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It's all a scam!

Ready - The Book of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What’s the Big Idea?

Don’t fall for the scam; live for the Truth!

What’s the Big Idea?

Intro:

Good morning. If you have your Bible/app, turn to . Hey, if you need a Bible, raise your hand and we will bring one to you. And if you don’t already have one, you can keep that as our gift to you. As always, you can follow along on the screen behind me.
If you haven’t noticed before, we are a church with a lot of kids! This is a good thing - a really good thing! Additionally, we have decided as a leadership team that it is good for all of us (including kids) to routinely be together, as a family, in the main service. Which is one reason we don’t do River Kids every week.
But having, what I’ll call, family worship services, can also be challenging. I’m sure you’ve noticed times where there’s a little extra noise during worship and the sermons. Maybe it’s a beyblade flying across the floor. Or, the sound of tiny voices talking or laughing. Here at The River Church, we are okay with that.
Don’t get me wrong. I do think it’s an opportunity to for kids to learn discipline and focus, but kids are kids. And here’s the lesson for us adults - the sound of active kids means life is happening. We like that! If you haven’t noticed before, one our church motto is, “Where LIFE happens!”
But there’s another challenging thing - at least for me. As the pastor of this church, I’m not just pastoring adults, but all ages. And so when River Kids are in service, it’s my responsibility to try my best to make the message applicable to their lives too. You’ve probably noticed that I don’t use a lot of big theological terms and many times I use newer illustrations. My hope is both the five-year-old and the fifty-year-old will leave service each week with a greater understanding of Jesus, the Bible, and the gospel.
Speaking of the Bible, we teach the Bible here. Its one of our core values. And for those of us who are familiar with the Bible, you know it has a lot of adult content - just read the book of Judges and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Therefore, teaching the Bible and having kids in service can be challenging.
This morning, in & 18, we have a lot of adult content. It’s not inappropriate but John uses adult language to symbolically represent what he sees in his vision. And so here’s the deal...
This morning, with River Kids in service, I’m not going to go verse-by-verse through any sections. Even if it’s symbolic, I don’t think it’s language our kids are ready for. However, I will do my best to summarize both chapters, break down the content, and hopefully make applications to our lives from the Scriptures. Deal?
Alright… let’s go!

Exegesis:

Last week, we finished with chapter 16 which discussed 7 angels pouring out the final 7 bowl judgments on Earth. These are the final judgments before the return of Jesus.
Chapter 17 begins with one of those angels explaining to John a little bit more of what just happened - specifically expanding on the 7th bowl. And so John sees a symbolic vision of a woman riding on top of a beast that stood over many waters.

The attraction of the woman and beast:

You know, Imma be real. I know that I’m not the manliest-man. I mean - I like man stuff. I like sports. I like things like UFC and cars or trucks with big powerful motors...
Some of you know that I used to be a street racer in my younger days (not that I’m advocating that!).
I recently got an F-150. I love driving a truck. It makes me feel like a man. My dream truck is an F-150 Raptor. I love the thought of driving a twin-turbo, 450 HP, 550 lbs of torque truck.
[Back to Revelation slide]
But… I also like nice stuff to...
Look - again, Imma be real. I like things that look and smell nice. For example:
One of the reasons Janelle has a Michael Kors purse is because I think purses look nice. And so a couple of weeks ago, when we took a little trip, there was a Michael Kors outlet store, and “I” wanted to go in. Judge me if you want. Now, I don’t want a purse for myself, I just appreciate the design. It’s pretty.
Also, I really like nice smelling candles. The other week we went to the Big E - and again - I wanted to go into the onsite Yankee Candle store because I like smelling nice things.
Actually, part of my routine for writing my sermon involves lighting a scented candle so my office smells nice.
Hey, you better believe if we ever get a building or an office, it’s gonna smell nice in there!
But for realz - God gave us senses for a reason, right? I think it’s okay for me as a man to appreciate nice things. I think God created us to use our senses to be attracted to GOOD things. If you read the Bible’s descriptions of both Eden and Heaven, they are nice! You read the description and you’re like: I want to go there!
The problem is, sin entered the world and corrupted our senses. Simply put, it made us sense things, be attracted to them, BUT THEN, desire and worship them! That’s where we went astray. Only God belongs on the throne of our heart. So, we have to be careful with our senses and desires because it can lead to deception...
That’s what John sees in the vision of the woman and the beast:
The woman is described as attractive. Many people want to be in relationship with her.
She’s also rich! She’s got the best clothes on and the fanciest jewelry.
She’s also an influencer of culture. She’s powerful and successful. People listen and follow her. They want to do what she does and be just like her. She’s the ultimate VSCO girl.
[Back to Revelation slide]
Furthermore, the beast she is riding is powerful and intimidating. The Bible says the beast is “full of blasphemous names” meaning it’s talking trash.
It’s very similar to the way Goliath talked trash against God and Israel in . It caused people to bow down in intimidation.
To the natural senses, the woman and the beast are attractive. They have qualities the world tells us we need in order to “be somebody.” But… something just ain’t right...

The gross reality of the woman and beast:

Because in John’s vision, he sees that the same terms used to describe the woman’s attractiveness, influence, and power also reveal that she is disgusting!
Like, she’s holding a golden cup that symbolically represents all the people that she’s destroyed. And she loves ruining lives - she can’t get enough of it. She’s addicted to it.
Likewise, the beast she’s sitting on is described the same way the devil (or dragon) is in other parts of Revelation. This beast is pure evil.
To the natural senses, the woman and beast are attractive - we want to be connected with them because they offer us the best the world has to give: Power, money, fame!
But the reality is, they are gross and evil!
And here’s the big idea for these two chapters: It’s all a scam.

The scam:

By definition, a scam is “gain by deception.” Somebody gets ahead in life by tricking another person and taking what they have.
Most of us adults are familiar with get-rich-quick email scams. You know how it goes. Some rich foreign person needs our help. They have access to millions of dollars but they need an American bank account to deposit into. If we will help them, they will give us a portion.
Nowadays, if these emails even make it into our inbox (most of the time they go to the junk box), we just delete them. We know it’s a scam!
Or when some robot voice leaves a message on our phone that our social security number has been canceled and they need us to call them back. We know it’s a scam! We are aware of these things.
Here’s the thing: The only reason we are aware its scam is because initially a lot of people fell for it. It was only AFTER people shared their stories of being tricked that we discovered they were scams.
In chapter 18, we see people share their stories about how the woman and the beast - which we are told represent Babylon the Great (or symbolically - the system of the world, that is in opposition to the Kingdom of God) - are a scam.
In verse 2, we are once again told that Babylon the Great City is fallen.
The beautiful and powerful city is actually a scam. It’s really a disgusting city of evil.
[Back to Revelation slide]
Verse 8-10 share how the kings of the earth - the worldly powers that be- put all their hope in Babylon, but it collapse on them. They find out it’s scam
Verses 11-17 show that the merchants of the world were banking on Babylon to provide them everything they desired. To put it another way, based on the world’s propaganda, they bought the lie that the accumulation of material things would satisfy their hearts.
That power, money, fame would make them happy. And yet, with the fall of Babylon, the lie is exposed and they finally realize none of that is true. It’s a scam.
And in verses 17-19, it’s like the people of the world come to their senses. They see it’s a scam. They had put their hope in Babylon, but they were SO WRONG.
And verse 21 says this:
Revelation 18:21 ESV
Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more;
This is like using the website Snopes to fact-check something. The angel is confirming, “Yes, Babylon is a scam. Don’t put your hope in it because it is destroyed and will never come back.”
And let’s not miss the opportunity for the Word of God to examine our own hearts. How often do we let the things of the world give us false hope, even though it’s a scam?
We think money will make our problems go away.
We think popularity will fill the loneliness.
We think power will gives our lives a sense of value and purpose.
But anyone who has had any of those things will tell you, it’s a scam!
So, why do we (even Christians) keep falling for it? Let me suggest two reasons:
We fall for the scam because the deception is powerful. says, “all nations were deceived by your sorcery.” In other words, the deception is super strong - it’s like magic!
We are still susceptible to the sin in our lives. There is part of us that wants to rebel against God and live selfishly for ourselves. That’s why God says...
Revelation 18:4 ESV
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;
Rev
God’s like, “I’m warning you! Get out of there! Don’t believe the scam because it’s possible! And it will destroy your life.”
I’m not really a hymn person (not the church songs I grew up with), but one of my favorite hymns says this: Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.
There’s still part of us that wants to leave God, so we have to be careful! We can fall for the scam and put our hope in the world instead of Jesus.

The Truth (opposite of scam): Verse 14.

John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
[Back to Revelation slide]
Now, today, the reason why the email scams go instantly to the junk box or are deleted is because the scam was exposed by the truth. People shared their stories and warned others with the truth of what was going on.
I believe that’s one of the purposes of & 18. It’s to let people know about the scam of the devil. Satan has set up this world to appeal to our senses and attract us to his scam. Then, our sin nature takes over, we begin to worship the things that we desire, and we put our hope in it.
John wrote it this way in another letter:
1 John 2:15–16 NLT
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
1 Jn. 2:
But God gives John this Revelation we’re reading so that we WILL hear the truth. And if we hear the truth enough times, and warn enough people, the scam of the devil will either go straight to junk mail or instantly deleted, where it belongs.
Because although the woman and the beast may look attractive and powerful, it’s a scam. The truth is they are already defeated. Furthermore, true life is found in Jesus. That’s why it says:
Revelation 17:14 ESV
They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
Rev. 17:
Family - Jesus is the TRUTH. True life is found in Him. Stop believing the scam. Put your hope in Jesus Christ.
See more of it over the next 2 weeks as we finish Revelation...

Response:

Come out of her (18:4-5)

Some of us serve God and we still can’t catch a break. We are faithful and try to live holy lives as best as we can, but the world still beats us down. One day God will make it right. Don’t give up.
Some of us have put our trust in Babylon the Great. She’s beautiful, powerful, and the great influencer of culture.All her followers are the success stories (at least it appears that way). All her followers get ahead in life. We want that too! We want to be liked, we want to be cool, we want nice things. She’s promising them all. But it’s scam. And her days are numbered...
As we close, I’d like to call the worship team up and leave us with one question...
What message are we living for? The scam or the truth?
Here’s a quick way to find out: Jesus said you will know the tree by its fruit. We get that here in Glastonbury. We got farms.
So, what kind of fruit is coming from our lives? Is the fruit rotten or ripe. I’ll go first.
I’ve been struggling a lot with pride lately. Thinking I’m owed something or deserve something. That I’m better than others. I’m confessing that to you as my church family and I’m also apologizing if you’ve ever experienced that from me. I’m publicly declaring that I’m in the wrong and I’m sorry. Because you know what… the fruit of pride is rotten. It’s the type of fruit found in Babylon.
The book of Galatians gives us a list of fruits that exist in the Kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
This is the fruit we should be finding in our lives.
So what does the fruit look like in our lives. Because the fruit will also tell us what message we’re living for. If we are believing the scam - putting our trust in this world - we will have rotten fruit: anger, jealously, divisions, lying - those types of things. But if Jesus is our hope, and the Holy Spirit is transforming our lives to be more like Him, then we are going to see more of this [this list on the screen] in our lives.
You might be asking? How do I change my fruit from rotten to ripe? The Bible makes this really clear: A changed life only comes from Jesus. He saves us, cleans us, and empowers us to live fruitful lives.
If you’ve never put your trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, just cry out to Him in your heart. You can pray this with me in the privacy of your heart. Say, “Jesus, I need to save me. I’m sorry for how I’ve been living. I’m pretty rotten and I’m ready for that to change. I know that the rotten fruit is because my heart is pretty rotten - because of sin. But you promise to give me a new heart - a clean one - that will produce good fruit - when I repent and put my trust in You. Please do that today! In Jesus name, Amen!”
Maybe you’re a Christian and you’ve already done that. But you’re still seeing rotten fruit. What do we do then? I think the prophet Micah can help:
Malachi 1:2 ESV
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob
Ma
Micah 6:8 NLT
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
As a Christian, if you feel you’ve lost your way, this is a good way to get back on track. Here’s what God wants us to do:
To do what’s right - how do we know what’s right? Read this book and obey it.
To love people.
Be humble. And instead of running after all the things the world offers us (that will one day fade away), walk with the God who loves you more than you can imagine.
If we put as much energy into these 3 things that the people who followed Babylon the Great do chasing after her, I guarantee there will be good fruit in our lives.
Don’t buy into the scam. Live for the truth.
Let’s pray.
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