Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church, organized in 1944, serves the West Dallas community under the leadership of Rev. Milas Franklin, Jr. Sunday School: 9:30 AM Worship: 11 AM Wednesday Night Service: 7 PM
Operating as usual
Revelation 16: Gathering the Nations to Armageddon.
Is It Now, and Are You Ready?
Gathering the Nations to Armageddon
Seven Cups of Fury
Revelation 16:1 I heard a great voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go, and pour out the seven cups of God’s fury on earth!”
• After the interlude of Worship in the previous chapter, God's judgment of earth continues.
The First Cup
16:2 The first went out, and poured out his cup on earth. Fierce and dismal wounds happened among men who had the beast’s brand and who worshiped her image.
• Here the Lord again makes a distinction between His people and those who are aliens, as in Exodus 9:4: "The Lord will work miraculously between Israel’s possessions and the Egyptians’ possessions, that nothing at all of those which belong to Israel’s children will die."
• Clinging to sin prompts the sinner's agony.
The Second Cup
16:3 The second poured out his cup on the sea, and it became blood, like the dead. Every living animal in the sea died.
• Again, the Lord's judgment plays out as what from our perspective would be a climate catastrophe, beginning here with the oceans.
The Third Cup
16:4 The third poured out his cup over rivers and over springs of waters, and it became blood.
• The catastrophe extends from the seas to fresh water.
16:5 I heard the angel of the waters saying, “You who are and who were, You are holy are righteous, because You have judged these. 16:6 Because they poured out the blood of holy ones and prophets, You also have given them blood to drink. They are worthy of this.”
• The angel's words explicitly link this "pouring out of blood" over earth's waters to the blood of the Lord's saints, which has been poured out.
16:7 I heard from the altar also saying, “Lord God omnipotent, Your judgments are true and right.”
• "omnipotent": all-power
• "true": corresponding to the actual nature of the universe
• "right": doing injustice to none; equitable, fair, and just.
The Fourth Cup
16:8 The fourth poured out his cup in the sun, and it was given him to afflict men with heat and fire.
• The protection of earth's atmosphere is taken away, and the Sun harms those living on earth in a way it hasn't before.
• This is perhaps prefigured today in the destruction of the ozone layer over earth and the excess radiation that follows from it, as well as the phenomenon of 'global warming'.
16:9 Men seethed with great heat. They blasphemed the name of the God having power over these plagues, nor did they act out penance that they might give Him glory.
• As has been the case throughout these judgments so far, and as was the case with the plagues the Lord sent against Pharaoh and Egypt prior to the Exodus, those afflicted respond not with repentance but with blasphemy.
• How do we respond to the catastrophes we suffer through, whether they are of this dimension or not?
The Fifth Cup
16:10 The fifth poured out his cup over the beast’s throne, and its kingdom became shadowy, and they gnawed their tongues for pain. 16:11 They blasphemed sky’s God because of their pains and wounds, and did not act out penance from their works.
• "...its kingdom became shadowy": This echoes Exodus 10:22: "Moses stretched out his hand to the sky, and terrible shadows came into all Egypt’s land for three days."
• It also echoes a government that has lost its legitimacy, and must resort to illegitimate means to remain in power.
• "...they gnawed their tongues for pain": the consequence of shadowy government is pain and, once again, unrepentant blasphemy.
The Sixth Cup
16:12 The sixth poured out his cup on that great river, the Euphrates, and dried up its waters so a way could be made ready for kings from the rising sun.
• The Euphrates, one of the twin great rivers in Mesopotamia along with the Tigris, is the River barrier closest to the land of Israel.
• Its drying up opens the way for invasion by the "kings from the rising sun", East of Israel.
16:13 I saw three unclean breaths like frogs from the dragon’s mouth and from the beast’s mouth and from the false prophet’s mouth. 16:14 They are demons’ breaths, working signs. They come out to all earth’s kings, to gather them in battle, to God omnipotent’s great day.
• These three "unclean breaths", a sort of 'anti-Trinity', proceed not from the Father and Son but from the Satanic 'trinity' of dragon, beast, and false prophet.
• Their presence provokes earth's rulers to war.
• Satanic religion divides and provokes war.
16:15 “Look! I come like a thief! Who watches and keeps his garments is blessed, that he not walk naked and they see his shame!”
• The Risen Christ warns all who will hear that His coming is near.
• The believer's responsibility is to keep watch, practice purity as commanded, and walk in faith until the Lord comes.
16:16 He gathered them into the place that is called Armageddon in Hebrew.
• Armageddon means "the hill or city of Megiddo".
• Megiddo, a city in central Israel north of Jerusalem, is mentioned 11 times in scripture, from its capture from the Canaanites by Joshua in Joshua 12:21, to its site as the death-place of righteous King Josiah in 2 Chronicles 35:22.
• In this instance, this strategic valley will be the location of the final battle of world history.
• The concept of "Armageddon" has captivated human imaginations since John wrote of it here.
• May God grant us to escape its destruction.
The Seventh Cup
16:17 The seventh poured out his cup in the air, and a great voice went out from the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
• The pouring out of the seventh cup marks the end of the great struggle.
• Many of the religions surrounding ancient Israel placed the wars of their cosmologies at the beginning of time; Israel and the Christian community that sprung from it placed that war at the end of time as we know it.
16:18 Lightning and voices and thunders happened, and a great earthquake happened, such as never was from when men were on the earth – such an earthquake so great.
• The worldwide catastrophe continues, this time with an enormous earthquake.
16:19 The great city was broken into three parts, and the nations’ cities fell. Great Babylon came to memory before God, to give it the wine cup of His fury’s indignation.
• "The great city": Jerusalem, now broken into three parts; at present the so-called old city is broken into four quarters: two Christian, one Jewish, and one Muslim.
• Babylon, representative is wicked human government and so long unaccountable for its crimes, now comes to God's memory.
• Justice may be delayed, but we must remember the difference between 'not at all' and 'not yet'.
• Here, 'not yet' becomes 'right now'.
16:20 Every island fled, and the mountains were not found. 16:21 Great hail like a talent fell on men from the sky, and men blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, because it was fiercely great.
• The face of this catastrophe still does not lead to repentance.
• Hard hearts do not soften even before the evident wrath of God.
• Again, let us pray that the Lord softens our hearts before the Day comes!
A brief Wednesday Prayer.
Revelation 15 Bible lesson attached
below in the comments.
The Lamb Stands on Mount Zion!
(or, Get Back, Beast!)
Wonderful, hopeful words for today!
See text and study notes below.
Bible Study Notes
February 3, 2021
In last week's study, two beasts rose from the abyss: one representing human political empire, the other pretending human religion. This week, the Lord answers.
The Lamb on Mount Sion
Revelation 14:1 "I saw, and look! The Lamb was standing on Mount Sion, and with him one hundred forty-four thousand having his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads!"
• The "Lamb": the Risen Christ, God's perfect offering for the sins of the world.
• Mount Sion, or Zion: the mountain on which Jerusalem and the ancient Temple were built; the holiest place on earth, in the Jewish traditiion.
• 144,000: 12,000 for each of the twelve tribes of Israel: "144,000 Jewish Billy Grahams," as Hal Lindsey put it.
14:2 "I heard a voice from the sky like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of great thunder. The voice which I heard was like harpists playing on their harps. 14:3 They were singing like a new song before the throne and before the four living beings and the elders, and no one can learn the song except those one hundred forty-four thousand who were bought from the earth."
• Note the contrast: the beasts speak the language of lies, violence, and coercion; the Lamb and His companions sing the language of praise.
• The reference to "harps" is the source of the mocking idea that the saints sit around heaven playing harps.
14:4 "These are who are not contaminated with women, for these are virgins who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These are bought from men, first fruits to God and the Lamb. 14:5 No lie was found in their mouth. They are without stain."
• These 144,000 are not "ordinary" believers.
• Their qualities include chastity ("not contaminated with women"), honesty ("no lie was found in their mouth"), and purity ("without stain").
• They are, as it were, the "shock troops" of the Kingdom.
Three Angels Flying
14:6 "I saw another angel flying through the middle of the sky, having the eternal gospel, so he could proclaim good news over those sitting on the earth, and over every nation and tribe and language and people,"
• This angel (angel=messenger in Greek) carries "the eternal gospel", which is "good news" on earth in the midst of catastrophic war, famine, disease, and environmental destruction.
• The message is not exclusive to any single group, but comes "over every nation and tribe and language and people".
• God still sends the angel of good news in the midst of earthly struggle.
14:7 saying in a great voice, “Fear God, and give Him honor, because the hour of His judgment comes! Worship Him who made sky and earth and sea and springs of water!”
• The angel calls those who listen to "Fear God", to "give Him honor" in light of imminent judgment, and to "Worship Him" who made all things.
• These remain the faithful's agenda still.
14:8 Another angel followed, saying, “Babylon has fallen, fallen, that great force that gave all nations a drink from the wine of her fornication’s fury!”
• The second angel announces Babylon's fall.
• The original Babylon was a city-state in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) that twice built an empire in the ancient world; the second time, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon besieged and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and carried the Jewish leaders into exile.
• In this case, Babylon represents not the literal city, but the secular, Beastly world order which has continually harmed God's people and creation.
• "Fornication" is having sexual relations outside of a lawful union; again, the word here stands for more than mere illicit sex; it is a pattern of lust-driven exploitation of the poor and powerless on behalf of a cruel oppressor.
14:9 "Another third angel followed them, saying in a great voice, “If someone worships the beast and her image, and receives the brand on his forehead or on his hand,"
• The third angel reminds us that branding matters!
• Whose brand is on us? Our own? The Beast's? The Devil's?
• Recall that the 144,000 bear the Lord's brand, and that believers who refused the Beast's brand were persecuted.
14:10 "...he also will drink from the wine of God’s fury, who is mixed unmixed in His anger’s cup. He will be tormented by fire and sulphur before the holy angels and before the Lamb."
• Those branded for the Beast will drink the wine of God's fury.
• Unlike in much contemporary thought, God is neither an enabler or Santa Claus: those who turn away "will be tormented by fire and sulphur" in the presence of the One they deny.
• This torture is the witness of their own conscience; the same presence is blessing and peace to those who love Him and repent.
14:11 "The smoke of their torments goes up in ages of ages, nor do they who worshiped the beast and its image have rest day and night, and if someone received its name’s brand.”
• This punishment does not end; there are eternal consequences for what we do in time.
14:12 "Here is the patience of the holy ones who keep God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus."
• The faithful must endure to see this!
• It requires "patience" to "keep God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus."
Blessed Are the Dead
14:13 I heard a voice from the sky, saying, “Write!
“‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from this moment on,’ Spirit says, ‘that they rest from their labors, for their works follow them.’”
• This is the great promise of scripture for those who believe; those who died in the Lord have been blessed from the moment the angel spoke this.
• I have used this text at most of the grave side services I've ever done.
14:14 I saw, and look! A bright cloud, and one like man’s Son sitting on the cloud, having a gold crown on his head and a sharpened pruning knife in his hand. 14:15 Another angel went out of the temple, shouting in a great voice to the one sitting on the cloud, “Put in your pruning knife and reap, because the hour comes that it be harvested, for earth’s harvest has dried!”
• The resemblance of the first angel to the "Son of Man" echoes Daniel's vision in Daniel 7:13.
• The purpose of the pruning hook is to cut away what is dead and diseased, so what is healthy and alive may receive even more; this is the Lord's purpose for the harvest here, as well.
14:16 "The one who sat on the cloud put in his pruning knife on earth, and earth was harvested."
• Humans had a say in bringing about this harvest by their sinful acts; beyond that, they have no say either in when it starts and when it ends.
• Our actions are out of our hands now, and in the hands of the Lord.
• We do well to live mindfully of that here and now.
The Grape Harvest
14:17 "Another angel went out of the temple that is in the sky, also having a sharpened pruning knife. 14:18 Another angel from the altar, who had authority over the fire, shouted in a great voice to the one who had the sharpened pruning knife, saying, “Put in your sharpened pruning knife, and gather the bunches of earth’s vineyard, because its grapes are ripe!”
• A second angel armed with a second pruning forth follows the first.
• The angel "who had authority over the fire" commands the harvest to begin.
14:19 The angel cast his pruning knife on the earth. He gathered earth’s vineyard, and threw into the pit of God’s great anger.
• Earthly grapes must be "trampled" in a grape press, to squeeze out the liquid into vats below.
• The life juices of the harvested "grapes" of sinful humanity are flow into the winepress of God's fury.
14:20 The pit was tread under foot outside the city, and the blood went out from the pit even to the bits of horses for one thousand, six hundred stadia.
• Many interpreters have taken this as an allusion to a bloodbath from battle.
• 1,600 stadia is roughly 182 miles.
Revelation 13: “The Beast Rises!”
The number given is 666.
Bible Study Notes
"The Beast Rises"
A Beast Coming Up
Revelation 13:1 I saw a beast coming up from the sea, having seven heads and ten horns and ten diadems on her horns, and on her heads blasphemous names.
• This beast reflects the "great, red dragon" from Revelation 12:3
• The only difference is that the beast has ten diadems (crowns) on her head, and the dragon seven.
13:2 The beast which I saw was like a leopard, and her feet like a bear, and her mouth like a lion’s mouth, and the dragon gave her his strength and great power.
• This beast combines the characteristics of the four beasts described in Daniel 7.
• It represents the expression in human power of the great dragon Satan's supernatural power.
13:3 One of her heads was as if killed in death. Its death-blow was healed, and the whole world marveled after the beast.
• A pretended Resurrection cements this beast's hold over earth's inhabitants.
• This pretended miracle reminds us of Paul's solemn warning to Christian believers in Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
13:4 They worshiped the dragon because he gave power to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against her?”
• This idolatry of human power is a perverse echo of the praise John has recorded in heaven.
• Unfortunately, the idolatry of false-dealing human power is still with us.
The Beast’s Agenda
13:5 A mouth speaking great and blasphemous words was given it, and power was given it to work forty-two months.
• The beast is given "a mouth speaking great and blasphemous words."
• Many may think such things, or even say them; yet what is given to the Beast is more like a microphone, a broadcast system, where these words can be heard and known widely.
• Its power, however great, is limited in time.
13:6 It opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle and those who live in the sky.
• To blaspheme is to speak against, deny, or be irreverent.
• This blasphemy begins against God's name, dwelling, and companions.
• In many cultures even now, blasphemy is against the law.
13:7 It was given it to make war with the saints and to conquer them, and power was given it in every tribe and people and language and nation.
• Because of the beast's immense influence, it will conquer God's holy ones on earth.
• It is also given universal power on earth; the text indicates there is nowhere on the planet where its influence isn't felt.
13:8 All who live on earth, whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life who was killed from the world’s origin, will worship it.
• Unless one's name has already been written from the "world's origin" in the "Lamb's book of life," one will not be able to resist.
• This idea of the predestination of the saints has been the source of great and ongoing controversy among Christ's followers.
13:9 If someone has ears, let him hear!
• The warning is clear, however: if you can hear it, hear it! Being able to 'hear', believe, repent, and persevere, is evidence that one's name is indeed written in the Lamb's book.
13:10 Who to captivity goes to captivity. Who dies by the sword, it is necessary to him to be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and faith of holy ones.
• This is an encouragement to Christ's holy ones to stand firm.
• There is no hint here that these holy ones will be magically removed from the struggle; they will simply have to endure it patiently, as the Lord endured His cross.
13:11 I saw another beast coming up from the earth. She had two horns like a lamb, and spoke like a dragon.
• This second beast is more deceptive.
• She has lamb-like horns, as a pretended Christ, yet her voice is that of the dragon.
• This is an implicit warning against those who bear the markings of Christ's Church, but speak the words of the devil.
13:12 She worked all the prior beast’s power in her sight, and she makes earth and those living in her worship the first beast, whose death-blow was healed.
• Her power is derivative, coming not from herself but from the first beast and its faux miracle of Resurrection.
• Remember that the first beast's power is also derivative, lent by the great dragon.
13:13 She worked great signs, so she even made fire come down from sky to earth in men’s sight.
• This is another warning against being swayed by what seem to be miracles.
• Calling down fire echoes what Elijah did in 2 Kings 2:10-16, and what Jesus refused to do in Luke 9:54-55.
13:14 She seduces earth’s inhabitants because of the signs that are given her to do in the beast’s sight, saying to the inhabitants on earth that they make an image of the beast who has the sword’s wound and survived.
• This gentle-seeming false 'lamb' does not have to force many to believe her; she "seduces" them by means of false miracles into worshiping the beast's image.
• In John's day, the Roman authorities seduced most into worshiping images of Caesar; those who wouldn't were called atheists and subject to legal penalties.
13:15 It was given her that she give breath to the beast’s image, that the beast’s image may both speak, and make whoever will not worship the beast’s image be killed.
• Some have likened her ability to make the beast's image speak to television.
13:16 She will make all – small and great and rich and poor and free and slaves – to have a brand on their right hand or on their foreheads – 13:17 and no one may buy or sell except one who has the brand of the beast’s name or its name’s number.
• The beast's followers are branded, and those who refuse the brand are persecuted economically, if not killed outright.
• Branding something is claiming ownership of it, whether it is animate or inanimate.
• Because of this, the Torah forbade the Israelites to tattoo themselves (Leviticus 19:28), since they already belonged to the Lord and were not free to be branded for anyone else, including themselves.
13:18 Here is wisdom. Let who has understanding calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.
• There are two prior references to "six hundred sixty-six" of significance in the Olt Testament, both involving King Solomon and gold brought to him from elsewhere.
• 1 Kings 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
• 1 Kings 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
• Whatever the precise meaning of the term in this instance, the precedent for it is a vast sum or wealth pouring into the hands of a ruler; in this case, the ruler receiving such wealth is the beast, in opposition to God and God's people.
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