[social_share / sc_id=”sc1″]
As we come to chapters 13 and 14 we need to keep in mind that these are a part of a whole which we started last week in chapter 12. It is a part of the new camera angle which looks at the same time period we have been looking at since the beginning of the book. The 1,260 days or the time from the ascension of Jesus into heaven until the end when he comes again. Things will become more intense than we have seen up until this point in these two chapters. Chapter 14 in fact may be the darkest chapter in the whole book, and maybe even in all of the Bible.
In chapter 12 in our last sermon we were given a behind the scenes look of what lies behind the hostility the church faces here on earth. We get a cosmic view of the spiritual warfare happening between the dragon, Satan, and Christ and His Messianic Community, the church. Everything evil that the church faces has Satan behind it. The dragon’s main purpose is to destroy Christ and when he could not do that he turned his attention the the followers of Christ the church. But we also learned that Satan is a defeated foe. We are not to lose heart because Jesus has done the hard work for us already, therefore we can conquer in life and death because of the trail Jesus blazed already. Satan is powerful, but it is not ultimate power. It is a defeated power.
In this sermon the main theme I want us to pick up on is the contrast of what is true versus what is false. We will see that when something is false many times it is presented in such a way that it looks true. When falsehood has run its course though it will ultimately be found as false. When it has finished its course the wrath of God comes in the fullest force we have seen until now. Once again no fancy points this morning we will just go through the text as we see it. I will be covering tons of ground and I do encourage you to ask questions if they arise.
In chapter 13 I want us to notice three things.
THE FIRST BEAST
First we have a beast, or as we will call it the first beast. The first beast comes out of the sea which in the first century represented evil and instability. The first beast has ten horns, and seven heads, and on his ten horns there are ten crowns. Notice the similarity between this beast and the description of the dragon in chapter 12 we saw last week. The significance of the crowns being on the horns is that the beast has power and he has rule, but his rule is a rule by force. The beast has blasphemous names on it heads. The first beast is like a leopard, its feet were like a bears, and its mouth was like a lions. This beast is wrapped up into one the different beasts we see in Daniel 7. The dragon, who is standing by the sea, gives this beast his power and authority and his throne. The beast has great power but this power is derived from the dragon Satan. He does not have power in and of himself.
The beast seemed to have a mortal wound on one of its heads and it was healed. Because of this the people of earth were amazed. The worshiped the dragon because of the beast and the exclaimed Who is like the beast? They thought this was the greatest thing they had ever seen or encountered. They looked at his might and they were amazed they did not think there was anyone who could fight against the beast.
After the description of how the beast appeared in this vision look at the function of the beast. Then we will identify the beast. The beast utters blasphemy against God. In fact the beast is trying to be like God because it accepts worship and adoration that is only right to go to God. The beast speaks against God. The beast is allowed to exercise authority for 42 months, which is the same as the 1,260 days, which represents the time from which Jesus ascended back to heaven until the time he comes again.
John is pointing out here that the beast has a limited time in which it can exercise authority. During this short time it is allowed to make war on the saints and even to seemingly conquer them. Notice it is allowed. It is under the sovereign control of God. Notice the contrast we see from last week where the protection of God is seen as lasting a long time where as the threats the beast brings with it is viewed as a shorter period of time. God’s protection is long where as the time the beast has to work is short. The beast making war on the saints is anyone picking up what we saw in chapter 11 with the two witnesses which represent the church, and the beast killing them and getting its victory, or so the beast thought.
The beast was given authority over every tribe, people, tongue and nation. You could say in a sense the beast has political power. Because of this all people on the earth will worship the beast, but not ALL people. The ones whose names were not written in the Lambs book of life before the foundation of the world do not worship the beast.
Alright now the moment I know all of you have been waiting for who or what does the beast represent? Is it a person who comes on the scene later in history? Has the beast already come? Is he here now? Look at one verse before we unpack this a little. In chapter 17:8 we get this description: The beast you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. The beast in chapter 17 is the same beast here in 13. The picture we have then is of the beast existing, then not existing, then coming again. Or perhaps a better way to explain it the beast is manifested then goes away for a while and then is manifested again. So it is a process that is repeating itself throughout the 42 months in which the beast is allowed to exercise its authority.
The beast is nothing but evil and it has the same purpose that the dragon has which is to destroy the people, the followers of Jesus. The beast represents what we would call antichrist. But before we go on I want you to clear you mind of any preconceived notions you may have of antichrist already. When we say antichrist here we do not mean it in the typical way we hear it portrayed. Many people think there will be an eschatological figure who is going to rule over what we would call the tribulation and he is going to persecute the church and attempt to bring nations together. He will be of Russian or European descent and will have a slick haircut and a slick suit and an effervescent smile. The picture we have is that the beast exercises its authority during the 42 month period. Which is not the tribulation so this view does no mesh with what John is saying.
When we say antichrist we mean a person or political power which launches historical and concrete opposition against the church. It is something that is opposed not only to Christ but also His followers.
Go with me to First John 2:18. We want to have a biblical view on this and since we are looking at what John wrote in Revelation it would be wise to look at other writings of John. In this verse John writes that antichrist is come, and even now many antichrists have come already. Specifically what he is referring to here was Gnostic heretics who taught that Jesus had not come in the flesh. They were against a true view of Jesus and they wanted this church to whom John was writing to hold to this as well. Look next at Second John verse 7. Once again John says those who deny that Jesus have come in the flesh are antichrist. Do we see the beast denying Jesus? Do we see the beast blaspheming Jesus? You bet we do. In fact the beast seems to be mocking Jesus by having its own death and resurrection. Which is what is meant by the mortal wound on one of its heads.
What should we say then about the beast being manifested then going away then being manifested again? The beast, antichrist, launches real opposition and persecution against the church. John says he wants to destroy it. Think of it this way. In John’s time of writing Domitian could have represented the beast. Domitian claimed he should be worshiped. He demanded that he be addressed as our Lord and Savior which is blasphemy unless you are Jesus. If you did not cave in to his demands you were persecuted and we know many faithful believers lost their lives because of it. So Domitian could represent the beast and then after this phase, if you will, in the history of the church it seems as if the beast went away.
This is a good example from John’s day, but could we get a good example from our day or somewhere closer to us? Think about Hitler and the rise of the Third Reich. Not to keep beating the Hitler thing but the example fits. Believe it or not people in Germany were actually mesmerized by Hitler when he first came to power. He was very impressive. He seemed to say the right things. He looked as if he had Germany’s best interest in mind. Many people of course know of Hitler’s hatred of Jewish people. Very few know that Hitler also hated faithful Christianity and rewrote what Christianity would look like in Germany. He rewrote historical Christianity in such a way that he felt he could justify even the Holocaust in this way. What happened in Germany is that if anyone would speak out and say that Hitler was wrong there was a deep price to pay. There was widespread imprisonment and deaths of faithful believers during this time because they stood for the Jesus revealed in the Scriptures opposed to the Jesus Hitler wanted them to adhere to. Could we say then with some sort of reason that Hitler is a manifestation of the beast, antichrist? I think we could be safe in saying that.
The first beast by way of summary is an agent that Satan uses and gives his authority to persecute and launch historical and concrete opposition to the church. The beast is antichrist and can come along throughout history in may different forms. Keep in mind the main goal is to attempt to destroy Jesus and His Church.
Secondly notice after this beast there is a call to the saints to endure. The first beast is warring against the church. Antichrist will take any measure possible to destroy the church. John in verse 9 says if anyone has an ear let him hear. In other words he who has the Spirit will understand this. What is the believer to here? Well that is the content of verse 10. If a believer is to be taken captive to captivity he will go and if a believer is to be killed with the sword with the sword he will be killed. How are we to endure then even in the midst of this?
First we should take comfort in the fact that our name is written in the Lambs book of life. But notice when it was written. Before the foundation of the world. How did this happen? By God’s sovereign purpose alone. This being the case our fate is sealed. We have a sure footing by which we can stand and endure to the end.
Secondly verse 10 points us to the sovereignty of God. Just as our names were written in the Lamb’s book of life because of God’s sovereign purpose so the things we face on earth are from God. They are for our good so we are more conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. For some of us here our faith may cost us our life. No worried. You can endure that because God is sovereign and He knows what you can handle and will not give you more than that. We can endure then because of the sovereignty of God.
Jesus has won the VICTORY therefore we can endure. Keep in mind the bigger picture we are looking at here. This chapter falls within a section that began with chapter twelve. In that chapter we see that Satan is defeated and that because of this believers can defeat Satan as well. It all starts and it all hinges upon Jesus. Because of the finished work of Jesus Christ I can endure.
Even in death we as believers have victory over Satan because Jesus has defeated death already. If a believer is to be killed with the sword, this will happen, even the believers death is a victory. Satan may think he has the last word but nothing could be farther from the truth.
So two things we have noticed so far is the first beast which is anti-Christ. Antichrist is a figure which is working throughout all of history. The beast will be around for a while and then it will go away and then it will come back again. Then John nudges in this reference to believers enduring until the end. He does this in an odd fashion though by talking about the believer either being taken captive or being slain with the sword. These both, including the reference to the Lamb’s book of life point us to the Sovereignty of God and that God has a plan, and as His children, as followers of His Lamb He will not give us more than we can handle.
THE SECOND BEAST
Thirdly in this chapter notice the second beast. Look at the description of the beast then we will interpret the beast. John sees in a vision another beast rising out of the earth. John here is contrasting this beast with the first beast. The first beast came out of the sea which represented evil and instability. This second beast comes from the earth which in the first century represented stability, so this beast would be less threatening because of his origin. This beast has two horns like a lamb, this is a reference to the Lamb of God we saw in chapter five. This second beast looks like a lamb but he could not be any more different than the Lamb we have seen already. The lamb spoke like a dragon which most likely means that this second beast is the mouthpiece of the dragon. He speaks the words that Satan, the dragon, wants him to speak.
Notice what this second beast does. He exercises all of the authority of the first beast in its presence. The picture is that the second beast does not derive power from within, but derives its power from the first beast, as the first beast derives its power from the dragon, Satan. The second beast makes all the people of the earth worship the first beast. This second beast also performs great signs. He makes fire come down from heaven in front of the people. He is amazing them with the power that the first beast has given to him. By the signs the second beast works he deceives all the people of the earth and tells them to make an image of the first beast. The second beast was allowed, notice that he was allowed, he does not act on his own, to give breath to the image of the beast. This was an ancient practice where people would make statues talk in order to convince them to worship there god. Many different shenanigans surrounded this. Many times they would find ways to sneak a person into the statue and they would talk when the magician or whomever would command it to talk. The second beast is doing seemingly amazing things. The second beast causes those who do not worship the image of the beast to be slain. It causes all to be marked on the right hand, both small people and great people and both poor people and rich people. All who did not have this mark could not buy or sell or trade. Then as we keep reading it tells us the number of its name and it is the number of man 666.
So what is going on here. There is a progression we see in the power of these two agents of Satan. The first beast derives his power from the dragon and the second beast derives its power from the first beast. There is a pecking order if you will. The second beast is the false prophet which we will see later in this book. If you think about it what normally follows anti-Christ? Would it not make sense that false teaching follows? This was the case in First John. John was writing in part to combat a heresy that had threatened to overtake that church. The people who were the antichrists were those who were teaching the heresy. When there is opposition to Jesus and His people, the Church, there is always it seems going to follow false teaching.
Many times these false teachers may seem legitimate. This second beast could be seen by some as legitimate because it comes as a lamb, it is gentle, it comes from the earth which means it is less intimidating than the first beast. But nothing could be further from the truth. The second beast is the mouthpiece of the dragon. When he has caused the people of the earth to fall into amazement he places a mark on them. The mark symbolizes property. It is like branding a cow. They belong to the second beast, they are at his beck and call. The second beast has real power. It does not seem that John is leading us to believe that he is using magic or something of that nature. He is using real power and real signs that have the dragon Satan, and the power of the first beast behind them to deceive the nations. That is what a false prophet does.
Not to beat this like a drum, but go back to the Hitler example. There were many influential so called Christians in Germany who came to Hitlers aid if you will and propagate the heresies that Hitler was masking as authentic Christianity. No doubt many people in Germany thought there was nothing wrong with this because after all Bishop so and so has joined Hitler. False teaching followed the beast who was launching concrete opposition to the church.
The big picture of what we have going on here is this. The dragon, the first, and the second beast form a kind of unholy trinity. The dragon is the head and gives his power to the first beast then the first beast turns around and gives his power to the second beast. In other words they are acting as if they were the triune God. They are playing God and mimicking the relationship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have. They look legitimate but nothing could be further than the truth. The main goal in this unholy trinity is to destroy Christ and to destroy His community the Church. They attempt to be like God all the way down to marking those who follow them. Notice they are not sealed but are marked. They want to mark their people. This mark of course is not literal. I can remember one of the Left Behind movies that had Mr. T. in it and they made fake marks so they could go by food or something. It is symbolic like the seal of God is symbolic.
Now what everyone has been waiting for 666. Don’t lie you know you guys were waiting for it. If we had two weeks we could probably not go through every suggestion people have laid out to determine what this means. First there was a system in the first century where a letter in the alphabet represented a number. Therefore if someone said my number was 589 you could figure out what that meant by looking at the corresponding letters. People have used this and ran with it. Some think this refers to Nero the Roman Emperor. Some think it just simply means beast. Truth be told using this system like we see here we could come up with endless possibilities. D.A. Carson said someone did this and linked it to Henry Kissinger. If you did it right you could get Hitler. In fact I have heard that if you do it right you can get Barney the loveable dinosaur from PBS who sang that annoying song. Truth be told there is way to much speculation in this and is not something we should rely on. Plus it assumes that the readers know which language you have to go by. Because in order to get Nero you have to transliterate Nero into Hebrew and then misspell Nero in the Hebrew for it to even work.
There must be a better way to look at this. Of course there is right? Keep in mind the picture we are getting. We have a false trinity on our hands here and they want to be God and they are acting as if they are God. Verse 18 says that this is the number of a man, which we should most likely translate the number of man. Now if we look at the true Trinity each member of the Trinity is completely perfect and completely whole. What is the number of perfection or completeness we have seen in Revelation? It is 7! So each member of the trinity would be 777. When we contrast it with 666 John is teaching us that these people fall short of God, and that mankind in its efforts to be like God fall short. They are false, they are not perfect and they fall completely short of being God.
The first beast, antichrist, persecutes the church throughout history. From the time Jesus ascended back into heaven until He comes again the first beast will attack the church. Sandwiched in between the first and second beast is the call to endure to the end. Even in the midst of captivity and death we can persevere because of what Jesus has done for us. The second beast closes the chapter, who is the false prophet and gets his marching orders from the first beast. He deceives the nations with the works he does and the signs he performs.
CHAPTER 14: TRUTH
In chapter 13 we have seen nothing but falsehood on display. As we come to chapter 14 John has another vision and to keep our focus right the vision begins with Jesus. John sees the Lamb standing with the 144,000, which is the church, on Mt. Zion. Mt. Zion is talking about heaven here not the physical actual Mt. Zion. The 144,000 have the name of the Lamb and the Father on their foreheads. This is the seal we saw in chapter 7. A seal is something totally different from the mark we saw with the second beast. The mark signifies ownership but it pretty much stops there. A seal on the other hand signifies ownership as well but it goes a step further and also signifies that the one who is sealed will be protected by the one who sealed them. The protection comes from the one whose authority they are under.
Think about what we just went through. We have seen nothing but assaults against the church. We saw that some will be taken to captivity, some are going to be killed. There may come a time when Christians can’t even conduct business because they have the seal of God and not the mark of the beast. But this seal is so much more superior than the mark that the followers of the beast have. The beast just wants to own people. He does not care about them. He wants property. God on the other hand is not merely interested in owning people. He cares for those who are His. The Lamb, Jesus protects those who are His. He provides for us everything we need. It would be safe to say here is another aid for endurance you are sealed by God which means He gives to you His protection even if the dragon, first or second beast kill you.
John hears a voice from heaven. It sounded like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder and like the sound of a harp all at once. John hears the loudest rock concert you could ever imagine if you will but yet it is so sweet sounding that it sounds like a harpist playing their harp. This voice was singing a song, it was a new song that was sung before the throne and the four living creatures and the elders, there they are again remember those guys? No one could learn the new song except the 144,000. It is the song of the redeemed. Only they know it because only they have been redeemed.
The 144,00 are spiritually pure and loyal, which is what is meant by they are virgins. They speak the truth which contrasted with the second beast who was the mouthpiece of the dragon who speaks nothing but lies. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They are aware of Jesus. They are the firstfruits of God which means God has set believers aside to be holy unto Him. This is a description of all believers.
Good picture so far right? After the bleak and negative picture we had in chapter 13 of the two beasts persecuting the church the outlook gets a little brighter. Then we come to verse 6. In verses 6-11 we have three different angels and their main role is to announce and pronounce the judgmental wrath of God that is about to come on the inhabitants of the earth. All three pronouncements are to lead the believer, the one who has the seal of God, to endure to the end.
The first angel is flying in mid-air. The angel has an eternal gospel to proclaim, which is none other than THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. We must not read into the fact here that John did not use the word THE here but rather calls it an eternal Gospel. This angel is calling the men and women of earth both small and great to repent from their sins and to turn to Jesus Christ in faith and avoid the wrath that is about to come on the earth. So the gospel is the content of this angels message. In verse 7 the angel proclaims that all should fear God and give Him glory because the hour of judgment has come and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water. This is referring to the obligation to fear God because the gospel has been proclaimed to them. This is the proper response in other words. They are to fear God and worship Him because He and He alone is the true creator of everything.
The second angel says that Babylon the great has fallen. Babylon is the one who made all the nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality. Babylon, which we will see more of in later chapters, stands for the system of paganism that we see in the world. In the first century this could have been a reference to Rome and the practices which they forced on other people, such as Emperor worship and the emperor wanting to be addressed as Lord and Savior, as Domitian wanted to be. The great system of paganism has fallen. This system has made others drunk with the passion of her sexual immorality. This notion of drinking is important because we will see it more in this chapter.
With the first angel the gospel was proclaimed and with the second the fall of Babylon the Great is told. With the third angel the picture gets a little darker. The first two weren’t that bad. After all the first one is announcing the Gospel which is meant to be good news right? But we also know at the same time it could have a negative connotation because if you respond negatively to the Gospel there are consequences for that. The second angel was a little darker because it announced to the inhabitants of the earth that Babylon the prevailing system of paganism has fallen. This would be bad news for unbelievers since all have followed after this, in fact we could argue they all had whether willingly or unwillingly. Or perhaps they did it wittingly or unwittingly. The third angel pronounces what will happen to those who worship the beast and its image and receive its mark. The one who does this will drink the wine of God;’s wrath poured full strength and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. The smoke of their torment goes up for all of eternity and they have no rest day or night.
Not a very positive picture is it? First these people will drink the wine of God’s wrath in full strength from the cup of His anger. Why does John use the two words here wrath and anger? We could say this another way. Wrath here can also mean fury and the word anger we have can also mean wrath. So we have have the fury of His wrath if you will. This is not to say that God is capricious or cavalier with His wrath. It is a calculated wrath it is a wrath that is full of passion. It has been building up throughout all of history as God has seen what evil mankind has done. They will drink the wine of God’s wrath poured at full strength. What does this mean? In the first century wine was something many people would often drink. But when they would drink it many times they would mix it with water so the alcohol content would be less and it would not be as stiff of a drink. The picture then we get is that the wrath of God we see throughout history is diluted and not at full strength. But when God and the Lamb come in judgment those who have the mark of the beast will drink the wrath of God in full strength.
Not only will they drink the wrath of God at full strength but they will also be tormented day and night with fire and sulfur. The smoke of their torment is going to go on day after day after day after day after day after day. It will never end. Their torment will have an audience. As odd as this seems the picture we have here is of the holy angels and the Lamb being able to witness what is happening to these people. Not a pretty picture is it? In many ways the wrath of God, the wrath of the Lamb, is not pretty. But the sin that deserves that wrath is not pretty either.
Verse 12 is at first glance a little out place. John says HERE. Here indicates that John is going to give us the proper response to the visions he has relayed to us. The proper response is the endurance of the saints. Here it is again. Anyone getting it by now, endurance is important. In this one of the bleakest pictures in this book there is a call for endurance. Why here though? Once again we can point back to sovereignty. The angels pronouncing these things shows that this is God’s plan they are delivering. John is saying look all of the things we have talked about so far many of you may experience them. You might be taken to captivity. You might be killed because of you faith. But judgment is coming.
For the believer this should be humbling. God has a plan and those who attempt to destroy of will one day stand before Him and they will have to drink the wine of His wrath for their sinful life and their allegiance to the beast, which ultimately is allegiance to the dragon. Things may be rough for us now but out persecutors will one day get whats coming to them if you will. This should not make us happy per se. It may give us comfort and be a source of endurance for us but we should not glory and revel in this. We should be thankful for the truth that our names are written in the Lambs book of life and this is so sure because it was written in there before the foundation of the world. So endurance. We can ensure even when it seems as if all hope is lost because our loving heavenly Father has a plan and this system of evil around us will not go unpunished forever.
We are going to go ahead and skip to verse 14. Here we see one like a son of man riding on a cloud with a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. This is none other than Jesus Christ. An angel comes out of the temple, the presence of God, to tell Jesus the time has come go harvest the earth it is ripe and ready. So Jesus did as the Father wanted and he put out his sickle and swung it across the earth and the earth was reaped. The picture we have is of a grain harvest. We see this alluded to from the Old Testament in Joel 3. The prophet Joel says in verse 13: “Put in the sickle for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread for the winepress is full. The vats overflow for their evil is great.” This is what we have here as we close this chapter. We will see the treading in the next set of verses. In 14-20 we have two different harvests. The first one is the harvest of grain which Jesus does here this represents Jesus gathering His followers, coming back for them and taking them up to heaven.
As we come to the close in this chapter we see God’s wrath on full display. Another angel comes out and has a sharp sickle in its hand. Another angel comes out from the altar and called out to the one who has the sharp sickle: Put in you sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth for its grapes are ripe. The angel did this and gathered the grapes and threw the grapes into the winepress of the wrath of God.
Listen to a few verses from Isaiah 63. “Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? I have trodden down the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel…. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” The grapes the unbelievers, those who have the mark of the beast, are thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God and the winepress is trodden outside the city. We are not told here who does the trodding but the picture we get from Isaiah is that it is the Father Himself who does it. This is a gruesome picture. If it wasn’t bad enough already John sees blood flowing from the winepress. It flowed so high that a horse could swim through it and it was like this for 1,600 stadia which in our measurements would be 184 miles. Not a pretty picture and if it were left up to me I would skip over it entirely. But it is in scripture and to that we must be faithful to Jesus and take heed of what it says. Wrath is coming its not a pretty picture.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
What we have going on here is a contrast between what is true, what is reality and what is false. The dragon and the two beast form a fake or non-trinity and act as if they are God. The second beast has the appearance of the lamb, while we see in chapter 14 that the true Lamb is Jesus and Jesus alone. The beasts and the dragon pour their wrath on the church, the Messianic community. This is a false wrath. It is not a holy and righteous wrath. Then in chapter 14 we see true wrath which is directed at the dragon, the beasts, and those who have the mark of the beast. The mark is also a false mark because the only mark that matters is the seal of God. You all see what is going on here. Constantly things that look to be right are actually false, and in the end they will be proven as such.
We must not get caught up in the beasts and who they are but rather focus on what they do. They both, the first and the second, have as their purpose the destruction of the church. The will do it either by persecution or by spreading teaching that appears to be the truth on the surface but in the end will be found as false. This has been the history of the church from the time Jesus ascended back into heaven until the time he comes again.
In the midst of this persecution and false teaching we as believers and as a church can persevere, and in fact we must persevere. Jesus said those who endure to the end will be saved. As believers we should draw comfort that God is in complete control and our names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world.
There are many points we could look at for application this morning in light of the verses that call for endurance. This is important we must endure to the end, but I think we should focus elsewhere in light of where we are trying to go as a church.
Chapter 14 lays out for us one of the most gruesome pictures of the wrath of God we see in the whole Bible. It is not a pretty picture I will admit, and when you look at it, it is not hard to see why some people in Christian circles would choose to ignore it. But it is a real thing and we must be faithful to the parts of scripture that make us uncomfortable as well as the ones we like. The more I think about the more I am convinced that the wrath of God as believers should spur us on to evangelism. I do not want to play with anyone’s emotions, but who do you know that unless they come to Christ and flee the wrath to come, will be placed in the great winepress of God’s wrath and whose blood will be mingled with the rest who do not have the mark. As a church who places such a high importance on God’s sovereignty, as we should, we have more reason than any other church to evangelize. We can effectively pray for the lost because we know God is sovereign over their salvation. A person who thinks man plays all the role in salvation can not pray this honestly because they do not believe God is strong enough to change a human heart. We know the message guys. Now we just need to move. Maybe you think your not bold enough. I would argue in Christ you are because He has conquered for you every barrier you could imagine. As a church we want to lift Jesus high and focus on Him. Evangelism, next to biblical preaching, may be the most important way we can do it. Jesus wants us to and He commands us to. The wrath of God as we look on it should lead us to. I do not know why anyone would either want to go through that or see someone go through it. The picture we see of God’s wrath should not make us haughty or arrogant but should lead us to proclaim the eternal Gospel that people have an escape and God Himself provides it.
Lastly focus on Jesus. In your trial, tribulation, and your evangelism focus on Jesus.