Saturday, September 09, 2006

How it all ends - Revelation 19-20 Part 1

I realize that we have discussed many prophecies and many current events in the world today that are troubling. We have described a world that will continue to deteriorate on many fronts – politically, religiously, our weather, the oppression of followers of Christ. Life in this world will continue to be a struggle – physically, mentally & spiritually – as the spiritual warfare in our world intensifies. We have been given the truth of what is happening in the world and why. Even though it is the truth, I realize that it is hard to accept. The reason is that most of us are focused on the world. We cannot see past the world and our life here. We struggle with the truth that our true life begins after our life on this world ends. We expect to live a nice, comfortable life here and then enter God’s kingdom. We struggle with the realization that our life here isn’t going to be comfortable and it’s not going to be easy. We struggle with the truth that we are in a war wherever we are in this world – a war that will not end until we leave this world. We cannot escape it by running away or focusing on money or your career. We would much rather believe that it simply doesn’t exist – which is what many of us have done. We’re about to receive a wake-up call. I can here it now: Where has my wealth gone? Where has my power and authority gone? All that I have worked for has been taken from me! I have nothing left! What is left to live for? Our enemy is trying to take you out of the war and place you on the sidelines or at worst, destroy you completely. We have all heard the stories of wealthy people jumping from buildings during the 1929 stock market crash. They lost worldly wealth and lost all hope. Why did they lose hope? Why did they feel they had nothing left to live for? Because their lives were built on this world – which is sand. They stored up treasure on earth and were devastated when it dissolved in front on their eyes. It was at their weakest point that our enemy began whispering in their ears. They were not focused on God and His kingdom, but themselves and the world. Would it be better to remain wealthy your whole life, never know the Lord and then spend eternity apart from God or have your wealth taken from you which then leads you to salvation?
What does the Bible tell us?

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." (Mathew 7:24-27)

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mathew 6:19-21)

If you are focused on God and His plan for you, then what happens in the world will not affect how you view the world. You know that good things and bad things are going to happen, but your faith and your focus will never waiver. You are storing up treasure in heaven because that’s where your heart is. Remember, nothing in this world can take that away from you. This is why true believers never lose the joy they know.

I have been where you are – having nothing and wondering what is coming next. You have two roads from here. You can pray, seek God and His plan for you and accept His offer of salvation. You can choose to allow Him to change you, strengthen you and equip you with the spiritual weapons that you will need to stand against our enemy. You can choose to be obedient to Him and know Him. The other choice, unfortunately, is what the Bible tells us many will do during these end times. They will reject God and His offer of salvation. They will curse Him for what is happening. They will not humble themselves and follow Jesus Christ. They will believe the evil words whispered in their ears from our enemy and allow themselves to be deceived by the world – to their spiritual destruction. Don’t be one of them. Don’t be deceived by the world. All of these things have been told to us ahead of time, we simply chose not to listen. We have allowed ourselves to be blinded from the truth. Let the deception end here. Allow the Lord’s truth to place you on His path.

With all of this said, how does this age end? We’re going to take a look at Revelation chapters 19, 20 and 21 to see what we can expect at the end of this age.

Before we start with chapter 19, let’s take a moment and review the chronological progression of the woman who rides the beast of chapter 17. Revelation chapter 17 introduces us to this woman who figures prominently in end time events. From previous discussions, we now know that this woman is the Roman Catholic Church. We are given the reasons why she is not a bride of Jesus, but is considered a prostitute by the Lord:

1. She commits spiritual adultery. She does not stay true to God’s Word, but becomes worldly….intoxicating the world with her unbiblical doctrine.
2. Her teachings and actions are considered abominations.
3. She is also called the ‘mother of prostitutes’….meaning that her unbiblical teachings spread to other churches.
4. She persecutes and kills the Lord’s saints….’those who bore testimony to Jesus’.

We are told the future of this church at the end of chapter 17:

“The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:16)

So, at the end of Revelation 17, the judgment of the prostitute is a future event. We are given the reasons and then told that judgment is coming.

Chapter 18 begins by describing the judgment of this prostitute and again tells us the reasons for judgment:

“After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries." (Revelation 18:1-3)

It is at this point that a voice from heaven calls to God’s children who are inside this church:

“Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;” (Revelation 18:4)

All true believers inside this church are given a command to come out, so that they will not receive the plagues that are coming. Plagues that I believe are the bowl (or vial) judgments of Revelation chapter 16.

“Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.” (Revelation 18:8)

Once again we are told that this judgment will be by fire. Since we are later told that this will affect a city, I believe that this ‘fire’ will be the result of nuclear weapons.

“Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” (Revelation 18:21)

Chapter 18 ends with finality. This home of the prostitute will be utterly destroyed on earth by the Lord for all of the sins she has committed. As I have mentioned in previous postings, I believe that we will see the ‘image’ of the beast after the destruction of Rome.

Let’s continue with Revelation chapter 19.

“After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." And again they shouted: "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever." (Revelation 19:1-3)

Based on what we have learned previously, what are we told here? We are told that heaven rejoices after the destruction of the Roman Catholic Church. The Lord has condemned this church for her false doctrines and her persecution of His saints. We are also given yet another clue as to how the Lord will judge this church: ‘The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” This is the result of judgment by fire. So, these verses are telling us what is happening after the destruction of the prostitute. We see smoke from the destruction and we see heaven rejoicing from this righteous judgment. As with many other verses relating to end time events, the next verses in chapter 19 tell us to praise God. While many on earth will be lost and devastated by these events, we are told, as children of God, to praise our Father in heaven. We are told to keep our focus on the Lord – do not focus on the world. All of these things have been told to us ahead of time – do not lose faith because events are getting worse. We are storing up treasure in heaven because our hearts are focused on Him.

“The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: "Amen, Hallelujah!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying: "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!" Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!” (Revelation 19:4-7)

The next verses tell us that the true bride of Christ – His true church – will be invited into the kingdom of Heaven. These are the true believers in Him who have endured persecution on earth and have remained true to Him - those that have walked the ‘narrow path’.

For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19:7-9)

Verse 11 begins the description of the return of Jesus Christ. His return at the end of this age will be in sharp contrast to when He was born into the world. During His initial time on earth, His focus was on teaching God’s Word and explaining God’s plan for the salvation of the world. When Jesus returns for us at the end, He will return as a warrior. When evil rulers persecute us, remember these words.

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

We are then told the fate of the beasts of Revelation 13 – the Roman Catholic Church and the New World Order.

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.” (Revelation 19:19-21)

What are we told here? We are told that the nations of the earth and their leaders will make war against Jesus. The beasts of Revelation 13 will make war against true believers. They will persecute true followers of Him. Should we fear this? No. The Roman church and the coming New World Order (world government) will come to their end for all of eternity. I believe that the world government is referred to as a ‘false prophet’ here due to its use of God and false religious doctrine to further its own evil agenda. It is this false prophet that creates the ‘image’ of the Roman church and performed ‘miraculous signs’ that deceive the world. Don’t miss a very important message here – only those that accept the mark of the beast and worship his image will be deceived by these signs. True believers who worship our Lord will not be deceived. We are given additional insight into who is behind these deceptive ‘signs’ in Revelation chapter 16:

Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:13-14)

Who is behind these evil ‘signs’? Demonic forces. These verses are clear – demons are directing the Roman church and the coming world government. The destructive ‘signs’ that we see in the world today will continue to become more intense as we near the end. Both the beast and the false prophet will face the same eternal judgment as Satan and all who reject the Lord’s offer of salvation. This chapter concludes with mention of ‘the rest of them’. Who is this referring to? I believe it is a reference to those on earth who do not belong to the Roman church or are part of the New World Order, but who have also rejected the Lord’s offer of salvation. We’ll continue this discussion with a study of Revelation 20 in the next posting.

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