As we continue our sermon series on the book of Revelation, we heard about seven angels who had seven trumpets. The first six sound their trumpets, and all sorts of terrible things happen. And yet, the people do not repent of their sins and turn back to God.
Today, we hear about the seventh angel sounding his trumpet. And we’re told there were loud voices in heaven, and they said, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
Then a whole bunch of other stuff happens, and we’ll talk about that in a minute. And as we talk about it, I need to be honest with you and tell you that I’m relying on what I’ve read about this. Maybe you’ve read different things, I don’t know. The meaning of some of it is not always clear. But as we go through all this stuff, remember this. When that seventh trumpet sounds, the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Lord and of His Messiah. No matter what else happens, remember that.
The next thing that happens is that we have a reference to the birth of Christ. A woman is about to give birth to a male child. An enormous red dragon, who we’re later told is Satan, is standing there, waiting to kill her child as soon as he’s born. But God protects the child and the woman, and they go to a place of safety, prepared for them by God.
There’s a war in heaven. The angel Michael and other angels fight against Satan and angels who are loyal to Satan. Satan is thrown down from heaven and hurled to earth, and the angels loyal to Satan are thrown down with him.
Satan is enraged. He continues to try to pursue the woman and her child, but he’s frustrated every time. Because of that, we’re told, Satan “went off to make war against the rest of her offspring.” That does not mean the other children of Mary. It means “Those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” In other words, you and me, if we claim to be Christians.
Let’s just stop there for a minute. Because there are a lot of people, including a lot of people who claim to be Christians, including some very high-up and well-known people who claim to be Christians, who want to say Satan does not exist. Some of you may believe that, too, I don’t know. And to be honest, I’m not all that comfortable standing up here preaching about Satan. And maybe you’re uncomfortable hearing about Satan. Most of us like to come away from church feeling good. It’s pretty hard to write a feel-good sermon about Satan.
But we’re reading the Bible, and all I can tell you is that the Bible is pretty clear on this point. According to the Bible, Satan most certainly does exist. We can choose to ignore that if we want to, but our ignoring the Bible does not change it. The Bible says plainly that Satan does exist. And it says Satan has a mission. That mission is to come after you. And me. And anyone else who is a Christian. Anyone who is trying to follow God, to do what God told us to do, anyone who proclaims Jesus as the Savior is one of Satan’s targets.
Then we have the beasts. Satan gives power an authority to a beast. The beast has ten horns and seven heads and--well, you heard the description. From what I’ve read, people at the time would’ve recognized the beast as representing the Roman government. These were the days of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was huge and it was powerful. Remember, we read that people were saying, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against it?” There was nothing on earth like the Roman Empire. It looked like it was invincible. We’re told that people worshipped the beast. In other words, there were people who put their complete faith and trust in the Roman government, because it was all-powerful.
Then we’re told of another beast. It works on behalf of the first beast, and encourages people to worship that first beast. I read that people at the time would’ve recognized this beast as representing the Imperial Roman cultic priests, who encouraged people to worship the Roman Emperor as a god.
People are forced to receive a mark on their hands or their foreheads, and they cannot buy or sell anything unless they have that mark. That, I read, represents an unofficial economic boycott of Christians. If you were a Christian, and you refused to worship the Roman Emperor, you would not be allowed to participate in any sort of commerce. You would not be able to buy or sell anything. It was a way of trying to force Christians to publicly deny their beliefs and go along with the Roman government.
And finally, we have the number of the beast. 666. We’re told it’s the number of a man. We don’t know who the man is. I saw some names suggested, but we don’t really know. Some say it’s mankind generally. We said early in this sermon series that seven was consider a number representing perfection. Six, therefore, would represent imperfection. Also, God’s number is three--God is referred to as the trinity, the three in one, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Six, being twice three, is sometimes considered to be man trying to be God.
So, now that we’ve heard all this, what do we do? Well, we get back to the questions we’ve asked in other messages. Why is this in the Bible? What are we supposed to learn from it? What does it tell us about God, or about ourselves, or about the world, or about our relationship with God?
Well, here’s what I think it tells us. One thing is that Satan is out there. Whether we want to admit that or not, the Bible is clear about it. Satan is out there, and he’s not ready to give up. In fact, Satan may think he’s winning. But Satan is out there, and he’s coming after you, and me, and anyone else who claims Jesus as the Savior.
Now, I don’t say that to scare you. I’m saying it because we need to be aware of this, and we need to be prepared for it. Because Satan is not a cartoon character. Satan is not Yosemite Sam wearing a red suit with horns and a tail. Satan is a lot more subtle than that, and a lot sneakier than that.
Satan has all kinds of ways to come after us. You may remember, in the fourth chapter of Matthew, all the ways Jesus himself was tempted by Satan. Tempted to turn stones into bread, tempted to throw himself down from the temple and let the angels save him, tempted to rule over all the kingdoms of the world right now. Satan tempted Jesus in various ways. And Satan does that to us, too.
And one of those ways, which Revelation tells us about, is to put our faith in everything and everyone but Jesus Christ. The specific example Revelation gives us is putting our faith in the government. But as we said last week, people all around us are putting their faith in all kinds of things other than Jesus Christ. People will put their faith in celebrities, in athletes, in generalized spirituality, in good works, in mysticism, in self-esteem and happiness, in all kinds of things rather than putting their faith in the one true God in his divine Son, Jesus Christ.
That’s Satan at work. There may be other things going on, too, but one of the things going on is that Satan is at work. Satan is active and is doing everything in his power to turn people away from Jesus Christ. And it’s up to the Christians--to you and to me--to resist Satan’s power. And as we said last week, we need to do more than just resist Satan’s power. We need to rely on God’s power and do everything we can to turn people back to Jesus Christ.
Our Bible reading for today told us of a battle that took place in heaven. The battle was won in heaven, but the war was not over and it is not over. Satan was thrown down to earth and continued the battle here on earth. And you and I, as Christians, are the ones who need to fight that battle.
I said earlier that it’s hard to write a feel-good sermon about Satan. But there’s one thing you and I can feel good about, and here it is: we’re going to win. Remember where we started this message. The very first verse we read today.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
Satan is still active. But guess what? God is still active, too. God’s Holy Spirit is here with us. God’s Holy Spirit is working is us and with us and through us. And God is winning. And God is going to win. If Satan thinks he’s winning, he’s wrong. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah. As Jesus says in Luke Seventeen, verse Twenty-one, the kingdom of God is in our midst. And he will reign, forever and ever.