- Sermon Notes
The Mark of the Beast
Revelation 13:16 - 14:10
Perhaps for many, the most memorable part of the book of Revelation is the mark of the beast. No one can buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. And of course, that number is 666.
But these verses are a study in contrasts. Satan’s original sin was his desire to be like the Most High God. Therefore, you see many ways that Satan imitates God.
This mark is placed on their right hand or on their forehead, and though it is very real, it is an imitation of the seal that God places on the foreheads of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses during the Tribulation. Interestingly, that seal upon them isthe nameof the Lamb and His Father.
The satanic mark is that of the Beast, or the Antichrist and the power of the Antichrist is Satan himself. But there is also another beast that arises in those days who will have two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon. Thus, you have what can be called the unholy trinity.
For much of our study through Revelation John wrote of scenes of heaven. He described the One sitting on the throne of God having a scroll upon which was written the edicts and declarations of the events of the last days.
John also saw Jesus who was worthy to open the scroll and to break the seven seals with which it was sealed; each seal revealing awesome events of the Tribulation seven-year period that is coming in the near future.
The seventh seal was broken, and it revealed seven angels with seven trumpets, each revealing cataclysmic events that will destroy and devastate the earth as the wrath of God is poured out.
But here the scene is on the earth. In John’s vision he sees Jesus standing on Mount Zion and with him are the 144,000 Jewish witnesses for Christ that we read about in chapter 7. These 144,000 have the seal of God on their foreheads. They have been going through the Tribulation and are victorious through it.
Today, I want us to contrast the mark of the beast with the seal on the foreheads of these 144,000 faithful witnesses and what each of them represent.
I. Victory Begins Where God’s Name is Written
- The mark of the beast is the name of the beast or the number of his name, which is 666. Verse 18 says the number is that of a man and that him who has understanding should count the number of the beast.
- Some have taken that to mean that they should use a method called gematria, which is a word from the Greek with the same root as geometry.
- Gematria is the process of taking names or words and finding the numeric value of those words by adding up the value of each letter. We use such numbers even today.
- The next Super Bowl, where the Eagles will play the Patriots, is written in Latin numerical values. Hebrew and Greek also used letters to represent numbers. We could do the same in English if we made the letter A=1, B=2, etc. Using that method, my name equals 966.
- The problem with that method, however, is that many names end up adding up to 666. Many people have made much of the fact that Caesar Nero’s name added up to 666; however, he died almost 30 years before John wrote this book.
- In the Middle Ages reformers often taught that the Catholic Church and various popes showed the value of 666. The Catholic Church shot back, however, showing the numerical values of Martin Luther and John Calvin as 666.
- In more recent history, others have suggested the names of various world leaders such as Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin. Even more recently, others have pointed out that Netanyahu, Recep Erdogan, Pres. of Turkey, all have names that add up to 666; not to mention Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin.
- The significance of 666 goes all the way back to Babylon. The Babylonian occultic religion was a blend of religion, astrology and mathematics. Each of their gods were represented by a number from 1 to 36. Ancient astrology divided the starry heavens into 36 constellations, a god representing each of the constellations.
- The pagan priests wore an amulet called the ‘Magic Square,’ which was based on a 6x6 sided square with numbers ranging from 1 to 36, six numbers in each line which added up to 111. The total numerical value of the entire square was equal to 666, the number which represented the sun-god, who was the god who created all other gods, which also represents the Antichrist.
- The mark of the beast is on their forehead or right hand. The seal on the 144,000 Jewish witnesses also was on their forehead. The significance cannot be missed.
A. Let Him Be Lord of Your Mind
- This was a mark of ownership, but it also had symbolic importance for being on the forehead that we can see far back in the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
- Notice that in the context of loving God with their heart, He adds that they should bind them on their forehead.
- When your mind is the Lord’s, the result is peace…
Isaiah 26:3, The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.
B. There is power in praise
- The Antichrist will set himself in the Temple to be worshipped and honored there, but it is only because of fear that people give him honor.
- John hears the voice of many waters, like the sound of harpists, and then they sang a new song which no one can learn except the 144,000. They sing because their hearts are alive.
- A new song in scripture is always good. It will be a declaration of praise and rejoicing.
Psalm 98:1, O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
The Four Living Beings and the 24 elders sing a new song (Revelation 5:7-10)
- One of most important expressions of joy is when there is a song in the heart.
Illus – I was traveling with one of our elders, Greg, and as we were driving down the road when he said out of the blue, “Quick, what song is in your head right now?” And I knew the answer immediately.
Illus –When Paul and Silas were in Philippi, they found themselves in the inner dungeon after having been beaten with rods. But there was a song of hope in their hearts.
Acts 16:25-26, But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened.
- Notice that they were not singing hymns of complaint, but hymns of praise. The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II. The Faithful Heart Bears Godly Fruit
- We are given a description of how they lived their lives and we see the holiness of their character. They honor God with how they lived.
A. Follow wherever He goes
- There is mention here that these were chaste; meaning that they were never married and always pure. For that day of Tribulation, that would be wholly appropriate.
- There was group in the first century called the Essenes that also practiced this, but for some strange reason, their sect died out (go figure).
- We follow the Lamb when we are following God’s ways in how we live our lives and have a love for Him in our hearts.
App – Though God’s ways are not our ways, we know what God’s ways are and know that they can transform us to be like Him.
Isaiah 55:8-9, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
- His ways are grace, compassion, forgiveness, righteousness, patience, kindness, etc.
Illus – One of the first praise songs of our modern era was also one of the most powerful, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” One of the most powerful lines in the song is, “the cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back.”
B. The fruit of our lips is key
- Vs 5 - John wrote that the 144,000 did not speak lies, or in other words, there was no guile on their lips; they loved the truth.
- Jesus taught that the fruit of our lives comes from the treasure that is in our hearts.
Matthew 12:33-35, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.”
- The heart cannot be turned off and on – it’s always on. Therefore, speak no hurtful words of at home when no one else is listening.
- Have a heart that follows after God and godly words will follow.
Proverbs 16:24, Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
C. The fruit God desires is a changed life
- John wrote that these 144,000 are the first fruits unto God – in other words, their lives are good and honoring to the Lord.
- Yet they were living in the most difficult period that man will ever endure.
- First fruits of all their crops were always dedicated to God. The first fruits were considered the best.
Illus – There are two types of fruit in scripture that are not good; one is sour grapes – bitterness.
The other is fruit that is bad due to rottenness – sinful heart. They have fallen from the tree, they are no longer receiving nourishment from the tree.
John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
- These 144,000 are wholly committed to the Lord and the result is holiness, a mind belonging to the Lord, a song of praise in their heart, and lips that are pure, and fruit that is good.
The Mark of the Beast
Revelation 13:16 to 14:10
December 2-3, 2017
Perhaps for many, when they think of the Book of Revelation, one of the things that really stands out, one of the things that they remember of all other things that are in the Book of Revelation is the mark of the beast which of course is the number 666, it's not 6-6-6 but 666. Very, very important difference. When you look at this verses that we're going to look at tonight, really in many ways they are a study of contrast. What I mean by that is you go back to what we were looking out a couple of weeks ago with regards Satan's original sin, to remember his original sin was his desire to be like the most high God.
Therefore, you see in many ways that Satan imitates. Lot of mockery and imitation. For example, the mark of the beast, you're going to read this as we look at these verses tonight, is placed on the right hand or on the forehead. Though it's very real, it's actually an imitation of the seal that God places on the foreheads of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses for Jesus Christ- they're Jews but they're witnesses for Jesus Christ during the tribulation period and they have this seal on their foreheads.
You see this contrast, you see this imitation, you see that Satan is imitating, because if you notice- we're going to read this in just a minute- but the mark of the beast tells us the name of the beast and/or the number of the name. What's interesting is that the seal on the 144,000 is, in fact, the name of the Lamb and the Father. You see again this interesting contrast is very, very important. The satanic mark of the beast, the antichrist, the power of the antichrist is Satan, but also we read this, we're looking at more on Wednesday, there's yet another beast that arises and interestingly having two horns like a lamb- again we're going to look at that on Wednesday- but speaks as a dragon.
Thus, you have Satan himself the dragon of old, we have the antichrist or the beast, then you have this other beast, this one that has two horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon, you have like we can call an unholy trinity, because you have again this imitation of the trinity of God, God the Father, God the Son, and the beast is the antichrist, the anti-diadem, and then you have of course this other beast who was imitating like the Holy Spirit.
From much of our study from Revelation so far, John has been writing about scenes that he has been given of heaven. He's to tell us that there's one sitting on the throne of God that was having a scroll written on the inside on the back with seven seals. No one was worthy to open the book except of course the Lamb who had been called the Lion from the tribe of Judah who had overcome. He was worthy, so when he took the book, the scroll from the Almighty, they fell down and they worship, they sing a new song and it began to break those seven seals. As you broke each of those seven seals, it releases cataclysmic events of the tribulation period.
We've been seeing these scenes unfolding from heaven, but when you get to these verses here, this scene actually takes place on the Earth. John's vision, he's going to describe for us that he sees Jesus sanding on Mount of Zion, you know Mount of Zion? It's one of the mounts you might say of Jerusalem but it's commonly used for Jerusalem itself. As we know Jesus, when He returns at the end of the age- that was being described here- When He returns at the end of the age, He will rule the nations- tells us with a lot of iron, He will rule the nations, He will enter through the eastern gates and He will then set up a throne, a kingdom upon the Earth and it will be out of Jerusalem.
He has this scene unfolding before him, Jesus standing at Mount Zion and with him are the 144,000 Jewish witnesses for Christ that we read about earlier in Chapter Seven. This 144,000 have this seal of God which is the name of the Lamb and the Father on their foreheads. They have been going through the tribulation period but they are victorious. There's so much to learn because their going through trouble, their going to the difficulty but their witnesses for Christ in the middle of this tribulation period and they are victorious spiritually. A lot we can learn from this. I want us to contrast the mark of the beast with the seal on the foreheads of these 144,000 faithful witnesses and each of those contrast represent.
Let's read it, Revelation, Chapter 13 we begin in verse 16, "And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark." So you cannot do any kind of business, you cannot purchase any goods or products or any kinds of services unless you have the name, the mark he says which is either the name of the beast or the number of his name. "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding count the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man, and his number is 666."
Chapter 14, we continue, "And I looked, and behold, the Lamb who he says was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him the 144,000 having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder." Have you ever been like in a thunderstorm and like it's so close to you and like rattles the house, he says many waters like the sound of loud thunder, "and the voice which are heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps."
In other words, there's music, but notice that it's music but it's loud. It's really, really loud worship and praise. I'm going some more with this, it's good to be loud with good praise and worship. Amen?
I just have to speak that, I just have felt that I'm a heart. I just felt like God is telling me to emphasize that point right there. You heard this loud voice and there's a sound of music playing on many harps and it was the 144,000, "They're singing a new song, brand new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders and no one can learn this song except the 144,000 who have been purchased from the Earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes." So they are holy completely dedicated to follow the Lamb. "These have been purchased from among men as first fruits unto God," which we're going to look at here in a minute, "and to the Lamb."
"No lie was found in their mouth, they are blameless." They love the truth no lie was found in them. "I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven." Now notice this here, would you please. Verse 6, "I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal Gospel to preach to those who live on the earth and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people." Would you please take note of that, because so far we've been seeing that the tribulation period is the wrath of God that is being poured up on the Earth. But would you please take note that even while this is happening, you have all of this invitation to the Gospel.
I mean the Gospel is also going out in power even during the tribulation. Anyone who wants to be saved in the tribulation can be saved, anyone who wants to honor God in their heart can honor God in their heart, anyone who wants to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It's important for us to recognize the eternal Gospel is being declared 144,000 witnesses throughout the world, then the two witnesses that we looked out last week. Now, an angel, who has the eternal Gospel to preach to those who live on the earth and every nation, tribe, and tongue of people. He said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give Him glory because the hour of His judgment has come and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the springs of waters." Then another angel, a second one, follows after him and he said, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great."
Babylon is the city that was destroyed a long time ago, he's using this as the spiritual analogy. It's very important because he's going to use Babylon here in very short order. He's going to emphasize this Babylon, a spiritual application of what that city represents. What does it mean today? We're going to look at that, hopefully, we'll have time on Wednesday. It's important to recognize Babylon is significant and that's going to play into the mark of the beast.
I'll weave this all together here shortly, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great. She who has made all the nations drink of the wine, of the passion, of her immorality." Then another angel, a third one, follow them and saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast--" Notice the emphasis, the beast wants worship. That again is the imitation because, of course, God is worshiped, so the beast wants to be worshiped.
If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of his anger. All right, that's where I want us to stop and look at these verses. I want us to start with this that which is written on their foreheads. I want to begin with this point which is that, "Victory begins where God's name is written."
I. Victory Begins Where God’s Name is Written
It's God's name that is written on there, it's just a beautiful picture. The mark of the beast, this imitation is the name of the beast or the number of his name which is 666. Verse 18 tells us that the number is that of a man and that he says, "Let him who has an understanding, count the number of the beast." Now, some have taken that to mean that they should use a method called Gematria, which is actually a word taken from the Greek same root as the word Geometry.
Gematria is the same root as Geometry, which means to calculate. Therefore, they use this method called Gematria. Gematria is the process of taking names or words and then finding the numeric value of those words or names by adding up the value of the letters of that name or word. We used letters today that have numeric value, we still do that today. When they do the Super Bowl, they always count off what Super Bowl it is. They say Super Bowl- and this year it's Super Bowl 52, which is LII, that's Super Bowl 52. That's the one where the Eagles are going to play the Patriots, that's the one.
Just wanted to throw that in there. Here's the thing, this method of Gematria where the Hebrew an ancient Greek- not modern Greek but ancient Greek- also used letters to represent numbers. Now, we could do the same in English, for example, if we said, "A was one and B was equal to two and C is equal to three and D--" We could do the same thing. Now, using that method, in case you're interested my name equals 966 so I'm not the-- That's for sure.
Here's the problem with Gematria methodology, because the problem is that many names end up adding up to 666 is not just like one name. Many names end up adding up. For example, much was made of the fact that Caesar Nero who was just a despicable Caesar and a persecutor of the church, his name famously or infamously added up to 666. The problem is he actually died almost 30 years before John wrote this book so that doesn't mean anything. In the middle ages, reformers often taught that the Catholic Church and various Popes showed the value of 666.
The Catholic Church, however, shot back showing the numerical value of Martin Luther was 666. It's very interesting. In recent history, others have suggested that names of world leaders such as Napoleon or Hitler or Stalin. Even more recently, others have researched- of course, people do a lot of this thing- They pointed out that Netanyahu, if you work his name just right, you can make his name come up to 666. Also, Recep Erdogan which is the president of Turkey, they say his name comes up to 666 and many others.
Not to mention Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin all come up with 666. What is the significance however? It's important to recognize that when that name of the antichrist is known, it will not be a mystery because the antichrist will reveal himself. Those who are on the earth will know who he is and they will know his name. The verification of that will be through the number of that is added up to 666.
Now, what is the significance of 666? You might say, "Well, six is the number of man, it's the number of incompletion." Which is true and there's a lot you can say about that. Seven being the number of perfection, six being the number of man, that's all very true. The significance of 666 actually goes far back to Babylon. How interesting that Babylon now comes back into the story. Because all the way back to Babylon and the cultic practices of Babylonian occultic religion, which was a blend of religion, astrology, and mathematics actually.
Each of their Babylonian occultic gods were represented by a number, from 1 to 36. An ancient Babylonian astrology divided the starry heavens into 36 constellations. The 36 constellations, each had a god representing those constellations, numerically represented from 1 to 36. The pagan priests had an amulet called the magic square. The magic square which was based on six rows and six columns each with six numbers. Each row and each column equaled 111, and since there were six of them, it totaled 666.
Even if you went diagonally on the magic square, it added up to 111. Now, much is made of this because in that time which was they made them out of gold because the number 666, therefore, represented the one God who was over all the rest of them. The Sun God, Solas, the one who was over all of them. He was the one who gave birth to all the other gods and thus the most powerful, and thus the antichrist is known by that same designation, the number of that one is 666.
By the way, just for your own interest and research, much has been made of the fact that of those numbers from the magic square weaved into various aspects of the building of Washington DC. I'll just throw that out there and say there's a conspiracy theory for you if there ever was one. The mark of the beast is on the forehead or on the right hand. The seal of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses is also on their forehead and the significance cannot be missed.
A. Let Him Be Lord of Your Mind
The forehead, the mind, and the right hand is what you do, the power of your life, what you do. The forehead, of course, is the loyalty of your mind. So let Him be Lord of your mind is actually something that we see in the Scriptures. These 144,000 are dedicated unto the Lord and they have the mark of the name of the Lord upon their foreheads. Mark, of course, is a mark of ownership; they're willingly declaring that they are the Lord's. The symbolic importance of this on their forehead goes way back in Scriptures. It goes all the way back to the book of Deuteronomy before Israel even entered into the Holy Land. They were told this, Deuteronomy 6, "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your might." Please note the significance of those words. Jesus quoted those words. In fact, they asked Him, they said, "Rabbi, what is the foremost commandment? What is the highest that God has even spoken?" Jesus answered, from Deuteronomy, "You shall love the Lord your God." That's the highest thing that God wants for you to do. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart." That's what God wants for each one of us. What is the fruit of the Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit is love and joy, peace, patience.
These qualities of the Lord but notice how it begins, love. Love is the highest aspect of the moving of God upon your life. If you want revival, you want to see God moving in your life, the highest aspect of that is when you fall in love with the Lord. He says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all your might." These are the words he says to Israel before they go into the Holy Land. "These words which I am commanding you today, these shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, when you get up." Which pretty much show that's a lot.
And He says, "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the door post of your house and on your gates." These are important words. "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart." This mark upon the forehead goes all the way back to the book of Deuteronomy. Notice that it is in the context of loving God. That He says this, "Bind them in the forehead loving the Lord." When your mind is the Lord, the result is peace with the Lord. Relationship with the Lord comes when you have a love after Him. Isaiah 26, "The steadfast of mind, you will keep in perfect peace because He trust in you."
Let me tell you how important that is. The enemies, one of the main trust or schemes of the enemy is that of fear, if he can generate fear in your life, and in fact, if you look at even the occultic practices, one of the greatest desires of those that are practiced the occult is to create fear in those who follow those practices. They control people by fear. What is the effort of terrorism today? Isn't that terror which is fear, rights? The idea is that when the antichrist puts a mark on them, isn't not of course fear that he brings about. You cannot buy or sell or do any business unless you have this mark, and you will worship the antichrist. It sounds as an a fee versus before this or you will be killed.
Isn't not the induction of fear that he is attempting to do. That's why it's so important to recognize that you can see this thing throughout the Scripture. God has not given us a spirit of fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love. You see the contrast. God has given us a spirit of love and power and a sound mind. Perfect love cast out all fear. God wants us to have an awe and respect of God, that's right, but He wants us first and foremost to have this love, "The steadfast of mine He will keep in perfect peace because He trust in you."
Going back now to Revelation, look at chapter 14 where we look at this, who have this mark of God, the name of the Lord upon their foreheads. Would you notice what is happening in their lives because the great examples. First of all tells us there is power in praise. There is power in praise.
B. There is power in praise
The antichrist will set himself up in the temple to be worshiped and honored there. Now, remember what Jesus said in regards to when He was telling them the signs of the times. He said, "When you see the abomination of desolation's-" which was spoken after the prophet Daniel. He says to Israel, "Run for the hills." Literally, run for the hills. Don't even go down to get your coat.
Run for the hills because all hell's going to break loose. What will happen is the abomination of desolation is this, that the antichrist who has negotiated the treaty of peace between the nations and Israel, which is interesting in itself. Interesting in itself that Israel would recognize the authority and leadership of the antichrist on those days. In fact, did not Jesus say at one point, He says, "I come in my Father's name but you will not receive Me. But another will come in His own name and you will receive Him." Very interesting.
The antichrist will take back the temple that he negotiated that Israel could build. He will take it back three and a half years after this and he will set himself up in the holiest of holy places to be worshiped. The antichrist will set himself up to be worshiped and honored there, and it's only because of fear that people give him honor. Now contrast what John sees in Chapter 14 of Revelation. Here he hears the sound of many waters like the sound of loud music and these are 144,000 who are worshiping. They sing a new song and they praise. There is power in praise because when they singing with all their heart and their might. That's a beautiful thing by the way.
God loves when His church is alive, God loves when His church worships, God loves that when His church trust near to Him, when there is a hunger and of a thirst for drawing near to the Lord. God loves that. Here does the 144,000, they're worshiping the sound of loud worship. Praise is a good thing and a new song in Scripture is always good. It will be a declaration of praise and rejoicing and they love. This not this intimidation but rather love. See Psalm 98:1 "Oh sing to the Lord a new song for He has done wonderful things. His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him."
I love that declaration. "Oh sing to the Lord a new song." Like it's a call out for all of us to follow after. What a great example. In fact, earlier we read in Revelation 5 that the four living beasts or creatures and the 24 elders, they sing a new song. Worship seems to be a very important part of heaven. One of the most important expressions of joy is when there's a song in the heart. One of the great expressions of joy is when there's a song in the heart. I was traveling with one of our elders. We just happen to be in New York and we were just driving around looking at the sites and just chit chatting as we go.
Then out of the blue, he says, "Quick, what song are you singing in the back of your mind right now?" and I told him, I knew right away what it was. Did you ever find yourself just walking down somewhere else and you just want to sing? I remember when I was young, I used to be a janitor. My first real job was being a janitor. Of course, I might count picking berries which I did for many years. When I was a janitor, I'm going down the hallways sweeping, pushing a broom or a mop in the hours doing this. I was just a teenager but I was a worship leader at church on the weekends.
I'm just going down the hallway just whistling the worship songs. God loves it when there is a song in your heart, Amen. That's what you see. Now, you can even have a song in your heart when things are going difficult for you. Do you remember when Paul and Silas on their missionary journey. They were in Philippi and a crowd turned against them. The magistrate had them beaten with rods, thick as a man's finger and then thrown into the inner dungeon and sent guards upon them. I love the scene that unfolds because here they've been mistreated-- We have no idea what they experienced, it was such a wrongful tragedy, but Acts 16 gives us this picture of it, verses 25 and 26, "But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God." They've been beaten, they've been mistreated, they were thrown in this damp, dark, cold dungeon there on the cold rocky floor, chained, stocks.
A lot of people at that point would have started complaining, "This is the way you treat your missionaries, Lord?" They're praying and they're singing hymns of praise. It says, "The prisoners were listening." Then of course as we know God did a miracle, suddenly there came a great earthquake so the foundation of the prison house was shaken and immediately the doors were open and everyone's chains were unfastened. I just love that scene right there because it shows you the power of praise. I love to just imagine that scene right there, bruised, battered, beaten, hurting, cold dark.
I imagine Paul, "Silas, are you okay?" "I'm hurt but I'm okay." I just feel like singing. You know that hymn, remember that hymn? Yes, that one. I just want to sing that, me too, I sing that. I just imagine a song like that. It tells us that the prisoners were listening, I imagine that those prisoners listening are just so taken by this whole scene. It's like, "I want that God, that is a God of peace, that is a God of love, I want that God. I'm tired of the lies of this world." I had an Iranian fellow show up at the church unannounced, didn't make an appointment, just walked in ask if he could speak with the pastor so I sat down with him.
I said, "What can I do for you?" and he said, "I'm a Muslim." I said, "Well, welcome, glad you're here." He said, "I'm tired of a God of hate, could you tell me about a God who loves." Amen?
A few months later we baptized him right here. Amen?
II. The Faithful Heart Bears Godly Fruit
Notice they're not saying that they were singing songs of praise, there's power in praise. Then you look at the Revelation 14, this is what you see, you see their faithful hearts, you see their faithful hearts bearing godly fruits. We see how they're living their lives, we see the holiness of their character, we see how they honor God with how they lived and you see that it is a great example of what we can learn from them. It says, "They follow wherever He goes." I just love that line, "They follow wherever He goes."
A. Follow wherever He goes
There is mention here that they were chaste, meaning that they were never married, always pure. For that day of tribulation that would be only appropriate, the world's gone hell in a behind basket you might say. They're dedicated holy unto the Lord, for that period of time that was the right thing. Now, there was actually a group in the first century called the scenes that also practiced that, never married and were always chaste, for some reason their sect died out. I was hoping you were following my logic on that. He says, "We follow the Lamb." I just love the picture because we're called The Fall of the Lamb, "Take up your cross." Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me."
That is right, that is the example he's showing us, that is what God is calling us to do, "They follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Well, we follow the Lamb when we follow His ways in our life, when we live our lives with our love for Him. It tells us that God's ways are not our ways but we know God's ways and we know that God wants to make His ways our ways. Follow after Him, change your ways, that's what He's telling you. Change your ways to be like His ways because His ways will bless your life, our ways will get us into trouble.
I like Isaiah 55 where God says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways my ways, declares the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the Earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts." He's giving us a great invitation to be transformed, His ways are gracious, His ways are compassion, His ways are forgiveness, His ways are righteous, His ways are patience, His ways are kindness. One of the first praise songs I think it was ever written in the modern era of praise songs was one that was just so simple and yet so powerful, I Have Decided, do you remember that song?
I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. I have decided to follow. There's a line in there, one of the powerful lines is, "The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back. The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back." It's just powerful, that's what it means to follow up and then he speaks about- He says that there was no lie found on their lips, they love the truth. The fruit of our lips is pretty important, too. "There's no lie found on their lips." John verse 5. He writes, "They love the truth, the fruit of our lives comes from the treasure that's in our hearts."
B. The fruit of our lips is key
Why we say the fruit of our lips, what comes out of our mouths? They love the truth in their hearts and that's why they spoke the truth. Matthew 12, Jesus made a powerful point when He said, "You want to make the tree good and it's fruit will be good, I'll make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad." The tree is known by its fruit. It says, "You brood of vipers, how can you being evil speak what is good? For the mouth speaks of that which fills the heart." The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good and the evil man brings out of his evil treasures what is evil.
It's interesting because in Revelation at the end of Chapter 13 at the beginning of 14 here, we're seeing this contrast and it's a choice is like, "I said before you this true thing, this choice." In time of a spiritual battle like that, it's like, "You got to choose." Like the challenge that Joshua may choose you this day, it's time to choose. He says, "Love the word, love the truth and speak words that are consistent with it. Have a heart that follows God and Godly words will follow." Proverbs 16:24, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Don't you love that verse? Would it be awesome if it could be known of you and me that that Proverb 16 verse 24 is true. Wouldn't it be awesome if people could say of you and me, "His words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones when he speaks the words of healing." I like Ephesians 4:29, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear." He's speaking about what comes out of the their mouth, their words. Then notice the fruit, the fruit that God desires is a changed life.
C. The fruit God desires is a changed life
Notice that He says that they are first fruits. They are dedicated to the Lord and the first fruits in the scriptures were always the Lord's. The first portion, always the Lord's. It's a powerful thing when you recognize that they were living in really difficult days, and yet they were just first fruits that dedicated unto the Lord. Powerful, powerful thing for us. John 15 says, "Abide in me and I will abide in you. As the branch cannot bear fruits on itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit. For apart from Me, you can do nothing."
Isn't He calling us here, to have a relationship with Him. That is such that we fall in love with the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind. The time to choose is now because we are living in days of tremendous contrast between good and evil. Now is the day to make our minds to choose whom we will follow. When you choose whom you will follow, then follow.
Revelation 13:16 - 14:10 NASB
16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.