Sunday December 27th
“War against the beast”
This morning we’re going to cover 9 chapters of the book of Revelation! So pay close attention because I don’t want you to miss out on any of the significant details. For instance, at the end of chapter 13 we will find out that the number of the beast is 666, which many of you already know. But did you also know:
A lot of people think that Revelation is all about future events, but some of John’s vision was a recapping of events that had happened since the beginning. In those two verses, the woman most likely represents the nation of Israel and her child is Jesus, who came through the line of Jewish heritage.
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven crowns. 4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and hurled them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her Child.
Once again, this is most likely a recap of the devil’s rebellion against God and his attempt to kill the young Jesus by having all male babies in Bethlehem killed by King Herod. We see more proof of this in verse 5:
5 And she gave birth to a Son, a male, who is going to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.
Now let’s skip to verse 7, because a theme will be introduced here that will tie all of these chapters together:
7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they did not prevail, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Two things that I want you to focus on here:
And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads were blasphemous names.
So here comes the beast, another significant theme in these chapters. Or I should say here comes the first beast, because there is more than one. This is the one that many people like to equate with the antichrist, but John never calls him that in Revelation. Then down in verse 7:
It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and nation.
So the dragon is at war with God and the beast is at war with the people of God, because they are obviously on the same evil team.
And then another member of their team shows up in verse 11:
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.
So we now have a dragon and two beasts, and one of the beasts sound like a dragon when he talks.
And this second beast is also known for this: (verses 16-17)
And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
That’s the thing everyone is watching out for. Will it be an implant, a chip, a barcode? Who knows for sure? And then of course in verse 18 we get a little more information about this beast:
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
Rather than focusing too much on the number, let’s take note of the statement that this number is “that of a man”. We’ll get back to that later.
Keep in mind that the main theme of these chapters is war. And in chapter 14 we see that God is warring against the followers of the beast: (verses 9-11)
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Let’s suffice it to say that you don’t want to be on the losing side in this battle! In chapter 15, verses 1-2 we see that the armies of God are indeed victorious, in case you were worried about that:
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished. 2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who were victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.
In case you are looking for Armageddon, that if found in chapter 16, verse 13-16
And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the entire world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and people will not see his shame.”) 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.
That is literally a place, Mount Megiddo. Next, in chapter 17, we have another beast, a scarlet beast, with a harlot riding on his back. He has ten horns, and verse 12 tells us that they represent 10 kings.
Then verse 14 says that: These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings.
So once again, there is a war, Jesus wins the war!
How complete is God’s victory? Chapter 18, verse 21 tells us:
Then a strong angel picked up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will never be found again.”
That sounds like a total victory to me! And if you want another description of it, here is chapter 19 verses 11-16:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
If you ever want to get a picture of this in your mind, watch the scene from the Lord of the Rings where Gandalf returns on a white horse leading the armies of the fellowship to victory!
And this leads us to chapter 20 and the final battle against Gog and Magog, in verses 9 and 10:
And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Ding-dong the beast is dead. The dragon is dead. And the armies of the enemy are dead! Jesus has won a total victory. So then there’s this – we’ve been reading all of John’s writings, including the book of Revelation, from a theme of intimacy.
In other words, it’s really great that our team, Team Jesus wins the final battle. But how are you doing with the daily battle of life? How are you doing with that war within you? The one that Paul describes this way in Romans 7:21-23
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner person, 23 but I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my body’s parts.
There is a war going on within me every day, Paul says. It’s a war between my spirit man, who wants to do the right thing and obey God, and my fleshly man who wants to do his own thing and really doesn’t care what God wants.
And some days, Paul says, it feels like my flesh is holding my spirit captive.
Have you ever felt that way, knowing what the right thing to do is, but finding yourself drawn to do the wrong thing?
You see it’s one thing to read all about Jesus’ victory over the dragon and the beasts. That really gets most Christians excited, and it definitely should.
But we’re still living here, in this life, in these bodies, fighting these battles.
And some days we feel like we’re losing the fight.
How will we survive? That’s what Paul asks in verse 24:
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
But in verse 25 he answers his own question:
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
That’s OUR key to victory too!
The same Jesus who defeats the dragons and the beasts around us can defeat the beast within us!
That why Paul is able to say in Romans 8:37
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Yes, Jesus Christ has defeated every last enemy that we will ever face. Nothing can come against us from the outside and nothing from within us can defeat the resurrection Holy Spirit power that we’ve been given!
I truly believe that the only reason why we sometimes feel defeated is because we forget that we’ve already won.
Are you ready to declare victory today?