"The fancy things you loved so much are gone," they cry."All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again."

The merchants who became wealthy by selling her these things will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will weep and cry out,

"How terrible, how terrible for that great city! She was clothed in finest purple and scarlet linens, decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls! In a single moment all the wealth of the city is gone!"

And all the captains of the merchant ships and their passengers and sailors and crews will stand at a distance. They will cry out as they watch the smoke ascend, and they will say, "Where is there another city as great as this?" And they will weep and throw dust on their heads to show their grief. And they will cry out,

"How terrible, how terrible for that great city! The ship owners became wealthy by transporting her great wealth on the seas. In a single moment it is all gone."

Rejoice over her fate, O heaven and people of God and apostles and prophets! For at last God has judged her for your sakes.

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a huge millstone. He threw it into the ocean and shouted,

"Just like this, the great city Babylon will be thrown down with violence and will never be found again. The sound of harps, singers, flutes, and trumpets will never be heard in you again. No craftsmen and no trades will ever be found in you again. The sound of the mill will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The happy voices of brides and grooms will never be heard in you again. For your merchants were the greatest in the world, and you deceived the nations with your sorceries. In your streets flowed the blood of the prophets and of God's holy people and the blood of people slaughtered all over the world." (NLT)

Reaction of the World

The Kings

How do different rulers’ lusts for power demonstrate itself in spiritual adultery in the past and today? 

In the previous lesson we saw that the kings of the earth committed spiritual adultery with the city. They are aware of what they are doing. Their need for power is most likely the root of their spiritual adultery. That lust for power has often been demonstrated in religions because religion can be a very powerful way of controlling people.  

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. (John 11:45-48 KJV)

Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. (John 11:53 KJV)  

This explains the reaction of the Jewish leaders after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. They saw Him as a threat to their power and had no idea what God’s power could really do for them. The kings represent those who are committing spiritual adultery to obtain power and prestige.

Today, they go to church strictly to see what they can get out of it. Many see church as a social network to advance themselves politically, economically, or socially. This can even be applied to the prosperity gospel that is being preached today. They worship God to get what they want, not do what God wants. 

Why are these kings so fearful? 

These kings are terrified. They know why this calamity has fallen on Babylon. It scares them because they have involved themselves in that spiritual adultery. Even though they admit that this is God’s judgment, it doesn’t scare them enough to do anything about their own spiritual condition.  

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Rev 14:11 KJV)  

When they see the smoke rising from Babylon, they will be reminded that this is the fate that they are facing themselves. The smoke from the burning of the city will last a while, but the smoke from those who have worshiped the beast will rise forever. No wonder they are scared.

The Merchants

What do the verses about the merchants tell us about capitalism?  

An interesting thing to note is that capitalism will always be around. Here, at the end of the age after the Antichrist has been running the show for almost seven years, we find capitalism clearly at work. At one time America was deathly afraid of communism. As time passed our fear grew less and when the Iron Curtain fell, we all but thought the battle against communism was over. If we had simply looked at these verses in Revelation we would have realized that capitalism would flourish right up to the end.

Capitalism may be Christians’ preferred economic system, but we need to remember it isn’t God’s chosen system. While God has told us some specifics about honesty regarding capitalism, such as using honest weights (Lev 19:36), He hasn’t told us that capitalism is His chosen economic system. It is the world’s system. It is a natural development of man living in a sinful world. Man has been under Satan’s influence (Eph 2:2) so any system of the world is by nature Satanic. All economic systems keep people preoccupied with their life styles and not thinking about Jesus or His economy. 

What is God’s chosen economic system – how would you describe it? 

Christianity functions well under every economic system. When we are honest and conduct our businesses with godly principles, we do well under capitalism. If we are in a socialistic or communistic system, we consider that we are helping others and we still do our work unto the Lord (Col 3:17). We don’t slack off because the government takes our wealth and distributes it to others, even those who aren’t working as hard as we are.  

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matt 6:19-21 RSV) 

Our economic system doesn’t depend on the world’s riches or definition of wealth. We are not citizens of this world, but of heaven. Our eventual reward far outweighs whatever measly accumulation we can get here on earth, whether it is one more chicken or one more billion dollars (2 Cor 4:16-18). God’s economic system is heavenomics. It’s all about our getting there and the rewards we will have there.

You may quote the parable of the talents to justify that capitalism was taught by Jesus (Matt 25:14-30). OK, just look at the end of the parable. This isn’t about how to make money or endorsing an economic system, it is about being judged and rewarded in eternity for faithfulness to the Master.

Better yet, take a look at the parable of laborers in the vineyard (Matt 20:1-16). Some worked all day for one denarius and others worked only an hour for the same wage. Is this an endorsement of communism or socialism? Absolutely not, it is the same teaching about judgment and rewards. When we have come to Jesus for salvation in the last hour of our life or the first, we will each receive salvation.  

What do merchants bring with them beside all the products that they want to sell or buy? 

When people travel for business, they take products from one part of the world to another. But not only do they take products but they also take part of their culture. Nehemiah saw that the merchants coming into Jerusalem on the Sabbath were bringing their culture and sabotaging the Law that God had given (Neh 13:19-21). The Sabbath was the one day they were forbidden by the Law to trade. In our generation we have seen the same thing happen. When I was a kid, very few stores were open on Sunday. There was no distraction, you either went to church or not. Shopping was not an option. But there were a few stores open and slowly more and more.

I am not saying that we sin if we work on Sunday or even shop. But merchants sell products and change our ideas at the same time with constant advertising. We are lured away from our focus on the Lord by things of the earth.  

And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. (Gen 37:25 KJV)  

The caravan to Egypt was carrying spices to cover up the real condition of food. They carried balm to anoint the dead for burial, to give a false hope in a life after death. Myrrh was used to deaden the pain of the day, to drug and keep reality away. They took Joseph as a slave. Sinful man has been doing the same thing for thousands of years and will continue until the end.

The Babylonian merchants take the bodies and souls of men. This implies several things. Literally they are active in a slave trade. Today, Saudi Arabians have their own version of slave trade. They go to third world nations and hire people to do their dirty work. The workers are segregated from the Arab society and live in their own camps. However this doesn’t compare at all to the blatant slave trade of Christians in Sudan.

But it could also mean more. It could be people selling their bodies to strive for riches or worse, selling others in the very active sex trade. What does it profit a person to gain the world and lose his soul? Prostitution and child pornography comes to mind because of the awful consequences that it has on the spiritual side of people.

Then symbolically, it is a summary of what the real intent of it all is, to trap people by riches and keep them away from God.  

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim 6:9-10) 

What is God’s answer to the culture and economics of the world? 

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting  covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. (Isa 55:1-3 NASB)  

The Lord is our Merchant. When we come to Him He provides for us what really counts: eternal peace with Him. These cost us nothing in terms of earthly riches. They are given freely to anyone who will listen to Jesus.

When we have this perspective we can face the world and even become merchants. But when we go, our attitude must be as in James 4:15 “if it is the Lord’s will.” When we go out to sell our ware, so to speak, we must carry a Christian culture based on Jesus, not absorb the world’s way based on Satan. When we do that, we are working in God’s economy.

Look back again at Matthew 6:19-21. Think about it. Every time we invest a dollar, don’t we want to get the greatest return on our investment? Where are you investing your time, energy, and money? Is it getting a heavenly return or is it all for the temporal things that will one day become dust? How often do we forget these familiar verses and fall into the world’s investment patterns?

The Sailors

But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. (Jonah 1:4-5 KJV)

Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. (Jonah 1:13 KJV)

Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. (Jonah 1:16 KJV) 

What do these verses tell us about sailors? 

Sailors, of all people, should be dependent upon the Lord since they are always close to death. They make their money by taking the risk others are not willing to take. But they are usually self-sufficient. They always look to their own resources to get themselves out of trouble. They make money only by delivering cargo to its destination, but they are practical and will toss it when needed to save their ship and their own lives. In this case they were told precisely what they should do – throw Jonah into the sea –instead they try their own methods. They are typical of those who turn to God only as the last resort. Unfortunately their vows seldom last beyond the time it takes them to get to safety. God does rescue a few in this manner, but they are the exception.

In Acts 27:9, 10, 18, 21-26, 31, 42-44 the sailors follow the same kind of thought processes before Paul’s shipwreck. They refuse the advice of someone who knows the heart of God. After that, they are working on their own devices. The cargo went first, and then they were willing to listen to Paul. When they got near land, the sailors were back to following their own schemes again. Only the Lord working through the centurion saved their lives and Paul’s. 

How do the sailor’s reaction in Jonah and Revelation reflect the attitudes of many people in the world?

The sailors’ situation is very sad. They know about God, but they don’t know Him. They know because of the life they lead; they “trust” Him to get them from one place to another. They know that He disapproves of putting things ahead of their devotion to Him. But they only turn in desperation and when the concern is passed, they ignore Him again. This is why they can mourn for the city in one breath and then make a prophetic statement in the next. They know that the judgment is from the Lord, and they know why. They state that others should rejoice, but they do not include themselves. These are the ones that admire true faith in others, but are unwilling to join in with that faith. It would require them to give up adventure, riches, and the excitement of their lives. These are the only ones who are not terrified by the action of God. It is doubly sad because they know their state and will do nothing about it. 

How could the sailor’s statement for saints to rejoice over Babylon be taken in another way that also demonstrates the attitudes of many in the world?

This can be taken two ways. One is that they recognize precisely what is going on and know in their hearts that this is the proper response of the saints. The other is that it is a bitter tongue-in-cheek expression of their hatred of God. It is like unbelievers who call Christians righteous as well as other things in a derogatory manner. Early believers were called “little Christs,” which is where the word Christian comes from. It wasn’t meant as a complement. These insults come because the saint’s life exposes the wrong in the sinner’s life. It gives unbelievers mixed feelings because they really know the problem is their own separation from God, but they want to blame it on someone else. So in this case it may not be the intent of the sailors to praise God, but it is to His praise, because it is the truth.

Common factors

Why does each of these three groups stand far off? How is it the opposite reaction of Christians? 

They are unwilling to go to the aid of those who have influenced and helped them. It could be justified in the sense that the destruction is so complete that there is nothing that they could do, but I sense that is not the primary reason they stand back. I think it is because they have developed a keen sense of self-preservation. They have no loyalty to their cause. They enjoy the wealth, but when it comes down to the very last; they are not willing to risk their lives for the system that has made them rich.

For Christians it is just the opposite; we are first asked to give up our lives.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 10:39 ESV)

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Matt 10:42 ESV)  

These verses would also indicate that we are not to ignore those in trouble but to help them, even if it is only giving a cold cup of water. This is the contrast we are to be with the world. The world isn’t even loyal to its own kind. We are to be even more loyal to other Christians. Jesus said it best.  

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 KJV)

Not only did He say it, but He also demonstrated it. 

How does the terror of the kings and merchants relate to sinners’ fear of the consequences of their sin?

The kings and the merchants are terrified at the torment. This is one of the reasons they stand far off. It reminds me that many people involved in incorrect sexual behavior have a fear of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. If they were not involved, they would not fear it. Others fear it for their children, but they teach their children about “safe sex” instead of abstinence and the context for sexual responsibility in a monogamous marriage of a man and a woman. In the same way, the kings and merchants have terror because they were involved with Babylon and know they should also have been tormented and will eventually face torment forever.

This fear of consequences but continuing in sin isn’t just about sexual behavior. It can be seen with other sins of addictions. Smoking, drinking, and drugs all carry horrific consequences but they are continued when most people know that they will eventually have to pay the penalty.  

Why are they shocked, why will non-Christians be shocked at the judgment? 

They are shocked at the quickness of destruction of the city. All say that it occurs in one hour.  

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:3-4 KJV)

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8 KJV)

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10 KJV) 

All these people were scoffers before but now they are not. They had the impression that since God’s punishment did not come and zap them at the beginning of their sinful, decadent ways, He wouldn’t do it at all. We think that verses 3 and 4 simply means that many years will go by and it is nothing to the Lord, but we forget that it does mean something to Him. He will lump a thousand years of destruction and punishment into one day. No wonder they are shocked by the quickness. Earlier it said the sins of the city were piled high. It took years to make that pile, yet the Lord will punish them in a moment. It will catch them unaware, just like a thief would. They have so blinded themselves that they will no longer see it coming. They will have resisted repentance to the point of never being able to repent. Their shock at the suddenness is an expression of their unbelief. It is a refusal to admit the truth of why the city is destroyed. 

Why do people mourn, what specifically are these people mourning about? 

Each of these mourns when they see the destruction. In the Bible there are different kinds of mourning. Joseph and all Egypt mourned for seventy days when Jacob died (Gen 50:1-3). They missed him and wanted to express the loneliness that they would feel at not seeing him anymore. They would no longer have fellowship with him or have his guidance. In Mic 1:8-16 we can see God telling His people to mourn over the destruction of Jerusalem. This is an intense display of emotion. But the reason for mourning is what happens to people. A great amount of it is because of sorrow over sin and the consequence it has inflicted on the people.

 These are the kinds of mourning that are acceptable and even commanded by God. He has made us a people of emotions. However, neither of these kinds of mourning is over the loss of property, riches, or opportunity for sin. Yet this is exactly the reason that these people are mourning the loss of Babylon. No one is concerned about the human destruction or the fact he will no longer see loved ones. All are concerned for the loss of things and mostly for the loss of the opportunity to sin.

Finality of the Judgment

What is the significance of the angel throwing a millstone into the sea? What other Scripture does this bring to mind? 

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luke 17:1-4 KJV)  

Even as a Christian, we need to be careful. We know that the world system will always be around to cause people to sin, even Christians. But God is going to judge that world system as He has shown in Revelation 18. What could possibly be worse than being at the bottom of the sea? I can’t imagine what it would be, but it certainly suggests that some punishments in hell will be worse than others. But the warning isn’t just for unbelievers. We can sin and in doing so, we can cause another to sin. 

We know what an unbeliever end is, but what happens to a believer who causes others to sin?

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus doesn’t really elaborate on this? Instead He starts talking about repentance and what our attitude should be to the one who asks forgiveness. Obviously, we need to approach a fellow believer who is causing others to sin and warn him; however, we also need to be obedient to forgive him when he repents. After all, we could be in the same situation someday. We must assume that when a brother repents, it is true. We are not given an option; we are to forgive him. This can bring up the whole issue of how we know that he is truly repentant. Jesus simply says that if he comes and says that he repents, we are to accept that and forgive him.  

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:32 KJV)  

We continually sin, and continually come to God saying we repent, and then we sin some more. Seventy times seven, He has and is forgiving us in the same way He is asking us to forgive others. 

Does forgiving others mean we need to open ourselves up to potential abuse? 

When Jesus talked about children and brothers, He was talking about those who belong to Him. He was not talking about the people of the world. When an unbeliever comes to us and asks for forgiveness, we need to forgive Him, because God forgave us. But the idea of believing them about repentance is another story. I don’t think Jesus is telling us to open ourselves up to further abuse by anyone. On the other hand, we are to love even our enemies. We are to act in such a way that we would not hinder someone coming to Christ.  

For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:15-16 NIV)  

When we are dealing with unbelievers, we should have a higher motivation than serving ourselves. This is not easy whether we are dealing with Christians or others. 

How can we apply the cessation of music in Babylon to our own lives? 

Music is associated with joy and pleasure. Yet it will not be heard again in Babylon. Throughout the Psalms, we are told to use music to praise and worship God. In Babylon it has been perverted. The music, instead of being associated with praising God, is used for selfish pleasures.  

Now when Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, "There is a sound of war in the camp." But he said, "It is not the sound of the cry of triumph, Nor is it the sound of the cry of defeat; But the sound of singing I hear." (Ex 32:17-18 NASU) 

Moses could tell the difference between music that was honoring God and music that was being used for selfish pleasure. A measure of where a Christian is at in his walk with the Lord is the kind of music he seeks. 

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Eph 5:19-20 KJV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col 3:16 KJV) 

Paul told us that psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are a natural thing to sing in our hearts. We use them to show the condition of our heart in worship and to lift others up. A significant part of the world’s culture is in its music. It teaches and reinforces the values of the culture. What do you want taught and reinforced in your life? 

How can we relate the absence of work to God’s judgment and our purpose in life? 

In Genesis, God gave Adam and Eve work to do. In Babylon the work is totally for the furtherance of self, or even worse, the furtherance of the kingdom of Satan. If the significance of a person is found in the work that he does, according to the world system, then a city or culture like Babylon must surely pride itself on the trade and work that goes on within it. The Lord is certainly sending a clear message here. All work will cease. No workers will be found. The worldly measure of its success will be taken completely away.

If we are striving for things of the world, our eventual outcome is death. In death all worldly significance is lost. We can no longer have position, wealth, power, or anything that once satisfied or attempted to satisfy a person. Security is lost. We need to have higher goals for our work than the world does. 

What comes to your mind when you see that the light of the lamp and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will no longer be in Babylon?  

We are the bride of Christ and Jesus is the bridegroom. We are to be light of the world and not hid our light under a basket. When Babylon is destroyed, there will be no witnesses to tell of God’s mighty salvation. There will be no opportunities to hear the Gospel and be saved. God’s people have been told to come out of Babylon. If it is taken to be literal, then there will not be a Christian witness before or after the destruction. Since we are to be salt of the earth, then the absence of Christians in any location would certainly allow more evils to exist than with us mingled among them.  

Who are the merchants mentioned at the end of Revelation 18? How do they relate to people of today? 

The merchants at the end of the chapter are different from the ones who stood at a distance. The former were merchants of the earth. These are the merchants of Babylon. They are the ones who were selling the concepts of humanism, evolution, and then blatant occultic religion. In our western civilization we are starting to see what has been true for centuries in other nations. The great men, the educated men are starting to embrace weird religions. Ramtha and others are just examples that are starting in the West. Missionaries to Buddhist nations are surprised when they first encounter well-dressed, educated people stopping to bow and pray at idols. We have always relegated that to the past. Babylon will take all of these different forms of idolatry and work them into a single religion that the world will embrace. Her merchants will spread it to all of the nations.

The sorceries are nothing other than the veil that Satan puts over the unsaved. It is the desire to have spirituality without acknowledging responsibility to God. Satan loves it because people are already his slaves. He only has to do enough to keep them blinded. He only has to be a bird taking away the seed. But he is not content with that, he wants more, he wants to usurp God, and so he seeks ways to spread the magic. 

How is Babylon related to Christian persecution? 

Eventually the result of all satanic religions is to persecute God’s people, whether Old Testament saints or Christians. The Lord ties this all the way back to Cane and Abel when He says the blood of all who have been slain was found in Babylon. Yes, the blood of the prophets is on the hands of this religious system that denies God.

Cane killed Abel because Abel found favor in God’s eyes and offered an acceptable sacrifice (Heb 11:4). Cane wanted his own method of reaching God. The result was the first family squabble over religion. The “church leaders” of the Old Testament didn’t like what the prophets of God said, so they killed them. The New Testament leaders didn’t like what Jesus was saying about God because it threatened their position. So they killed Him.  

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”; and “a man's enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matt 10:34-36 NKJV)  

Jesus said that He came to bring a sword, to turn people against each other when He quoted from Micah 7:6. It is His desire that all would come to Him, but He knows that by the very fact that some are under this spell of Satan, they will turn in violence against even relatives who embrace Jesus. It is sad, but true.

The destruction of Babylon is the first step in correcting the problems caused by the world system led by Satan. Jesus’ return in the next chapter is step two. 

What have you learned in this lesson that has helped you? 

Let us be careful not to be tricked by the world when we decide what is most important to us. Let us look completely to Jesus and His word.  

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:2 KJV)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 43 - Revelation 18:1-8

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality."

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.' For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.” (NASB)

Another Angel

Review Rev 8:3, 10:1, 14:6, 17. What is unique about these angels? How do they reflect God’s glory? 

Each time we have seen another angel, we have also seen a different manifestation of angelic splendor. In each of these cases, another angel was mentioned. Yet these are not the seven angels that stand before God in Rev 8:2. However, they all reflect the endless glory of God; for He has created these beings in such variety and splendor that there is no end to their differences. Yet they all serve Him and bring glory to Him. None seeks his own self-satisfaction but seeks to bring the messages of God to men and carry out His will upon the earth.

This angel has great authority. The manifestation of that authority is seen in his splendor illuminating the earth. If you can imagine a “mere” angel sending forth this much light, think how much light must come from God Himself. No wonder the Scripture says that He lives in unapproachable light.

… The blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Tim 6:15-16 RSV)  

In this case, it takes great authority to inform John exactly why this city called Babylon will receive God’s wrath.


The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. (Jer 51:35-37 KJV) 

Why did God destroy Babylon the first time and why will He destroy it again? What are the common reasons?

What He declared about the nation applied to the capital city also known as Babylon. Since the city was destroyed, it has never been rebuilt to its former glory. As we’ve discussed before, many people think that the city of Babylon must be rebuilt as a central location of sin and perhaps the new center of government for the Antichrist. They look at the Babylon of Revelation as a city in the same place as the ancient city.

In Jeremiah 51, we can see parallels with the ancient Babylon and the one in Revelation. Throughout the chapter, the destruction is referred to as taking place in a day. The future Babylon will be destroyed in an hour (Rev 18:10) of a single day (Rev 18:8). God’s judgment is swift. When the time comes, He will not delay.

The reason that God destroyed Babylon the first time was to repay her for the wrong done to Jerusalem. Likewise, there will be repayment to the future Babylon for the way she has treated the saints (Rev 18:6).

Heaven and earth rejoiced over the falling of Babylon (Jer 51:48) and will rejoice again when the modern Babylon falls (Rev 18:20).


The cry that Babylon the Great is fallen is a declaration of its spiritual condition, not only its physical destruction. This is noted by three conditions.  

How does Babylon becoming a home for demons and unclean spirits depict its spiritual decay? What are the similarities to the world today? 

The one-world religion has provided the basis for the free run of demonic influences. In the past few years, we have seen people in America grow so accustomed to demonic influences that they are accepted as normal religious experiences. People were not shocked when channelers openly let demons control them. Spirit guides have been openly portrayed as positive means of spiritual enlightenment. As we grow toward a one-world religion that embraces every type of religion, it won’t be surprising that demons and evil spirits will be running the whole thing.  

Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Lev 19:31 KJV)

And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. (Lev 20:6 KJV)

And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6 KJV)

The Word is quite clear about this kind of activity. If we turn to any kind of demons for help, we will be defiled – we will become unholy. Also, God will bring His anger against anyone who does this. The final outcome is shown by King Manasseh who carried this to the extreme of sacrificing his own son to these false gods. I wouldn’t be surprised to see human sacrifices common during the end times even beyond the abortions that are now done simply by taking a pill. 

How would becoming a haunt (NIV) for unclean birds demonstrate the wickedness of Babylon? 

Lev 11:13-19 lists unclean birds that were forbidden to be eaten. Many of these birds have one thing in common; they eat rodents or are scavengers. It is very possible that the spiritual depravity will wreak consequences, yielding a city that is on one hand incredibly rich and on the other hand with unbelievable squalor that provides a breeding ground for vermin and the birds that feed on them.

This can already be seen in cities in India. As people become more affluent (with western countries outsourcing work to them), people naturally waste more. Next to modern campuses for these workers, you can find sewers overflowing, vacant lots turned into illegal landfills. Religion also hampers sanitation as sacred animals are allowed to roam and leave their droppings. 

What kinds of immoralities do the kings of the earth commit with Babylon? 

Excessive Luxuries

The kings of the earth are wrapped up in this city, its religious system, and also its economic system. Merchants have grown rich at the expense of human suffering while indulging in excessive luxuries.

Ex 22:22-27 list the common abuses that the wealthy impose on the poor. They afflict widows and orphans. How hard is it for working single moms to cope in our economy? They abuse people by lending money at inflated rates. You may get a good rate on a house, but not on a credit card. They take away the essentials of life as collateral. The recent abuse of housing lending and foreclosures are a good example.

The Lord says that when people do these things, His wrath will be hot and He will kill the offenders when the afflicted cry out to Him.

This sets the tone for God’s people. When we are kind and sympathetic to people, He rewards us. When people are looking for excessive luxuries, they are out for everything they can get. They have no consideration for the needs of others or who they are. As a society, we hide behind corporate walls and say that we don’t have a choice because our stockholders require a profit so we have to treat all people the same.

Years ago, people would get a raise because they got married or had another child. Now a company wouldn’t even think about such a thing. God’s plan is not for us to look for exceptional gains, especially when we are lending our money. This prohibition on lending with excessive interest is repeated five more times in Scripture. 

Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. (Ezek 18:12-13)  

In this Scripture it is interesting to note that lending money at usury is only one of the characteristics of a person who has put things above people. In a way it seems to depict just what happens with the merchants of Babylon.  

If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. (Lev 25:35-37 ESV)

Jews were not even allowed to sell food to a poor person for a profit. This related to their countrymen, other Jews, but it says to help him just as if he were an alien. How far we have come from this in the treatment of other Christians and people in general. If we truly took these words to heart, our society would be much different. The verse that says to love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself, truly would cover all of these circumstances. Obviously, the new Babylon will be as far from the Christian ideal as possible. 

What part does the Church play in a world that takes excessive gain and keeps poor people poor?  

We in the Church do not practice among ourselves what we should be doing. Instead we imitate the world to the point that many churches are selling building bonds to their congregations to raise money. People are actually taking interest on their money from the Lord instead of giving sacrificially. This is just one symptom of what is happening.

When the church molds itself after political or economic “isms” instead of the Bible we become ineffective and unproductive. Conservatism, liberalism, capitalism, and socialism are not what Christianity is about. 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:3-4 NIV) 

While liberalism and socialism sound much closer to this ideal, they deny other aspects of God’s commands ignoring mankind’s sinful nature. Capitalism and conservatism also ignore man’s sinful nature and produce greed and the basic materialism of the world system. Conservatives praise Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged[1] and the movie even though it teaches blatant selfishness and immorality.

We don’t treat one another as someone that Christ bought, just as the Israelites forgot to treat one another as someone that God brought out of bondage in Egypt. We need to treat each other as God’s own possessions.


Who is God addressing at this time in verse 4, what is His warning? 

If we are right about the timing of the rapture, then all of God’s people have been removed from the earth. So this warning isn’t for the future but for us. We will see this religious and economic system before the rapture occurs. It will persecute and torment real Christians. God is clear; He doesn’t want us to partake of this system. We are not to share its sins.  

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18 KJV)

John 15:18-25 is probably the clearest and simplest to understand reason why Christians are persecuted. Even before He started to explain why, Jesus reminds us that we are not to lose sight of the fact that the world has hated Him first. When we start crying the poor-me-blues, we need to remember this. The world’s hatred of Jesus took Him to the cross.

If we are acceptable to the major portion of the world, then there is something wrong. We are not witnessing or we are not living lives that are distinguishable from the rest of the world. They think that we are no different from them. Our witness and our lives have not convicted them (through the Holy Spirit) that they are different, and lost. They only love us when we don’t expose their sins to them. Sometimes the only way we can show the difference is to consciously and even physically separate ourselves from them. But Paul says in 1 Co 5:9-11 that we are still to associate with them. This is a difficult task to balance separation with association in order to be a witness. 

What has been your experience when mentioning the name of Jesus to non-Christians? 

Another reason that they will persecute us is because of the name of Jesus. The very name of Jesus, not spoken in a curse, has power. In Acts 3, Peter told the cripple to walk in the name of Jesus. Several times after that, Peter affirmed that the healing was done in the name of Jesus. In Acts 16:18, in the name of Jesus, Paul commanded a demon to come out of a woman. 

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:9-11 KJV)  

We are told that every knee will bow before the name of Jesus and those who reject Him certainly don’t like this prospect. Most important about the name of Jesus is that there is no other name by which we are to be saved. (Acts 4:12)When we speak the name of Jesus, He honors His name. He provides power (as He promised in John 14:13) to accomplish what we ask. If all we ask is that His name be glorified as we speak it, then the persecution will come because they do not know the Father. 

What happens if we are really good people but don’t mention Jesus? 

Jesus let us know that if He had not done miracles among the people and spoke to them, then they would have not been convicted of sin and would have no gripe against Him (John 15:22-24). This was because His works all verified that the Father had sent Him and this convicted them of sin and made them angry because they rejected Jesus. Likewise, if we do nothing, we will not be persecuted. If all we do is good deeds, be nice and not speak the name of Jesus, then they will let us be. But Jesus said that He did what no one else did. Not only did He heal and perform miracles, but He also told them why. He told people their sins were forgiven. This freed people from the bondage of the religious system. Likewise, we need to speak and let people know what is going on. If we do, they too, can be freed from their religious bondage. If the system is powerful and oppressive as is described in Revelation 18, then there is no wonder that we will be persecuted. We will threaten its very existence, just as Jesus threatened the power and existence of the oppressive religious system of His day.

Come Out

Why does God call His people out? 

God asked Abraham to separate himself from his country and then his relatives. Lot should have followed Abraham’s example but became involved in Sodom and he eventually lost even the material things he so loved. Also, the whole nation of Israel was to remain separate. It was always this failure that caused problems for Israel; even from the day Joshua took over, there were separation problems. In Joshua 9, he was tricked by the world system. In verse 14, it says that they used their own devices to determine what was right or wrong instead of asking God. The result was a treaty where none should have existed.

We do not want to compromise ourselves and not experience the fullness of what the Lord has in store for us. The subtleties of the world later turn into overt sin and we suffer the consequences when we do not separate ourselves from the world.  

Rev 18:6 says that those involved in this world system will be paid back double for the evil they do, so what will happen to Christians who don’t “come out of Babylon"? 

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (2 Peter 2:21 KJV) 

The ones who are enlightened, and then turn back will be worse off than before. They will also suffer consequences if they don’t separate themselves, however it will not be an eternal punishment.

How do we apply God’s warning about Babylon’s living in luxury and sense of no doom to our own lives?

The people of this age or the future Babylon have become wealthy and have spent it on themselves. Jesus taught on this very subject of greed. 

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:15-21 KJV)  

When we seek only to spend our wealth on ourselves, we have turned the blessing of God into a tool of Satan. God is the One from whom all things come. To ignore this and only take from Him is one thing. But the attitude of the man in this parable and Babylon goes even further. He had an attitude that it was his own strength and ability that enabled him to acquire this wealth. This man’s poorness in attitude toward God is not just that he did not share the wealth that was provided, but that he took the credit for his riches.

This is another thing that is happening in our society. People have the overall attitude that their wealth is a direct result of their own abilities and give no glory to God, much less any of the wealth. The answer to them is that they will pay in measure for what they squandered on themselves. Their physical squandering is only a representative of their spiritual squandering. It is clear that it isn’t just their life, but their eternal life. 

While examining Babylon’s sinfulness, what dangers do we have to watch out for in our own lives? 

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14 KJV)

This parable hits us with the realization that we can have overconfidence in ourselves from a spiritual aspect as well as from physical blessings. We can even end up exalting ourselves for how spiritual we are. There is a fine line here. We know and thank God that He has saved us and rescued us from the pits of sin and depravity. We even are asked to remember where we came from so that we won’t get prideful. What we don’t want to do is somehow get the idea that God decided to rescue us because it had something to do with ourselves. We don’t want to compare ourselves to others and get the idea that we aren’t as bad as they are in order to cut ourselves some slack or elevate ourselves. It is this mentality that leads us to say that we are special and exempt from God’s prohibitions, that there is a sin that is OK for us, or that God owes us something. This can lead right down the tube to self-indulgence. 

You felt secure in your wickedness and said, “No one sees me,” Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” (Isa 47:10 NASU) 

What does Isa 47:10 and Rev 18:7 reveal about false religious systems?  

Isa 47:8-15 is a good description of why Babylon thinks that no disaster will happen to her. This is a pattern for all false religious systems. They start as a lie from Satan but after a while, the people that participate in them begin to believe that it is true. This is probably the most fearsome aspect of cults and other religions. They indeed believe that that their system is real and true. Many times the leaders are charlatans to start, out to make a buck off someone. Then they begin to believe they have power or an inside track to God. They probably see Satan work though their charms to do things. But when the Lord moves, Satan’s efforts are in vain. The disaster will overcome them. 

What would you say is one of the most grievous sins of selfishness in our society? 

It is very sad to look at the luxuries and the self-indulgence of today and to think that it is to this degree that our society will be repaid with torture and grief. Abortion is a very self-serving indulgence, putting ourselves above the needs of another to the point of killing the other. There are about 46 million abortions a year worldwide.

Reasons Women Choose Abortion (U.S.)[2]
·         Wants to postpone childbearing:  25.5%
·         Wants no (more) children:  7.9%
·         Cannot afford a baby:  21.3%
·         Having a child will disrupt education or job: 10.8%
·         Has relationship problem or partner does not want pregnancy: 14.1%
·         Too young; parent(s) or other(s) object to pregnancy: 12.2%
·         Risk to maternal health: 2.8%
·         Risk to fetal health: 3.3%
·         Other: 2.1%

These statistics show that abortions are more for convenience than for any risk to the mother or even rape. Note that rape wasn’t counted enough to justify its own category. More recent follow up studies continue to reveal the same results.[3]

What eye-opener has there been for you in this study? What do you need to differently? What do you think the Church needs to do differently? 

How patient God has been with us! How terrible will be our punishment if we don’t completely remove ourselves from this and other horrendous sins that are rampant in the world today. How terrible will be the punishment of the world system that Babylon embodies. 

The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” (Obad 3 NKJV)  

Pride is the answer to why this occurs. The pride of our hearts does not let us admit that what we have done is wrong. Our accomplishments are too much for us to give up.

When we die to ourselves God gives us more than enough to make up for the loss of any temporal things. First of all, He paid the price that we would have had to pay for all our self. Instead of torture and grief, He has lavished His grace on us (Eph 1:7-8). Not only that, but He has promised us an inheritance in the saints. This is so marvelous that Paul says we must have the eyes of our hearts enlightened just to begin to understand it (Eph 1:18-19). What a contrast to the results of self-indulgence.

Considering the riches of God’s grace and His incomparably great power for us, let us come out of Babylon and live our lives in holiness.

[1] Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957. Print.
[2] Source:Bankole, Akinrinola; Singh, Susheela; Haas, Taylor.  Reasons Why Women Have Induced Abortions: Evidence from 27 Countries.  International Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 24(3):117–127 & 152 As reported by: The Alan Guttmacher Institute Online:
[3] Johnston, Wm. Robert. "Reasons given for Having Abortions in the United States", 26 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Dec. 2012.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 42 - Revelation 17:9-18

This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful."

And the angel said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth." (ESV)

The Beast

Back in Rev 17:3, the beast is described as scarlet and covered with blasphemies. What does this description bring to your mind? 

 The first thing that I think of is the common description we have of Satan. He is often shown in a red suit or a red being. Back in Rev 13:1, the blasphemies were on the beast’s heads. Now they are covering its body. Blasphemy is a very serious business. In the Old Testament, people were stoned for blasphemy (Lev 24:13-16). The religious establishment of Jesus’ time accused Him of blasphemy when He claimed to the Son of Man (Matt 26:63-66). In their eyes, it was worthy of death. Jesus affirmed the seriousness of blasphemy when it is directed against the Holy Spirit. 

 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Matt 12:31 KJV)

Satan is obsessed with blaspheming God. This can be seen in the way Paul attacked the Church before he came to Christ. He did everything possible to try to get believers to blaspheme (Acts 26:9-11). Perhaps the names on the beast represent the lengths to which Satan goes to get people to blaspheme.

God’s name being blasphemed isn’t something new, for those who do not know Him have blasphemed His name continuously (Isa 52:5-6). Yet there is going to be a day when all will also know the Lord. He has foretold it and will bring it about. When that occurs, the beast will have gone down to his destruction and all his blasphemy will no longer be heard. 

How do believers living sinful lives fit into Satan’s plans? 

You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:21-24 NIV)

We do exactly what these verses describe. When we act this way, we cause God’s name to be blasphemed because we carry the name of Christ. Many people claim that they don’t want anything to do with Christians because we are only a bunch of hypocrites and Satan couldn’t be happier. We don’t want to be pointed at as the cause for people to blaspheme the name of God. Satan is doing a good enough job as it is without our adding names to the beast’s body.

Does God intend for the lost to be astonished by the beast? Explain why or why not.

John was mildly rebuked for being astonished. However it is God’s intent for the lost to be astonished. As we look at Rev 17:8, the key to this is found when it says that those who dwell on the earth, those whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world are astonished or marvel.

They will be astonished because the history of the beast and his so-called resurrection. “It was” probably refers to the Roman Empire and its might. We have gone over this before so we don’t need to rehash the statues in Daniel and other prophesies. What is important now is to see the reaction of the lost and understand that this is what is ordained by God for them.

First we can see that they have never been saved. It is God’s clear intent from the beginning of creation not to save them. This statement is big shock for many people. You are asking if I just said that it was God’s intent not to save these people. You are wondering because you have always been taught that everyone has an opportunity to be saved. To explain why this is biblically accurate, we’ll need to look up some verses.

Let’s look first at the reason why we believe that everyone has an opportunity for salvation. I’m not going to use the usual verses because I want to approach this at a different angle since most people are familiar with John 3:16 and other verses.

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. (Ps 69:28) 

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Rev 3:5)

These are references to names being blotted out of the book of life, which means they had to be there in the first place, an argument for the opportunity for all to be saved. In the first case, David asks that God remove his enemies (people who appear to be enemies of God as well) from the book of life. In the second case Jesus is assuring overcomers that they will never be blotted out. It seems that there is a possibility that people start with their name in book of life but it is blotted out when they die without having been born again (or before if God answered David’s prayer). It’s as if the ink is still wet as long as a person is alive but not a Christian. When a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, the ink is dried in the book of life and can never be blotted out. Other verses to look up are Ex 32:33, Dan 12:1, Rev 13:8, Rev 20:11-15, and Rev 21:27. As we’ll find later, only those whose name are in the book of life can enter heaven.

On the other hand, Rev 13:8 and 17:8 are clear that these people have never, ever, had their names in the book of life. The implication is that they were never called or chosen. Jesus explained that they have the opportunity, but God has already know that they will not respond so He has made sure they wouldn’t by making them dull of hearing.

Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.” (Matt 13:13-15 NASU)

In God’s predetermined knowledge, there are some who are destined for destruction. If you have a problem with this, then you need to read Rom 9:10-26. Paul clearly declares that some are objects of His wrath, prepared for destruction. It is a hard doctrine to explain, understand, or accept.

Back to the beast – when Rome rises to power again, these people will be astonished. It is part of the delusion that God sends them.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:11-12 KJV)  

It is done so that all who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness will be condemned. This sounds harsh to us until we realize and accept the fact that we are saved by grace only. It doesn’t sound fair, and it isn’t. We should be condemned along with them. It isn’t that they should be saved. At this point, what can we do but praise, worship, and thank God for His salvation?

Power from the Abyss

Earlier, the beast is described as coming from the sea (Rev 13:1). Now it says it is coming from the abyss. How do you explain this? 

The previous description of the beast was not complete. We understood that the churning sea represented mankind in our unsaved state. The beast coming from this sea shows that it requires masses of unsaved people in order to be manifested. Now we find that the power of the beast or the source of evil comes from the abyss assuring us that it is inspired by Satan or is a representation of Satan. It is important to remember that the beast comes out of the abyss and goes to his destruction.  

How does this description of the beast demonstrate the complexity of the spiritual forces of evil?

The spiritual world is tied together in ways we can’t fully comprehend. These explanations in the Bible give us a glimpse into this world. The beast is described as the hills on which the woman (a city) sits. The hills are then a representation of a series of nations or empires, and finally as specific kings. And verse 18 tells us that the city has dominion over the kings. Behind it all is the power that comes from the abyss.

While we see nations and rulers who are sometimes demonic in their decadence or hate of other nations, especially Israel, it can only be explained by the spiritual forces of evil that are behind them. Daniel was told in the clearest terms about these powers. 

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

… and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia [Greece] shall come. KJV (Dan 10:13, 20 KJV) 

There is a realm of order in the spirit world that can rule over entire cities and nations. They are in a current battle with angles for control of these systems. But as we will see later, the kingdom of Satan is not perfectly in order and rebellion can take place. Neither is the kingdom of Satan powerful enough to sustain this battle forever. 

How does knowing about this spiritual hierarchy help us in our own lives? 

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:10-12 KJV)

The first thing we need to understand is that we can’t do anything in our own power or might. We must depend on the Lord and His strength to live a Christian life. Whether we are battling the forces of evil or our own internal lusts, it is by the Holy Spirit living in us that we are able to overcome.

We also need to recognize that there are battles going on around us in the spiritual realms. We can’t ignore them and pretend that they don’t exist. Neither can we become so preoccupied with them that we lose our focus on Jesus and the work that He wants us to do. Paul provides the balance in Eph 6:13-18.

Paul urges us to put on the full armor of God. When we are out of balance, we don’t have the full armor of God. We dwell or obsess with one issue or another. Many times, when people work through the book of Revelation, they obsess with the end-times and forget all of Jesus’ warnings about watching and continuing to do what we are supposed to do. Others fixate on politics and how terrible our country has become. Some look for demons under every rock to explain all their problems and don’t look at their own desires that drag them away.

The following weapons of spiritual warfare are import if we are going to be alert and be found doing what Jesus wants.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth … (Eph 6:14NKJV) 

What is important about the belt of truth? 

We need to start with the truth. Jesus taught that we need to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We can’t worship God when we don’t know the truth about Him. We can’t battle spiritual forces if we don’t know the truth about them. The most important truth is that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). All religions are satanic attacks when they teach there are many paths to God (all of which are forms of works) or that there is no God to reach (atheism). 

… and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (Eph 6:14 KJV) 

What is important about the breastplate of righteousness? 

 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matt 5:6 KJV)

We put on the righteousness of Jesus when we are born again. This is the desire to be morally good. It is at this time we are declared morally good in Jesus. By hungering and thirsting to be good, we are satisfied in the righteousness of Jesus. We aren’t looking for other ways to become good. His righteousness gives us the desire to live holy lives for Him and by His resurrected power living in us. This protects our heart from evil that the satanic forces are throwing at us every day.  

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (Eph 6:15 KJV) 

How does the Gospel help us when battling demonic forces? 

There are some words in this short verse that answer the question. Two words are preparation and shod. The Gospel prepares us for battle. The seven sons of Sceva tried to cast out a demon when they weren’t prepared (Acts 19:14). They suffered a terrible beating as a result. The demon said it knew Jesus and recognized Paul because Jesus was living in and through Paul. We need not only know the Gospel, but also have it applied to our lives (shod) by knowing and being a disciple of Jesus.

The third word is peace. As evidenced in the book of Revelation, the demonic forces will not bring peace. When we have the Gospel, we will have peace and we will also be able to offer that peace to lost people as well as the demon possessed.  

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one]. (Eph 6:16 KJV) 

How does faith enter into battling demonic forces? 

The first thing to remember is that we are saved by faith and not by our own works (Eph 2:8-9) or even by our own desire (Rom 9:14-16). Since we are saved by faith, we must understand that battling evil, whether it is our own temptations or those that are thrown at us by Satan, we are protected by faith. When doubts or anything else attacks us, we fall back on faith. 

 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1 RSV)

We have the assurance of eternal life because the Lord has shown us over and over in the Bible that we can trust Him. We are convinced that the things of the spiritual world, both holy and demonic, are true because of God and what He has revealed in the Bible. 

And take the helmet of salvation … (Eph 6:17 KJV)

Why is a helmet related to salvation when we battle demonic forces? 

We hear a lot about head knowledge and heart knowledge. The terminology comes from the Bible because Rom 10:9 says we need to believe in our hearts. From a biological standpoint this makes no sense so it is a figure of speech that represents the difference between knowing facts and accepting that the facts are true with application to our lives that make a difference. The helmet protects our head, our brain. We process the thoughts in our brain but Satan prevents us from understanding until God gives us the ability to reach the right conclusion and be saved (2 Cor 4:3-4). Once we reach the right conclusions, we must still act on the conclusions which demonstrate our salvation. We rely on our salvation so that our thoughts and our reasoning are in alignment with Jesus (2 Cor 10:3). If we start to doubt our salvation then our faith is in danger of crumbling. Satan would love to have us doubt and that leads to a shipwrecked faith (1 Tim 1:18-19). 

… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Eph 6:17 KJV)

How do we use the Word of God to battle Satan? 

In Matthew 4:1-11 we see from the temptations of Jesus the best example of using the Word of God to battle Satan. Satan used the basic needs and desires of mankind to try to tempt Jesus to sin. He tried physical needs, doubt of His purpose, and promises of power. In each temptation Jesus spoke directly to Satan and quoted Scripture. There are many arguments among people of great learning. Some support the idea of rebuking Satan directly and other believe it unnecessary or even sinful.

Those who reject the need to do battle in this way have many points that are used to build their argument. They start with saying Satan isn’t omnipresent so he can’t tempt everyone at all times so the likelihood of him tempting any one Christian is unlikely. They say Satan can’t read our minds because he isn’t omniscient. They also say that he can’t plant thoughts in a person’s mind to tempt him or talk to him so there is no need to direct rebuke at him (1 John 4:4). They say that since the angels don’t rebuke him, neither should we (Jude 9). They compare rebuking Satan with praying to Satan and thereby rebuking him verbally would be giving him worship, which if it were true would definitely be sinful. They also say that there is nothing in the Bible that tells us to go around rebuking Satan or demons.

Among those who support rebuking Satan there are some abuses that lend credibility to those who oppose it. There are many who are so demon-centric that they attribute many temptations to Satan that should be attributed to a person’s own evil desires (James 1:14, 4:1-4). There are also some who first rebuke Satan before they will start a worship service, prayer meeting, or other group-related church activities. Their error is turning attention to Satan before they turn attention to God. James 4:7 tells us to first submit to God, then resist the devil.

This study endorses rebuking Satan or demons directly when they attack. It is based on Jesus’ example when he was tempted. It means that we must acknowledge that Satan is more powerful than most people suspect. This power is demonstrated in the way Satan took Jesus to different places to tempt him. It doesn’t matter whether it was physical or in the spiritual realm. Either way it demonstrates Satan’s abilities.

Satan is able to plant thoughts and desires in even a Christian’s mind. Ananias and Sapphira were by all accounts Christians who allowed Satan to fill their hearts (minds) with a deception (Acts 5:3).

He is able to disguise himself as an angel (2 Cor 11:14) and that means he has the ability to appear to people in a physical form. He may not be omnipotent but there is no biblical reason to say that he and his legions are not able to appear and disappear rapidly in many different parts of the world. He could very well operate at speeds faster than we can imagine and multi-task to accomplish his evil.

Is there any reason to suspect Satan can read our thoughts? 

There isn’t any direct biblical evidence that Satan can read our thought, but when we look at Job, Satan certainly had observed him (Job 1:8-11). However, science is making progress and using our brainwaves to operate computers which are now becoming commercialized.[1] If Satan is as powerful as we suspect, doesn’t it stand to reason that he is capable of using brainwaves of individuals to know what they are thinking? Remember, he is operating in the spiritual realm and brainwaves may be readily available to him. I know it is a stretch for people to admit this, but if we open our minds to this possibility then we will be much more able to defeat temptations that come from Satan. It will make taking every thought captive to obey Jesus (2 Cor 10:5) a higher priority in our lives.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 KJV) 

How do we resist the devil?  

Satan isn’t a physical being. We can’t hit, kick, or block him. We can try to ignore him and that is certainly implied if we are submitting ourselves to God. But we need to look at Jesus’ example. It wasn’t written just to let us know that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, but was written so that we would have an example of how to resist.

Jesus audibly spoke and quoted a verse that applied directly to the temptation. The third time, he told Satan to leave. 

Do we need to speak aloud? Is this considered praying to Satan? 

We don’t need to speak aloud if Satan can read our thoughts. Whatever you may think, this is absolutely not praying to Satan! We aren’t asking him for anything. We aren’t giving him honor. We are using the power (Acts 1:8) and authority (Matt 10:1, Luke 10:19), that Jesus has given us to tell him to leave us alone and why when we quote the Word of God along with our demand to leave us alone. 

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus, whom Paul proclaims." (Acts 19:13 ESV) 

What else do we need to be careful to do? 

Jesus had the authority to tell Satan directly to leave but we aren’t Jesus. Therefore we should make sure that we aren’t doing this in our own power. It was well known that the Apostles were exercising authority over demons in the name of Jesus (Mark 9:38). It was so well know that the seven sons of Sceva were doing this without the authority of Jesus because they were not Christians. The results were devastating as the demon gave them a severe beating (Acts 19:13-17).

God has so ordained it that the demons must obey the authority structure He has established. We can only depend on that structure if we are walking with the Lord. Therefore, when we speak or non-verbally rebuke a satanic attack, it should be in the name of Jesus.

For instance, if you feel that you are being tempted by Satan to become angry you could speak or think, “Satan, in the name of Jesus, be gone for it is written, ‘A fool gives full vent to his anger but a wise man keeps himself under control.’” (Prov 29:11 NIV)

If you have an impure thought or are tempted to commit some impure action you could speak or think, “Satan, in the name of Jesus, be gone for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy .’” (1 Peter 1:16 NIV)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Eph 6:18 NIV) 

How does prayer enter into battling demonic forces? 

Especially, if we have addressed Satan telling him to vamoose, we should then direct prayers to the Lord. However, this command to pray is not limited to times when we know we are being or have been tempted. This is all occasions.

We don’t know what kinds of battles are going on around us. We may not be the object of the battle at the moment. When Daniel prayed, it was revealed to him that there was a battle going on at a national level. His prayer was for the people of Israel and the battle extended to Persia and Greece.

Occasions could be when we need wisdom (James 1:5), when we are afraid or in distress (Ps 118:5-6). Giving thanks is a kind of prayer and we should be doing that in all circumstances whether we are joyful or not (1 Thess 5:16-18).

We don’t even need to know what the battle is. Praying in the Spirit suggests that we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray. There may be times when we don’t even have the slightest idea of what to say but we can simply tell the Lord that we’re offering up a prayer for what is needed. The Holy Spirit will interpret that prayer to accomplish God’s will (Rom 8:26).

With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Eph 6:18 NIV)

Are you alert to the battles or the needs of others? Who are you praying for?  

We can stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the spiritual warfare isn’t happening. We can ignore the needs and afflictions of others. Job was afflicted by Satan and it was manifested in the loss of family and property. Then it got worse when he lost his health. Not all of these things happen to us as a direct attack by Satan as it did with Job. However, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pray. Satan may try to use the trials that God intends for good to destroy our Christian family or us.

We need to be alert to the circumstances because it may very well be a spiritual battle. We need to be alert to the suffering of others so that we can respond with prayer. When we pray, we may even become part of the solution to the problems.

Seven Heads and Seven Kings

Getting back to the beast, summarize what you know about the seven heads and seven kings.

The seven heads are seven hills and seven kings. The kings then relate to the historical kingdoms described in Daniel, continue where Daniel left off, and end up pointing to Rome. The fact that the angel mentioned one that is currently ruling would point directly to Rome when John wrote this. The last revival of the Roman Empire will not last long. It will go into the hands of the beast that comes from the abyss. In other words, it appears that the last Roman Empire will be in charge of a demon-possessed man.

What is the meaning of the beast’s ten horns?

At the same time that the seventh king (who turns into the eighth) gets his power, ten others will also receive power. This power is very temporary considering the span of history. It is only to set the stage for the beast to take control. Dan 7:19-27 greatly expands on this and fills in enough gaps to make some sense out of it. As we have seen before, there will be Christians around to see this happen. The beast will persecute them for a while, for three and a half years. But again, the Bible clearly speaks of the ultimate victory of Jesus. Rev 17 fills in the detail that the purpose of the ten kings is to pave the way for the beast. Without their support the beast would not be able to overthrow the false religion and prepare to make war against Jesus.

Who is in Control?

How do we know that God is still in control? Is it the beast, the kings who have one purpose, or is the woman in control? 

Verse 17 clearly states that God put it into their hearts. Even in this mess of evil, He has His purpose and uses whomever He wills to accomplish it. In 2 Kings 19:22-28, the Lord made it clear that even the king of Assyria was acting only as the Lord had planned. In the king’s pride, he thought he was conquering and controlling of the nations around him. He was doing as he pleased, where he pleased. Yet the Lord reminded him and Israel that He had planned it from the beginning. Think about the imagery that the Lord uses to show how He controls even the kings of nations. 

I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back … (2 Kings 19:28 KJV) 

 The Lord may have given us free will, but He is still able to accomplish His will as easily as we lead a bull with a ring in its nose or a horse with a bit in its mouth. The people were dismayed before the power, probably even the atrocities, which this king imposed as he stormed through nation after nation. Yet the Lord is very clear that He guided the king. 

How much control does God have over Satan? 

The kings of the earth, even the ones that are ruled by Satan, are under the ultimate control of God (Prov 21:1). It brings up a deep theological question. Does this mean that even Satan’s evil plans and work are under the control of God? We can look at Mark 1:12-13 and the parallel verses in Matthew and Luke to help understand this question.

When Jesus was tempted in the desert it was God’s plan. The Holy Spirit led or sent Him into the desert. Matthew and Luke say led, Mark says sent or in the NAS, it says the Holy Spirit impelled Him to go into the desert. The only conclusion I can draw is that this is where Jesus had to be to keep the plan. So even Satan, thinking he is doing his own thing, is falling into God’s plan.

Isa 44:24 - 45:13 is a lengthy passage that confirms that God is in complete and ultimate control. He reaffirms it with His constant reminders that He has created all things and is active in forming each and every person before they are born. If He has created anything, He can run it. The words of His servants are His words and He will bring them about just as He foils the words of false prophets. How He brings them about is not what we are to question.

If He chooses to have ten kings give their power to the beast, it will be done. If He chooses a heathen king to rebuild Jerusalem, He will. He used Cyrus to subdue the nations and He can use the nations to back the beast. If there are any obstacles to doing this, He will remove them.

How does confidence in God’s abilities help us correctly understand the Book of Revelation?

Without confidence in God’s abilities, people don’t look for a literal fulfillment of the book of Revelation. They see things like a one world religion, a strange dictator that basically rules the world and they say that it couldn’t possibly happen. They don’t realize that it is God’s plan. He will remove any obstacles that would prevent it. They only see it as Satan’s plan to try to take over. They see the evilness of the system and assume that God has nothing to do with it. Yet God says He brings prosperity and creates disaster. 

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. (Isa 45:7 KJV)  

We must not limit God by our own understanding. The point is that His purpose is accomplished. Cyrus did not even acknowledge God, yet God used him and because he didn’t know the Lord, he served God and didn’t get any reward for doing so. Woe to the person who quarrels with his Maker. How much better is it to accept God’s will and give Him the glory for all things?  

How do we apply this knowledge of God’s control to our lives? 

In some sense we rebel against God’s will when we doubt His working or method. In a sense we are gathering to do battle against the Lamb. Certainly not the way these kings are, but we can unwittingly be trying to go against His plan. It is a constant effort to maintain the right attitude when the circumstances are not going the way we think they should. We judge and become the authority. On the other hand, we have the responsibility to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and effect change at His will. It isn’t blindly walking around but it involves the whole idea of being led by and filled with the Spirit so that we may not sin against Him. It includes the attitude that Joseph had toward his brothers. 

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Gen 50:20 KJV)  

Only an attitude like this will keep people from becoming bitter and filled with hate as they see things occurring, especially as the end draws near.

War against the Lamb

What do the titles of the Lamb in Rev 17:14 reveal about Him? 

For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (1 Tim 6:15 NLT)

The Lamb is called the King of kings and Lord of lords, and so is God the Father. This is no surprise since Jesus is also God. There are many Christian cults and most if not all of them deny this. They want to keep Jesus from being recognized for who He is. This goes back to the spiritual battles. If the forces behind these cults can convince the followers that Jesus is not God, but only a god, an angel, or a good man, then they have negated everything that Jesus has done to save us. If Jesus isn’t God, then He has no power to save us from our sins. If we put our faith in a Jesus who isn’t God, then our faith is in vain.  

Who are the faithful and chosen followers? 

In 1 Tim 6:3-16 besides seeing that God is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, faithful follower and those caught in cults are described. The man of God is the one that flees from teaching false doctrine but agrees to sound instruction about Jesus. He flees unhealthy interests in controversies leading to a number of divisive things, but he attends to the truth so that it will not be taken from him. This is similar to making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)

He is content with the things he has and does not desire riches. Those who desire riches fall into many foolish traps. Instead, the faithful pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness instead.

But the faithful also fight for their faith. This fight entails hanging on to the promise of eternal life. This is focusing on Jesus. Becoming like Him. He did not forsake His confession even at the cost of death. The faithful do not forsake their confession. If Jesus holds us in His hand, He will give us the strength to keep our confession regardless of the circumstances. If He does that, He also gives us the grace to pursue all of these things. Yes, some may slip and backslide for a while, but He restores them. As the Lamb is able to conquer, so are his faithful and chosen followers.

God’s faithful followers are chosen. Just as we saw the truth hidden from the lost, God has also chosen believers out of every age to follow Him. Peter calls us elect or chosen (1 Peter 1:2). Paul tells us we were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). Jesus says that the end of all things will be shortened for the sake of those who are elected (Mark 13:20).

God is the King of kings and Lord of lords because He is immortal. He is invisible to all except through Jesus. His holiness is such that none can approach Him, except through Jesus. To Him belongs all honor and might. Since He has the honor and deserves it, He also has the might to accomplish all that is happening and to bring destruction to sin.

Double Cross

What is the meaning of the prostitute’s demise in Rev 17:16? 

And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. (Mark 3:23-26 KJV)  

Jesus’ words are not just a parable but also a prophecy about Satan’s eventual downfall. What we see in Revelation is Satan shooting himself in the foot. His desire to come out from behind the scenes and get into the limelight causes him to overthrow the religious system that he has so carefully built up over the ages. Even this would not be possible if God had not put it into the hearts of the kings to cooperate with him. What a person sows they will reap. The woman gets just what she has dished out over the years and particularly against the saints in the last times. The city that supported this system and fed off it will be destroyed. The description of this will appear in the next chapter. Once the center of this religion is destroyed, Satan thinks he can come into his own glory through the beast. 

What can we do while we wait for all this to happen? 

Let’s not be astonished by evil in the world. Instead, let’s do everything we can to align ourselves with God’s will and His perfect plan. For some of us it may mean letting go of anger or disappointment when things don’t go the way we expect. For others, it may mean forsaking foolish desires for money. Maybe we need to get rid of unhealthy interest in controversies. We need to continue to fight the good fight of faith, fleeing all these things. For others (and you know who you are), it means taking the first step to surrender your life to Jesus. Don’t wait – make sure the ink is dry in the Lamb’s book of life today.

[1] Higginbotham, Stacey. "Mind Over Machine: Use Your Brain Waves to Control Your Computer." Http:// Bloomberg Businessweek, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.