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Spiritual Warfare: The Sea Beast

Last week I have entitled the message Spiritual Warfare, because Rev. 12 pulls back the curtain and enables us to see the spiritual conflict that is ongoing for the church. As I stated last week, Rev. 12 perfectly complements Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6:10-20. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. What biblical truths did we glean from Rev 12? I. We have a great enemy, known as the dragon, the serpent and Satan. II. Our enemy, Satan, has been cast out of heaven and thrown down to earth. Vs 7-9 III. The main weapons of our enemy, Satan, are physical persecution and deception. IV. We conquer the enemy through the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony not clinging to our physical lives. This morning we will examine Rev. 13:1-10. This passage also concerns spiritual warfare. Read the text. What biblical truths does John’s vision of the sea beast teach us about the spiritual warfare of the church?

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Spiritual Warfare

I have entitled this message Spiritual Warfare, for this chapter pulls back the curtain and enables us to see the spiritual conflict that is ongoing for the church. As I have stated previously Rev. 12 perfectly complements Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6:10-20. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

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Witnesses in a Hostile World

Recap of Chapter 10. In chapter 10 the main components of John’s vision are the mighty angel, the seven thunders and John’s reception and digestion of the little scroll. What biblical truth do we learn from this mighty angel? That God is sovereign over the land and the sea and His universal message of salvation will be proclaimed to all the nations, and in the days of the seventh trumpet God’s plan of salvation will be completed! What biblical truth do we learn from the seven peals of thunder? We learn that God has revealed much to us about the end, but not everything. We should avoid speculating about things that God has decided to keep secret! What biblical truth do we learn from the little scroll? That John and the church have been called to proclaim the message contained in the little scroll. It’s a universal message. It’s a sweet message of redemption and salvation for those who embrace and proclaim it. But, it is also a bitter message because sharing this message will involve great suffering and persecution, even martyrdom (6:9–11) for the saints.

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Unrepentant Idolatry Leads to Dreadful Judgment

So in short, by presenting the time between Christ’s ascension and second coming as a series of trumpet judgments, John is inviting his readers to view the time in which they live as one long trumpet blast announcing the coming Day of the Lord. The day in which God judges His enemies, rescues His people, and consummates His glorious kingdom. Read Rev. 9. What truths does God intend for us to learn from this text?

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The Seventh Seal and the Seven Trumpets of Revelation

You will notice that the opening of the seventh seal seems almost anticlimactic. The flurry of activity described by the first six seals is replaced with silence. There is an important reason for this silence. If you ignore chapter 7 for a moment and look back at the end of chapter 6, the reason for the silence becomes apparent. This is the calm before the storm, in fulfillment of the call in the prophets to be silent before the Lord. Habakkuk 2:20: “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Zephaniah 1:7: “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near.” Zechariah 2:13: “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” Notice what John see’s next. Instead of the end, the final judgment, he has another vision detailing more judgment. This vision returns us to the scene at the opening of the fifth seal in 6:9–11, where John saw “under the altar”—probably the same altar that he now sees in 8:3—and under the altar in 6:9 were “the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.” They were crying out, “how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (6:10). Then they were given white robes and told to rest a little longer until the number of martyrs would be complete (6:11). Those cries of “how long,” those cries for God to “avenge” their blood, those cries for God to hallow his name by upholding justice and establishing righteousness are now the prayers that rise before God at this incense altar in 8:3–5. Notice the association of the incense with “the prayers of all the saints” in verse 3, then again in verse 4: “the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God.” This brings us to the first theological truth this chapter teaches us…

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