AGCC Sun. a.m. 4/22/2001
#11 (Book of Revelation Series)

TEXT:  Rev. 13:1-18


This chapter in Revelation is widely known, Hollywood has made movies about this chapter in the Bible, although seldom containing the truth of the Bible ... there has been graffiti painted all over the world with the number 666, it has been spoken about since the time of the disciples, and has struck fear into the hearts of mankind for thousands of years. Every one fears the number 666 ... it is the symbol of evil everywhere! While we are fascinated about the "mark of the beast" we must not forget that the power of evil that will one day express itself through the antichrist is already present in the world, and we should be concerned about the power of evil in our OWN heart! 1 John 2:18 "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour." (NIV) ILLUS: Two brothers had terrorized a small town for decades. They were unfaithful to their wives, abusive to their children, and dishonest in business. The younger brother died unexpectedly. The surviving brother went to the pastor of the local church. "I'd like you to conduct my brother's funeral," he said, "but it's important to me that during the service, you tell everyone my brother was a saint." "But he was far from that," the minister countered. The wealthy brother pulled out his checkbook. "Reverend, I'm prepared to give $100,000 to your church. All I'm asking is that you publicly state that my brother was a saint." On the day of the funeral, the pastor began his eulogy this way. "Everyone here knows that the deceased was a wicked man, a womanizer, and a drunk. He terrorized his employees and cheated on his taxes." Then he paused. "But as evil and sinful as this man was, compared to his older brother, he was a saint!" -- Greg Asimakoupoulos Naperville, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4. We think of evil as only being a future terrible reality when the antichrist comes, but the seeds of that evil already exist in the world and men's hearts today. No wonder it will be POSSIBLE for the antichrist to find a following later! Some people have said that they don't believe in all this stuff about the devil and a future antichrist ... but there is an easy to way to find out! ... ILLUS:If you don't believe in the devil's existence, try working for God for a while. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990). PROP. SENT:      The Bible clearly teaches that both today and tomorrow offers a choice for all human beings, the choice between God and the Devil. There is no middle ground, we are followers of Christ or the antichrist.

I. THE ALTERNATIVE     13:1-10

A. False Christ     13:1-7 1. The "beast coming out of the sea" is the antichrist. a. The sea in antiquity often represented humanity and evil. (1. The metaphor of the "sea of humanity" expresses this. (2. It also represented a mysteriously frightening place, in antiquity they thought you would fall off the planet if you traveled too far out to sea, so it was associated with evil and fear. (3. The image here is that the antichrist will be an evil human who arises from the human race but energized by Satan. b. The 10 horns with 10 crowns represent authority and power. c. The 7 heads represent ruling power. 2. This picture is nearly identical to the dragon mentioned in 12:3 "an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads." -- it clearly establishes that this "beast" or antichrist is closely connected to the "dragon" which is called "Satan" in 12:9 3. Satan is going to offer the world a false god ... a false trinity! a. Satan will be like the "father" b. This human being energized by Satan will be the "antichrist" c. Later in this chapter another "beast" arises from the earth which will give breath to the idol of antichrist, giving breath like a "spirit" ... albeit an "unholy spirit." 4. Satan's desire, unlike God's, is to destroy man, not save us. 5. Some people find it hard to believe that this could be real ... but everything else in the Bible has been, and so will this! ILLUS: I believe in the devil for three reasons:
1. The Bible plainly says he exists.
2. I see his work everywhere.
3. Great scholars have recognized his existence. -- Billy Graham (1918- ) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 199 2). Entries 2650-2651.
6. Satan's desires and goals are obvious ... to conquer the saints, to blaspheme God, and to promote himself! a. How different from Jesus Christ is this antichrist! b. Jesus conquered sin, not sinners ... he honored God, not blasphemed Him, and He sacrificed Himself for lost man, he didn't sacrifice man. c. Why anyone chooses to ignore the real Christ is a mystery!!! B. Firm Commitment!     13:8-10 1. Nearly all the world will worship this false Messiah when he comes. a. Look at how men follow evil today, this is not a far-fetched idea! b. Today we tend to think of Satan and evil power as being in the form of witches and pentagrams ... these are easy to avoid and we recoil at the idea of accepting those things ... BUT, this isn't the essence of evil, evil is far more sinister and subtle, but so powerful! .... ILLUS:Selfishness and immorality are far more consistent with Satan's strategies than drinking blood or drawing pentagrams. -- Al Menconi in Today's Music: A Window to Your Child's Soul. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 12. c. Real evil is found in the hearts of selfish humanity who seek to make others serve their own ends ... this is the essence of evil and sin. d. This is why evil catches us off guard, it doesn't appear so evil until we finally see its bitter fruit. 2. It requires a firm commitment to live for God ... anyone can be evil, it follows the path of least resistance! a. It seems so often that evil wins the day ... but we must not cave in, evil's day will end, God is at work even when it doesn't appear this way! b. Notice John encourages those who will undergo terrible times as saints to be patient and faithful to the end! 13:10b c. It requires a firm commitment on the part of the saints, for it will appear that they cannot win ... but Christ IS IN CONTROL, note that the passage states that the antichrist will only rule for 42 months 13:5 ... it is a limited period of time, it will end! 3. Only those who names are written in the lamb's book of life will not be overtaken by this antichrist. Is your name in this book?     It is a choice you must make! II. THE ATTRACTION     13:11-18 A. Fearful Counterfeits     13:11-15 1. In order to fool the world into worshipping him, antichrist will experience a fatal wound ... and be resurrected ... causing the world to marvel at him! a. This will be a counterfeit resurrection! b. Satan never does anything unique, he copies God but for his own ends! 2. To copy God even more, another beast arrives on the scene, one that comes out of the earth ... this is the "false prophet" who speaks and breathes Satan's powers .. like an unholy spirit, a counterfeit of God's Holy Spirit. a. This false prophet will do great miracles like causing fire to fall from heaven like Elijah, in the full view of humanity! 13:13 b. This false prophet will energize the idol of the antichrist so that it can speak ... and cause mankind to worship the beast! 3. How is it that evil will so flourish? ILLUS:Weeds always flourish. -- Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1539) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 3417. 4. Evil flourishes easily, it fits well with our selfish sinful hearts. 5. Satan is too smart to entice us to follow him by showing us evil directly, he traps us with his miraculous signs that look an awful lot like God's wonderful miracles! a. The difference however is great, God does miracles to liberate us with His love. b. Satan does miracles to entrap us into worshipping him, to imprison us for destruction, to encourage us to hate. 6. The world will move closer and closer to Satan's evil, as we move away from God we move closer to Satan. ILLUS:It is bad to lean against a falling wall. -- Danish Proverb - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 3380. 7. We do not have to yield to Satan's devises and plans, Jesus Christ has made a way of escape from both sin and the power of sin. B. Forced Choice!     13:16-18 1. Satan will push humanity into making a choice, between him and God! a. In a very real way this is already here! b. In our life we are either following God or the Devil. 2. There is no middle ground, a choice must be made! Satan always tries to make man believe that God is not a good choice! ILLUS:There are two big lies that Satan has been perpetrating ever since the Garden of Eden. The first is that God is mean, vindictive, a spoilsport whose main role in life is to keep us from being fulfilled and happy--when we step out of bounds, he takes delight in making us pay. The second lie is that God really doesn't care what we do--probably doesn't know. And if he does, his business is to forgive us. He'll always forgive no matter what, so it really doesn't make much difference how we live and what we believe. -- B. Clayton Bell, "Many Happy Returns," Preaching Today, Tape No. 135. 3. Ultimately the choice will be forced one way or another. a. In the future it will involve taking the mark of the beast. b. Today though it is just as real a choice as it will be in the future, we can no more ignore this choice today than we will be able to ignore it in the future! c. The fact is that Satan is setting the groundwork today for his evil reign, and so often we fail to see it or take it seriously! ILLUS:The fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of evil have begun their decisive offensive. You can feel their pressure, yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about? -- Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918- ) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 3400. 4. Satan's mark is interesting ... 666 a. We don't really know what this means, and perhaps we are not suppose to know, maybe it will only be clear at the time it needs to be clear. b. But John does say this is the "number of man" -- not "a man" c. Maybe it is a reference to the fact that the best Satan can offer is an unholy trinity who members each fall short of perfection, each of the three 6's being one less than the perfect number 7, and since there are three 6's ... one number for each member of his counterfeit trinity. d. It is interesting to note that the numerical value of Jesus' name is 888, one number ABOVE perfection for each member of the trinity! 5. Satan will fall short ... and how tragic that so many will seal their fate with him .... a. But MANY people have sealed their fate with him TODAY! b. While they may not wear a physical mark, their hearts are turned away from God and they have Satan's stamp in them now! c. It is not just a future decision that people will need to make, we all in our lifetime are called upon to make this choice. 6. It is also interesting that this "mark of the beast" is put either on the forehead or the RIGHT hand ... the Jews put portions of the Scriptures on their forehead or LEFT hands in small boxes called Phylacteries, Satan appears to be counterfeiting this too! a. The phylacteries represented their acceptance of the covenant and their being bound by God's covenant. b. The "mark of the beast" represents being bound to Satan. c. To take this mark is to seal your fate! 7. Satan is slowing edging the world toward his destructive plans, but God will be the final victor! a. There is a clear choice to make ... you WILL serve one or the other! b. Today is the day of choice, choose Christ and not antichrist! CONCLUSION:    One day every person will have one final choice to make between God and Satan ... but in a very real way that choices faces us each day! We stand amazed to think people will choose the mark of the beast, but if we aren't actively choosing to follow Christ we are no better off today! Will you choose Jesus Christ or antichrist, what choice are you making NOW!?