The Beast from the Sea

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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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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!

**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 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.

**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 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.

**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 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.

**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!

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!

**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!

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!

Worthy Is the Lamb!

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Reading the Word

Revelation 5:11–14 (ESV)

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In an amazing scene, the heavenly hosts fall down and worship. This group includes the living creatures first described in chapter four, the elders, and angels numbering “myriads and myriads and thousands of thousands”. What a picture!

God and the Lamb are declared to be worthy of all worship because of their work of redemption. Take special note that worship of the Lamb here is equal to the worship of God and is understood as the proper and right thing to do. The unity of God and the Lamb will continue throughout the rest of the book. This is an important point to consider because Scripture is clear that only God is the proper recipient of worship. Here we find an important piece of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity and Jesus being divine.

Take a moment and consider the greatness of the Triune God. Consider the redemption that has been achieved through God and the Lamb. And give him praise.

**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!

Revelation 5:1-10

Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on weekends, but do include a suggested daily reading. Thank you for reading and please consider following this blog so you will be reminded each day to read the new content.

Below is the suggested reading for Saturday, December 2:

Reading the Word

Revelation 5:1–10 (ESV)

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

 

The Church in Laodicea

Laodicea 1201

Pipes from the ruins at Laodicea.

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:14–22 (ESV)

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage is a good example of why we cannot force our modern usage of words onto the Bible. When we say someone is hot or cold about something today, we mean they are either passionate or disinterested. Is that what Jesus means when he tells this church that he wishes they were hot or cold rather than lukewarm? Is he saying he wishes they were either for him or against him rather than riding the fence? Does that not seem odd?

To better understand what Jesus means we need to understand the historical background. Nearby Hierapolis had hot springs while nearby Colosse was known for its cold pure water. What did Laodicea have? It was infamous for the lukewarm water that was piped in via an aqueduct built by the Romans. The hot springs were desirable for bathing. The cold water was great for drinking. And the lukewarm water was good for nothing!

Jesus’ statement about being cold or hot is about being useful for something. Lukewarm water is undesirable and useless. May we never be found useless to our Lord. Let us serve him and have a deep fellowship with him as we await his return.

**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!