Revelation 19 – Part 6

“And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” Revelation 19:19

After the beast or Man of Sin rules over the earth the last three and a half years of the Tribulation period (Revelation 13:5), the King of kings and Lord of lords will bring his reign to an abrupt end when He returns to earth 1 (19:17-21; cf. Daniel 11:45b; 2 Thessalonians 2:8) with His heavenly armies consisting of faithful church age believers (Revelation 19:7-8; cf. 2:10, 17, 25-27; 3:5, 10-11; 17:14) and God’s angels (cf. Matthew 16:27; 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Following the description of Jesus Christ and those who will follow Him back to earth at His Second Coming (19:11-16), the apostle John writes, 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the great supper of God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, both free and slave, both small and great.” (Revelation 19:17-18). With the beast and the armies of the world gathered at Armageddon (19:19; cf. 16:14-16) and with Jesus Christ and His armies assembled in the sky (19:11-16), John sees “an angel standing in the sun” to command the attention of the world. But instead of calling out to people on the earth, this angel “cried with a loud voice… to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven” or the sky between Christ and His armies, and the beast and his armies.

The angel invites these scavenger birds to “the great supper of God” in anticipation of the vast slaughter of Jesus’ enemies at the battle of Armageddon (19:19-21; 14:18-20; 16:13-16). Jesus predicted this when He said, 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (Matthew 24:27-28). The Greek word translated “eagles” (aetoi) means “vultures” in this context. 2

“The great supper of God” is not the same as “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (19:7-9). The marriage supper of the Lamb will be a time of great rejoicing and celebration for Jesus and His bride, the church (19:7-9; cf. 3:14, 20; 21:2, 9; 22:17; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32) and will take place following “the great supper of God.” This marriage celebration will last one thousand years on the earth during the Millennial Kingdom following the battle of Armageddon (20:1-6; cf. Isaiah 25:6-9; 35:1-10; 55:12). 3

“The great supper of God,” however, will be a time of great sorrow and judgment. At this supper, instead of eating the food, people will be the food. Five times John uses the word “flesh” (sarkas) when describing this supper (19:18) to emphasize the immense slaughter of humanity when Jesus Christ defeats His enemies at the Battle of Armageddon. Those of “all” classes and statuses – “kings… captains… free and slave… small and great” – will die instantly along with their “horses” from the sharp sword proceeding from King Jesus’ mouth (19:18; cf. 19:15).

Swindoll writes that “one commentator notes that the angel’s pronouncement ‘is gruesome and powerful, guaranteeing before the battle has been joined that the end result is certain. The angel commands all the birds… [using] ironically the same verb in 16:15, 16 for the false trinity “gathering together” the nations for the final battle. At the same time as the evil forces gather for Armageddon, the carrion birds are called to gather for the aftermath of the inevitable slaughter.’” 4

Most interpreters take the term “horses” figuratively instead of literally. But I prefer to take these “horses” literally. It is quite possible that modern modes of transportation and modern weapons technology had been destroyed by the many divine judgments and/or nuclear wars throughout the Tribulation so that at the end of the Tribulation the primary mode of transportation was on horseback and weapons included chariots, swords, spears, bows and arrows. This preserves a literal understanding of Bible prophecies which predicted such things for end time battles (Revelation 19:18; cf. 9:7-19; 18:13; Ezekiel 38:1-39:29; Zechariah 12:1-14; et al.).

Faithful believers in Jesus who have not died or been martyred during the Tribulation (cf. 12:13-17; Matthew 24:13) will enter the Millennial Kingdom with mortal bodies and repopulate the earth (cf. Genesis 9:1; Isaiah 65:17-23). 5

Some Bible interpreters believe all nonbelievers will die when King Jesus returns to earth. But Vancendak disagrees: “But in light of the information given by the Lord regarding the Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46, it is obvious that there are some unbelievers (who have apparently survived by hiding in elaborate and costly underground bunkers or even caves) that will be brought before Christ for judgment (cf. Matthew 25:32) after He takes His throne. They will be sent, not to Hades, but to the lake of fire: ‘Depart from Me… into the everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). Of course, they will appear at the Great White Throne. The text simply means that they will have the same fate for the next one thousand years as the Beast and the False Prophet (cf. 19:20). The ‘holding tank’ of this corrupt bunch will be the lake of fire. Though one cannot be dogmatic on this, it seems likely that infants and children still alive after Armageddon who have not reached the age of accountability will enter Christ’s kingdom and eventually repopulate the earth. Some will grow up and believe in Christ and others will not. This accounts for the huge army Satan gathers at the end of the thousand years to war against Christ (see 20:7-9).” 6

As the birds of prey gathered, John saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” (Revelation 19:19). King Jesus will not return to earth to bring unpredictable judgment against unsuspecting innocent parties. The “beast” or Man of Sin and his allies have deliberately waged “war against” King Jesus “and against His army” (cf. Psalm 2:1-3), and Christ will strike down these wicked foes. 7

Next John records the results of this final battle: “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Revelation 19:20). We are not told how or by whom “the beast” and “the false prophet” were “captured.” John simply focuses on the accomplishment of this feat. Their time in power is over because Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1; I John 5:20), not the beast who claimed to be God (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4). 8

The false prophet had “deceived” people on earth to receive “the mark of the beast” and worship “his image” during the last half of the Tribulation period (19:20; cf. 13:11-18).No doubt he appeared to the world to be a very spiritual spokesman with amazing supernatural powers (“worked signs by which he deceived”). Those who were deceived by him will not only face God’s temporal judgment when King Jesus kills them in battle, but they will also face God’s eternal judgment in the lake of fire (cf. 14:9-11). 9

So heinous and wicked was their blasphemy against God that the “beast” and “false prophet” will be the first human beings to be “cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” This verse is clear that there is no annihilation in store for those who reject Jesus Christ. Some have wrongly taught that because God is love, nonbelievers are punished in hell for a time before simply ceasing to exist. It is clear from 19:20 and other verses 10 (cf. Matthew 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43-48; Jude 1:7; Revelation 14:10-11; 20:10, 15; 21:7-8) however, that their punishment is without end.  

Those who have rejected Christ and died throughout history up to this point are in torments in hades (Luke 16:23). The lake of fire is a different place prepared for the devil and his fallen angels (Matthew 25:41). 11 After the thousand-year reign of King Jesus, the beast and false prophet will be permanently joined by the devil and all nonbelievers in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10-15).

John tells us, “And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:21). Following the beast’s and false prophet’s capture and placement in the lake of fire, “the rest” of the beast’s allies who remained on the battlefield “were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse.”

“Then suddenly it will be all over. In fact, there will be no war at all, in the sense that we think of war. There will be just a word spoken from Him who sits astride the great white horse. Once He spoke a word to a fig tree, and it withered away. Once He spoke a word to howling winds and heaving waves, and the storm clouds vanished, and the waves fell still. Once He spoke to a legion of demons bursting at the seams of a poor man’s soul, and instantly they fled. Now He speaks a word, and the war is over. The blasphemous, loud-mouthed Beast is stricken where he stands. The false prophet, the miracle-working windbag from the pit is punctured and still… Another word, and the panic-stricken armies reel and stagger and fall down dead. Field marshals and generals, admirals and air commanders, soldiers and sailors, rank and file, one and all – they fall. And the vultures descend and cover the scene.” 12

So many people will be killed “that all the birds” will have plenty to eat. Imagine how foolish the beast and his global armies will look as they point their weapons at the all-powerful Creator God, Jesus Christ, Who spoke the entire universe into existence (Genesis 1; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2)!!! Although foolish, it is like humanity to overestimate “their abilities, forever proud of their technology, yet never coming to terms with their own weakness before the all-powerful, all-knowing Lord of the universe.“ 13

May none of us make the same mistake as these people. Revelation 19 teaches us that there are two suppers in the future: the marriage supper of the Lamb which will involve great joy and celebration or the great supper of God which will involve great destruction and judgment. If you want to make a reservation for the marriage supper of the Lamb, you must meet two conditions:

1: You must have childlike faith in Christ alone to enter His coming kingdom. Why? Because all of us need a Savior because all of us have sinned against God (Romans 3:9-23) and deserve to be separated from Him forever in a terrible place of suffering and torment called the lake of fire or hell (Romans 6:23; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 20:15). But God loves us so much He gave His only perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place for all our sins and rise from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-6; John 19:30). Jesus Christ is alive today and He invites us to have childlike faith in Him alone to enter His coming Kingdom. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:15).

If you are ready to trust Jesus alone for entrance into His future kingdom on earth, you can tell Him through prayer. But remember, praying a prayer does not get you into Jesus’ kingdom. Only believing or trusting in Jesus alone for everlasting life will gain you entrance into His kingdom on earth (John 3:5-6, 14-16). This prayer is a way of telling Jesus you are now trusting in Him alone.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself from my sins. I believe You died in my place for all my sins on the cross and rose from the dead at Your first coming. And I believe You are coming back to earth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords in the future. I am now trusting You, Jesus, alone (not my good life, my religion, or my prayers) to give me everlasting life now and a future home in Your coming kingdom. Thank You Jesus for the everlasting life I now have and the home I will have in Your future kingdom on earth. In Your mighty name I pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.

When you believed in Jesus, He gave you everlasting life which can never be lost or taken away from you (John 10:28-29). Jesus guarantees you will enter His kingdom on earth when He returns with His church (Mark 1:15; 10:15; John 3:5-6, 16). He wants to use you now to tell others this good news of His coming kingdom so they also may trust in Him alone to be saved and enter His future kingdom on earth.

The second condition for participating in the marriage supper of the Lamb is 2. we must live faithfully for Jesus after believing in Him for eternal life.While all believers are called or invited to prepare for the wedding supper with Jesus to share in rewards and the glory of Christ’s kingdom, only those believers who prepared by being obedient to Jesus until the end of life on earth will be able to participate (Revelation 2:25-27; 3:5; 19:7-9; cf. Matthew 8:11-12; 22:1-14). All believers will enter and live with Christ in His eternal kingdom through faith in Him alone (Matthew 18:3; John 3:5; 16), but only faithful believers will be able to enjoy ruling with Him there (Luke 19:11-27; Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:25-27; 3:21).

If you found this to be helpful, please share this with those you want to see attend the marriage supper of the Lamb in Jesus’ future kingdom on earth. Thank you and may the Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you!

ENDNOTES:

1. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1576.

2. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 22.

3. Vacendak, pg. 1572; Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 207 cites J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. 5 (Pasadena, CA: Thru The Bible Radio; and Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1983), pg. 1048; Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Study Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition 2019), pg. 2414.

4. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 346 cites Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Moises Silva (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), pg. 687.

5. Constable, pg. 213.

6. Vacendak, pp. 1576-1577.

7. Evans, pg. 2416.

8. Vacendak, pg. 1577.

9. Ibid., pp. 1577-1578.

10. Evans, pg. 2416.

11. John F. Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), location 6303.

12. Swindoll, pp. 346-347 cites John Phillips, Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987), pg. 236.

13. Swindoll, pg. 347.

Revelation 17 – Part 2

“So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” Revelation 17:3

Before Armageddon is described in detail and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ takes place (Revelation 19), one final event must be addressed which is the destruction of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17-18).Last time we discovered that “Babylon” is a common code name in the New Testament for the city of Rome and its evil lifestyle (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:1-18:21; cf. I Peter 5:13). John now receives a vision about this city and its decadence.

The apostle John writes, “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” (Revelation 17:3). The angel (17:1) “carried” John “away in the Spirit into the wilderness.” The “wilderness” was a common place in the Bible where God met with people to give them revelation (cf. Exodus 3:1; I Kings 19:4; Luke 1:80). 1 It was there in the wildernesswhere John saw the “great harlot” mentioned in verse 1 as now “sitting on a scarlet beast,” which the interpreting angel identifies as the Man of Sin or Beast from the sea who will be “full of names of blasphemy” attacking the character of God (17:3; cf. 13:1; 17:7-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). 2 In this description the “beast” is “scarlet,” representing its luxury and splendor. 3

The fact that this woman is “sitting” on the beast suggests that Rome will initially control the Man of Sin and benefit from his expanding kingdom represented by the “seven heads and ten horns” during the Tribulation period.

“The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:4). “The woman” was outwardly beautiful and wealthy much like royalty, and the “golden cup” in her hand added to her royal appearance, but it was full of idolatrous “abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.”

“In the Old Testament ‘abominations’ were sinful objects and practices that God hated – things such as carved images of pagan gods (Deuteronomy 7:25-26), idol worship (Deuteronomy 17:2-5) witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:9-12), and sexual sin and perversion (Leviticus 18).” 4

The woman’s adornment is like the religious trappings of ritualistic churches today. While purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls call all represent beauty and glory in relation to the true faith, here they reveal a false religion that misrepresents the truth. 5

John saw “on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” (Revelation 17:5). In John’s day, “a harlot whose forehead was inscribed was considered the lowest of prostitutes, a tattooed slave.” 6 This is not the literal city of Babylon, but “MYSTERY BABYLON.” The word “mystery” (mystērion) refers to something not previously revealed but now made clear. 7 This “MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT” is a code name for Rome (cf. 17:1, 9, 18; cf. I Peter 5:13). Rome is not only a prostitute herself (sinful and ungodly) but is also “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH,” producing other idolatrous and immoral cities all over the world that mislead people away from the true God.

“In our day the ecumenical church has faced a lot of problems. It seems that they have recognized psychological differences in people and that it is impossible to water down theologies and practices to suit everyone. So, each group will come into this great world ecumenical system but retain some of its peculiarities. For example, those who want to immerse will immerse. Those who want to sprinkle will sprinkle. Those who want elaborate ritual will have it, and those who want no ritual will have that. You see, there is going to be more than the mother harlot – there will be a whole lot of harlots, a regular brothel.” 8

While I believe many born again Christians will come out of the Roman Catholic Church and be raptured before the Tribulation begins, the church’s overall idolatrous structure will continue to exist during the first half of the Tribulation and have worldwide influence among those who will suddenly become “religious” as the judgments of the Tribulation unfold.

Next John writes, “I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.” (Revelation 17:6). Of all the “abominations” in Rome’s cup (17:4), the most heinous would be the murder of the followers of God. She was “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” The word “drunk” not only suggests she was addicted to killing God’s followers, but she also found immense pleasure in doing so. Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and an innumerable number of others were violently executed at the hand of the Roman government. 9

Bible Prophecy teacher, Bill Salus states, “When we look at Rome… it … was first called pagan Rome with the Roman Empire and then it morphed into Papal Rome where of course now you have the Vatican. There is no shortage of crimes and sins that have been perpetrated by them. A few with Pagan Rome put to death God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Martyred Christians for over three centuries. Some sources say [there] were over 210,000 during the time of the spread of Christianity. [They] killed 1.1 million people, mostly Jews according [to] the Jewish historian Josephus by 70 AD. Destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD. Destroyed it again in 135 AD with the Bar Kokhba Revolt, killed 100,000 Jews between 132 and 135…

“As the Roman Empire started to disintegrate, they found it favorable to embrace Christianity to maintain its power for as long as it was good… We are dealing with religious aspects of the harlot world religion. And again, I would say that is centered in Rome and has something to do with the Vatican. And the Papal Rome… crimes and sins there: they expelled Jews from Spain in 1492 AD, expelled them from Portugal in 1497 AD, killed tens of thousands of Jews in the Crusades, hundreds of thousands of Protestants if not millions in the Reformation. It is responsible for at least 100,000 victims of sexual abuse in this country [USA]. What about worldwide? So, and these are just a few of the rap sheet of the crimes and sins.” 10

Just as history shows that the Roman Catholic Church has shed the blood of many believers and victims of the Crusades and Roman Inquisition, so this woman riding on the beast representing a future worldwide religious system will put to death many believers who remain faithful to Christ during the Tribulation period. The apostleJohn “marveled with great amazement” that a religious system claiming to honor God was so obsessed with killing His faithful followers (17:6b).

It is important to understand that the religious persecution by the Roman Catholic Church mentioned above does not represent biblical Christianity. Just because someone says they are a Christian or does something in the name of Jesus Christ does not mean they are genuine believers in Jesus.

The Bible emphasizes that eternal life is a free gift (John 4:10-14; Romans 6:23b; Ephesians 2:8-9). A person does not receive eternal life by living a good life, keeping God’s commandments, going to church, praying every day, being baptized with water, or hating their enemies. The Bible tells us that a person must come to God as a sinner (Romans 3:23), realizing that Christ died for all his sins and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-6), and then believe or trust in Christ alone for His gift of everlasting life (John 3:36; 6:40, 47). The moment a person believes in Christ alone to give him or her everlasting life, God not only gives him the free gift He paid for when He died on the cross – eternal life – He also comes to live inside that person through His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11; Galatians 2:20; 3:2) to give them the power to live a life that pleases Him.

Many people who claim to be Christians do not understand this simple gospel message. Instead of trusting in Christ alone to get them to heaven, they are trusting their good works or Christ plus their good works to get them to heaven, and therefore, they do not have God’s power in them to live a life that pleases Him. Many non-Christians use their religion to try to cover up their sins. So, it is important to understand that not all people who say they are Christians have God’s power in them to live a different life because they are not trusting in Christ alone to save them and give them everlasting life. Instead, they are depending on their good works or religious efforts to get them to heaven, instead of on Christ alone and His finished work on the cross.

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for revealing more about the coming worldwide false religion whose outward appearance is very appealing, but whose inward condition is evil and against the character of God. Many people have been deceived by similar false religions today whose outward beauty and wealth are alluring, but inwardly they leave people empty and powerless to overcome their bondage to sin and shame. Such false religions are opposed to the true God, Jesus Christ, and mishandle His truth to lead people away from Him. We pray Lord God that You would remove the Satanic blindness from those who are involved in these false religions so they can discover the true God Who loves them enough to lay down His life for them on a cross and rise from the dead so whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. In the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 184.

2. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach, The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1563; cf. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 313; Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Study Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition 2019), pg. 2409.

3. Tom Constable, pg. 185.

4. Vacendak, pg. 1565.

5. John F. Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), location 6068.

6. Vacendak, pg. 1564.

7. Constable, pg. 185.

8. Ibid., pg. 186 cites J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 5 Vols., (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Radio; and Nashville: Thomas Nelson, In., 1983), 5:1033.

9. Vacendak, pg. 1564.

10. “Bill Salus on Mystery Babylon video on the August 26, 2018, Christ in Prophecy show at www.christinprophecy.org.

Revelation 16 – Part 3

“And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.” Revelation 16:9

After the inhabitants of heaven praise God for His righteous and just judgments toward rebellious humankind who shed the blood of His servants (16:5-7), the fourth angel arrives to pour out his bowl of wrath. Instead of the beast-worshippers on the earth receiving a much-needed drink of rainwater to quench their parched throats, they got the exact opposite. Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.” (Revelation 16:8-9). The definite article before “men” (tous anthrōpous) refers specifically to those whose allegiance was to the Beast (cf. 16:2). It is possible that those who refused to worship the Beast and receive his mark were not struck with this judgment. Likewise, the Israelites also escaped some of the plagues on Egypt’s land, water, animals, people, leaders, and even Pharaoh (Exodus 8:20-9:7; 9:13-35; 10:21-12:36). 1

This “fourth… bowl” judgment used “the sun” to “scorch men” who followed the Beast “with fire” and “great heat” that will leave their human flesh charred. This was “more than an oppressive heat wave that weakens and withers people, this judgment will involve the blistering and charring of human flesh by the sun.” 2

Swindoll writes, “Instead of catching soothing drops of rain, the people of earth were burned with searing rays from the sun! Scientists have long been concerned about the possibility of massive, unexpected solar flares, which could increase the number of harmful rays that penetrate our atmosphere. It seems that by the end of the Tribulation, the atmosphere will have been so damaged that the rays of the sun will no longer be filtered or deflected, causing all sorts of catastrophic climatic changes. This end-times global warming will make today’s hot-earth hysteria resemble nothing more than a warm spring day.” 3

One would think that after all these horrific judgments on the earth that left people painfully afflicted, starving, dying of thirst, and severely burned, that humankind would fall to their knees and beg God for His mercy, right!?! Wrong!!! “And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.” (Revelation 16:9). Instead of turning to the Lord in repentance and giving “Him glory,” they “blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues.” Instead of letting the scorching sun melt their hearts, they let it harden their hearts toward God, much like Pharaoh hardened his heart after each of the plagues on Egypt.

Surely a loving God would relent of His judgments if people sought to get right with Him. The prophet Joel addresses this part of God’s character when he writes, 4 “’12 Now, therefore,’ says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him— a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?” (Joel 2:12-14).

Instead of humbly repenting before the Lord God Whom they know has the power over these plagues to lovingly bring them to a stop, the people of the earth increased the hardness of their hearts during the last part of the Tribulation. Why? Because they have taken on the character of the Beast who blasphemes God and indoctrinates the citizens of his worldwide kingdom to do the same (Revelation 13:1, 5-6; 17:3; cf. Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10). Instead of blaming their own sinfulness for these first four plagues, they blame God for them. 5

The first four bowl judgments targeted the natural realm (the earth, sea, fresh waters, and the sun), but the next two bowl judgments target the Beast and his worldwide kingdom. “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.” (Revelation 16:10). The fifth bowlof God’s wrath was “poured out… on the throne of the beast and his kingdom.” Since the beast’s kingdom was worldwide,this was a global darkness that will cause such intense emotional anguish that beast-worshippers will engage in self-mutilation (“they gnawed their tongues because of the pain”). 6

This darkness is reminiscent of the plague God brought upon Egypt. 21 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.’ 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” (Exodus 10:21-23). This darkness in Egypt was so deep, oppressive, and complete, that the Egyptians did nothing during those three days.The chaos caused by the darkness in Egypt may explain the intense pain this global darkness will cause to the citizens of the Beast’s kingdom during the Tribulation period.

Keep in mind that the effects of these first five bowl judgments are cumulative. “The sores brought on by the first bowl will continue to fester as the darkness closes in around them. The water that would have soothed their sun-scorched flesh will stand in stinking, stagnant pools; once-clean water will be polluted with decaying blood.” 7

Nevertheless, people will still refuse to humble themselves before the God Who could bring a stop to these severe bowl judgments. “They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.” (Revelation 16:11). Instead of blaming their rebellious ways for these plagues, the followers of the Beast choose to blaspheme God for “their pains and their sores.” But they don’t stop there. They choose to abide in their wicked ways that caused them to be oppressed by these horrific plagues – they do “not repent of their deeds.” 8

As in 16:9, this scene is reminiscent of a child cursing his parent while he is being spanked. Such a reaction to punishment inevitably triggers more punishment.” 9

We have learned in our study of the seven-year Tribulation on earth in the book of Revelation, that this will be a time that is filled with heightened deception (12:9; 13:14; 18:23; 19:20). One of Satan’s oldest strategies which will be implemented in full during the Tribulation is to blame God for all the pain that exists in the world to deceive people into thinking that the true God is an out of control, vengeful deity who can be defeated if everyone comes together to fight against Him. The truth is pain and suffering did not exist in the world God created (Genesis 1-2). Pain and suffering were the result of Satan, who sinned first against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19), tempting Adam and Eve to sin (Genesis 3:1-6) which resulted in sin and death entering the entire world (Romans 5:12). The effects of sin will culminate in the Tribulation period when humanity’s rebellion against God will reach an all-time depth of depravity resulting in God’s in-kind judgment (Revelation 6-16).

When we look back at the chaos and pain the global pandemic has caused the past two years, do we blame God for this? Or when we observe the loss of innocent lives during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, do we shake our fists at God and hold Him responsible for this? How do we respond to God when we or those close to us experience suffering and pain? Do we harden or humble our hearts toward the Lord?

Satan wants to convince us that God is to blame for all our problems and pain so we will not come to the Lord in faith and be saved forever from Satan’s destiny in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10). Please understand that God is the One Who loves us, not Satan. Satan doesn’t care about you or me. He knows his destiny is in the lake of fire and he selfishly wants to take as many people with him as possible. He will go to any length of deception to help populate hell. He has no guilt or shame for his actions because he is evil to the core.

But Jesus Christ is selfless to the core. Instead of holding on to His glory in heaven, He veiled His glory with human flesh when He left heaven and came to earth knowing He would be rejected by the world and His own Jewish people who would condemn Him to die on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8). The Bible tells us, 9 God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (I John 4:9-10 NLT). “Real love” gives instead of takes. God’s love gave His best (His Son) when we were at our worst (in bondage to our sins) so we “might have eternal life through” Jesus if we would do one thing: BELIEVE IN HIM.

Jesus said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47). The word “believe” in the New Testament means to be persuaded that something is true and then trust or depend upon. Do you believe Jesus was speaking the truth when He said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life”? If so, do you now trust Christ (not your good life, religion, or prayers) to give you His gift of eternal life? If you do, Jesus guarantees you now have everlasting life which can never be taken away from you (John 10:28-29). God is now your Father in heaven, and you are His child forever (John 1:12; 6:35). Everyone who believes in Jesus for eternal life is your brother or sister in Christ.

Christ wants you to grow in your relationship with Him. Jesus said to those who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31b-32). The opposite of truth is falsehood or lies. Jesus wants you to “abide” or continue in His Word, the Bible, so you can “know the truth” which “shall make you free” from Satan’s lies that keep you enslaved to sin and shame. God’s truth will identify the lies you have been believing that have held you in bondage to sin and will also provide the remedy to overcome those lies. It is the truth of God’s Word that will break the shackles of Satan’s lies that have kept you from leaning into the Lord when you face pain and suffering.

Below are some examples of Satan’s lies that can keep us from drawing near to the Lord. I have included God’s truth to replace those lies and the Scriptures to go with them.Take some time to read through these lies and then identify the ones that you have believed to be true. The lie will feel true to you if you believe it. Then read the corresponding truth statements repeatedly until they feel true to you. As you do that the corresponding lies will feel less and less true. Ask the Lord Jesus to deliver you from bondage to these lies (cf. Psalm 119:28-29). We do not have the power in ourselves to overcome them, but Jesus Christ does. Let Him renew your mind as you meditate on God’s truth.  

Lie: God is to blame for all your pain and suffering.

Truth: Pain and suffering were the result of Satan (who sinned first against God), tempting Adam and Eve to sin which resulted in sin and death entering the entire world.

Scripture: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12; cf. Genesis 3:1-6; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19.

Lie: God cannot be trusted.

Truth: God can be trusted because He is good and faithful to His promises.

Scripture: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

“In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Titus 1:2

Lie: God is holding out on you.

Truth: God wants to give you, His best.

Scripture: “The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Lie: You can be like God by disobeying Him.

Truth: Since there is only one true God, and I am not Him, I must live in total dependence on Him.

Scripture: God said, I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.” Isaiah 45:5

“’But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;’ I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand.’” Psalm 31:14-15

Lie: God is against me.

Truth: God is for me and not against me.

Scripture: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

Lie: God has or will accuse me.

Truth: God has declared me totally righteous in Christ.

Scripture: “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” Romans 8:33

Lie: God has or will condemn me.

Truth:  God will not condemn me because Christ took my condemnation on the cross and He now defends me and intercedes for me in heaven.

Scripture: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

Lie: I am going to be separated from the love of Christ because I’m so unworthy.

Truth: No one and nothing can separate me from Christ’s love.

Scripture: 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39

Lie: God would never love me as I am.

Truth: In Christ, I am totally loved by God as I am.

Scripture: “Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own through what Christ would do for us; He decided then to make us holy in His eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before Him covered with His love.” Ephesians 1:4 TLB

Lie: I am alone and unloved.

Truth: I am not alone or unloved. I am loved and cherished by the Creator of the Universe.

Scripture: “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” Psalm 27:10

Lie: I could never be forgiven.

Truth: I am totally forgiven in Christ.

Scripture: 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

Lie: I am an unacceptable person.

Truth: I am totally accepted in Christ.

Scripture: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1a

“To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we come to You now realizing that we can be a lot like the people in the Tribulation period who will be deceived into blaming You for their suffering and pain instead of their own rebellion against You. When bad things happen to us, help us O Lord to humble our hearts before You instead of hardening them. Lord, we cannot overcome Satan’s lies on our own. The Devil wants to take as many people with him to hell as possible. He will go to any length of deception to populate the lake of fire. Lord, please make us the kind of people who will do whatever it takes within the boundaries You have given us to populate Your heaven through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We desperately need You and Your Word to help us identify the lies we believe and replace them with Your truth so we can live the abundant life You came to give us. We pray for those whose hearts and minds have been deceived by Satan into believing You are responsible for all their pain and suffering. Help them to see that You love them and gave Your best for them when they were still undeserving sinners. And You want to save them forever from the lake of fire and give them eternal life if they would simply believe in You, Lord Jesus. Please use our lives and lips to communicate Your love to a lost and broken world so they can hear and believe the good news of Jesus’ gift of eternal life. In Your mighty name we pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 172.

2. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach, The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1559.

3. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pp. 296-297.

4. Ibid., pg. 297.

5. Constable, pg. 172 cites Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), pg. 257.

6. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Study Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition 2019), pg. 2407.

7. Swindoll, pg. 298.

8. Vacendak, pg. 1559.

9. Evans, pg. 2409.

Revelation 13 – Part 1

“Then I 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.” (Revelation 13:1).

In Revelation 10:11 the apostle John was instructed to “prophesy again” a second time regarding the seven-year Tribulation with an emphasis on specific characters on the stage of the drama. We have already been introduced to the Two Witnesses during the first half of the Tribulation (11:1-12); the Woman, representing Israel (12:1-2, 13, 17); the red Dragon, representing Satan (12:3-4, 9); the male Child, representing Jesus Christ (12:5-6); and the archangel, Michael (12:7-12).  

In Revelation 13 John will introduce two more characters to complete what is known as the unholy Trinity (see above diagram). In contrast to the unholy Trinity are the three members of the true holy Trinity: God the Father (Revelation 1:6; cf. Ephesians 1:2), God the Son (Revelation 2:18; cf. I John 5:20), and God the Holy Spirit (Revelation 4:5; 22:17; cf. Acts 5:3-4). The three members of the unholy or false Trinity include: Satan, pictured as the dragon (Revelation 12:3-17); the World Ruler or Antichrist pictured as the beast from the sea (Revelation 13:1-10); and the False Prophet pictured as the beast from the earth (Revelation 13:11-18). 1

One of the chief ways Satan will express his hatred toward the woman or the nation of Israel during the last half of the Tribulation period is through the second and third persons of the unholy Trinity. Regarding the second person of the unholy Trinity, John writes, “Then I 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.” (Revelation 13:1). John now has a different vantage point from which he receives visions concerning the last half of the Tribulation period. He is standing “on the sand of the sea.” The phrase “sand of the sea,” is often used in the Bible with reference to the nation of Israel (cf. Genesis 22:17; 32:12; Isaiah 10:22; Romans 9:27). 2

While standing on the seashore, John sees “a beast” (thērion) or an “animal-like being of a transcendent kind,” a “wicked person, someone with a ‘bestial’ nature.” 3 This monstrous creature we are told came up “out of the sea.” In the book of Revelation, John uses the sea waters to represent Gentile nations (Revelation 17:15)as do other Scripture (cf. Isaiah 60:3-5; Daniel 7:2-4, 17; Matthew 13:47-50). This demonstrates that the second person of the unholy Trinity is a Gentile. 4 More specifically he will be an Assyrian (cf. Micah 5:5-6). 5

During the first half of the Tribulation, this beast will make a covenant of peace with Israel and will be their ally (Daniel 9:27a). But at the midpoint of the Tribulation, he will break this covenant and seek to destroy the Israelites (Daniel 9:27b; cf. Matthew 24:15-22).

Most of Revelation 13 describes the beast in the context of the last half of the Tribulation. This beast will have “seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns” (13:1), representing the Revived Roman Empire, which was also represented by the fourth beast of Daniel, which also had ten horns (cf. Daniel 7:7-8, 24; cf. Revelation 13:3; 17:3, 7). 6 This beast out of the sea will establish a ten-nation confederacy in the future whose boundaries will include the same basic territory as the ancient Roman Empire. When he rises to preeminence, three of the ten leaders will object, so he will have them killed (cf. Daniel 7:8, 23-24). They will be replaced, and the ten kings will submit to the beast’s authority and eventually relinquish their power to him (cf. Revelation 17:12-13), thus consolidating power much like the Roman Empire did in the past. 7

The “blasphemous name” on the “heads” of this beast depicts his opposition to God. 8 He will speak insulting words against the 144,000 Jewish evangelists and their God, even declaring himself to be God (cf. Daniel 7:8, 20, 25; 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Next John describes how the beast will come to have worldwide power during the first half of the Tribulation period. “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.” (Revelation 13:2). The beast will obtain worldwide authority quickly “like a leopard.” With great force, he will trample his foes decisively “like the feet of a bear.” With “the mouth of a lion” he will speak with great power against God and His people (cf. Daniel 7:8, 20, 25; 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 12:10, 13).

Walvoord states, “In Revelation 13:2 the beast was seen to gather in the symbolism of the three preceding empires – Greece (a leopard, cf. Dan. 7:6), Medo-Persia (a bear, cf. Dan. 7:5), and Babylon (a lion, cf. Dan. 7:4).” 9 This symbolism (see diagram above) implies that this beast of the future Tribulation will embody the sum total of all the Gentile world empires that have opposed God and His people throughout history. 10

“History has known monsters in the persons of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and Mao among others. The reason we classify them this way is that they sought to exterminate people en masse. This is precisely what the Antichrist will seek to do with Israel.” 11

Daniel 11:36-43 tells us more about the character and career of the beast during the first half of the Tribulation period. In Daniel 11:5-35, an angel described a detailed prophecy concerning almost two hundred years of terrible conflict which would take place between the king of the North (the Seleucids) and the king of the South (the Ptolemies) and their successors. The “king of the north” in Daniel 11:21-35 referred to the Seleucid king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes who would persecute the Jews and make life miserable for them from 175 B.C. to 163 B.C. The details of this prophecy were fulfilled exactly as Daniel predicted 350 years earlier. 12

In Daniel 11:36-45 we see another “king of the North” who will make Antiochus IV Epiphanes look like a boy scout. We know that this king cannot be Antiochus IV Epiphanes because the events described in these verses were not fulfilled by him. This particular king of the North is future (11:46a). He is the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation 13:1-10. This world-ruler will arise from the Middle East. This is what Daniel 11:36-45 tells us about him:

1. He acts independently of any authority outside of himself. “Then the king shall do according to his own will.” (Daniel 11:36a; cf. Rev. 13:2).

2. He arrogantly asserts that he is superior to all other gods, including the God of the Bible – “he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods.” (Daniel 11:36b; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

3. The duration of his lawlessness is determined by God – “and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” (Daniel 11:36c). This refers to the last three and a half years of the Tribulation period when God’s wrath will be poured out upon the earth (Revelation 12:1-16:21).

4. He disregards his religious heritage. “He shall regard neither the God of his fathers.” (11:37a). This world-ruler cannot be Jewish because…

a. Daniel 7:8, 24 say that he will be the final ruler out of the revived Roman Empire, so he must be a Gentile.

b. He is from the former territory of the Seleucid kingdom which would include Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq – all countries inhabited mostly by Arabs today. It is far more likely that this king is an Arab who rebels against his Muslim heritage and rejects the Muslim god, Allah.

5. He is either an ascetic who abstains from sexual activity or he is a homosexual – “He shall regard neither the gods of his fathers nor the desire of women.” (Daniel 11:37b). He is so enthralled with Satan’s plan that he has no desire for women.

6. He sets himself up as the sole object of worship – “nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.” (Daniel 11:37c). He will set aside all organized religions and set up a new system of worship.

7. He will worship a new god – a god of strongholds – “But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things.” (Daniel 11:38). This “god of fortresses” is Satan himself (Revelation 13:4) and he will worship Satan by offering costly gems to him. Satan will thoroughly enjoy such costly offerings because his original splendor consisted of such precious stones as these (Ezekiel 28:12b-15).

8. He will conquer many military powers through the strength of Satan and honor those who follow him. “Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.” (Daniel 11:39).

9. After Egypt attacks him, the world-ruler invades Egypt and the Arab States. “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.  He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape.  He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.” (Daniel 11:40-43). Not only is Egypt defeated, but Libya and Sudan are also conquered. It is also possible that other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates are defeated by him as well.

10. Alarming news from the northeast moves the world-ruler to pitch his royal tents near the Temple Mount where he will rule the world. “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain.” (Daniel 11:44-45a). Perhaps he will pitch his royal tents in the upper Kidron Valley to the northeast of the Temple Mount.

Satan will give this man his “power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2b). Just as Satan offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8), he will do the same with this man, the only difference being that Jesus rejected the offer, but the Man of Sin will gladly accept it.

I wonder in what ways do we resemble the beast that will rise up from the sea? Do we use our God-given authority to trample over people to selfishly get our own way? Or do we use the authority God has given us to advance His gospel and help people find peace with the Lord? Do we use our words to speak against God and His people, or do we use them to glorify the Lord and build up His family? May the God of peace use His authority and Word in our lives to crush Satan and his deceitful schemes (Romans 16:20) and advance Jesus’ gospel of grace around the world so more and more people may find peace with God through faith in Christ alone.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the book of Revelation which alerts us to what is going to happen in the future. When we focus on what Your Word says about the future World Ruler or Antichrist, we realize that his character and career will make all evil world leaders of the past look like boy scouts compared to him. As believers in Jesus, we ask You to make us more like Your Son so that the authority You give us will be used to advance Your will and not our own. May the words You give us become instruments of healing and hope instead of hurting and despair. Almighty God, display Your grace and power through us so that the enemy’s deceitful schemes will be defeated, and Your gospel will advance swiftly around the globe. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Study Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition 2019), pg. 2399.

2. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach, The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1545.

3. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 456.

4. Vacendak, pg. 1545; Evans, pg. 2399; John F. Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), location 5740; J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Zondervan Academic, 2010 Kindle Edition), pg. 329; Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2012 Kindle Edition), pg. 261.

5. Vacendak, pg. 1545.

6. Walvoord, location 5740.

7. Hitchcock, pp. 116, 246-249.

8. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 142.

9. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 248 cites John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody, 1989), pg. 960.

10. Swindoll, pg. 248.   

11. Evans, pg. 2399.

12. J. Dwight Pentecost, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Major Prophets, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), location 11,051.

How can I respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God? Part 1

“Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’ ” John 10:32

The question, “Who is the greatest?” is often asked in the sports world. Many would agree with Muhammed Ali who claimed to be “The Greatest” in the prime of his boxing career. However, many Filipinos would say Manny Pacquiao is the greatest. Others would say Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan were the greatest sports figures ever. Some people, like Muhammed Ali, claim to be the greatest in their particular field of endeavor. Others make even more exalted claims. They think they are the greatest people living, period. But all those who think they are the greatest fall short in their claims when compared with Jesus Christ.

Jesus claimed to be God and you can tell that He is by what He said and the way He acted. In the context of our passage today, Jesus had claimed to be “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14) who had the “power to lay down” His life and “the power to take it [up] again” (John 10:18). Anyone can lay his or her life down in death sacrificially, but only Jesus Christ could “lay it down” and then “take it [up] again” in resurrection! This is what separates Jesus Christ from all other religious leaders and founders. All other religious leaders and founders in history are still dead in the grave. But Jesus Christ is the only One who had the authority to take up His life in resurrection proving that He is God (Romans 1:4). Christ also referred to God as “My Father”(John 10:18c). Jesus said He had the power to give eternal life to those who believe in Him (John 10:28a) and the power to guarantee security forever (John 10:28b). Finally, He claimed oneness with His Father in the sense that He and the Father both provide the sheep with security forever (John 10:30). That is something only God can do. Hence, He is saying that both He and the Father are God.

That Jesus claimed to be God can be seen in the Jews’ response to Him. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.” (John 10:31). The word translated “took up” (bastazō) probably means “to carry” in this verse since there would not have been many loose stones in Solomon’s porch in the temple. But not far away was the temple in the process of being built. Surely many stones could be found there. Hence, the Jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus because they understood Him to claim to be equal with God. The Law sentenced a blasphemer to death by stoning (Leviticus 24:13-16). The crowd was hostile and unwilling to permit due process of the law to take its course. Jesus gave these people more than enough evidence that He was the promised Messiah-God, but they were determined not to believe in Him.

Likewise, there are many skeptics today who ignore the sufficient evidence concerning Jesus’ identity as the Messiah-God. How does God want you and I to respond to those who deny the evidence concerning the fact that Jesus Christ is God? The same way Jesus did. We will look at several principles the next few days from these remaining verses about how to respond to skeptics who deny that Jesus is God.

The first way God wants us to respond to skeptics is to CONFRONT THEM WITH QUESTIONS (John 10:32-33). In other words, take the offensive, not the defensive. These Jews had their stones in their hands stretched back to hurl at Christ, and Jesus calmly and courageously says, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” (John 10:32). Jesus spoke before they could act because He was not willing to let them kill Him before His time. Besides, it was the Father’s will that He should die by crucifixion, not by stoning. Christ had healed both the lame man and the man born blind on the Sabbath. He had healed many different people and He wants to know for which of these miracles did they want to kill Him. What miracle ever called for the death penalty? This question confronted them with the absurdity of executing a man for restoring people who had suffered from afflictions.

Look at the Jews’ answer to this question. Their response demonstrated that Jesus claimed to be God. “The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’ ” (John 10:33).  They did not think this through. They were not going to kill Jesus because of His works, but because of His Words! Because He, “being a Man, makes” Himself to be “God.” Please note that this would only be blasphemy if Jesus was not God. But nowhere does Jesus correct their understanding of His claim to be God as if they had misunderstood Him. A man was not making himself out to be God – God had made Himself into a Man (cf. John 1:1, 14, 18)! Jesus was the God-Man!

These religious leaders could not accept Jesus’ claim to be God. They would not accept that He was telling the truth. Our Creator is one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1; Matthew 28:19). And Jesus Christ is one Person with two natures – divine and human (John 1:1, 14). John is urging his readers to be like Jesus and take the offensive, not the defensive when dealing with skeptics.

For example, if someone says to you that they do not believe Jesus claimed to be God, then ask them why these “religious experts” were incited to pick up stones to throw at Jesus? What did they understand Jesus to claim in verse 33? These prominent Jews understood Jesus’ claim to be God. Then ask the skeptic, “If Jesus’ enemies understood Him to claim to be equal with God, why won’t you understand this? Why do you refuse to understand what the scribes and Pharisees understood? If Jesus was not really claiming to be God, He could have easily corrected the Jews’ misunderstanding here. Why didn’t He correct their understanding here if He was not claiming to be God?” It is obvious that He did not correct their understanding that He claimed to be God because they were correct to understand He was in fact claiming to be God. Only a clear claim by Christ to be God would have incited these professional religious experts to take such drastic action.

If a skeptic tells you he does not believe the Bible, ask him, “What part of the Bible don’t you believe?” Some skeptics have never even read the Bible. All they are doing is repeating something they heard someone else say. The same is true of those who deny that Jesus is God. Rather than study the words and works of Jesus for themselves, they simply repeat what others have told them about Christ. 

Prayer: Father God, You have given us the privilege of proclaiming Your gospel message to a lost world. Many in the world have been taught that Jesus Christ never claimed to be God. Yet we have seen in the historical record today that Jesus’ Jewish audience understood Christ to claim to be equal with God the Father. Lord, please give us the wisdom and the courage to take the offensive with skeptics by confronting them with questions about their rejection of Christ as God. Let us not allow Satan to deceive others with our silence. Use our voices to boldly proclaim that Jesus is God Who freely offers eternal life to all who believe in Him. And only God can guarantee that those who possess eternal life can never be snatched out of His hand. Hallelujah my great God and Savior. In Jesus’ name. Amen.