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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 07 2023

The perfect prophetic storm

Jesus Christ prophesied a time when two great world events would converge, overwhelming man's efforts to resolve them, and lead to what He called "great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).

The Apostle Paul also referred to this same period: "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them…. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

He then goes on to show Christians how to spiritually prepare for this time: "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief…Therefore let us not sleep… but let us watch and be sober.... For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-9).

Christ revealed the first prophesied event to the Apostle John in Revelation 13:1-3: “...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 all the world marveled and followed the beast."

A similar prophetic beast is described in Revelation 17, but now is ridden by a fallen woman. "And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns" (verse 3). We are then told what this beast represents: "...The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.... And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.... These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them" (Revelation 17:9-14).

The seven heads are a symbol of a king and his kingdom. The last head, or the seventh kingdom, will emerge just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, and is destined to be of short duration, "...five [kings] have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come" (Revelation 17:10). Since the last head of this beast, along with 10 rulers, "will make war with the Lamb [Jesus Christ]," the previous six kings must have ruled in former ages (verse 14).

The seventh head of the beast with10 horns is symbolic of the kingdom that will be headed by a mighty ruler with 10 kings that will "receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast" (verse 14). This will astound the whole world by its enormous power, which comes not so much from human might or cunning, but from "the dragon," another name for Satan (Revelation 12:9). As Revelation 13:2 explains, "The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority."

The second beast is described in Revelation 13: "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast…and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 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 by those signs…" (Revelation 13:11-14).

This second beast has horns like a lamb—that is, it seems to be meek like a lamb, but speaks "like a dragon" (Revelation 13:11), revealing the satanic origin of its power. The two beasts are called "the beast" and "the false prophet," respectively. They are allies at the end time, with the first one governing and warring while the other manipulates the public through religion. The woman who rides the beast symbolizes a false religious system located in a great city that governs much of the earth. "And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (17:18). This system is an international religious, political and economic system spanning many nations and languages, as the Bible describes: "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues" (Revelation 17:15).

Religious persecution against those who do not follow the ‘false prophet’ is also prophesied. Satan wars against "...the woman, and her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). Christ warned some of His disciples would be martyred (Matthew 24:9), while others would be miraculously protected (Revelation 12:13-14), and encouraged the faithful to remain strong during this time: "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11).

Christ warns us not to be taken by surprise by these events, "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36).