Well, congratulations, everybody: we are now, officially, three-quarters of the way through the Book of Revelation.
Back in the introduction, if you remember, I mentioned that this book is basically organized into four main vision cycles: John witnesses the events leading up to Judgement Day four times, from four different perspectives. We have now finished three of them: the Cycle of the Seven Seals, the Cycle of the Seven Trumpets, and the Cycle of the Seven Signs. And last week, as the cycle of signs came to a close, John introduced this next one as the Cycle of the Seven Last Plagues, which begins…now:
 After this I looked, John says, and I saw in heaven the temple—that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law—and it was opened.
And this is actually the second time John has seen these elements: back at the very end of the trumpet cycle John saw God’s temple in heaven opened, and within it the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm: the final Judgement, the removal of the old earth to make way for the new.
Well, here, at the very end of the sign cycle, John again sees God’s temple in heaven opened. And again he sees right into the central tabernacle of the covenant law — the innermost sanctuary which contained the ark of God’s covenant.
The ark of God’s covenant was a sacred golden box that contained the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments — the covenant law — written on them, and it symbolized how God’s perfect Word is the foundation stone at the very center of his kingdom.
And so it makes sense that, if God’s innermost sanctuary was truly opened, and the absolute truth of God’s Word was allowed to shine upon our corrupted earth without any veil, without any shielding in the way…clearly this would result in lightning, thunder, earthquakes, hailstorms, the destruction of the earth!
Except that, here, there is no lightning, thunder, earthquake or hailstorm. Instead:
 Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.
Okay. These are the seven angels we first saw last week. And now we find out they are dressed like heavenly priests.
 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.  And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
And this scene actually has some very deep roots in the Old Testament: it takes us back to two very significant moments in the history of God’s people.
The first happened at the foot of Mount Sinai, when Moses finally completed the original tabernacle, the sacred tent where God lived while his people travelled through the wilderness. The tabernacle’s final assembly took seven days, and required a number of animal sacrifices. The animal blood was carefully collected in bowls, and sprinkled on every part of the tabernacle as it was put together — and then, at the end of the process, priests carried the bowls of blood out of the inner sanctuary and poured them at the base of the altar that stood in the outer court. And then the thunderclouds of God’s glory descended from the mountain and filled the tabernacle, and Moses could not enter because the cloud and the glory was too intense!
The second significant moment happened 500 years later at the top of Mount Zion, when Solomon finally completed the temple in Jerusalem. And, once again, after a huge number of animal sacrifices, the priests finished the dedication process — and God’s cloud filled the temple, and the priests could not enter because the cloud and the glory was too intense!
What John is seeing here is the final, eternal reality that those Old Testament moments were pointing forward to. This vision, this next cycle, is going to show us the completion of the whole project: the final clearing of the earth and the dedication of God’s eternal temple.
Ever since Chapter 11, we have been waiting for this moment. Back then we saw how God’s inner sanctuary has already been completed and measured, with the souls of all God’s people sealed up safely inside. But we also saw how God’s outer court, God’s holy city — the earth itself — has been given over to be trampled by the nations. And we were given a preview of how, one day, God’s heavenly temple will be opened and its holiness poured out upon the city and the earth below, and all creation will be made new.
Now that preview is being repeated, but in much greater detail: the inner sanctuary has been opened as before. But this time, instead of thunder and earthquakes, angels are carrying seven golden bowls — filled with the wrath of God — out of the temple, into the outer court, to pour those bowls upon the base of the altar which is the earth. Meanwhile, behind them, the cloud and the glory of God has filled the inner sanctuary so that no one can come out or go in.
So:  Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”
And if we were to just keep reading the chapter straight through to the end, we would notice how similar this cycle is with the ones that came before.
For instance, in this series, each element of creation is struck in the same order as in the Cycle of the Seven Trumpets: first the land, then the seas, then the fresh waters, then the sun, then darkness, then the Euphrates river.
In the same way, during the Cycle of the Seven Seals, the cycle was paused to focus on the altar of incense, and the souls beneath it who asked, “How long until you avenge our blood?” They were told to wait a little while for an answer…well, here, during this Cycle of the Seven Last Plagues, is the answer: the cycle is paused to focus on the altar of incense. First, the angel in charge of the waters points out that now the blood of God’s people has been avenged. And then the souls under the altar answer and basically say, “Yep. We are satisfied. Thank you, Lord God Almighty: true and just are your judgments.”
And, of course, the cycles of seals and trumpets both ended with lightning, thunder, and earthquakes — as does this cycle.
However, there are also some key differences between this cycle and the ones that came before.
For instance: this cycle happens fast, all in one chapter, without any extended interludes. And that is the point: when the countdown to Judgement Day finally runs out…the end will come like a flood.
For another thing, this cycle describes a global judgement from beginning to end, whereas the previous cycles started locally and worked their way up to global judgement. The first four seals were only allowed to affect one fourth of the earth. The first four trumpets were only allowed to affect one third of the earth. It was only during the later seals and trumpets that the judgements expanded to include all the nations.
Also, in this cycle, from beginning to end the plagues only fall on those who have the mark of the beast and worship its image, whereas — in the previous cycles — Christians and non-Christians alike suffered under the earlier seals and trumpets, it was only during the later seals and trumpets that Christians were set apart…just like during the plagues that fell on ancient Egypt during the time of Moses: the earlier plagues affected God’s people along with the Egyptians, but the last plagues fell only upon the Egyptians. And John told us very clearly last week that this is the Cycle of the Seven Last Plagues.
Basically, the reason these cycles are so similar is to help us understand that they are all about the same thing: how God’s judgements work in history. But the differences help us understand that this cycle is zooming in on God’s judgements at the very end of history.
The three previous cycles covered the history of the world from the time of Christ to the final, cleansing destruction of the earth, describing how God’s judgements would grow more severe over time until the final, great tribulation just before the end. But this cycle is only focused on the details of that final, great tribulation.
So let’s take a look at the details:
First, ugly, festering sores break out on everyone who does not belong to Jesus.
This plague echoes the plague of boils that affected the ancient Egyptians. However, these are not necessarily physical ulcers. See, in the Old Testament, skin disease was a symbol for spiritual disease. And spiritual disease was considered infinitely worse than any physical disease, because a physical festering sore can kill the body, but a spiritual festering sore will kill the soul. A person with a dying soul might not develop a skin disease, but their spiritual sickness will definitely show up in their behaviour, their internal ugliness will be exposed for all to see.
In short, the first last plague is a festering spiritual ugliness that shows up in the lives of everyone who has accepted the soul-killing mark of the beast. We could say it like this: the mark of the beast on the forehead — a person’s identity — inevitably leads to the mark of the beast on the hand — a person’s actions. Now, obviously this sort of festering spiritual ugliness has infected some people in every generation since the beginning. But during this plague the ugliness will become almost completely universal: as Jesus’ Church is persecuted and discredited, removed from the public square, Satan’s global false religion will rush in to fill the vacuum, and all those who are not protected by the mark of the Lamb will be infected. They will become lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, and all the rest of that list we have read twice already during this series.
Second, the sea is turned into black, congealed blood — the opposite of the clear sea of glass before God’s throne — and every living thing in the sea died.
This plague echoes the second trumpet, which described the political and economic collapse of a great unnamed empire. Now, obviously empires have been collapsing throughout human history, and the unnamed empire from the Trumpet Cycle was an example of how God’s judgements make that happen. But this plague is describing a global collapse of a global empire: the global empire of the beast.
In short, this second last plague is the natural result of the first plague: when everyone has turned to discontent and hatred, self-serving mistrust and greed, how will civilization survive? How will political diplomacy and fair economic practices continue? The answer is simple: they won’t. Politically, economically, figuratively human civilization will darken and congeal like the blood of a dead person: organized society will become a source of death instead of life.
Third, the rivers and springs of water are turned to blood.
And this echoes the third trumpet, which described how the fallen demonic prince of the unnamed empire purposely set about poisoning every source of wisdom it could reach. And obviously fallen angels have been doing this for a long time. But this plague is now describing a total, global collapse of truth.
In short, the third last plague follows on quite naturally from the collapse of Satan’s global civilization: as the true Gospel is increasingly silenced or poisoned, deception will come flooding in until ideas that are obvious self-contradictory nonsense will be accepted by everyone. Common sense will fail all over the world.
And as we noticed earlier, this is the point in the cycle where the angel pauses and says to the souls under the altar: “See? Your blood is now avenged. The nations used deception to torment you, so now they will be tormented by their own deceptions!”
Fourth, the sun is allowed to scorch people with fire.
This echoes the fourth trumpet, which described how a third of the sun, moon, and stars were struck so that a chaotic darkness could swallow up the shattered pieces of the unnamed empire. But this plague now describes the opposite: the sun is struck so that a chaotic, burning light strikes the fracturing pieces of Satan’s global empire — fire and light, elements that the Book of Revelation associates with God’s truth, God’s judgement.
So, in short, during the fourth last plague, the citizens of Satan’s collapsing empire will be tormented with the truth: all the consequences of their corrupt behaviour will be allowed to fall upon them, they will reap what they have sown as creation itself turns against them — but still they will curse the name of God, they will refuse to repent and glorify him, they will refuse to take responsibility.
Fifth, the beast’s throne and kingdom will then be plunged into darkness, where people will gnaw their tongues in agony and curse the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores.
This echoes the fifth trumpet, which described how the fallen demonic prince of the unnamed empire purposely released a dark plague of demonic scorpion-locusts upon his own people, in order to control them through torment leading to suicidal desires. This plague is describing the same thing, but now extended to all of mankind, to every citizen of Satan’s global bestial civilization.
In short, this fifth last plague makes perfect sense: in a world festering with spiritual ugliness, where there is no longer any fixed truth, where everything has been rendered meaningless, hopeless, where all of existence has been reduced to “Might makes Right”, “may the fittest survive”, “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer”…what we are seeing here is what it will look like when the nations all get sucked down into the black hole if their own unfulfillable desires.
Sixth, the water of great river Euphrates will be dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
And this echoes the sixth trumpet, which described how an uncountable army of demonic horsemen was released to cross the eastern border of the unnamed empire and finally give the empire’s citizens the death they were longing for — only to discover that death did not mark the end of their torments, merely the beginning.
But this plague…this plague now takes that concept and develops it much further:
First, John says,  I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Now, this part echoes the plague of frogs back in Egypt. And there are two interesting features about that ancient plague: first, that was one of the earlier plagues that did affect God’s people as well as the Egyptians. Second, that was the last plague Pharaoh’s magicians were able to counterfeit: Moses made frogs come up and cover the land, and then so did the magicians.
And sure enough, in verse 14 we are told:
They are demonic spirits that perform signs and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
So this is an interesting development. Back in Chapter 13 we were told that the beast from the Abyss — Satan’s counterfeit kingdom — would use deception to seize control over every nation. And we were told that the second beast from the earth — Satan’s counterfeit religion, what John calls “the false prophet” here — would help by performing great signs, counterfeit miracles that look like the work of the Holy Spirit, but are not.
Here, John gives us more detail into that situation: during the sixth last plague, the counterfeit trinity — the dragon, the false empire, and the false religion — is going to send out demonic spirits, unholy spirits to perform counterfeit signs and seize control over every nation. And now we are told what they do with their control: they use it to gather the kings of the whole world for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
Now, obviously false prophets have been performing demonic miracles from at least the time of Moses onward, and we all know that every culture on earth has had shamans, witchdoctors, bomoh, faith-healers of various kinds. But this plague is telling us that, as the end draws near, the world will be absolutely overrun with false prophets performing demonic signs and wonders.
But that’s not all. Because in verse 15, John suddenly breaks off to write down a warning from the mouth of Jesus himself:
 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
And Jesus’ warning here tells us that, just like the plague of frogs in Egypt, this last plague of frogs will be a danger to God’s people as well as to the nations of the earth. Christians will not be automatically immune to these false prophets or their demonic signs and wonders. That is why Jesus has to pause the vision here to say, “Watch out! Stay awake! Stay dressed and ready for my return! Do not get sucked in by even the most amazing miracles!”
…we are going to return to this point later.
But in the meantime, John says, these demonic frog-spirits gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
Now, the name “Armageddon”, in Hebrew, means “Mountain of Megiddo”. Megiddo was a city on a low hill in northern Palestine, overlooking a valley that runs southward like a highway into the heart of the country. If an army invaded from the north and the east, from the direction of the Euphrates river, and managed to seize control of Mount Megiddo, they could arrive outside the walls of Jerusalem by the end of the second day. So, as we can imagine, control of that valley was hotly contested. More than 200 battles have been fought there over the centuries, the first recorded one in 1468 b.c. — 3500 years ago — between Egypt and a Canaanite king, the last just one hundred years ago in 1917, between British and Turkish forces during World War I.
And several of those battles are described in the Old Testament: Joshua fought there and won; Barak fought there and won, during the time of Deborah the prophet; Elijah also fought there and won — though his battle was a spiritual campaign against false prophets.
However, the last battle at Megiddo recorded in the Old Testament was a terrible defeat for God’s people: King Josiah died in battle there against Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. And this was absolutely tragic because Josiah turned out to be the last righteous king of Jerusalem; within just a few years King Nebuchadnezzar swept through the area and ended David’s earthly kingdom.
But the story is actually more complicated than that: even though Josiah was a righteous king, his war against Pharaoh Necho was actually an act of disobedience against God. See, Pharaoh Necho was really just passing through on his way north to fight against King Nebuchadnezzar, who was on his way south from the Euphrates river. Pharaoh Necho was not attacking God’s people, he was attacking God’s enemy! And Josiah was told: do not get in the way! Do not get involved in this war between these two godless empires! But he disobeyed God’s command. He confronted Pharaoh Necho at Megiddo and got himself killed. And in fact, it was Josiah’s disobedient involvement in that war between Egypt and Babylon that indirectly caught Nebuchadnezzar’s attention and led directly to the destruction of Jerusalem a few years later…
As a result, King Josiah was bitterly mourned by his people: his reign was remembered as the last flickering light of David’s golden kingdom just before the darkness closed in…while his death was remembered as a mistake, a defeat that he brought upon himself through his own disobedience.
And so, in the minds of God’s people from that point on, Megiddo was associated with the death of a righteous but disobedient king. And that negative association was so strong that the prophet Zechariah, writing more than one hundred years later, linked Josiah’s historic defeat at Megiddo with the battle that is destined to take place at the end of time: Zechariah predicted that, one day, God will gather all the nations of the earth together to war, and he said, “On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping in the plain of Megiddo,” referring to how Josiah’s army wept when they saw their righteous king struck down during a battle he should not have been fighting in the first place.
Well, just like Zechariah did in the Old Testament, John is also now linking Josiah’s ancient battle with this battle that is destined to take place at the end of time: he describes a massive invasion by the kings from the East, who cross the Euphrates river and then march south to Megiddo, where they are met by the rest of the kings of the whole world, who have also been gathered in that valley by the demonic spirits.
Now, obviously the kings of the whole world, along with all their armies, would never fit into the literal valley of Megiddo in Palestine. They would definitely not fit on Mount Megiddo, which is only a hill 70 meters tall, a city about the size of a modern Tesco. So this sixth plague is really describing how, in the end, Satan is going to gather all of his human and demonic forces together into one symbolic place for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
…but at this point we really should pause for a moment and ask: why have they been gathered for battle? For what purpose? A battle against whom?
Because, if we are paying attention here, John has not actually said they are gathered to attack Jerusalem. We could assume that based on previous chapters. However, back in Chapter 9, when the demonic eastern army was released to cross the Euphrates, they attacked the godless unnamed empire, not Jerusalem.
So, are the kings from the East joining with the kings of the whole world to go attack Jerusalem, which is Jesus’ Church? Or, have the kings from the East come to fight against the kings of the whole world as part of God’s final judgement upon them?
Well, John’s mention of Megiddo here is a reference to an ancient war between two foreign empires that God’s people were not originally supposed to get involved with. John wants his readers to look back at Josiah’s Armageddon and realize that the demonic spirits here are sent out to gather only the pagan nations of the world to battle against each other. If Christians decide to go out and try to stop that final gathering — or, even worse, join in that final gathering! — well…they will be actually getting in the way of God’s judgement upon the nations and answering the summons of demonic spirits!
However, you should know that, just like Josiah’s ancient Armageddon, this final Armageddon is even more complicated than it already seems. And over the next three chapters John is going to dig into the details of who is fighting against whom and why, so…make sure to come back for that.
For now, let’s just try to put all these pieces of the sixth plague together and summarize what it means:
In short, this sixth last plague is describing how, just before the end, God is going to dry up the great river Euphrates, which in the Old Testament was always a symbol for the protected eastern border of God’s land. Basically, God is going to remove his protection from his earth, just like he did back in Noah’s time, when the ark was finally completed and the flood began. During the sixth last plague God is going to let the counterfeit trinity flood the world with demonic miracle-workers who only have one job: to summon all the nations to a symbolic valley for some kind of final battle at the end of time. Unfortunately, those demonic miracle-workers are also going to target Christians. They are going to use their signs and wonders to mislead some — or perhaps even most! — of Jesus’ earthly churches into getting involved in a battle that actually has nothing to do with them!
Then  the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
And there it is: the end of the world, all over again, just as it was described during the sixth and seventh seals and the sixth and seventh trumpets, and during the terrible final harvest at the end of the Cycle of the Seven Signs: flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, a severe earthquake, a hailstorm, and the collapse of the great city.
And here we have confirmed for us the name of the beast from the Abyss, the name of the dragon’s final bestial empire. Or, at least, now we have confirmed the name of that empire’s capital city: Babylon the Great.
This city was first mentioned by name back in Chapter 14, when we saw those angels flying in midair, and one of them said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great.” And so we found out then that the dragon’s final bestial empire, which has been steadily gathering its strength over the last 2000 years, will be revealed as a kind of reincarnation of the ancient empire of Babylon.
Here, John repeats the name, and repeats the idea that Babylon will drink the wine of God’s fury on Judgement Day.
At the same time, however, he also calls Babylon “the great city” here. Which is confusing. Because the last time John mentioned “the great city” was back in Chapter 11, which — he said — is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also the Lord was crucified: Jerusalem, which is also the holy city which is destined to be trampled by the nations for 42 symbolic months…How can Babylon, the capital city of Satan’s empire, also be Jerusalem, the capital city of Jesus’ kingdom? How can “the great city“ also be “the holy city”? Is Babylon the Great just one city, or is it many cities? Or: is it a city at all? Is Babylon really a symbolic concept, or a…spiritual city?
Like I said: this situation at the end of time is complicated. But John is going to sort it all out for us over the next few chapters, so…
In the meantime, all we really need to notice here is that Babylon the Great must be the capital city of the kings from the East, because Babylon was a city built on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river. During the sixth last plague God dries up the protective barrier he set up between Satan’s empire and the rest of the nations of the earth, and the great beast from the Abyss marches forth from Satan’s capital city to meet the rest of the kings of the whole world at Megiddo. We do not yet know what exactly those armies are doing or what happens to them — that will be described in the chapters to come — but now we know that, during the seventh last plague, the great Satanic capital city of Babylon will be utterly destroyed.
Okay. So, apparently, at the end of time, the innermost sanctuary of God’s temple will be opened to pour out his final judgements upon all those who have sworn loyalty to the counterfeit trinity. The end will come like a flood: stage by stage, plague by plague, Satan’s bestial empire will destroyed from the outside in until, finally, during the seventh and Last Plague, God’s judgement will reach Satan’s innermost sanctuary, the corrupted capital city at the empire’s center — and that will be the end of that!
So now, of course, we have to ask, like we do every week: what does this have to do with us?
Because, if we are reading it correctly, this cycle is focused on just the final tribulation, the fate of the final generation. But we don’t know if we are the final generation. In fact, according to Jesus, we cannot know — like he says here, “Look, I come like a thief! You are not going to have advance notice!” So, since we cannot know whether we are the final generation, how can we say for sure that this passage is meant to apply to us?
Besides, these last plagues are only going to be poured out upon those who have accepted the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. So even if ours is the final generation, we will be protected from these last plagues anyway, right? just like Moses’ people were protected from the last plagues that fell on Egypt.
All this is true. We do not know if we are the final generation, and even if we were these last plagues will not fall on us.
But still we have this warning here, straight from the mouth of Jesus: “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” This must be a warning meant for every generation of the Church, simply because no generation knows if it is the last one or not!
So now we have to ask: what does this mean, to stay awake and remain clothed? What exactly are we supposed to be watching out for here?
Well, Jesus spoke this warning right after the part about the demonic spirits that perform signs to gather kings for battle. That is what every generation is supposed to be watching out for: demonic spirits that perform signs, demonic spirits that gather nations together for battle.
Now, as we look back over the history of God’s people, we see that in every generation there have been false prophets who used signs and wonders to lead Christians away from the true faith, false messiahs who have led God’s people into worldly battles for their own ungodly purposes. There have always been self-proclaimed exorcists and faith-healers travelling around trying to make money through their miracles. There have always been political leaders who are gifted at gaining Christian support for their schemes. So it is obvious that Jesus’ warning to watch out! has definitely applied to every generation of the Church.
But, brothers and sisters, as we look around at our generation, we see that Christianity is absolutely overrun with false prophets who claim to perform miraculous signs and wonders. For 2000 years, that sort of thing was rare, and always on the heretical fringes of our faith — but over the last 50 years “signs and wonders”-based ministries have suddenly become mainstream and global. Today, the largest congregations in the world are all centered around teachers who claim to be prophets. In fact, one of these self-anointed “prophets” was the spiritual advisor to the former President of the United States for the last four years! — and if that is not mainstream, I don’t know what is.
And that is not all: our generation is also overrun with unprecedented scientific and technological miracles. Scientists today are digging right down into the building blocks of life, they are looking out beyond the edges of the universe, and they are using these scientific signs and wonders to say, like modern, secular prophets: “There is no God. Worship science instead.” Social media is using artificial intelligence to manipulate whole populations, to create civil unrest, to turn nation against nation, and social media keeps calling Christians to get involved in these Armageddons between godless empires that actually have nothing to do with us.
And I have to be honest: that sounds a lot like what John has described here. And not only John, but Jesus himself and the Apostle Paul: they all talked about how, as the end of this age draws near, the world will be absolutely overrun with false prophets performing demonic signs that will lead the whole world astray to worship the counterfeit trinity — even, perhaps, most of what passes for Christianity during the final generation.
Okaaay! So: am I saying that ours must be the final generation?
No. I cannot say that. But as sacred and secular false prophets flood the world around us, as sacred and secular miracles flood the world around us, we can say that Jesus’ warning is even more relevant to our generation than it has ever been. Never before have so many Christians been so obsessed with miraculous signs and wonders. Never before have so many Christians been so obsessed with getting involved in worldly political and social projects. Never before has Jesus’ warning been so needed. “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to be fooled into abandoning the faith!” Friends, if we turn aside to put our faith in spiritual signs and wonders, if we try to clothe our faith in secular signs and wonders, then on Judgement Day we will find ourselves naked and shamefully exposed, we will find out that we have been worshiping the beast’s image and not God’s. “So,” Jesus says, “don’t do that!”
Okaaay. So: am I saying that modern technology, modern media is demonic? that Christians who claim to be prophets are actually demonic?
No. Not necessarily. Some are not. But many are. And herein lies the problem: the products of the counterfeit trinity are designed to look almost exactly like the products of the true Trinity. They are such a close copy, the bible tells us, that in the last generations many people who claim to be Christian will be fooled. This is how the Apostle Paul talked about it in one of his letters: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
That sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? No wonder Jesus says, “Watch out! Stay awake! Stay dressed! Do not get sucked in!”
That also sounds pretty scary. What if we are among those who are being led astray?
Well, here is our Good News: those who really have been sealed on the forehead with the mark of the Lamb will not be fooled. Why not? Because those who really belong to Jesus listen to his voice. His voice says, “Stay awake! Stay clothed! Hold on to what I have given you!” And those who really belong to Jesus will obey: they hold on. They keep going back to scripture, they keep drinking from the life-giving well of God’s Word. And the more they drink, the easier it actually becomes to discern which signs and wonders come from the Holy Spirit, and which ones come from the unholy spirits. Jesus himself told his disciples that the Satanic deception that is going to lead the whole world astray at the end of time will not deceive the elect — as long as they keep on listening for the voice their Saviour, as long as they keep on clinging to the One who died to set them free from deception.
Are we among those who have been sealed with the mark of the Lamb? Well, we can test that: are we listening to our Saviour’s voice? Do we drink deeply together from the living well of God’s Word every week? Do we live holy lives as a community, led through the wilderness of this world by the tabernacle of the covenant law? If our answers to these questions is yes, then: yes. We can count ourselves among those who are sealed up and safe, as long as we do not become weary in doing good.
Now that all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter: this Cycle of the Seven Last Plagues really has zoomed in on the details of the final, great tribulation. And to our surprise — perhaps — we have discovered that the great tribulation is not for us! The final generation of Jesus’ Church will be here for the great tribulation, but the Church will not actually be the target of the great tribulation. We will suffer in this world. In the end we will be defeated by the gathered nations of the beast. But whatever we suffer is just a shadow of the wrath the nations will experience at the hands of our avenging Father.
So let’s stay awake. Let’s remain clothed. Let us commit ourselves to our faithful Creator and continue to do good.