every word

The Word for today:
Revelation 14:14-20

mark this: Revelation 14:18-20
“Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”
So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

When was the last time you sang this song in your church?–

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Or when was the last time your pastor preached a sermon on the section of scripture that we have before us today–the scripture which inspired that song?

Must have been before you started attending church, because you’ve probably never heard that sermon.

The reason we Stand in the Rain, reading the whole of scripture, is because it forces us to consider verses like Revelation 14:14-20. It forces me to present the Bible as God wrote it, not as I chose it.

The evangelical church today tells the truth, for the most part, but it’s often a limited truth. Limited truth can be a form of a lie. That’s why our courts find it necessary to insist upon “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”–because many a huckster and many a cult have hoodwinked the public without, technically, “lying.”

Here’s a principal to remember:
to the extent that your church teaches and preaches every verse in the Bible, your church is telling the truth.

Or, to put it another way:
to the extent that your church does not teach and preach every verse of the Bible, your church is not telling the truth.

Almost every cult has a Bible in the pew. Their lie isn’t in their book, it’s in their emphasis of what’s in their book.

We have not been commissioned to edit God’s words. Our commission is to spread the word–to sow the seed, all of it–over every path.

As a Bible teacher, I find the following warning–from the very last page of your Bible–to be even more worrisome than the images of judgment from our reading today:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.  (Revelation 22:18-19)

Because if you or I–as pastor, preacher, elder, or teacher–have under-emphasized (or altogether avoided) the teaching of some verses or scriptural concepts, then we have effectively detracted–taken away–from the Word of God.

***

When we were kids, my brother and I used to pick the the grapes out of the fruit cocktail and throw them away. Sad to say, that’s how the Bible is often taught. But recall the proclamation of the great King himself:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (1)

We can’t keep picking just the fruit of the Spirit (2), while leaving the grapes of wrath behind.

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(1) Matthew 4:4; (2) Galatians 5:22

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“Fell, fell is Babylon.”

The Word for today:
Revelation 14:6-13

The first time we hear about Babylon in the book of Revelation is in 14:8–
And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.”

“Babylon” stands for many things in scripture, and we will have more to say about it as Revelation proceeds. But today we are going to look closely at the language which is used to pronounce the fall of Babylon.

1. The first thing we see is that the verb, fallen, precedes the subject, Babylon. This is not normal word order! We are told that something has “fallen” before we find out what that something is!

Babylon’s fall is announced before its rise has even been hinted. Babylon meant such horrible things to his readers that John thought it best to assure them that Babylon would have only a temporary existence.

2. The English language actually lacks the verb tenses with which to accurately translate Revelation 14:8. The closest English can come to a literal rendering of this verse would be “Fell, fell is Babylon.”

The angel announces that which is yet to come as though it had already happened. In the original Greek, “fallen” is in the prophetic aorist tense. In other words, God’s prophetic word is so sure that He speaks as though the event had already taken place. It is just as sure as if it were history already. Our language is incapable of so emphatically pronouncing the angel’s prophetic certainty.

3. Finally, we see “fallen” not once but twice. Does that mean the city will fall two times?

In order to understand the double “fallen,” we need a complete understanding of what “Babylon” is going to represent as Revelation unfolds. So we must reveal, in essence, what the angel already knew:

“Fallen, fallen” does not mean that one Babylon will fall twice. “Fallen, fallen” means that two different Babylons will each fall once!

As we shall see, shall see.

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a perpetual revelation

The Word for today:
Revelation 14:1-5

mark this: Revelation 14:3
And they sang a new song before the throne…

‘New’ might be my favorite word. It never gets old.

Some people see the Bible as old. I see everything else but the Bible as old!

The Bible from cover to cover is new. Genesis opens with a new creation. Revelation closes with yet another new creation; even the end of the Bible is a new beginning!

God tells us to forget the old, because he is doing a new thing:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
 (Isaiah 43:18-19; see also Isaiah 42:9; 48:6-7)

His mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:23)

Jesus shows us a new and living way. (Hebrews 10:20)

Even I am new!–
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

With a new heart and a new spirit. (Ezekiel 36:26)

So new that the old rules don’t even apply!–
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)

Someday I will even have a new name (Isaiah 62:2; Revelation 2:17).

In fact, God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).

And he always will. Heaven isn’t going to stand still. History and eternity are a perpetual revelation of God’s new and fuller appearance.

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the nature of the beast (part 2)

The Word for today:
Revelation 13:11-18

mark this:
This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:18)

and this:
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (Revelation 16:13)

Yesterday, Stand in the Rain looked back, locating preliminary appearances of the beast–the antichrist–throughout scripture. The reader who has not done so may want to begin there.

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Warning: This article contains word-pictures of graphic evil. The reader will also encounter some extremely dark surmise. It is not recommended for children, or for the scripturally inexperienced, or for the spiritually immature.

*****

666?

First, the facts. Then we’ll draw the face of exponential evil.

In Revelation 13, Satan appears (as a “dragon”–see 12:9 and 13:2) along with two “beasts”–one from the sea (13:1) and one from the land (13:11).

(The “sea” in scripture indicates the nations other than Israel. Thus a political Antichrist–the beast from the sea–can come from any nation other than Israel.
The “land” in scripture indicates Israel. Thus the false prophet, a religious Antichrist–the beast from the land–will come out of Israel.)

‘6’ is the number of man since Genesis, when man was formed on the 6th day. So 666, in the context of Revelation 13, is formed when the beast from the sea (a man, a ‘6’) and the beast from the land (a man, a ‘6’) assume their roles (along with Satan) in an unholy trinity (a ‘6-6-6’) of Satan’s devising. This is the ultimate culmination of Satan’s pride and man’s idolatry. Finally, Satan and man can worship themselves.

The formation of this counterfeit Trinity stems from Satan’s longing to be like God, to enthrone himself in God’s stead:

How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
“I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.” 
(Isaiah 14:12-14)

Unredeemed man, like his father the devil (John 8:44, below) seeks to take God’s place. This can take many forms, but it often begins when individuals decide that they will be their own arbiters of right and wrong. From there, it’s not too long before a society–a government–will vote themselves the ability to decide matters of life and death. God has not relinquished these matters to man.

These are dark days in the USA. A man goes on a killing spree in Tuscon. He has a satanic shrine in his backyard and when his math instructor wrote ‘6,’ he insisted it was ’18.’

Looking through his twisted arithmetic, I discern a demonic inside joke: the beast–a man, a ‘6’–is one with a trinity (a ‘6+6+6’). So, 6 is 18. It’s merely the arithmetic of hell.

Identifying the face of evil in Revelation 13 isn’t a parlor game, a riddle, or a puzzle for us to solve. Evil, in Tuscon, is the grotesque smirk behind a 9mm Glock. Jesus knew this face:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)

Evil, in Revelation 13, is a self-worshipper who knows his time is short, and is determined to take everyone down with him–

Because maybe, just maybe, God won’t have the heart to judge so many.

Then God would be a liar–shirking his promise and responsibility to judge sin–and thus no longer God. And so the crown and throne and scepter that Satan could not gain through usurpation, he would attain through God’s abdication…

That’s the spirit of 666. That’s the nature of the beast.

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the nature of the beast (part 1)

The Word for today:
Revelation 13:1-10

mark this: Revelation 13:4
And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

Revelation 13 concerns “the beast,” famously associated with the numerals 666.

So over the next two days, Stand in the Rain will delve into this topic. But we will not concern ourselves with identifying who the beast is — or will be — because whether he is Joe, Sam, Willy, Ferdinand, or Oglethorpe has not one whit of significance for this writer. (“A rose by any other name is still a rose…”)

We will endeavor to convey not his name, but his nature.

Part 1 will look back–locating preliminary appearances of the beast in scripture.

Tomorrow, part 2 will convey “the nature of the beast.”
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The beast. The Antichrist. The false prophet. 666.

What to make of all this?

First of all, it should be known that the Antichrist will be an embodiment of a spirit that is presently at work among us, greasing the slippery slope to hell.

The word “antichrist” appears only in the epistles of John (1 John 2:18; 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7), and the Bible student will learn as much about Antichrist from these epistles as he will learn from John’s other book–Revelation.

“the spirit of antichrist”
“The spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3) refers to the demonic deception that will work to produce the final world ruler who rules as the false Christ. The spirit of antichrist is always actively seeking to pervert the gospel by distorting Jesus Christ’s true nature:
Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

“many antichrists”
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. (1 John 2:18)
The plural–“antichrists”–in 1 John 2:18b refers to false teachers whose false doctrine distorted the truth and opposed Christ (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Acts 20:28-30).

“antichrist”
The singular–“antichrist”– in 1 John 2:18a refers to the coming final world ruler, energized by Satan, who will seek to oppose and replace the true Christ.

Thus the final antichrist of Revelation 13 will not be something new, but will embody all the antichrist spirits that have perverted the truth. This can be seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, where the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) is still to be revealed, but the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.

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For further study:

The Bible student should be able to trace the movements of “the beast” prior to his arrival in Revelation. He is–
“the little horn” of Daniel 7:24-26;
“the desolator” of Daniel 9:27;
“the abomination that causes desolation” of Matthew 24:15;
“the man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8.

To the beast Satan gives the power which he offered to Christ (Matthew 4:8-9; Revelation 13:4).

Extrabiblically, the Bible student should be aware of “The Second Coming,” a culturally influential poem by William Butler Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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