Chapters 12 and 13 were pretty rough. We came face to face with evil, with wickedness, with Satan’s violent hatred of Christ whom he tried to devour and of Christ’s church which he pursued into the wilderness. Furthermore, those faithful to Jesus might not be able to buy and sell and provide for their families, they will be put to death. In fact it appears that Christianity and the church might be crushed all together. It sounds tempting to give up the fight and just surrender. But that’s not the last word. As fierce and aggressive as Satan has been, like a prowling and roaring lion, for all that he has only failed. Chapters 14 and 15 give us a different vision, a vision of what happens to those who don’t take the mark of the beast and what happens to the beast and his servants. Remember John is writing to Christians who are struggling in the midst of a hostile and pagan culture. It reminds me of Psalm 73: Psalm 73:2-3 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:12-14, 16-19 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Verses 1-5 encourage the righteous and verses 6-11 warn the wicked, then verses 12-13 encourage the righteous some more.
God is infinite and eternal. That means that all the attributes of God are infinite and eternal. That means that I could preach for a year on each attribute and not plumb the depths of each one. We will spend eternity making new discoveries every day about each of God’s attributes. So to devote one sermon to each attribute is just a drop in the bucket and to devote one sermon to two attributes borders on shear folly. Grace and mercy are often put together when we are talking about the attributes of God or the characteristics of God. Mercy can be defined as not getting what we do deserve; and grace defined as getting what we don’t deserve. Mercy is that we don’t end up in hell, which we all deserve. Grace is ending up in heaven which none of us deserve. Mercy is God’s goodness toward those in misery and distress. Grace is God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment.
Who is this beast of the earth? You have heard the statement if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it must be a duck. What has two horns and looks like a lamb and talks like a dragon? How can an innocent, harmless lamb speaks for Satan? This is a beast in lamb’s clothing. This is just like Satan, who you remember is disguised as an angel of light. He takes a Christ-like appearance to deliver his message. Revelation 13 describes two beasts. The first is a horrible sounding monster with ten horns and seven heads. The second appears much more harmless and for that reason is the far more dangerous beast. As the last verse says we need wisdom here. We will need great discernment to differentiate between God’s truth and Satan’s lies. [Do you know what a dragon sounds like? Would you know it’s voice? Scripture tells us what a dragon sounds like; we hear his voice in Genesis 3 in the garden. Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” John 8:44 [He] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. He is crafty. He asks questions in a way that gets you to question the truth and authority of God’s Word. He lies and he lies to kill and destroy. He speaks against God and God’s Word. The first beast was from the sea, this one is from the earth, together they represent Satan’s influence over the entire earth. The beast of the earth is the third part of an unholy trinity described in Revelation 12-13, the dragon who is Satan, the beast of the sea who is like a false messiah and this beast of the sea who we will see is like a counterfeit Holy Spirit. Three times in Revelation this beast is also referred to as the false prophet.
Wow, more incredible visions and mind boggling images of great and terrible things. In Chapter 12 we encountered the woman and the dragon. The dragon we were told was the ancient serpent, the devil, Satan, the deceiver of the world. When he failed in his attempt to kill the woman’s baby son, he attacked the woman who fled into the wilderness and escaped. Failing again he made war on the rest of her offspring who kept the commandments of God and held to the testimony of Jesus, meaning the church of Jesus Christ on earth. In Chapter 13 we are given more detail about this war that Satan is waging against the church, against Christians.
Ever since the fall man was wanted to be like God and with the help of computers and the internet it seems like we are getting close. Google cameras and satellites have mapped and recorded just about every square inch of this planet allowing us to be present everywhere and see everything God sees. Facebook wants to be everywhere, recording every idol thought. Judging from all the selfies it’s in every bedroom and bathroom and social gathering. They stirred up some controversy last year when they moved to offer a limited free internet to India and Africa. What they miss Instagram and Twitter pick up. NSA wants to be everywhere and know everything, listening to everyone, reading everyone’s e-mail. But let’s talk about who really is everywhere. We come this morning to the third of the three big omni’s about God. With regard to knowledge, we know God is omniscient, He knows everything and His knowledge is infallible. With regard to power, we know God is omnipotent, He can do anything He wills to do. When we think of God as infinite with regard to space, we call that omnipresence. His presence has no limit, it is infinite. God is Lord of space and cannot be limited by space. He is close to and next to everything.