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August 1, 2022 2:00 am
My heart resonated with a hearty amen. Last Sunday morning when Pastor Burkman stated in his sermon that in heaven we all are going to have the same opinion about everything.
There's a there's a there's a measure of humor in that but there's also real measure of seriousness in it as well were commanded to study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, and I am then endeavoring to do that very thing not only in this series but in all my preaching, but Tom, you know we 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 RC Sproul saying that he thought only 90% of what he believed was true that there was 10% error in his theology and comments said that tongue-in-cheek, and he said the problem is I don't know what that 10% is I'm thinking of RC Sproul was only 90% correct. What hope is there for me to be anywhere near a passing grade 12. If in heaven.
We all are going to have the same opinion about everything. That gives me some consolation because I know were not all of the same opinion of, as to the identity of the beast in Revelation chapter 13. But that's where we are this evening. Start by identifying the fact that the mention of the beastie 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 one. The beast in verse two the beast in verse three the beast in verse four. And then when you move on down and in. Consider the personal pronouns are used of he and him are six more references to the beast. Just in the first eight verses so in total 12 times in verses one through eight. There is attention being drawn to the beast. So tonight as we focus our study on the beast. We want to see for things by the grace and help of God. We want to see number one is 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 of them could have been a better decision made, and that is many of the manuscript evidence tying the last verse of chapter 12 with the content of chapter 13.
So in other words chapter 7 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 verse 13 or 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 in 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 why you're doing that to say something to you is in and admission to you when I first started attending church with Carly. Neither one of us were converted and 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 that God has some God is.
Give me a love for his word.
Daniel chapter 7. I would like to begin in verse 15. Then as we as I read this.
Listen to the description of the great beasts for 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 for our 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 trampling the residue with its feet and the 10 horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, before which were three fellow, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. I was watching in 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 1/4 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 10 horns are 10 kings who shall arise from this kingdom. 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 beta. 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. How this fourth beast. He tells us there in verse 24 has 10 horns, and those 10 horns are 10 kings the 10 horns represent 10 kings. Let's turn back to Revelation 13.
With that those imageries in our mind. Let's read these opening verses again. Then I John stood on the sand of the city and I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and 10 horns, and on his horns 10 crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard's 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. In all the world marveled and followed the beast. 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 any saying those descriptive words describe this Empire that it's larger it's greater is more fierce.
It's more dreadful than all the other empires prior to it now. Turn with me to Revelation chapter 17 Revelation chapter 17. Keep in mind what we read in verse one on me, don't turn back to let me read verse one and then I'm gonna read a couple of verses in chapter 17 John says I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and 10 horns, and on his horns 10 crowns.
I Revelation 17 verse nine. 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 in 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 excuse me the 10 horns which you saw are 10 kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. So what are the 10 horns represent 10 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 may be more but I want to draw your attention to three things. First, back to our text Revelation 13 uke we cannot lose sight of where John is is on the island of Patmos. He's been exiled. There the church's enduring persecution at the hands of the Roman empire. Those who are 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 is he writing to.
So it has a context and were far removed from that context were 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 warned 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 warship that belongs to God alone.
Verse seven 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 and tongue and nation all who dwell on the earth will warship 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 they were dismembered. It is 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, 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 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. The third reason to affirm that the Roman Empire is the beast is we've we've got to wrestle with this. What we see there in verse three and four and I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded in this deadly one was healed and all the world marveled and followed the beast so they warship the dragon who gave authority to the beast, and they warship the base saying who was like the beast who was able to make war with him. The Roman Empire was not always stable.
If you begin with, but just to Caesar who reigned by can get my numbers in my head, 27 A.D. 214 BC, the BC of during during the time of Christ. Okay 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 Rome. The Roman Empire was not always stable. There were times where kings were assassinated. There were times, Nero committed suicide, and there was enough people in the kingdom. Some wondered whether this was going to be the collapse of the Empire only to revive and 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 rude out of your mind the idea that the beast is a particular individual.
I know what has been conveyed in a lot of our class has this imagery and when when you turn to some of the study Bibles I find it almost annoying and amusing at the same time you read that your reading a study Bible and I'll say some believe this to be the Roman Empire. However, others believe this there some individual and only now wait a minute. The law for two or three possibility will some say this, and some say that with a reason I'm reading the 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 is Rome's emperors were assassinated on several occasions throughout his history gave the Empire a fatal blow only for its authority, power and dominion to be reinstated as another leader took over and maintain Rome's power and dominion so the masses with religious patriotism followed Rome it was the superpower of that region, and of that era, the Augustus Caesar 27 BC to 1480. Constantine, 306 A.D. to 337 so those are some of the 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's feet were like the feet of a bear in his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The Dragon whose the Dragon. The Dragon is the devil, the serpent, the Dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority.
And that shouldn't surprise us should the devil's character his flaw hadn't changed. He wanted to usurp God's authority wanted to be in the place of God, and he was cast out of heaven. So here is on the earth with the authority that's been delegated to him and he is working through the Roman Empire.
So the Dragon the devil gave him his power, he is thrown in great authority. You see when you see that, I think it helps you understand that world governments and empires there.
They're not neutral. The devil is behind the series behind it. Christ in his gospel and his people is behind it so we can be just quasi-fair about it.
Number of years ago. Books were written about evangelicals and Catholics together and it was a heresy that efforts are being made to bring the two religions together to show that well really not all that different with really have the same gospel really know we don't know 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 is still in place so the activity of the beast is given authority by the Dragon to do what when number 12 blaspheme, and the 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. When you see this repeated emphasis of 42 months. Again, you have to train your mind that we are taking a not a literal interpretation of the book of the Revelation were not saying okay 42 months on my calendar. That's 3 1/2 years do not think that that is the way to view those references. 42 months. It is a set period of time. God is determined how long this will last its limited for 42 months, however, were 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 know that's interesting because he was cast out of heaven never ever appear there again to bring accusation against the saints, so areas on earth and was he doing is blaspheming not only God but is blaspheming those who dwell in heaven like that's gonna really hurt them. The activity of the beast, to blaspheme and the 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. Single. I don't like this. I don't like the fact that the 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 over comers, but we have to deal with what the Scriptures say we can revise and make it say what we wanted to say this is what it says that Dennis that wouldn't sit very well with the prosperity gospel would and a lot of other lesser versions of Christianity that are milder but still I've had people come to me and say you know what once I became a Christian mom whole world is got all kinds of problems. I got conflict with my family and got conflict within. What's the matter with her. 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 with you come to Jesus.
It give you peace make life better for you. It will do this he'll do that in their promises. That really don't have biblical merit not grounded in Scripture. So what happens when you buy buy-in. Sign up do what you been admonished to do in life is the way it was characterized to be well. If you're not a genuine believer, you going to turn away no siding. This is this is what I signed up for, I hear and if you really are a genuine believer because God does save people. He saves a lot of people who are saved with 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 in the slander make war with the Saints and overcome them. 30 was given authority for a set time of Artie mentioned that and then number four. He is activity is to control the nation's 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 time and nation all who dwell on the earth will worship him with his 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 worshipers of the beast number three let's think about the limitations of the beast. The limitations of the beast in each of the base 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 we I mentioned this to you last Sunday night in 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 what who gave it to line and there's two things mentioned here in the passage that could be the explanation. The Dragon verse the end of verse to the Dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority. So is it the Dragon is at 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 will 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 them because if he had his will he would destroy us. He had asked permission to get it Job, remember God said to him you could touch the things that he has been don't lay a finger on the devil. I do abide by that God put limitations on him, you think all Satan wanted to do to Peter was just kind of upset his life and sifting a little bit know you wanted to killing you wanted to destroy him. Not only did he want to do that to Peter. He wanted to do that. 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. The dozen first, sifted through the hands of God. We must banish from our minds and somehow if the devil gets gets on our track begun to track us down is going to kill us know he's got limitations placed upon you for it said from this pulpit. Many times the devil is what an unwilling servant of Jehovah.
It drives them crazy to follow his desires and his ambitions in the sea after he is accomplished what he wills to see that all it only further the purposes of God on a take it a couple of verses that further reinforces this. The only deterrent narrowness can read one verse and 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 can only do what God allows him to do and no more your member probably the most famous example of this in the Old Testament is Genesis chapter 50 in 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 by God meant it with the stop and say what is the yet what is the what is the antecedent to it. God meant it for good. While Ambien and Egypt and all that transpired to get him to Egypt. The brothers hatred of them. The brothers plotting to killing the caravan that came to escort them 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 to wills operating simultaneously.
The sinful evil jealous hatred that the brothers had door. Joseph was operating were getting rid of our brother were going to tell dad and we found his cloak in an animal apparently killed emanating.
That was the evil intent of the brothers God's intent is 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 a nation. He preserves the seed whereby the Messiah will come to only God can do that only God can override the evil intentions. The ill will that people and the devil himself. As for the people of God and turn it for our good.
Only God can do that. Let's consider one more thing before we finish tonight back to Revelation chapter 13 we considered his identity that is the beast and his activity in his limitations. Notice with me his worship is worship again. He once the devil wants to be like the most high.
He wants to exalt himself to the throne he wants to be worshiped, but he got kicked out of heaven, and that cosmic war that we looked at, and here he is on the earth what's driving his ambitions, the very same thing he wants to be worshiped. 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.
Nonbelievers. Unbelievers don't think they're worshiping the devil they don't believe there worshiping evil but everybody's a worshiper. There is no neutrality in this were either giving ourselves to the God of the Bible and we have yielded ourselves and bowed the knee and grant giving to him what he deserves.
Or if were not were demonstrating, by the way were living our life is an unbeliever that are allegiances to the devil so it's awful strong, well wrestle with what Paul has to say over there in Ephesians chapter 2 were sons of disobedience, sons of disobedience. So the question tonight for us is where is our allegiance are we worshipers of God is God by his powerful grace subdued us because if he had subdued us and brought us to the place where we bought 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 time for the to say, God, thank you for making me a worshiper of you. Thank you for working in my life and the way you did to subdue my will, but if you're here tonight and you're here out of mixed motives are really not here because you want to worship your 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 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 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 is just something you do on a natural plane on a fleshly plane you make a decision you you decide that this makes sense. This is logical.
This is what I want to do and to hear that in here at people sit under that all the time and and never dawns on them how inconsistent that messages with the Scriptures being a Christian. The work of regeneration is something that 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 center to one is alive in Christ. That's not something that happens on the human plane that 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 visit a man in the hospital and it was clear he was dying his days on the earth were sure he knew that he was an unbeliever.
He had been witness to numerous times. Now if all this is his 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 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 I will 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. Now this man said don't talk to me. I want to hear your religion is that that is a manifestation of depravity couldn't decide for Jesus.
He was rejecting Jesus rejected Jesus's life this idea that becoming a Christian is as easy as flipping a switch on the light switch all know know know were set 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 the 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 worshiper. It's because God made you one and is 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 in the God lovers in the 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 support 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 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, not only for us but for followers of yours who truly are in harm's way who are really facing the 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