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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


April 2019

Daily Bible thoughts 1922: Tuesday 30th April 2019: Revelation 14:13: This life counts.

Revelation 14:13: This life counts.


13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.’ NIV

This verse stands as a stark contrast to what we saw in yesterday’s section. It clearly is not a blessing to die outside of the Lord. But we are blessed if we die ‘’in’’ Him.                     I remember using this verse to speak at a funeral service a few years ago. A Christian man who was present on the occasion, and who had spent time at ‘All Souls’, Langham Place in London, told me what the late, great Rector, John Stott, had said about these words. Apparently he told the congregation to note that their deeds ‘’follow’’ them. They don’t go in front. They don’t pave the way for anyone to get into heaven. But they do follow on from faith, like the carriages coming behind the engine.

What this underlines is the fact that this life matters for the Christian. What we do here, sincerely, in Jesus’ Name, out of love for Him, has eternal repercussions. Good works will not get us into heaven, but they will be noticed in heaven, and will be rewarded when we get there.

Daily Bible thoughts 1921: Monday 29th April 2019: Revelation 14:9-12: Faithful to Jesus.

Revelation 14:9-12: Faithful to Jesus.

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: ‘If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.’ 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” NIV

Whatever form ‘’the beast’’ may take in our generation; and regardless of whether or not we live through the final phase of history, it is always a fatal choice to worship him – a choice with eternal consequences. So let the message be given in a ‘’loud voice’’ that it may be heard.

‘We cannot understand the torment of those who are depicted in vv.9-12, except it be the remorse at having refused the love of the Lamb of God. Even Christ himself cannot save a soul from self-condemnation.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.641.

The words ‘’patient endurance’’ in (12) show that it’s always going to be difficult and painful to move in the opposite direction to the prevailing system. But the pathway of faithfulness to Jesus, although it may come at terrible cost, is the wise choice when eternal destiny is at stake.


Daily Bible thoughts 1920: Friday 26th April 2019: Revelation 14:8: Intoxication.

Revelation 14:8: Intoxication.

A second angel followed and said, ‘“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,”[a] which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.’NIV

Ancient Babylon was the political, commercial and religious centre of a world empire. It was noted for its luxury and moral decadence.

In the book of Revelation, ‘’Babylon’’ probably represents the world system (of which Rome was the great expression at the time John). This verse is the precursor to a fuller description of Babylon’s downfall in chapter 18.

Babylon – the world system – operates like a prostitute, seducing people by intoxication. The world wants our hearts, but they rightfully belong to God. When we give them to other gods we are committing spiritual adultery. There is a very real spiritual power at work that, like an excess of alcohol, lowers people’s defences, distorts perception and makes them vulnerable to loving idols. After all, if there wasn’t something slightly delicious about inebriation, the temptation to get drunk wouldn’t be all that effective. Watch out for that seductive, luring, enticing influence of the world. It will make sin look remarkably attractive. The devil, using the world to entice, wants to win our hearts for himself.

So, in a nutshell, when people are drunk they are more likely to commit sexual sin; when we are drunk on what this world offers, we are more likely to commit spiritual adultery.

As Tom Wright says: ‘…the deep seduction of evil really can swallow people up whole.’ ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.131.

One thing we can be sure of is that Babylon, though powerful, is doomed. Her time is short.

Daily Bible thoughts 1919: Thursday 25th April 2019: Revelation 14:6,7: Last chance.

Revelation 14:6-7: Last chance.

Then I saw another angel flying in mid-air, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ NIV

One commentary I read said these words represent one last call to the world to repent. God is extremely patient; He is ‘long-suffering’ with sinful people. But a day will come when there is one final opportunity to ‘get into the ark’ before the ‘door’ closes.

Thinking about this, I am reminded of the apostle Peter writing:

‘’The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’’ (2 Peter 3:9).

To the very end, this will be the case. It seems to me the voice is ‘’loud’’ because God wants this to be heard by everyone in the world.

We live in a time when many people are happy to honour, and even worship, the natural world. But the call is to worship its Creator (7b).

Be careful how you respond to ‘’the eternal gospel’’ because it has eternal consequences.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for your infinite mercy, and your longing for the people you made to be right with you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1918: Wednesday 24th April 2019: Revelation 14:4: Following the Lamb.

Revelation 14:4: Following the Lamb.

“4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.” NIV

‘’…following the Lamb wherever he goes.’’

 ‘In my country the sheep are brought from one field to another by people with sticks and dogs. In the Middle East, to this day, the shepherd goes on ahead and the sheep follow him or her. They know the shepherd’s voice, but they also know that they can trust him or her to lead them to pasture, to water, to safety. No sticks, or dogs, are required.  Jesus himself, of course, used this image of the shepherd in the tenth chapter of John’s gospel. And his call to people to ‘follow him’ is one of the most persistent commands he ever issued. One might almost say that, in the gospels, ‘following Jesus’ is the basic phrase which describes someone who belongs to Jesus, who believes in him…’ Tom Wright: ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.123.

It is a human trait to want to make plans for our journey and ask Jesus to accompany us. The fundamental question for a Christ-follower to always keep in view is: ‘Lord, where are you going? I want to come with you. I want to join you in your activities.’

Following the Lord Jesus ‘’wherever he goes’’ will take you to some dangerous and difficult places. You can almost guarantee it. But your life will certainly not be dull!

Daily Bible thoughts 1917: Tuesday 23rd April 2019: Revelation 14:1-4: The Redeemed.

Revelation 14:1-4: The Redeemed.

“Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.”NIV

Here are a number of things we can assert about the ‘’redeemed’’ (3b), i.e. those who ‘’were purchased’’ by Jesus at the cost of His own blood (4b, see 1:5b). (It seems the number ‘’144,000’’, representing ‘completeness’, speaks of the whole people of God throughout the ages).

We can say of them:

  • They are marked people – sealed by God (1). He will protect them spiritually.
  • They have been given ‘’a new song’’ only they can sing (3).
  • They are prepared for battle (4a) In ancient Israel, if a war was justified, it was regarded as holy. So those who fought in it had to obey special rules of purity, including abstention, for a time, from normal sexual relations (e.g. Deuteronomy 23:9,10; 1 Samuel 21:5). The image used here may refer to a people always ready for battle. But when we consider what the Bible teaches about the possibility of spiritual adultery, this may mean that they had not defiled themselves with idols, or by worshipping any other king or emperor. (None of this, of course, is to deny the importance of a commitment to sexual purity for people who profess to follow Jesus.)
  • They follow Jesus everywhere! (4b) I will say more about this tomorrow.
  • They are committed to the truth (5) Tom Wright points out that one of the main features of the dragon’s system is the lie. He ‘creates a world of untruth, a fake world, a sham system from top to bottom…Following the lamb means rejecting the lie. Always and for ever.’ ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.126

Daily Bible thoughts 1916: Monday 22nd April 2019: Revelation 13:16-18: Hard times.

Revelation 13:16-18: Hard times.

“It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. NIV

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ So wrote Charles Dickens in ‘A tale of two cities’.  When the antichrist comes, it will be the worst of times. But it will usher in the best of times. His reign will be short, but brutal, and Christians will presumably suffer economic privation because they will not accept the ‘’mark’’ of the beast (17). This happened to believers during the time of the Roman Empire, and it is set to happen again.Increasingly, back then, what, or whom, you worshipped, became the yardstick to determine who was socially acceptable and who wasn’t.

Just as God’s faithful people were sealed with God’s Name (7:2,3), so there will be this counterfeit sealing of the antichrist’s worshippers. Just exactly how this will be worked out remains to be seen, although it has been the source of much speculation. This is not always healthy.

It is helpful, though, to note that in the Ancient Greek and Hebrew languages there were no symbols for numbers. Thus every man’s name also had its own ‘number,’ made from the letters of the name. Some think ‘666’ was the number of the emperor Nero. Even if it was, it looks like it will be the number of one yet to come. I am quite drawn to the thought that the number 7, in Scripture, represents perfection. 6, then, falls short of perfection. We have here a trinity of imperfection you might say.

‘The number of perfection, not least for John, would be, we assume, 777…Nero, and the system he represented and embodied, was but a parody of the real thing, one short of the right number three times over. Jesus was the reality; Nero, just a dangerous, blasphemous copy.’ Tom Wright: ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.122

It seems a fair conclusion to draw that what happened in Nero’s day, will occur again at the end of days, only more so. But when we are unclear about how prophecy is to be fulfilled, we can patiently wait, knowing that God will show us what we need to know when we need to know it. We just need to make sure that we stay awake.

Daily Bible thoughts 1915: Friday 19th April 2019: Revelation 13: 11-18: ‘All that glitters…’

Revelation 13: 11-18: ‘All that glitters…’

“11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honour of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.” NIV

There are two beasts described in Revelation 13. It is one of the best known chapters in the book (possibly the best known). Even non-Christians have regularly dipped into it – notably writers of horror material for novels and films.

More generally, this second beast represents, I believe, religious power in the service of the secular state. This is always a formidable, deceptive and dangerous reality. Notice he attempts to appear gentle and harmless, but remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:15. There are nice, kind, loving false teachers around. We must not be duped by their niceness. That may be just a short step away from being devoured by their doctrine.

But specifically, many believe this has ultimate reference to a ‘false prophet’ who will endorse and apparently authenticate the antichrist by the false miracles he performs. As you look at verse 13, you may find it helpful to also have a look at Deuteronomy 13:1-3; Matthew 24:24 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9. Not everyone who works miracles is a genuine believer. ‘All that glitters is not gold.’ Christians can be so gullible, so easily taken in, with their desire for the spectacular. There are counterfeit miracles. (This looks like a counterfeit of 1 Kings 18:24-39).

So, in the dragon and the two beasts in Revelation 13, we see a false trinity of Satan, secular power and religious compromise (and, ultimately, Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet) joining together against the cause of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

But the dragon can’t win! Never forget it. On Good Friday, we remember how he did his worst, when he had Jesus crucified. But death could not hold our Lord, and three days later He was back.

Whenever it’s ‘Friday’, remember ‘Sunday’s comin’!


Daily Bible thoughts 1914: Thursday 18th April 2019: Revelation 13:9, 10: Keep going.  

Revelation 13:9-10: Keep going.

Whoever has ears, let them hear. 10 ‘If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword,with the sword they will be killed.’” NIV

I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to have to live out your faith under an anti-Christian regime. Nor can I imagine the terror of living under antiChrist’s regime during the last of the last days. But it strikes me that genuine Christianity, even where there is ‘freedom’, ‘’calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints’’ (10). There are many little deaths we must die, mini martyrdoms we must face in order to follow Christ – even on easier days. Being willing to undergo them may well prepare us for the greater sacrifices, should we have to make them.

PRAYER: Lord, I fear my own cowardly nature, but I believe you will supernaturally empower me to go through anything I have to face for your sake. Thank you Lord.

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