22.5 Revelation – Do not ride the beast

Control is a delusion.  We live each day as if we have control.  We struggle and save to have control of our finances.  We make contracts and promises.  We buy and sell, barter and steal for control.  We coerce and lie for control. We want to be on top.  We want to be in charge.

We hate giving up the TV remote because it feels like we have relinquished control.  We hate riding in the passenger seat.  We hate riding on airplanes.  We hate having to rely on others.

But control is a delusion.  It is one God calls sin and the devil calls opportunity.

When we fight for control, we fight God.  God, the creator and author of the universe is in control.  He alone is in control.  When we insist on “taking control” we are telling God, “you are not doing a good enough job and, well, you need my help!”  When we insist on trying to control the situation, our day, our lives, we relegate God to a safety net, a servant, someone who will come along quietly and catch us when we fail and fall.

This is sin.  This is missing the mark.  This is selling out for so much less than what God has in store for us because we are fighting Him and pulling in the wrong direction constantly.

But Satan loves for us to feel in control.  It is a lie.  We know it is a lie, but it is an attractive lie.  We want to ride that lie faster and harder.  We want to ignore death and grab all the gusto.  We want to be “good at being bad”.  We want to ride the beast and party and curse and be immoral and drink and…

Until it devours us.  And that is the reality.  It always devours us.  It is not a harmless delusion.  It is not a dream or fairy tale.  It is wickedness.  It is a lie.  It is death – forever.

So, what is your direction in life.  Will you be standing as one of the called, the chosen, the faithful followers of Jesus, the one who is the way, the truth and the light?  Or will you be devoured the lies and the darkness?

If you are riding the beast now in any part of your life, the choice is simple.  It has 3 simple steps:
1. Ask the Holy Spirit for help – you cannot get off the beast on your own power
2. Get on your knees – repent and leave it at the cross, once you turn it over, let it go, it is no longer yours to bear, you have given it to Christ and He is sufficient
3. Stand – Be a faithful follower.

You can do it for two simple reasons: You are called and you are chosen.  Neither of those has anything to do with you or your power or your worthiness or anything else about you.  This isn’t about you – it is about Jesus and God’s love.

But, do it quickly.  It is at the point that everything is wonderful, it is the height of the party and you are riding high, that it ends: the lies turn on you and consume you.  The notion that it is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven is not an offer – it is a line from a book called Paradise Lost and it is a monologue by Satan about himself.  It is not an option for you.

Please don’t wait until a better time, later, but everything is going good so why quit, when I get older, when I settle down time.  Do it now, before the lies tear the flesh from your bones and consume you – they will, it is only a matter of time.

My Answers:

12.
The followers of the beast hate and come together in unity to destroy, they destroy both good and evil, they are filled with hate. But God turns their unity and rage against each other time and again and the enemies of God destroy themselves

13.
There is tremendous wickedness, some very well organized.  But while hate and wickedness can be powerful, they breed discontent and soon turn against each other and not just their primary target.

14.
It is like reading the end of a mystery novel – We know the outcome.

22.4 Revelation – Wisdom

Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge.  But the source of the knowledge matters and the guiding hand of that source on its application is paramount.

Anyone can amass great amounts of knowledge.  People can spend their entire lives in any discipline, studying and memorizing.  For that matter, anyone can study the bible, even memorize it word for word. But without faith and without the power of the holy spirit, it is just words and thought.  There is no power in any of it.

Look at the wise men in Nebuchadnezzar’s court in Daniel 2:12 – all dead.  Look at the wise men in Belshazzar’s court Daniel 5:8 – powerless and stumped.  Look at the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:11-20 – left with nothing, not even underwear.

I think Paul sums it up the best in his letter to the church in Corinth:

1 Cor 1: 20-25
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

My Answers:

9.
a.
Why are you astonished?  I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides

b.
They have one purpose, to give their power and authority to the beast.  They will wage war on Jesus, the Lamb (v 14)

c.
The Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings

d.
v14. And with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers

10.
Beast: once was, now is not, yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction
God: him who is and who was and who is to come

11.
a.
Symbolism (7 heads are seven hills on which the woman sits).  Discernment – From the spirit and from knowing the word of God

b.
Bible study, prayer, discussion, teaching, being obedient.  Growing in holiness, no longer as deceived by the temptations of the world

22.3 Revelation – Co-Opted

Many of us in the 21st century know the names of the Egyptian gods from our museums and traveling exhibits: Osiris, Isis, Re, Anubis.  We know Greek gods from our childhood studies and from the Percy Jackson novels: Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Chronos.  We know Roman gods from the names of our planets: Mercury, Venus, Jupiter.  We even know a few norse gods from comic books and the days of the week: Tyr (twia as in twia’s day or Tuesday), Odin (wodin as in wodin’s day or Wednesday), Thor (Thursday), Freya (the leader of the Valkyries, Friday).  Those who have done bible studies might even recognize a Canaanite god or two such as Baal or Anat.

Sidenote: It is somewhat disturbing how we have immortalized these mythological gods into our everyday language.

But most of us don’t know much about the gods of Babylon: Marduk, Bel, Nebo, the dragon. In some ways they were the worse and craftiest in the insult to God.  Many of the Babylonian polytheistic religious documents simply co-opted the word of God.  (Definition: Co-opt: (a) divert to or use in a role different from the usual or original one (b) adopt (an idea or policy) for one’s own use.).  The Atrahasis Epic, the Enuma Elish (creation story), The Gilgamesh Epic (flood), Hammurabi’s code (law at Mr. Sinai), The Babylonian Theodicy (story of Job).

Time and again, the Babylonians took the holy and diverted it into a different message, re-crafting it for their own use and own glory.  Time and again, they remove God and retell the story.  Any place it gets too close to God, insert another lie, another explanation, another twist to bring it closer to the source of the lie (example, instead of God creating the earth without form/the deep, Genesis 1:2 Hebrew “tehom”; the Babylonian account starts with the gods arising out of the waters of the deep as the god of fresh water Apsu combines with the goddess of salt water Tiamat – a cognate of the word tehom).

We see this same pattern in the story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall.  He takes the holy articles from the temple, that had been sacked from the temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians years earlier, and uses them for a party honoring himself.

I think one of the reasons the name Babylon is a stand-in for a more significant group, place and time, is because this represents Satan’s work at its purest level.  Even in the garden, Satan didn’t come out with anew story, a complete lie.  Instead, he twisted what God had said, he asked questions, he challenged, he co-opted.  When satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he did the same.

We see this all around us today.  Not only do we swim in the language of all of these false gods and their names in our days, months, planets, time, but we swim in the co-opted truth.  We teach children in school Hammurabi’s code (almost 300 laws many based around eye-for-an-eye as a very broad legalistic punishment – but which also includes the provision that “If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss.”), but we refuse to allow access to the 10 commandments or the laws of Exodus 21:22-25 (If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely…there is serious injury (to the child), you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise).  We deny a creator, but are perfectly content with “a big bang”.  We deny God, but praise “the universe”.

Our times, our nations and our neighbors are far closer to Babylonians than any of us wants to admit.

My Answers:

6.
sitting on beast, dressed in purple and scarlet and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls, golden cup in hand filled w/ abom things and filth of adulteries, name on forehead was a mystery, drunk with blood of God’s martyred holy people  === scarlet beast covered with blasphemous names.  The beast had 7 heads and 10 horns (beast out of the sea from Rev 13)

7.
a.
she was drunk on their blood

b.
sacked the temple and tore it down, slaughtered zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, all the nobles, then put out his eyes and bound him, Daniel interprets writing on the wall for Belshazar, king kills all other wise men, condemned because defiled temple articles

8.
The things of the earth are temporary.  They are created.  But they are tangible and comparable and draw people to them.  It gives a sense of ownership, which is false, since we too are only temporarily on this planet.

22.2 Revelation – Hero Worship

I grew up in the transitioning time between when the press and everyday people looked up to and promoted the positives in “great” men and women and when the mode of the day became to look for the dirt to tear them down.

I’m not arguing for one side or the other.  There are men and women who have great and admirable characteristics and achievements.  There are men and women who have dedicated their time and energies to working hard and being the best at their game.  There are men and women who have helped lead and usher in great advancements in medicine, commerce, politics, sport.  There are public figures who shine the light of Jesus boldly and for the benefit of all mankind.

Those same men and women all also have faults, sins, things they hide, shame, baggage.  They, like you and I, are human, fallen, sinful.

But the viewpoint and emphasis of our culture changed somewhere along the way.  At one point it was a great story to build someone up, to make them larger than life.  At that time there was collusion to gloss over or cover up their shortcomings.  That was the time of childhood heroes, of astronauts and explorers, of great generals and world leaders.

Maybe it was Watergate.  Maybe something earlier, but that changed.  Our times are all about digging for the dirt.  Finding the faults and lies and exposing them.  It has not gone to the degree that, for the purpose of fame and 15 minutes of celebrity status, men and women now create their own dirt to expose.  Sex-Tapes.  Trans-Gender Interviews.  “Leaked” emails and snap chats and text messages.  Wardrobe malfunctions.  The more outlandish and sensational the dirt, the bigger the coverage, the more press, the more exposure, the more fame.

Public figures lie.  Public figures are self-serving.  Public figures are sinful, petty, immoral.  That has always been the case for some, if not most public figures.  The difference is now that exposure of that doesn’t bring shame and repentance, it brings self-righteousness and fame.

So, who do you look up to?  Who is your teacher?

Jesus is the clear answer.  Second, the attributes of Jesus we see in others.  I admire the way my BSF co-leader is dedicated to praying for every child in our group.  I admire the way my pastor is passionate about going word-by-word through the bible, even the really difficult and uncomfortable parts.  I admire the way a policeman puts himself in harms way rushing in to a building where there is an armed homicidal man.  I admire the way a new immigrant enlists in the armed services as a show of honor and dedication for the country that adopted him.  I admire the recovered alcoholic woman who devotes her life and meager inheritance to buying a house to help other women get off the street, living with them, feeding them and forming the home (centered around Christ) that they never had before.

The person does not appeal to me, but the Holy Spirit at work and evident in the person shakes my soul.  I think the Holy Spirit in each of us is completely interconnected.  When we see and hear and witness the Spirit alive and working in others, our hearts cry out for communion and joy to be united in the oneness that is God.

My Answers:

3.
a.
The punishment of the great prostitute who sits by many waters

b.
The kings of the earth (committed adultery), inhabitants of earth (intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries)

4.
Adultery is to violate a sacred relationship covenant (normally a marital covenant) by participating in behavior or activities reserved to only be shared within the relationship (e.g., extra-marital affairs/sexual immorality).  In this case, the sacred covenant relationship was between mankind and God and the adultery was idolatry and self-worship

5.
a.
N/A

b.
those of the senses, sights and smells, sounds and feelings, but mostly taste – eating not only for nourishment sake