Zach Zehnder takes us into week five of our series The Unveiling.
Well, I remember, a couple of years ago, waking up in my email box with an email that really intrigued me, even though I knew it was never going to be a possibility. The email promised me and all, the trip of a lifetime, and I don't know if you saw it, but it was a three-year cruise opportunity. They would visit 382 ports, 140 countries and you would see all seven continents. And so, even though I knew it wasn't a possibility, like my mind just started imagining all the places me and my family would go, the things that we would see and experience, the people that we'd meet on board, the experiences that we would have. I even thought but you know what? I just moved to Omaha. I probably can't do that unless, like, maybe that's the vision of King of Kings that this would be the next satellite campus and I would serve humbly as that campus pastor. You know, because I'm still a disciple in all. I knew it was never going to happen for me, but actually hundreds of people did sign up for this and it was all to embark in November of 2023, which was just last month and so many of them prepared for this, and there were lots of different types of people. There were retired folks that were like, yeah, what else are we going to do? This is a new adventure. There were college graduates that were like, I'd rather try this before I you know. Move on to the quote real world. There were lots of different types of people, even working class, because, especially in 2021, we learned we could all work remote. And so, if you're able to work remote, the crews promised great Wi-Fi on board, like, why not work with that as your office? That seems pretty awesome. And many people did sign up. For some of you even, of course, because it's a three year experience sold their homes or rented their homes to people in order to afford this once in a lifetime, trip of a lifetime. So, those that did sign up, what did they do? Last month, they traveled to Istanbul, turkey, where the first cruise was going to depart, and as they arrive in Turkey, they are met with a message from the CEO of Life at Sea Cruise that says, hey, no big worries, but it's going to be a two week delay After two years of imagining and thinking about it. Two weeks, no worries. At the end of those two weeks, another video from the CEO and this time it's hey, we're getting there, but we need one more week before we embark on this bad boy. And then that final one week passes and a third message from the CEO we're sorry, the trip is canceled. Some of them again had sold their homes and have nowhere back to go. I was thinking and I'd love a little audience participation time like how devastating this might be for them. But as a cruise company you need to own a lot of important assets. But I think there is one really important asset that you should own if you're going to sell three year cruises. What asset do you think both campuses that you just have to own if you're going to promise a three year cruise. Yeah, a boat, a ship. Turns out they never actually had one. They were supposed to get one, it never happened, and quite devastating for those that did go through this. But maybe, just maybe, go with me here Maybe they had all the fun they were going to have anyway. Just kind of anticipating and imagining the event. Do you know that a lot of research and scientists say that when it comes to vacations, that most people actually experience more joy in the excitement, the anticipation and the planning of it than the actual vacation itself? Kind of like with this Christmas season. Like most, research says that for many of us, the most joy we're having is like right now. It's imagining what that moment's going to be like if you're a kid, in a couple of weeks, to open those presents. If you're an adult, to see the excitement in your kids opening those presents, or to go through the traditions and so for you maybe it's just thinking and imagining my family's all together holding the candles, singing Silent Night with the family. It's like the one moment you look forward to every year. Or the snow falling, or the egg gnaw that's being drunk, or the honey-baked ham All of these emotions that get us excited and anticipated about this incredible holiday. And that is the power, the positive power, of our imagination. It allows us to go to places and experience things that transcends our modern, present day circumstances. Why are we talking about this? Because things are heating up in the book of Revelation, to say the least, in our study of the book of Revelation, which is the final book of the Bible, which many believe is probably the most confusing or intimidating book of the Bible. And the reason that it is this is because it's written, as we've said, in a different style apocalyptic literature that brings forth images and numbers and colors and characters that do mean something, but they're not meant to be taken literally. What do these things allow our minds, our imaginations, to do? It allows us, in a positive sense, to transcend our modern day, present day circumstances. We can picture things more than just kind of a literal, fact-based reading In the positive side. That's what the book of Revelation allows us to do, and we've got two more weeks to let our imaginations run wild, to escape from the present day and what we're experiencing or feeling and remember and place in our world. The hope that is to come in the next, by the way, that's the second week of Advent is hope. This is a book that is meant to give hope that Jesus is returning and making all things right Now. The other side of imagination with the book of Revelation is, if you don't properly understand the style of literature or what sometimes the symbols of it mean is, it can allow for some pretty crazy and whack interpretations, which is why the book is intimidating and confusing for so many, including myself, and, as I've been studying for preaching, I've been so grateful to have this sort of renewed picture of what revelation actually is, and it's given me fresh vision and fresh excitement and new hope, and I hope that it's done the same for you, because it's meant to take our imaginations to a beautiful place. But when we misinterpret it and we allow our imaginations to go places, that revelation never intended like. I don't know if some maybe you know these people that they'll look at certain things that happen in our day to day. They'll look at natural disasters or battles or wars or political leaders that take office and they'll try to like figure out how all of that works with revelation and predict when Jesus is coming back. That's just not the point of revelation. The main thing, which is also the plain thing, is that Christ and all those who believe in Him experience victory. I thought more than my dad would say yes or amen on that. Thank you, dad, appreciate you, love you. So let me say it again and just see what happens In revelation the main thing, which is also the plain thing, is that Christ and all that believe in Him will experience victory. Thank you. It feels good for a preacher every now and then. You know to know that his material is working the way that it ought to, which is what revelation is meant to do. It's meant to work in you and help you see that, no matter what you're experiencing today, there is hope for the future and all ends well. That's a really important message for the first century Christians that were persecuted and were suffering not because they weren't following Jesus, but actually because they were. It's also a message for us today, and that's why we've said every week and no, we're not giving royalty to Matt Chandler, but we're saying this every week that revelation cannot mean for us what it did not mean to them, that even though we live in a different world and experience a different type of suffering, we too need to let our imaginations and our minds see that things work out well in the end for those that are in Christ. So we've got again two more weeks to let our imaginations go, to transcend our modern day, and so today we're looking at parts of the finale. Today we're looking at Revelation 17 and 18. And then next week we're going to look at the final chapters, the grand finale of all the Bible. If you don't hear me say it later, like hear me say it now, you better come back next week, because we're closing up not just Revelation but the Bible. I mean, we're not God. God's given us the final words. You know what I'm saying. It's going to be awesome is what I'm saying. So, but today I want to look at chapters primarily 17 and 18. And I want to focus on three truths that we see in the text that I'm going to give you up front. And here they are. There's a battle. You are on a side. Only one side wins. Come on, let's say that, follow, follow, follow after me. Say there's a battle. I am on a side, only one side wins. One more time there's a battle. I am on a side, only one side wins. So let's dive in First. There's a battle. In this battle, of course, there are two sides. So let me show you, show you this Many of us, if you've grown up in church, you know that we worship a God that we call Trinity. He's three in one father, son and Holy Spirit. We call that the Holy Trinity, but all throughout the book of Revelation is depicted an unholy Trinity, and this unholy Trinity I hope you'll see it on the screen here in a moment is represented with different parts. The unholy Trinity is represented by the dragon. In Revelation, that is always when the dragon is referred to, that is referred to as Satan. And then there is a beast in the Revelation and there's two different beasts actually. There's the beast from the sea, who many interpret that to be the word anti Christ, even though that word is never found in the text. That's how many interpret it. And then there's the beast from the earth, which is the false prophet. And what the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth represent is essentially anything anti-Christian, anything anti-church, and they're here to destroy in Revelation what they call quote anyone who worships the image of the beast. And at times the beast in Revelation is referring only to the beast from the sea. At times it's referring only to the beast from the earth. And there are times, like today, when the beast is referring to both from the sea and the earth, the false prophet and the anti Christ and all the forces that come against God and those that don't worship the image of the beast. And so today, as we get into the final battle in chapter 17 and 18, what we're going to see is we're going to see the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth completely destroyed. And then next week we're going to look at how that dirtbag dragon, satan, falls into the fiery furnace and gets destroyed forever. Amen, okay, you like the word dirtbag. I'll use that later. We're going to look at that next week. Which did I tell you? Yet? You should come back next week. So Revelation, chapter 17. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls we talked about, the seven plagues, seven bowls last week came and said to me Come, I'll show you the punishment of the great prostitute who sits by many waters. With her, the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries. Then the angel carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness, and there I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and 10 horns. Don't worry, we'll talk about this. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries, and the name written on her forehead was a mystery Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus, the martyrs. When I saw her this is John speaking. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Actually, some most translations go with. I was amazed or I marveled at the sight of her. So what's happening here? In Revelation we have a great prostitute. By the way, I'm perfectly content using the word prostitute today many times, because the Bible uses that word. The prostitute which we'll talk about has a name, Babylon, and she is acting in this text as the beast of the earth while at the same time writing and in full command of the beast from the sea. So you don't need to get too bogged down into this, except you can go deeper in any of this, except to see that the great prostitute, babylon, in this chapter, is representative of the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth, two parts of the unholy trinity. And remember, the beast is controlled by the dragon Satan, who has given the great prostitute, in this moment, complete control over both beasts. What, okay? So in this battle section, we've got a dragon Satan who's given control to a great prostitute that's holding a cup of blood that's writing to terrifying beast. What is John wanting you to see? That this opponent is astonishing. This opponent is massive. This opponent is real and powerful. There's a lot of it feels like fantasy fiction type stuff in apocalyptic literature, and so you movie fans might recognize a scene I don't know like from Lord of the Rings, like the Battle of Helms Deep, or, if you're a Star Wars fan, that first attack on the Death Star, or, if you're a superhero fan, the Battle of Earth in Avengers Endgame, like scenes where you look on and say whoa, wow, that is a massive opponent. How in the world are the good guys gonna come out in front? It's just too much. And in this account of Revelation, not only is there an opponent from the other side trying to attack you, but the way they're trying to get you is like a prostitute would to lure you in and seduce you to her side without you even knowing that you went to her side. And that's point number two. You are on a side. There's a battle. You are on a side. And so which side are you on? In Revelation, you can be either with Babylon or with New Jerusalem. Those are the two cities that are referenced all throughout Revelation. We don't see New Jerusalem in this week's message. We're gonna see more of it in next week's message. By the way, did I tell you you should come back for next week's message? We're gonna learn more about New Jerusalem, but what you do need to know what these sides represent. If you go to Jerusalem in the Old Testament, what is that? That is the capital of Israel, which is where God's people dwelt. If you remember, god brought them out of four centuries of slavery and oppression from Egypt and they were in the wilderness for a while but eventually would settle in the land of Israel. And in the land of Israel, the capital was Jerusalem. That is the place where God built his temple and the temple was the central place where God dwelt with his people in those days. And next week again, we're gonna see New Jerusalem, which is called the Holy City in Revelation, descend and dwell upon us, but it's gonna be in all of its glory and its perfection, as it was always meant to be Jerusalem was in the southern kingdom of Israel. And in 586 BC because again, sometimes we need to remember, these are not. There is so much Old Testament and actual history wrapped up in so much of what's going on in Revelation In 586 BC, this is when God's people were conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar. Can you guess from which nation he came? From? Babylon, which is present day Baghdad in Iraq. If you're wondering, like, where are these two on a map, that's where they are. And what did Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians do? They destroyed the temple of God in Jerusalem and ripped the people of God out of Jerusalem and brought them into exile for 70 years. And in the midst of those 70 years you can see parts of this in the stories of Daniel and Jeremiah In the midst of those 70 years, many of the Israelites who God had absolutely blessed had actually forsaken God and went into and sided with, then, the Babylonians. They fell into the Babylonian lore. And so when the great prostitute is called Babylon, we can understand that Jesus is giving, especially the readers in that day, an image that would strike a response in them, a remembrance in them. This is an enemy. There is great familiarity with this term and that might be a disconnect today from readers if we don't understand who Babylon is and what their role is. But in that day, when you said the word Babylon in an Israelite to someone who's faithfully following Jesus, like that strikes emotion. It's not quite the same. Maybe some of you would say it is, but it's like if I were to say the word Vegas to you. That just brings a connotation to your mind that you understand exactly where I'm going, even before though we get the actual name that it's. The prostitute is called Babylon. The reader's minds would have already been thinking of this from verse one, when it talks about the prostitute sits upon many waters, and the reason they would know that is because, if you look in Jeremiah, there is a passage in there that Jeremiah actually says Babylon, you who live by many waters. So he's talking about Babylon from the beginning of Revelation, chapter 17. Babylon is situated on the Euphrates River which, if you didn't make that connection, last week the sixth bowl of plague was poured out on the Euphrates River. Again, babylon, babylon, babylon, all throughout the book of Revelation. It's the city of many waters because it had a canal system that distributed water through the city and region, and so, again, it's referenced in verse one, but, if there's any doubt, it's plainly named in verse five, and what we need to know is that this is a formidable enemy. There is no disguise, and it says the tattoo is on her forehead. Like you know, this is Babylon. It's that obvious. This is the enemy. At least it ought to be that obvious Babylon or New Jerusalem, which side are you on? Of course, as we read this and as first century Christians read this like, we would never choose on our own to position ourselves to be with the side of the enemy. We never want to be on the side of Babylon. After all that Babylon has done, we never want to be with the side of the one that's literally in this figurative example holding the cup of the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. We would never choose that. Are you kidding me? Not any one of us that believe in Jesus would say that's the side I want to be on, except even though it's we know it's wrong even though it's obvious the tattoo on her forehead. There's something about her. We are drawn to her, we are seduced by her. She is riding the back of the beast, she is powerful and she is fine, and she is looking at me and wants me on her side. Did you see her power, her seductive charm? Like it's pulled the kings of the earth. It says they were intoxicated with her and they drank the wine of her adulteries. They couldn't look away. I think, sometimes wrongly, when we think of the enemy, even with the dragon imagery. They can be presented in revelation. We think of Satan as this like red dragon with a pitchfork. They're like if you see that coming after you, come on, you know you're moving away from that. But you know what the red dragon is really good at doing in the book of Revelation. He's really good at fooling us, at using stunning, beautiful and charming things to do his work for him, and so we actually don't see the dragon as much as you think you would in Revelation. You know what you see on his behalf that he's going to bring a prostitute. He's going to bring a beast from the earth, a beast from the sea, bring the things of this world to get you to focus on the glitz and glamour and beauty of those things. Yet all along you didn't know that Satan was behind them. He uses beautiful things of this world to seduce you and trap you, to get you on his side, without even knowing that. You went to his side and if you think I'm lying about this like even John the apostle, holy John the disciple quote, whom Jesus loved, the one that laid his head on Christ's bosom, the one that was there at the cross, the only one that was there at the cross, the one that so far has seen 16 chapters of God and his glory, and how this all works out. Even John, when he looks at the prostitute, he says I marveled at the sight of her and the angels like, hey, eyes up here, dude. I didn't put this in my notes, but, like, if you think that you're not going to get seduced and lured by the enemy, are you kidding me? So for me, it put me in a place where this morning I was like gosh. Then we got to be less about judgment of others and thinking we're better than other people because of how easily it is to get seduced and lured. That in the fight, like, how dare we like judge and place ourselves at a higher place because you don't know anybody else's story and you don't know what they're going through and you don't know how the enemies come after them and the fight's big enough that we don't need to join forces against one another. God has no place for judgment and hierarchy inside the church. It's not what it's meant to be. Some of you haven't sinned and given it an temptation, not because you wouldn't, just because you haven't been afforded the option. John marveled at her after he saw everything in all its glory. Are you kidding me to think that you wouldn't do that? And so, in the great battle of our souls, one of the greatest tactics of the dragon is to lure us to his side without even realizing that we went. So what is John doing? He's warning those who are faithful, who are believers. He's warning the church be careful. She's prettier than you think, she's more powerful than you imagined, she's better than what you thought. And especially when we're following the path of Jesus, which these first century Christians were, and things aren't going our way and we're suffering and we're being persecuted, and the devil comes into our lives and say I thought, with God all things work together, then why are you having a hard and a difficult time right now? Are you sure that's truth? And the enemy comes like a prostitute that is seductive and on the side, saying hey, you're not getting what you thought you'd get over. There are you. I can give you everything that you want right here. I've got enough for you to drink in and drink all that you want. This is what you deserve. Then the angel said to me, as we pick it back up why are you so astonished? My version of this is eyes up here, dude, I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has seven heads and ten horns. Then he goes on to describe more. First he says the seven heads. He says those are seven hills on which the woman sits. That may not mean much to you right now, but that meant a whole lot to the first century readers, because they would equate that with the city of Rome, because did you know that Rome is known as the city of seven hills? And so what the angel is telling John, that he's writing to the people, is right now there is a modern day agreement with the beast and the dragon. The political power that is largely the reason why you're being persecuted and why you're suffering has gone to the other side. And so, number one, I see you in your intense suffering and your persecution. I know what you're going through, but, number two, they've gone to the other side. That's what you need to know. And then the 10 horns. The angel says what are they? They're 10 kings who have not yet received a kingdom. And so not just Rome, the major political power, is riding along with the beast, but also now the beast is going to come to other nations and other kings and they're going to have authority all together to come after you to wage war against you. And what many people do is like, well, what 10 kingdoms are there? I bet it was that king and that king and that king and like they're trying to figure out. What kingdom are we on right now? And again, I don't think that's what revelation is trying to like. What number are we on right now? The point is that this is a formidable, powerful enemy that is bringing all the things of this world even sometimes things inside the church against the church itself, and we have to be alert and be careful because she's luring, she's seducing and she's saying all the right things, but the truth is she's making a lot of promises that she will never fulfill. They are empty promises, and this was happening back then and it's happening right now that this world, even the best of this world, will offer you so many promises that if you follow this and go after this, that this is where true happiness and joy comes from. And yet, when you follow the ways of the world and you follow the ways of Babylon all the way to the end, you will find that there is no more joy and there's no more happiness because it is without Christ. This is a message to stop worshiping temporary things, stop getting distracted by the glitz and the glamour, don't give in to the pleas to stop enjoying Jesus and stop praising Jesus and live for the things of this world. It's also a message of I see you, I know what you're going through, and it will end well. That's truth. Number three only one side wins and that's clearly laid out for us just a few verses later in Revelation 17, 14. They will wage war All of the things I said will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. It's going to end well, verse 14 says. I got to read the next few verses because it tells you a little bit of how it's going to happen and I just find this fascinating. It's going to help at least one person out there today. Then the angel said to me the waters you saw where the prostitute sits are people's multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the 10 horns you saw will. What will they do? They will eventually hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked. They will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority until God's words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. So in the end, in chapter 17, what happens it's telling you not only will the beast be destroyed, but it will be ruined and left naked, completely exposed for what it always has been. But also the way in which it will happen I find really interesting is that the very powers of evil that combined forces to destroy us will actually turn on themselves and destroy one another. You think, you think, if you ever thought like I wonder if God will use this evil for good, small scale, large scale? My answer is yes, and obviously yes, like the main way that the beast and the dragon and all of this ends is because they actually turn against themselves. They get so power hungry, so fame hungry, so sex hungry, so world hungry, that they actually turn against themselves. We don't have to do it, we just got to be faithful and hang on to King Jesus. They'll do it to themselves if you let them long enough. How cool is that? And if anything evil has ever happened to you, let me tell you that will be used eventually. Flipped for the glory of God. How cool, chapter 18. I'm not going to read chapter 18. You'll get a picture of how it happens. But we just see that Babylon falls. Let me show you. After this, I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority and the earth was illuminated by a splendor. With a mighty voice, he shouted come on, let's say this together Both campuses fallen. Fallen is Babylon the great? And how did the people respond? Let's say these words together as well. Rejoice over her, you, heavens. Rejoice you people of God, rejoice apostles and prophets, for God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you and with that. Again, read the description of how it happened. It's really cool. The beast from the sea and the beast from the earth are no more. Two parts of the unholy trinity are destroyed. That leaves just one left the dragon. I don't know if I've told you, but I'm going to talk about that next week. You should come, and not only will we talk about God destroying the dragon, but we'll talk about God bringing the new Jerusalem and how that changes everything. Now, revelation 17 and 18, as well as the book. They're meant to spark our imagination, to let our imaginations go and to show us some truths in our every day that otherwise we might miss. And the three truths I presented today again is let's say them together there's a battle, I am on a side and only one side wins. And so what do you do with these truths? I've got three real quick takeaways, and these are ongoing. It's not like a once and I'm done, like this is every single day in some way, shape or form, like this is my practice. This is your practical takeaway, all three. First, there's a battle. Here's the takeaway. Remember the fight, just remember that you have an enemy that's coming after you. And again I tell you that the ones in Revelation that the enemy is coming after, they're not fighting and suffering because they've fallen away from God. They're actually pursuing and believing and following Jesus. And that's why they're being persecuted and why they're suffering, because what the enemy loves to do is he loves to come after not those who are spectators, but those who are participants in bringing God's kingdom. In the moment you turn from a spectator into a participant. You should expect the enemy to come after you. This message of believe in Jesus and follow him and everything in your life is going to be great. That's a lie from the enemy. That's a false prophet coming after you. It's not. It's going to be hard and we should expect it. The Bible is all throughout talking about how there will be suffering for those that cling to Jesus. This is not a surprise. This is not God doing a 180. He calls us citizens of heaven and not this earth. He calls us aliens and strangers in this world. We're not called to fit in. We're called to stand out. We're not called to be normal and to be the same. We're called to be different. And you know what happens when you're different. When you stand out, you're going to come up against things in this world Relationships and thoughts and moments and times that's going to force a decision out of you that is different and odd and weird from this world and you will choose to go team Jesus on that side and you will actually be in a fight. Remember the fight and actually, if you don't ever feel like your Christian faith is a fight, I'm not here to question whether you actually believe in Jesus and what your eternity will be. But I will say you should go back and understand and learn more about the God of the Bible, who he is and who he's called you to be, because if you never run into any situation where life is difficult because you follow Jesus, you're not doing it right. No shame, no guilt, like John struggled looking at the prostitute in the midst of all. It's like there's no shame or guilt there, it's just. That's the truth. And then, second, so we're going to remember the fight. And number two, you're on a side. And so what are we going to do? We're going to reject Babylon. Babylon, of course, representing all the things that come against the church, all the things that come against Christ and those that follow Him. Again, as I presented the two sides, like, no one who believes in Jesus would say I want to be on side prostitute, no. And yet here's the reality without keeping our eyes, without letting our imaginations go to the end, sometimes we lose sight of what this world is and that one day everything will be made right. And every day, what we're doing is we're, if we're not looking at Christ, not in relationship with Him, we're being discipled by this world. We're being discipled by this culture and we're allowing the ways of this world to creep in and we're learning and we're getting onto the other side without even sometimes knowing that we're there. If you don't intentionally follow Jesus, you will naturally be pulled to Babylon, and the good news of the Bible all throughout is that anyone who has ever once sided with Babylon, even for just a moment, you missed the mark. But God came down into this world to die on a cross, to raise you up and to bring you back to the right side and that's the gospel is that you receive this grace. And when you receive this grace, not only do you get eternity what we'll talk about next week, if I didn't mention that you get that you get confidence in this world, you get hope that this will be your future, but you know what you also get in the present day. God says that you receive the Holy Spirit, which is a part of the Holy Trinity, which actually ends up destroying the unholy tr that's in you. So not only do you receive God's grace, but now you've got the power that is above the unholy trinity power to reject Babylon when it comes near you. How cool. So we're going to reject Babylon Every day we've got to reject it and then finally one side wins. And so what do we do? We do what they did in chapter 18. It said rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, because if you believe in Jesus, you're on the winning side. If you're remembering the fight and rejecting Babylon, we can come together on a Sunday morning. We can rejoice Because you know what, if we're doing it right, it's hard out there. It's hard to be different, it's hard to not give in to the ways of this world and to make decisions that others don't make. Sometimes it brings suffering and sometimes it may bring persecution and sometimes it probably a lot of times. It may not feel like you fit in, but you know a place where I do feel like I fit in pretty well when I'm around other people that are in the fight with me and when I come together with y'all and I know that you're in the fight with me and you've been trying your best to reject Babylon and I've been trying my best, and sure we fail at times Even John marveled at the problem Like we're not here to judge or shame anyone, but to say we're in the fight together and we can reject what this world gives and brings, because we know that in the end, only one side wins. We know this because not only past tense did God take the biggest weapon of the enemy that he could ever throw at him Death itself and he overcame it and gives you a gift of grace, and then, I just mentioned, he gives you the power of the Holy Spirit, but we've also got the promise that one day he's coming back and he's destroying anything and everything that is unholy. And so the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth, they're done. And, because you like it, that dirt-backed dragon Satan's getting thrown in that fire too, and so we just get to come together and encourage one another. I don't know why I'm yelling if I'm encouraging you, but I'm encouraging you. Man, this world's hard, isn't it? Babylon's so good at what she does, but my God is greater, better, bigger and stronger, and I'm clinging to that promise, and so that's why both campuses are going to stand right now. Come on, stand, that was your clue. And we're going to worship and we're going to rejoice and we're going to come back next week Because it's awesome how it ends. Will you pray with me? Dear Jesus, you are so, so good. This world is hard, it brings a lot against us. It's powerful. I hate, I hate that I fall, I hate that I can preach up here and say, hopefully, mostly the right words, and later, today and tomorrow and Tuesday and every day, I'll give in to Babylon. She is not worthy of my soul or my life. You are, forgive me, forgive us, forgive us. Thank you that you already have. You are today and you will again when I struggle tomorrow and in the midst of what's confusing and difficult, god, let our imaginations run wild to a time when all things are made right, when evil gets turned upon, evil itself and good wins and God wins and grace wins, and in the middle we rejoice, we rejoice, we rejoice. We love you, jesus. It's in your name we pray and together both campuses said Amen. Are you ready to rejoice? I would ask you, as we sing these songs, what's it look like for you to be reverent, for you to imagine? Is it closing your eyes? Is it raising your hands? Is it kneeling? Is it kneeling? Is it? What is it? Is it singing along? Is it being quiet? But will you for a moment try to catch a glimpse of what it one day will be, knowing that it might just give you a few minutes of hope on this advent day. That's all about hope. Let's worship and let's rejoice. The battle is already won. Amen, amen.