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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Revelation: 6 more signs

9: Revelation 13:1 – 15:8: Reading from the Scroll – 6 more signs

Imagine the story of heaven and earth being read, but the truth is beyond human words and we struggle to understand. Now imagine the words read so beautifully, so powerfully, that we can see the images—the signs—in our minds. But the truth is beyond human images too; the picture is filled with symbols and we struggle to comprehend.

2. Deception of False Government:
Revelation 12:18-13:10 brings back memories of the beasts Daniel 7.

Daniel’s beasts
• A Lion/eagle/human
• A tusked Bear
• A Leopard with 4 wings and 4 heads and
• A Ten horned monster with iron teeth and bronze claws.
Revelation 13:2: 2And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth.

Daniel’s prophesies: The beasts in Daniel represented governments of the world…
• 4 kingdoms (beasts) lead up to final war against God’s people.
• A little horn on last beast boasts,
• oppresses God’s people for “a time, times and half a time
• then is thrown into fire.
Revelation 13:5: 5The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.

In Revelation the Beast is created by the dragon, giving rise to other images in the reader’s mind:

Imitation of God:
• The dragon creates life (Revelation 12:18): Creating life out of the chaos of water implies great power.
• The dragon’s creation appears to rise from the dead (Revelation 13:3) in imitation of Christ.
• The dragon’s creation is worshipped because of its master’s authority (Revelation 13:4) andGod gave his authority to Christ.

God’s protection for his people:
In spite of all this, the message of Revelation is that God, not the dragon (or Satan) is in charge and is able to protect us.
Revelation 13:8 8 all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.
(Note, the Book of life is also mentioned in Philippians 4:3 Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. So it was a known New Testament reference.)

3. Consequences of False Religion:
Revelation 13:11-18 brings more images of the devil imitating God.

Three parts in one Devil: The second beast reappears later in Revelation, and is identified as the false prophet, in a triune list of dragon, beast and prophet (imitating the 3-fold God):
Revelation 16:13 13And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet.
Revelation 19:20 20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image.
The two horns on the lamb may be symbolic, or may simply be a lamb’s physical horns.

Spiritual power: The second beast arises from the land, making it symbolically less powerful than the beast from the sea. It’s interesting that the creature representing religion (signs and wonders, supernatural events) should be depicted as less powerful than the one representing wordly governments.

Economic power: Religion and finance become mixed. Roman trade guilds were dedicated to pagan gods, and Certificates of sacrifice to Caesar were required from guildsmen.

Symbolic Number: 666 could be 3-fold falling short of perfection (7). It might also have been read as Nero by early readers, using an Aramaic translation of the Greek spelling of his Roman name.

4. Union of Heaven and Earth:
Revelation 14:1-5 repeats many of the previous symbols. Those with God’s mark will be redeemed, will stand with the Lamb, will be virgins (as in virgin brides of Christ – pure, undefiled by false religion), and will be blameless (despite our present sin). The same symbolic (and uncountable) 144,000 appear as in Revelation 7:4.

5. God’s Answer:
In Revelation 14:6-13 three angels proclaim God’s answer
• Salvation is offered to all people (14:6-7)
• Evil will be defeated (14:8)
• Those who follow evil and refuse salvation will be punished (14:9-11)

Familiar Symbols reappear: Babylon representing those who fight God’s people with laws, or set themselves up in place of God (trumpets), and Torment representing God’s truth as living water to the saved, and poison to the unsaved. How do we picture “justice”?

6. Harvest:
Revelation 14:14-20 is filled with symbols too:
• The grape and grain harvest – Israel’s main crops – is a time of rejoicing (14:15, 18).
• One “like the Son of Man” is probably “another angel”, but may be Christ, present at end as well as beginning of time (14:14). God appears to Abraham as an angel in Genesis 18:16,17.
• (14:15)“The hour has come” – God decides the time.
• (14:18) The altar is where we are, so we approve.
• (14:20) 1,600 stadia is another symbolic number (whose meaning is lost when the distances are translated into modern units). 4x4x10x10 represents the Whole earth and Whole of mankind.

7. Sabbath Rest:
Revelation 15:1-8 reminds us:
• God’s wrath has an end 1…for with them the wrath of God is ended.
• God’s wrath has a plan 7seven golden bowls
• Purification will be complete: 2…a sea of glass mixed with fire,
• Worship will continue: 2harps of God in their hands
• And both Old and New Testament covenants will be represented: 3And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

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