Today’s Bible Reading: Zechariah 4-5:11; Revelation 14:1-20; Psalm 142:1-7; Proverbs 30:21-23
Anything of significance does not occur by human power and might. It only happens by the power of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Just like the lamp stands in Zechariah’s vision were continuously supplied with oil by being connected to olive trees (Zechariah 4:2-3, 12) we must be plugged into God continuously for our “light” to shine. We may be busy. We may accomplish a lot. We may even be named Time’s Person of the Year or win a Nobel Prize. But none of that means anything. The only things that means anything are those things that further God’s kingdom.
But every great work starts with a baby step. And it is here that many never get out of the starting gate. We all dream big. But few of us are willing to start small (Zechariah 4:10). God will bless the little things we do if they are done in faith. For it is only from small, sometimes difficult beginnings, that big victories can be achieved.
The 144,000 whom we met back in Revelation 7 make another appearance in our passage today. These 144,000 were Jews who came to faith in Jesus during the Tribulation. At this point in our story we are now more than half-way through these seven years and the antichrist has slaughtered many Christians. But these 144,000 have been supernaturally protected by God.
God had put a mark on their foreheads identifying them as His (Revelation 7:3, 14:1). Satan imitates this “feature” by marking his followers with the number 666 as we read yesterday. But God’s mark has another significance.
While man devises all kinds of categories for the human race based on skin color, ethnicity, sexuality, age, gender, etc., God only sees two categories: those who don’t belong to Him and those who do. We all start off as the former. We are born separated from God due to sin. Life is the opportunity to chose to become the latter.
God has given people the responsibility to tell others how they can be saved and go to heaven. In Revelation 14:6-7 we see the only place in the New Testament where we see an angel spreading the Good News. This may be due to the fact that there are very few people alive on earth at this point and even fewer who believe in God. Not to mention that admitting one’s faith will be very dangerous during this time.
A second angel brings news of the fall of Babylon (Revelation 14:8). Since Babylon has not existed for centuries it is safe to conclude that this ancient city will once again become the seat of power on the earth since it cannot “fall” without first rising again. We’ll read more about Babylon in a couple of days.
Yesterday we read about the mark of the beast – the number 666 – that people will be required to have tattooed on their hand or forehead in order to participate in the world’s economy. Taking this number, and thereby identifying oneself with the antichrist – will be an irreversible decision (Revelation 14:9-10). Anyone who does so may not think much of it – they will see it as a “no brainer” in order to spare their life. But essentially they will be rejecting God who will in turn reject them forever (Revelation 14:10-11). Not a wise decision.
God does not rush to judgement. He is extremely patient, giving every person a chance to repent. He waits until just the right moment (Revelation 14:15). But when that moment comes, His judgement will be quick as a sharp sickle and as thorough as a winepress (Revelation 14:18-20).
At the end of Revelation 13 it appeared that Satan and the antichrist had victory within their grasp. But in today’s passage we see that God had everything under control the whole time. We already know the outcome of the future. God wins. Sadly, just like Satan is deluded into thinking he can beat God, too many people think the same. They think they will be able to talk God out of punishment as if He were a human whose arm could be twisted. Or they think God will change His mind or countenance their good deeds, if they have any.
But God means what He says and says what He means. That is why He has warned us about what is to come. The foreshadowing of current events make it not unreasonable to think that all this could happen in our lifetime.
God wants to hear from us when we are troubled, even if we just want to vent or whine (Psalm 142:1-7). There are times when we feel all alone (Psalm 142:4) and sometimes life can seem like a prison (Psalm 142:7). God is with us during these times and wants to hear from us.
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