Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] We have to ask ourselves, do I live my life the way that Jesus Christ lived His life? And so you see what it comes down to, this is a war on your mind, on your thinking, on your loyalties. You're going to let your eyes deceive you or you're going to believe the word of God and follow Jesus Christ.
[Narrator] Join our presenters from the United Church of God as we bring you hope for today and hope for tomorrow directly from your Bible here on "Beyond Today."
[Steve Myers] Today's prophecy is about the devil. It's an unusual program that we're going to deal with today. Have you ever thought about the devil in Bible prophecy? Oftentimes you don't consider it that way but when we look at the book of Revelation, we begin to see some of the devil's main objectives. Revelation, in the sense, holds a key.
We recognize the fact that Satan hates mankind and there is coming wrath and future deception. But prophecy shows it's not just a future thing. It's not just something often the distance. It's something that impacts you even today. And so when we look to the book of Revelation, we begin to find that it starts to explain the devil's motivation.
You ever wondered why does the devil do what he does? Well, Revelation begins to define some of those aspects of what he does and why. And so we'll spend a lot of time today in Revelation chapter 12, in Revelation chapter 13. And so beginning in chapter 12 notice what it says about the devil in prophecy. It says, "A great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a garland of 12 stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth." So it begins with this kind of fantastical language, strange images, and the book of Revelation holds many of those types of images. But remember, they tell an important story. This is symbolic. And so today we're going to examine some of the symbolism in Revelation, break it down and begin to recognize Satan's influence not only in the future, but today as well.
Now as chapter 12 begins, you get an idea. This is talking about Mary being in labor at the birth of Christ, but there's more, there's more to the story. It also recalls the history of ancient Israel. Go back to the patriarch Joseph. You may remember Joseph and his dream coat. He had many dreams and he talked to his family about those dreams and one of those important dreams he told his family about the sun the moon, and the stars that bowed down to him. And so that's back in Genesis 37. Here we find similar symbolism and those stories connect. From them ancient Israel developed. Now if you fast forward to Revelation, this woman symbolizes even more, more than just Joseph's family. The son chosen to be the light of the world representative of not only Christ but God's people as well. Look at Revelation 12. We look back at this again, what is it that's clothed with these symbols? Not only Mary who is going to give birth, but this woman that now has expanded the symbolism to include God's chosen people, spiritual Israel. That would be the one true church of God. And so as we look back, look at verse five in Revelation 12, it talks about the time the Messiah would be born. And so it says in verse five, "She bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. Her child was caught up to God and His throne." And so we find the birth of Christ and also the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All kind of rolled up into this one verse.
But it's also interesting to find what happened when Christ was going to be born. What was the devil's perspective and what does the devil have to do with any of this? Well, verse four begins to give us some insight. Here, it says, "The devil, the dragon, Satan," verse four, "Stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon as it was born."
Now, you realize that literally happened. That wasn't just symbolic, if you go to the gospels, go to Matthew, Mark, Luke, it records how Satan declared war in a sense. He influenced the leader of the time, Herod, that was the Jew’s Roman appointed king. And what did he'd want to do? He wanted to eliminate any potential threat to his throne. And so Satan used him to try to undermine God's plan.
So when you read about that in let's say the book of Matthew, Matthew 2 it says that Herod slew all the children that were in Bethlehem and in all the coasts all around those from two years old and under. And yet God wasn't about to allow the Messiah to be killed. And so God helped Mary, Joseph and Jesus and the family escaped to Egypt until Herod died. Now, as you look at what it says in Revelation, though it's interesting we've got additional aspects of that particular prophecy. And just like Satan was prevented from destroying Christ, he's going to be prevented from demolishing this woman that it's talking about the church. God's not going to allow that. And so in verse six, it begins to describe that. It says, "The woman fled into the wilderness." Well, that literally happened to Mary. But future prophecy, speaking of the church it says where she has a place prepared of God. And so it's interesting when we begin to put the pieces together, recognize what that symbolism represents.
God protects his people from Satan but that's not the end of the story. Satan's not going to give up. He relentlessly wants to persecute the church. He wants to demolish God's plan. He wants to do away with any chance that God would succeed. And so at this time he's going to try to kill God's people at the end. And he's going to bring an all out war against God, against His angels and against humanity as well. And Revelation describes that in verse seven. It tells us, "War broke out in heaven." What was the outcome? It says, "But the great dragon was cast out that serpent of old called the devil and Satan who deceives the whole world and he was cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him." So that's describing a time that's just ahead of us. That's coming just shortly before Christ returns to earth. In fact, verse 10 reminds us of that Christ it says, is going to bring salvation and strength in the Kingdom of God. So Satan won't succeed. But it's interesting that on the horizon we find this battle that's going to take place, spiritual battle. And yet the devil is going to be cast down. And verse 12 says, "Woe, to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea for the devil has come down to you with great wrath because he knows he has a short time."
So when you begin to think about the symbolism of Revelation, the prophecy of Satan and what his plans and purposes are all about, well what's going to happen when he loses that battle with God's angels? Well, he turns and he directs his rage at the people of God. Remember, that's symbolic of that woman. And of course connecting back to Joseph and God's people. Today, God's people are known as the Israel of God. Galatians 6:16 tells us that, that it's not just physical Israel but this is spiritual Israel, the spiritual people of God, the members of God's church.
And so it might cause you to step back. Well, am I part of the Israel of God? Am I a spiritual Israelite? You see, Revelation certainly focuses your thinking in that way, that to be a part of God's people, we have to be followers of God. And so Satan's not going to just war against the natural descendants the offspring of ancient Israel, not just those at the birth of Christ, but the rest of her offspring. It says right here in chapter 12 verse 17, he's going to war against the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. That tells us he is going to be fearsome with those who keep the commandments, commandment keeping Christian, those who keep the teachings of Christ, those true Christians that follow the commandments. Does that describe you? Christ specifically warned about those who claim to be Christian and yet don't keep the commandments. Christ even warned against this coming battle against Satan. In Matthew 24 he describes this time that God's people will be under attack. In verse nine of chapter 24 in Matthew here's what Christ Himself said, "They will deliver you up to tribulation. They'll kill you and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake." And so we find some of God's people will be protected, some will survive the attack, others will be martyred. It almost makes you wonder, well, how could that even take place? How could the world turn into a place where true Christians are hunted down and killed? Well, the book of Revelation describes this. We see Satan in prophecy in Revelation 13. We see the story becomes a little clearer.
Notice what it tells us in verse one of chapter 13. Here we have revealed a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and 10 horns, and on his horns 10 crowns and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now, what could that possibly be? Amazing language that's used here. We certainly see it's a beast. It's like a wild animal, but it has power and control. So it's not talking about animals, it's talking about government. It's talking about world power. It's talking about a geopolitical powerhouse that will control the world an end time revival of the Roman Empire. And we see it's described as an animal I think for a particular reason. How can it be so powerful? Well, verse two says, "His power, his throne is great authority comes from the dragon." This is by the power of Satan. And so no wonder it's got the characteristics of a leopard, a bear and a lion. And it's really an indication of how powerful his influence really is because it describes the power that this whole system has by utilizing Satan's power. Chapter three or chapter 13:3 reminds us of that. It says, "All the world marveled and followed the beast." They all fell in line in other words, here it says, they say, "Who's like the beast who's able to make war with him." And it goes on to say, "Authority was given to him. The beast power over every tribe, tongue and nation." That's all encompassing. So here we find not only a system a government being described, a superpower but also a human being who's in charge. That's also called the beast. That's a dictator, a president, perhaps a prime minister a chancellor, an emperor, perhaps that one individual over this beast world superpower all under the authority of Satan. And he's going to use this empire and he's going to use it as a principle weapon against Jesus Christ and warring against the people of God.
And here's where we get into recognizing the real motivation that Satan has behind all of this. I mean, what's his purpose? What is his scheme? Why does he want to do this? When we look at verse eight of chapter 13 gives us insight to that. It says, "All who dwell on the earth will worship him whose names have not been written in the book of life of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world." There it is. There's that key to his motivation. It's worship. And so imagine the worldwide worship of the beast literally of the being behind the beast. Satan, the devil himself. He'll give this coming dictator the power to transform things to look like they're good, look like they're wonderful and ultimately use not only political power, not only military power who's like the beast, but also you've got a worldwide religious crusade in a way that is just on the horizon. And so when you think about that, why would that take place? How would it happen? What would be the means for that happening? Well, Revelation holds a key to that as well.
We read a little bit further in chapter 13 and we see another beast described another one. Let's notice what it says in verse 11. Revelation 13, it says, "I saw another beast coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon." Then it says, "He made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast." So who's this second beast? Well, once again, we see it's a tool of Satan and he uses his position, his authority to influence mankind to worship the first beast the emperor, the president, the leader. And he's going to persuade the masses. But you wonder, well, how could that be? It's obviously going to be false religion. This isn't going to be godly, but like Satan he'll be a skillful deceiver and he's going to be directly manipulated and empowered by Satan the devil. In fact, we see some of Satan's power come through. Verse 13 is an indication of that. Why would people believe it? Well, notice what it says. It says, "He performs great signs so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth and cause as many who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed." And so you have a very powerful false religious leader who can do things that seem like amazing miracles. I mean, other sections of scripture call him the false prophet. Well, he's a leader of a false religious system. The Apostle Paul called him the lawless one.
Second Thessalonians chapter two tells us that his working is according to Satan and he has powers and signs and lying wonders. But why would people fall for that? Well, sometimes you've probably heard the saying seeing is believing and they're taken in by that. The Thessalonians also gives us another key. They forfeit the truth because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.
Do you love the truth? Do you know the truth? You see, not only knowing the truth but following the truth. We have to ask ourselves, do I really follow the truth that Jesus Christ himself taught? Do I live my life the way that Jesus Christ lived His life? And so you see what it comes down to, this is a war on your mind, on your thinking, on your loyalties. You're going to let your eyes deceive you or you're going to believe the word of God and follow Jesus Christ. You see some people read the book of Revelation and they say, "Ah, this is all fanciful language and symbolism and you can't believe this is actually going to happen. Can you believe this? Really, could it happen? It doesn't seem possible in our modern times." Well, we know emperor worship certainly was a thing in the past. Go back to the Roman Empire. The emperors were to be worshiped as gods. Well that was a long time ago, right? Well, not that long ago, just go back to World War II.
The Japanese people were required to worship their emperor as a god. And we know the story through the decades. There are leaders, false religious leaders that deceive their own disciples to kill themselves at their leaders' request. So history obviously proves it's all too possible. And so the second beast represents himself like a lamb. Well, we think of Christ as the Lamb of God. Yet how does he talk? How does he speak like a dragon, the devil reminds us Satan transforms himself. And here we find it's not just religion, it's not just taking in the world by false worship, but there's control. In fact, the world is seduced so that they fall into line in commerce business. In fact, verse 17 says, no one may buy or sell except the one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name. And so here we see Satan's motivation not only to be worshiped, but he wants spiritual control of humanity. And so there's a warning, there's a warning.
We're all given verse nine, if anyone worships the beast and his image receives his mark says they shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God. So what will you do? Certainly there is judgment on the people who follow the ways of Satan. And yet to the very end, Satan is going to pursue the people, pursue humanity, try to subvert the plan of God, subvert the true church of God and God's people. Those that serve and obey God. Well, who are those people? Can I claim to be one of those people one of those who are loyal to God Almighty? Well, you read through scripture it becomes very plain Revelation, makes it plain. These are commandment keeping Christians. These are people who follow faithfully Jesus Christ and His teachings instead of following the beast.
Well that applies right now, right now. In fact, go right to the very end of the book. Revelation 22:14 says, "Blessed are those who do his commandments." So we have to be doers of the word of God. And yet so many religions today say, "God's commandments are done away." But here we find true commandment keeping Christians. They're the ones. They're the ones that Satan attacks. And yet at the same time, they're the ones who have every reason to be confident in the outcome. These are commandment keeping Christians who love God, who love Jesus Christ, who follow His teachings, who obey God, who like Christ, obey the Sabbath and keep the Sabbath. And so here's the challenge the challenge that we're faced with today. Satan's kingdom is found on a form of godliness. And most people don't realize that religion, most religion today, has consistently substituted ungodly false traditions that began in ancient times, to do away with the commandments of God. So it's not just a prophetic thing in the future. This is something that's been ongoing. And so it has influenced Christianity. They've substituted the day of the sun, Sunday originally dedicated by the pagans for worshiping the God of the sun and it replaced the Biblical Sabbath. And so you look to the traditions of Christianity today, keeping Christmas, another form of ancient traditions celebrating the winter solstice.
You see it's unbiblical to adopt those days as Christian, no possible connection to the birth of Christ in Christmas. And so Christ warned about it, we find in Mark 7:7 He made no mistake about it. He said, "In vain they worship me teaching as doctrines the commandments of man." He went on to say, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition." And so when we read the book of Revelation, we recognize the fact we need to be commandment keeping Christians, that ultimately Christ will return to earth. The kingdom of the beast will be destroyed and dismantled. They're going to be stopped. Satan will no longer be able to manipulate and deceive and that war of Satan will ultimately come to an end. And Revelation 20:10 tells us that very fact, "The devil who deceived him will be cast into the lake of fire."
You need to understand this amazing symbolism in the Book of Revelation. It may sound confusing, but I'd like to help you to be able to understand. And so we have a Bible study aid called "The Book of Revelation Unveiled." You see, there's so much to understand and this study aid will help you dig into your Bible and into the Book of Revelation to really understand. So call us at the number on your screen to get your free copy of "The Book of Revelation Unveiled." Or you can go to beyondtoday.tv. There you can read it right there online or download your own copy because there is no doubt future prophecy will affect you and your family and it's in the works right now. So what will you do? Well, our study aid will help you sort out all the symbolism and come to an understanding. And through our program today, we're finishing up our series on "Satan The Devil." So be sure and order your free copy. Call us at the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv. "Satan Unmasked," It's been the title of our series.
It reminds us never underestimate the sinful skill that Satan uses to deceive in war against you and against all humanity. Don't fall for that delusion. Get rid of those unbiblical practices as you come to find them in your life. We know Satan goes to church. We know he's subverted Christianity and he wants to control the message and you as well. In the future, he'll empower the beast against God's people. But there is hope. There is hope. We are told in James 4:7, "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." I pray that you choose to dedicate yourself to discovering the true worship of the one true God.
[Narrator] Please call for today's free offer, "The Book of Revelation Unveiled." Revelation is God's newscast of events before they happen, you'll read about the mark and number of the beasts as well as the work of God's two witnesses at the time of the end. Order now call toll-free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. You can understand Revelation and how it actually reveals a coming world filled with promise, joy, and peace. It's a book about your future.
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[Gary Petty] In today's world of confusion disorder and suffering, fellowshipping with others and learning the truth from God's word is more important than ever. Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with the United Church of God. If you are looking for a church that encourages living with the word of God really teaches you found the right place. We're a community of believers dedicated to seeking the truth and preaching the good news of the coming kingdom of God. We'd like to welcome you to come and join us on this spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.