Sneak Peek – Sunday, July 3, 2022

Hey Wildwood Family!

This has been a “different” week for the Hess family.  Our 42-year-old daughter, Emily, started chemo treatment on Tuesday for stage 4 mucinous adeno carcinoma which she’s been diagnosed.  Em has been a traveling surgical technician for some years now.  Currently she is staying with us as she undergoes treatment.

Emily likes to tease that she is following in her daddy’s footsteps as I’ve battled prostate cancer twice.  The prognosis is unclear at this point, but we would covet your prayers for minimal side effects and maximum effectiveness in the chemo process.  Thank you.

My goodness, you blink your eyes and it’s July!  Better hang onto your hat…it’ll be Christmas soon!! 😉

I’m excited to be speaking in the month of July as we start a new series I’ve entitled, Divinity Designed to Serve.  This is a series for all ages and for all followers of Jesus.  We will be mining the phenomenal truth that as followers of Jesus we are true masterpieces that God has specifically designed to serve Him and others.

Part of what we will be looking at on Sunday will be what Ray Stedman described as “the lost treasure of Christianity.”  What is that?  Well, come Sunday and we’ll investigate together!

Please note that this Sunday is one of our rare “All-in” Sundays, an opportunity for the whole family to attend church together.  This Sunday there will no nursey, children’s, student or adult groups meeting.  Let’s ALL huddle at 8:30; 9:45 or 11:00 and worship together!  All classes will resume as normal next week.

Also, for families with students – please note that Wildwood Students camp registration closes soon.  Don’t miss out!

See you Sunday,

Bruce

Lord of the Earth (part 7) Supplemental Material

Over the past 7 weeks, we have been studying Revelation 6-18, seeing Jesus revealed as the “Lord of the Earth.”  It has been a joy to preach seven sermons, and also to add additional material on this blog, to help us understand these verses better.  It has been my prayer that this study would not just make us more biblically literate, but also that God would use this section of His Word to increase our faith in Him and our love for others.  If you have had any encouragement from this series, I’d love to hear it!  These have been challenging passages to preach, but I believe God has great stuff in here for us!

I want to share just one additional thought about a section of verses (Revelation 17:7-13) I mostly skipped this morning in the sermon.  These verses further describe the anti-christ.  Just to recap some of what we know of the anti-christ from Scripture:

  • The anti-christ is a human leader who comes on the world scene in the last seven years before Jesus returns to the earth. (Revelation 13:1)
  • The anti-christ will be a human pawn used by Satan to mislead the world.  (Revelation 13:4)
  • The anti-christ will preside over a one world government for a period of roughly 3.5 years.  (Revelation 13:5)
  • The anti-christ’s religious leader (the false prophet) will promote the worship of the anti-christ as a god and persecute all who do not worship him.  (Revelation 13:11-18, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
  • The anti-christ will be defeated by Christ at His return and judged severely.  (Revelation 19:20)

In Revelation 17:7-13, we see more details about the anti-christ’s human activity and identity.  We see:

 

  • The anti-christ is referred to in this section as the “beast.”  (17:7).  This symbol is consistent with the depiction of the anti-christ in 13:1.  He does not sound like a friendly fellow!
  • The anti-christ is described as “coming from the bottomless pit” (17:8).  This speaks to his association with Satan and Satan’s schemes.
  • The anti-christ is also described as “going to destruction” (17:8).  This is a further reminder that his reign and rule will be short and have no future!
  • The anti-christ will be able to mislead the non-Christians on the earth and deceive them into following him during the last days (17:8).  This will happen (in part) because of a deception that the anti-christ will pull off in the last days.  The anti-christ appears to recover from a fatal injury (as described in 13:3-4) and this will impress the people into following the beast.  This phenomena hinted at inside Revelation 17:7-13 with the repeated phrases, “was and is not and is to come.”  The Beast’s fake resurrection is what is hinted at in those phrases.
  • The anti-christ will be connected to seven heads, which are said to represent both seven mountains (17:9) and seven kings (17:10a).  What is this talking about?  Well, in the first century, the city of Rome was said to rest on seven mountains.  Therefore, the connection of the anti-christ to the one seated on seven mountains seems to indicate that the anti-christ will be the leader of a revived Roman Empire.  I will not go into the detail here, but Daniel 9:24-27’s prophetic calendar also implies that the anti-christ will begin his reign from inside a revived version of the Roman Empire (though it may not go by that name, it will be made up of similar people.)  The seven kings, therefore, would represent a team of seven world leaders who make up the new Roman Empire in the end.
  • The anti-christ will ultimately take control of the whole world, including subjugating the other kings of the revived Roman Empire under his rule in as he establishes his worldwide reign in the middle of the Great Tribulation period (17:10-11)
  • The anti-christ will have ten lieutenants (represented by the ten horns) who will serve with him in his worldwide rule (17:12a).  They will support the one world rule of the anti-christ unto the end (17:13).  It is these world leaders who will assemble the army to fight the Lamb and the Lamb’s people in the ultimate “battle of Armageddon.”  This battle is spoke of in 17:14 … and we will look at more of the specifics of this when we get to Revelation 19 later this summer.
  • The anti-christ is Satan’s last best gasp to take over the world … and with all of his work and effort, he is only able to hold his rule for a VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME (see the reference to “one hour” in 17:12b.)  Further … even this short “reign” of Satan and his beast is only possible because the true Lord of the Earth (Jesus Christ) allowed it!  As we saw this morning in 17:17, God allows the Beast this moment only to expose how truly wicked and awful he really is.  A world completely captive to Satan’s lies is a world no one wants to be a part of … when seen in all of its awfulness.

So, friends, these verses in Revelation 17:7-13 further describe for us the Beast.  If we know Jesus as our Savior, we will not be on this earth when this Beast/anti-christ is wielding his power (since the rapture of the church precedes these events) … but seeing these prophecies unfold, hopefully we are encouraged to stay faithful to our God.  This world and its guiding principles are a terrible substitute for our God.  Let’s follow Him wherever He goes.

Lord of the Earth (part 7) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 26, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 17-18.  This message was part 7 in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio/video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 17-18
  3. The picture of Revelation 17:1-18 is of the world system as a “Prostitute” luring the world to embrace its ways.  Based on what we talked about this morning, does the choice of a prostitute as a symbol for the world make sense?  How does that picture resonate with you?
  4. This morning we also talked about the temptation for each of us to have a “price” for which we would sell out Jesus.  For some the price is their life, for others it is their stuff, for others it is their job or reputation, for others it is their pursuit of what “feels right.”  Where are you most tempted to “sell out” and not obey Jesus in your personal life?
  5. The world eventually gets devoured by the same system it is riding today.  It self-destructs in the end, and it wants to wound and rob you of whatever you gained inside its system in the process.  How does this reminder motivate you to stay faithful to Jesus ?
  6. What is the future of the material possessions we cling to today?  How does being reminded of their end impact your stewardship of resources today?
  7. What would it look like for you to “come out from the world’s system” today (18:4)?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The Lord Of The Earth #7 6.26.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

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“Lord of the Earth” (Part 7) Sermon Preview

Have you ever taken Driver’s Ed.?  I did.  Long ago in the summer of 1989.  In this class I learned about turn signals, emergency brakes, how to parallel park, and how many feet I should leave between me and the car in front of me.  You know what else I learned?  How important it is to obey all traffic laws.

The majority of the instruction in this course was done in lecture format or “in the car” driving sessions with the instructor.  That was sufficient to teach parking techniques and how to appropriately use the blinker.  But when it came time to talk about the importance of traffic laws … the form of pedagogy changed.  They tried to terrify us.

It began with a survey of the fines you have to pay if you break the law.  Then, it progressed to the discussion of having your insurance or driver’s license cancelled.  However (just to close the deal) the instructors saved the big guns for the end … movies detailing gruesome traffic accidents with the not so subtle admonition – if you break the law this could be you!

This summer, my son is taking Driver’s Ed.  I am curious if the tools of the trade have changed at all.  We will soon find out!

I share this today as we prepare for the seventh and final installment in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series at Wildwood.  This weekend we will be looking at Revelation 17-18.  In these verses we have a “gruesome video” detailing the dangers of driving the world’s system.

In Revelation 13:11-18, Satan’s end time’s plan was on display.  Through the work of a false prophet, Satan entices all the world to worship the anti-christ as god.  If they do so, they will receive some form of “blessing” and will be allowed to continue to work and profit inside the world’s system.  For those who refuse to worship the anti-christ, they will be marked for persecution and forbidden the chance to work and make a living in this world.  No doubt this pressure will woo some (in the last days) to worship the beast in order to get the political connection and material gain that he promises.  Though the particulars are different, the same pressures rest on us today.  “Follow the world and fit in … don’t follow the world, and prepare to be cancelled!”

But in Revelation 17-18, Jesus (the Great Educator) debuts  films on where riding the system of this world leads.  To no one’s surprise, the anti-christ and his system provide no permanent relief, and will ultimately turn on you and try to devour you.  Further, the material gain the world economic system promises will ultimately fail.  

Jesus shows these movies to “scare us straight.”  And encourage us to trust the One who will never let us down and invest in what is guaranteed to last.  

Make plans to join us this Sunday as we conclude this series together in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 service.   Join us … and bring friends!

 

A Few More Thoughts on Revelation 14 (Lord of the Earth part 6)

In this morning’s message from Revelation 14, we talked about the question, “Who marks your life?”  We saw how there are two primary things that can mark our lives:  this beastly world, or our Creator God.  Against the backdrop of the end times (and the “666” mark of the beast from Revelation 13 vs. the sealing of the 144,000 with the name of the Lord), we were encouraged to have JESUS be the One who most marks our lives.  

Due to a lack of time, we were not able to finish our study of Revelation 14, so I wanted to supplement this morning’s sermon with a quick look at Revelation 14:14-20.  These verses add an emphatic modifier to the question “Who marks your life?”:

Who marks your life makes a remarkable difference.

This truth comes clear as we reflect further on the last section of chapter 14.  In these verses, a variety of angels (and Jesus Himself!) show up to further drive home the importance of our decision.

First up is Jesus, who is seen sitting on the clouds in 14:14-16 with a large sickle in His hand.  The sickle is a farm instrument used at the time of harvest to cut down the crops.  With this sickle, Jesus is going to bring this current era of history to a close, as He “harvests” His people out of the earth.  This is a dramatic picture of what will happen at the end of this age when Jesus will call ALL PEOPLE to His altar and have them give an account for their lives.  This time before the throne will be experienced by both Christians and non-Christians alike.  What we do matters, and one day we will give an account for our lives to God.  In 14:14-16, Jesus swings His sickle and brings one group of people to account. 

After Jesus swings His sickle, an angel emerges, holding an additional sickle (14:17-20).  This angel is encouraged by a THIRD angel to swing that sickle and continue the harvest of the earth.  The third angel (who encourages the second) is identified as the angel “in charge of the fire.”  What does that mean?  Well, the fire referenced here is most likely the fire burning the incense in heaven containing the prayers of the saints … specifically the prayers begging God to bring justice to the earth and avenge the death and persecution of the martyrs (see Revelation 8:1-5).  This angel also obliges and swings His sickle, bringing about the wrath of God upon the earth.

So what is happening in these two swings of the sickle (one by Jesus and the other by the angel)?  

It seems that these two actions represent something that will take place at the end of this age.  The event of Revelation 14:14-16 seems to be referring to Jesus bringing His church before Him at the end of this age, and rewarding us for any faithful service we have rendered to Him (something we will talk about later in our study of Revelation.)  

The event of Revelation 14:17-20 seems to be referring to the judgment of the people of the world who have not trusted in Christ (and who have persecuted the followers of Christ in the last days).  They will receive the wrath of God in the end, and will see their life crushed like a grape on a winepress.  This graphic description seems to line up with what will happen when Jesus really returns to the earth.  The armies of the earth will be gathered in opposition to God and His people, and will be marching on the city of Jerusalem, hell-bent on killing all Christ-followers found there.  However, Jesus intervenes by returning to the earth and slaughtering the enemy armies in the battle of Armageddon (we will see more of this when we look at Revelation 16:15-19 and 19:11-21 later this summer).  This final battle will occur in Israel in the Jezreel Valley that runs from Meggido in the North (Armageddon means – Mt. Meggido), and Edom in the south.  This stretch of land is about 200 miles long … or in ancient measuring standards, about 1,600 stadia long … and apparently, the enemy armies will be slaughtered there in great numbers with their blood splattering as high as a horse’s bridle throughout that region (Revelation 14:20).  (NOTE: we will talk more about this battle when we get to Revelation 19 later this summer).

These swings of the sickle by the “grim reapers” of Revelation 14 are reminders of the importance of having our lives marked by Jesus.  Real consequences are at stake.  If we find our lives only marked by this beastly world, there will be hell to pay (literally).  And, if Jesus is really the One who has marked our lives, then we should follow Him wherever He goes (in obedience) … knowing that we will one day provide to Him an accounting for our lives.  The graphic descriptions of 14:14-20 are left to further impress us that Who marks our lives is of remarkable importance!

So … who marks your life?  I implore you to trust in Jesus Christ while you have time!

Now, in closing … two more thoughts:

  1. The wrath of God is pictured here as wine (14:17-20).  This bitter wine of judgment is prepared by God and will be poured out on all who reject Jesus.  Thinking of wine as a picture of judgment adds greater meaning to the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42.  There Jesus prays, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”  Jesus is praying just hours before He goes to the cross, and He asks God to remove the cup from Him.  What cup?  The wine cup of God’s wrath!  Yet Jesus says, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”  On the cross, Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath.  All of it.  All who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins see the wine of God’s wrath, earned by our sin, poured out on Jesus who died in our place!  Oh what grace!  The sinless Jesus drinking the wrath intended for sinful us according to God’s plan to redeem us and make us His!  Thank you Jesus for not passing on the Cup, but drinking it for me!
  2. Notice where Jesus is standing in 14:1 (on the rock of Mt. Zion) vs. where Satan is standing in 12:17 (on the sands of the sea).  This picture further drives home the massive differences between being marked by “the beast” and being marked by God.  One is flimsy … as if on shifting sand … while the other is resolute upon the solid rock!  The system of this world is passing away (14:8), and hell awaits those who are only marked by it (14:9-11).  Meanwhile, the Gospel is eternal and universally necessary (14:6-7) and heaven awaits those who are marked by Him (14:13).  

Who marks us is of remarkable importance.  Who marks you?

 

P.S.  One last thing.  Biblical scholars debate which “Mount Zion” is referenced in Revelation 14 … the Mount Zion of earth (around Jerusalem), or the heavenly Mount Zion, talked about in Hebrews 12:22-24.  As I mentioned this morning, I believe this is a reference to the earthly Mount Zion upon the earth.  That is where the 144,000 are located during the time of the tribulation according to Revelation 7, and God’s preservation of them upon the earth (as seen in 12:17, 6, 15-16) is a major contextual clue as to their whereabouts.  That said, a question ensues.  If this is earthly Mount Zion, why is Jesus said to be “with them” there?  After all, Revelation 14:1 PRECEDES Revelation 19:11 when Jesus actually returns to the earth.  If Mount Zion is on earth (in 14:1) how do we understand the reference to Jesus being there?  Well, I think two possibilities exist as explanations here … which I think are actually BOTH true.  First of all, the 144,000 are said to have “followed Jesus wherever He went (14:4).”  This speaks to their Spirit’s following Jesus in obedience in every way.  By saying that Jesus was with them on Mount Zion, it is simply saying that Jesus was WITH THEM IN SPIRIT, protecting them amidst the Satanic attacks of the last days.  Further, the picture of Jesus with the 144,000 on Mount Zion is foreshadowing what will happen when Christ returns in Revelation 19 … He will stand upon Mount Zion … on this Earth (the Earth He is Lord over) … and reign with His people.  

Hope these extra notes are helpful for you in our study of this great Revelation!

Lord of the Earth (part 6) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 19, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Revelation 14:1-20.  This message was part 6 in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below you will see questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 14
  3. What are examples you have seen of the worldly message that “we can have it all” and that consequences aren’t that important?
  4. In chapters 13 and 14, the mark of the Beast is contrasted with the Mark of the Lamb.  From our study the past couple of weeks, how might you compare and contrast these two?
  5. The one who is truly marked by Jesus is said in 14:1-5 to: be identified with Him, to worship God alone, to follow Jesus wherever He goes, to be redeemed as His, to be a true and faithful witness, and to add a unique “stanza” to the song of praise.  As you processed these in the message, did any particular item referenced challenge you?
  6. Of the reasons given for WHY we should choose Jesus in 14:6-13, which most speaks to the objections to Christianity you either have personally experienced or you hear most from those in your life who are not Christians?
  7. Given the message today, how would you answer the question, “who marks your life?”  If you do not answer “Jesus” what is keeping you from following Him wherever He goes?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The Lord Of The Earth #6 6.19.22

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online:

 

Lord of the Earth (part 6) Sermon Preview

We live in a world that makes promises telling us “We can have it all.”  Life without limits.  Blessing without budgets.  Choices without costs.  

This is the basic pitch of almost every advertisement.  “You need this car.”  “You should buy that house.”  “You have to go to that event.”  “Don’t leave the house without wearing these!”  Message after message sells each item in a vacuum.  Isolated, the case is way easier to make.  In the “We can have it all” world, we have unlimited time and money – so we can do everything and buy it all.  And in this mythical/limitless world, attractions are magnified and consequences are forgotten.

There is a serious problem with this worldview, though.  It is absolutely not possible.  All of us have the same amount of time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) – a finite and limited number.  Though some lives are years shorter than others, when compared to eternity, our varying length of days are all look short and limited.  As it relates to money, each of us are entrusted with differing amounts, but a budget constrains all.  With only a few days and dollars, we are forced to demonstrate our priorities by what we experience and expense.  And as it relates to our decisions themselves … they are actually way more consequential than we sometimes realize.  Our choices all carry consequences, even if we don’t perceive them immediately.

So, as it turns out, the world’s promises are really lies.  We can’t have it all, and there really are consequences to our choices.  Given this reality, how do you determine where to spend your life (time and money)?  How do you evaluate the ups and downs of the choices you make?  

What is WORTH investing your life in?  All of us will invest our lives in something.  At the end of the day our time and money will go somewhere.  We will have made our choices.  What choice will you make?

I want to suggest that there is one big choice that will rule the other choices in your life.  And I want to propose that this idea is not just mine … but that I got it from someplace really important —- Revelation 14.  In the middle of the last book of our Bibles, amidst a presentation of Jesus Christ as the Lord of the Earth, we get a chapter that informs us that there is a MASTER CHOICE that we must all make regarding our lives.  Using the perspective of eternity and the context of the end times, this chapter points out that each life will be MARKED by something … really by SOMEONE.

Either we will choose to be MARKED by the BEAST of this world, and invited to be intoxicated by the desires of our flesh, and our desire for self-preservation … OR we will be MARKED by the LAMB OF GOD and determine to follow Him wherever He goes.  Either we will keep our lives in our hands and do and say whatever we need to do and say in order to “fit in” down here, or we will turn our lives over to another who will personally protect and provide for us forever.  What will mark YOU?  What DOES mark you?  

How you answer this question is of a level of importance that cannot be overstated … and the rationale for making this decision is no “blind leap of faith.”  In His last words of the Bible (Revelation), the argument is made for the enduring worth of following Jesus, and the excruciating agony of this beastly world. 

This Sunday at Wildwood, we’ll talk about it, and look at Revelation 14:1-20 to see for ourselves this eternity-shaping reality.  Make plans to join us this Father’s Day for this message and time of worship together.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to know how to be with Him on His day.  Don’t miss it … and bring friends to the 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 services.  See you there!

A Few More Thoughts on Lord of the Earth (part 5)

There is a scene we are familiar with … a person who knows they are beat, suddenly acts out in anger.  

Parents of toddlers have seen this.  You are playing “Chutes and Ladders” when your child hits the long slide … assuring their competitor will beat them to the top.  Knowing defeat is certain, the ranting tot flips over the game board in disgust.  If they can’t win, they certainly don’t want YOU to enjoy the moment.  

Sports fans know this also.  The basketball coach or player who has been beaten to submission by the opposing team, gets a double technical and ejected from the game prematurely …  not about to go quietly.

Not all toddlers and not all athletes act this way when their defeat is certain, but it has happened enough times that we are familiar with the pattern.  

In Revelation 12-13, the defeat of our adversary (Satan) is detailed.  He loses in heaven (to the angels – see 12:7-8).  He loses on earth during the life of Jesus  (unable to derail Jesus from His rescue mission – see 12:5).  He loses on earth during this age (Christians overcoming the devil’s accusations by the blood of the Lamb and overcoming persecution by not “loving their own lives” – see 12:10-11).  He loses in the age to come (unable to kill off the nation of Israel as God protects their remnant during the reign of the anti-christ upon the earth – see 12:13-16).  Knowing his defeat, and knowing his time is short, Satan flips over the board game … he gets “T’d” up.  He throws a fit … and tries to deceive as many people as possible before Christ actually comes back.

His efforts to deceive, lie, kill, and destroy are executed through the work of two humans who are alive during these final 7 years before Jesus returns.  One of the people Satan uses in the last days will be a political leader … the anti-christ (his actions are described in 13:1-10).  Another person he uses will be a religious leader … the false prophet (his actions are described in 13:11-18).  In this morning’s message, I talked some about these two men’s blasphemous actions, but in the space below, I want to talk a bit more about one item related to each (anti-christ and false prophet).  

The physical description of the anti-christ:  The anti-christ is described in 13:1-4.  That physical description goes like this, “And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.  One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.  And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’”  What do these details suggest about the anti-christ’s identity?  The 10 horns with 7 heads indicate a confederacy of 10 nations, with 7 key leaders, who ultimately are led and ruled by the one anti-christ.  He builds credibility through a back story of a hoax resurrection (“seemed to have a mortal wound”). Then begins to dominate the world, bringing the entire earth under one government (led by the anti-christ) where the anti-christ is also encouraged to be worshipped as god.  While the anti-christ is leading the earth, he is also doing so while hating the nation of Israel and attempting to persecute the Jews every chance he gets (see 12:17).  Many have speculated on the identity of the nations represented by the “group of 10 horns” from which the anti-christ will come.  The best guess is that he will emerge as the leader of a “revived version” of the Roman Empire … or at least come from a consortium of nations that are made up of descendants of the old Roman Empire of John’s day.  This belief is derived from an understanding of Daniel 9:24-27 that describes this 7 year period as “kicking off” when a peace treaty is signed “by the leader of the people” who destroy Jerusalem in 70AD.  Since the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in John’s day, it is largely suspected that the anti-christ will come from European descent.  Since many Americans are also from this same ethnic line, however, we cannot rule out the identity of this “one world leader” being from America.  The animals used in description of the anti-christ (in 13:2) draw comparison with the animals mentioned in Daniel 7, and highlight world powers of days past.  The anti-christ sits in the stream of a series of world leaders who have done some blasphemous things in the past (Nebudchanezzer, Nero, and others).

The false prophet’s “mark of the beast”:  Though many people would struggle to walk through the entire book of Revelation, most have at least heard of the false prophet’s “mark of the beast” from Revelation 13:16-18.  The “666” required on the hand or forehead is a means for the false prophet to enforce the requirement to worship the anti-christ as god.  For those who worship the anti-christ as god, they receive a “mark” that enables them to work, and survive in the “anti-christ’s world.”  Those who do not worship the anti-christ as god will not get the mark, and will be kept from buying and selling goods and be subject to intense persecution.  Though this “mark” is anchored inside half of the last 7 years before Christ returns, and though it is clearly described as a part of a counterfeit system of the worship of the anti-christ, many try to identify this mark as many things today.  In the past couple of years I have heard this mark tied to credit cards, vaccines, medical records, bio-chips, iPhones, and more.  While the technology is certainly available today for worldwide financial identification and monetization … and while the trend today is certainly more tolerant of a “one world” system, the utilization of the “mark of the beast” is not something that is active in the world today.  From my humble perspective … when the church is raptured to heaven, AND God begins to pour out His wrath upon the earth, AND a single human leader establishes one world control, then demands the entire world worship him …  THEN we should look for the mark of the beast.  Until then, we need not fear the use of electronic funds, digital ids, or medical care … at least not for Revelation 13’s “mark of the beast” reasons.  People may have convictions against these items for other reasons, but leave Revelation 13 out of it, unless you can demonstrate the rest of what is spoken of here in context.

And one last thought … throughout chapters 12-13, we see more references to “1,260 days” (12:6), “time, times, and half a time” – also a 3.5 year period (12:14), and “forty-two months” (13:5).  These 3 references to the same length of time all communicate about the same period referenced in Revelation 11:2-3 … and all fit inside half of the 70th week of Daniel 9:24-27 … the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” – the Great Tribulation.  During this time Satan is raging against Israel and trying to destroy her.  In each of these references to time in Revelation 12-13, God’s provision for His people is emphasized.  God is seen as sustaining Israel while hiding them and providing for them in the desert regions of the Tribulation era in 12:6 and 12:14.  Ultimately, the timeframe of Revelation 13:5 for anti-christ’s rule is seen as being LIMITED by a sovereign God to a relatively short period of time (NOTE:  the anti-christ is “ALLOWED” to lead only for this long.)  The short era of anti-christ rule is a reminder of the ultimate defeat of Satan and his cohort.

OK … one more “last thing.”  Notice Satan’s evil “trinity” in these chapters.  The dragon, beast, and false prophet are roughly analogous in a twisted way to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – though WORSE IN EVERY WAY!  

Be encouraged friends.  Though Satan may seem to be winning for a short time, the victory of Christ is certain.  Stay faithful to Him!

Lord of the Earth (part 5) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 12, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 12-13.  This message was part 5 of the “Lord of the Earth” series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 12-13
  3. While it is MOST important for us to know who we are following (Jesus – our Lord), it is also beneficial to know something of our enemy (Satan).  Before today’s message, what all did you know about Satan?
  4. The Satan is pictured as a multi-headed red dragon, while “God’s side” are depicted as a pregnant woman and a child.  Which side APPEARS to be stronger (in Revelation 12:1-3)?  How does this compare with what you experience in every day life?  Does Satan’s side ever appear stronger than God’s side to you?
  5. People can defeat the devil’s accusations (according to 12:11) by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by not loving their lives.  What do you tend to rely upon when you are confronted with your mistakes, sins, and shortcomings?  Where are you most challenged by this verse?
  6. We are to stay on the alert for the enemy (Satan), according to 1 Peter 5:8.  What are some ways you can stay alert for the schemes of the enemy today?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The Lord Of The Earth #5 6.12.22

 

To listen online, use the player below:

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online:

 

Lord of the Earth (part 5) Sermon Preview

In any competition, “intelligence” can be a helpful.  By “intelligence” I am not referring to the size of one’s intellect (though an exercised brain is certainly helpful.)  By “intelligence” I do mean information that can help you know what your opponent’s strategy or tendencies are.

In military operations, knowing where bases and weapons are located can help plan a successful attack.  In sports, knowing your opponent’s tendencies prepares you on how to respond.  

A timely example from the Women’s College World Series might help illustrate this point.  For tonight’s game, if the University of Texas knew exactly what pitch the OU hurler was going to throw (say an inside screwball) before they threw it, it would give the Longhorn a much better shot at hitting the ball!  

Now, intelligence (of course) is not everything.  If you told me exactly where Jordy Bahl was going to pitch it, I STILL COULD NOT HIT IT.  Why?  Because information is not everything.  Information in my hands would simply make me a smarter strikeout.  However, information in the hands of a skilled ballplayer makes all the difference in the world!

I go through this today, because in Revelation 12-13, followers of Jesus Christ get “intelligence” on our chief opponent – Satan himself.  In these two chapters we learn quite a bit about who the devil is, what his plans are in the future, and his ultimate fate.  This intel is given to equip us with the knowledge needed to face our enemy at the plate.  Plus, we find out how we can overcome his deception and not strikeout … as we are reminded in whose hands the “bat” ultimately rests (Jesus Christ).

So, join us this Sunday at Wildwood for an “intelligence briefing” on our enemy from Revelation 12-13 in part 5 of our “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Know that we will not have time to unpack every single verse in this section, so I would encourage you to read these verses ahead of our time on Sunday to help orient you. (As always in this series, I will post additional thoughts on this blog after the message is over).

  See you at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00.  Come … and bring friends!