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August 29, 2022 2:00 am
Will contained in the passage were going to look at tonight is perhaps the most thought about in wondered about elements in the entire book of the Revelation your people talk about book of Revelation there often making reference to the mark of the beast in 6667 that's in our text for this evening like to draw your attention to the last verse of the chapter because I think that it serves as an introduction to the entire section were John says this here is wisdom. I do not believe that he is going to is making reference to what he's going to say and remainder of that verse.
I think when he says here is wisdom. He is relating that to what has gone before verses 11 through 18. In other words, John is portraying a time when the church will be under assault. There will be turmoil and persecution and difficulty for the church that is really unknown to the American church not unknown to a large segment of the church scattered around the world by the terms of American Christianity.
I think what John is saying is going to take wisdom to know how to live in an environment that is being described here were gonna need God's help are going to need his wisdom. There were two men who were very close to Adolf Hitler. The names are Maj. Gen. Henning von Crespo and Col. Claus von Stauffenberg.
There were two principal figures in the German conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. These men were history tells us were professing Christians.
They had come to recognize Hitler's beastly evil, and despite the oath that they had taken of personal unconditional obedience. The date sworn to Hitler.
They began to plot Hitler's assassination quite early in World War II.
Without getting into a lot of detail. They were several attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler under these men scheming and it seemed that every turn.
They were thwarted in their efforts. In July 1944 Vaughn Trustco's best attempt to place when Stoppard's bird was a staff officer in Hitler's high command and he put a briefcase in Adolf Hitler's bunker. Another soldier another person in that bunker move that briefcase under a large wooden table and when that explosion went off that table absorbed the thrust of the bomb in Adolf Hitler was, not harmed well straw some bird was was killed. The next day and Vaughn Trustco committed suicide about a month later. Now hard to know of the sincerity of their Christian profession, but they profess to be Christians, and also it's makes one wonder how someone could pledge unconditional allegiance to somebody like in Adolf Hitler, but does, remind us of the subtlety of of him and his evil plans. He was very, very subtle and very convincing deceiving. But as it may, although we would admire their courage before thinking right, we would not admire their ways because they took advantage of positions of trust and operated in deceit and I don't think you're going to find anywhere in the Bible where that is justified or where that would be commended.
He reminds me of a time I was teaching an adult Sunday school class and South Carolina were maybe 40 adults and there may be a few more than that and in the in the current news was a an abortion doctor who was murdered by someone in Florida and there was a man in the class and at some point in the class will I was teaching. He made the comment. Every Christian should apply with that man did. All I saw whole bunch of eyes looking back at me thinking. What you do without and I couldn't let that go and so basically I said God supposed to murder. Bible says I will repay the safe, the Lord vengeance is mine and us. I talked to the him afterwards but he thought it was a justified thing that he did, and perhaps are some who might even think what these two men were attempting to do was justify.
They will we we might wonder, and they wonder I think at times was God against us. We were we were about. We were about something that in their mind was noble and it seemed that it every turn. God was hindering them in carrying out the plan that they had well, the book of Revelation has an answer to us in situations like that and listen to what we've studied in the past. Chapter 12 verse 11, Neil got to think about this verse it says they overcame him overcame who overcame the Dragon. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death say they overcame hunted they overcome. They lost their life will they overcame bite bearing the testimony that was. They believed that their allegiance to Jesus Christ was worth more than their physical life and their physical death translated them into the very presence of the one that they were being loyal to so there's difficult days ahead for the church of Jesus Christ and no one can predict exactly how difficult, but the winds. The winds are indicating trouble in storm ahead and were going to need wisdom to know how to live in an honorable way in this world and to maintain our allegiance to Jesus Christ. John here in chapter 13 is describing in this last half of Revelation 13. History in the form of the Dragon and Satan attacking the church to base. We were introduced to a feast in chapter 13 verse wannabes that John said he saw cut rising up out of the sea, and then he tells us here in verse 11. I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, so to beasts who were in alliance with the Dragon. The devil himself. It's as though we have an unholy Trinity here set before us and all of their evil and all of their hatred, and all of their opposition to God in Christ and the people of God John's purpose.
I believe in explaining this vision to us in God's purpose in giving this to him that it might be explained us is that we might have wisdom imparted to us as we live and trust Christ and bear testimony in this world again. The first half of Revelation 13, showed that Satan is not alone in his Dragon like warfare against the church. He has allies and those allies are the beast that comes up out of the sea and the beast that comes up out of the earth if you remember, it's been several weeks that it was rather clear the language here is very similar to Daniel chapter 7 is Daniel describe the empires of the world and he did not explain the fourth beast in his prophecy, and I believe John and Revelation, here is picking up where Daniel left off in the beast is not a personage.
The beast is a world empire and it is, I believe, and I think rather clear that it is the Roman Empire. In John's day. Now will say more about application as we think about that because we say well the Roman Empire. How does that. How do how does a 21st-century Christian relate to that that will speak to that here in a little bit but were trying to understand what John's readers would've understood and how we should properly interpret this portion of Scripture. So the first beast represents evil tyrannical government working in history against Christ and his church, and here's where we make this bridge between the Roman Empire and our day evil tyrannical government working against Christ and his church, you don't have to be too observant to realize that the laws of our land are becoming increasingly opposed to Christ and his church, and the freedoms we enjoy as believers when we come to chapter hello, I'm sorry. When we come to verse 11 here of Revelation 13. We have the record of John seeing another beast, this time not coming out of the sea, but coming up out of the earth. Now if the sea beast represents tyrannical government powers, which in John's day was the Roman Empire.
This beast that comes up out of the earth represents local forces who were collaborating with the Roman Empire was in league with the first beast. They were working in concert with one another and finding their power and authority from the Dragon, the devil himself. The land beast. The John speaking to in verse 11, trafficked in lies and deceit with and I to promote the worship of the first beast. Now, it's helpful to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and in Revelation chapter 16 and in verse 13. This land beast.
This second beast is identified as the false prophet in my Bible.
It suddenly to turn a page should simply says 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. So the first beast is the tyrant to relies on power and might, to subjugate people government and its power and its authority. And if we know one of pride best left unsaid. At this point. Maybe I'll say it later because of I say it. It may be too much of a distraction and we will get back to the text of Scripture, but the second beast is the false prophet who uses lies and deception to promote false worship and idolatry. Furthermore, John describes this second beast is having two horns. In verse 11 then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb. What John saw was part of the this subtlety part of the deception a lamb llama harmless lamb that has a very disarming appearance until he speaks. Notice what it says. He had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon.
He spoke like a dragon's true character is exposed as he speaks, and his aim or his ambition is revealed in verse 12 notice and he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence and he causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. There some translations who call them earth dwellers the earth and those who dwell in it and that's a phrase that you strut the book Revelation to identify those who are unredeemed. Those who are unregenerate.
The earth dwellers.
I so is true character is exposed. His ambition is revealed there in verse 12.
He's enabled by the authority of the first beast to promote and force the idolatrous worship of the first beast.
Here is the wolf in sheep's clothing that Jesus warned us about Matthew seven verse 15 beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. What we have here is the government institution and the secular world compromising religious systems and color laboring to promote false worship as I was preparing.
I this imagery came to my mind famous TV preacher when I tell you what he does at the beginning of his meetings. You'll you'll know what it is I'm speaking of. He begins his program by holding up a Bible and he has the people sitting there thousands of them repeating after him. This is my Bible.
I am though it says I am I can do what it says I can do I have what it says I have.
Then he puts his Bible down and everything he says after afterwards has absolutely no bearing on the word of God is no reference to the word of God, and I thought through that I am who it says I am.
What does the Bible say you are. The Bible says you are a sinner under the wrath and condemnation of God in need of forgiveness with this man says he didn't believe in sin.
Think about the subtlety of that people are sitting there and it'll all my preacher. He believes the Bible preaches the Bible holds it up and has people recite this and then sets it down and never makes reference to deceit. So this calls for wisdom to discern to be able to ferret out deception and the call is for the church to be brilliant to be Korean Christians and if remember what the Bible says about them. They were more noble than the Thessalonica's because they examine what Paul said to see if it was true.
I was in a Bible study one time and Dr. Dick Belcher was teaching and there was a woman in the meeting who had recently been converted. She was excited about the doctrines of grace and she remember her saying why went to work and I told so-and-so what you said make in reference to Dr. Belcher what you said about this. What you said about that. He very wisely. Listen to her and he said one thrilled that you're so excited about truth and you're so interested in what were teaching here. He says, but let me give you a word of caution. If you believe what you believe because you heard from me is just going to be a matter of time before somebody else comes along and says something that you're going to then believe in and you won't believe what I said you believe what they said you need to believe what you believe because you've discovered it to be true in the word of God. Not because I said so and there's too many people in this world that couldn't tell you too much about the contents of the Bible, but boy there dogmatic know we need to be Korean Christians been so many reminders of that even as I've studied through the book of the Revelation so much is made of this Mark of the beast, and I've asked a few people would you know that the Bible talks about a market that God has on his children even before the mark of the beast ever comes up in the book of Revelation really really REALLY how much press does not get much attention does that get you maybe sit there thinking, yeah, I remember when that was covered I was a bit surprised to find that myself. Yes the beast this piece that comes out of the earth represents false shepherds in churches, college professors whose agenda is to indoctrinate and undermine biblical Christianity and morality is represented in songwriters and in politicians and media pundits all cultivating a seductive and attractive message that is ultimately satanic. The second beast is promoting the worship of the first with a false gospel.
He is a counterfeit Christ is message is salvation through power and pleasure. But in rebellion toward God and Satan is the mastermind behind it all is strategy has not changed. He came to even the garden very subtly beguiling. Her deceiving her. Paul tells us not to be ignorant of Satan's devices will he's the same. He operates very similarly. So the second beast he uses deception to promote the worship of the first beast, he promotes lies and false teaching.
But John's going to tell us that the employee something else, and what is that in verse 13 he performs great signs, so that even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the side of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. What magicians and their craft were very commonplace in the Asian provinces where John's readers live is not new when they read that they knew exactly what he was making reference to their chief employees were the pagan temples and the beast seeks to mimic the true signs and wonders that are recorded in the Scriptures you remember when Moses came before Pharaoh.
Pharaoh had his magicians. They counterfeited the miracles that says that Moses performed Moses through his rod down it became a serpent, the magicians true rod down it became a serpent wasn't the end of the story. What happened then Moses serpent devoured the Egyptian magician serpent counterfeit counterfeit for such counterfeited in this world in which we live again as I mentioned, he mentions earth dwellers are again in verse 14 there are those who are worldly people, unregenerate people and they are taking in by this deception. What we to make of the reference to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Will again the beast the first beast is not a personage. The beast is an empire.
What happened in the first century when the apostles took the gospel to the known world and the Bible tells us they turned the world upside down. Roman Rome's superiority and power in tyranny was threatened.
The church had risen in power and then what happened well Rome came to life again. It found new power found new enthusiasm and it persecuted the church all of John's contemporaries and died a martyr's death.
At this point is John is writing the churches that John is writing to our under siege as well and in our day is not cheap magic tricks that are employed. What is the deception in our day. Well, it's the achievements of science is the government's accomplishments that are heralded as the successes of secular humanism, Paul Gardner, one of the commentators in the book Revelation he puts it this way man replaces God in Christ with himself. But in reality he has succumbed to the full deception of the beast who is is true master. So this beastie hat on of the earth as a number of strategies to sing them. He lies, he deceives use of signs and wonders, signs and wonders of secular humanism and then he employs the use of violence, persecution against the people of God.
What's all that about. It's about all outward compulsion and threats.
John says verse 15 he was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed because all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark of the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here's the third strategy of the second beast to use to advance the worship of the first beast and I think we are aware, maybe not as aware as we probably ought to be, but the voice of the martyrs helps us to be informed of the persecuted church around the world. It's easy to forget that because that kind of persecution hasn't come to the church of America get but there is persecution there are people who are losing their lives there, going from house to house in Afghanistan seeking out Christians that they might put them to death know and along with deadly force.
We see the beast enforcing false worship by requiring everyone to receive the mark of the beast and notice how John states that he states that in verse 16 that everyone faces this requirement, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads. What is this Mark.
Well, it is an allegiance to the beast.
It's an allegiance to the tyrannical government and again it's not allegiance to a personage.
There's much speculation in our day about this. What could this possibly be.
Could this be a computer chip. Could this be some way that they can watch you goings and so on and so forth and I'm not going to say it's not because as I describe what was going on in John's day this was. This is not something from John's perspective that was ultimately future it was something that would that had happened to Christians in John's day, so there is a and a and an application to first century Christianity not saying that's all that I'm saying.
But what John is describing and what John and and believers were experiencing is similar to what perhaps is coming to you and I the Greek word for Mark there in verse 17 is Conrad my it was a technical term for the emperors seal on official documents. The mark was the state's political and economical stamp of approval.
It gave authorization to people to participate in society and in the marketplace. Here's some things that were very common in John's day slaves were tattooed on the forehead to mark their ownership and what this is describing is the beast will in some way mark those who belong to him who are under his authority who are willing to claim allegiance to him. Soldiers would receive a brand often on the hand to designate the generals that they were followers of Noah and Deuteronomy chapter 6 and verse eight there is a reference to putting the Scriptures on the forehead and remember his parents were instructed to teach their children the word of God. What is all that about God's people were being instructed to ascribe God's word on their foreheads. It was a scripture box for what was that to communicate. It was to communicate that they were submitted in their mind to the word of God. What the beast is insisting on is submission. You will submit your mind to the beast to secular humanism. You will submit yourself to the classrooms of the universities. Let me elite alleviate your fear. I know there are people that are wondering, is it possible that the subtlety and the deception could be us could be such that somebody could accidentally receive the mark of the beast and therefore forfeit so much of what they hold dear, why don't think so. I think that the mark here is a formal outward sign of total allegiance is what's being referred to here by John allegiance to a person to an institution to a cause it is to render devotion to those that only God deserves to receive devotion from maybe it it may help us to think about some of these things in Nazi Germany. What was the market was the Nazi armband and communist controlled countries.
What is the mark.
It is a membership to the Communist Party. We hear a lot in our day of the one world order.
I don't think we should stick our head in the sand and ignore that and think well I don't think that has any application or an effect on us think we need to be aware that that's part of what's going on here. The mark of the beast boils down to this. It boils down to a choice of allegiance to the kingdom of this world or to the kingdom of Christ mentioned to you on the just real quickly draw your attention to that reference in word God seals invisibly those who are his saints. This is in Revelation 7. Listen to the first couple of verses after these things. John said I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth that the wind should not blow on the earth on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the sea.
The seal of the living God, and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying do not harm the earth, the sea or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on therefore heads. Yes, suffering saints are invisibly marked by an angel. So here's the challenge the challenges the castor lot to declare your allegiance and in John's day, particularly to the church at Pergamum us where he wrote he wrote to the church there. Because it was the it was the compromise church Pergamum us was the city that was dominated by the trade guilds, and if you wanted a decent job you had to join the union that required image worship to Caesar. Well, if you were a Christian and your allegiance was to Jesus Christ at so is going cost you it was gonna cost you dearly. Revelation chapter 2 verse 12 speaks of the church of Pergamum's listen to what Christ said to the persecuted church of Smyrna do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation 10 days. Be faithful on the death and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.
So was it what is it in our day.
Let's try and can temper up make this contemporary so that were not just talking in generalities. What's it going to mean what has met for some Christians in our day. Well, if you're a businessman. The government will and may exercise tyranny. If you do not give abortion providing insurance to your employees. It will be a suggestion.
It will be a mandate military officers have lost career promotions because they have refused to hide their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the beast will paint followers of Christ as traders to the governing regime. You say while see that coming really, really parents who show up at a PTA meeting to oppose critical race theory, teaching, and gender identity. Teaching are labeled as domestic terrorists. This is closer to home than we realize. In Pergamum, if a person did not have the Carrabba the mark he was barred from the marketplace. This was in John's day you put the marketplace. You couldn't buy you the sale. I don't think it should be too far-fetched for us to think that things would come to that in our day.
John concludes this chapter with the point of his teaching. What is that here is wisdom. This calls for wisdom. The ESV renders it. This calls for wisdom.
What we just talked about what I just said. John says listen to an appropriate parallel passage Ephesians chapter 5 to see then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the spirit good instructions for us. There is a price to pay for your fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ for your faith in him. So prepare yourself for that reality. Salvation is promised to those who persevere in faith. John is speaking of another aspect of wisdom here in verse 18 he says here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.
His number is 666 from this verse I want to suggest to you that we need wisdom to see the enemy for what he is and for what he is not wise that so that will not succumb to his deception so that we will not be intimidated by his threatenings. What does that mean in verse 18, let him understand.
Calculate the number of the beast. Ford is the number of a man and his number is 666. There is been more time wasted in the misunderstanding of that verse than perhaps I will say anything else but many think that the 666 is a coded reference. Using an ancient practice known as gematria maybe never heard of gematria. If you know anything about the Greek and the Hebrew language. They do not have number system. We have our Arabic numerals. They used letters and gematria works this way every letter in the Greek and the Hebrew has a numerical value. The first nine's were the one the second lines were the tans.
The third nine's work. The hundreds and you could take a name and calculate the numerical value of the name by adding up the value number of the letter so that sounds confusing. Well, I'm just trying to describe to you what gematria is the theory, then, is that John is helping us identify the Antichrist when he comes, we will take his name and apply it to the Greek alphabet. Add up the numbers and thereby identify the Antichrist because his number will add up to 666 well there's a problem with that theory.
What is the problem. There are too many candidates. When this system with the system. We are overwhelmed with potential antichrists. Ronald Wilson Reagan was thought to be the antichrist because his name using the gaillardia comes up with 666 Henry Kissinger was thought to be the antichrist you want to find some out something humorous.
Google Henry Kissinger, and the antichrist and get ready for an avalanche of information. A Comanche somebody said that Barney the children's cartoon character that cute purple dinosaur he must be the antichrist because when you do the math, it yields the calculation 666 well head at a little humor there. The person most often thought to fit this numerical formula is the Emperor Nero. This is just a thought. Speculation take it for what it's worth, perhaps, instead of looking forward and wondering who the antichrist will be. This is resolved by looking back and realizing that Nero, the man was the antichrist. Some commentators point us back to John's day and even that's a bit iffy. You have to take Caesar Nero and you have to drop a letter out of Caesar to make all this work to the 666 so that seems very problematic to me.
Some say a better approach is to understand the symbolism of the number six itself. You know, is to study the book of Revelation how important numbers are 12 speaks of Israel and the prophets and the apostles 10 is a number, symbolizing wholeness and completeness seven is a number that speaks of perfection. What about six will six fall short of seven, it's imperfect. It's defective man in his sin aspires to be God, but he fall short of the glory of God the Dragon is beast they set themselves up as a fake Trinity but they fall short in Christ's victory will expose Satan and his cohorts as being fakery Greg Beale in his commentary says this quote. Six repeated three times indicates the completeness of the sinful incompleteness found in the beast. The number six is kind of a pivot. Throughout the book of the Revelation you have the seven seals of the seven trumpet you have the seven vile judgments bowl judgments but six. There is often applause, and then that six serves as a is a transition you get to the six seal the 6 Seal Gives Way to the sixth trumpet you get to the sixth trumpet it gives way to the six vile judgment of the bowl judgment and perhaps it. Speaking of what the what John is revealing here so if you're going to use gematria and applied to the beast. The beast it produces the 666 here's my suggestion were always looking for entry points into people's lives probably ran into a lady but and run into her but she's involved in teaching our children piano. I don't go to church is been inviting her to church and in the context of all that she said of never heard anybody preach through the book of Revelation carcinoma husband is right now church Sunday nights. The only thing this one's ever heard about Revelation is the mark of the beast in 666 and she's in terror and petrified over use it as an opportunity to engage people in gospel conversation know where Jesus Christ super balance in perfection and completeness. The devil and his cohorts miss the mark their inferior the devil.
What is it he is a liar and the father of lies is counterfeit. That's what is what is he not is not Victor. He's not the winner. He's not the overcome her. He's the loser in the end he knows his time is short so he's busy and what time he has short just like you when I scurry around to be some of you are at this way I know I know one person in this room who always has his work done there four days ahead of time, but most of us are nano if you know you're planning to go away you don't pack your suitcase until the night before. Even maybe that morning right you put it off and put it off you put off no, we need wisdom and what is that wisdom that John is calling for its wisdom to live in this world to identify ourselves as Christ followers were willing to pay whatever price comes with our for our allegiance to him, knowing that there is going to be an increase price to be paid if he carries his coming. Let's not be fearful about that.
We are over comers.
Greater is he who is in us that he was in the world so as not be fearful must not be given to suspicion. I don't know how satisfied you are this evening about my explanation of the mark of the beast and the and the identify identity of the beast. The number 666. I think most of us because of our exposure to that number. It's a bit surprising how many times that number comes up. If you notice that it just it just comes up in an in weird ways.
And whenever you see that number just a it alerts you draws your attention like no other combination of numbers right list. I've seen that dozens of times scores of times that number will common.
So what what why do I think all but wonder what that's all about. Or it drives me back to the Scriptures. What does the Bible say thank you for praying for me as we are making our way through the book of the Revelation were we have finished 13 chapters and we have make our way from chapter 4 on through chapter 22 yet but it's been a challenging study for sure, but very instructive. One, because it you you need the same study tools for the book of Revelation that you need for any other passenger trying to study is not like okay this is some completely different. I've got a go to some other resource available understand no it's the same hermeneutical principles you trying to understand what has God said what does God mean by what he said and what is the application for us. It's that simple. Each time not always easy and simple to work through those three points, but that's what we endeavor to do is we stand here and preach the word of God so let me bow and prayer. Father, we thank you tonight for your word.
We thank you for its instruction. We ask our God, that you would indeed give us wisdom to live in this fallen world that is becoming more increasingly opposed to you and your gospel and to those who declare to be followers of you, Lord, help us that you will fortify us, help us to remain steadfast and be unmovable, abounding in the things the Lord, knowing that her labor is not in vain in the Lord. Thank you for your church. Thank you for Christ who is the head of his church. Thank you that the evil one in his cohorts are in submission in subjection to your sovereign will. And we rejoice to be named among the saints named among those who are of Christ's. Bless your church encourage your church instructor church equip your church to live in these days we pray in Christ's name.