Saturday, January 27, 2024

Last Call for Grace and Mercy

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Last Call for Grace and Mercy"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Finality has come. In recent chapters we have read that “Babylon is fallen, is fallen,” in the Old Testament as well as the New. Her end has been coming for a long time. The final warnings of chapter 15; judgment for the Beast, antichrist in 16; judgment for the False Prophet in 17, and now in chapter 18, we hear of God’s great mercy and grace to the remnant of His people. To Jews, yes, but also to apostate Believers. In fact, to any who have honored God’s presence in their lives, they are being called upon to “come out” of Babylon. The evidence of her lies is being exposed. Take advantage of God’s disgust with Babylon, and His love for His own! Our gracious Jesus gives Believers with only a mustard seed sized faith another chance to hear, and to follow Him.

As the end of Babylon comes, the words of Joshua 24:15 echo in our minds, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Decisively, we will serve the Lord!

To the Believer, the only rational choice is obvious. But not everyone left on the Earth at this time will be rational! Jesus is asking each for a decision, just the same. There are many gods of this world, but a Believer will see that the gods of this world are failing, and they will choose the God of Heaven instead. As Babylon’s finality becomes obvious, only those whose hearts are hardened will go down with Babylon, rejecting the truth, and still hoping in the lies of the Dragon (Satan).

From Joshua 24:16b -

“…God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;”

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message
Revelation 18:1-21 - "Last Call for Grace and Mercy"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes

To review, the bowl judgments have already been poured out (chapter 16). Both last week and this week's teaching reveals the future end of the satanic religious, political and economic system of Babylon, and the beast who leads it.

The mighty system of the Babylon of old is not really dead.  
Babylon’s first mention in the Bible was as a place of rebellion against God (Genesis 11). The ancient nation of Babylon was a dominating power throughout the later centuries of the Old Testament. Babylon was the nation God used to judge Israel, sending them into exile beginning in 605 BC and destroying the temple in 586 BC. Babylon was arguably the first kingdom to have a global influence, a system very much alive today through the world financial institutes. Even after its fall in roughly 539 BC, Babylon continued to be seen as a place of evil (see Zechariah 5:5–11).

In Revelation 17, the angel identifies Babylon the Great as “that great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). The angel also provides some detail of the events leading up to the fall of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:1–5). At the conclusion of this vision, the angel provides an interpretation of the vision and the events it relates (Revelation 17:7–18).

The vision describes a woman, or harlot, sitting upon a scarlet beast covered in blasphemous names (see notes from Revelation 17). The woman is immoral and corrupt, leading others down the same path of corruption. This woman is dressed in expensive, fine apparel, and the beast she rides has seven heads and ten horns. On the woman’s forehead is her identity, 
“Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.” (Revelation 17:5).

From John’s vision, we draw several conclusions about Babylon the Great:
  • Babylon in the end times will have influence over all “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” (Revelation 17:15).
  • Babylon the Great will promote religious heresy, indicated by its association with blasphemy (Revelation 17:3) and its depiction as a prostitute (see Psalm 106:39; Leviticus 17:7; Judges 2:17).
  • Babylon will brutally kill the true followers of God: the woman is “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus:” (Revelation 17:6; cf. 18:24).
  • Babylon in the end times will once again be a place of luxury, wealth, and opulence - the center of world finances (Revelation 18:7, 11–17).
  • Babylon the Great will be a center of worldwide merchandising (Revelation 18:19, 23).
  • Babylon will actively lead people astray into corruption (Revelation 18:23; 19:2).
  • Babylon the Great will be associated with a federation of ten kings, plus the beast (Revelation 17:12; cf. 13:4).
  • End-times Babylon will thrive for a time, but then the beast and the ten kings will conclude that such a financial, religious, and political system is no longer needed. They will proceed to dispose of it: “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” (Revelation 17:16-17).
  • The fall of Babylon the Great is the result of God’s judgment as He works through the ten kings to accomplish His will (Revelation 17:17).
This week we learn the details of the final destruction of "Babylon" and the beast's vast economic and political system.

The sins of Babylon are enormous, and her judgment from God will be in proportion to that sin. The rapid nature of this judgment is first mentioned here, then further noted in later verses (Revelation 18:4–8).

John hears another voice warning "my people" to flee the city. This parallels the Old Testament warning given to Lot to evacuate Sodom in advance of God's judgment (Genesis 19:12–13). Not only does God want "His people" to avoid being caught up in the sins of Babylon, but He also warns them that tangible judgment is coming, and they need to flee.

Today, as we look at Revelation 18, John has recorded a vision of a mighty angel descending from heaven to announce the fall of Babylon the Great. Babylon the Great is not only the last human empire this world will ever know, but it is utterly evil.  It is a world system, associated with the Antichrist of the end times, and is pictured as a prostitute committing fornication with the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:1–2). The “whore of Babylon” or “mystery Babylon” makes war against the true saints of God (verse 6) and is best interpreted as an ungodly, end-times religious system.

In Revelation 18:4, God commands His people to "come out of her."  It is the last call of God's grace and mercy to God's people, a warning to escape the judgment and utter ruin of Babylon the Great. This is the False Prophet's false religious system, as well as the Beast's Economic and Political system.  The false religious system had her time of influence, when
“...all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” (verse 3). But she is the subject of God’s wrath, and she will be judged: “For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (verse 5). She will suffer a quick demise: “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” (verse 8), and “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (verse 21).

The message the angel proclaims is for God's people to disentangle themselves from the world system.  The first reason they must "come out of 
her” or quite literally, "flee Babylon" is so they "will not participate in her sins" (Revelation 18:4). The materialistic Babylon will exert an almost irresistible influence on Believers to participate in her sins.  Have nothing to do with the false system of the Antichrist. Separate from the enemies of God.  (See Jeremiah 51:6-9)

Second, God's people must flee so they do not "receive any of her plagues." To share in the sin is to share in the guilt. God wants His people to maintain their purity and to be free from judgment. Finally, believers must flee Babylon because "her sins have piled up as high as heaven."  Piled is from a Greek word that literally means "to glue together" or "to join."  The angel proclaims that, "God has remembered her iniquities" (verse 5).  Although God is long-suffering, He does not turn a blind eye to sin.  He is holy and righteous, and sin will be judged.  He does not forget, and he knows that the measure of her wickedness is full.  Babylon's rebellion has been long, and deep, and wide, and the time has come to drink of God's cup of wrath.

The question for us to really ponder is this, why should any believer be living in "Babylon" in the first place?  Babylon is the very hub of wickedness, anti-Christianity.  They should already know they do not belong; for LIGHT cannot dwell in darkness!  This is the slippery slope of compromise, the compromise of God's written Word, and the compromise with the world's system and all if its snares.

Warning after warning throughout the Old Testament and the New, yet God's warnings go unheeded. From the beginning of this book to the end, they will not yield to God.  They reject God and His Word!

While God's people are told to separate from spiritual Babylon (Revelation 18:4), in the Old Testament, God's people were told to separate from physical Babylon.  Israel had been held captive in Babylon for seventy years as judgment for sin and idolatry.  At the end of this captivity, God told them to flee: 
“Flee (literally, run for your lives) out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. . . We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. . . My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD” (Jeremiah 51:6, 9, 45; see also: Isaiah 52:11 and Jeremiah 50:8).

God always separates His people from His wrath: 
  • Abraham/Sodom and Gomorrah - Genesis 18:25 
  • God's judment upon the Egyptians with plagues, (Exodus 8:22–23; 9:4–6, 26; 10:23; 11:7).
  • Moses commanded the Israelites to separate themselves from the family of Korah. Just before God’s judgment of the rebels, Moses “warned the assembly, ‘Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.’ So, they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram” (Numbers 16:26–27). Immediately following, the earth opened up and swallowed Korah and the other rebels alive (verses 31–33).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, scripture tells us that "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

The call every believer is to separate themselves from the wickedness of the world. We are to “come out of her” and be separate (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-17). 

Here in chapter 18 of Revelation, we see 
God's judgment pronounced (vs. 1-3); avoided (vs 4-5); defined (vs 6-8); lamented (vs. 9-19); exalted and praised (vs. 20); completed (vs. 21-23a); and lastly, justified (vs. 23b-24).

Earth Lightened with His Glory (18:1) - The fifth bowl judgment (16:10) will have plunged the world into darkness.  Against that backdrop, the sudden, blazing appearance of another angel, a being of great power and luminous energy as to illumine the whole earth.  The light and Glory of God! It is His light alone that dispels darkness.  Jesus is the Light of the World.  His light is in every believer, and as His followers, we are to shine the light of His glory in this spiritually darkened world. (Romans 1).

Babylon the Great is Fallen (18:2) - The entire evil religious, political and economic system of the beast in the last of days will be destroyed. This is the future event; mankind's last great empire will face the wrath of God.  Such devastation and annihilation will leave the place to demons and evil spirits.

Wine of Her Fornication (18:3) - Religious Babylon (chapter 17) lures the nations into spiritual drunkenness and fornication with false gods (17:2, 4); commercial Babylon (chapter 18) seduces the unbelieving world into a materialistic stupor, so that the people of the world will become drunk with passion because of their relationship with Babylon. The Babylon's of Revelation 14, 17 and 18 are all the same thing, it is the one great system of the Antichrist, yet there are differences.  There is a religious Babylon, the great whore, and an economic/political Babylon, the scarlet beast, but they are two sides of the same coin, their roles all support the same thing. Here the whole world drank of the filth of Babylon, and thus the wine of God's wrath.
  • spiritual fornication
  • idolatry
  • ]corruption and greed
  • unspeakable sinfulness
Kings...Merchants (18:3) - Political rulers and corporate leaders alike are swept up in this worldwide system of commerce (14:8; 17:2).  So easy to see this, even now.

Come Out of Her, My People (18:4) - God will call His own to disentangle themselves from this evil system.  It is a sad commentary on Christian men and women, that throughout history, their greed and desire for acceptance by the world has made them so willing to compromise with the spirit of Babylon. Babylon in all its forms has always been the enemy of God.  Still there will be a number of new Christians choosing to live in Babylon falsely believing they will be safe, even under the terrible judgments and repeated warnings and pleas of the Lord's witnesses during the early years of the tribulation.  As always, God warns His People not to compromise with the Babylonian system but to separate from it (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  The message is to abandon the system before it is destroyed.  The judgment of God on that society living in sinful arrogant self-indulgence must be avoided.

Remembered (18:5) - God remembers all the willful rebellious sin against Him from the Tower of Babel through today.  Scientific technology, and the gross pride of man who usurp the glory of God for themselves.  It is a comfort to know that God does not remember the iniquities of His people (Jeremiah 31:34) but does remember to protect them (Malachi 3:16-4:2).  BUT... for the unrepentant, they will face the wine of His wrath, and it will destroy them.

Reward (or repay) (18:6-7) - The angel calls for God to recompense wrath to Babylon in her own cup to repay her according to her deeds (see 17:4).  This is an echo of the Old Testament law of retaliation (Exodus 21:24), which will be implemented by God (Romans 12:17-21). 

Cup (18:6) - The cup of wickedness from which so many have drunk (14:8; 17:2, 4, 6) will call for the cup of wrath (14:10; 16:19).

Am No Widow (18:7) - A proud, but empty, boast of self-sufficiency.  This is pride at its worst!

Her Plagues (18:8) - These could include those of 16:1-21 but must be the special destruction of the city as well, described as "death, mourning and famine."

In One Day (18:8) - The special judgment of Babylon will take place in a very brief period of time (see verses 10, 17.).

Kings (18:9) - The political leaders of the world will weep because of the loss of this capital city will signal the doom of the Antichrist's empire, and with it, the source of their power (see verse 3, 17:2).

Bewail (weep) and Lament for Her (18:9) - "Bewail" means "to sob openly."  "Lament" translates the same Greek word used to express the despair of the unbelieving world at the return of Christ (1:7).

Alas, Alas (18:10) - The same Greek word "ovai" as translated "woe" in Revelation 8:13.

Slaves and Souls of Men (18:13) - The slave trade, long banned by the civilized nations of the world, will reappear in Antichrist's debauched commercial system. 

Dust on Their Heads (18:19) - An ancient expression of grief (see Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 15:32; Job 2:12). Here we see the extremity of their despair. This is the hopeless lament of souls who know they are lost and doomed but are unable even to acknowledge or care about the sin of unrepenting unbelief which put them there.  Their only thought is one of loss of wealth and power.  

In One Hour (18:19) - One brief period of swift judgment (see vs. 8).

The message for this morning stops here, but included are some notes for the last few verses of this chapter:

God Hath Avenged You on Her (18:20) - Though all of heaven are included in the exhortation, as well as the apostles and prophets, the angel will exhort the tribulation martyrs (6:9-11) to rejoice, not over the deaths of those doomed to eternal hell, but because God's righteousness and justice will have prevailed.

Great Millstone (18:21) - Millstones were very large, heavy stones used to grind grain.  This metaphor portrays the violence of Babylon's overthrow. 

Shall Not Be Heard (18:22-23) -The fall of Babylon ends whatever semblance of normalcy will still exist in the world after all the judgments.  Life will be totally disrupted and the end near.  No more music, entertainment, peace, industry, supply, no more power for light, no more weddings... because God will destroy the deceivers and the deceived.  All of man's prideful accomplishments will be destroyed, they will lament and will never know real peace.  

Sorceries (18:23) - The "sorceries" comes from the Greek "pharmakeia" indicating the widespread use of drugs as well as occult arts in this great New Age metropolis.

Blood of Prophets and Saints (18:24) - The religious/economic and political systems embodied in "Babylon" will commit unspeakable atrocities against God's people (see 6:10; 11:7; 13:7,15; 17:6; 19:2).  God will avenge that slaughter of His people (19:2). 
"Throughout history the kingdoms and empires built by proud, arrogant, God-rejecting people have come and gone.  The spirit of humanism first expressed at Babel has permeated human history ever since.  Unshakable optimistic despite centuries of war, slaughter, injustice, and cruelty, people will seek a utopia, to be brought about by humanity's upward scientific progress.  Having taken control (so they think) of their "own destiny," sinners have no use for God and haughtily replace Him as self-styled gods devoted to their own sovereignty.

Compared to the glorious, indescribable majesty of the omnipotent God, all of man's vaunted empires are a mere "drop from a bucket" (Isaiah 40:15), and God "has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed" (Acts 17:31).  Nowhere in Scripture is there a more detailed description of the coming judgment than in Revelation 6-18.  With the destruction of the last and greatest human empire, the stage is set for the triumphant return of the Lord Jesus Christ." 

2007 - Because the Time is Near - "The Business of Babylon" - J.Mac

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Seat of the False Prophet

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Seat of the False Prophet"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In Revelation 14:8 we read this: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen…” When we find repetition in a Bible verse, we should pay close attention. We covered the 14th chapter several weeks ago, but now we see first-hand why that verse has such significance. Last week as we studied the judgment against the “The Seat of the Beast,”  it was a study for Jesus’ initial judgment against the seat of power of the Beast (Antichrist). As the Lord judges and dismantles Satan’s world system, there will be a reluctance among those who worshipped the Beast, but the dismantling must continue if Christ is to reign eternally. Satan, and ALL his works MUST be put down. Otherwise, like the Jews did not wipe out the Amalekites as ordered by God, it was an Amalekite who later came and killed King Saul.

It is the False Prophet that becomes the second target of Jesus’ two-fold attack against Satan’s two-fold kingdom on Earth. The Beast will be a human, raised up to be worshipped as a god, and the false prophet is the man chosen to lead that worship and cause many to simply abandon the truth, and adhere to the lies of Satan. This grand deception will be costly to the eternal life of many. No longer will a heavenly realm be promoted, but followers will be duped into thinking that mankind can bring peace to the Earth, resolve all conflict and provide for financial security, as well as social justice for all.

The false prophet’s “congregation” will be world-wide, spanning the globe and reaching across the oceans, The Antichrist will be a dead man being used as Satan’s puppet, speaking lies and false hope. The hope in a one-world system that will bring peace and unity to all peoples around the world. Yet their hope is exactly to opposite of what the Word of God states.

Today in Chapter 17 we are introduced to the Great Whore of Babylon, who “sits on many waters.” The description tells us that the world-wide acceptance of the Antichrist and his “miraculous” recovery causes a type of worship that can only be described as “religious.” The woman who rides the beast is the religious system which provides an avenue through which the False Prophet can lead. This is the seat of the False Prophet. The first “fallen” is for the Beast. The second is for the False Prophet.

Revelation 14:8 - 

“And there followed another angel, saying Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Bobservations' Column:  Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:  
Revelation 17:1-18 - "The Seat of the False Prophet"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

John is shown a vision which symbolizes two additional judgments which are spread out over the tribulation. Chapter 17 focuses on the ruin of "religious Babylon," an ungodly spiritual system which is at first supported, then ruined by the efforts of the beast. Chapter 18 will describe the fall of Babylon in a political or economic sense.

Today, we will take a look at chapter seventeen.

In Revelation, Babylon refers to the entire worldwide political, economic and religious kingdom of the Antichrist. Throughout history, Babylon has been the center of rebellion and false religion. It was the birthplace of idolatry. In Genesis 10:8-10, the devil seduced and deceived Nimrod, who was the leader in building the city of Babel and the Tower of Babel to worship false gods rather than the true and living God.

Nimrod established a system of idol worship that detested God and worshiped Satan which eventually launched false religion all over the earth (Genesis 11:1-9).

Today, we see many working towards that same goal. The establishment of a world religious system, economic system and political system. A system that defies and despises God, His Word, His Authority, His Righteousness, and His Son. A system perverts or compromises the truth of God's Word for power and riches.

The final world religion is depicted as a harlot in Revelation 17, and pictures Babylon as causing the entire world to become intoxicated with her pleasures, her whoredom, and unbridled indulgence in all manner of fornication, rebellion, hatred and idolatry toward God. "Fornication" means spiritual prostitution to the Antichrist's false system.

Seven Angels (17:1) - The reference to these angels' links chapters 17 - 18 with the bowl judgments, which extend to the second coming of Christ. These two chapters focus on one of these bowl judgments, the judgment of Babylon.

Great Whore (17:1) - The word "whore" comes from the Greek, porne and is the same word as "harlot."  It is related to porneia ("fornication") and pornos ("fornicator" or whoremonger").  It does not refer only to those who sell their bodies (very common among the people of Babylon) but simply to any who commit spiritual fornication.  Prostitution frequently symbolizes idolatry or religious apostasy.  

Sitteth Upon Many Waters (17:1) - Basically, the sovereign power of the harlot.  It pictures a ruler seated on a throne, ruling the waters, or the nations of the world (see verse 15). 

Kings...Committed Fornication (17:2) - The harlot will ally herself with the world's political leaders, and together will be absorbed into the empire of Satan's false christ. 

Wine of Her Fornication (17:2) - The harlot's "influence" will spread beyond the world's rulers to the rest of the world.  People will be swept up into the intoxication and sin of a false system of religion.

In the Spirit (17:3) - We have read that John had been carried "in the Spirit" forward in time, and up into the heavenly throne room.  Now John is transported back in time to a barren wilderness, to give him a better understanding of the vision.  

A woman (17:3) - The harlot of Babylon (vs.1).

Scarlet Colored Beast (17:3) - This refers to the Antichrist (see 13:1, 4; 14:9; 16:10).  The Antichrist will, for a time, support the false religious system, to effect false world unity.  Then he will assume political control (see v. 16).  Scarlet is the color of luxury, splendor and royalty.  

Full of Names of Blasphemy (17:3) - because of self-deification.  Combining the characters of both the dragon and the beast of Revelation 13, he has the names of blasphemy on his heads.  The dragon possesses earthly governments and kings to use for his evil goals.  This beast that the woman rides is symbolic of the historical succession of world governments (or kingdoms) which were raised up and empowered by Satan to conquer and set up his kingdom.

Beast (17:3) - This is the same beast as in Revelation 13.  The beast refers to the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Daniel 9:27). This is the unholy alliance between the False Prophet (the whore of Babylon) and the Antichrist. 

Seven Heads and Ten Horns (17:3) - 
The seven heads refer to seven kings or kingdoms, five of which have fallen, one that is and one that is to come. The ten horns are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb” (Revelation 17:12–13a).

Purple and Scarlet (17:4) - Arrayed like a beautiful queen, the harlot is decked in rich jewelry and magnificently colored garments.  The prostitute who has plied her trade successfully and become extremely wealthy.  She is seductive to the ungodly, and successfully draws them away from the true God to partake of her wicked pleasures. 

Golden Cup (17:4) - More evidence of the harlot's great wealth - but pure gold it is not!  The gold is defiled by the filthiness of her immorality.  Just as a prostitute might first get her victim drunk, so the harlot system deceives the nations into committing spiritual fornication with her.   This is the way of false religion.  Masking real spiritual life with outward show of wealth, power to impress the ungodly.  Multitudes in the past up to the present are deceived by this, and have partaken in this foolish, filthy, abominable idolatrous wickedness.  Even in the persecution and martyrdom of the saints of God - all in the name of religion.  

Forehead - It was customary for the Roman prostitutes to wear a headband with their name on it, parading their wretchedness for all to see.   The harlot's forehead is emblazoned with a threefold title descriptive of the world's final false religious system. 

MYSTERY (17:5) - In scripture, mystery is truth once hidden, but in the New Testament, revealed.   Spiritual Babylon's true identity is yet to be revealed.  

BABYLON THE GREAT (17:5) - This Babylon is distinct from the historical, geographical city of Babylon.  The harlot has caused all nations to imbibe her abominable wine, including even once Christian nations.  Babylon is the mother of all harlots and abominations of the earth.  

The Blood of the Saints... Martyrs of Jesus (17:6) - The harlot is a murderer.  False religion has killed millions of believers over the centuries, and the final false system will be far more deadly than any that preceded it. 

Mystery (17:7) - The beast will fully support the harlot, and they will together exert vast influence over the whole earth.

The Beast (17:7) - The mystery of great Babylon involves not only the woman (that is, the religious system established at Babylon) but also the beast that carries her (that is, the totalitarian system of unified government established at Babylon.   The mystery is about to be unveiled.  Not only the characters of the woman and the beast, but their relation to the seven heads and ten horns.

The Beast (17:8) - Both a king and a kingdom.

Was...Is Not...Will Ascend (17:8) - A reference to the Antichrist's false resurrection (13:3-4, 12-14; see 13:3).

Out of the Bottomless Pit (17:8) - After his fake "resurrection," the Antichrist will become possessed by a great demon from the abyss (see 13:1, 3). 

Perdition (17:8) - Eternal destruction (see verse 11; Matthew 7:13; John 17:12; Philippians 1:28; 3:19; 2 Peter 3:7, 16).  This is the lake of fire, the place of Antichrist's destruction (19:20).

Book of Life (17:8) - The roll of the elect, written in eternity past by God (see 3:5).  Only the saved, true believers, will escape the Antichrist's deception.

From the Foundation of the World (17:8) - Literally, before time began (see Matthew 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20) referring to God's pre-creation plan.

Seven Mountains (17:9) - The Greek word is often used of hills (Matthew 5:1; 15:29; John 6:15; 8:1).  Many commentators interpret this expression to mean Rome, which sits on seven hills. It is true that the final worldwide system of false religion includes, but is not necessarily limited to, Rome; but specifically, the seven mountains in context symbolize the seven kingdoms and their kings of verse 10. 

Seven Kings (17:10) - Representatives of the seven great world empires (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo Persia, Greece, Rome, and that of the Antichrist).

Five are Fallen... One is... The Other is Not Yet Come (17:10) - When John wrote this, the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Greek empires had gone out of existence; Rome still existed; and the Antichrist's empire had not yet come.  Today, the Roman empire no longer exists... there is yet one empire to come.  When it does, it will be brief (12:12; 13:5) and will end inn perdition (vs. 11; see also vs. 8). 

And is Not... The Eighth (17:11) - The Antichrist's kingdom is said to be both the seventh and the eighth kingdoms because of his supposed demise and "resurrection," when he destroys the harlot's religious empire and demands exclusive worship of himself (vs.16). 

Ten Kings (17:12) - Sub rulers under the Antichrist, whose empire will apparently be divided into ten administrative districts. 

One Hour (17:12) - Sybolic of a brief period of time, the three-and-one-half-year-period of time.

Make War (17:14) - Battle of Armageddon (16:14-16).  The Lamb, Jesus, will utterly destroy the kings (19:17-21).

Lord of lords and King of kings (17:14) - Title for God (19:16).  These titles emphasize His sovereignty over all other rulers to whom He has delegated authority.

These Shall Hate the Whore (17:16) - After using the false religious system to unify the world kingdoms and gain control of all, the Antichrist -with the help of his ten sub-rulers - will turn against the system plunder and destroy it and seize all power and worship for himself. 

Great City (17:18) - Another identifier of the capital city of Babylon, centerpiece of Antichrist's empire (see 18:10, 18, 21). 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Seat of the Beast

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Seat of the Beast"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Revelation Chapter 16 describes the seven world-wide judgments as Satan’s reign on Earth begins to be shut down. Christians are to remember that as powerful as Satan is, God is yet more powerful. Today, and since Jesus’ time on Earth, we live in what is known as “The Church Age.” And in Colossians 1:12-20, we read that Jehovah has turned all authority over to His beloved Son, Jesus. He is described as not only the living image of the His Father, but the One who implemented the Father’s plan of Creation, and is the Creator of all things in heaven and in Earth. Jesus is the Second Person of God’s Triune Being that stands in the midst of God’s Spiritual realm, and Earth’s fleshly realm. Jesus translated God’s will into physical reality.

The “how and why” of these two realms was all decided ahead of time, but the inner workings of the Trinity keep it all in a balance. While Lucifer was created in the Spirit realm, mankind was created in the fleshly realm of the Earth. As our Creator, we are Jesus’ possession, and like an artist, a sculptor, or a potter, we are His design. Like all these, He has left His signature on us, AND given us free will that we might choose to be called His handiwork.

Of the final three Bowls of Judgment to cover, we begin today with the fifth bowl, the “Seat of the Beast.” It is a look judgment of hypocrisy and false religion; of disappointments due to spiritual blindness.

Since the 6th Chapter of this book, Judgments began to get increasingly more severe. Thousands, if not millions have lost their lives for rejecting the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus. And people still refused to repent. It is a Christ rejecting world, and these judgments signify that God is not playing around, and Satan’s rule must come to an end before his followers completely destroy God’s creation (Matthew 24:22).

Mankind’s only hope is in Jesus Christ…

Hebrews 6:19 - 

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and that which entereth into that within the veil.”

The Veil of the Temple divided even the priests from the Holy of Holies.
Jesus invites us into His Holiness….

Bobservations' Column:  Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 16:10-21 - "The Seat of the Beast"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

Today we are finishing up the sixteenth chapter of Revelation describing the last three bowl judgments.  They are God's judgments that will be poured out upon the earth because of the willful rejection of God, and His means of salvation through Jesus Christ.  

These are called "the last" judgments and will take place just before the second coming of Jesus Christ, and the ushering in of His Millennial Kingdom.  Each of these seven judgments come in rapid succession, each one stronger and more furious as they are emptied out. 

Last week we covered the first four judgments, today we begin with the fifth bowl judgment as it plunges the kingdom of the beast into darkness. The wicked, those who have aligned themselves with the beast, having taken his mark will by no means repent and turn to God, they respond by gnawing their tongues in anguish and by cursing God.  It is incredibly sad those who face God's wrath do so by their own choice.  It is sad that anyone would choose hell over heaven; Satan over God; lies over truth; death over life; judgment over salvation, but they do, and they will. 

The sixth judgment dries up the Euphrates to prepare the way for the kings of the east. Next, demons assemble the kings (leaders) of the whole earth to battle against God at a location referred to as Armageddon, meaning the hill—or mountain—of Megiddo (Revelation 16:8–16).

The seventh bowl judgment brings about an earthquake that splits Jerusalem into three parts. Also, as a result of this earthquake, cities worldwide fall, Babylon feels God's wrath, islands flee, mountains crumble, and hailstones weighing about 100 pounds bombard people. Still, the wicked refuse to repent. Instead, they curse God (Revelation 16:17–21).

Seat of the Beast (16:10) - referring to either the Antichrist's actual throne, or his capital city, but extends to all his dominion.  Regardless of where the darkness begins, it eventually covers the Antichrist's entire kingdom.

Full of Darkness (16:10) - Worldwide darkness is elsewhere associated with the judgment of God.

Gnawed Their Tongues (16:10) - A futile attempt to alleviate the pain from their sores, the drought, and the fierce heat.

Blasphemed the God of Heaven (16:11) - The fruit of their loyalty to the Antichrist and their anger at God for the cumulative miseries brought about by these judgments. "God of heaven," is a frequent Old Testament title for God, appearing also in the New Testament in this verse. 

Their Sores (16:11) - The lingering effects of the first bowl judgment are the chief cause of their blasphemy.

Euphrates (16:12) - Also called, the great river" five times in Scripture (see 9:14; Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; and Joshua 1:4). It is no ordinary river. It is one of the great rivers of the world.  Its flood plain was the site of the first human city (Babel) after the great Flood and it was the site of Nebuchadnezzar's magnificent capital city of Babylon in the days of Daniel the prophet.  On its shores will apparently be erected the even more magnificent new Babylon to serve as the capital of "the beast" in his brief but unprecedented worldwide reign in the great tribulation.  The water supply of new Babylon will depend on the Euphrates.  The sudden drying up of this river will be a lethal blow to the city.

The Kings from the East (16:12) - Back in chapter 6, a major factor that contributes to the rise of the beast was the catastrophic defeat of the northern confederacy headed up by Gog near the beginning of the tribulation.  The great coalition of Russian and Arab forces will be decimated there, giving the European and western nations the opportunity to consolidate their own power.  Out of these emerge the beast as leader.  Most of the political and military developments to this point (see Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation) seem to focus on the nations of the North, South and West.   There are, however, great nations in the east - China, Japan, India and many others.  For ages they have been dominated by false religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism and others) all envisioning an eternal universe, with no concept of a transcendent, omnipotent, personal God who created all things.   Thus, these pantheistic systems were and will always worship false and demonic spirits, all associated with idolatry - utterly condemned by God's prophets, and God's Word.   God providentially draws these kings and their armies in order to destroy them in the Battle of Armageddon (v. 14).  Their reason for coming may be to rebel against the Antichrist, whose failure to alleviate the world's suffering will no doubt erode his popularity.  Or this may be a final act of rabid anti-Semitism intent on destroying Israel, perhaps in retaliation for the plagues sent by her God.  Since the sun may have melted the ice caps on Ararat, flooding the valley of the Euphrates as the river overflows its banks and bridges, the land will be swamped.  God will have to dry it up miraculously for the eastern army to get to Armageddon.

Three Unclean Spirits (16:13) - They are "seducing spirits," with their "doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1). In the New Testament, this is a common designation for demons (see Matthew 12:43; Mark 1:23; Luke 8:29).  These are especially vile, powerful, and deceitful (v. 14). They, of course, have no physical bodies of their own, but will undoubtedly use the host who will be demon possessed. 

Like Frogs (16:13) - Further describing their vileness (see Leviticus 10:11).  Frogs in the Old Testament were unclean animals according to dietary laws (Leviticus 11:10, 11, 41).  Even Persian mythology viewed them as plague-inducing creatures.  These unclean spirits are unclean, ugly, and clamorous, like frogs. 

The Dragon - The Beast - The False Prophet (16:13) - This is the "UNHOLY TRINITY."  They are composed of Satan (the dragon; see 12:3), the Antichrist (the beast; see 11:7), and the Antichrist's associate (the false prophet; see 13:11).  These three spew out this plague of frogs (demons).

Miracles (16:14) - These are signs, supernatural wonders (see 13-12-15) designed to deceive the kings into invading Palestine (see 19:20; 1 Kings 2:20-23; Mark 13:22).  Their impact will be so great that the unclean spirits are able to induce the kings to make the journey to Palestine in spite of their sores, the intense heat, drought, and darkness.

Kings of the Earth (16:14) - This in not just the eastern confederacy, but all the world begins to gather in Palestine for the final, climactic battle (Psalm 2:2,3; Joel 3:2-4; Zechariah 14:11-3).

The Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty (16:14) - This is the Battle of Armageddon (v.16).  It is the great war with God and Christ (see 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and Joel 2:11; 3:2,4).  The war will end when Christ arrives (19:17-20). 

Watcheth and Keepeth His Garment (16:15) - Our Lord stresses the need for constant READINESS for His return (see 1 John 2:28).  The imagery pictures a soldier ready for battle, or a homeowner watchful for the arrival of a thief (see also 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10).  The insertion of this divine promise in verse 15 seems to be out of place, as it is addressed to believers, not the wicked.   Could it be that there will be some who are still alive who have refused the mark of the beast, those who have during this awful tribulation period have put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Those Jews, who have fled to the mountains, who are protected by the Lord.  

Armageddon (16:16) - The Hebrew name for Mt. Megiddo located 60 miles north of Jerusalem.  The battle will rage on the nearby plains, at the site of Barak's victory over the Canaanites (Judges 4) and Gideon's victory over the Midianites (Judges 7).  Napoleon called this valley the greatest battlefield he had ever seen.  But the Battle of Armageddon will not be limited to the Megiddo plains, it will encompass the length of Palestine (see 14:20).  The Lord will go forth and fight against the nations who have gathered in war against God.  "The Lord shall roar out of Zion" (Joel 3:16).   "Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy" (Zephaniah 3:8).

Seventh Vial - IT IS DONE! (16:17) - This vial, or bowl, will complete God's wrath (except for final judgment on the rebellious at the end of the Millennium: 20:7-10) and immediately precedes the second coming of Christ.  It will usher in the worst calamity in the history of the world.  The voice from the temple in heaven is undoubtedly that of God Himself.  "It is done!" means, "It has been and will remain done" (see John 19:30).  God will punctuate the completion of His wrath with a devastating earthquake - the most powerful in earth's history (see 16:19-21). "For thus saith the Lord of hosts: yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts" (Haggai 2:6, 7).  See also: Isaiah 24:17-21; Joel 3:16).

The Great City (16:19) - The Great city is none other than Jerusalem, the "holy city."  Of all the cities upon the earth, Jerusalem will be spared utter destruction at the end of the tribulation.  It is the one eternal city, as the earth endures in its present form, and will finally be replaced as the new Jerusalem in the new earth after the Millenium.  See 1 Chronicles 23:25; Psalm 125:1; Micah 4:7. Jerusalem will be split into three parts (Zechariah 14:4), not as judgment (see 11:13), but in preparation for the Millennial Kingdom, and the Reign of Christ (see 6:12-14; Isaiah 40:4-5).  See also:  11:13; 21:10; Zechariah 14:1-8.

Cities of the Nations (16:19 -God's purpose is very different for the rest of the world's cities, they are to be destroyed.

Babylon (16:19) - The capital of the Antichrist's empire will receive a special outpouring of God's wrath as prophesied in Isaiah 13:6-13.  Chapters 17 and 18 give the details of its destruction.

Every Island Fled - Mountains - Not Found (16:20) - This powerful earthquake will radically alter all the earth's topography, preparing it for the coming millennial kingdom.  See 6:12-14; Isaiah 40:4-5).

A Talent
(16:21) - The heaviest weight a normal man could carry (about 75 lbs.). the huge size of the hailstones indicates unparalleled atmospheric convulsions.  Such massive chunks of ice will cause unimaginable devastation and death. 

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Vials of God's Wrath - Part 1

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Vials of God's Wrath"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the timeline of the Book of Revelation, John has brought us to the precise mid-point of the Great Tribulation Period. Antichrist has stolen 3 ½ years of worship due God, and His anger has been stirred to wrath. The losses on Earth as the Seals were opened, and during the Trumpet Judgments were horrifyingly great in the earlier chapters, but now the vilest of plagues are about to be poured out in the Bowel, or Vial, Judgments upon the Earth. The warnings of Chapter 15 will have been ignored, and judgment now comes. It never comes without warning.

The heavenly view: Seven Angels are given the seven golden vials of the seven final plagues to be poured out. The Earthly impact: “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."

It reminds us of Isaiah 55:6 – “Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah is telling us in this verse that there will come a time when the Lord will not be found through the Earthly Temple. The Temple will have been thoroughly defiled, and God’s presence will not be found there. Those that go there to find Him, will find only the abomination of desolation, as spoke of by Daniel the prophet: Daniel 7:8; Matthew 24:15; and Mark 13:14. Only a truly vulgar image of Antichrist will be there.

Any who seek to make peace with God and find salvation will have to seek Him through His Son, Jesus the Christ, and worship Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. (Deuteronomy 6:24).

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 [verses 11-14]). 
This verse promises that God shall be found when and if we search for Him to the depths of our hearts. You see, even in our final moments, we can find God’s presence in the depths of a heart that is searched to its depths.

He reaches out His hand to you and to me, inviting us to trust only in Him. As gentle as a lamb, He knocks on our door, and invites us to open it so He can fellowship with us. Will you grasp His hand? It is extended to you even today!

Revelation 3:20 - 

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me."

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 16:1-9 - "The Vials of God's Wrath" - Part 1

Summary/Bible Notes:

Today, we are getting back in our ongoing study in the Book of Revelation beginning in chapter 16.   The events in this chapter are God's judgments upon a rejecting world.  They are horrifying, and heartbreaking as you realize that God has been calling and pleading with mankind to repent and return to Him since the beginning, and that man in His sin will willfully and stubbornly reject Him, thus bearing the consequences of their sin.

This morning's reading is from Deuteronomy 32:7-22.  It is a passage about the rebellion of the people against God.   Sadly, it is the history of mankind, the story of the human race.  The tragic reality is that judgment awaits all those who reject the Lord.  

This chapter covers, "The Vials of God's Wrath."  These judgments, are also known as the "Bowl" judgments, or the "last judgments."  This is the last half of the seven-year tribulation period.  Mankind, that is, those still alive on the earth, are still able to avail themselves of God's saving grace, but as we will see, few if any will do so.  The Jewish remnant has fled to the wilderness where they are protected by God, as the beast's fierce rage is ravishing those refusing to receive his mark.  Multitudes are being hunted down and executed.  Survivors of the previous judgments are still reeling from the effects, and now we have come to the "last judgments." These are God's vials of wrath, and they are about to be poured out upon the earth.  In light of these catastrophic events, which by the way, are not natural, or man-made, they are the judgements of God being poured out upon sinful, rebellious, God rejecting mankind.  

These bowl judgments come in rapid succession leaving no time to recover.  Each judgement, stronger than the previous, is more intense as they are being poured out. 

Understand, that the Church, that is, believers in Christ, those who have by faith received forgiveness of sins, and salvation through Jesus Christ, are not on the earth during this period.  The church is already with the Lord and will not face God's wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The scene is set!

A Great Voice (16:1) - This is the great commanding voice of God speaking.  It is the same great voice in Revelation 1:10. His voice signals the seven angels holding the seven bowls filled to overflowing with His wrath, to go their ways and pour out the vials upon the earth.  No longer will his wrath be restrained.  Since the beginning He has spoken to mankind with mercy and grace, and from the beginning mankind has rejected His Words.  They reject His authority, His love, His offer of forgiveness and salvation, His call to repentance (Romans 1, esp. vs 24). Here is the great voice of God, who alone has the 
ultimate right to initiate judgment, because He alone is holy, righteous, and just.

First Vial of Judgement:

Noisome and Grievous Sore
(16:2) - Noisome means foul and loathsome.  The Septuagint uses the same Greek word to describe the boils that plagued the Egyptians and afflicted Job (Job 2:7).  In the New Testament, it describes the open sores that covered the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:21; see Deuteronomy 28:15, 27, 25).  Here we have those who had refused to worship the true God and Creator, Jesus Christ (14:6,7), willfully and knowingly choosing to worship the image of the beast, being identified with him by receiving his mark.  The revolting appearance of the character of the god they preferred, the beast. God, in His wrath, will add His own mark, noisome sores.

Mark of the Beast (16:2) - This first judgment does not only fall on just the third part of men, but upon all those destined for hell.  These are the worshipers of the Antichrist, who bear his image (see 13:16; 14:9-11). 

Second Vial of Judgement:

The Sea (16:3) - The sea turns to blood.  This is not the first time we've seen this judgement; this is one of the first plagues against Egypt. Further, not just a third part of the sea will become blood as it had once before (see chapter 8:8), but all of it.  There is a great similarity between isotonic seawater (marine plasma) and body fluids, particularly blood. Isotonic seawater has the same molecular concentration as blood plasma, 9 parts per thousand of pure water.  The water in the world's oceans will become thick, dark, and coagulated, like the blood of a corpse.  The death and decay of billions of sea creatures will only add to the misery of this judgment.

Third Vial of Judgment:

Rivers and Springs of Water (16:4) - These are all of the freshwater resources.  Fresh water is already in short supply at this point, because of the prolonged drought (11:6). If you remember, the third trumpet judgment will result in the poisoning of one third of the world's freshwater.  Additionally, the two witnesses will have the power to shut up the sky so that it doesn't rain (the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation).  They will have power over the waters to turn them into blood (11:6). The worshipers of the Antichrist will have no clean water with which to drink or wash their wounds.   Those who have rejected the water of life, will be made to drink the water of death. There will be no rest or recovery from these judgments.  

Which Art, and Wast, and Shalt Be (16:5) - This phrase expresses God's eternality (see 1:3, 8; 4:8; 11:17).   God's judgment of sinners is unquestionably righteous!  Why?  Because he is the Holy One.  His judgment is a just and appropriate response to sinners' rejection of Him.

Blood To Drink (16:6) - How fitting that those who are responsible for spilling so much blood will be made to drink blood. 

For They Are Worthy (16:6) - Literally, they deserve it. God who is holy and just will execute vengeance for His people (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).   The angel is exonerating God from any charge that His judgments are too harsh, and unjust.  This unspeakably wicked generation will shed more blood than any before it, including that of saints (6:9; 17:6) and prophets (11:7-10).  God's judgment is not only fair but is proper (see Exodus 21:25-27; Leviticus 24:19-20; Hebrews 10:26-31). Those who have willfully rejected the knowledge of the truth (Hebrews 10:26), will receive exactly what they deserve - judgment (Hebrews 10:27).

Altar (16:7) - The personified altar echoes the words of the angel, reinforcing the truth that God is just in all judgment (19:1, 2; see Genesis 18:25; Psalm 51:4; Romans 3:4).

Fourth Vial of Judgment:

Upon the Sun (16:8) - While the first three vials were poured out upon the earth, this vial is poured out upon the sun.  Thus, searing heat that will scorch men so severely that it will seem that the atmosphere is on fire.  Those scorched with the sun's fierce heat are the same people who had taken the mark of the beast, and who worshiped his image.  Along with the sun's intense heat will be the melting of the ice caps, the rise in the ocean's water level, and the flooding spreading miles inland with the noxious waters of the dead seas.   Adding to the misery of the scorching sun, the dead seas, the noxious putrefied floods, there is the end of the food supply and transportation by sea.  

These are just the first four vials of judgment.  You would think that people would be crying out to God, pleading for mercy, but here in verse 9 it says that they blasphemed the name of God, which hath the power over these plagues: and they repented not to give Him glory.  Willfully and knowingly!  Incredible.

Next week we will finish the chapter and the remaining vial judgments. 

As we study this chapter of God’s Word, to be honest, just reading these verses will rip and tear at your heart, the sheer terror of these judgments should invoke prayer for the lost.  It should awaken believers to fulfilling our mission of bringing them to Christ before judgment comes.  It should awaken those who call themselves "believers" who are sitting on the fence, neither hot, nor cold, one foot in the world and one foot in the church, to get serious about their condition, their faith, and their eternal destiny.   This is it!  This is the end! Chapter sixteen is the culmination, the final wrath of God filled up and poured out on the ungodly earth.

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