The war for the souls of mankind has been raging for over two thousand years. In my last two articles, we looked at the first two woes, demonstrating that they both began in the first century, even though their greatest effect upon fallen humanity wasn’t realized until the sixth century. Moreover, these two woes have progressively gotten worse through the centuries until the present day. Today, we will look at the third woe that corresponds with the seventh trumpet giving us a glimpse at the end from the beginning; a time of great rejoicing in heaven because the war has finally been won. (Read Revelation 11:14-19). Hallelujah! It’s essential to understand that the book of Revelation is not a static prophecy nor is it a prophecy incapsulated for some future date. It is a very dynamic prophecy relevant for every age giving us direction, hope, and encouragement to stand firm in the midst of the war being waged for the souls of humanity. To fully understand the third woe, it will be necessary to review six chapters in the book of Revelation along with the important interludes, four separate acts, that we will discuss as they appear in the Revelation. Bear with me during this heart-stopping drama, for it’s well worth the journey.
Before the seventh trumpet announces the third woe, the Church needs to understand its role in the war effort. (Read Revelation 10:1-11) Act One. The beautiful symbolism of the prophet eating the “Little Scroll” demonstrates that he (or the church’s prophetic witness) will receive a deeper understanding of this prophecy in each of their respective ages. It also promises that they will fully understand the prophecy in the final hours of the war being waged against humanity by the powers of darkness. The “Seven Thunders” indicates that the mystery of God is not about kingdoms and earthly powers but about proclaiming the transformation of every man in Christ as the key to winning the war. Act Two. Once the Church truly understands the prophetic message then they will effectively stand against the worldly powers propped up by Satan. This effective witness is symbolized by the “Two Witnesses” (Read Revelation 11:1-13) As long as the Church’s witness is focused on personal evangelism, they have great power (See II Corinthians 10:4-6). However, in the last hour, the coming beast will kill the witness of the Church by causing them to focus on the wrong battle by following him in his political and legalistic endeavors to build his kingdom here on earth. When the witness of the Church is finally destroyed, the beast (now clearly recognizable by the faithful remnant) will lead the world into a time of great jubilation and dancing in the streets as they send gifts one to another. His coming will also be accompanied by a great earthquake signifying a great shakeup in the world system.
After the seventh trumpet announces the third woe, there is a very important heavenly and historical interlude. Act Three. (Read Revelation 12:1-6) In this Act, we see a war being waged in heaven between the Church (the woman) and the Dragon (Satan). Clearly, what we see happening in heaven is also happening on the earth. The old church, faithful Israel, is seen bringing forth its Savior through the man child of Jesus Christ. Immediately, Satan tried to devour the child as He escaped to Egypt where God protected Him (see Revelation 12:6). This interlude is very important to the prophecy because it shows us that the war started in heaven long ago before Christ came to earth to save humanity and show them how to win the war that’s being waged against their souls. Act Four. (Read Revelation 12:7-17) In this Act, the prophecy helps us to understand how critical the war effort is for all of humanity, as we realize that Satan has been cast out of heaven making earth his new battleground. Let that sink in! There is no escaping the fact that this war that’s been raging since the first century is for the purpose of world domination and particularly the domination of God’s children. The Bible says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). Don’t think for a minute that God’s children can find refuge in a world leader.
Now, we come to the central figure of the third woe, the beast coming out of the sea (Read Revelation 13:1-10). Although the beast and the powers of darkness have come against the Church in every age, in the last hour his attacks on humanity and God’s beloved children, in particular, will be unconscionable. His greatest power will be deception. The dragon (Satan) gave the beast “his power, and his seat, and great authority” (see Revelation 13:2). This is much more than just physical power, it’s spiritual power, the power of persuasion, and deception to lead millions astray. I should not be surprised that his followers will actually worship the dragon (Satan) because he gave his power to the beast (see Revelation 13:4) Before you object, anyone who does not surrender their life completely to the Lordship of Christ is already under control of the evil one following his lead, first in their thoughts, then in their actions. I believe many will worship anyone, including Satan, who would allow them to build “a brave new world!” A world with no restrictions or condemnations from religion. To reject God is accepting what the devil offers, unleashed immorality, beyond Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps, what’s most disturbing to me is that he will overcome the saints (see Revelation 13:7). Most will be overcome because they are no longer fighting the war by winning people to Christ but are trying to legislate morality through their political party or forcing people to do what they believe to be righteous and just. Clearly, they are fighting the wrong battle and losing the war.
This beast in the last hour has a lot of help from the religious type beast (or the second beast) (Read Revelation 13:11-18). Perhaps, this has been the problem from the beginning where religious leaders are propping up their favorite dictator or simply those willing to fulfill the desires of the lukewarm Church. Throughout Church history, they have always worked hand in hand, especially the Catholic Church, which often used their military might to keep their people in line though Papal Bulls, the Inquisitions, or to fulfill their will in conquering other nations. This religious type beast is particularly supportive of the first beast causing everyone to worship his image, which has the ability to speak. (Sounds a bit like the image on the monitor or television screen.) This along with many other miracles, real or unreal, allows him to control the people. It is he, (this is important friends), who causes everyone to take a mark. This is not done by the government but by a religious leader to ensure everyone is worshiping the image. We know if they refuse the mark they cannot buy or sell. I discuss the dreaded mark and the number of the beast more extensively in my book, “Final Warning.”
At this point, we are probably thinking we could use some encouragement, especially if there is just a glimmer of a possibility that we will be here when all this happens. Well, I am delighted to tell you the whole next chapter of the book of Revelation is dedicated to doing just that, giving us encouragement, direction, and hope. Please read Revelation 14:1-20. The glories of heaven await God’s chosen and beloved children, who will not be marked by the beast and his evil powers of darkness but will have on them the seal and name of their Father in heaven. We take great encouragement that we are now and always will be in the company of the Lamb of God. As God’s holy angels go forth into the whole world preaching the everlasting Gospel, we don’t sit idly by, but continue in great patience obeying the commandments of God and remaining faithful to Jesus. We also to do our part in the war effort against the powers of darkness by joining God’s holy angels in sharing the everlasting gospel and going through the open doors of opportunity they give to us, as we are led by the indwelling Spirit. There’s still hope for the wicked if they repent. We rejoice and have hope that the war will finally end with God’s righteous judgment coming upon fallen humanity to right all wrongs for the many centuries of hate and persecution directed toward His people, the true Church.
In the next three chapters, we see the climax of the third woe and the end of the war between the powers of darkness and the holiness of God. The Bible says, “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God” (Revelation 15:1). We have seen plagues from the hand of God for over two thousand years. While it woke up some in their slumber, unfortunately, most continued on their merry way and on the path to eternal damnation. Even with an increase in the number and strength of hurricanes, earthquakes, along with this latest pandemic, most are still making excuses as they close their ears to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God wishes no one to be lost, so He leaves His faithful remnant in place to continue sharing the Gospel with the hope that with the final plagues and outpouring of His wrath, fallen humanity will repent of their wickedness and turn back to God.
In the four trumpets, we saw a much gentler persuasion with only a partial outpouring of God’s wrath on fallen humanity. In each plague there is only a partial devastation. A third part of the trees is burnt up; a third part of the creatures in the sea die; a third part of the rivers and freshwater are polluted causing many men to die, and only a third part of the sky is darkened because of air pollution also causing many to die (Read Revelation 8:7-12). Even in the first two woes, only a third of humanity are affected but now it will be much different. Multiply all of our current calamities by three and you will get an idea of what’s soon to come. In each of these final bowls of God’s wrath to be poured out there will be complete and total devastation. Read Revelation 16:1-17, sores will fall on every man who takes the mark or worships the beast; every living soul in the sea will die; rivers and freshwater are totally polluted; all men are scorched with great heat from the sun; the kingdom of the beast is cast into utter darkness; the kings of the east are gathered for the great and final battle of Armageddon, and then a very mighty earthquake strikes, worse than the world has ever seen. Now ask yourself: Do you want to face this alone or do you want to face it under the power and protection of our Lord? Then, also consider your family and friends. Which is more important, saving the aspirations of your political party or the salvation of souls and winning the war? If you fight the wrong battle, you will lose the war. Dear Christian, be transformed in Christ now and start snatching people from the coming fires of eternal damnation by proclaiming the simple truth of the Gospel.
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