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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Unlocking the Mysteries of Revelation

John Bradshaw - Unlocking the Mysteries of Revelation

John Bradshaw - Unlocking the Mysteries of Revelation
John Bradshaw - Unlocking the Mysteries of Revelation
TOPICS: Answers in Prophecy, Bible Prophecy, End times, Book of Revelation

We wanna thank you so much for joining us today. I am your host, Joseph Ikner, and I wanna welcome you to Answers in Prophecy. brought to you by It Is Written. You know, sometimes people say that Revelation is a hard book to understand. It is sealed. So many beasts, so many strange symbols. What does it all mean? In today's message, John is going to explain to us the mysteries of Revelation. So you have chosen a good day to be with us. Again, on behalf of It Is Written, we welcome you to Answers in Prophecy.

We wanna welcome you back to Answers in Prophecy, brought to us by It Is Written. I am your host, Joseph Ikner. And we're gonna be talking about "Unlocking the Mysteries of Revelation". And our presenter, and my friend, is with us: John Bradshaw. John, how are you today?

Great, my friend. How are you doing?

It's so good to see you.

Good to be back. We've had a couple of days off. Now we are rested and ready to go.

Now, did you get some rest during those days off?

Yeah, a little bit, you know, a little bit. Happy, happy to go now, though.

Yeah. So am I, so am I. So, today, we're gonna be talking about "Unlocking the Mysteries of Revelation". What is that all about?

You know, the book of Revelation is a mysterious book inasmuch as it's not just written straightforward. You don't read it like a storybook, and there's a little interpreting that needs to go on. What we're gonna see is as we look in Revelation, we'll discover that there's a lot there that you've seen before in other places in the Old Testament.


Stories which in and of themselves may have been major events, even crises. They read like stories, but really they have a certain prophetic element as they point forward to what's gonna take place later in human history.

Hmm. So when you start talking about major events and you talk about crises, those are things like you need to prepare for.

Yeah, yeah.

Like, if you're getting ready to get married, you know, the bride and the groom, they take some time to make their plans for their wedding day. If there's a major crisis, like this coronavirus, I think sometimes people need to prepare. There's been a lot of preparation. Oh, John, there's been a lot of preparation. When this thing first started in March, it was hard to find toilet paper.

Yeah, that's right.

Because people were so terrified that they went and they bought up all the toilet paper in the supermarkets. And I couldn't find any. I had to call on my members to help me to find some toilet paper. Can you believe that?

You know, I wouldn't have, but I can now. 'Cause we had to live through it.


You look for staples, like flour and other things. They disappeared off the shelves of supermarkets. People were trying to prepare for something they weren't really sure about.

So, what did you do to prepare for the coronavirus?

Honestly, not a lot, to be perfectly honest, other than one time when they said that maybe the supermarkets are gonna close. We just bought a little more food than usual. That's about it; we didn't worry too much, 'cause somewhere in the back of my mind I figured we're gonna get through this okay. If we hadn't, my family would've been looking at me and saying, "You didn't do nearly enough".

Boy, I tell you, John, for me, once we found toilet paper...


...hey, we were trying to stockpile just a little bit, just a little bit, to be on the safe side. But we also went and bought a little extra food as well.


So, listen, let me ask you a question. You know a crisis is coming, right? We've had all these fires and tornadoes and storms. You know it's coming. If there was one thing you could get, one thing you could buy to prepare for the crisis, what would it be?

You know, I'd like to phone a friend. If I could phone a friend, I'd ask my wife, 'cause I don't know. She would have the perfect answer 'cause she is wise like that. I wanna say water, but that's in the tap.


Bread...bread? What about you? What would you do?

I'm glad you asked. So, if food is a given...


...the next thing on my list would be having a generator, so I can run my appliances, keep my home running, keep life going.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, we had a tornado... two came on that side of this building; one came on that side.


You can still see the tornado damage in the trees here and across the road. And our home, not too far away, we were without power for a week or so. We would have been stuck unless a friend had said, "I have a spare generator. Would you like it"? I think that's a very, very wise choice. I don't wanna be without one next time.

Well, I tell you, I tell you, you maybe need to get one.


So, we've, we've talked a little bit about how to prepare for a crisis in life like we know it. But the Bible tells us about some crisises. Does it tell us how we prepare?

It does. Thank God it does. Because, as we've already talked about in Answers in Prophecy, the Bible says there's "a time of trouble" coming, "such as never was, since there was a nation". We talked about this, too. No need to be afraid. Don't need to be scared, but you do wanna be prepared.

Wow, that "time of trouble," whew! That's a scary term. But today John is going to talk to us about "Unlocking the Mysteries of Revelation" and how to be prepared for the crisis that lies ahead. You've chosen a great day to be with us in Answers in Prophecy. John?

This is going to be a good study. I hope you brought your thinking cap. I hope you brought a slide rule or an abacus or a pencil and paper or something. I'm gonna ask you to think tonight. And you're going to look into the Bible and see things that you might have seen without really ever having seen them. So, let's pray and begin and expect God to bless us as we do. Let's pray.

Our Father in heaven, thank You that we can open the Bible together. Guide us by Your Spirit. Grow our understanding of Your words so that we can plot a straight course in these last and challenging days of earth's history. Lead us, we ask You. And we pray sincerely in Jesus' name. Amen.

In 1872, a mystery emerged in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, which to this day has not been solved. A two-masted sailing ship carrying a cargo of 1,701 barrels of methylated spirits... that's denatured alcohol... was found drifting east of the Azores islands. It had left New York city bound for Genoa, Italy. Sailors on another vessel saw it in the distance and noticed that it wasn't moving as you'd expect a ship to do. They investigated. And they discovered that the Mary Celeste had been abandoned, which was odd. There was enough food on board to last for another six months. And it didn't seem as though the ship had been through any especially rough weather. Its sails were damaged, but otherwise it was in pretty good shape. But 10 people were gone. The captain, Benjamin Briggs...born in Wareham, Massachusetts, close to Cape Cod...along with him, his wife and their infant daughter and the crew, gone. A lifeboat was gone, too. Now, that ship was a hundred feet long. When it was found, it was noted that the last entry into the ship's log had been made nine days earlier. A ship found, 10 people gone, and absolutely no explanation.

Now, you would expect that in the last 150 years or so, there've been a lot of explanations bandied about to somehow account for the abandoned ship, but nothing conclusive has ever been proposed. The entire history of the ship is unfortunate, as a matter of fact. Its captain died on the ship's maiden voyage. The ship ultimately met its demise in Haiti, when new owners deliberately destroyed it in an act of insurance fraud. In between is the mystery. What happened to the Mary Celeste? To this day, the best anyone can do is speculate. There's just no really good explanation. Now here's another one for you. November 24, 1971, the night before Thanksgiving, a man in his mid-40s got on board a Northwest Orient Airlines plane in Portland, Oregon. He bought a ticket under the name Dan Cooper. And he took seat 18F. He wore a dark suit, a dark tie, a white shirt, and sunglasses, which he never took off. And he handed a flight attendant, a woman named Florence Schaffner, a note. She didn't bother reading it until after takeoff.

When she looked at it, she was stunned to find the note said, "Miss, I've got a bomb. I want you to sit next to me. You're being hijacked". In his black briefcase, which he opened for the flight attendant, were a couple of red cylinders, wires, and a battery. He demanded $200,000 and four parachutes. He collected the money from the airline during a stop at Seattle. That's where he let the 36 passengers off the plane. Cooper...if that's his name, seems it probably wasn't... Cooper demanded the plane be flown to Mexico after a stop in Reno, Nevada. So, 40 minutes after taking off from Seattle on route to Reno, a light in the cockpit indicated that the plane's rear stairs were being used. When the jet landed in Reno, the stairs were down, and Cooper was missing, along with the money and two parachutes. He dived into a freezing rainstorm at 10,000 feet. And so people have wondered, did he survive? Well, maybe he did, and maybe he did not. About $6,000 of the money given to Cooper was found by an 8-year-old boy playing on the banks of the Columbia River in 1980, leading most people to believe that D. B. Cooper, as he became known, didn't make it.

Now, the case remains open to this day. And according to the FBI, it probably will forever. Every now and then someone comes along claiming to be D. B. Cooper. A man in Florida told his wife on his deathbed that he was the mystery hijacker. Authorities say, "No chance". So who was the mystery man? Well, the truth is, we just don't know. And it's likely we never will. Now, something a little more recent, a mystery that was recently solved. Ten years ago, an art dealer from New Mexico hid a cache of jewels and gold somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. And that's a quote. That's what he said: "somewhere in the Rocky Mountains". The man who hid the treasure chest had once been a pilot, who flew more than 300 combat missions in the Vietnam War. Then he went on to become a successful businessman. He hid the treasure chest, a bronze box that weighed 22 pounds when it was loaded up, and said clues to its location could be found in his memoir.

Earlier this year, that art dealer, a man named Forrest Fenn, claimed that someone contacted him and told him they'd found the treasure. It is said that hundreds of thousands of people looked for it. I don't know if it was that many, but I do know at least one person, personally, who made trips to the Rockies to hunt for it. As far as I know, he's not the one who found it. The art dealer died in September of 2020 at the age of 90. And the search is all over. The identity of the finder of the treasure isn't known, but it's been found. Or so they say. Who shot John F. Kennedy? I have a friend who owns at least 30 books on the subject. She said she still doesn't even have a clue.

What happened to Malaysian Airlines flight 370? Tragedy. Unfortunately, we might never know. But now, a more important question: How can we understand the mysteries of the book of Revelation? Let's look at that together. The book of Revelation was written by John, the disciple of Jesus. He also wrote 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Gospel of John. I've been asked many times why the Bible, some Bibles at least, call the book of Revelation "The Revelation of John" or "The Revelation of John the Divine". Well, what that means is it's the Revelation written by John. Some Bibles refer to him as a "divine" in the sense that he was a seer or a prophet. There's nothing inappropriate about that reference.

Revelation is the last book of the Bible, way down there at the end. It contains 22 chapters. And what intrigues people so much about the book of Revelation is that it's clearly written in signs and symbols. There are a lot of symbols in the book of Revelation. The bigger question is, what's the book of Revelation really about? If you answer that question, you've made the job of interpreting the book so much easier. So let's take, let's not take away... let's take a look at the way the book of Revelation starts. The first verse, Revelation 1, verse 1 says, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants... things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John." Revelation 1:1.

So we see something simple yet profoundly important. The book is the "Revelation of Jesus". It was written for the purpose of revealing Jesus. When you study the Bible, you don't wanna make the mistake of barking up the wrong tree. It's easy to do. And millions of people do it. You can become so intrigued with beasts and symbols that you can lose sight of the fact that the book of Revelation is really about a Lamb, who is Jesus. It's a story of salvation, a story of the hope that we have in the soon return of the Lord. It's easy to forget that, if your focus isn't in the right place. I want you to see what the focus of Bible prophecy really is. When we look in the right direction, we can focus right, we can see what's really most important, and we can find real guidance for our time here on this mortal coil. If you wanna get to the bottom of what the prophecies of the Bible are really about, you need to understand the makeup of the book of Revelation.

Now, what I'm about to tell you isn't going to confuse you. It's clear. A lot of study in prophecy is just plain confusing. Now, this isn't going to be. To a great extent, Revelation was written in signs and symbols for a very good reason, or maybe multiple reasons. One, God wanted people who read Revelation to apply themselves, to study. Unlike today, when so many people listen to a scholar or a pseudo-scholar or a preacher, or they read a book, and they simply become reflectors of the thoughts of others, without actually reading the book, studying the book, digging into the book, and seeing for themselves what it actually says. Far from Revelation being hidden or sealed, it's a book God wants us to be familiar with. In fact, the third verse of the book of Revelation says this: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near".

You see that? God urges us to read the book, and says there is a blessing in it for us. In fact, Revelation is the only book of the Bible in which a blessing is promised to anyone who reads it. As a matter of fact, Revelation contains seven blessings. Let me explain this to you. Many, many years ago, when I wore a younger man's clothes, I had the good fortune of knowing an old preacher. And if he were alive, he probably wouldn't mind me referring to him as an old preacher. A number of us young people would go to his home, and we'd sit together in his living room, and we'd open the book of Revelation together, and we'd study it through, verse by verse, and he'd ask questions, and he would make us think, and one of the things he told us back then was that in the book of Revelation you find seven blessings.

Now, there's been a book written by Austin Cooke, since his death; it's called "An Enduring Vision". And I appreciate my copy very much. And I don't know whether this is in there... but you can find it in other places... wonderful notes put together from the man's studies and materials, that he had put together, really helped me to dig into the book of Revelation. So you've seen the first blessing in Revelation, the first of seven: "Blessed is he that reads". Now, take a look with me at the second one, which you find in Revelation chapter 14, verse 13. It says, "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, 'Write: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.'"

Third one, Revelation 16:15. It says, "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame". I've got a fourth one for you. Revelation 19, verse 9, it says, "Then He said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb".' And he said to me, 'These are the true sayings of God.'" One more for you: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him [for] a thousand years". And I'm gonna go to the end... and you find that in Revelation 20... and now I wanna go to Revelation chapter 22, if I can get this page turned, and look in verse 7. Revelation 22, verse 7, it says, "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book". And one more, it's Revelation 22:14. It says, "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into [this] city".

The blessings in the book of Revelation. Revelation is a book of blessing. Let's understand that. It's given to us to guide us through earth's last days and to understand what's coming upon the earth. There are 404 verses in the book of Revelation, 22 chapters. And here's one thing that many people don't understand or take into consideration. You read in Revelation about Babylon, about a beast, in fact, about more than one beast. You read in Revelation about angel messengers and about plagues. So why does it mention these things specifically? Here's what you want to know. Of those 404 verses, around 2/3 of them, maybe more, contain references to, or allusions to, or they're simply quoted from, the Old Testament. Interesting, Revelation, right at the end of the Bible, but John goes way back to the beginning to get his symbols. Why might that be? As I mentioned, Revelation contains lots of signs and symbols because God wants us to study and think for ourselves and to ask Him for guidance.

And also, Revelation was written by John while John was a captive on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. It's a Greek Island, even though it's much closer to Turkey than it is to Greece. It's small. How small? Well, the island of Oahu in Hawaii is 597 square miles. Patmos is 13 square miles. It's small. John was a prisoner there, kept under house arrest by the Roman government. It's said that John was boiled in oil in Rome, and that after he survived being deep-fried, he was then banished to Patmos. That's a great story. There's no evidence that it actually happened that way, but he was certainly on Patmos. He was definitely a prisoner of the Romans, and very likely he didn't want them to be able to understand everything he was saying or writing, especially as some of it might not have been taken well by the authorities.

So what do you do when you want to write something in code? You know that during World War II, the British were having a hard time cracking the code being used by Germany. They were using something called an Enigma machine to send coded messages. It was so important to crack those codes. German U-boats were inflicting heavy losses on Allied shipping. So the need to understand their signals was crucial. The Enigma machines were very difficult to crack. While Alan Turing of Britain gets the credit for cracking the code, a lot of the hard work initially was done by a team of Polish code breakers. When Turing and the team at Bletchley Park, 35 miles northwest of London, worked out a solution to these codes, the Allies were far better off in the Battle of the Atlantic. Countless lives were saved. May have even shortened the war. Knowing the code was essential.

You know, during World War II, Navajo were used to relay messages for the United States military. Good reason for this. It's said that when World War II broke out, there were only 30 non-Navajo who knew the Navajo language. At the Battle of Iwo Jima, six Navajo code talkers worked around the clock during the first two days of the battle. They sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. One military leader said, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima". The Navajo code is the only spoken military code that was never deciphered. You wanna have a good code. So where would John get a good code without Navajo or an Enigma machine?

Think about this. Would you have a Navajo speaking the Navajo language to someone who doesn't understand it? Would you use an Enigma machine if the person at the other end didn't have the key to decipher what was being sent? The person receiving the code needs to be able to interpret it, decipher it. So John used a code, if you like, that his readers were familiar with, a code that they could decipher. Let's look at how John wrote Revelation so that his readers could understand it... and so that we can understand it 2,000 years or so later. Keep in mind that we have the same key in our hands as John's readers had in theirs. Let's dive in the deep end and look at a term John uses in Revelation several times. It's an important term, and it deals directly with the crisis in the last days of earth's history.

If God...well, let's say that again... if we see this as God intends us to, we'll have a much better chance of understanding where the world is headed. We'll start in Revelation 14, where we'll read this: "And there followed another angel, saying, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.'" Now, there's an interesting reference. In the Old Testament, God had this to say about Babylon. We saw this last time. "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, and their houses will be full of owls; ostriches will dwell there, and wild goats will caper there. The hyenas will howl in their citadels, and jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, and her days will not be prolonged".

Isaiah 13, starting in verse 19, going through to verse 22. This is a prediction that Babylon will never be inhabited again. God was saying Babylon would be destroyed. Hard to imagine back in the day when Babylon was the mightiest nation on the planet. So you have to ask yourself, what is Babylon doing back in the book of Revelation, when God said Babylon would cease to be? In Revelation 17, we see Babylon very prominently: "And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, 'Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.' And upon her forehead was a name written, 'Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.'" And verse 6: "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration".

Why did John write that about Babylon, especially when, hundreds of years before, God had said that Babylon was history? John wanted to be able to write something that his readers would understand. Now, keep in mind, although the prophecies of the Bible are definitely for us, they were initially written directly to a certain audience. And he needed his audience, his readers, to be able to say, "We understand that; we know what he's referring to". So what was he referring to? In the book of Jeremiah, God has a lot to say about Babylon. In Jeremiah 50, verse 12, Babylon is referred to as a mother. John borrows that in the imagery we just read. Verse 13 says, "Because of the wrath of the Lord she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified and hiss at all her plagues".

Look at Jeremiah 51, verse 7: "Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged". In verse 4 of Revelation 17, Babylon has a golden cup in her hand. Jeremiah says Babylon makes the world drunk. And you just saw Revelation say exactly the same thing. Revelation is quoting Jeremiah. Revelation 18, verse 7, God speaks of Babylon when He says, "In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.'" Now see what Isaiah said in Isaiah 47: "Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children.'"

So what we're seeing is that many of the things written about ancient Babylon in the Old Testament are repeated in the book of Revelation. John was writing to people who were very familiar with what the Old Testament said about Babylon. So he used the same phrases, the same words, so his readers would say, "Oh, we know what you're talking about". John was describing a power that had the same attitudes, the same aims, the same characteristics as old Babylon. It's not the same power, but it's modeled after it. It's modern Babylon, ancient Babylon designed to govern the world. In fact, it did for a time, but then it came to naught. And the reason was because of its spiritual rebellion.

Remember Revelation chapter 14, where it said, "Babylon has fallen"? It says the same in Revelation 18: "And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!'" Where'd John get that language, that language about Babylon, Babylon being fallen? Let's go to the book of Daniel, and we'll find out. In Daniel chapter 5, the king of Babylon does something truly rebellious. We remember that early in Daniel, God finally reached the heart of the king, Nebuchadnezzar. But his grandson, Belshazzar, who later became king, followed in his grandfather's footsteps. Well, in fact, let me correct that: He followed him in becoming king, but didn't follow him in terms of humbling himself before God.

So let's see what happened. Daniel chapter 5 and verse 1: "Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his Lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels, which his father Nebuchadnezzar"... now, it's his grandfather, but the word is used interchangeably... "which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem; that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone".

And that was as far as God was prepared to let that rebellion go. "In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace. And the king saw the part of the hand that wrote". What was going on? The holy worship vessels that had been stolen from the temple in Jerusalem were brought out by Belshazzar for the purpose of using in the worship of false gods. This was blasphemy. Verse 25: "And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting: PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians".

Notice what it says next: "That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. and Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old". Babylon had fallen. Because of rebellion against God, Babylon fell. Because of false worship, Babylon fell. And it's not like Belshazzar didn't know better. Daniel recounted the history of Nebuchadnezzar, how he was proud and lifted himself up. How then he was humbled and lived in the wilderness for seven years when he lost his mind. And Daniel said, "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, [even though] you knew all this. have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified".

Belshazzar knew better, but he wouldn't surrender his heart to God. As a result, Babylon fell. And another kingdom took its place. When John's readers read what he wrote about Babylon, they knew just what he was saying. He's writing about Babylon. They're saying, "A great pagan power that is religiously corrupt and politically corrupt". They're saying, "This is something that wanted to run the world, but would be brought to its knees". They're reading that and they're saying, "History is going to repeat".

And that's what we say when we read this. It happened before, literally. It's going to happen again, not literally this time, because old Babylon no longer exists. It's going to happen spiritually. Something will rise up with the characteristics of old Babylon, with the same ideals and attitudes of old Babylon, something that's all about false worship, something that will look to take away the rights of people. I'll tell you what's interesting is that Peter saw a manifestation of that in his day. Saying this as he finished his first book, 1 Peter, he said, "By Sylvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son. Greet one another with a [holy] kiss.... Peace to...all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen".

See that? "She who is in Babylon". And Peter was referring to Rome. Old Babylon was gone. Rome, Peter points out, was the new Babylon, the pagan power ruling the world, the false religious power with influence in the world. So this is how Revelation is written. John borrows imagery from the Old Testament. So we then look to the Old Testament to find the keys to unlock what's written in the New Testament book of Revelation. When we do this, we see that things are so much easier to understand. I'll give you another example of this. In Revelation chapter 13, you read about a beast, and the beast has a mark. The whole world follows the beast, and the beast has a mark that is then forced upon the world. Anyone who receives it will be lost, while those who choose not to receive it will be saved.

So you've heard theories about this. You've heard it said, "Well, this is a computer chip. If you receive the computer chip, you're lost. And if you avoid the computer chip, then you're saved. They might sneak it into a credit card"... or whatever. Which makes a matter of faith in God... not a matter of faith in God, but a matter of salvation by works. Get it, you're lost. Just don't get it, you're okay. No. Of course, the challenge with theories like this is that they're impossible to disprove if somebody wants to believe them. There are people everywhere teaching a variation of that idea.

I vividly remember more than 20 years ago I was teaching in Iowa, when a young lady sitting on the front row... I can still see her... she was sitting with a bucket of spare ribs in her lap, chewing on her pork spareribs as I was teaching the Bible. She talked with me afterwards and told me breathlessly, "Oh, Pastor, you wouldn't believe this. Everyone in the world is going to have a silicon chip implanted in them, in their forehead or in their hand. And the name of that computer chip is... 'The Beast.'" But what's that based on? No.

Let's look together in Revelation chapter 13: "Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast". Now, it sounds bad: "beast". But what does that mean? If you understand this from the Bible, it informs your understanding of last-day prophecy.

Where did John get that term, "beast"? Well, you know where he got it, because I'm letting the cat out of the bag. He got it from the Old Testament. Well, where in the Old Testament? Well, you've noticed already how closely connected Revelation and Daniel are. So we're going to turn to the book of Daniel, and we'll find this. We'll begin in chapter Daniel 7. It says, "In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts. Daniel spoke, saying, 'I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.'"

Four beasts. He describes them. He says, "The first was like a lion" with "eagle's wings". The second was "like a bear," the third "like a leopard". The fourth one he really could not define. Same chapter tells us what they represent. It says, "Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which [shall] rise out of the earth". What we see is that a beast represents a kingdom or a nation. So in Revelation, when John writes about beasts, he's not writing about a computer chip. He's not writing about a barcode. He's writing about a nation or a kingdom. I've heard every imaginable theory regarding the beast in earth's last days. King Juan Carlos of Spain... the "antichrist". He's 82 years old now, so he really needs to get on with it if he's hoping to achieve global domination. Prince Charles, Ronald Reagan... well, that one didn't work out well. The emperor Nero. No.

You know, a year or so ago, for an It Is Written television program, I interviewed a man who believed, and presumably still believes, that the earth is flat... flat, like a disc, not like a ball. Show him a photo of a round earth, he will say the photo was doctored. Suggest to him that this would mean that millions of people are in on this deception, and he says, "Yes, that's right. Millions of people are lying to us". I said, "NASA"? He said, "They're lying to us". "The United States government"? "Lying to us". I said, "That would mean that every government in the world must be lying to us". He said, "Yes," schools, lying, universities, lying, all lying to us.

Now, people lie. But how do you turn away from such clear evidence? When you show someone a photo of the earth and the earth is round like a ball, how do you convince that person that the earth is spherical, when they deny the evidence that's right in front of them? Our man told me that the sun and the moon are only lights in the sky, maybe 50 miles wide. Now, I mean no disrespect. He was a lovely man, a perfectly nice man; he welcomed us into his home. But that's bizarre. If you're looking at reading the Bible, you really owe it to yourself to consider the actual evidence. And the evidence is that if you consider the Old Testament scripture the book of Revelation is built on, you really can't go wrong. Now, it doesn't mean that every mystery can be solved or will be solved. Doesn't mean we have to agree about everything, but it does mean that you can know more of what you can know without falling into a theological abyss.

Take a look at this. Ezekiel chapter 47, verse 12: "Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine". Revelation 22, verse 2 uses the same words: "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations". I'll give you another one. Exodus chapter 20, the Ten Commandments. It says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy". It goes on to tell us why God says this: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it".

Now, look where you see these words in the book of Revelation: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth... to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people... saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of waters.'" Did you see that? That's a direct quote from the Ten Commandments. So what's the inference there? The inference is that God wants us to obey Him, to live lives of obedience, to honor the Ten Commandments. And you know as well as I do that there are loud voices claiming it isn't important to obey God, that His commandments are suggestions... take some, leave others... that we need respect only certain ones and not all of them.

If you read Revelation as though it's divorced from the rest of the Bible, you can come to any conclusion you want, but when you connect it with the Old Testament scriptures it's founded on, it's much harder to do that. In fact, Revelation 14:12 says, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus". What you find is that the book of Revelation is a deeply spiritual book of the Bible. It calls us to know Jesus and follow Jesus. Look again with me at the opening chapter of the book, Revelation chapter 1 and verse 5. Revelation chapter 1 and verse 5: "From Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen".

Salvation. Jesus is the Savior of the world, in the fifth verse of the book of Revelation. Next verse now, Revelation 1, verse 7: "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even [those] who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen". What does it tell us? It tells us Jesus is coming back soon. Now, let's take a look at a story from the book of Daniel, see how it relates to the end-time issue in the book of Revelation. In Daniel chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar sets up an image. It was a replica of what he saw in his dream. And he commands that everybody worships it. Daniel's three friends, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, refused to bow down. They are thrown into a fiery furnace, but Jesus appears in the flames with them, and they are miraculously spared. Not even the hair on their head is singed.

Over in the book of Revelation, the whole world is commanded to worship the beast and its image. And it says, "He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed". False worship in Daniel, in a literal and local sense. False worship in the book of Revelation, but now it's not local. Now it's something that's going to apply across the entire world. So you see the appeal of the prophecies of the Bible. It's an appeal to be sure that your life is connected to Jesus. He's coming back soon to this world, and those who are connected to God through Christ, when He returns, will be welcomed into eternity. It's the "revelation of Jesus Christ," presenting Jesus to us as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as the Alpha and the Omega, as the faithful and the true witness. All He does throughout the Bible is encourage us to trust in Him.

I'll take you to John chapter 3, the Gospel written by the man who wrote the book of Revelation. In John 3, a man named Nicodemus comes to Jesus under the cover of darkness. "[Master], no [one] can do [the] miracles that [You do], except God [is] with Him". Jesus says to Nicodemus, "you must be born again". Nicodemus asked how it can be. "Can a man...enter...into his mother's womb [a second time]"? He asked Jesus. In order to tell him what this really meant, Jesus directed Nicodemus' mind to the time in the Old Testament where the children of Israel were in the wilderness complaining about God. They were sick of the wilderness. They thought God had led them out there to die. They even went so far as to say that they hated the manna God had provided for them. It was the difference between life and death. And they say they "loathe" it.

Well, what happens? "And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, 'We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against [you]; pray unto the Lord, that He take away the serpents from us.' And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, 'Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole, and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.' And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man"... or woman, for that matter... "when he beheld the serpent of brass, he [or she] lived".

You see how simple this is? Let me ask you where you're looking. God is saying to us everlasting life is as simple as looking and living. Being born again is as simple as looking to Jesus. That's why Jesus came to this world. Those who look to Jesus in faith have everlasting life. That's why Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life". Did you notice John 3:16 is in the same chapter as that talk Jesus had with Nicodemus? Jesus said those words to Nicodemus. And in order to help him understand that, Jesus said, to be born again, you gotta look, and live. Prophecies of the Bible give us remarkable insights. They reveal the major players in the world at the end of time. They unlock mysteries, as long as we're looking in faith to Jesus. Because Revelation is a book of salvation. It's the revelation of Jesus Christ. It's where we look to Him in faith.

Let me ask you, how is it with your heart? It's a challenging world today. We likely haven't seen the last of the challenges relating to COVID-19. More people will die. More people will lose their jobs. More people will suffer financial hardship. And if you are not directly affected by any of that, you've got people suffering in relationships that are going bad, marriages that are failing. Parents are anguished about their children going off the rails. This is a tough time. It's all around us: bitterness, political bitterness, maybe like we've never seen before. We're dealing with racial issues that are perplexing many people. But this isn't a time to jump off. This is a time to hold on. Hold on to Jesus. Hold on to the Christ of the Bible.

The Bible is sure. Give God your whole heart. Give Him your finances and your marriage. Give Him your health. Give God a surrendered heart. If you're not sure how to do that, tell God you're willing to grow and more, and learn more about what it takes to be a follower of God. It's a mystery, in a sense. Oh, not like the Mary Celeste, not like a treasure hidden in the Rocky Mountains somewhere, maybe. No, this is the mystery of a God of love willing to save sinful people, a God with a heart of forgiveness, a God who is gracious and saves even those who don't deserve it. Jesus, in conversation with Nicodemus, said being born again is like the wind. You can't see "where it comes from [or] where it goes," but you can see its effects.

That's what it's like to be born again. You can't see God, but you can experience the change He makes in your life. You can experience peace in the storms of life. You can experience certainty instead of doubt. You can know that you have a purpose in this world, that your time on this earth means something, that God has a perfect plan for you, a plan that encompasses eternity. You can have all that. God wants it for you. Look to Him, and live. I wanna encourage you to make a decision for Jesus right now, to look to Him and express that. There's something I'd like you to do. Will you send me a text message? Here's my number: 423-264-2575. 423-264-2575.

And by the way, let's say you're watching on your computer. Don't try to type it into Facebook. Don't email it. I need this to be a text message on your phone. You're gonna text me: 423-264-2575. And when you've got that number in there, text me the word "bless". That's the message: "bless," B-L-E-S-S. And if you text the word "bless" to that number... and I'm going to read it for you again: 423-264-2575. Text me the word "bless". I will send you a message right back, and it'll have a link. That's what I'll send you. So when you see that form in front of you, or that link, rather, click the link, all right? And then a form will appear.

Now, when you've got that form, that's what you want. Text the word "bless" to me at that number I gave you: 423-264-2575. Send me "bless". I'll send you a link. Click the link. And when you click the link, you're gonna see a form, the first line of which says this: "I understand we are caught in the midst of a spiritual war". Go ahead and mark that. If you believe that, if you see that, mark that you understand we're in the midst of a spiritual war. You're saying, "I see the stakes are high, and this is serious". You're just saying, "Okay, I understand that".

Number 2: "I believe Jesus is the focus of Bible prophecy". That's point number 2. If you believe that prophecy points to Jesus, just mark number 2. And number 3 says, "I want to surrender my life to Him". Can you make that decision right now, to surrender your life to Jesus? Can you do that? "I want to surrender my life to Him".

So, point number 1... let's take a look at these points again... the first one: "I understand we're caught in the midst of a spiritual war". That's point number 1. Point number 2: "I believe Jesus is the focus of Bible prophecy". And point number 3: "I want to surrender my life to Him". Now, if you're catching on late, you ran to get your phone, you came back, here's what you're doing. Just text me. My number is 423-264-2575. Send me a message, a one-word message: "bless," B-L-E-S-S. I'll send you a link. Click the link. It's a safe link, of course. It'll give you the opportunity to make a decision for Jesus.

We're not just reading and studying for information, are we? Of course not. Life is far too short for mere information. We want transformation, for Jesus to guide our lives. By the way, on that link, you'll see that there's an opportunity for you to say that you'd like us to pray for you. Would you do that? If you have a prayer request, let us know what it is. Fill out the rest of the form so that we can pray for you. If we need to, we'll get in touch with you and encourage you in the Lord. Fill that form out, send that thing, do what you gotta do there, and make a decision for Jesus. Let me pray with you.

Our Father in heaven, what a blessing to be able to decide for the One who is the focal point of the prophecies of the Bible: Jesus, who came to this earth and lived and died for us all. Bless the decisions made for You. Keep every heart in Your hand. I pray and thank You, in Jesus' name, amen.

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