The Beast from the Sea

Red Sunset Over Sea Header Subheader

Reading the Word

Revelation 13:1–10 (ESV)

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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage we meet the first of two beasts. The first beast is from the sea. The second is from the earth. This first beast is described as having ten horns and seven heads while also being like a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. One of the beasts’ heads has a great wound.

Many commentators look to Daniel 7 for help interpreting this vision. There, Daniel describes four beasts with many of the same features found here. The ten horns represent ten kingdoms. We also see in Revelation 17:9-11 that the seven heads represent the six great kingdoms of world history as well as the last great kingdom that will be present at the time of the events described. Evidently, the wounded head is an attempt to imitate the death and resurrection of Christ to deceive the world and gain worshipers.

As we read in the last verse, this passage serves as a call for the endurance of the saints. We must not be deceived by any who would come along and pull us away from our trust in Jesus Christ. Christians must remain steadfast in our commitment to our Lord even if the world is deceived by a false leader who is worshiped as a god. May our faith in God’s plans and promises never fade!

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The Dragon’s Fury

Revelation text

Reading the Word

Revelation 12:13–17 (ESV)

13 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. 14 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. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 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. 17 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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Satan is cast out of heaven, he goes after the woman who had given birth to the child (i.e Israel; cf. Revelation 12:1-6). The woman is protected by God who delivers her to a place in the wilderness for “time, times, and half a time” (three and one half years). When Satan cannot attack the woman because of God’s protection, he turns to focus his anger on her offspring, which includes all believers. The passage describes these offspring as “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” We call those people Christians today.

In this passage, we see the two targets of Satan’s attacks: ethnic Israel and Christians. It was through Israel that God’s redeemer, Jesus Christ, came into the world. And Christians, and Christianity, have taken the message of God’s redemption to the world. It is natural to see why Satan would fix his attacks on these two targets.

Let us not be surprised by the adversity we face in this life, but may we remain faithful as we trust in the one who delivers his people.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

 

Satan Thrown Down

Revelation 1211 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 12:7–12 (ESV)

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 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. 10 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. 11 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. 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!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

One question the interpreter must answer about this passage is if it describes a future or past event. If past, this is a description of the original upheaval in heaven when Satan and his followers were cast out. From that time on, they work to deceive mankind.

Many, if not most, would interpret this passage as speaking not of Satan’s original fall, but of a future battle against the forces of heaven. In this view, Satan and his followers wage one last battle in heaven, but are defeated and cast out of heaven completely. However, Satan and his followers then work furiously to disrupt things on earth.

This passage tells us that Satan, the accuser of believers, will one day be defeated. He will have a time when he disrupts the world, but his time is short. God will end his ways once and for all at a future date and Satan and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire (cf. Revelation 20:7-10). God’s plans are set and the deceiver of this world’s days are numbered. Let us rejoice in that truth!

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The Woman and the Dragon

Revelation text

Reading the Word

Revelation 12:1–6 (ESV)

1 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. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 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. 5 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, 6 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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This great sign of a woman and the mention of sun, moon, and stars reminds those familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures of Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37. Here we have a description of the nation of Israel represented by the pregnant woman who will give birth to a child. This child is Jesus the promised deliverer. The dragon is Satan who attempts to destroy the child and sabotage the redemptive plans of God.

Satan may attempt to destroy the plans and purposes of God, but he cannot and will not. In fact, as we read throughout Scripture, Satan’s attacks against God only serve to further God’s plans. We see this especially at the cross where Satan stands behind those who would crucify Jesus. However, Jesus’ death was needed as a sacrifice for mankind’s sin.

We serve a sovereign God and all things work together for his purposes. He protects those who belong to him and we can be encouraged that his plans cannot be thwarted by anyone or anything.

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The Seventh Trumpet

Revelation 1115 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 11:15–19 (ESV)

15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. 18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” 19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Understanding and Applying the Word

At the sound of the seventh trumpet, we do not find the description of another judgement as with the first six. Instead, we find a heavenly scene that once again tells us of the twenty-four elders. We get an announcement that “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ…” With this announcement, the elders fall on their faces and worship God for beginning to reign.

In one sense God has always reigned over all of creation. However, there has been a continual presence of sin and evil in the world. In this passage we read of a time when God will bring this state of things to an end as he brings judgment on the nations and reward to his servants. Let us look forward to that day when the all-knowing God brings his righteous judgement on sin. Let us not fall under that judgment, but let us repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness while there is still opportunity.

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Revelation 9:1-21

I do not write devotional material on weekends, but here is today’s suggested reading.

Reading the Word

Revelation 9:1–21
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. 2He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. 7In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. 11They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. 12The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. 13Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. 17And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. 20The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

The Seven Trumpets

Revelation

Reading the Word

Revelation 8:1–13 (ESV)

1 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. 6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. 7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. 12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night. 13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In a response to the prayers of his people, God unleashes a series of judgments on the earth. Each begins with the sound of a trumpet. In this passage, we read of four of these judgments: hail and fire, the water being turned to blood, water made bitter, and darkness. It is interesting to note that these resemble the plagues that God used to judge Egypt during the Exodus. We see a picture of God once again delivering his people from evil and oppression.

God’s people are dear to him. Throughout Scripture we see his hand leading and protecting them. It is no different in Revelation as he responds to prayer and delivers his people by judging evil. As believers, we look for the day when sin and evil are judged once and for all and our deliverance is eternal. That is what we read about at the end of the Book of Revelation as God creates a new heaven and a new earth where his people dwell with him forever.

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A Great Multitude

Revelation 79 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 7:9–17 (ESV)

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After speaking of the 144,000 Jewish believers who are sealed in verses 1-8, now we get a picture of the people of God from outside of the Jewish community. The group is so great that it cannot be numbered and it is made up of people from every nation, tribe, and language. This group represents those who hear the gospel during the Great Tribulation and are redeemed through Jesus Christ (cf. verse 14). The great multitude and all of heaven gather in worship.

A fitting response to our salvation, in every age, is worship. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has taken our sin and given us his righteousness. This is all done by grace, not because we somehow deserve it. What a great salvation we have in Christ. What a great God and Savior!

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Sealing of 144,000

Revelation

Reading the Word

Revelation 7:1–8 (ESV)

1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 5 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage we find a brief interlude between God’s judgments. The pause takes place so that God’s people can be sealed with a mark on their foreheads in order to set them apart from the coming judgments.

There is discussion about who the 144,000 are. Should this be taken literally as 144,000 Jewish believers? Or, should it be taken figuratively as a reference to all of God’s people? It seems best, because of the detailed listing of each tribe, to take the passage as speaking of literal Israel. We are told that in the Great Tribulation, God will seal 144,000 Jewish believers as they serve him.

The primary point of the passage is that God’s people are protected from his wrath. This does not mean that they are protected from the evil of other people. In fact, we see a picture throughout Revelation of the spiritual battle that is taking place and that believers are a part of. But we know who we belong to and he has promised not to abandon us, but to keep us for himself.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Seven Seals

Revelation 59 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 6:1–17 (ESV)

1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. 3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword. 5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!” 7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. 9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. 12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The scene shifts from heaven to events on earth. As the Lamb opens the seven seals, we read of different judgment events unfolding on the earth. The first four of these events consisting of four horsemen. The final three picture persecution and natural disasters.

There is much debate about whether these events are all future events or whether they describe general conditions on earth from the time of Christ’s ascension to his final return. There is also debate as to whether the first rider is a picture of the Lord or if it is a depiction of the anti-Christ.

Regardless of your interpretation, the main point is clear: there will be judgment on the earth due to sin. God’s people are called to remain faithful in these difficult times knowing that justice will come when the day of the Lord arrives. In that day, there will be nowhere to hide, but the wrath of God will be poured out on those who have rebelled against him.

May we seek the forgiveness that is available in Christ while we can and may we remain faithful in a world that dips deeper and deeper into sin.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!