In this episode, we discuss the imminent return of Christ, the antichrist, the final battle, the millennial kingdom, the beast and his number, and the events that surround the end of the old earth. The history of prophecy is meant to help us see where we are and where we are going. Ultimately it all boils down to this: God is in control and our response is to trust and endure, that we might share with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The return is imminent
Look at Matthew 24:42.
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Going back to Noah, Noah was faithful, faithful, faithful. It was only at the last minute Noah was told, “OK, now, go get in the ark.” He was not told, “OK, do this and 120 years from now, I’m going to put you in the ark.” He was just faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful, build, build, build, build, build, and then got in the ark. That’s my take.
This is about the most definitive we get about how all this works. You can see that it’s just not that sequential, of what we get. It’s interesting, though, as we turn to Revelation, that this time period, this seven years, although it’s reinforced significantly, it’s not as prominent, it doesn’t seem, as this three and a half years.
You recall in chapter 9 of Daniel that this abomination of desolation happened, when? When did it happen? When did it take place? It was in the middle of the week, he said. In the middle of the week. The week is seven years.
At the three-and-a-half-year point you have this abomination of desolations take place. I take from this that this covenant with many is not going to be, necessarily, all that easy to discern. When you’re really going to know is when this abomination of desolation takes place. That’s when you’re going to know.
Hopefully, it’s not us that get to look at that, to know that piece of it.
Let’s look at Revelation 13, and look at who is this character that’s going to do this abomination of desolation. He’s known by various names in the scripture: the beast, the antichrist, the man of sin.
Let’s look at Revelation 13:1. That is the revelation of Jesus to John.
I’ve made the point that Revelation’s a very simple book. It just says you need to read it, understand it, and do it. That’s the key thing. The overriding point is that being faithful, even in the face of really bad tribulation is an incredibly good idea. Being unfaithful is an incredibly bad idea. It’s really simple.
All those details in between are pretty complicated. We can have some models to understand these things because what we can get from it is encouragement that God is in control, even though some really, really bad things are going to happen. You can see that God wants to give us this encouragement because when really bad things happen, we tend to say, “God, where are you in this?” He’s explaining to us, “Look, I’m in this, all the way through.”
Revelation 13:1. Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.
Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.
Who’s the dragon? Satan. That’s interesting. Satan gives him the power. Satan’s still the prince of this world.
When Jesus was tempted, Satan gave him this offer, didn’t he? He said, if you will, what? Worship me. If you will worship me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the earth. Jesus did not say, “It’s not yours to give.” Jesus answered––He quoted scripture. It’s basically, no, I’ll wait my turn. I’ll wait my time. I’ll wait till God’s timing takes place.
Here it is that this authority’s given to this beast.
Verse 3. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.
Here we’ve got this man that apparently overcomes some mortal wound. It could be physical. It could be his kingdom.
Most of the language that we have in this book is symbolic. It’s symbolic of something real, though. So, we can’t be sure exactly what this is. We’ll talk a little more about this in a minute.
Let’s look at Revelation 14:9. Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
A couple of weeks ago, I made the case for a model that says that this fire, including the lake of fire, is actually emanating from the presence of God who is a consuming fire.
You’ve got this torment happening in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the lamb. That’s again, to me, just a sign that this torment is not necessarily going to be some other place way away. That’s going to make it more difficult, not less.
And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night—
It’s a bad idea to follow this man of sin, this beast. That seems to be clear enough.
Let’s look, then, at 19. We can kind of see how all this turns out because this beast ends up being completely dominant over the whole earth. The beast is the world ruler, and including beheading people that won’t take his mark and so forth.
The final battle
Revelation 19:19. And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
The one who sits on the horse’s back in the previous verses, here, verse 11.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True—
You’ve got Jesus and his army coming, and you get the beast and his army coming together.
In verse 20, Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet—This is the guy who has this false religion that deceives people and gets them to worship the beast—who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Here we have two people that go straight in to the lake of fire.
And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Jesus, who after having given these people all this opportunity, finally executes his wrath and satisfies the people under the altar, who previously in this book of Revelation have said, “How long are you going to wait until you avenge those who martyred us? How long are you going to wait? We’re tired of waiting!”
Well, wait no more. It finally is come to pass.
This is the end. This is when the end comes. Then we go into this period of the millennial kingdom, the thousand years. Look at Revelation 20:1.
The millennial kingdom
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
You’ve got this thousand-year period when Satan, the dragon—even though the beast and the false prophet are already in the lake of fire, the dragon’s not there yet—he goes into this bottomless pit for a thousand years. Now you have the millennial kingdom.
Going back to Daniel 2 that we looked at last time, you’ve got this statue that goes Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome. Then you have this rock that’s not cut with hands that comes down and smashes the statue and fills the whole earth.
Now we have the statue smashed because the beast is the culmination of the Roman Empire, unfortunately. It’s smashed completely at this point. Now the kingdom of God fills the earth.
That is a sequence, and that’s some of the stuff we can know about the sequence.
There’s not enough there—and I think God does this on purpose—there’s not enough there for us to discern—and this is what people tend to want to do—for us to discern where are the safe zones where I can sin all I want to and then kind of confess right at the end, and get away with it? This is a very common way of thinking that we have.
He closed that loophole, didn’t he? He says be ready at all times. There’s going to be all these birth pangs.
last time we talked about some of the birth pangs. We’ve had guys that looked like they were going to be the beast. Nero very much looked like he was going to be the beast. We’ve had Hitler. Looked like he was going to be the beast. He wanted to set up the thousand-year reign, the third Reich. That was his propaganda.
Stalin, communism, take over the whole world, bring in Utopia for the workers.
Let’s look at Revelation 17:8.
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition.
This is a very interesting phrase there. Jesus is said to have been the one who was and is and is to come. Was and is and is to come. The beast is the one who was and is not and ascends out of the bottomless pit.
The number of a man
The beast is given a number. In Hebrew, every letter has a number. They use an interpretation method they call gamatria. They’ll actually take the numeric value of any one word, and any other word or even phrase that has that same value, they will say because this phrase or this word has the same value as this phrase or this word, then that’s important. That has significant meaning. It’s a thinking process that really would never even enter our mind. We’re given this number, 666, and the key phrase there, I think, is it says it’s the number of a man.
Yet, this beast comes out of the bottomless pit. I’m not sure what this means. I don’t know what this means. It could mean that injury this person overcame. It could mean that this is a resurrected person from the past.
You know, we looked at Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 who actually went into the temple and desecrated it. It was an “abomination of desolations” example.
Jesus is talking about something that’s going to happen in the future so he can’t be talking about the past. He can be talking about an event that’s already been foreshadowed for us.
Maybe he resurrects. Maybe it’s talking about when it says the dragon gives his authority to the beast, maybe it’s just talking about that the authority came out of the bottomless pit. I don’t know what it means.
Let’s go on.
And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Jesus was and is and is to come. Jesus was. He’s from the beginning of the world. He created the world. He is. He came to earth as a man and manifested himself to us, man become flesh. Then he’s going to come back again in the same manner. He’s also been all the way along. It’s a way of explaining to us this two advents of the one who is from everlasting.
We’ve got the beast who was and is not and yet is. What in the world does that mean? Not sure.
The Roman Empire shall rise again
Let’s look at some things here that are interesting.
“Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
Does anybody know what the city of seven hills is? It’s Rome. What he’s telling us is that this is going to come out of Rome. We’re just going back to Daniel 2, and the Roman empire is going to rise again.
People have been trying to put the Roman empire back together ever since the early days. You know, it split into two pieces with the west and the east, and the capital in Rome and Constantinople.
Then it just broke into pieces. It never was conquered.
And then it reformed in 800 A.D. with the advent of Charlemagne, who was crowned on Christmas Eve as the holy Roman emperor. The Holy Roman Empire was born, and it lasted about a thousand years. It was disassembled, or really, repudiated when Napoleon came around because Napoleon wanted to be the Holy Roman Emperor. The standing holy Roman emperor just said, “We don’t have a Holy Roman Empire anymore. You can’t get it from me.”
It’s going to be put back together again, and this is going to be the unholy Roman Empire.
Verse 10. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.
What in the world is this? I don’t know what this is either, but there are some interesting things to think about. I think we can have some interesting insights.
I just want to focus on the things that we can know for sure. The rest of it, we’re given indications so we can get the main point. The main point is it’s really a good idea to just keep going and doing what Jesus told us to. It’s really a good idea. Bad idea to do the other thing.
We had five Julian emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, and Nero. Nero’s the fifth.
Nero was so bad, he bankrupted the Roman empire by building his house. He burned Rome. Many people think that he burned it just to make room for his house. He completely emptied the Roman treasury to build his house. It took up a fourth of the city of Rome.
He was so corrupt and so bad, when they finally got rid of him, they passed this law. It’s like remove-your-name-from-the-history-books-forever. They went through and took everything Nero did and just razed it to the ground. That’s why there’s not much left of him around.
He was awful! He’s the one that dipped the Christians in tar and put them up on poles and burned them as nightlights. He was hideously bad.
Then, one is, and one is yet to come. The beast is the eighth, it says.
Verse 11. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.
Maybe this is telling us that we’ve got these examples of what was. We’ve got some things going on now that are. There’s another one coming. Then much later there’s going to be somebody that’s like these guys, but he’s somewhat different.
Maybe it’s talking about, he was like them in terms of Julius or Augustus who actually were rulers of the entire world but also like Nero who was mad and who killed Christians and railed against anyone who wouldn’t worship him, and so forth. Maybe he’s kind of like a compilation of all these guys put together. Perhaps that’s what it’s talking about. The beast.
Sevens in Revelation
This three and a half year thing is quite interesting as well. Maybe we’ll talk about that next time. I just want to end with a little insight that I find very interesting.
All the different things in Revelation that involve seven. We just looked at seven hills here. Let me just reel them off to you.
In Revelation 1:4, we’ve got seven churches. We have letters to the seven churches.
In 1:12, we have seven lampstands.
In 1:16, we have seven stars.
In 3:1, we have seven Spirits of God.
In 4:5, we have seven lamps and seven spirits.
In 5:1, we have seven seals that are broken. Every seal has a different judgment that comes out of it.
In 5:6, we have the lamb that has seven horns and seven eyes.
In 8:2, we have seven angels that stand before God who blow seven trumpets. Out of these seven trumpets come the seven judgments.
In 10:3, we have seven thunders. The thunders say something, and he’s about to write it down, and he says, “Don’t write that down. I don’t want you to know that,” which I think’s ample indication that there’s stuff God doesn’t want us to know.
In 11:3, we’ve got 7,000 people killed by an earthquake.
In 12:3, we’ve got this dragon with seven heads and seven crowns.
In 15:1, we’ve got seven plagues.
In 15:7, we’ve got seven bowls, bowl judgments.
In 17:9, that we just looked at, we have seven hills.
It’s interesting how many times that seven shows up. I’ve been told that seven is a number of completion or of fulfillment.
We’ve had seven emperors, and this beast, the antichrist, this man of sin that’s going to come is an eighth. That’s an interesting thing. Somehow, he is after the completion of the Roman empire, but may be representative of the whole thing.
In any event, what we have here is God telling us that this is going to be the end of the age. This is how it’s all going to be wrapped up and completed. These are the things that are going to happen. They’re going to happen.
The fact that they’re going to happen tells us that God has this well in control. He does not tell us when, but what he does tell us is be ready, and be ready at all times.
As we see these birth pangs happen, we can expect to see men of sin. It may well be that the men of sin wrap themselves in the cloth of Christian theology, Christian language, Christian lingo. It may be that they wrap themselves in other kinds of morality.
We can expect lawlessness. It’s going to be cycles. We don’t know which cycle we’re in. We may be in the last cycle. It may get really bad at any point in time. We may have a respite; we don’t know.
What we do know is that God has told us in this message here, the revelation, that our job is to become an overcomer, as he overcame.
What is it that Jesus overcame? He overcame temptation to not obey and to depend on himself. Instead he obeyed completely, fully, even to death on the cross. He depended on his Father, even though he was capable of being completely independent.
We are not capable of being independent, yet, think we can be.
This opportunity is for us to obey and endure till the end in continuing to love, even though lawlessness prevails. That’s how we become overcomers.
We don’t know which of the birth pangs we’re in. We do know that these basic things—wars and rumors of wars and sinful people—are going to keep happening over and over again and affect us. As we do, if we can keep our love from going cold, if we can continue to obey what God has told us to do—which includes praying for our enemies and things like that—then we will be overcomers. God has said it, God has promised it, and we can count on that. That is incredibly encouraging.
If we look to the world for encouragement, we’re not going to get it, are we? If we look to God and what God had promised—that we’re going to have a culmination of this human history, and it’s going to be replaced with a kingdom he makes. We can’t trust in the Roman empire. We can trust in the kingdom of God, and that is a great encouragement to us.