Zechariah 2:1-3:10, Revelations 13:2-18, Psalms 141:1-10, Proverbs 30:18-20
Today is December 22nd. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. And it’s great to be here with you as we approach the close of another week and we’re just days away from the Christmas holiday. Gosh, one week from today will be through all of that. Christmas time is here. And speaking of that, stay tuned all the way the end. There is a special announcement today. But first let’s turn to the Scriptures. Alright, now, we are traveling through the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament and the book of Revelation in the New. We’re reading from the Names of God Bible this week and today we’ll read Zechariah chapter 2 verse 1 through 3 verse 10.
Okay. So, we’re getting into the thick of it in the book of Revelation and we’re heading into some highly debated and contentious territory, which invariably means that it’s more well-known and you are likely to have heard many things about it. And our job here isn’t to, you know, interpret it correctly and set the record straight for everyone who’s been studying this for thousands of years. That would be fairly arrogant. What we’re trying to do is just walk into the territory, avoid the hysteria, and look at what the text says, and look at some of the main ways that this is been interpreted. So, we’ve got a beast coming up out of the sea, that had 10 horns, 7 heads, and 10 crowns on its horns and insulting…like a lot of symbolism. The beast that John saw was like a leopard. Its feet were like bears feet. Its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And all these symbols and, you know, bears feet, lion’s mouth, these have been associated with all kinds of things. So, this idea of coming up out of the sea could be literally just that. Somehow this beast just rose up out of the ocean, but it’s been noted that this appearance is most likely the kind of appearance that would happen from the ship. Not that the beast is a ship with the imagery itself. Like, if you’re standing on the on the beach and looking out at the ocean and something large, a big ship or something, comes onto the horizon. It looks like it’s coming up out of the sea. So, it’s something that’s coming. And a lot of the corresponding imagery here comes from the book of Daniel and the seventh chapter, in particular. So, there have been interpretations in antiquity of sea monsters that this is a sea monster coming up out of the sea because any allusions to sea monsters and that kind of thing in any of the Old Testament writings always represent evil or an evil kingdom or evil that is against, that is set against, God’s people and His covenant. Others say that the sea represents the abyss so that evil is coming up out of the abyss. And the crowns that this beast wears are false claims of sovereign authority. And this beast has been associated with ancient Rome for a very long time, very consistently. And that’s in part because that would’ve been the world that John understood when this was written and because of all the things were happening in the Empire at the time. But it’s deeper than that. In the Jewish writings, interpreting Daniel, or so many of the parallels for this portion of, well, for that matter, for all of Revelation comes from, those Jewish writers associated Daniel 7 with Rome. And perhaps this beast’s characteristics can be associated with allied empires and nations or just assimilated nations that are now part of the Roman Empire and they all, together, make up this one beast. But there’s wide interpretations if you’re looking at this from a presentest perspective, like, then you’d be looking at what’s happening now to make these identifications. If you’re a futurist, then this is something that can happen, and you make speculation. And then if you work your way back in history all the way to John’s time, then you find other associations. But the bottom line here is, no matter how these associations are made, or if they are correct, what’s happening here is not…it’s evil…evil is coming up and the serpent, who’s been associated with the devil, gives his power to this beast. So, all of a sudden, we have interesting parallels look like is very, very unholy trinity that’s materializing. So, whereas the father gave his authority to Jesus, now we have the serpent giving his authority to this beast. And, although this beast had seven heads, one of them had a fatal wound, but it’s fatal wound was healed. So, some almost, like, unholy resurrection imagery is here. And a lot of commentators over the years have associated this beast with the Emperor Nero, who committed suicide, but then there were all kinds of like Elvis style rumors that he wasn’t really dead and maybe that he had been spotted and there were people impersonating him and that maybe he was going to come back. But in the end, Emperor Nero’s death wasn’t fatal to the Empire and instead it showed the resolve in their power. So, a potential deathblow turns into a recovery. So, there’s just a good number of interpretations. And what happens from a straight reading of the text is that the world is dazzled by all of this and they worship the serpent. Right? Because it had given authority to the beast. So, you can see these parallels. They worship the beast and they praise by saying, who is like the beast, who can fight a war with it? Which is not unlike Old Testament declarations and prophecies, who is like our God, who is like you Lord, who could who could possibly fight with you, who could? This kind of stuff. And this beast was allowed to wage war against God’s people, and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. And everyone living on earth worshiped it. Everyone, that is, whose name is not written in the book of life. So, this is the kind of place where you have to decide how you’re reading this. If you’re reading it from a literal perspective, then there is a sea monster unlike any creature we’ve ever seen before that is going to come up out of the sea and receive the dark powers of evil and claim sovereignty and the world is generally going to believe in and worship this beast who will subsequently consolidate power and go to war with God’s people. And this would personify evil into one being or at least this activity into one being. And, of course, the beast is associated with imagery of the Antichrist, who has been depicted as, you know, as some kind of emerging world leader, a person in popular culture. So, we run into this problem of trying to decide time. You know, when will this happen? Are we to look allegorically and figuratively or are we to look literally at these kinds of things. And we have to acknowledge that, for the most part, the figurative interpretation is where we land. But, so often, we just flip to literal because we’ve been kind of programed to do that. And, so, when we get to the Antichrist we have to determine whether we’re talking about one person or if we’re talking about anything that is anti-Christ. So, for example, in first John, which we read recently, we were told that. ‘you have heard that the antichrist is coming. Even now many antichrists have come. And who is the liar except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. This is the antichrist.’ So, we have to decide if this is embodied in one person at some point in history or if we’re talking about the world consolidating itself in a way that is anti-Christ and oppressive to God’s people. And more than oppressive, antagonistic, and at war with God’s people. But, nevertheless, according to the Scripture, this beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it’s hard to make that allegorical. Because if we’re talking about spiritually then we would say that this war against God’s holy people conquers them spiritually. That would be hard to reconcile because God has put His seal on their foreheads as we read earlier. And so much of the book of Revelation and so much of the New Testament itself is about enduring these things or these kinds of things, staying true, keeping the light burning. And we have to acknowledge, at least at this point in the book of Revelation, we haven’t seen any indications that God’s holy people are going to be zapped away from all this. It seems to be an encouragement to endure and keep the light burning like the rest of the New Testament does. And to keep us keep us focused on the fact that our bodily death isn’t the end of anything. And if we zoom out to the 30,000 foot view, we would have to say, this is what it looks like for the transition of the kingdom to come. And, so, there’s this conquering that takes place, which doesn’t necessarily mean killing, it means conquering. And this happens because the world follows this beast. Everyone worships this beast. Everyone who’s not written in the book of life. That book, I’m reading this from revelation, ‘that book belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the creation of the world.’ And this gets really contentious and really prickly because now we’re talking about predestination. And, generally, that’s the idea that everything was already preordained before it ever started. The way that this whole thing was going to go down was already preordained, including every name of every person that would be written in the book of life. Which brings up all sorts of things to think about, like, is my is my name in the book of life? Right? That would be the primary question. And what name is it exactly that is in the book of life if my name is in that book? For example, my name is Brian. Is Brian written in the book of life or did God give me a new name in the book of life or do I actually have a different name that was ordained from the foundation of the world and that’s how God knows me but my earthly parents gave me the name Brian? Is this an actual book or is this figurative language, simply describing everyone who belongs to God? And this idea of preordination or predestination or not has been a point of debate throughout pretty much the majority of church history. And I don’t think I’m qualified to do every shade and nuance of that and I know for certain we don’t have time. So, basically, on the one hand, we have the idea that everything was preordained. Everything that’s going to happen was already written and now it’s just playing out, including the lives of those who will ultimately be in the book of life and belong to God. This was preordained. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. Some were chosen to be God’s people and they will. There’s nothing they can do about it and it has nothing to do with what they do. The ones who are not written in the book of life, well, I mean, they simply weren’t written in the book of life. And, so, they are preordained to oppose God and God’s people. And all of this was predetermined before history began. On the other hand, you have a more collaborative view. And that would be that people get to make choices and those choices get to matter. It’s what I think Blaise Pascal called the dignity of causality. And, ultimately, that basically means that God loves us and we get to choose whether or not we love him back. And this plays out in a thing called a relationship. And this idea basically starts in the book of Genesis with Adam and Eve. They were able to make a choice to eat from the tree that was forbidden. And then throughout the rest of the Bible we encounter this overarching narrative that tells us that God is passionate for people and wants to collaborate and interact in life. The problem that gets prickly there, theologically, when viewed through the lens of predestination is that, everyone must be in the book, which can lead a person in all kinds of directions. So, on the one side, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re either in the book are you not in the book and that was determined before history began. And, so, that can lead a person into all kinds of interesting directions. Whereas the idea that everyone is written in the Lamb’s book of life can also lead a person in all kinds of interesting directions. The idea here would be that humanity was destined for God. He wanted everyone to be with Him, everyone that was ever born, or, like according to second Peter, chapter 3, ‘the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness, instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ Or from Romans chapter 6, ‘the death He died’, so Jesus, ‘the death Jesus died, he died to sin once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God.’ And, so, in terms of predestination, everyone is predestined for God but we get to collaborate in that choice and we can choose otherwise, thereby eliminating ourselves from this book of life. So, how you understand this definitely affects how you read the Bible, but it certainly affects the way you would understand the book of Revelation. And I think the book of Revelation is speaking correctly when it says, ‘in this situation God’s holy people need endurance and confidence.’ And then the next thing that happens from our reading today is that there’s another beast. And this one comes up from the earth and has two horns like a lamb but it talks like a serpent. So, now we have this great serpent whose given authority to this beast and now there’s a second beast. And we see these kind of father, son, Holy Spirit, these kind of parallels in a dark way here. And this second beast is able to perform all kinds of signs and wonders that are very deceptive for those living on earth. And it just kind of reiterates and consolidates the false authority and power of the serpent. And this second beast has a statue made of the first beast who was wounded by a sword and still lived. And then the second beast is allowed to put breath into that statue. And then that statue puts to death whoever will not worship it. And scholars have drawn parallels here for a long, long time and in significant numbers, that the imagery here would harken back to Daniel’s time when King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue that everyone had to fall down and worship when the trumpet blasted. And that’s what got Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace. A literal reading of this section of Revelation would be a literal reading. There’s a statue of the first beast, who has been given the authority of the serpent. The second beast comes along. The statue comes to life. And anyone who won’t worship the statue then is killed. An allegorical reading would be that all of this symbolizes an empire or an authority, a national authority, that influences the entire world. And its consolidated its religious and its economic and political powers to stamp out anyone who will not go along with it. And God’s people are caught in the crosshairs. But one of the ways that this happens is also another very, very popular image that’s highly contentious. The way that it does this is that it causes everyone to either be branded on their right hand or on their forehead. Right? So, the mark of the beast. And, man, has that been debated and has that been imagined. And if you take a more presentest or futurist view of this, then it’s everything from you know, computer chips of some sort being, you know, deposited under the skin and all of this kind of stuff, what the mark of the beast is. So, if we move back a couple of millennia and we get ourselves back into John’s time when this is actually being written down, it would be, you know, a computer chip put under the skin isn’t even something they can conceive of, but a mark is, a tattoo of some sort is, a branding of some sort is. And, so, for the widely diverse interpretations about what exactly the mark of the beast is, we can probably safely say it’s some sort of branding that speaks to the fact that the beast sees its worshipers as his property. Whether you see the beast as a consolidated embodiment of a person that is evil or if you see it as a work of darkness in the world. So, the idea here is, if you’re not on board with that, then you’re going to be economically impacted tremendously and you will be driven underground because you can’t participate in the culture. So, we hear these things and then we literalize these things and then we try to imagine these things. But in the process, we might be missing the parallels because there are stark parallels between good and evil and between Jesus and the evil one. Before we ever got here, to the mark of the beast, we first saw the mark of God put on his holy ones. on their foreheads. And we had no problem looking at that allegorically. Like, we would all say yeah, you know, the mark of God is on my forehead. I am sealed in Christ. And we don’t, in any way, think about that as a computer chip or a tattoo, but then we get to the counter mark of the beast and we start literalizing. Whereas, a little bit more allegorical view would be that God has sealed those true and who have kept the lamps…that have kept their witness burning, while the forces of evil come in to counter that with the dark mark, after the same fashion, denoting who a person belongs to. And it is of note and quite interesting, this mark of the beast that can be on your hand or on your forehead, because in the book of Exodus, God tells the children of Israel that the law, the Torah, was to be a sign on their hand and a reminder on their forehead. It was a constant reminder of who they belonged to, who they were in covenant with, where their commitments were, where their loyalties were to lie. And Orthodox Jews continue, indeed, to practice that until today. All of this brings us down to the final verse that we read in today’s reading, the number of the beast, 666. And even saying it evokes hysteria in some hearts. And, so, we have to decide, is this a literal thing? I mean, can we add up the numbers and find out who this person is? Is this essentially a math question? And people who have been trying to look at it from that perspective have found lots of names over the centuries that would potentially fit the bill. Numbering a person’s name actually has a name, Gematria. And it basically goes like this, in ancient times, in certain ancient languages, there were no numbers per se, the letters of the alphabet also represented numbers. So, for example, in the Greek alphabet the first nine letters of the alphabet represented numbers one through nine. So, using this method, for example, the name Jesus would be the number 888 and this beast’s number is 666. So, going way back to the time of the writing of this, people have identified 666 with the Emperor Nero. But it took a little finagling. Nero wouldn’t just add up to that so they had to do Caesar Nero to make it work. Others have noted that there are discrepancies in the manuscripts. And, so, in some manuscripts the number’s 616. So, there’s been a lot of names that have showed up on the list of potential antichrist figures over the generations. And this is obviously where you go if you’re trying to do a more literal reading. But it’s fair to ask the question, you know, did John put a mathematical problem in the book of Revelation that was to disclose what was going to happen? Like, is this an intellectual mathematical exercise and only someone magical skills can actually figure this out? Or was John calling for insight, wisdom, and vigilance in this matter? And many scholars have noted that it doesn’t make a ton of sense for John to be so cryptic here when he’s being so outspoken. And if he’s trying to hide the number, like, if he’s trying to make this a riddle so that it’s kind of passed around as code, why he would be doing that? He’s already in exile and his whole message is to tell the church to be vigilant and keep their lamp burning and keep their witness strong and to stay pure and to stay true no matter what happens, even if they have to die. So, doing this in code has its own set of problems. But if we continue to look at this allegorically, there are some things that could be said. First would be the use of the number seven in this book, and not just in this book, throughout the Bible, but in particular in the book of Revelation. Right? So, like, there’s seven lampstands, there’s seven seals, there’s seven trumpets. And many scholars over many centuries would say, seven is a number that seems to indicate completion in the Scriptures. Right? So, God made the world in six days and then on the seventh it was complete, He rested, as one example. And as we travel to the book of Revelation, six things happen and then there’s kind of a pause, and then the seventh one. And the six things seem to have to do with the judgment, whereas the seventh thing that happens, like, the seventh trumpet has to do with the consummation of the new, the new kingdom, this thing that God is doing. So, the number six then is a picture of something that is incomplete. And to say this three times, 666, is like the ultimate of incompleteness. So, whereas God is moving to complete things, to make all things new again, the dark forces of evil in the world are perpetually and will only ever be incomplete. So, on the one hand you have a personified antichrist who embodies evil and sort of a picture of a dark trinity that will take over and ultimately try to stamp out God’s people. And one of the ways of consolidation of power will be the mark of the beast that will, maybe, be a computer chip that’s put under your skin somewhere or something like that or you have an allegorical view that shows us that the dark powers that are evil, evil that is in the world is moving the world toward utter and complete incompletion and that will invariably lead to difficult times. But God’s people have to take the long view and remember that we are not rooted only in our physicality. At the end of our physicality isn’t the end of anything. And that is where we end up in today’s reading.
Father we thank You for Your word and we thank You for the way that it stretches us and challenges us and forces us to consider beyond what we think we know. And we’re grateful for that. We’re grateful that You are committed to our maturity. And we’re grateful that You’re making all things new. And that is our hope. And that is where our faith lies, that in the end all things are restored and made new. So, come Holy Spirit, and plant what we’ve heard today into our lives, and may it yield the fruit of the Spirit in us and in the world. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
dailyaudiobible.com is the website and its home base. It’s where you find out what’s going on around here. And I’ve got a big announcement.
So…pay attention. A couple days ago we released the new web player and many of you have been using that for the last couple of days. That’s very awesome. And those of you use the web player, you began to notice all the new things that you can do and how it’s all interconnected. It is all interconnected. The new app, the web player all connects so that wherever you Journal, however, your listening, it’s all there. In addition to the new web player, we can now tell you the new app has been released to the public. And because of those of you who contributed to the Global Campfire Initiative, it is released to the public, completely free. So, if you have an Android or an Apple device, you can now also begin using the new Daily Audio Bible app. And you can begin telling your friends because it's…they can download it for free. But before you race off to do that. Couple things I want to tell you. 1) When you get the new app or using the new web player. The first thing is can ask you to do is login. Of course, you don’t have to login. You can continue as a guest and use it. No problem. But logging in lets you use it to its full capacity. For example, it will check off the days that you’ve listen to so that you can quickly find days that you may have missed or you can star an episode and say, yeah, I want to remember this one, this one meant something to me, I want to come back to this later. That can’t happen if it’s not connected to your account because you’ll star it and there won’t be any account for it to be attached to. Same with journaling. You can Journal in this new app, you write your thoughts down. If something sticks out to you and you want to be able to come back to it and see what you were thinking or kind of Journal your way through the Bible and the things that really stood out to you and to be able to review them later, if there’s no account for that to be attached to then there’s no way to retrieve it. So, logging in lets you…I mean…that’s what we worked so hard for so many years…to kind of begin this process of connecting the community. So, I think the long and short of what I’m saying is, login. And if you don’t have an account at Daily Audio Bible, like, if you’ve never been on the website before, you’ve never done anything before, then just make one. There is no big brother at the Daily Audio Bible. Like, we don’t have any capacity to try to follow you around nor do we have any desire. So, don’t worry, logging in or making account, all that was developed simply to serve you. And then, here’s the other thing that you need to know right now, because it’s a brand-new app. So, it has to kind of, all the links have to start coming in so it can rise up in the search criteria in the app store’s. Search for ‘Daily Audio Bible mobile app’. That will take you to the new one, to the right one. Alternatively, you can just go to dailyaudiobible.com and scroll into the second box. It talks about the app and just click the button and it will take you right to it. And you’ll be able to install that for free and start using it. I can’t even believe I’m saying that. It’s been such a journey to get to this point. And my shout out to Daniel and his team in Kansas City and Chet and his team up in Indiana for all of the hard, hard work. These brothers have been around the Daily Audio Bible for years and they worked their butt off to get us here so [clapping] we salute them. I also want to remind everybody this is 1.0, like, this is the beginning. I mean, literally, dreaming this up happened years ago. And I went through that all on the Global Campfire Initiative, where it was, like, man, we realize we’re going to have to build something from the ground up and it took this long to get here. This is only the beginning of what we’re dreaming about for this new app and web player. So, we will be updating it along the way. And I will certainly keep you posted about that. But you can get it now. You can start using it now. You can start telling your friends about it now. Like, off we go and we pray.
Lord Jesus, you’ve seen that we’ve worked hard and diligently. You’ve seen that we’ve been faithful to this process and we’re just asking your blessing over it. You told us to do this and we have and then You told us to give it away and we are. So, come Holy Spirit upon this technology as it begins to wind its way around the world. Come, Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow. Hopefully you’ll be listening on the new app or the new web player. Either way, I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer Requests and Praise Reports:
Hi. My name is Melanie. This is my first time ever doing something like this. I’ve just recently become close with God and I was wondering for prayer because I don’t really have any friends to go through this with. I’m still in January of 2017 and this is my first time reading the bible. It’s just prayer because I don’t know what I’m doing. And I don’t really have anyone to do it with. That’s it. Thank you. My name is Moni. I’m 15. Bye.
Hi this is Victoria S. I’m just calling in and would like to pray for some of the DABbers. I wanted to pray for you Eunice, the one with stage four cancer. I just want to let you know that God has got His hands on you and I’ve been having people telling me about people having stage four cancer are getting healed so much better because the medicine is so much advanced and I’m just praying that God to work that miracle for you and that you be able to tell someone what a great and wonderful God and what a healer He is. That God is able and He’s faithful. I would also pray for Lawrence in Birmingham…or Pelham in Birmingham, whatever you’re going through, I want to let you know, hold on, that God is with you. Right now, it may feel like he’s not with you. But remember, during a rough time He carries us. So, continue to remember that. I wanted to say hi to Joe the Protector. It’s so good to hear from you. I continue praying for you because of the different things that’s out there, that God will keep His protective hand and hedge around you. I just want to also pray for my friend Gloria and just…we want victory, we want miracles in her life in the challenges that she’s going through and want all the DABbers to pray with her and the challenges that she’s going through. I wanted to pray for the sister with the twins. I want to let you know, you continue to hold on my sister, that God is faithful. During the time of my pregnancy I had complications, but I stayed praying and I stayed listening to God and I let the doctors say what they wanted to say. One doctor had the nerve to say something to me because I had to go early and he was saying that if anything happened to my baby that he wasn’t going to do anything. And my husband got all upset…
Hello my DAB family. This is Mark S. from Sydney Australia. Today’s Tuesday, the 19th of December and I’ve just been through listening to the Tuesday podcast and I heard China speaking with Brian. And I’ve not been with DAB long enough to know this whole story. That’s the first time I’d heard the full story about China. Reading almost 10 years with the DAB…and that’s wonderful…and I want to pray too for her ministry too. So, heavenly Father, we come to You to say thank You so much for Brian and his family and the work they do for You as a family, Lord, and keeping them in love with You Father. Father, I ask You now to help China on her new mission that You’ve sent her on, Lord. Bless her and keep her inspired to keep reading Your word. Lord, may 100s of 1000s of young teenagers and young adults be inspired to come and listen to the word through China during next year Lord, that our next generation of Christians, Lord, will be risen up to worship You, Lord. Lord, I ask in Your name. I love you all family. And, once again, Brian and family, thank you so much for your commitment __. Love you all. Good bye.
Good morning DAB family. This is Victorious Vanessa from Maryland and I probably missed the greeting for the holiday. Today’s the 17th but I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, especially to Brian Hardin and his family. And from the family of Vanessa C. and her husband Tony (say Merry Christmas Tony – Merry Christmas), we’re wishing you a prosperous New Year. Expect great things and remember, He always wins…