(Revelation 17: 12-14) “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings-and with Him will be His called chosen and faithful followers.”
In the book of Revelation the Apostle John saw the immergence of the last global political empire. This empire would be like no other empire that has ever existed. It would have the combined powers of Ancient Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome and encompass the geographical boundaries that these Ancient Empires encompassed. The prophet Daniel saw the same vision. Like all of the great ancient empires of history there was a religious empire within the political one.
‘Beasts’ and ‘Horns’ in Bible Prophecy
In Biblical Eschatology “Beasts” represent Empires and “Horns” the rulers or kings over those world empires. In the last days there will be a political and military empire that will seek to rule the world. This Beast Empire will have all the ruthlessness and power of all the other Beast empires mentioned in prophecy. It will have the combined power and spiritual corruption and military prowess of Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. It will be an empire that exults itself above God with the Antichrist as its leader, a man personally indwelt by Satan. This final world Beast Empire will be a kingdom diametrically opposed to God’s kingdom and in the last days there will be a clash between those who follow the kingdom of this world and those who follow the kingdom of God. In the end there will only be two kinds of people in the world those who reflect the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom values and those who reflect the nature and values of the Antichrist and his kingdom. In the last days just before Jesus comes back people will either have their allegiance to Christ or to the Antichrist.
A spiritual wrestling match
Every true follower of Jesus Christ is engaged in a spiritual wrestling match with Satan and his forces every day. If there is no spiritual struggle in the Christians life, if there is no warfare between the lusts of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit then we need to ask ourselves whether we are really following the Lamb at all. The Lord Jesus never promised that we would be free of spiritual warfare in this life. Paul the apostle clearly told us that we are not just fighting flesh and blood but spiritual powers beyond our capacity to handle that can only be disarmed and defeated by the Power of the Spirit of God resting upon us moment by moment. Listen to what he said, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Galatians 5:16-18).
Walk in the Spirit
The only way to have victory moment by moment over the world the flesh and the devil in this life is to be regularly led and guided by the Holy Spirit, to walk moment by moment by faith relying totally upon the Holy Spirit for to empower us. As it is written, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”(Romans 8:12-14) As God the Spirit He already knows what we are up against and how to defeat Satan. No evil spirit can stand against the Spirit of God! As it is written, “When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard (war banner) against him.”(Isaiah 59:19)
A spiritual ‘outlaw’
We need to be aware that we have a spiritual outlaw who along with his forces is working around the clock to destroy our spiritual life and walk with God. It is a wrestling match with the devil. As Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6: 12) The word he actually uses in the original Greek for “struggle” is the word you would use to describe a wrestling match. What we need to realise as believers is that the Lord Jesus has given us His own armour and weapons to enable us to wage war on the devil and Jesus expects us to use them. We are to put on all of the spiritual armour that God has provided for us in His dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore put on the whole armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand” (Ephesians 4: 13). Every one of us as believers will face an evil day when Satan’s attacks will be unrelenting and vicious and at such times Jesus expects us to stand our ground and resist him. The apostle Peter gave us some good advice from the Spirit of God when he said, “Be self- controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, stand firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Called and faithful
Just before Jesus returns the spiritual conflict between those who follow Jesus and those who follow Satan will increase and intensify. The spiritual pressures will be so great that only those who are “the called and faithful followers of the Lamb” will survive. The final spiritual issue will not be a matter of denominational affiliation, religious fervour or even sound doctrine or how gifted one might be. The final test will be one of personal character especially in those who profess to be leaders in the Church. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them…. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7: 15, 21-23)
The Will of God
The ultimate question we must ask ourselves is “Have I done all the will of God?” Just before the Lord Jesus returns there will be only two kinds of people in the world. There will be those who are cultivating the nature of the Lamb and those who are cultivating the nature of the beast. The attitudes and values that we allow to shape our lives now will ultimately determine whether we take sides with Jesus or with the Antichrist when the conflict intensifies. No one will be left in a vacuum. Ultimately all of us will be forced to make a choice, Christ or the Antichrist? Indeed the prophet Joel said, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)
The final climax
God is bringing the whole human race to this final climax where people will have to choose sides. In the Christian life there is no middle ground. If we are not growing spiritually in conformity to Jesus in our lives then we will be backsliding. God’s ultimate will for us as believers is that we become conformed to the nature and character of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate proof of our election. Everything that God is doing in our lives is directed towards achieving this end. As it is also written, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purposes. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”(Romans 8:28-29) Not everything that happens to us is good or even from God yet even in the bad things happening to us that Satan uses for evil against us God turns around and brings good out of them if we continue to trust Him. Of course we too have our part to play in this process. The apostle Paul said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12: 1-2) If God gets control of our bodies then he gets the contents as well!
Which nature is dominating you?
Right now in your life as a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ are you cultivating the nature of the Lamb or of the beast? Is your life being conformed to the standards of God’s kingdom or to the standards of the world’s system of values? Do we belong to the city of “Babylon” or the “City of God?” There are only two cities. They are not physical cities that you can see visibly but they are all around us in the spiritual and unseen realm. If we have been born again then we are part of God’s city but if we have not been born again then we are still in slavery to the “’Babylon” of this world. We will ultimately reflect the nature of the one we have allowed to control our thoughts, our motives, our actions and desires. If we are members of the heavenly city then we will reflect the character of the Lord Jesus Christ but if we are still enslaved to the “Babylon” of this world then our overlord is Satan and ultimately the Antichrist himself! In this study we will see the contrast between the nature of the beast and the nature of the Lamb. Even though Beasts in Bible prophecy represent empires they are ruled by a “horn” or “king” and that king reflects the nature of his empire. The nature we exhibit determines which empire we belong to! The nature we feed the most will be the one that dominates us in the end. As it has been said; “It is not how we start but how we finish that counts!”
A. The Nature of the Beast.
(Daniel 11: 36) “The king will do as he pleases. He will exult and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of-things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.”
When we examine the character of the antichrist from the Biblical perspective we can see the sorts of things that can exhibit the nature of the beast in us. Now turn your Bibles to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10 and we will look at this passage of scripture verse by verse.
The Beast nature produces Lawlessness.
(Vs. 3) “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.“
The rebellion mentioned here is the great falling away of Christians in the last days. Jesus himself referred to this when He said, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm (has endured) to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:9-13).
King Saul was an example of lawlessness. He had been anointed king over Israel and had been anointed by the Spirit for the task. (1 Samuel 10:9-10) He continued to be anointed by God for his ministry and in the power of the Spirit defeated the Ammonites. (1 Samuel 11:6, 11) But Saul became proud and in giving into his pride made himself vulnerable to defeat. A time came when a mighty Philistine army faced Saul and the army of Israel. Instead of trusting the Lord all of them gave in to fear. (1 Samuel 13:6-7) Now in those days Samuel was God’s appointed man to offer up sacrifices on behalf of the people but he was delayed in coming to Saul and the army at Gilgal. When Saul saw his men beginning to desert he decided to offer up the burnt offering himself. This was done out of fear but also out of pride instead of waiting upon God’s answer. (1 Samuel 13:9)
Just as he finished offering up the sacrifice Samuel arrived consequently rebuking Saul. From that point on Saul began to backslide. Later he wilfully disobeyed God’s word when he spared Agag and the best of the sheep and the cattle of Amalek after God had told him to destroy them all. (1 Samuel 15:3) When Samuel confronted him Saul said, “I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” When Samuel challenged him Saul insisted that he had carried out the Lord’s instructions. (1 Samuel 15:20) Saul said that he had done everything God had asked him to do but in reality he had only done what suited him. This was an act of rebellion, a wilful act that he sought to justify himself for doing. Later on Saul built a monument to himself and ultimately his backsliding led to demon possession. God called his attitude rebellion or witchcraft. (1 Samuel 15:23)
Doing all the will of God
As believers it is important that we do everything that the Lord commands us to do in His Word. Doing God’s will does not consist in merely doing some or most of what God asks us to do but everything that He asks us to do. There are two kinds of spiritual blindness. One is the spiritual blindness of ignorance, which is exhibited in unbelievers. The god of this world has blinded their eyes to the truth of Jesus and the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:4) That is one kind of spiritual blindness. The other is a wilful blindness, i.e., knowing the truth and rejecting it. The Pharisees were guilty of this sin. (John 9:41) (Matthew 23:13) King Saul also was guilty of this. He knew God’s Word but rejected it. (1 Samuel 15:23) This kind of lawlessness will be a conspicuous mark in the professing Christian Church in the last days. Today many in the Church are telling us that they are apostles or prophets and even work miracles, especially the money preachers on television but when you look at their lifestyles they are not living the crucified life. Their luxurious and self-indulgent lifestyles are a disgrace to the Lord Jesus Christ and a denial of God’s Word. If you examine their teaching about faith they are actually teaching godliness as a means to financial gain and not the means to a holy character and a life that is crucified to the world. These teachers and so-called prophets (profits!) in reality love money and worship it and are teaching others to love it as well. They are preaching covetousness!
We can take nothing with us
Paul the apostle writes about who tech godliness as a means to financial gain when he says, “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and arguments that result in envy, quarreling, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:3-10)
Profiteering on the blood of the Lamb
The tragedy is that some of these money preachers started out as honest servants of God and ministers of the gospel but they have become corrupted. It is a great privilege to earn a living from preaching the gospel but to turn the gospel into a form of licentiousness and greed is a disgrace to the Lord Jesus Christ who brought them with his precious blood. Like the Pharisees in Jesus day who were making money in the temple these men are profiteering on the blood of the Lamb. The apostle Peter also says concerning these people, “These men are springs without water (They cannot deliver what they have promised) and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom; while they themselves are slaves of depravity-for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them to have not known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred commandment that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, a sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:17-22)
There is a kind of personality cult springing up in the church today around these kinds of teachers. Paul the apostle says, “For as often told you before and now say again with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19) Even in the Christian music industry there is a trend to treat gospel artists like rock stars. While worship should be lively, joyful and varied in its musical styles it should not seek to imitate the world’s standards. Sometimes worship can become the worship of worship itself and facilitate an atmosphere of entertainment rather than worship.
A spiritual dispensing machine?
Today many professing Christians want a Jesus that is all light and love and almost treat him like a self-indulgent spiritual dispensing machine. They are at home in this world and they enjoy the kind of teaching that appeals to their fleshly desires and appetites especially when it comes to making money. What is actually wrong with a middle class lifestyle? Isn’t it good enough for us as Christians living in the west? That is more than two thirds of those living in this world will ever have! Whatever we seek to do as a church or as individual believers we must always give God’s Word the highest priority over everything that we do. If we don’t then like Saul we are actually rejecting the Word of God. Remember that the man of lawlessness will come as a result of the falling away. The spirit of lawlessness in the Church will pave the way for the man of lawlessness to be revealed. Again remember Jesus words, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
The Beast nature produces self-exultation as as we see personified in the charcter of the Antichrist
(Vs. 4) “He opposes and exults himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, and even sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Whenever we see manipulation, domination and control in the leadership of any Church we see the spirit of self-exultation. Today we have many hirelings, i.e., those who call themselves shepherds of God’s flock but in reality are into money and the numbers game or are in the ministry as a career because they could not cut it in the secular world. Many are even “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Like the Pharisees they like being at the top and inadvertently draw attention to themselves and their gifts. They are usually into heavy shepherding and dominate and control the sheep and are building their personal empires which, like King Saul, are in reality monuments to themselves. These men are self-deceived. They love to be prominent as leaders and will often criticize those who challenge them from God’s Word. Saul did this with Samuel.
A ‘guru’ mentality
There is a “guru mentality” today in the Church where multitudes of believers accept what their leaders are telling them without going to the scriptures and finding out for themselves whether what they are hearing is really from God’s word. The attitude of the Bereans has gone from many churches today. We read about their attitude to God’s Word. “For they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures everyday to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11) Self- exultation in any form exhibits the spirit of antichrist. In our service for the Lord Jesus we must always remember that any virtue, gift or spiritual ability we have comes from the Lord and not from us. If we kept close to the cross then we would avoid falling into pride.
Like precious oil
Today God is releasing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church but we need to remember that all of these spiritual gifts or manifestations flow from the Lord Jesus Himself. This is clearly seen in Psalm 133. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured out on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.” In Acts chapter two verse thirty three Peter tells us that Jesus Himself has received the anointing of the Spirit and that on the day of Pentecost He poured out that anointing upon His body, the Church. Aaron the High Priest is a type of Jesus our great High Priest. The oil being poured out over Aaron is symbolic of the Holy Spirit being poured out over Jesus. The oil running down over Aaron’s garments symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit flowing down over Jesus and onto His body, the Church.
A plurality of leadership
In the New Testament we see a plurality of leadership. Peter and John were the apostolic team resident in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Paul and Barnabas on the other hand were sent out together by the church in Antioch at the direction of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:2-3) Even though they were apostles they were still accountable to the elders and the church members at Antioch. Today there are those who are not accountable to anybody but set themselves up as apostles and prophets and criticize any who try to make them accountable for what they say and do and especially for what they prophesy in the name of the Lord. The apostle Paul speaks of such men when he says, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Biblical leadership is foundational
The Church is built on the foundation of the prophets, the apostles with Jesus being the cornerstone. True leadership upholds the local church as a foundation upholds the building resting upon it. True leadership has authority but does not rule from the top by dominating and controlling the flock but leads by example. (1 Peter 5:2-4) Self-exultation in any form activates the devil’s power in our lives and if not checked will ultimately lead us into delusion and spiritual deception.
The Beast nature produces an overemphasis on miracles, signs and wonders over the preaching of the Gospel.
(Vs. 9) “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.”
Not all of the signs, miracles and wonders are from the Holy Spirit. Satan is able to counterfeit supernatural signs. The magicians of Egypt did this when they opposed Moses. They were able to reproduce up to a point some of the miracles that Moses performed through the power of God but they did it by occult power. Jesus himself warned that this sort of thing would be prevalent in the last days when He said, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.” (Matthew 24:24) Miracles, signs and wonders do not endorse a man’s ministry neither is it proof of his spiritual condition. King Saul continued to prophesy even after he had become a backslider. King Solomon continued to exercise the gift of wisdom even after he also had begun to backslide. Signs, miracles and wonders follow the preaching of the Word of God they do not substitute for it.
They are still around today
The gifts of the Spirit have always been around as Church history shows this to be true. They did not die out in the first century. If they did when did they cease to operate? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased. Some try to use the text that says, “but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” to explain away the necessity for the use of spiritual gifts today but the text in its context cannot be forced to mean this. The whole text and the verses surrounding it are referring to the day of the Lord when every spiritual gift will cease as they will no longer be needed in the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. Until Jesus comes back spiritual gifts will still operate in the Church as they are intended to operate. However, in the last days counterfeit signs miracles and wonders will increase in the Church. We need the gift of discernment to know the true ones from the false ones. If we chase after and supernatural manifestations then we will ultimately be led into deception where the gifts are concerned. Indeed the Lord Jesus clearly said, “It is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeks for a sign.” Today many in the Church hunger after miracles, blessings, prosperity, signs and wonders but very few hunger and thirst after righteousness. Jesus clearly tells us that only those who hunger and thirst to be righteous before anything else will be filled with it from God. (Matthew 5:6)
The Beast nature produces a Refusal to love and obey the Truth that leads to spiritual deception.
(Vs. 10-12) “…And in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love and obey the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but delighted in wickedness.”
As mentioned before there are two kinds of spiritual blindness. One is blindness through ignorance of spiritual truth and the other is wilful blindness. Pagans in the world are spiritually blind and do not know it, however, there are those who know the truth and reject it. In the last days there will be a great increase of wilful blindness in the Church, Paul warns Timothy about them when he says, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) This kind of wilful blindness characterized the people of God in the time of Jeremiah just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. Jeremiah tells us this, “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31) When people refuse to love and obey the truth and delight in practicing evil God sends them a delusion so that they believe the lies of Satan. Paul the apostle tells us this when he says, “For this reason (a refusal to love and obey the truth of God’s word) God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11) If God sends a delusion upon such people they will be incapable of believing the truth even if they hear it. God did this to King Ahab. (1 Kings 22:19-23)
God’s Word says, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” (1 Samuel 15:23) and those who rebel against God join Satan’s team. The one word that sums up the beast nature is the word “rebellion.” Rebellion in our hearts will ultimately lead to lawlessness, pride, arrogance and boasting in our gifts and abilities. Satan will always capitalize on our weaknesses. David decided to play the numbers game by taking a head count of the army. In one account the Bible says that Satan put him up to it but in another account of the same event it says that God incited David to do it. The truth is that David had already decided to count heads and refused to listen to the advice given to him by Joab. God saw this attitude in David’s heart and Satan took advantage of David’s attitude and because of this God allowed Satan to entice David. In the case of King Ahab God permitted the evil spirit to entice him because Ahab had already decided in his heart to have his own way.
The results of numbering heads were disastrous for David and the people of God. This sin of counting heads was a far more serious sin in God’s sight than David’s sin of murder and adultery. Why? Because counting heads is what the Antichrist will do to gain political and religious domination over his empire but especially over the professing Christian Church. This act of head counting is an act of pride and rebellion. Churches that are into the numbers game are siding with the devil and ultimately they will be in serious trouble often resulting in a split in the fellowship.
We must always make sure that our motives for Christian service are right. If we become spiritually corrupted then the fruit of our ministry will also be corrupted. A good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit. For example, there are some preachers who have started out well but Satan wanted to destroy their ministry. Through spiritual deception they have become corrupted. Usually it starts with spiritual pride, i.e., they begin to believe their own publicity. Pride is the floodgate that lets in the destructive tides of adultery, lust, ambition, domination, false teaching, the desire for material possessions and the love of money. Those preachers and leaders who begin to fall prey to these things may still produce fruit in their ministry but the fruit of their ministry will be corrupted like themselves. The Bible says, “The gifts and calling of God go forth without repentance.” They may still be operating in the spiritual gifts but in the end Jesus will reject them. (Matthew 7:15-27) The Bible says that those who go this way ultimately become shepherds who feed only themselves. (Jude 12) We always need to keep in mind that Satan grasped for power through pride and fell into humiliation and defeat. (Isaiah 14:12-17) In the verses mentioned in Isaiah Satan said, “I will” five times. Self-will and self-exultation in any form always side with the devil and activate his power in the lives of those who indulge in them. Remember that Satan and his empire is called “a wild beast!” denoting unrestrained savageness, cruelty and absolute ruthlessness. However, when we look at the nature of the Lord Jesus we can clearly see the contrast between the nature of the lamb with that of the beast.
B. The Nature of the Lamb.
(Philippians 2:5-8) “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross.” Now let’s look at the nature of the Lamb according to these scriptures.
The Lord Jesus did not grasp equality with God His Father.
(Vss. 5-6) He humbled himself even though He knew He was God the Son. He could have used His divine power as God but chose to live and work as a man under the power of the Holy Spirit. He was also tempted to misuse the power He had when Satan tempted Him with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and with the pride of life. Whatever ministry and service we are involved in as believers we need to have the attitude that Jesus had. He always sought to give his Father honour and praise for the gifts and power He exercised acknowledging that they were from the Father. This kind of attitude should be ours especially when we are involved in ministry and service for the Lord. Remember Jesus himself said that He only did what He saw his Father doing. Paul also says to us in this chapter, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Vs. 4)
The Lord Jesus didn’t seek a reputation.
(Vs.7) The Lord Jesus never drew attention to Himself for His own sense of self- gratification. When someone was healed He often told him or her not to tell anyone about it. Sometimes He withdrew to lonely and solitary places to pray to His Father in Heaven. The only time He drew attention to Himself was to show people the real purpose of His incarnation or to show them that He was fulfilling scripture. When He fed the 5000 He was identifying himself with Moses who gave the Israelites bread from heaven. In doing this Jesus was also telling the people that He himself was the living bread that came down from heaven and that anyone who eats His words would live forever. The Lord Jesus never advertised Himself as a healing evangelist neither did he go about doing miracles to bolster His own image in the eyes of others or to prove that He had been sent from God. He always preached the Word of God and the absolute necessity and priority for repentance and faith before anything else and never emphasized the miracles above the Word of God.
The Lord Jesus was always obedient to God His Father.
(Vs.8) It wasn’t easy for the Lord Jesus to walk in perfect submission and obedience to God’s will. The writer to the Hebrews says concerning Jesus, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:7-9) Believing in Jesus includes obedience to His Word. Jesus himself said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36 NASB). Obedience involves unreserved submission to the Lord Jesus and to the will of God. This is what Paul calls “the obedience of faith” or “the faith of obedience.” (Romans 1:5) True faith and obedience are connected. The word for “faith” both in Greek and in Hebrew literally means “faithfulness” as well as “to believe.”
C.The nature of the Lamb is seen in the Sermon on the Mount.
In Matthew 5: 3-12 the Lord Jesus spoke about the Lamb nature. In His discourse we see a dependence on God (Vs. 3-4) Meekness (Vs. 5) A hunger and thirsting for righteousness (Vs.6) Showing mercy (Vs. 7) Purity of motive and desire (Vs. 8) Being a Peacemaker (Vs. 9) Enduring persecution because of righteous living (Vs. 10) Enduring insults, persecution and false accusations because of uncompromising loyalty to Jesus Himself (Vs. 11-12) There is a tremendous contrast between Satan and the Lord Jesus. Satan has been given the lowest place in the earth because he became proud and tried to exult himself above God but the Lord Jesus has been given the supreme place of honour and power in the whole universe because He humbled Himself. (Philippians 2:9-11) One grasped and fell while the other humbled Himself and was exulted. Jesus said, “For everyone who exults himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exulted.” (Luke 14:11)
The way up is down
If we are to make any progress at all in the spiritual life then the way up is down. (Crucifixion death and burial) The way to the resurrection life and power of God is through the death of the cross. Derek Prince said, “The cross is the place where our will and God’s will cross!” We cannot know Jesus in His kingdom, His power or even in His prosperity until we know Him in His humiliation and crucifixion. We cannot know the power of His resurrection without knowing the fellowship of His suffering. (Philippians 3: 10-11) What happened to Jesus in His last days will happen to His body, the Church in its last days. In the last days the Church universally will face its hour of crucifixion at the hands of the Antichrist’s godless empire but through this fiery trial the faithful Church will emerge a glorious and triumphant Church. Daniel the prophet wrote about this, “As I watched, this horn (the Antichrist) was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days (God Himself) came and pronounced judgment in favour of the Saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:21-23)
If the world hates you
Our Lord Jesus Himself said that what He suffered we would also suffer. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master’. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours as well. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21) Historically this has come true. Read the Martyrs Mirror which lays out the historical persecution of faithful Christians from the First Century onwards or read Foxes book of Martyrs. It has been said that there is no crown without a cross. Every one of us will have to encounter the work of the cross in our lives if we want to be used effectively in God’s service. For example, this truth is seen in the lives of Jacob, Moses, Isaiah and the apostle Paul. Jacob wrestled through the night with the Lord until morning and his name was changed from Jacob to Israel. Moses encountered God in the burning bush and was purified for his ministry. Isaiah had a vision of the Lord and acknowledged his unworthiness to serve the Lord and received cleansing and power for his ministry. Paul encountered the Lord on the road to Damascus and it transformed his life and ministry. God’s supreme desire for us is to encounter the work of the cross in our lives.
The new creation
Only through this sanctifying and purifying work can he prepare us for His service. (Galatians 2:20 6:14) There is a clear distinction between those who follow the Lamb (Jesus and His Kingdom) and those who follow the beast (Satan and his kingdom). People will be known by the spiritual fruit they produce in their lives. (Matthew 7:15-23) (Galatians 5: 16-18 6:7-9) God’s only remedy is the New Creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The Dove of the Holy Spirit always descends and remains upon the one with the nature of the Lamb. (John 1: 29-34) If we want to know the power of God’s Spirit resting on us then we need to diligently, deliberately and consistently allow the Holy Spirit to develop the Lamb’s nature in our lives. We may claim to have an anointing and even have gifts and the power to work miracles and healing but if the nature of the Lamb is absent in our daily lives then we need to ask ourselves what kind of anointing is it that we have?
Be filled with the Spirit
As we yield moment by moment by faith to the control of the Holy Spirit God will do in us what we cannot do for ourselves. We can and should be actively involved with the Holy Spirit in every area of our daily living. (Ephesians 5: 15-21) When Paul tells us to “be filled with the Spirit” it is both a command and an ongoing experience according to the original Greek language of the Bible. Just because we were filled with the Holy Spirit as an initial experience does not guarantee that we will always be filled with the Holy Spirit. For every new avenue of service, for every new situation for witnessing, for every new emergency or opportunity for service and for every new person to be counselled we must make sure that we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
D. The contrast between the nature of the Lamb and the nature of the beast is seen in the churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea.
Philadelphia: (Revelation 3: 7-9)
The title literally translated means “brotherly love” and the keyword that describes this church is “humility.” The believers in this church were humble before the Lord and fervent in their service for Him and in due course God would exult them. We can see this kind of church today in third world countries, such as Korea, Indonesia, South America, and in those underground churches that suffer persecution. In everything we say and do for the Lord Jesus love must always be our goal. (1 Timothy 1: 5) (Galatians 5: 6) (1 Corinthians 13)
Laodicea (Revelation 3: 15-18)
The title literally translated means “people’s opinions” and the keyword that describes this church is “pride.” The believers in this church were spiritually proud and arrogant and loved money and were lukewarm in their service for the Lord. If they did not repent then God would reject them. (Vs. 15-16) Today, the Church in the West is just like Laodicea, materialistic, lazy, self- centred, rich, and complacent and in most cases indifferent to those going to hell and to the real spiritual state of the Church. All of us who claim to love God need a fresh vision of His holiness and an intense thirst for His Word. Isaiah the prophet was a servant of God and mixed with the nobility of King Uzziah’s court. However, when the king died and the kingdom was plunged into turmoil then Isaiah had a revelation of his true spiritual state in the light of God’s holiness. (Isaiah 6:5) It was at this point in his life that Isaiah encountered the work of the cross purifying and cleansing him for his ministry. (Isaiah 6:6-8) From that time on he was a changed man and became the greatest evangelist of the Old Testament. Even though God told him that his ministry would greatly be opposed Isaiah set his face and his heart to complete God’s will for his life. In the end like the Lord Jesus he died for his loyalty to God and His Word. King Manasseh had Isaiah put into a hollow of a log and sawn in two. Isaiah was a true prophet unlike many today who call themselves prophets but by their lifestyles and attachment to the world are anything but true prophets. Whichever spirit we yield to everyday will ultimately determine who takes us over in the end. Will we yield to the nature of the Lamb or to the nature of the Beast?
E. The Lamb Wins! (Revelation 19:11-21)
In this chapter of Revelation we see the final outcome of the conflict between the forces of the Lamb and the forces of the Antichrist. On this day the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with the holy angels and the triumphant Church. At this time the kingdom of the Antichrist will be overthrown and the remnant of Israel delivered from the armies attacking Jerusalem. When Jesus returns there will be only two kinds of people, those who have followed the Lamb and are riding with Him triumphantly on white horses and those who have followed the beast empire and received its mark. Ultimately all of us will be on one side or the other.
How should we respond to these things as believers? (Philippians 2: 12-16)
1. We must walk in obedience to the Lord. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence.” (Vs.12a) 2. We must not take our Salvation for granted. “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Vs. 12b) 3. We must recognize that God is at work in us according to His will. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Vs. 13) 4. We must do everything without grumbling and arguing. “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” (Vs. 14) 5. We must be blameless in our lifestyle and pure in our motives. “So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Vs. 15). 6. We must be holding forth and holding onto the Word of God. “As you hold out the word of life.” (Vs. 16)
F. When the Lamb becomes angry.
(Revelation 6:12-17) “I watched as He opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Have you ever seen an angry lamb?
Usually we associate a lamb with a small and gentle creature that is vulnerable and weak. It is hard to imagine an angry lamb. However, Jesus is pictured here in Revelation as an angry lamb, one who is not gentle and mild but one who is powerful beyond description. When Jesus returns with great power and splendour everyone in this world from the rich to the poor will tremble and seek to hide from the brilliance of His coming. Every institution of man that God has not established will be shaken and collapse. (Isaiah 24) People will even call the mountains and the rocks to fall on them to hide them from the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. The great day of God’s wrath has come and who can stand before His power?
Peace and safety?
The world is heading for judgment. The Bible is very clear on this point. “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) The only refuge from the coming wrath is to be justified before God through faith in Jesus and in the power of His blood to cleanse us and protect us from judgment. “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9)
Be ready to go!
When the destroying angel passed over Egypt there were three things the Israelites did that brought them out of Egypt (a type of the world) into the Promised Land (a type of heaven). They applied the blood of the lamb to the doors of their houses and sheltered under it by faith in its power to protect them and ate the lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. They were ready to leave. If we would escape the wrath of God soon to be unleashed on this world we also need to do three things. Firstly, we need to be sheltering under the blood of Jesus by faith in Him and by walking in the light of God’s Word. (1 John 1:7-9) Secondly, we need to be feeding on God’s Word and applying it to our lives. (Matthew 4:4) Thirdly, we need to be ready to go when Jesus comes for us. We are going to meet Him in the air! “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)