Week Of September 17th, 2017

WEEKLY READINGS
SUNDAY > 2 Sam 13, 2 Cor 6, Ezek 20, John 21
MONDAY > 2 Sam 14, 2 Cor 7, Ezek 21, Ps 1‐2
TUESDAY > 2 Sam 15, 2 Cor 8, Ezek 22, Ps 3‐4
WEDNESDAY > 2 Sam 16, 2 Cor 9, Ezek 23, Ps 5‐6
THURSDAY > 2 Sam 17, 2 Cor 10, Ezek 24, Ps 7‐8
FRIDAY > 2 Sam 18, 2 Cor 11, Ezek 25, Ps 9
SATURDAY > 2 Sam 19, 2 Cor 12, Ezek 26, Ps 10

MEMORY VERSE(S)
“Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8, ESV).

CATECHISM QUESTION(S)
Baptist Catechism #99:
Q. Are the infants of such as are professing believers to be baptized?
A. The infants of such as are professing believers are not to be baptized; because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures, or certain consequence from them, to baptize such.

Posted in Weekly Passages, Posted by Mike. Comments Off on Week Of September 17th, 2017

Sermon Qs 09/17/17

Text: Rev 13:1-10 (read as group)
Notes: emmauscf.org/sermons
Begin with sharing general thoughts about the Sermon/Sermon Text
1. When will the beast described in Rev 13 appear? Discuss. 
2. Who or what does this beast symbolize? 
3. Where does this beast have authority? Discuss. 4. What does this beast do? Discuss.

Family Application: BC #99. Discuss this week’s Catechism questions and share how to communicate these truths to your family.

Gospel Sharing Application: Share about ways in which you have been able to share, proclaim, display, or model the Gospel during this last week.

Suggested verse for meditation: “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭13:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/rev.13.10.esv

Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Russell Schmidt, Posted by Russell. Comments Off on Sermon Qs 09/17/17

Sermon: The Beast Rising From The Sea: Revelation 13:1-10

Old Testament Reading: Daniel 7:1–14

“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. Daniel declared, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.’” (Daniel 7:1–12, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Revelation 13:1-10

“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?” And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” (Revelation 13:1–10, ESV)

Introduction

Here we have a transition in the book of Revelation.

Chapter 12 focused upon “the great dragon…who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9, ESV). He was identified as the primary spiritual opponent of God, the Christ, and the people of God living upon the earth. His objective since the fall of man has been to devour God’s people so as to consume God’s Christ. This he attempted to do, and this he thought he accomplished when Christ was crucified. But Christ rose from the dead, ascended to the Father and was seated upon his heavenly throne. The dragon was then barred from heaven and confined to the earth. John heard a heavenly voice saying, “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:12, ESV). What did the dragon do having be barred from heaven upon Christ’s session? He immediately resumed his pursuit and persecution of God’s people. “He pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child” (Revelation 12:13, ESV), and he made “war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17, ESV). God’s promise to his people is that he will nourish them and preserve them spiritually, though they will indeed experience warfare in this world..

Clearly the focus shifts in chapter 13 away from the dragon to two beasts. John sees a vision of the first beast rising from the sea in 13:1. And in 13:11 he describes a beast rising from the earth who does the bidding of the first beast. The shift in focus is obvious, but I would like to draw your attention to the way in which chapters 12 and 13 are connected.

Remember that chapter 12 concluded with the words, “And he [the dragon] stood on the sand of the sea” (Revelation 12:17, ESV).  It is important that you visualize this. Imagine this ferocious and enraged dragon standing upon the seashore. And then immediately we read “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” (Revelation 13:1, ESV). When we come to 13:11 we will hear John say, “Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon” (Revelation 13:11, ESV).

The meaning is this: The dragon, who symbolizes Satan himself, is devoted to the pursuit are persecution of God’s people – he is committed to making “war on the… offspring [of the woman], on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17, ESV) – but he will wage this war, not always in a direct way, but through these two beasts. And so there he stands on the seashore summoning the beast from the sea (who looks like him) and the beast from the land (who talks like him) so that they might do his bidding in the world, to war against all who belong to God and to Christ.

Today we will consider the first of the two beasts. As we consider Revelation 13:1-10 we will ask five questions. One, when will this beast appear? Two, who or what does this beast symbolize? Three, where does this beast have authority? Four, what does this beast do? And five, why does this beast do what he does? Having answered these questions we will be well prepared to ask, how should this passage of holy scripture affect my life today?

When Will This Beast Appear?

So when will this beast appear? Truthfully, it would be better to put the question this way: “when did this beast appear?” But if I put the question that way from the beginning it would have tipped you off to the answer prematurely. The answer is that this beast was active in the world even when John originally penned this letter to the seven churches in the first century A.D. This same beast is active in the world now, and will be active in the world until the Lord returns.

Again, I must briefly address the futurist view of the beast of Revelation 13, which is most popular today. The futurist, when asked, when will this beast appear?, says “in the future during the last three and a half years of human history before the Lord returns in judgment”. I’m almost tired of having to address the futurist position, but the view is so prominent within evangelicalism today that I must say something about it. I refer you to previous sermons and previous classes offered at Emmaus for a detailed explanation as to why I believe it is wrong to view the book of Revelation as being mainly about the future and not about the state of affairs in the world today. For now I will simply draw your attention to what this text says and also its relationship to the passages that have come before it.

Notice that in verse 5 we are specifically told that “the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5, ESV).

I’ve already established in previous sermons that this three and a half year period of time is not to to be taken literally, but is symbolic for the time between Christ’s first and second comings. This three and a half year period of time is sometimes called 42 months (3.5 years x 12 months). Sometimes it is referred to as 1,260 days (3.5 years x 360 days per year according to ancient custom of measuring a year). And sometimes it is referred to as a time, times and half a times (1 year + 2 years + 1/2 a year). This three and a half period is symbolic of the period of time where those who belong to Christ will suffer tribulation in the world.  And when will the people of God suffer tribulation in the world? It is not in the future only, but in the past, present, and future. It is terrible myth to say that God’s people will not experience tribulation in the world. That contradicts the historical record, and it contradicts the scriptures. Christ himself spoke his disciples saying, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV)? Friends, this is the reality that has been symbolized over and over again in the book of Revelation, but in different ways. On the one hand, God’s people will have tribulation, but on the other hand, we are to take courage in Christ because he has overcome the world. This is the situation – preservation through tribulation – portrayed in each scene designated by the time frame of 42 months, or 1,260 days, or time, times, and half a time.

Look with me (one last time) at the five references to this three and a half year period found in Revelation chapters 11 through 13, and please notice the common theme.

It was in chapter 11 verses 1 through 2 that we were told of a heavenly temple that was measured and protected by God while the courtyard was left unmeasured and vulnerable on earth to the trampling of the nations.  The church is the temple, remember. She is simultaneously perfectly secure and yet vulnerable to persecution in the world.  How long will this situation of preservation through tribulation last? 42 months.

After this we immediately encountered two witnesses. These witness, who were also called “two lamp stands” and two “olive trees” symbolized the church in her witnessing role. After they fulfilled their task thy were killed and the nations rejoiced over them, but they were raised from the dead and caught up to God. How long did these witnesses witness? How long will this situation of preservation through tribulation last? They fulfilled their task while suffering persecution for 1,260 days, being ultimately preserved by God.

And then in chapter 12 we were introduced to the woman who gave birth to the male child. She too symbolized God’s people in every age. And after she gave birth we were told that she “fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished…” (Revelation 12:6, ESV). The wilderness would be a place of testing and tribulation, but also a place of preservation. How long will this situation of preservation through tribulation last? The texts says1,260 days.

Later in chapter 12 we were reintroduced to this woman being nourished in the wilderness to learn more about what she would endure there. She was pursued by the dragon who attempted to drown her in a flood of lies and deception, but she was preserved by God in that wilderness place. And how long will this situation of preservation through tribulation last? She was “nourished for a time, and times, and half a time” (Revelation 12:14, ESV).

And finally we come to the last reference to this symbolic three and a half year period here in 13:5 where we read, “And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority… (Revelation 13:5, ESV). How long will the beast be permitted to do this? We are told that it will be for 42 months, which should take our minds back to the first mention of this three and a half year period where the temple was said to be measured and protected and yet trampled for 42 months.

The time in which the beast is active is the same time in which the women and her offspring will be pursued and preserved which is the same period of time in which the witnesses will witness which is the same time in which temple will be both measured and yet exposed to trampling.

I’ve presented you with reasons for viewing this period of time as symbolic in previous sermons. I’ve explained where these numbers come form (from the OT and also from historical events) and why they serve as effective symbols communicating the idea of a time of tribulation for the people of God and also preservation. I do not wish to repeat those arguments here but to simply draw your attention to fact that book of Revelation recapitulates. In chapters 11 through 13 alone we have looked upon the entire time between Christ’s first and second comings (the church age) from many different points of view.

So, when did this beast from the sea appear? Well, we know that it was present in John day. In the narrative of Revelation it arose from the sea after Satan was barred from heaven and thrown to the earth. This happened when Christ sat down upon his heavenly throne after his death, resurrection, and ascension. There is nothing at all in the text that would suggest that this beast will only be present sometime in our future.

More can be said, but for now let us simply recognize that this beast from the sea has been present and active in the world at least from the time of Christ’s ascension to his heavenly throne.

Who Or What Does This Beast Symbolize?

Secondly, we must answer the question, who or what does this beast symbolize? The answer is this: the sea beast of Revelation 13 symbolizes political powers that persecute.

Notice the description of the beast in verses 1 and 2. John writes,

“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.” (Revelation 13:1–2, ESV)

Those familiar with the Old Testament scriptures will immediately recognize that this beast is a combination of the beasts of Daniel chapter 7 which was read at the beginning of this sermon. Remember that Daniel (who ministered from approximately 600 – 540 B.C.) saw a vision similar to that of John’s where “the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another” (Daniel 7:2–3, ESV). He then describes the beasts.

“The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings… a second one, like a bear…. and behold, another, like a leopard… After this [he] saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. [He] considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:4–8, ESV).

Later in Daniel 7 an interpretation is given concerning the symbolism of these creatures, and we are told in a most direct way that each beast represents a kingdom that would rise and fall in the future (from Daniel’s perspective). The fourth kingdom would be far greater and far more fierce than the first three. Though Daniel and his original audience did not know the names of all these kingdoms, we do now that this prophesy has been fulfilled.

The beasts of Daniel 7 symbolize the rise and fall of the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, and lastly the Romans. These kingdoms would oppose God and the people of God, but God would have victory over them and judge them. More than that, it would be in the time of the fourth kingdom (the Roman Empire) that “one like a son of man” would appear.  He would come “to the Ancient of Days” and be “presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13–14, ESV). What does this prophesy describe except the resurrection, ascension, and session of Christ at the Fathers right hand.

The meaning of the vision of Daniel 7, therefore, is that though powerful kingdoms will rise and fall, and though these kingdom will indeed war against God and persecute his people, God sits enthroned in heaven. He is Lord of all creation. He will judge these kingdoms in due time. And he will establish his kingdom beginning with the arrival of the Christ and culminating in his second coming.

This is not a sermon on Daniel 7. If it were we would spend much more time on that text. For now simply recognize, first of all, that the beasts of Daniel 7 symbolize political powers that persecute God’s people. Therefore, the beast of Revelation 13 represents something similar to what the beasts of Daniel 7 symbolized, namely kingdoms, or political powers that oppose God and persecute the people of God.

But we should also notice that the beast of Revelation 13 it is not exactly like any of the four beasts of Daniel 7, but is a combination of the four. This tips us off to the fact that this beast does not represent one particular kingdom, but all of the political powers used by Satan to persecute the saints throughout the church age. Remember that this beast will be active, not for a brief time, but for the whole time between Christ’s first and second comings. This beast will be active for 42 months, or, a times, time and half a time, that language also being drawn from Daniel to describe the last days which span from Christ’s first coming on to the consummation.

So when the seven churches who were living Asia Minor in 90A.D. received this letter from John and read of the sea beast of Revelation 13, what came to mind?  Did they think, I wonder when this beast will arise sometime in the distant future? No, they thought of Rome! They remembered the persecutions of Nero some 30 years earlier. They thought of the persecutions of Domitian that were currently flaring up around them. They thought of the opposition that they faced even in their home towns from political powers. These persecutions were clearly alluded to in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

And the same can be said for the Christ followers living in every age after Christ’s ascension to the right hand of the Father. Indeed, from the time of the fall of man this has been a tactic of the evil one. He has used political powers to persecute the people of God for eons, and it will continue on to the time of the end.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been studying John Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Lord willing, we will begin a study of that book in the Emmaus Essentials hour beginning on October the 22nd. I almost feel compelled to beg you to come to that class and to bring your children, especially your teens. The book is an allegory of the Christian life and it is filled with rich spiritual insights. John Bunyan lived in the seventeenth century. He was, to use terminology that is common today, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in a time and place when it was dangerous to be a Reformed Baptist Pastor. He wrote most of the Pilgrims Progress from prison. He spent 12 years in prison because he would not conform to the church of England, but continued to preach without a license as a non-conformist. At that time the church and state were not separate, and the church would often use the power of the state to persecute those who would not conform to their view. The Roman Catholic church did the same thing in the days following the Protestant Reformation.

Very many examples can be given from history where those with political power persecute the people of God. Ironically, sometimes it is even those who claim to be Christian who are guilty of such things. This has been true in the past, it is true of today, and it will be true on to consummation. One of the tactics of the evil one is to use political and worldly powers to put pressure on Christ’s church so that she might compromise in her faith.

Some say that the beast from the sea in Revelation 13 is to be identified with the person whom John calls the “Antichrist” in 1 and 2 John. Some have also made a connection between the sea beast and the person that Paul calls “the man of sin”. And actually, this view is not altogether wrong so long as we remember that John, while a spoke of the Antichrist who would arise at the end of time, also said that many antichrists would come and that they were even present in his day. He wrote, “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18, ESV). The same “already, and not yet” principle can be seen in Paul’s teaching concerning the, so-called, “man of sin”. Paul wrote, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8, ESV). So in Paul’s words the lawless man of sin will come at the end of time and will be struck down by Jesus at his second coming, but even in his day the “mystery of lawlessness [was] already at work”. So in John’s day many antichrists had already come, but the Antichrist would not come until the end of time. Similarly the “mystery of lawlessness [was] already at work” in Paul’s day, the man of lawlessness would not appear util the end of time.

I think it is right that we view the beast of Revelation 13 in the same way. This beast was present in the world even as John wrote the book of Revelation. This beast is present in the world now. And this beast (representing political powers that persecute) will indeed be present until the Lord returns, at which time he will be fully and finally judged.

Revelation 19:17-21 describes this event:

“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.’ And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army [Christ and his people]. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Revelation 19:17–21, ESV).

The beast of Revelation 13 symbolizes political powers that persecute, past, present and future.

We have a few questions remaining, and I will answer them quickly.

Where Does This Beast Have Authority?

The third question is this: where does this beast have authority? The answer is that this beast has authority over all the earth.

Look at verse 7:

“Also [the beast] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:7–8, ESV).

What Does This Beast Do? 

Fourthly, what does this beast do. We have already indicated that the beast represents political powers that persecute, but more is said than this. The beast also seeks to deceive people and to lead them to false worship as he blasphemes the name of God.

Look at verses 3-6:

“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?” And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.” (Revelation 13:3–6, ESV)

What does the text mean when it says, “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.”

I will make three brief observations about this.

One, there seems to an imitation of Christ taking place here. Christ was described in 5:6 as  “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…” (Revelation 5:6, ESV). Here the beasts seems to have recovered from a mortal wound. Its as if the beast presents itself as an alternative to Christ, saying “trust me and not him!”

Two, it is interesting to note that though the Emperor Nero, who was a most wicked man, committed suicide in 68 A.D. there was even up to the time of the writing of the book of Revelation a wide spread rumor that Nero was really not dead but had fled to Parthia and that he would return leading the Parthian army to reconquer Rome and to reestablish his rule. It is possible that the Nero myth stands behind the image of the mortally wounded head which was healed. The argument for this view will be strengthened next week as we consider the number 666 which is probably symbolic of the Emperor Nero.

Three, I wonder if the reference to the mortally wounded but healed head has something to do with the way in which kings rise and then fall after which another king rises to take his place. The same can be said for kingdoms. Kingdoms rise and fall and then another rises again. There has been a kind of resurrection that happens throughout the history of the world as kingdoms come and go and come again. The Daniel 7 passages also seems to allude to this phenomenon.

It is no wonder that men and women are deceived to trust in these kingdoms and to worship the gods of these kingdoms instead of Christ. These seem to be so powerful and ultimately invincible, especially when compared to the kingdom of God in this world, which is so humble, small, and comparatively weak. Compare, for example, the church of God in America today to the power and might of United States of America. The church seems very weak and vulnerable, and the political power seems so strong. God’s word is here providing us with a different perspective on the matter.

But notice what the beast does. He leads men and woman to worship the dragon and not Christ. Verse 4: “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?” (Revelation 13:4, ESV). Indeed, even many in our day who call themselves Christians have been led astray to put their hope ultimately in political powers instead of in Christ and his kingdom.

And notice that the beast also blasphemes against God and against his dwelling. It is well known that the Roman Emperors by the time of Domitian made a habit of demanding that worship be offered up to them as if they were God’s. This is the hight of blasphemy. Political powers can tend in this direction.

Why Does The Beast Do What He Does?

Lastly we ask, why does the beast do what he does? The answer will be most brief: He does what he does being empowered by the dragon to do it. The beast from the sea and the beast from the earth are instruments and ministers of he dragon, who is “the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.”

Application

So how should this affect us?

Actually, the text provides us with the application. Look at verses 9 and 10: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:9–10, ESV).

The meaning is this: God is sovereign over the kingdoms of this world. And he has decreed and will providentially permit even the suffering of his people. We are trust God in this world! We are to endure, which means to bear up under difficult circumstances. We are to persevere in the faith even in the face of extreme persecution.

I do believe that one of the reasons Christians today have such a difficult time properly interpreting the book of Revelation is that we have not experienced much in the way of persecution. It is largely foreign to us. We read about it sometimes. But to many Christians in our land it seems like something that belongs to a bygone era. I do believe that if we knew persecution (and also if we knew the Old Testament) the book of Revelation would make more sense to us. This ridiculous and idiotic teaching that God would never allow his saints to suffer tribulation really does make the book of Revelation hard to understand (if the teaching is believed), for that is what the book describes! It describes the bride of Christ under assault, and it calls the Christian to endure and to persevere in faith, trusting always in Christ.

Buy yourself a copy of Foxes Book of Martyrs and read it. Go to persecution.com, which is the website of Voice of the Martyrs and look around. Subscribe to Heart Cry Missionary Societies news letter so that you might be aware of what is going on in the world today, especially as it pertains to world missions. And simply grow in your understanding of church history! If you do these things you will not be so quick to believe that view which says that the beast from the sea will arrive only in the last three and a half years of human history and that the church will be raptured by then, for God would never allow his people to suffer tribulation. What a ridiculous idea that is.

Brothers and sisters, we should pray for the persecuted church around the world today. We should pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are threatened by political powers with economic sanctions, imprisonment, and even death, that they would indeed bear up under the sufferings and remain true to Christ, persevering in the faith. And we should do some soul searching of our own, asking, would I bear up under the pressure? Lord help us. Make us faithful servants of yours in this world.

Secondly, I would like to say a word about politics. It seems to me that there is a ditch on both sides of the road into which Christians may fall.

On left side there is the ditch is naïveté. Here the Christian has too high of a view of government and politics and assumes that men are basically good and trusts that when these basically good men gain power they will do what is good for all. Indeed, there are some “good men and women” (I speak in relative terms, of course), but we should forget that governments and rulers have historically tended towards self-service and oppression.

But the ditch on the right side of the road is the ditch of extreme pessimism and disengagement. Here the Christian assumes that every government and every political figure is a manifestation of the beast that arises out of the sea. Here the Christian assumes the worst always. This is an umbilical view. It is also a view that is inconsistent with history. Thanks be to God, not all government persecute God’s people. By the mercy of God some do facilitate peace and freedom to worship. When we find ourselves living in such a society – a society with a government like the one described in Romans 13 – we should rejoice and give thanks to God for it.

Brothers and sisters, we are commanded to pray for those who govern. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1–2, ESV).

And we are to respect those who govern over us. “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7, ESV).

But neither should we be naïve. If and when persecution does come “let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19, ESV).

Lastly, let us not live according to the appearance of things but according to the truth revealed for us in God’s word. If we walk according to sight – what we can perceive with our natural eyes – the surely we will abandon Christ and go the way of the world. The world seems so much more powerful, pleasant and even wise. But if we walk by faith, believing instead upon God’s word, then we will certainly forsake the world and follow hard after Christ.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26, ESV).

Brothers and sisters, let us walk by faith and not by sight.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Revelation 13:1-10, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: The Beast Rising From The Sea: Revelation 13:1-10

Sermon Qs 09/10/17

Text: Rev 12:13-17(read as group)
Notes: emmauscf.org/sermons
Begin with sharing general thoughts about the Sermon/Sermon Text
1. Who are the woman and dragon that are described in Rev 12? How do we know?
2. Discuss and explain the remaining symbolism in Rev 12:13-17 and it’s significance and importance. 
3. Summarize in one sentence the primary teaching and application of Rev 12:13-17.

Family Application: Discuss this week’s Catechism questions and share how to communicate these truths to your family.

Gospel Sharing Application: Share about ways in which you have been able to share, proclaim, display, or model the Gospel during this last week.

Suggested verse for meditation: “But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭12:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/rev.12.14.esv

Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Russell Schmidt, Posted by Russell. Comments Off on Sermon Qs 09/10/17

Sermon: The Woman And Her Offspring, Pursued But Protected: Revelation 12:13-17

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 40:1–5; 28–31

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken… [Verse 28] Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:1–5; 28–31, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Revelation 12

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 12, ESV)

Introduction

I have been greatly blessed by this twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation. I know that many of you have been blessed by it as well given the feedback I’ve received from you. Really, it should come as no surprise that this chapter is particularly illuminating. It’s purpose, remember, is to pull back the curtain a bit more for us so that we might know something of the spiritual battle that rages in the heavenly realm. This ancient and invisible conflict between God and Satan, the elect angels and the fallen angels, has motivated the earthly conflicts that have transpired throughout the history of redemption, both small and great. This cosmic conflict motivates the trials and tribulations that we encounter in the world today, and will encounter, on to the consummation.

This chapter is particularly illuminating, not only because of what it reveals, but also because of how it reveals it. It reveals what it reveals by way of symbol. And I have come to love very much the symbolism of the book of Revelation.

The weakness of symbolism as a mode of communication is that it can be easily misunderstood and badly misconstrued (certainly, many have misunderstood and misconstrued the book of Revelation). But the answer to this potential problem within the book of Revelation (the problem of clarity) is, what theologians have called, the anologia fidie, or the analogy of faith. Put simply, the analogy of faith principle asserts that less clear portions of scripture are to be interpreted with the help of those passages that are more clear. The underlying assumption, of course, is that all of scripture hangs together, has one divine author who has inspired its contents from beginning to end, and tells one story. Nowhere is this more evident than in the book of Revelation. The book concludes the canon of scripture and you can hardly find a verse in it that does not, in one way or another, reach back into the Old Testament to pick its symbolism up from there. The potential problem of clarity is solved in the book of Revelation because its symbols are pulled, not out thin air, nor are their meanings hidden away in the mind of the original human author (inaccessible to us), nor are they rooted entirely and ultimately in the culture in which the original author and audience lived (a culture largely foreign to us), but instead the symbols are drawn mainly from the Old Testament scriptures and from passages that are clear indeed. The meaning of the symbolism of the book of Revelation is, therefore, understandable. The book is clear despite its genre. It is made clear by its divine author and its relationship to the rest of inspired scripture.

The strength of symbolism as a mode of communication is its vividness. You’ve herd the expression that “a picture is worth thousand words”? Well, though the book of Revelation is a book and not a picture, its words do paint pictures for us in the mind. And the pictures are vivid, are they not? They are detailed, colorful, and very memorable. Therefore, this wonderful book is able say so very much in a very small space.

I’ve come to love the symbolism of the book of Revelation, though I will admit it has frustrated me as a preacher.  It has frustrated me, not because it is unclear, but because it is so wonderfully complex, and I only have a short time with you. I do feel as if I am only able to scratch the surface with each sermon, saying just enough to set your mind off in the right direction.

What have we learned so far from chapter 12?

In verses 1-6 were were introduced to our advisory. He is the dragon, who is “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9, ESV). He is introduced to us as the primary opponent of God, his people, and his Messiah. Though the dragon has frantically opposed God, has sought to devour the people of God, so that he might devour the Christ of God, God has prevailed. Though the dragon tried with all of his might to devour the Christ from the time of his birth to the time of his crucifixion, in the end he “was caught up to God and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5, ESV).

In verses 7-12 we learned that this victory won by Christ on earth by virtue of his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, has produced a victory within the heavenly realm. Satan, though he was permitted by God to accuse the elect prior to Christ resurrection, was barred from heaven and was confined to the earth when Christ rose and ascended. This prompted heaven to celebrate, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10, ESV). But what else did the voice of heaven say? Verse 12: “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:12, ESV).

In verses 13-17 the focus returns again to the earthly side of the cosmic conflict. This passage picks up verses 6 and 12 to elaborate upon them further. In verse 6 we were told that the after  the ascension of Christ to his heavenly throne, “the woman [who gave birth to the Christ] fled [from the dragon] into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6, ESV). Verse 12 says, “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:12, ESV). Verses 13-17 pick up where those verses left of in order to provide more detail concerning the dragons pursuit of the woman and his wrathful activities upon the earth to which he has been confined.

Let us begin with this simple observation: though Christ has won the decisive victory over Satan by his death, resurrection, ascension, and session, the battle with him is not over completely. It is true that Satan has been barred from heaven so that he can no longer accuse God’s elect (Romans 8:33). This happened at Christ’s resurrection and ascension. This happened just as Christ said it would. Remember the words that he spoke to his disciples just before his crucifixion: “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:31–32, ESV). This casting out of the ruler of this world, is what Revelation 12:7-12 has revealed to us.  And though it is right for us to rejoice that Satan has been barred from heaven, his ability to accuse having been taken away by the accomplishment of our redemption, we should be sober concerning the fact that he is now confined to the earth and that he has great wrath, “because he knows that his time is short!”

Verses 13-17 sets our attention back upon the earth and describes in greater detail Satan’s wrathful pursuit of the woman who gave birth to the Christ and her many offspring.

Satan, Being Barred From Heaven Is Now Preoccupied With The Persecution Of God’s People.

Christ, Being Seated At God’s Right Hand, Is Now Committed To The Preservation Of His People.

Two basic principles are communicated in this text.

The first is this: Satan, being barred from heaven as the accuser of God’s elect and confined to the earth, is now preoccupied with the persecution of God’s people.

The second truth corresponds to the first, and it is this: Christ, being raised from the dead, ascended, and seated at God’s right hand with all authority being given to him, is now committed to the preservation of his people.

These two truths – Satan’s resolve to persecute God’s people and God’s commitment to preserve his people – are so intertwined in this passage that it would feel awkward to consider them one at a time. And so I have given you the two principles from the start so that we might move through this passage verse by verse and notice these principles as they naturally emerge.

Notice that in verse 13 Satan is preoccupied with persecution: “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child” (Revelation 12:13, ESV).

You can picture it can’t you? There Satan stood before the throne of God accusing the elect of God just as he always had from the fall of Adam onward. And there he stood, particularly pleased, now that Christ was in the grave. But on the third day Christ rose, and Satan’s countenance fell. Michael and the elect angels, seeing that the victory had been won by Christ, seeing that the redemption of God’s elect had been earned, the legal demands that were then against us having been nail to the cross and thus removed, initiated war against the accuser of God’s elect, and cast them to the earth. Of course Satan is not a physical being, but a spiritual one. But if imagine him to be a physical being you can picture him falling from heaven like a meteor, hitting the earth with great speed, and a plume of dust rising about him. I like to imagine that he left a crater and then to picture him crawling out with his anger boiling as he turns to the left and right with great rage. He looks about for someone to attack, and who does he set his eyes upon except the woman who had given birth to the Christ child. She becomes the target of his fury for she was the one through whom the Champion came, and so he pursues her to do her harm.

We must remember who this woman represents.

She represents Mary the Mother of Jesus, for she was the one who, in fact, gave birth to the Christ. But clearly this woman of Revelation 12 symbolizes something more than Mary the Mother of Jesus.

Remember that she was described in 12:1 as being “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1, ESV). This language is used elsewhere in scripture to symbolize the people of Israel collectively (see Genesis 37). And certainly you can understand why it is proper to speak of Israel prior to the coming of Christ as being “pregnant” with the Christ and “crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth” (Revelation 12:2, ESV). This was true of Mary in a most literal way. She was literally pregnant with the Christ and experience the “pains and the agony of giving birth” to him. But it was also true of the people Israel, metaphorically speaking. God promised that from them them the Christ would come. And they did indeed suffer many “birth pains” and much “agony of giving birth”  throughout their history as they awaited his arrival. Remember God’s promise to Abraham when he said, “for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever” (Genesis 13:15, ESV). And remember that Paul, when considering that promise, and others like it, remarked “now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16, ESV). What is Paul’s point in that text? His point is that although Abraham would have many offspring (the singular “offspring” can function as a a collective noun, referring to many) yet the promise to Abraham was really focused upon an offspring in the singular since – a particular offspring. The promise to Abraham was that in the process of time, and after many thousands were born to him, some of them being kings, one of his decedents would arrive, who is the Christ. He would inherit the land forever and ever. The New Testament makes it clear that the land he would inherit would not be a sliver of land on the earth, but the whole earth – the new heavens and the new earth. Even Abraham knew this in his day, for by faith he “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, ESV). Indeed the people Israel, from the time of Abraham onward, were collectively “pregnant” with the Christ., the promise having been made to them that from their loins  the Messiah would emerge.  This is why the first verse of the New Testament says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1, ESV).

The woman of Revelation 12 symbolizes, not just Mary, but Old Covenant Israel. That people “gave birth” to Jesus. I suppose we could could say that theirs was the longest “pregnancy” in the history of the world, lasting some 2,000 years, from the time of Abraham onward.

And it is also right for us to push this back further than Abraham all the way to Adam and Eve. Was it not they who first encountered the attacks of the dragon? And, having fallen from their state of innocency, was it not they who heard the first promise of the gospel when God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV)? Indeed, the women of Revelation 12 symbolizes Eve, who is the mother of all living, who carried within her the seed of the promised Messiah.

As you can see, the symbolism of the woman of Revelation 12 is complex, having as its referent Mary the mother of Jesus, the first woman, Eve, and Israel collectively. But we must also recognize that the church is also included in her. This becomes exceedingly clear when we remember how the New Testament scriptures answer the question, who is the true Israel? Or, who are the true children of Abraham? Without a doubt, the woman of Revelation 12 symbolizes Israel (this has already been established). But who is true Israel? Who are the true offspring of Abraham?

The answer that is given in the New Testament it that true Israel and the true children of Abraham are those who have faith in Christ, both from amongst the ethnic Jews and also the Gentiles. How the dispensationalists miss this point, I do not know.

Listen to Paul in Galatians 3:6-9, for example:

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ’In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:7–9, ESV).

Later in Galatians 3:26-29 we read,

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:26–29, ESV).

How can it be that Gentiles, who do not have Abraham as their father according to the flesh, are called Abraham’s offspring? It is because they are united by faith to Christ Jesus, who is Abraham’s offspring, in the singular. We are heirs, therefore, not according to the flesh, but of promise. We are children of Abraham, not because we defend from him physically, but because we are united to him in a much more profound and lasting way – we have his faith. He believed in the promise of the Christ, as do we.

It is important to recognize that this principle – the principle that true Israel and the true children of Abraham are those who share in the faith of Abraham – was as true under the Old Covenant as it is under the New. Even under the Old Covenant a distinction was made between Israel according the flesh only and true spiritual Israel – the Israel of faith, sometimes referred to as the remnant.

Listen to Paul in Romans 9:6-8:

“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but [quoting from Genesis 21:12] ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring” (Romans 9:6–8, ESV).

Brothers and sisters, do you see that under the Old Covenant and the New it is those who have faith in Christ – either in the promise of his coming, under the Old, or the good new that he has come under the New – who are the true children of Abraham and the true Israel of God.

This is why at the end of his letter to the Galatian churches Paul pronounced blessing upon those churches (who were predominantly Gentile), saying, “And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16, ESV). Paul refers to the the church as the Israel of God.

So when we consider the woman of Revelation 12 it is right for us to see in her Mary the mother of Jesus, also, the first woman, Eve, and Israel. But we should not fail to recognize that this woman symbolizes the true Israel of God and not Israel according to the flesh. Satan has always been preoccupied with the defeat of true Israel (read the scriptures). Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying that Satan does not also do harm to those who are in unbelief from amongst the Jews and Gentiles – he is a murderer and lier from the beginning and he torments even those who belong to him. But the thing revealed in Revelation 12 is that Satan wages a special kind of war against the true people of God. His objective under the Old Covenat and the New has been to snuff out God’s elect remnant so that none remain.  Though Satan does indeed torment even those who belong to him (this is the kind of master he is) he does not seek to devour them in the same way that he seeks to devour God’s elect. Why would Satan pursue and seek to devour Israel according to the flesh? If they are Israel according to the flesh only then they already belong to the evil one, and not to Christ, just as the rest of the unbelieving world does. What did Jesus say to unbelieving Israel – that is, Israel according to the flesh only?

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” (John 8:44–45, ESV)

You and I, brothers and sisters, if we have faith in Christ, are the offspring of Abraham. We are heirs, not according to the flesh, but according to promise. The woman of Revelation 12 symbolizes the true Israel of God. She gave birth to the Christ and she remains in the world to this present day. She is identified, not by her DNA, but by her profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah.

This situation is almost the complete opposite of how things were under the Old Covenant. At that time Israel enjoyed very little diversity ethnically speaking, but she was far too diverse as it pertained to her faith – there were many who did not believe within Old Covenant Israel.  But under the New Covenant Israel enjoys a great deal of ethnic diversity, the Gentiles having now been grafted in. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). And New Covenant Israel also enjoyed total uniformity as it pertains to faith. Israel is ethnically diverse now – the gospel is to be preached to all nations, and then the end will come – and yet she is pure as it pertains to faith. There are no non-believers within the New Covenant.

The Old Testament itself spoke of this radical change ahead of time. Hear God’s word to Jeremiah:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV)

Brothers and sisters, this is the Covenant under which you and I live if we have Christ as Lord. This is the Covenant that Christ ratified in his blood. The partakers of this Covenant are ethnically diverse. Jew and Gentile are rightly called the offspring of Abraham and the Israel of God if they have believed upon Christ. But the partakers of this Covenant are pure in faith. The Old Covenant was made with Israel according to the flesh, but in her were found elect and non-elect, belief and unbelief. The New Covenant is made only with those who believe. They have the law within them written on their hearts (regeneration). The know the Lord, having had their sins forgiven.

So the woman of Revelation 12 also symbolizes the church, that is to say, all who have faith in Jesus the Christ, the promised seed of Abraham.

Though is true that Satan is preoccupied with the persecution of God’s people, notice that in verse 14 God is preoccupied with the preservation of his people. There we read, “But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time” (Revelation 12:14, ESV).

The symbolism here is also rich and complex. And, as usual, the meaning of the symbolism is found within the pages of the Old Testament. I will not linger very long here for the sake of time. Instead I will say only a few  things, and I will say them quickly.

First of all, notice the most obvious thing. God is here promising to care for his people in the midst of trouble. The woman, who symbolizes God’s elect, is said to be nourished by God.

Secondly, notice the time frame. She will be nourished for a “time, and times, and half a time”. This three and a half year period of time has appeared again and again in the book of Revelation, sometimes stated as 1,260 days, sometimes as 42 months, and here as a “time, and times, and half a time”. Notice that in each instance this period of time is used to describe the time in which the church will suffer tribulation in the world while being spiritually preserved by God. In 11:2 we were told that the courtyard of the temple (which symbolizes the church) would be left vulnerable to the trampling of the nations for 42 months while the temple, the alter and those who worship there were measured and protected. In 11:3 were told that the two witnesses would witness for 1,260 days. They would be killed but raised up, just as Christ was. In 12:6 the woman was said to be nourished for 1,260 days in the wilderness. And here the woman is nourished for a “time, and times, and half a time” while being pursued by the dragon. In 13:5 we will meet the  “the beast [who] was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5, ESV). The symbolism is drawn mainly from Daniel 7 but also from the series of 42 encampments experienced by Israel as she wandered in the wilderness after the Exodus and prior to the conquest of Canaan. Those encampments are listed in Numbers 33:5-49. This three and a half year time of tribulation, and this time of wilderness wandering spanning 42 encampments is taken up in the book of Revelation and is used to symbolize the church age wherein God’s people are described as pilgrims and sojourners in this world (1 Peter 2:11).

Thirdly, notice that verse 14 portrays God’s preservation of his church in language reminiscent of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. Notice that the woman of Revelation 12 is described as one fleeing from the dragon. In the Old Testament Pharaoh, king of Egypt is described as a dragon who pursued Israel (see Ezekiel 29:3 and 32:2).  Notice also that the woman of Revelation 12 is given “the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent”. This is too is exodus language. For example, when God reminds Israel of his having rescued them from Egypt he says, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4, ESV). And notice lastly where the woman of Revelation 12 flees to. She flies “from the serpent into the wilderness.” At the exodus Israel was brought into the wilderness. It was both a place of testing and a place of protection. Listen to Deuteronomy 1:30-33:

“The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place”(Deuteronomy 1:30–32, ESV).

What, therefore, is the meaning of Revelation 12:14? It is that though the dragon pursue the church, God will provide for her and protect her as she sojourns in this world just as he provided for and protected Israel in that wilderness place. He will fight for us, and carry us, just as a man carries his son, bringing us safely to the eternal promised land.

In verse 15 Satan’s preoccupation with persecution is highlighted again, but with more detail: “The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood” (Revelation 12:15, ESV).

Can you visualize the scene? The woman is running for her life. The dragon is on her heals, and then he crouches down deliver his fatal blow when out of his mouth issues forth a torrent of water like a river. His objective is to sweep the woman away in a flood.

I wish that I had the time to remind you of all of the places in the Old Testament where the people of God found themselves threatened by water. For now we should remember the waters of the Red Sea which blocked Israel in to make them vulnerable to the attack of that dragon Pharaoh and his armies. Also, we should remember the flood waters of the Jordan which blocked Israel from crossing over into the land of promise. Certainly these two waters should come to mind given that the exodus is already in view.

Also, we should recognize that the water of Revelation 12 issues forth from the mouth of the dragon. This is not the first time that some something unnatural has issued forth from someones mouth in the book of Revelation. Remember that Christ is described as having “a sharp two-edged sword” coming from his mouth, symbolizing his power to judge with his word.

The flood waters that pour from the mouth of the dragon symbolize the flood of lies that proceed from him. Remember that he had just been as “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12:9, ESV). Remember the assault that he brought against Eve. How did he defeat her? He lied to her. And remember Christ’s description of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, ESV). Satan assaults the church by seeking to drown her in a flood of lies.

In verse 16 we are again reminded of God’s commitment to preserve his people: “But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth” (Revelation 12:16, ESV).

What did God for Israel when she was hindered by the flood waters of the Jordan from crossing into the promised land? He cut off the water far upstream so that “the people passed over [and]…the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan” (Joshua 3:16–17, ESV).

What did God do for Israel when that dragon Pharaoh pursued her into the wilderness blocking her in against the waters of the Red Sea?

“Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exodus 14:21–22, ESV).

In Moses’ song concerning this great act of deliverance he reflects upon the salvation of Israel and the destruction of the armies of dragon Pharaoh, he says, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them” (Exodus 15:11–12, ESV). The language is the same as in Revelation 12:16. The earth swallowed up the flood that issued from the dragons mouth, and thus the woman was delivered.

And then in verse 17 we return once more to focus upon Satan’s preoccupation with the persecution of God’s people: “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea” (Revelation 12:17, ESV).

I think what we have here is some distinction between the early church and the church born from her so that within Revelation 12 we have some progression. The woman symbolizes progressively Eve, then Old Covenant Israel, the Mary, and then the true New Covenant Israel, in particular, those early disciples of Jesus. They were the ones initially pursued in by the evil one after the ascension of Christ and in a most vicious way. God persevered them, the church was established, and it began to spread to the ends of the earth. The evil one, seeing that he could not defeat the apostles of Christ and the church they founded, turned with great frustration also to her offspring. They are identified as “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus”(Revelation 12:17, ESV).

After that we are simply told that the dragon, “stood on the sand of the sea.” With these words the stage is sufficiently set for the two beasts of Revelation 13. The one will rise from the sea, the other from the land. And they will continue the assault against the church.

Application 

Let is take a moment to apply this passage before we conclude so that we “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving [ourselves]” (James 1:22, ESV).

Three points of application come to mind:

First of all, we must be sober concerning our enemy who seeks our destruction and in particular we must be careful of his lies. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, ESV). He wars against the people of God by trying to sweep them away in a flood of lies.

False teachings are a continual thereat to the church. How many have compromised the gospel of Jesus Christ! How many have turned the gospel into no gospel at all!

The evil one may even be speaking lies to your own mind and heart. He may be seeking to undermine your faith. He may be seeking to plant a seed of doubt concerning God’s love for you. He may be seeking to sow discord within the body of Christ by planting a seed of doubt concerning the love of the brethren for you.

Remember how sly the serpent was when tempting Eve. He is doing the same thing throughout the world today attempting to sweep away the church in a flood of lies.

Secondly, take comfort in the doctrine of preservation. While it is true that you must persevere, bing sober and vigilant in this life, it is also true that God has promised to preserve his people. He will fight for you.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13–14, ESV).

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).

Thirdly, let us learn to walk in this world with a kind of humble and sober confidence. 

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31–37, ESV).

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Revelation 12:13-17, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: The Woman And Her Offspring, Pursued But Protected: Revelation 12:13-17

Household Worship Guide – Week of September 10th

While it is true that the people of God are to gather corporately to worship on the Lord’s Day (Hebrews 10:24-25), the scriptures also imply that we are to worship God in our homes between each Lord’s day (Deuteronomy 6:7). Emmaus’ weekly Household Worship Guide provides structure to lead singles, married couples, and families with children of all ages in the daily worship of God within the home. The guide simply encourages Christians to read, pray, and sing. In addition, the elder’s of Emmaus encourage the use of the Baptist Catechism for systematic instruction in the Christian faith.

This is a guide and should be used as such. The intent is not for an individual or family to follow the guide point by point, but rather to utilize the resource to craft a daily worship experience appropriate for their home. Keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it consistent (and don’t forget to be patient and flexible too).

For a detailed prayer guide, and for commentary on the catechism, please follow the links provided in the corresponding sections below.

May God be glorified each and every day!

Worship Through The Reading of God’s Word    

  • SUNDAY > 2 Sam 4‐5, 1 Cor 15, Ezek 13, John 14
  • MONDAY > 2 Sam 6, 1 Cor 16, Ezek 14, John 15
  • TUESDAY > 2 Sam 7, 2 Cor 1, Ezek 15, John 16
  • WEDNESDAY > 2 Sam 8‐9, 2 Cor 2, Ezek 16, John 17
  • THURSDAY > 2 Sam 10, 2 Cor 3, Ezek 17, John 18
  • FRIDAY > 2 Sam 11, 2 Cor 4, Ezek 18, John 19
  • SATURDAY > 2 Sam 12, 2 Cor 5, Ezek 19, John 20

Bible Stories

  • Saul Becomes King – 1 Samuel 9:1-10:27
  • Jonathan’s Bravery – 1 Samuel 14:1-46

Scripture Reading For The Upcoming Lord’s Day – September 17th

  • Sermon Text: TBD
  • Old Testament Reading: TBD

_______________________________________

Worship Through Prayer – The Lord’s Prayer  

Baptist Catechism 106

  • Q. What rule [has] God given for our direction in prayer?
  • A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer, but the special rule of direction is that prayer; which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer.

Recitation of the Lord’s Prayer

  • “Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”
For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.
(Matthew 6:5–14, ESV)

_______________________________________

Worship Through Song 

Songs that are sung regularly on Sunday can be found here

Songs for September 17th:

_______________________________________

Catechism – Systematic Instruction of God’s Word

Doctrinal Standard – BC #98

  • Q. To whom is Baptism to be administered?

  • A. Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; and to none other.

Memory Verse(s)

  • Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, ESV).  

Scripture

  • Study Passage: Colossians 2:6-15

  • Support Passages: Acts 2:38-39; Matthew 3:6; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-39, 8:12,36, 10:47,48

  • Bible Story: Acts 8:26-40

Click here for the catechism study guide and discussion questions.


Week Of September 10th, 2017

WEEKLY READINGS
SUNDAY > 2 Sam 4‐5, 1 Cor 15, Ezek 13, John 14
MONDAY > 2 Sam 6, 1 Cor 16, Ezek 14, John 15
TUESDAY > 2 Sam 7, 2 Cor 1, Ezek 15, John 16
WEDNESDAY > 2 Sam 8‐9, 2 Cor 2, Ezek 16, John 17
THURSDAY > 2 Sam 10, 2 Cor 3, Ezek 17, John 18
FRIDAY > 2 Sam 11, 2 Cor 4, Ezek 18, John 19
SATURDAY > 2 Sam 12, 2 Cor 5, Ezek 19, John 20

MEMORY VERSE(S)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, ESV).

CATECHISM QUESTION(S)
Baptist Catechism #98:
Q. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; and to none other.

Posted in Weekly Passages, Posted by Mike. Comments Off on Week Of September 10th, 2017

Sermon Qs 09/03/17

Text: Rev 12:7-12(read as group)
Notes: emmauscf.org/sermons
Begin with sharing general thoughts about the Sermon/Sermon Text
1. What does Rev 12:7-12 describe as Satan’s current status on his time on earth? How did the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ impact the status of Satan? Discuss. 
2. Discuss and reflect upon the multiple benefits given to us through Christ and His accomplishments. 


Family Application: Discuss this week’s Catechism questions and share how to communicate these truths to your family.

Gospel Sharing Application: Share about ways in which you have been able to share, proclaim, display, or model the Gospel during this last week.

Suggested verse for meditation: “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭12:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/rev.12.11-12.esv

Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Russell Schmidt, Posted by Russell. Comments Off on Sermon Qs 09/03/17


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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