The Decision (Revelation 13-14)

Posted: April 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Decision (Revelation 13-14) Sermon Notes

My former seminary prof Randy Harris summed up the book of Revelation in three points: 
(1) God’s team wins.
(2) Choose your team.
(3) Don’t be stupid.

That’s awesome but I think it’s a little misleading.  Revelation is ultimately a revelation of Jesus (1:1) and it is the vision of the cosmic king that enabled the early Christians to withstand horrifying persecution. 

Why were they persecuted? Many had a decision to make.  They had to decide whether to worship Jesus alone or to compromise themselves and also proclaim Caesar as Lord.  The early Christians had to make this decision and Jesus gave the book of Revelation to better show them who he truly is as well as show them that Caesar, any empire or institution that stands against Jesus, is nothing but a pathetic tool of the darkness. 

That was their decision.  What about us?

Let’s face it.  Sometimes decisions are black and white but most of the time they aren’t. 
Let’s look at Revelation 13-14.

13:1 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. 2 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. 3 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. 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?”

5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 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, 8 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. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

10 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.

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of  the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,  to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion [1] of her sexual immorality.”

9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

So, God did the early church a great favor by clarifying the decision–worship Jesus or worship Satan by bowing to Caesar.  
What about today?  Increasingly the decision before us is not a dark path and a path of light but a path that is right and another that looks right too.  
How do we know what to do?
Remember that Jesus describes himself as “the alpha and the omega.”  What does that mean?
First of all, it means that everything begins with Jesus and history is traveling toward Jesus but what about your life? What is your alpha and what is your omega?  How do you begin thinking about something and what is your goal?

If you don’t start your thought process with Jesus then you begin with yourself and that won’t work! 

The Gospel of John teaches that everything that has been made (including you and I) were made for Jesus and by Jesus. 

Have you ever seen an episode of Cribs where a house has been built for an NBA player that is 7 feet tall? Ever thought how you would feel trying to live in that house? You would feel like you wouldn’t belong, right? That’s how it is if we start off thinking about anything apart from Jesus.  We were made by him and for him, so everything needs to start with him.

Moreover, Jesus is the omega. He is the end of all things.  Thus, all of your goals need to be Jesus!  Everything needs to be about growing closer to Jesus, serving Jesus and being loyal to Jesus.

Religious people often use Jesus.  What they really want is a certain kind of life and they use Jesus to get it.  But you don’t serve Jesus to get anything but Jesus! If you do then Jesus is a means to an end rather than the end in itself! 

We must love Jesus, serve Jesus and worship Jesus to get Jesus!  
The book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus (1:1) because it’s all about Jesus and the only way to make sure you decide correctly is to begin with Jesus and be sure that He is your goal as well.

If you have faith in Jesus then that means he lived for you, he died in your place and you will spend eternity with him.  So, even if your life here is filled with nothing but trouble you still get more than you could possibly dream of in the end.

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