What do you do when something in your life causes you to panic or makes you really mad? You may fight, scream, cry, or sulk. Or you may begin to make a plan to try to regain control of your life or to get even with your enemy. What happens when Satan finds himself in a panic situation and is enraged? He lost the battle with Michael and was hurled down to the earth. Then he lost the battle with the woman (Israel) who was divinely enabled to escape. He knows his time is short. What will he do to try to regain control of his world? The end time drama intensifies during the final three and one-half years. Satan doesn’t give up the battle. He has a plan.
Satan now becomes obsessed with destroying the believing Jews. He stood on the seashore and weighed his options. The sea in scripture is often used to symbolize the Gentile nations. From one of these nations Satan will choose a human instrument to carry out his evil plans. This person is called a “beast from the sea.” We know this person as Antichrist. Up to this point, this person has been the leader of a ten-nation European league, but he is about to become a world dictator with the empowerment of Satan and the help of another beast from the earth.
In chapter 14 the Lamb will appear and angels will come forward to bring warnings to earth’s inhabitants. God’s love knows no bounds. He also doesn’t give up easily on His beloved human creatures.
DAY ONE: AN EVIL POLITICAL RULER EMERGES.
READ: Revelation 13:1-10
A. THE BEAST COMES OUT OF THE SEA.
As we look at world history we notice that quite a few men have been ambitious enough to try to rule the whole world. So we are not surprised that Satan can find his man among the current national leaders. The Antichrist began by posing as a great peacemaker. He made a covenant with the Jews to protect them for seven years. This period of peace would “settle” the Arab-Israeli conflict and allow the Jews to rebuild their temple and resume religious rituals. But we see that his peacemaking tactics will turn to evil aggression for three and one-half years.
Antichrist was the little horn coming out of ten kings ruling the ten kingdoms of the world. He began a move to take control of the world by declaring war on the ten kings. He moved out in all directions in conquest. (Daniel 11:40-45) He succeeded in killing the king of the north (Syria), the king of the south (Egypt), and the king of the east (Mesopotamia). He conquered Egypt and then Africa and then invaded Israel.
Although Antichrist will ultimately gain political control of the whole world, three countries will not come under his control – Edom, Moab, and Ammon (modern-day Jordan). At this point Antichrist will make his headquarters in Israel on the holy mountain.
Antichrist is compared to the rulers in Daniel 7 who are described as a lion (Babylon), a bear (Persia), and a leopard (Greece). The fourth beast in Daniel is described as a terrible beast (Rome). He is described as having 10 horns, three are uprooted, and the little horn came out blaspheming God and persecuting saints for three and one-half years.
B. THE BEAST COMMANDS AWE AND WORSHIP.
Satan gave Antichrist his power, His throne, and great authority. In the battle for supremacy it appears that Antichrist was inflicted with a fatal wound. Somehow Satan healed the wound and Antichrist is resurrected. This caused the whole world to worship Antichrist and also Satan. Antichrist seemed invincible at this point.
We need to see the beastliness of political power born of blasphemy against the true God. When the state tries to eliminate God and take His place, it always becomes cruel and beastlike. As the power of the leader grows, the temptation to be worshipped grows.
C. THE BEAST RULES AND BLASPHEMES FOR 42 MONTHS.
Antichrist is energized from hell. Like Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh, Antichrist is Satan in the flesh. After he is presented to the world, there is wonder and then worship. Antichrist worship becomes the official religion of the world. He will become a great orator and a great conqueror. The unbelieving world gladly bows down to this anti-God person.
D. ANTICHRIST IS TO BE FEARED AND ENDURED.
Antichrist and Satan ultimately only have the power God allows them. God allows this period of seeming triumph. The world’s population will be divided into those whose names are in God’s book and will not worship the beast even on threat of death and those who worship the beast.
Many true believers will go into captivity and many will be killed. It will be a time that calls for patient endurance and faithfulness.
- What does 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 say about Antichrist’s power?
- What is the “spirit of Antichrist” as described in 1 John 4:3?
- From a dictionary define blasphemy.
- How are we to guard against this kind of evil? (Ephesians 6:13)
- The opposite of blasphemy is true worship. How does true worship strengthen your faith?
DAY TWO: AN EVIL SPIRITUAL LEADER EMERGES.
READ: Revelation 13:11-18
A. THE SECOND BEAST COMES OUT OF THE EARTH.
Satan’s goal is to replace God as the ruler of the world. He has introduced the counterfeit Father (Satan), and the counterfeit Son (Antichrist). Now he will call forth the counterfeit Holy Spirit (False Prophet) as named in Revelation 16:13.
This beast is described as coming from the earth. This may mean he comes out of Israel (as opposed to the Gentile sea). It could also mean he came from humanity as opposed to the spirit world.
B. HE IS GIVEN POWER TO DECEIVE.
He will appear like a lamb or a true religious person, but his voice is the Devil’s voice. His role is to deceive humanity and cause the world to worship the Antichrist. He is given great power by Satan to work miracles and signs.
As Antichrist’s popularity grows, the second beast will set up an image of Antichrist and force everyone to worship it. The image is even given the ability to respond in some way. This is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:15.
C. HE COMMANDS EVERYONE TO RECEIVE A MARK.
Everyone must receive a mark on their right hand or forehead. This will enable them to buy and sell or give them the ability to do business. The beast will try to counterfeit the seal of God on the foreheads of tribulation saints and the seal of the Holy Spirit on believers. The “mark of the beast” is the counterfeit seal.
- What other person called down fire from heaven? (2 Kings 1:1-12)
- How does Paul describe deceivers like the false prophet? (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
- What was Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:24?
- What was Paul’s warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10?
- What is the special judgment God sends to those who have rejected the true God? (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
- What is the special comfort Jesus promises to true worshippers? (Hebrews 13:5-6)
DAY THREE: THE LAMB APPEARS WITH 144,000.
READ: Revelation 14:1-5
A. A NEW SONG COMES FROM HEAVEN.
What a welcome break from the dragon and two beasts we met in chapter 13. The Lamb (Christ) appears with the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. It isn’t clear whether they are on Mt. Zion on earth or in heaven. This may be a vision of a future time when Christ will reign and the 144,000 will join Him on the sacred mount.
B. THE 144,000 HAVE PROVEN FAITHFUL.
John heard a marvelous sound – a victory song sung uniquely for the faithful 144,000 who are redeemed from earth. They have remained chaste and loyal to their calling. They are the first fruits of Jewish servants in the kingdom. While the counterfeit kingdom is based on lies, their work has been to spread truth.
They demonstrate that faithfulness is possible even in the darkest of times.
- Where is Christ enthroned today? (Acts 2:32-34)
- Describe the seal of believers (Ephesians 1:13-14).
- Describe the seal of the 144,000 (Revelation 14:1)
- What does this seal imply regarding ownership?
- What would my song say about my life experiences for God?
- Share a time when you stood for Christ in a tough situation.
DAY FOUR: THREE ANGELS BRING GOD’S MESSAGES.
READ: Revelation 14:6-13
A. FIRST ANGEL PROCLAIMS THE GOSPEL AND WARNS.
God never leaves Himself without witness in the world. While Antichrist is spreading his counterfeit trinity and worship, God sends a powerful angel to the whole world as a final call to accept the gospel. The inhabitants of the world must choose between Messiah and Antichrist. The time to choose is now because the final seven bowl judgments are about to be poured out. The message goes out to the whole world to worship the creator who made all things and will show that all of creation is under His control.
B. SECOND ANGEL PROCLAIMS FALL OF BABYLON.
Babylon is symbolic of the origin of false religion and anti-God political systems. We will read of its destruction in chapter 18. The worldwide political system of Antichrist will fall. It is doomed already. Who would want to cast their lot with a failed system?
C. THIRD ANGEL WARNS OF RESULT OF WORSHIPPING THE BEAST.
God always reveals the consequences of choices that humans can make. The third angel makes it very clear that choosing to cast their lot with Antichrist will seal their doom. By refusing the mark, the saints will undergo severe persecution and hardship or even death. But they will have heavenly rest and reward.
- Who is to blame for the coming judgment of unbelievers? (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)
- What attribute of God do you find in these final calls?
- What compelling reasons are given to encourage people to turn to God?
- Why might some people be tempted to follow Antichrist?
- What is comforting to you in the phrase “their deeds will follow them?” (Hebrews 6:10-12)
DAY FIVE: TIME FOR HARVEST HAS COME.
READ: Revelation 14:14-20
A. ONE LIKE A SON OF MAN APPEARS.
The last verses in chapter 14 gave us a picture of the two possible final destinies of human beings:
1. Reaping is often a symbol of salvation. While the majority will worship the Antichrist, many will choose to reject the mark of the beast and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This reaping could symbolize Jesus taking the faithful
Tribulation saints to heaven.
2. The treading of grapes is a common symbol of judgment. The “grapes” are gathered and thrown into the great winepress of God’s wrath. With the close of the bowl judgments, there will be massive bloodletting on earth. The symbol describes blood 4 ½ feet high for about 200 miles.
- How does Daniel 7:13-14 describe the first reaper?
- What does the angel say determines the timing of this harvest? (Rev. 14:15)
- How does the second harvest compare with the harvest in Isaiah 63:1-6?
- How does Jesus describe the harvest in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43?
- What can believers look forward to after the harvest? (Matthew 16:42)
During the interlude we once again see the heart of God. He allows the inhabitants of the earth to see clearly the two choices before them – Messiah or Antichrist. Then He allows them to see clearly the consequences of their choice – salvation or wrath. In the end no one will be able to say they didn’t understand.
- There is no rest for those who worship the beast – the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever.
- Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. They will rest from their labor.
PRINCIPLES FOR THE WEEK
When we reject the truth, we are wide open to deception.
In every age God speaks clearly to those who will hear.
List seven truths about God to use in your worship this week. Share one of the truths with someone as the opportunity arises.
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