In the World, but not of the World!
These are hard sayings and for many of us difficult to understand. Yet, at the same time, it is imperative that we take a closer look at the words spoken by our Savior Jesus Christ during His great intercession recorded here in the Gospel of John.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was constantly a witness of God’s faithfulness. Whatever He said, whatever He did on this earth, it always pointed to the Father’s faithfulness.
Let me explain a very difficult subject regarding glory. When we seek glory, we do so at the expense of the glory of God. Not so with Jesus, because the glorification of the Son is the glorification of the Father. In other words, when the Son is exalted, so is the Father, because they are ONE. Here in this prayer, Jesus simply asked the Father for His glory back because He knew that He must be lifted up on the cross in order to be lifted up in the sight of the angels.
Jesus was ready to go home to be with His Father once again because His work on earth for which He came was about to be finished. He was the witness of the Father’s faithfulness without exception. He finished the work the Father has given Him.
According to Jesus own words found in verse 17, sanctification comes through the Word of God. The Word of God is the instrument God uses to separate us from this world system we are living in. It is that truth that eventually defines godly relationships. Or saying it another way, you cannot have godly relationships without being in the truth. And you cannot understand what a godly relationship looks like without understanding the content of the Gospel, the Word of God.
Neither can you and I understand what it means to LIVE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT BE OF THE WORLD apart from understanding the Word of God. It is the Word of God that will separate us, that will sanctify us, that will protect us from the Evil one.
This world may call us whatever they want, but a Christians true IDENTITY is not found in this world, but is FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE. We may live in spiritual Babylon today, but we are not OF SPIRITUAL BABYLON.
Understanding and Obeying the truth, the Word of God, will sanctify us, will separate us, will protect us from ever becoming a part of spiritual Babylon, becoming a part of this world. Daniel understood this and so should we. We are living in this world to glorify God. We can endure all things THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS US. Daniel could endure, so can we. Daniel never compromised the Truth, instead he studied and obeyed the truth.
We have to take God’s word for what it says, the things we like and the things we don’t like. Before we go deeper into these verses, let’s briefly challenge all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Why do we study the prophetic scripture? Why do we long to hear from Scripture what God has prepared for those whom he loves? Do we want knowledge to prepare, or do we want insight so we can impress others? Do we study the prophetic word because we want to be in the know, or do we study it because we don’t want to be caught off guard when the things start to unfold?
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So, let’s make sure we have the proper spiritual foundation regarding this text.
Where is John the Apostle when God reveals those things to him?
REVELATION 4:1-2 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open IN HEAVEN. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying: “COME UP HERE, AND I WILL SHOW YOU THINGS WHICH MUST TAKE PLACE AFTER THIS.” Immediately I WAS IN THE SPIRIT; and behold, a throne SET IN HEAVEN, and One sat on the throne.
What John is describing from here on is all done IN THE SPIRIT, HIS WHEREABOUT WAS IN HEAVEN. He describes spiritual things.
Let’s go down the list of the characters we find in the 17th chapter and interpret them according to this truth.
1. Who is THE BEAST? Again, many commentators believe that this is the old Roman Empire and that the revived Roman Empire is the European Union. But the Bible says that the WHOLE WORLD IS FOLLOWING THE BEAST. Today, the European Union has about 700 million people. The world has about 7.5 billion people. What John describes impacts all the inhabitants of the earth.
2. Who are THE MOUNTAINS? Mountain symbolizes POWER. The seven heads, which represent seven mountains, or seven power structures. The work of God will be completed with the last bowl judgment. The Beast eventually will complete the evil power structure, because God has ordained it that way. Remember, it was on a hill, a mountain called Golgotha, where Jesus cried on from the cross: IT IS FINISHED. Sin has been dealt with once and for all. Satan has been judged. However, God allows him to build his final power structure, because the people want it that way.
3. Who are THESE KINGS? There are seven kings. Are they political, are they countries that rule in the end times? Are they political power structures like the UN? Or are they secret societies that worship Lucifer? Who are they? Before I explain the details about these 7 kings, let’s connect the dots. Inserted between verse 10 and 12 is found this statement: And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.
This beast is empowered by the beast of verse 8, which is Satan himself.
But on this earth, Satan, the spiritual beast, will enter a human being, which is described in verse 11 as the physically manifested beast, which the Bible declares to be the Antichrist. This human being has a short lived appearance on the world stage: 7 years to be exact.
4. Who are the TEN HORNS? These 10 horns represent 10 kings. Daniel 7:24
The 10 horns are 10 kings who shall arise from this kingdom, and another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. Again it begs the question: Are these kings of flesh and blood on earth;
very unlikely!! when we interpret them within its biblical context. Making war against the Lamb speaks of a spiritual battle, a battle that is fought in the invisible world. There are no geographical boundaries here.
5. What does THE WATER REPRESENT? Revelation 17:15 And he said to me: “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues.” It matters not what religion your follow, what philosophy you have adapted to, and how much you have studied the religions of the world; all have one goal, and that is self-redemption. Salvation without Jesus Christ. Just as during Nimrods time, man still wants to reach heaven on their own terms, even if they have to crawl themselves up one day at a time.
6. Who is ‘MYSTERY BABYLON’? Listen, there is no other city on planet Earth more important, more significant, and more decisive than Jerusalem, where the “Mystery Babylon” the religious and political power structure condemned Jesus to be crucified. The powers of darkness were right there shouting for joy.
And it is exactly in this city of Jerusalem where Satan and his cohorts made their fatal mistake; for the first time in all of human history, Satan caused the death of an innocent man, a man of flesh and blood – Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of man. With this sacrifice, the gates of faith were opened to follow the example of faith, Abraham. The power structures of Satan, the god of this world, the one who rules the world right now under God’s permission, has only a short time to go. One day in the not too distant future, he will meet the truth, the real truth.
The Apostle Paul is telling the church at Ephesus that as followers of Christ, we must HONOR OUR FATHER AND MOTHER, which is the first commandment with promise.
What is the promise? That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. That does not mean that everything in life will go according to our plans. NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE, Jesus prayed to His father. And yet, Jesus Himself HONORED HIS MOTHER ON THIS EARTH.
Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was truly blessed among women, yet God made this women the faithful mother she was. So does He with every women who is willing to respond to God as Mary did: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Mother’s you are specially made by God with a very specific purpose.
When God brought you through it all, your job is not yet done. There is one more thing God will bless you with, and that is to become a TEACHER, AN EXAMPLE, TO THE YOUNGER MOTHERS WHO SO DESPERATELY WANT TO PLEASE THE LORD AND FULFILL THEIR CALLING
We have already learned that all of us are subject to spiritual warfare; that Satan and his demons have built strongholds in our mind, that is, have make us believe certain doctrines that are contrary to the Word of God. And we all have learned from the Apostle Paul’s admonition that such strongholds, such doctrines that contradict the Word of God, must be pulled down, demolished, pulverized.
Last week we examined the reality of God’s sovereignty and that not even Satan can go beyond the boundary God has set for him. Now we have to look at what our responsibility is in all of this. The Bible is very clear regarding our responsibilities in the spiritual battle. While God Almighty has equipped us more than adequately to face our enemy, Satan and his demons, he also demands that we use the weapons supplied to us and stand strong in the battle.
THE MAJORITY OF OUR SPIRITUAL BATTLES SPIRITUAL ARE FOUGHT IN OUR MIND.THE MIND IS THE MOST STRATEGIC POINT WHICH WE HAVE TO DEFEND against the attacks of our enemy.
Satan will use people that look like followers of Christ, spiritual leaders who claim to represent Christ, but in actuality they represent Satan, attacking your mind with false doctrines, that is, doctrines of demons. If you choose to accept those teachings, Satan will then have successfully neutralized your mind to engage him in any spiritual battles.
In other words, Satan will attack your mind with the purpose to entangle us with a yoke of bondage. Do you recognize now that the root of bondage or freedom is found in the mind, the way we THINK?
In this parable in Matthew 15 Jesus give his disciples insight HOW GOD WORKS TO CHANGE THEIR HEART. By understanding spiritual truth, Biblical truth. The question of eating food with unwashed hands was used by Jesus to reveal the truth that everything has its root in the heart and mind of the person. The heart will be changed by the mind. And the mouth, the language you use, reveals what’s in your heart. Your language reveals a huge amount of spiritual information: Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
Because the Mind is the gateway to the transformation of the heart.
Without UNDERSTANDING GOD’S TRUTH, NO TRANSFORMATION TAKES PLACE. And understanding will only come through LIFE APPLICATION. Reading God’s word with no intention to apply it to our daily life is one of Satan’s most powerful tool to keep us in bondage. God’s intention is to bring us to freedom, freedom we can experience in every day life. Freedom that comes through transformation of the heart. That is God’s objective all along.
The root of bondage or freedom is found in our mind. The way we think. The way we UNDERSTAND GOD’S TRUTH.
Last Sunday we heard John the Baptist introduce Jesus to the Jews by proclaiming: BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.
Every miracle, every sign Jesus performed during His entire ministry on this earth was done so with a very specific purpose. God never does anything without a specific purpose. In this case, the Apostle John is revealing to us that Jesus did this signs and miracles not for their own sake but to point to something that was SIGNificant. These signs always pointed to Jesus Himself, the only one able to represent God’s kingdom. The only one God the Father ever said: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.
Why did God chose a wedding for His son to perform the first sign during His earthly ministry? And why did God chose to turn water into wine for thirsty guest? Why not turning water into grape juice?
He became the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins. He has done away with the Old Testament requirements. No animal sacrifices, no temple tax, now show bread, no altar of incense, no Holy of Holies, no ark of the covenant. He nailed it to the cross for good. He is the firstborn of many brethren. NOW THE CHURCH IS THE TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD.
What sign do you show us? For you and me, it means to be reminded that we are the newly raised temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in us, and because of that we are here to glorify God in our body and in our spirit.
Jesus’ signs pointed toward something much more SIGNificant than the sign itself, it pointed toward the glorious truth WHO HE REALLY IS, the Redeemer, the Savior of the World, the Only begotten Son of God, fully man, fully God. The KING OF GLORY.
When Jesus is talking about the treasure, he means the WORD OF GOD. God communicating to his creation, unlocking the mystery of who God is, why we human beings are here on earth, and how we should live on this earth.
We read the Word of God because it is God’s treasure entrusted to us. When we read in His treasure, we will get to know God better. In it our heavenly Father communicates with us, revealing to us His heart and vision for our lives. Where else could we learn about God’s holy character, or about His kingdom established in our hearts, or about the grace of God, the unconditional love of God for us. Apart from such a treasure, we would never know anything about God’s nature, God’s plan for us, God’s future for us, God’s purposes for us.
In other words, this treasure, God’s Word, shows us the way we should go. It also shows us what will happen if we do not treasure God’s advice.
The psalmist clearly points out that by treasuring His Word in our heart, we will be able to live under its daily influence and experience the blessings that come with it.
The Bible, the written word of God, is the only book in the entire world, especially the only religious book in the world where hundreds of prophecies have been recorded when they were spoken and then recorded hundreds of years later when they have been fulfilled exactly as predicted.
“My hands shook as I started to unwrap one of them. I read a few sentences. It was written in beautiful biblical Hebrew. The language was like that of the Psalms, but the text was unknown to me. I looked and looked, and I suddenly had the feeling that I was privileged by destiny to gaze upon a Hebrew Scroll which had not been read for more than 2,000 years. ” Hebrew University Professor Eliezer Lipa Sukenik
Oh, let us never come to a point to read the greatest treasure like most of the religious leaders did when Jesus walked this earth. Searching the Scripture to find eternal life, yet never understood that the very text was testifying of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
As one man once said:
“I am a soldier. I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up. I am a soldier. No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me or lure me. I am a soldier. I am not a wimp. I am in place, saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name and building His kingdom. No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards or candy, or give me handouts. I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or catered to. I am committed. I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around. I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside. I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.
When Jesus called me into this army, I had nothing. If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead. I will win. My God has and will continue to supply all my need. I am more than a conqueror. I will always triumph. I can do all things through Christ. The devil cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me. Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me. Battles cannot beat me. Money cannot buy me. Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier. Even death cannot destroy me. For when my commander calls me from His battlefield, He will promote me to captain and then allow me to rule with Him. I am a soldier in the army, and I’m marching claiming victory. I will not give up. I will not turn around. I am a soldier, marching heaven-bound. Here I stand!” Unknown Author
You say; well I did not sign up as a soldier, all I wanted is to get to heaven. Well, you will not get there without a war. Jesus came into this world to win that war once and for all. But not everyone knows about it. WHY? We fight the greatest war that has ever been fought. This war started long before God created Adam and Eve. It started in heaven, and eventually came to this earth. And this war is not over until all His enemies are made His footstool.