Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Revelation Studies|
Chs. 13 & 14
Our studies here continue on from those found in the previous set of notes in this Series entitled “Revelation (1)” covering the first 12 chapters. In those chapters we saw the overseeing of the last times by Jesus, with the coming of various judgements on the earth. Finally in chapter 12 we had an overview of the war of the ages with Satan seeking to destroy Jesus but failing. All he is left to do is seek to pursue the Christians on the earth, and even in that his time is limited!
These Studies :
These studies will take us through the rest of the book of Revelation. We will follow the natural structure of the book as follows:
We need to reiterate that the purpose of the book of Revelation is NOT to give dates to watch for, but to give revelation of the greatness of God and the wonder of Jesus as Lord over history. In the latter part of this book there are many figures and events that have drawn as many different interpretations. Although we may speculate as to the meaning of some them, we will seek to confine ourselves to the principles that are being stated along the way and not worry too much about the order.
PART 1 : Satan in Action and an Overview
As you read this Part, see first of all the activities of the enemy and the purpose behind it. It is important that we learn the principles rather than how it will be exactly fulfilled. Next watch for the sense of peace and order in heaven while all this is happening on earth, just to keep our thinking in perspective! All is not chaos! Finally watch the proclamations and overview of the great and coming judgement on the earth. In it all let the wonder of the sovereignty of God this you and release worship in you.
ADDITIONAL NOTE : Interpretation and Approach
A. Overall Sense
These last chapters of the book of revelation are particularly symbolic and over the centuries there have been many varying interpretations of the various symbolic figures. The reader who wants to investigate these possibilities more fully will find many books suggesting the right interpretation. Instead of adding a further interpretation, these notes will simply seek to make as simple a comment as possible for each day's study with a view to gaining an overall sense of what is happening rather than seeking to clarify all the detail.
B. Progressive Revelation
Instead of making continual cross references to further detail given later in the book, these notes will adopt the approach of seeing each study as a further progression of what has already been stated, so that the picture will gradually build up as we go on, as it surely must have appeared to John when it was first given him. This will be especially true of the two beasts that are referred to in this half of the book of Revelation.
C. Continuous Flow or Repeat Snapshots?
We will never fully understand for a certainty the events shown in the book until either they are all fulfilled or we see the Lord and He explains them. Some suggest that the unfolding of Revelation is like the unfolding of history. Others suggest that there seem to be a series of snapshots with subsequent ones being “blow-ups” of earlier ones For instance in 14:8 there is a declaration of what is coming which is then shown in expanded form in chapters 17 and 18. Various other things seem to be repeated with greater detail coming each time around. This is in accord with ordinary prophecy which often comes again and again with additional detail each time.
D. Standing Alone
For the sake of simplicity (and only for that) the notes will not make constant reference to the latter part of the book of Daniel (esp.ch.7 & 8) which commentators usually link to the activities of Revelation. In that sense Revelation will stand on its own in our study.
Chapter: Rev 13
Passage: Rev 13:1-4
A. Find Out:
1. Where did the dragon stand? v.1a
2. Where did the beast come from? v.1b
3. How many heads, horns and crowns did it have? v.1c
4. What did the dragon give it? v.2
5. Why were men astonished? v.3
6. Who did men worship and why? v.4
We finished chapter 12 seeing that Satan went off to pursue the Christians after the Jews had been dispersed across the earth. Following on from that comes the appearance of this beast, described in symbolic language, which is partly interpreted in Chapter 17.
First it comes from the sea and the sea in symbolic language refers to all the peoples of the earth (see 17:15) It comes, therefore, as an expression of the peoples of the earth. However we may seek to interpret the heads etc. (possibly in the light of 17:9-12), the suggestion is that the beast, which is multi-headed, is either an organisation or an ideology that is led by a number of godless leaders or expressions of ideology or philosophy (note “blasphemous - v.1) Then Satan gives his full backing to it. Somehow something apparently supernatural seems to happen and part of it which seemed dead came back to life, with the result that many followed or worshipped it (rather like communism in the soviet block apparently dying at the end of the 1980's yet coming back to life again in the mid 1990's?).
The beast, whatever it is, seems to predominate in men's minds and seems to be invincible, thus gaining a massive following. Varying ideologies today gain the following of multitudes.
Chapter: Rev 13
Passage: Rev 13:5-10
A. Find Out:
1. What did the beast speak? v.5a,6
2. For how long was he allowed to do this? v.5b
3. What power and authority was he given? v.7
4. Who will and who will not worship this beast? v.8
5. What may be the end for many Christians? v.10a
6. So what does it call for? v.10b
The activity of this beast that we were introduced to yesterday is now made quite clear. Pride is at its heart and pride always rises up against God and is at the root of all sin. Thus the beast rejects and abuses the name of God and rejects and abuses His church (His dwelling on earth) as well as heaven. The beast is not only allowed to speak against God and against the saints, but also to act against them as well, with the result that many are likely to be put to death for their being followers of Jesus. All non-Christians will agree with its words and its actions.
In all this we must remember that the beast is “allowed” to do all this. It does not have any rights but is simply allowed to reveal its heart in this way, for its suits God's purposes for the heart of mankind to be revealed for what it is. We also need to remember that for the believer, death is merely the doorway into eternity, and is not therefore something to be feared or dreaded. Death by the sword is indeed something that requires more faith than death by natural causes in old age, and that is why we are told that we will need patient endurance and faithfulness. God does not promise that our end on this earth will be easy, only that the time thereafter will be glorious!
Chapter: Rev 13
Passage: Rev 13:11-18
A. Find Out:
1. How was the 2nd beast similar but different to the first one? v.12
2. What was it able to do? v.13
3. What effect did it have on the earth? v.14
4. What power did it have? v.15
5. What did he make happen? v.16
6. With what effect? v.17
With the arrival of the first beast came an unnatural power. With the arrival of the second beast came even more power. Jesus warned that this would happen (see Matthew 24:5,24) so we should not be surprised. The second beast does not seem initially to be so impressive as the first one (with less description) but what he seems able to do seems much greater. He appears harmless, like a lamb, but speaks harshly and with deception, like a dragon. He works in harmony with the first beast, continuing its activity and even enhancing its activity which, remember, was entirely anti-God.
Deception is part of his activity, which of course is Satan's activity, and somehow he manages to get the earth to submit to some form of image of the first beast which takes on demonic and destructive powers. The end result of all this is that Christians who refuse to bow to this “thing” are put to death and anyone refusing its mark finds it impossible to survive through buying and selling. Any surviving Christians will obviously have to be in self sufficient communities! The first beast was allowed to carry on its activity for a limited period (see v.5 = 3.5 years = half of 7, the perfect number in Scripture, i.e. a period set by God of limited duration). We must assume the second beast was similarly limited. God is still in control!
Chapter: Rev 14
Passage: Rev 14:1-5
A. Find Out:
1. Who was standing on Mount Zion? v.1
2. What sound was heard? v.2
3. What was being sung? v.3a
4. Who could sing it? v.3b
5. Who are the 144,000? v.4
6. What are they like? v.5
From the confusion and chaos of the earth we are now given a vision of heaven, “before the throne” where Jesus, the lamb of God, stands before his Father. With him are 144,000 people. Who are they?
They may be the same as those mentioned at the beginning of chapter 7 but it isn't necessarily so. Everything in chapter 13 was symbolic and this may be a symbolic grouping. If they are not there are some difficulties. They are a limited group, they are men and they are completely blameless! So what is it saying?
Whatever else it might be saying, there are two things that stand out. First, in sharp contrast to the previous chapter, there is peace and beauty in the heavenly place. The upsets of earth will not disturb the order and beauty of heaven. The world may be disturbed and upset but God is not! Second, it is as if this group is held up as a standard, a standard for Christians to aim for and a standard against which the rest of the world can be measured. The group have maintained a purity of life, and truth is constantly on their lips. Whatever else may be said about them, they challenge and provoke us, for because of this lifestyle, they have an intimacy with the Lamb and sing a new and precious song together.
Chapter: Rev 14
Passage: Rev 14:6-13
A. Find Out:
1. What did the first angel bring? v.6
2. What warning did he bring and what instruction give? v.7
3. What did the second angel bring? v.8
4. What warning did the third angel bring? v.9-11
5. What exhortation is indirectly given? v.12
6. What declaration was finally given? v.13
These three angels essentially proclaim the will of God. There is no question in the heavenlies as to the will of God. If we were a bit unsure in chapter 13 as to who was right and who was wrong, that has been completely removed by these three angels!
First comes the gospel, the good news that God loves us and has made a way through the work of His Son for us to be reconciled to Him. The offer of sonship is the first thing that comes to the earth.
Second comes the declaration that Babylon has fallen. We will see the detail of this in subsequent chapters but for now may it be sufficient to see than the humanistic, materialistic, godless system of humanity ruling its own affairs is going to be brought down, it is the declared will of God so it will happen.
Finally comes the clear declaration about the end of anyone who follows the beast and worships and obeys him. Whatever or whoever the best is he is anti-God and anyone who follows him is also anti-God and therefore destined for torment. What is clear again is that for Christians in this phase of history it is probably going to mean martyrdom. It is going to need all the grace of God to cope with facing death in this way.
Chapter: Rev 14
Passage: Rev 14:14-20
A. Find Out:
1. Who did John next see and how was he described? v.14
2. What was he instructed to do? v.15,16
3. Who then appeared? v.17
4. What was he instructed to do? v.18
5. Where were the grapes thrown? v.19
6. With what consequence? v.20
In this chapter we have seen the serenity of heaven, the declaration of the will of God from heaven and now we see an overview of what is to happen to the earth: there will be two harvests.
The first harvest is carried out by Jesus, the Son of Man seen prophetically in the Old Testament, and self-acclaimed in the New. He works in accordance with the instructions given from within the temple where the presence of God reigns, to perform His Father's will, (see Matthew 24:36) and he takes from the earth the Christians (see Matthew 24:40,41). [NB. Some commentators maintain this first harvest is for destruction but as there is no mention of that it is suggested that such an interpretation is presumptuous. That the Lord himself is the harvester suggests he collects in His own dear ones]
The second harvest which follows takes people for the divine anger. These are unbelievers who have been given warning after warning, chance after chance, and have yet refused to come to God. Of the outcome of this harvesting there is no question, for the picture is of an awful destruction. We must always remember that the Gospel involves both good AND bad news. It is wonderfully good news first of all for all who will receive it, but bad news for those who reject it.
RECAP No.1 "Satan in Action & Overview" Revelation 13 & 14
In this first group of 6 studies we have seen :
Chapter 13 continuing symbolically on from chapter 12 shows us godless groups, leaders, institutions or ideologies being raised up against God and His people. Yet the will of God prevails over and above it all, even though it means hard times for the Christians on earth who may die by the sword.
1. When evil rises up it is for a limited and decreed time only.
2. The call to Christians is to remain faithful in the face of such evil.
3. The Lord's purposes will prevail despite the evil of men & Satan.
4. The Lord will take His people off the earth when He decrees.
5. Judgement will come for all the unrighteous of the world.
Thank the Lord that He is Lord over all. Pray for His grace in your life to cope with difficult times.
PART 2 : "The Seven Plagues"
In this next Part we will see the last outpouring of the judgement of God upon the earth, judgements that you would think would turn all men back to God in repentance - but they don't! Remember all of these things, as distinct from the events of chapter 13, come from heaven.