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The BEAST, the Counterfeit God of Revelation - 34

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2022 2:00 am

The BEAST, the Counterfeit God of Revelation - 34

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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August 1, 2022 2:00 am

Pastor Mike Karns continues his exposition in Revelation.

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Well, my heart resonated with a hearty amen last Sunday morning when Pastor Barkman stated in his sermon that in heaven we all are going to have the same opinion about everything.

There's a measure of humor in that, but there's also a real measure of seriousness in it as well. We're commanded to study to show ourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. And I have been endeavoring to do that very thing, not only in this series, but in all of my preaching.

But we wonder what it's going to be like to be in the presence of our Lord, and one thing I hope I don't hear, I may hear, is that is not what I meant by what I said. I remember R.C. Sproul saying that he thought only 90% of what he believed was true, that there was 10% error in his theology. And he kind of said that tongue in cheek, and he said, the problem is I don't know what that 10% is. And I'm thinking if R.C.

Sproul is only 90% correct, what hope is there for me to be anywhere near a passing grade? Well, if in heaven we all are going to have the same opinion about everything, that gives me some consolation because I know we're not all of the same opinion as to the identity of the beast in Revelation chapter 13. But that's where we are this evening, and let's start by identifying the fact that the mention of the beast, the activity of the beast, is what dominates chapter 13. In the verses that I read, just in the first eight verses, there are six times in the first four verses that the beast is mentioned. A beast in verse 1, the beast in verse 2, the beast in verse 3, the beast in verse 4. And then when you move on down and consider the personal pronouns that are used of he and him, there are six more references to the beast. Just in the first eight verses, so in total, 12 times in verses 1 through 8, there is attention being drawn to the beast. So tonight, as we focus our study on the beast, we want to see four things by the grace and help of God.

We want to see, number one, his identity, number two, his activity, number three, his limitations, and then finally, his worship. You are aware that chapter divisions are not inspired, and here's one of those occasions that the editors made a decision that I think there could have been a better decision made, and that is many of the manuscript evidence tie the last verse of chapter 12 with the content of chapter 13. So in other words, verse 17 of chapter 12, we left with a solemn warning.

What is that warning? The dragon was enraged with the woman, that is the church, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And if you attach that verse with what you see in chapter 13, chapter 13 will tell us how the devil facilitates his hatred toward the people of God. So there is a connection between chapter 12 and verse 17 and the opening verses of chapter 18. So, the identity of the beast, and to help us with that, you need to turn to the book of Daniel. So, go to your Old Testament, and while you're doing that, let me say something to you in admission to you.

When I first started attending church with Carly, neither one of us were converted. And the preacher would say, turn in your Bible to this book or that book, and I didn't know the Old Testament from the New Testament, so I was looking in the index to see what page the announced text was so I could find myself in that place. That's how ignorant I was of the Word of God.

But God has given me a love for His Word. Daniel chapter 7, I would like to begin at verse 15, and as I read this, listen to the description of the great beast, four in particular, that Daniel saw in his vision, because there is a connection between Daniel's vision and John's vision. Verse 15, I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by and asked him the truth of all this, so he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things. Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.

But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever. Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broken in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet. And the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up before, which were three, fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. I was watching, and the same horn was making war against the saints and prevailing against them, until the ancient of days came and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it, and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom.

Let's stop there and just evaluate a little bit about what Daniel says here. Daniel saw four beasts. They represent the four world empires that ruled over Israel up until the first coming of Christ. And those empires were the Babylonian Empire, which was fierce and powerful as a lion. The Medo-Persian Empire, which was dangerous and unpredictable like a bear. Then there was the Greek Empire that was swift as a leopard. He's giving these descriptive words to these beasts, these empires.

The fourth beast is the Roman Empire, exceedingly strong. Now this fourth beast, he tells us there in verse 24, has ten horns, and those ten horns are ten kings. The ten horns represent ten kings. Let's turn back to Revelation 13.

With those imageries in our mind, let's read these opening verses again. Then John stood on the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard. His feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed, and all the world marveled and followed the beast.

Let's stop there. John picks up where Daniel leaves off. John sees a beast. And what he sees, he's describing, and he's using the language that he used to describe those other empires. The leopard, the bear, the lion. And he's saying those descriptive words describe this empire.

That it's larger, it's greater, it's more fierce, it's more dreadful than all the other empires prior to it. Now, turn with me to Revelation chapter 17. Keep in mind what we read in verse 1. Don't turn back, but let me read verse 1, and then I'm going to read a couple of verses in chapter 17. John says, I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns. Alright, Revelation 17. Verse 9, here is the mind which has wisdom.

The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come, and when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was and is not is himself also the eighth and is of the seven and is going to perdition.

This is the verse I want you to see. Verse 12, then, or excuse me, the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. So what do the ten horns represent?

Ten kings. Daniel told us that the beasts, that he saw the four beasts, they were empires. The fourth beast is the Roman Empire. That's the identity, as far as my study goes, of the beast. There are three things that help us identify this beast as the Roman Empire.

Maybe more, but I want to draw your attention to three things. First, back to our text, Revelation 13. We cannot lose sight of where John is. He's on the island of Patmos. He's been exiled there. The church is enduring persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire. Those who were refusing to bow to Caesar and worship Caesar were being killed.

That's the reality. And when we come to the text of Scripture and we try and interpret and understand a right, we must first ask, what was in the mind of the human author as he wrote? Who was he writing to? So it has a context. And we're far removed from that context. We're not under the Roman Empire. It's something we read about in history.

But that's the reality of John's experience. He's writing to the church to encourage the church, to edify the church, and to warn the church. So, reasons why I believe the identity of the beast is the Roman Empire. Number one, the Roman Empire was the very embodiment of false religion and blasphemy. The leaders of Rome put themselves in the place of God and claimed the worship that belongs to God alone. Verse 7 of our chapter, Revelation 13, It was granted to him to make war with the saints and overcome them, and authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

All who dwell on the earth will worship him whose names have not been written in the book of life or of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Terrible, terrible persecution fell on the followers of Christ who refused to worship Caesar. Unbelievable atrocities. They were burned at the stake, they were fed to the lions, they were dismembered.

It's horrific to read church history and to begin to understand the awfulness and the hatred that was directed toward the followers of Jesus Christ. Secondly, the reason to identify the beast as the Roman Empire is the extent of Rome's deception and its influence. John's giving us a description and the description he gives us encompasses the description that Daniel gave of all the empires that he saw. So it was vast, the extent of Rome's deception and its influence. It encompassed the whole world.

Rome's dominion extended from Great Britain to Africa, from Western Europe to Eastern Asia. The known world at that time was under the domination and the dominion of the Roman Empire. A third reason to affirm that the Roman Empire is the beast is we've got to wrestle with this, what we see there in verse 3 and 4.

And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded. And this deadly wound was healed and all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast and they worshipped the beast saying who was like the beast, who was able to make war with him. Well, the Roman Empire was not always stable. If you begin with Augustus Caesar who reigned, if I can get my numbers in my head, 27 AD to 14 BC, or let me see, during the time of Christ, Caesar, Caesar Augustus. And you begin to count the number of kings or emperors over the Roman Empire, the significant ones, you get all the way up to Constantine in the 300s, he would be the 10th.

So 10 kings. Now, as I said, the Roman Empire was not always stable. There were times where kings were assassinated. There were times Nero committed suicide. And there was an upheaval in the kingdom.

Some wondered whether this was going to be the collapse of the empire, only to revive and steady itself and become powerful again. And I think that somewhat satisfies me as we think about this. You've got to kind of root out of your mind the idea that the beast is a particular individual. I know what has been conveyed and a lot of our past has this imagery.

When you turn to some of the study Bibles, I find it almost annoying and amusing at the same time. You're reading a study Bible and it'll say, some believe this to be the Roman Empire. However, others believe there's some individual.

Now wait a minute here. They'll offer two or three possibilities. Well, some say this and some say that.

Well, the reason I'm reading these study notes is because I want to know what the editors think, not give me two or three or four options. So the near defeat and collapse of the empire as Rome's emperors were assassinated on several occasions, throughout its history, gave the empire a fatal blow only for its authority, power and dominion to be reinstated as another leader took over and maintained Rome's power and dominion. So the masses with religious patriotism followed Rome. Rome was the superpower of that region and of that era. Yeah, Augustus Caesar, 27 BC to 14 AD, Constantine, 306 AD to 337.

Those are some of the kings that reigned in the Roman Empire. Well, you may not be fully satisfied with that heading, the identity of the beast, but let's move on to the activity of the beast. The activity of the beast.

Notice with me verse two. Now the beast, which I saw, was like a leopard. His feet were like the feet of a bear and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon. Who's the dragon? The dragon is the devil, the serpent. The dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority.

Now that shouldn't surprise us, should it? The devil's character, his flaw hadn't changed. He wanted to usurp God's authority. He wanted to be in the place of God and he was cast out of heaven. So here he is on the earth with the authority that's been delegated to him and he's working through the Roman Empire.

So the dragon, the devil, gave him his power, his throne and great authority. And you see, when you see that, I think it helps you understand that world governments and empires, they're not neutral. The devil is behind it. The adversary is behind it. The hater of Christ and his gospel and his people is behind it.

So we can't be just quasi-fair about it. A number of years ago, books were written about evangelicals and Catholics together and it was a heresy. The efforts were being made to bring the two religions together and to show that, well, we're really not all that different. We really have the same gospel. No, we don't.

No, we don't. There's no harmony here. There's no friendship or fellowship or unity here between the Church of Rome. They have not withdrawn their anathema to those who believe that salvation is by faith alone.

It's still in place. So the activity of the beast, he's given authority by the dragon to do what? Well, number one, to blaspheme and to slander. Notice verse five and six. And he was given a mouth, speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for 42 months. And when you see this repeated emphasis of 42 months, again, you have to train your mind that we are taking not a literal interpretation of the book of the Revelation. We're not saying, okay, 42 months on my calendar, that's three and a half years.

I do not think that that is the way to view those references. 42 months, it is a set period of time. God has determined how long this will last.

It's limited for 42 months. However, we're going to measure that. Verse six, then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God to blaspheme his name, his tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. Now that's interesting because he was cast out of heaven, never ever to appear there again to bring accusation against the saints. So here he is on earth, and what's he doing? He's blaspheming not only God, but he's blaspheming those who dwell in heaven.

Like that's going to really hurt them. The activity of the beast, to blaspheme and to slander. What else? The activity of the beast, to make war with the saints and to overcome them. Verse seven, it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. We say, well, I don't like this. I don't like the fact that the devil and the empire is given this kind of authority. To make war with the saints and to overcome them? I thought we were overcomers. But we have to deal with what the scriptures say. We can't revise and make it say what we want it to say.

This is what it says. That wouldn't sit very well with the prosperity gospel, would it? And a lot of other lesser diversions of Christianity that are milder, but still. I've had people come to me and say, you know what? Once I became a Christian, my whole world is, I've got all kinds of problems. I've got conflict with my family. I've got conflict within. And what's the matter? Well, there's nothing the matter. This is the nature of the Christian life. Who told you any different?

Somehow, someone told them, and it is the characters dangled out in many meetings. Well, if you come to Jesus, he'll give you peace. He'll make life better for you. He'll do this.

He'll do that. And they're promises that really don't have biblical merit. They're not grounded in scripture. So what happens when you buy in, sign up, do what you've been admonished to do, and life isn't the way it was characterized to be? Well, if you're not a genuine believer, you're going to turn away. You're going to say, this isn't what I signed up for.

I'm out of here. And if you really are a genuine believer, because God does save people. He saves a lot of people who are saved with a mixed message and mixed motives. But the gospel has power to save. And that all gets sorted out in the mind of a believer later on.

But hurtful times, confusion, disappointment. So the activity of the beast, to blaspheme and to slander, to make war with the saints and overcome them. Third, he was given authority for a set time.

I've already mentioned that. And then number four, his activity is to control the nations, causing them to worship him. Again, verse seven, it was granted to him to make war with the saints and overcome them.

And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him. With this significant caveat, whose names have not been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Another way of saying all unbelievers, all unbelievers will be worshippers of the beast. Number three, let's think about the limitations of the beast, the limitations of the beast. In each of the beast's activities, to blaspheme, to conquer the saints, to control the nations.

In each case, the action or the activity is stated with a divine passive. And I mentioned this to you last Sunday night toward the end of the sermon. When it says in verse five, and he was given a mouth, speaking great things and blasphemies, we have to stop and ask, well, who gave it to him? And there's two things mentioned here in the passage that could be the explanation. The dragon, the end of verse two, the dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority.

So is it the dragon? Is it the devil who is giving this authority? He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. Was that authority given to him by the devil?

Well, yes, I think so. However, the devil does not have autonomy. The devil does not have free course to do whatever he wants. He has limitations that are set upon him, which no doubt is the ultimate frustration to him, because if he had his will, he would destroy us.

He had to ask permission to get at Job, remember? And God said to him, you can touch the things that he has, but don't lay a finger on him. The devil had to abide by that.

God put limitations on him. Do you think all Satan wanted to do to Peter was just kind of upset his life and sift him a little bit? No, he wanted to kill him. He wanted to destroy him.

Not only did he want to do that to Peter, he wanted to do that to all of them. But in each of the cases here mentioned in Revelation chapter 13, God is behind the action. Neither Satan nor the beast can do a single thing without permission from God. Nothing, nothing comes into your life or my life that doesn't first come sifted through the hands of God. We must banish from our minds that somehow if the devil gets on our track, he's going to track us down and he's going to kill us.

No. He's got limitations placed upon him. You've heard it said from this pulpit many times, the devil is what? An unwilling servant of Jehovah. It drives him crazy to follow his desires and his ambitions and to see after he has accomplished what he wills to see that it only furthered the purposes of God.

Yeah. I want to take you to a couple of verses that further reinforces this. You don't need to turn there. I'm just going to read one verse in John. Jesus is before Pilate and Pilate asks Jesus a question. In chapter 19 verse 10, then Pilate said to him, that is Jesus, Are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you and power to release you? Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore, the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin. So whatever authority the devil has that he delegates to the beast is a delegated authority.

It has limited capacity. He can only do what God allows him to do and no more. You remember probably the most famous example of this in the Old Testament is Genesis chapter 50 and verse 20, where Joseph is speaking to his brothers and Joseph says this, But as for you, directly speaking to his brothers, you meant evil against me, but God meant it.

We have to stop and say, what is the it? What is the antecedent to it? God meant it for good.

What? Him being in Egypt and all that transpired to get him to Egypt. The brothers hatred of him, the brothers plotting to kill him, the caravan that came to escort him to Egypt. Not two different wills here, but one will. And the will was for Joseph to be in Egypt. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring it about as it is this day to save many people alive.

Two wills operating simultaneously. The sinful, evil, jealous hatred that the brothers had toward Joseph was operating. We're getting rid of our brother.

We're going to tell dad that we found his cloak and an animal apparently killed him and ate him. That was the evil intent of the brothers. God's intent. He's going to go to Egypt and he's going to be vice pharaoh and he is going to preserve the nation. And as he preserves the nation, he preserves the seed whereby the Messiah will come. See, only God can do that. Only God can override the evil intentions, the ill will that people and the devil himself has toward the people of God and turn it for our good. Only God can do that.

Well, let's consider one more thing before we finish tonight back to Revelation chapter 13. We've considered his identity that is the beast and his activity and his limitations. Notice with me his worship. His worship.

Again, the devil wants to be like the Most High. He wants to exalt himself to the throne. He wants to be worshipped. But he got kicked out of heaven in that cosmic war that we looked at. And here he is on the earth and what's driving his ambitions?

The very same thing. He wants to be worshipped. Verse eight. All who dwell on the earth will worship him whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Now, unbelievers don't think they're worshipping the devil. They don't believe they're worshipping evil. But everybody's a worshiper.

There's no neutrality in this. And we're either giving ourselves to the God of the Bible and we have yielded ourselves and bowed the knee and giving to him what he deserves. Or if we're not, we're demonstrating by the way we're living our life as an unbeliever that our allegiance is to the devil.

You say, well, that's awful strong. Well, wrestle with what Paul has to say over there in Ephesians chapter two. We're sons of disobedience.

Sons of disobedience. So the question tonight for us is, where is our allegiance? Are we worshippers of God? Has God, by his powerful grace, subdued us? Because if he hadn't subdued us and brought us to the place where we bowed our knee, we wouldn't be a worshiper. Left to ourselves, we would have no interest in God. We wouldn't be singing hymns of praise to him. We wouldn't be offering the sacrifice of praise to him. So it's praiseworthy, it's thank worthy to say, God, thank you for making me a worshiper of you. Thank you for working in my life in the way you did to subdue my will. But if you're here tonight and you're here out of mixed motives, you're really not here because you want to worship.

You're here for various and sundry other reasons. You don't want to be in this camp. You do not want to be in the camp that does not have their name written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

You don't want to be in that camp. So you need to beg God that he would make you a worshiper. It troubles me that so often gospel appeals are made on such a natural level. And what I mean by that, the implication is that you can make a decision to become a Christian without any supernatural activity involved at all. It's just something you do on a natural plane, on a fleshly plane. You make a decision.

You decide that this makes sense, this is logical, this is what I want to do. And to hear that and have people sit under that all the time and it never dawns on them how inconsistent that message is with the Scriptures. Being a Christian, the work of regeneration is something that's supernatural. It's likened to the resurrection of Christ. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead is what raises you from a dead sinner to one who's alive in Christ.

That's not something that happens on a human plane. That's supernatural. So to tell a man who's lost, all he has to do is pray, make a decision, is really, really deceitful. I believed the doctrine of total depravity for a long time, but there was a time that I visited a man in the hospital and it was clear he was dying. His days on the earth were short. He knew that. He was an unbeliever.

He had been witnessed to numerous times. Now if all this is, if salvation is nothing but a decision that a man makes, something that you do out of the logic of your mind, what man wouldn't say, you know what, I only have a couple days to live on this earth. I can pray a prayer, I can agree to something, and that will guarantee me that I'll go to heaven and I won't go to hell. I want that. You would think that a man who's on the precipice of death would say, yes, I'm interested in that. No, this man said don't talk to me. I don't want to hear your religion.

What is that? That is a manifestation of depravity. That man couldn't decide for Jesus. He was rejecting Jesus, had rejected Jesus his whole life. This idea that becoming a Christian is as easy as flipping a switch on a light switch.

Oh no. No, no, we're shut up to the mercy of God. And if you're going to be a Christian, God has to act on your behalf in a miraculous way. He's got to birth you into his family. He has to translate you out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear son. He has to resurrect you because you're dead in your trespasses and sins. So as we come to the end of this message, if you're a worshiper, it's because God's made you one.

And there's nothing that I can tell you, if you're not, that you can do to make yourself one. But I can direct you to the one who delights to turn God haters into God lovers and to make you a worshiper of him. Let us pray. Father, we thank you tonight for your word and we confess the complexity of it and the difficulty to rightly understand it. And it's a good thing that we come with humility to your word and we seek to simply ask you to teach us. So, Lord, anything that I've said tonight that is incorrect, would you not allow that truth to lodge in the hearts of those who are hearing me tonight? But as the truth is in Jesus, would you, by the Spirit of God, fasten that to our hearts, convince us of the truth, and help us, our God, to live in this sinful, wicked world in which we live, willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross, knowing in some instances what that might mean, giving our life for the cause of Christ. Lord, only you can empower us, only you can strengthen us, and I pray that you would do that. But not only for us, but for followers of yours who truly are in harm's way, who are really facing the teeth of the evil one, who is seeking to destroy them. Lord, fortify them, strengthen them, deliver them if it would please you. But glorify yourself regardless, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 16:04:45 / 2023-03-14 16:18:04 / 13

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