READ: Revelation 13:11--14:20
THINK: You've probably seen or heard the number used somewhere other than the Bible--perhaps in literature, movies or other media--referring to something sinister or ultimately evil. Christians often call it "the mark of the beast": 666. Much speculation has surrounded this description of the end-time antichrist. People have even devised methods for manipulating the characters in the names of world leaders to show how they might represent this number. But the number isn't the main issue. The important thing is being able to discern the deception of anyone who would undermine what Jesus has done to bring hope and true life to people. Those who faithfully follow Christ now won't have to endure the antichrist's rule, because the Bible indicates that Christ will rescue them from the world before this deceiver rises to power. Nonetheless, God's people always need His wisdom to avoid deception and recognize evil in all it's forms.
RESPOND: Who is the beast coming out of the earth, and what's the significance of his lamb-like horns and dragonlike voice? (See 13:11 note.) What will this beast do for the first beast--the antichrist--and how will he accomplish this? (See 13:12 note.) What will the false prophet do to compel people to worship the antichrist, and why might this be his greatest deception? (See 13:15 note.) What "mark" will the false prophet force people to receive, what will it allow and what will it represent? (See 13:16 note.) What will happen to those who refuse the mark? Why do you think the Bible isn't more specific about the "mark" and how it will be applied? Why is "wisdom" vital regarding the antichrist and the number representing his name? (See 13:18 note.) What is significant about Christ--the Lamb--standing on Mount Zion? (See 14:1 first note.) Who are the "144,000"? (See 14:1 second note.) What is significant about that number and who may be included in it? How had these individuals "kept themselves pure"? (See 14:4 note.) Why will people be without excuse for rejecting Christ during the tribulation? (See 14:6 note.) What is "Babylon the Great," and what does the second angel announce about it? (See 14:8 note.) What does the third angel say about those who worship the beast or receive his mark? (See 14:9 note.) In what way does this inspire faithfulness to Christ? (See 14:12 note.) How are people blessed by giving their lives for Jesus during this time? (See 14:13 note.) Who is seated on the cloud (14:14), and why is there a sharp sickle in His hand? (See 14:14-16 note.) What is symbolized by the harvest and trampling of grapes? (See 14:19 note.) What does blood flowing from the winepress represent, and what event does it describe? (See 14:20 note.)
PRAY: Pray that no one you know will be fooled by eloquent words or deceptive displays of power. Pray for wisdom about things to avoid in the last days, particularly things that seem acceptable to most people for social or economic reasons.
ACT: Don't just go through the day praying that God will "go with you" and bless your efforts. Instead, pray for a strong sense of Jesus' leadership so you can "follow the Lamb wherever he goes" (v. 4). Let Him lead you to people who need encouragement or who may be open to Him. Let God's presence inspire greater purity in thought, speech and actions.
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