Today’s Bible Reading: Zechariah 2-3:10; Revelation 13:1-18; Psalm 141:1-10; Proverbs 30:18-20
Zechariah’s writings are dated after King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return home from captivity after Persia had conquered Babylon. But many of the Jews decided to remain in Babylon because they were more comfortable there. Certainly most of them had been born and raised in that environment and knew nothing about Israel, the land of their ancestors. So God has to encourage them to leave (Zechariah 2:6).
In addition to its literal existence, throughout the Bible Israel also symbolically represents God’s presence. The Gentile nations, therefore, represent, the world. Most people have to be encouraged to leave the comfort of the world and start a relationship with God. We don’t want to do it. I went into Christianity kicking and screaming after spending well over a decade as a devout atheist.
But the benefits of becoming one of God’s children are many including complete protection (Zechariah 2:8-9). God promises to destroy any nation that harms Israel. And He will defend any and all of His children (born-again believers) against our enemies as well. There is no amount of intelligence… there is no large enough caliber… there is nothing better to protect us than God Himself.
There is an interesting scene depicted in Zechariah 3 today. In it we see Satan pointing out to God the flaws of a man named Joshua (Zechariah 3:1). Right now, in heaven, Satan is explaining all your faults to God. If you are not a born-again believer then Satan’s accusations are 100% true. But if you are, like this man Joshua was, then God will reject those accusations (Zechariah 3:2). Through Jesus’ death we can have complete forgiveness of sins. Once you are born again God will never ever ever hold any of your sins against you.
Our passage in Revelation covers a lot of ground today with some very detailed prophecy about the antichrist.
The antichrist will be empowered by Satan (Revelation 13:2). During this time period – the Tribulation – God is bringing an end to the world and He will use Satan’s evil as well as the evil of human beings to bring much of it about. As such some pretty miraculous things are going to happen. We’ve already read many of these.
But one of the most miraculous will be that the antichrist will be killed. He will suffer some sort of fatal head wound (perhaps from a gun shot). But God will allow Satan to resurrect the antichrist back to life (Revelation 13:3). As a result the entire world will consider the antichrist to be a god and will worship him and Satan (Revelation 3:4).
For the next 3.5 years (42 months) the antichrist will wage a war of words against God (Revelation 13:6) and also a real war against those who believe in God (Revelation 13:7). Notice that he will be “allowed” to do these things. Nothing happens on this planet without God allowing it to happen. God doesn’t make everything happen – human beings make decisions that are the cause of much of what goes on. But God uses these decisions to bring about His purposes. And His main purpose is to draw people away from the world and towards Him.
Notice that the antichrist will rule over every nation and will be worshipped by every single person on earth (Revelation 13:7-8). Anyone who was not on the antichrist’s side to start with will be after his death and resurrection. Sadly, all these people will not be going to heaven (Revelation 13:8b) because they chose to worship a human being rather than the true God who created them and loves them.
The antichrist will not work alone. He will have a promoter who, like the antichrist, will seem benign at first but will also be empowered by Satan (Revelation 13:11). He will have the full authority to force people to worship the antichrist (Revelation 13:12). People will have a choice. They can either do as they are told – worship the antichrist (and live) – or they can remain faithful to God (and be killed) What a horrible time this will be!
Bible prophecy is very specific and measurable. This was one of the major factors that convinced me that it was true. No other alleged holy text has even one specific prophecy about the future. That is because they were authored by men while the Bible was authored by God. The passages we’ve been reading about the end times are incredibly specific and can be easily verified in time.
One of the more specific is that the antichrist’s promoter will force people to make and worship a statue of the antichrist (Revelation 13:14). In addition, Satan will give the promoter the supernatural ability to give the statue the power to speak, which it will. It will sentence to death anyone who does not worship it (Revelation 13:15). If the people who wrote the Bible were making this up, they sure had a lot of guts to put these types of predictions into it. But they are in here because God knows the future and He wants us to know that He knows the future.
But the prophecies don’t stop there. This promoter will require everyone to take a mark on their hand or forehead. This mark will be a sign of allegiance to the antichrist and without it no one will be able to buy anything or sell anything (Revelation 13:16-17). In other words, no one will be allowed make a living or hold a job or purchase anything – a home, food, water – without being a follower of the antichrist and by association, Satan.
Is this too far-fetched to believe? I don’t think so.
- In 2012 the mayors of Boston and Chicago forbade Chick-fil-A from opening any stores in their cities because the owner is a Christian who opposes gay-marriage
- A&E TV just fired one of their major stars from Duck Dynasty – a huge revenue source for the network – for his beliefs on the same issue
- Christian photographers have been sued by homosexuals for refusing to take pictures at their wedding
- Christian bakers who have refused to bake wedding cakes for same-sex weddings have been told they must do so by our judicial system
- The city of San Antonio has barred anyone who does not accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle from serving on the city council
Clearly the idea of controlling economic opportunity based on one’s beliefs is already happening to some extent. It is not too much of a stretch to imagine that the events of Revelation 13 will come true relatively soon – perhaps in our lifetime.
Even those who are not familiar with the Bible are familiar with the number of the antichrist: 666 (Revelation 13:18). In both Hebrew and Greek (the original languages the Old Testament and New Testament were written in, respectively) letters were used for numbers based on their position in the alphabet (in English, for example, A=1, B=2 … Z=26). Each person’s name could be represented by a number and, in fact, many ancient artifacts reference people by numbers. What God is apparently telling us here is that the antichrist’s name will be equivalent to the number 666, perhaps in Greek or Hebrew.
This is all pretty serious stuff. I hope any of you who haven’t already done so will consider repenting of your sins and accepting God’s offer of complete and unconditional forgiveness through His Son, Jesus. This way you can avoid all these terrible events that will come upon the earth. Notice that much of them, including everything we read in today’s passage, are caused by man’s pride and evil nature. Nothing we read about today was inflicted by God. God simply let it all play out. The end times are characterized by God leaving people to their own innate desires.
Don’t forget… we still have 7 judgements from God that haven’t happened yet. And they’re all worse than the one’s we’ve seen so far.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.