Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts


by Mike Ratliff

1 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. 2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. 3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” Revelation 13:1-4 (NASB) 

It is time to prayerfully step into the prophetic section of Daniel. I have had quite a bit of anxiety about tackling these books that are deeply eschatological. Why? My method of Bible teaching is to simply expound scripture. I try to limit input into my analysis of passages to Biblical references for the most part. I do not believe I am wise enough or schooled enough in eschatology to do justice to this study. However, God is able to open up His word to our hearts. As we look at these sections in Daniel let us carefully let scripture speak. God will give us the truth as He sees fit. Perhaps God will give us insight into His Word that we have lacked until now. If so, then it is God doing this, not me. Continue reading

The Handwriting on the Wall


by Mike Ratliff

5 Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. 6 Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together. Daniel 5:5-6 (NASB) 

God used Nebuchadnezzar to bring an end to the Judean kingdom. The kingdom of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was glorious. God blessed him and, as we saw in yesterday’s post, humbled him when he took credit for it all. After his death in October 562 BC, having reigned 43 years, he was succeeded by his son Amel-Marduk (or Evil-merodach 2 Kings 25:27-30). Amel-Marduk, who, after a reign of two years, was succeeded by Neriglissar (559 – 555). Neriglissar was succeeded by Nabonidus (555 – 538). Nabonidus, having no interest in politics or ruling an empire, left Babylon to live at Tayma, a rich oasis city in Arabia, leaving his son Belshazzar behind to rule the empire in his stead. At the close of the reign of Nabonidus and Belshazzar (less than a quarter of a century after the death of Nebuchadnezzar) Babylon fell under Cyrus the Great as the head of the combined armies of Media and Persia. This new empire was the silver part of the “image” in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Daniel 2. Daniel Chapter 5 tells us the story of the last night of Belshazzar’s reign. Continue reading

The King of Heaven is able to Humble those Who Walk in Pride


by Mike Ratliff

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound! 2 It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
3 “How great are His signs
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And His dominion is from generation to generation. Daniel 4:1-3 (NASB) 

The deepest, widest blind spot that most professing Christians have is that they are convinced their religion pleases God. Pride disguises itself in many different ways. One that I have noticed in most professing Christians is a form of self-righteousness that sees their religion as making them so well-pleasing to God that anyone who is not part of their denomination or church could not possibly be right with God. Pragmatism springs from a desire by spiritually blind Christian leaders to mimic what other “successful” preachers or pastors do to grow their congregations or baptize huge numbers of converts. When these manipulating processes seem to work the first result is deeper spiritual blindness. Why? Idolatry always produces spiritual blindness. This blindness keeps those in it deceived into believing a lie. What lie? The lie is that God is not totally sovereign and needs their help to further the Kingdom. Their religious efforts may appear to “work,” but since the results are the fruit of fleshly methods and the works of men they only lead to cultivating pride. However, we must remember that God is Sovereign. Continue reading

The Multi-Dimensional Scroll


by Mike Ratliff

As we study the Book of Revelation and other prophetic books in both the Old and New Testaments, we must take care not to take symbolic language we study and try to make it literal nor should we take literal language we study and try to make it symbolic. Revelation is highly symbolic. For instance, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is portrayed as a Lamb in much of the book. Is He a lamb? In chapter 5 v5 the Lamb is the only one found worthy to take the scroll from the Father’s hand and open it. When John sees Him, he describes Him as a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. This cannot be taken literally. All of this is symbolic language. Therefore, it is very dangerous to build doctrines from symbolism unless we are very careful to maintain the symbolism for what it represents. Continue reading

The Great Day of God’s Wrath has Come, and Who can Stand?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” 4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6 (NASB) 

In Revelation 6 we have the Lamb opening the first six seals of the Scroll. Revelation 7 forms a parenthetical statement between the Sixth and Seventh Seals. It is the answer to the question asked in 6:17. Before we go any further let’s try to understand that persecution and suffering is not God’s Wrath being poured out on believers. God’s wrath is not for His saints. However, that does not mean that God will keep Satan’s seed from filling up the cup of His wrath against them by their evil actions against Christians. In fact, in God’s economy, there is an “eternal blessedness” associated with this sort of suffering. Continue reading

Repent or Perish


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5 (NASB) 

Those who were massacred at the Federal Center in Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center, in the temple by Pilate, and those killed when the tower in Siloam fell were no more evil than any other person then or now. Jesus tells those with Him and us that those who survive tragedies are not morally superior to those who do not survive. Instead, He calls everyone to repent because sudden death could happen to any of us at any time. God does not guarantee that we will have time to prepare for death, so now is the time for repentance. Continue reading

The High Cost of Living Righteously


by Mike Ratliff

10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13 (NASB) 

“Christians” in the United States and other “civilized” countries do not exist in a climate of a fear of persecution like those in China and India. Some would say that is because of our culture or that there are huge numbers of Christians here. However, the truth of the matter is that Christians who live in total obedience to their Lord will be persecuted. So, what does that say about Christians who live at peace with the world around them? The truth of the matter is this; the reason Christians are not persecuted in the US is that very few of them are walking in the level of obedience to their Lord that would draw attention to them from those who hate the real Jesus and the Word of God. However, if they were living holy lives, sharing their faith, actively making disciples, and preaching the whole Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ the wrath of Satan and his seed would come upon them. Continue reading

The Disowned


by Mike Ratliff

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB) 

The best test of everything is not how it appears here and now. Unlike those preachers who draw throngs of people to hear their, “Have your best life now!” sermons, those with real godly wisdom know that the best tests of everything is how it will appear in the moment of death, in the morning of resurrection, and at the day of judgment. Thankfully, the Word of God does give us the truth about these things. Let’s take a long slow look at Matthew 7:21-23 where our Lord lays it out very clearly about people who will find that what they believed to be true about their eternal state is nothing more than the product of self-deception.

Continue reading

The Scarlet Woman


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” Revelation 17:1-2 (NASB) 

John the Baptist was the one who was sent to make the way straight, to prepare the way for the one who was to come. Of course the one who was to come is our Lord Jesus Christ the long awaited Messiah of the Jews. Gabriel told Zechariah, the father of John, “he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb, and will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Of course he did that very thing and our Lord was born of a virgin soon after John. Continue reading

The Ancient of Days Reigns


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. Revelation 20:1-3 (NASB) 

If we listen to much of the preaching these days we might get the idea that our God was an old grandfatherly type entity who loves people so much and wants to save them all, but is helpless to do anything to make that happen. Also, He really isn’t in control of anything. He simply set the Universe into motion and now it’s on its own. He simply waits helplessly in a far off Heaven for people to make the right decision by their own reasoning capabilities. He is sorry for all the suffering and heartache in the world, so if people would simply follow the right preacher they could be happy, rich, and healthy. Is that what the Bible teaches us about God? Continue reading

The Lamb opens the Scroll


by Mike Ratliff

Those with discernment from God know that the “Church” is very sick because it has been deceived through decades of bad theology and spiritually weakened by leaders who are bent on ministering via pragmatism. As I write this, there are so-called Christian leaders who are proclaiming a new Golden Age for the church with millions of people each year coming to Christ in their ministries. These proclamations, however, fail to note the tragic turnover rate in their pews whereby those “millions” of converts each year exit their churches to be replaced by new “seekers” who continue to fuel the revolving door that brings in new faces while those who did not find what they were really looking for exit never to be seen again. Those making the claims of gigantic growth turn a blind eye to this problem. Why? Are they blind to what is really going on? Could it be that a worldwide deception is taking place right before our eyes? Let’s look at what the Bible says. Continue reading

The Throne in Heaven, the Scroll, and the Lamb


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Isaiah 6:1-4 (NASB) 

Any form of Christianity that is antinomian is Gnostic in nature and because of that always leads to licentiousness within the professing believers where this is going on. The Nicolaitans taught this form of Gnosticism saying that God is Spirit and so Christians should only be concerned with the spiritual things, but it does not matter what Christians do in the flesh since it is defiled anyway. Antinomianism says that Christians don’t have to obey God’s commands. This is rebellion against clear Biblical doctrine. They say they want Jesus, but forget that obedience stuff. Jesus is truth and love and He’s all I want. Those who say these sorts of things are actually treating God as if He is unimportant. What does the Bible tell us about God and His majesty and omnipotence? Continue reading

The Enemy Within


by Mike Ratliff

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15 (NASB) 

False prophets have infiltrated the Church since the very beginning. Also, disingenuous professors have always plagued churches. There has not been a time when the church has been free from enemies within. However, in our time the church is the sickest it has ever been. False prophets beget false doctrine, the doctrine of demons, for the false believers that flock to them. Sound Doctrine is no longer tolerated. Expository preaching and teaching is ignored or shouted down. This is happening not between Christians and non-Christians, but between professing Christians in the “name” of Christ. The Church has become polluted with the ways of the world, which demands no offense to anyone. If doctrinal disagreements happen, the resultant “debate” soon resembles some sort of all out gang war. Those holding sound doctrine will often be condemned and threatened and pressured to abjure to their opponents view using every imaginable tactic. When he or she refuses to give in to the onslaught then those on attack will escalate it to something like this, “either you ‘repent’ and apologize publicly for this (not giving in) or I will ruin you. I will warn everyone about you.” Of course those other ravenous wolves demanding that he or she give in are chiming in with all sorts of threats such as, “either you … or I will pull my support for your ministry” Again, what was their crime? They held a doctrine and presented it as the truth. Those in disagreement did all they could to silence the offender for good. They did not try to understand the point of the accused even when it was given plainly. The fact that he or she would not cave in to the pressure made them a target. Interestingly, the only and best way to end this is to simply do the Christlike thing, end the discussion and walk away. Of course, then they will be accused of being spiritually proud, etc. However, didn’t our Lord get accused of much worse than that? Continue reading

What is Sweet as Honey yet Causes Bitterness in the Heat of the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

Believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being humble and Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading