Bringing Down The Bully

Bible Book: Revelation  19 : 17
Subject: Satan Judged
Series: Revelation

I had taken a group of young people to a mission church in South Louisiana to conduct a mission Vacation Bible School. These young people, mostly teenaged boys, really loved what we were doing, they loved being together, and they loved their church. One evening they came inside the mission church laughing about something that had just happened. One of our boys had come upon a number of local boys playing “King of the Hill” out behind the church. One sixth grade boy would get on the mound of dirt they called the hill (the nearest real hill was probably two hours away). For some reason or another, Timmy, a tall, thin sixteen years old boy (and a classmate to several of our boys) decided to play with them. He managed to take the hill without too much difficulty, but before he knew it a twelve year old boy had taken it away from him. Our young people laughed at Timmy for months about the experience. Timmy was no bully, but briefly, he put himself in a position to appear to be a bully, and everyone loves it when a bully is taken down.

I worked for the US Department of Agriculture to help pay the bills when I was in college and seminary. One fall, while on a break from school I was working at a grain elevator, weighing soybeans, testing them, and doing a little of the book work. One night we had a break-down and two young men were trying to get the nut off a large bolt so they could replace a part. They were not making any progress and a few farmers and truck drivers watched with interest to see what they would do. Suddenly, a young man I will call “Buddy” stepped forward, picked up a shop hammer and began hammering away at the nut. Then he picked up a large adjustable wrench and tried to break the nut loose. The threads were still frozen with rust and would not move.

I remembered Buddy from high school. He was a few years older than I, but in a small high school we all knew the older boys, whether they knew us or not. Buddy was no athlete, and from his appearance we wondered if he had ever done a serious day’s work in his life. You see, I lived on a farm and farm boys had to work. I will let you in on a little known secret. From the stories written about the times you would think that kids growing up in a sharecropper’s home really had it bad - and some did. But at times I envied them because, though most of them did work hard, they got breaks I did not get. We were working to pay for land my father had bought and when my friends were driving in to town on Saturday, I was still in the field. When they got rained out, I ran water furrows. When they went to play baseball after the crops were “laid by”, I had to head to the new ground, pull turn rows, or help someone on the place cut firewood.

As I said, I grew up on a farm. Buddy grew up on a plantation, though not one of the really big plantations in the Mississippi Delta. When Buddy graduated from high school, he went to Mississippi State and got a degree in agriculture. Before I saw him that night at the grain elevator, I had already learned that he had graduated from State and returned to manage his family’s farm. He was very successful and he wanted everyone to know it. He bragged to other farmers, and assumed the role I had heard characterized as “the little big shot.” Buddy could never have been a bully from a physical standpoint. I wondered if he would have lasted an hour in the field with us - as a matter of fact, I could not picture him on the football field. He was a different kind of bully, one who could not assert himself when he was in high school because no one would have taken him seriously.

I had not only heard that Buddy was back, I had heard about his attitude. As a matter of fact, someone told me about a time when Buddy had been bragging to some farmers who were old enough to be his father. They did not say anything until he got into his truck and drove away. Then, one of the men said, “What that boy needs is a good crop failure.” He needed something to bring him down a notch or two.

But back to that night at the grain elevator. I had not said a word as the two young men tried to get get the nut loose. I did not say anything as Buddy took over and began beating the nut like he was trying to kill it. He wreaked of arrogance. I will admit, I was sort of pleased when he could not get the nut off the bolt! When he laid it down, I squatted down and picked up a ball-peen hammer and began tapping the nut in a counterclockwise manner as I had seen my father do so often. I simply tapped on the shoulders of the nut in a counterclockwise manner. After several seconds, Buddy, exclaimed, “If it didn’t break loose the way I was beating on it, that tapping is sure not going to do it!”

I reached over and picked up the adjustable wrench and took off the nut with no difficulty at all. I didn’t even look up at Buddy, but I imagined that others standing around us did. Okay, I’ll confess it. It felt good to see a bully taken down a notch or two. It always has, and I suspect it always will. Boys see it on the playground at school. Junior has failed two or three grades and he is bigger than all the boys in his class. He cannot compete in class - or more likely, he refused to try - but he can push his weight around on the playground. He threatens, pushes, even hits other boys. Then someone stands up to him and he is never quite the same again. It reminds you of the Andy Griffith program when Opie decides he must stand up to the bully who is making him give him his milk money every morning so he can walk down his street.

The very word bully leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, and possibly some image in your mind that you had just as soon forget. By the way, there are a lot of female bullies out their, too. They may use their tongue and their mind to control others, but they may become very conning in controlling others. I doubt, however that either the male of female bully ever thinks of himself or herself as a bully. That word paints too nauseating a figure.

I had heard my great Aunt Effie talk about her grandfather, James D. Sanders, when I saw a small child. All I remembered was that he had grown up on a plantation and attended the University of Alabama. Neighbors were impressed with his knowledge and wisdom, I was told. He could walk outside any time on a clear night and tell you within thirty minutes of the time by the moon and planets, meaning that he had studied astronomy. James D. Sanders stood six foot, two inches tall when a six footer was considered a giant. He weighed 210 pounds at a time when 180 pounds was considered a big man. He was known far and wide for both his strength and speed. He was an athlete without team sports or golf to challenge him. Then, I learned that my ancestor was called The Sand Hill Bully. This sent shock waves through me - no one likes a bully! Then, I learned that he word did not carry the same connotation it does today, and has for generation. Years later, when Theodore Roosevelt would say, “Bully!”, he did not mean it in a negative way. James D. Sanders was a bare knuckle fighter (boxer) who was called out by neighbors to take on all challengers who came through the area, looking for someone against whom they could test their strength, courage, and skill in the manly art of self defense. I know I must have inherited something from him. I went to Jackson one night when I was at Mississippi College to watch the state finals in Golden Gloves. I saw Rocky Marciano referee a few bouts that night. That is close enough for me! I didn’t really need to get into the ring after all!

There are many examples of bullies in history, and admittedly, many were never taken down - on earth, anyway. What I would like to do today is call your attention to some examples of bullies, and see if you cannot see in them something of the spirit and character of Satan.


A. First, Look at Some of the Individual Bullies.

NOTE: To me, all tyrants are bullies and many bullies are would be tyrants. I say many bullies because I have known some bullies who would not be able to define a tyrant. With that in mind, let us look at some bullies, tyrants, and some would be tyrants.

1) Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s palace. There he would have stood before the world’s most powerful tyrant. There in the palace and throughout the capital city he must have been compared to the other princes of Egypt, who may well have considered him their main competition as heir to the throne. Moses was trained in the math, sciences, and arts of Egypt, yet when the saw a bully beating a Hebrew slave, he did not use diplomacy. He killed the Egyptian. The man who would deliver Israel from captivity was not yet ready to do it God’s way.

Forty years later, Moses stood before the worlds number one tyrant and announced that the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob commanded Pharaoh to “Let My people go.” The man on the throne believed he was descended from a god - believed he was a god. He worshiped countless gods in Egypt. Egypt was the dominant world power. What was Israel? What kind of god was it who lacked the power to establish a nation. What kind of god was it who could not deliver his people from slavery to Pharaoh?

During the following weeks The Great I AM did what His followers have often wished He would do. He demonstrated just Who He is. Now, don’t tell me you have never wished you could see God answer the atheist, the agnostic, the scoffer. When I read the account in Exodus or watch THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, I can hardly wait for God to prove Himself and to bring down the arrogant tyrant who sat on the throne of the most powerful nation on earth. If you have seen Yul Brenner’s portrayal of Pharaoh in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, your desire to see the arrogant bully taken down, broken, and banished was intensified.

A number of years ago, there was a brief report in the local news about a local attorney who was fishing on Lake Bistenau, near Shreveport. LA, when a sudden thunderstorm swept in over the lake. The attorney had been celebrating the Fourth of July with a few beers and when the thunder and lightening moved over the boat, the man stood up in the boat and challenged God - “If You really are God, strike me with lightening.” The words had hardly left his tongue when he was hit by lightening and killed. No doubt, many people thought he got what he was asking for, that God had demonstrated both His existence and His power to bring down a scoffer. To be perfectly honest, anyone who stands up in a boat in a thunderstorm is asking for trouble, regardless of what he may be saying.

2) Samson still stands as the strongest man who ever lived. That is saying a lot, especially in light of the Olympic weight lifters, professional football players, and the Christian Power Team that seeks to reach young people with a message of hope and deliverance. I first became aware of power lifters when I saw a demonstration by Paul Anderson, a former Olympic heavyweight lifter, who started a ministry to young people back in the fifties. Paul Anderson would stand there and pump 250 dumbbells with either hand. He would stand under a platform and then lift a full grown African Elephant by simply straightening his legs.

Samson surpassed them all. God had blessed him with superhuman strength. We know that because his full strength was never demonstrated until the Spirit of God came upon him. You know the story. Sampson, who might have been the bully, was bullied by the pagans who sought to destroy him. Deceived by Delilah, his hair was cut, his eyes were put out, and he was forced to do the work of a donkey, grinding grain. At one of their great festivals, his pagan captors called him out to make sport of him, and no doubt his God. The whole temple was filled with wild, rowdy scoffers, who celebrated his condition. As you read the story, or better, if you have seen the old Victor Mature move, SAMSON, you want to shout, “Lord, do something! Prove yourself. Don’t let those pagans mock you.” This time, God did act and Samson’s strength was returned so that he could bring down the temple, killing more people in that one act than in all the rest of his life put together.

3) Then there is David. What better example could we find than the rags to riches king of Israel. There are many examples of his courage and skill, but one story stands out in our minds. A youthful David visited his brothers who were fighting in King Saul’s army. When he arrived, he was surprised to see a giant Philistine stand on a hill opposite Saul’s army and challenge any soldier to meet him in the valley before both armies. That fight would determine the outcome of the war. No one dared accept the challenge. David could not believe all those soldiers let a pagan intimidate God’s people. You know this story well. David accepted the challenge, went down into a creek bed and selected five smooth stones. No, David was not planning to miss his first throw. Goliath had four brothers!

Now tell me, when you read the story of David and Goliath, or see it portrayed on a screen, are you not saying, “Take him down, Lord!” We want to see the bully brought to his knees before the servant of the Lord. In this case, the shepherd lad made it look easy. The victory was both simple and dramatic.

4) Elijah stood before evil King Ahab in Naboth’s vineyard after the wicked Queen Jezebel had arranged to have Naboth killed so she could give his vineyard to her husband. The Bible tells us that Ahab was more evil than all the kings that had gone before him in the Northern Kingdom, beginning with Jeroboam I, yet he was not as much of a bully as his vile, wicked wife. Jezebel had brought priests and prophets of Bail with her when she married Ahab, and they had filled Israel with Baal worship. Now, Elijah stands before the evil Ahab, who is trembling in his sandals, and we say, “Yes, Lord, bring him down!”

There was a contest on Mount Carmen between the prophets of Baal and Elijah, the servant of Yahweh, the God of Israel. You remember the account. The prophets of Baal prepared their offering, laid it out on the wood, and prayed for Baal to consume the offering. Elijah actually mocked them while they prayed and cut themselves to try to get Baal’s attention. Elijah joked, “Maybe you need to cry a little louder. Perhaps your god is asleep.” We are smiling with Elijah, and perhaps we are thinking, “Show ‘em, Lord!”

Then when his time comes, Elijah soaks his offering with water before calling upon the true God, the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. We read the story, knowing that God is about to give them a demonstration of His power, His presence, and His knowledge of what is happening. God demonstrates His power and vindicates Elijah.

5) Jeremiah was called to a life and ministry that would scare the life out of me. He spent his life declaring the word of God to a people he loved, but a people who returned hate for love and violence for compassion. They tried to kill him, and if God had not intervened they would have succeeded. The king tried to silence him but he would not be silenced. He announced the Captivity and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, but they would not repent. God demonstrated the fact that though His people refused to repent, He was still in control.

I was active in the 4-H Club all the way through elementary and high school and for some reason I was invited to attend the Forestry Week at Leroy State Park near Hollindale, Mississippi. Some boys were a year or two older, some a few years younger than I. We were all getting acquainted in the long barracks building when I heard someone shout out above everyone else, “Hey, look! He’s got a Bible!” I looked and a younger boy was sitting on his bed with his Bible in his hand. The bully was trying to gather everyone else around him to mock the smaller boy with his Bible. I reached into my bag and pulled out my Bible, not knowing what to expect. Within a minute or two most of the boys drifted back to their bed. There was no way they were going to call me a sissy because I had my Bible with me. The smaller boy was quiet and I had never been either. He was small, and while I was not the tallest boy there I had the heaviest shoulders and thickest chest there, and I had the darkest skin. They could look at me and tell that I had spent the summer in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. I never said a word. I just offered my support in a way that caused the bully to back down. If I had confronted him the outcome may well have been different. I was also able to encourage the younger boy.

6) Jesus stood before bullies on many occasions. As a child, when I read or heard the stories about Jesus, I wanted Him to demonstrate his power, to silence the critics, and to bring down both the religious and political bullies who were trying to kill Him. I kept thinking, “Show them Lord. Show them you are the Son of God!” Then I came to understand that my wish was not very original. That is exactly what Satan was trying to get Him to do in the wilderness! Am I not right? Wasn’t Satan trying to get Jesus to put on a show to demonstrate His power? The power of God was being demonstrated all around them but they paid no attention to it. Satan can live with a God who demonstrates His power from afar, but a Savior on a cross is more than he could tolerate. It is one thing to admire a god from afar, but an altogether different matter to have a personal relationship with one’s Creator.

When you saw Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, many of you wept because of the shameful way they treated our beloved Savior. We knew He had to suffer and die on the cross for our sins - we just didn’t realize the intensity of the persecution and torture. When bullies beat Him, we wanted Him to show them. When scoffers challenged Him to come down from the cross, something inside us kept whispering, “I know He cannot do that and provide for our salvation - but, wouldn’t shock them if He did come down?” Then we realize that the only response to the cross and the taunts that matters is the one they witnessed on the first day of the week - the open tomb (and of course, the appearances and His ascension which followed).

B. There Were Evil Nations All Around Israel.

The surrounding nations constantly threatened Israel. During the Period of the Judges, Israel was constantly being attacked by one of the Canaanite nations or some other power. When they were severely oppressed, they repented and called on the Lord and He would send a Gideon, or a Samson, or a Deborah to deliver them. When we turn to the Book of Amos we see God dramatically announcing His judgment upon surrounding nations. He would give the name of that nation, give the reason for the judgment, and the announce what the judgment would be. He would bring down the Phoenicians, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Edomites, the Midianites, and all the other nations that had dealt so cruelly with His Chosen People. And we say, “Yes, Lord. Bring ‘em down!”

C. There Were Also Some Empires That Oppressed God’s People.

There was Assyria, that ancient and unspeakably evil nation that destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B. C. For your information, that is Before Christ, not before the common era! Then there was Babylon, another aggressive, pagan empire that conquered so much of the world at the time. They defeated Assyria and in three invasions, took captives back to Babylon. The Babylonian Empire was followed by the Medo-Persian Empire, which in turn was followed by the Greek Empire, and the Greek Empire by the Roman Empire. These were pagan nations, nations whose kings took credit for their conquests without realizing that even when they were persecuting and oppressing the Chosen People of God, He was moving nations and empires like one moves pieces on a chessboard to accomplish His purpose.

We read the history in the Bible and want to say, “Show ‘em, Lord”, but then we realize a number of things. First, He did not have to prove Himself to anyone. Second, He did prove Himself to all of them. Third, He followed His plan and never let the evil nations and empires distract Him from His purpose. Yes, He showed them all right. Against all odds and in spite of all Satan could do to prevent it, He sent His only begotten Son to pay the price for our salvation. All the forces of Satan, all the might of the great empires, and all the oppression by neighboring nations could not prevent the virgin birth of His only begotten Son. He showed the world, all right. They might not have understood it, but Jesus is His answer to all the hatred, all the oppression, all the persecution, all the torture, all the lies and deception of the devil and his demons. Jesus is Gods answer.

D. God Is Aware of Modern Day Bullies and Tyrants.

If you know anything about history you are aware of tyrants who have brutalized their own people and slaughtered conquered people. From Nimrod, who founded ancient Babylon and Nineveh, to Genghis Kahn, despots and tyrants have committed atrocities against innocent people. When we read the account of the Assyrian invasion of Israel we can hardly believe anyone could be so cruel. They we read the accounts of the atrocities committed by Stalin and Hitler and wonder how it could get any worse than that. We go back in history again and read of Antiochus Ephanes and his war against the Jews and we realize that human nature has never changed. We also realize that tyrants do not always recognize the Geneva Convention.

This past week, Japanese commemorated the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when America dropped an atomic bomb on each city. The destruction and loss of life there was beyond belief. It was so bad that in all the years since that time no one has used an atomic bomb against another city or country. At the same time, it is disturbing that the Japanese are not taught why America used the bomb. They are not taught about Pearl Harbor and they are not taught about the plans Japan had to divide up the world between Japan and Germany. They are not taught the atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers in Korea and China, and they are not told about the atrocities committed against POWs. No one is commenting on the fact that the Japanese had made a commitment to fight to the last man if we invaded Japan - and according to estimate, more than one million people would have been killed in an invasion.

When it comes to tyrant bullies, we can add Communist China, and Castro’s Cuba to a long list that should include Cambodia, Viet Nam, and a number of lesser nations in Africa and South America. However, we are facing a ruthless enemy today that just may be the worst the world has ever known. That is Islam and it is especially dangerous because we really don’t understand all we need to know about it. It controls a major part of the world’s population as well as a big part of the world’s surface and the world’s nations.

We must remember that militant Muslims attacked America on 9/11 (2001), and they were not acting on their own. They attacked Great Brittan on 7/7 (2005). They attacked Spain and Spain backed out of the war in Iraq. They have intimidated France, Germany, and Russia into silence about the war against terrorism. Islam just may be the evil force Satan will use to try to accomplish his purpose to take over the whole world. If so, the final battle involving that nations of the world may well be focused launched Islamic leaders. I don’t know about you, but every time I see some Militant Muslim leader calling on Muslims to kill Americans I keep thinking how much I want to see God bring ‘em down. And He is going to do it!

As the world watched, the networks showed the tape of the capture of Saddam Hussein over and over for days. Perhaps some thought of the phrase, “How the mighty have fallen.” The man who epitomized everything vile and evil in a dictator, a diabolical dictator who slaughtered his own people. And now, an American soldier finds him hiding in a rat’s nest, as some called it. But back up a little. Do you remember the street scenes after victory was proclaimed in Iraq. They began pulling down all the statues of Saddam Hussein and dragging them in the street. Then we saw something most unusual for those of us in the West. Some of those liberated Iraqis took off their sandals and began beating this huge statue of Saddam Hussein with the bottom o f their sandals - a sign of contempt that goes beyond anything we can imagine here. The mighty dictator had been taken down!

Now, we are waiting for another bully to be taken down. I was at Glorieta for a meeting of the board of trustees for LifeWay Christian Resources on 9/11/01. As I parked in front of the building where we were committees were to meet that morning I was suddenly aware of something in the air I could not identify. I asked what had happened and Janet Henley, a Maryland trustee told me about the attack on the twin towers. I said, “Osama bin Laden.” I want you to know, I have been waiting for five years to see Osama bin Laden taken down, humiliated, tried, and punished for his murderous schemes and actions. But whether he is captured and punished or dies a natural death, this evil maniac has an appointment at the judgment bar of God. This evil bully will be taken down.


A. These Bullies Openly Defy God.

1) First, there is the first beast of Revelation 13. Listen to John’s description:

“And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had 10 horns and seven heads. On his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. The beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like a bear’s, and his mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority” (Rev 13:1-2).

This first beast is a world class bully. He is both unbelievably evil and incredibly powerful. When he speaks many will not believe him but they will be afraid to oppose him. He seems to have all the power in the world at his disposal, he sets his face irrevocably against God, and attacks God at every turn. Even his diadems carry blasphemous names, names that openly challenge Almighty God. When we read about this frightening beast, we want to cry, “Bring him down, Lord, bring him down!”

2) Next, There is the second beast of Revelation 13. Listen to John’s description:

“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; he had two horns like a lamb, but he sounded like a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast on his behalf and compels the earth and those who live on it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.” (Rev. 13:11-13).

The first beast fakes a resurrection - just like Jesus. When the second beast appears he has two horns like a lamb - like the Lamb of God. However, when he speaks he sounds like the devil, from whom he receives his power and authority. His work is to force people worship the first beast. He shows people how to compromise with the first beast and feel good about it. He is as much a tool of Satan and enemy of mankind as the first beast. By the way, that is a method Satan is using right now in America. I spoke with a pastor who has just announced his retirement and he said that he had told another pastor this week that when he was growing up men and women got married and stayed married. They didn’t believe in divorce. Now homosexuals are getting married and men and women are just living together. God calls that evil, the first beast say no, it not evil, but it takes the second beast to lead people with a church background to engage in either sin and still feel good about themselves. Not only that, but pastors have now learned that you must not preach anything that sounds judgmental. People want to feel good about themselves.

3) Now we come to the Anti-Christ. Many believe the beast out of the sea (Rev. 13:3) is the anti-Christ. Let me share a note from the Holman Bible Dictionary:

“1 John 2:18 speaks of the antichrist who is the great enemy of God and, in particular, antichrists who precede that great enemy. These antichrists were human teachers who had left the church. Such antichrists deny the incarnation (1 John 4:3) and Christ’s deity (1 John 2:2). In 2 John 7, the antichrists are identified as deceivers who teach that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh. The concept of the antichrist appears in the term “false Christ” (pseudo christos) (Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22).”

There are many false Christs, many pseudo-Christs, or ant-Christs. There is one Anti-Christ, one vicious beast who receives his power to conquer, dominate, and destroy. When I read about the Anti-Christ, my deepest prayer is, “Bring him down, Lord, bring him down.” And He will!

B. They Will All be Taken down, Rev. 19:19-20:3.

“Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army. But the beast was taken prisoner, and along with him the false prophet, who had performed signs on his authority, by which he deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev 19:19-21).

C. Now We Come to Satan.

Now, let me read the rest of our text and see what you think:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time” (Rev 20:1-3).


Satan is going to get what he has coming to him. And what’s more, you and I are going to be celebrating! Let me read another passage for you:

“After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, because His judgments are true and righteous, because He has judged the notorious prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality; and He has avenged the blood of His servants that was on her hands. A second time they said: Hallelujah! Her smoke ascends forever and ever! Then the 24 elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who is seated on the throne, saying: Amen! Hallelujah! A voice came from the throne, saying: Praise our God, all you His servants, you who fear Him, both small and great!” (Rev 19:1-5).

The beast and the false prophet will be taken down - they will be cast into the abyss. Then Satan himself will be chained and thrown into the bottomless pit for a thousand years - and ultimately, into the lake of fire for ever.

We witness the evil done by Satan and all his forces and cry, “Bring them down, Lord!” He will - and you and I will be shouting “Amen! Hallelujah!” How would you like to celebrate God’s mighty, and glorious victory? You will if you are a child of God. You will be a part of this great chorus. But I have some good news for you. You don’t have to wait to celebrate the victory because it is assured already. Would you like to practice right now? Say “Amen! Hallelujah.”