The Beast from the Sea (Revelation Sermon 24 of 49)
November 05, 2017 | Andy Davis
The Apostle Paul depicts government as a blessing from God. Government officials are God’s servants to do us good. We are commanded in Romans 13 to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority that He has established, for there is no authority that exists except what has been established by God. Christians are commanded throughout every generation to submit themselves to God-ordained authorities.
But in Revelation 13, we have the end of the story, the destiny of human government in its final form on earth. It is a devastating and terrifying story. A beast emerges from the sea which embodies one final world ruler who will use his absolute power to establish himself as God on earth and demand worship from every human being alive.
History has shown how dangerous government by sinful humans is. The pages of the Bible itself are filled with examples. In the story of the Exodus, Pharaoh used his governmental power to enslave and oppress the Jews, forcing them to build their monuments and pyramids. In the book of Nahum, the empire of the terrifying Assyrians, the Nazis of the ancient world, is described. They trampled people with their iron chariots and they invented crucifixion as a torturous way to kill their adversaries, that eventually was used in fulfillment of prophecies about Christ.
The Greek Empire under Alexander the Great spread culture, philosophy, views of democracy, and other things. After Alexander the Great died, however, his generals rose up and acted as tyrants in his wake. The Roman Empire spread economic unity through the Pax Romana but enforced it by the iron will of their legions. After the Roman era, barbarian hordes swept across Europe and destroyed human culture. The Huns, the Mongols and the Vikings left behind no great literary achievements or advancements in human understanding, just the power of might through conquest.
Christendom set up the divine right of kings and the feudal system, which meant that government was only as good as the king. If the king was righteous, then the government would be good; if the king was wicked, then the government would be bad. Most were wicked. In England, the legendary King Arthur and the golden era of Camelot represented the aspirations that we all have for a righteous government, but it was a myth.
The American Revolution sought to break away from the divine right of kings and establish a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Winston Churchill, speaking to the House of Commons in 1947, said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” With his typical wit, he was saying there is no perfect government.
The 20th century saw an experiment of government-mandated generosity by the upper and middle classes to the lower classes called communism, but it has been an economic, moral, and religious failure in every respect. Human government should serve the people in the pattern of Christ, the servant King, but human rulers usually use their powers their positions of power to steal and kill and destroy, to be honored and to live lives of self-indulgence and luxury in this world. When I was in Cameroon this summer, the whole capital city of Yaounde was shut down for half a day by security forces because the president of Cameroon might use one of those roads in the afternoon. We were not even allowed to be pedestrians on the street. The officials and police were everywhere. In the end, he traveled by helicopter. The Wycliffe missionaries we were with said this happens all the time.
We may not realize until we string events and circumstances together what a big issue this corrupted and sinful human government is in hot spots around the world. We know of some of the more famous leaders like Kim Jong Un in North Korea who has tyrannized his own people for years and threatens other nations with nuclear holocaust. There are demonstrations in Kenya as the local population is enraged over a questionable outcome of a presidential election; ongoing civil war in Syria with ISIS; major movement in Catalonia seeking independence from Spain; a military clamp down because a coup is threatened in Venezuela. The communist government in China is the most virulently anti-Christian since the time of Mao. The crackdowns from Communist officials on our brothers and sisters in Christ are increasing as they seek to assemble in peaceful worship.
All of this is nothing compared to what is coming. In Revelation 13, we will begin to probe the depths of corruption the human soul and government will reach at the very end of history. The most powerful and corrupt of all human rulers will be overthrown only by the Second Coming of the true King of kings and the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ himself. We will meet the Beast from the Sea, also known as the Antichrist.
The Beast’s Origin
If we take a general sequential, linear approach to Revelation, the seven trumpet judgments in Revelation 8 and 9 happen before this Antichrist emerges. These trumpets sound from Heaven and destroy the ecology of the earth — one-third of all the green things on earth are burned up; one-third of the oceans turned to blood; one-third of the sea creatures die; one-third of the fresh drinking water turns to blood; the luminosity of celestial bodies is diminished by one-third. A demonic horde, emerging from the nether reaches of the earth, torment humans for five months. A demon-incited army of 200 million kill a third of the population of the earth, perhaps as many as three billion people. We see staggering levels of suffering on earth unfold with the trumpet judgment.
At that time, many people around the world will be yearning for some leader to emerge to make sense of it all, to bring some semblance of order and an economy, to facilitate drinking water and a way to resume living under such dire circumstances. They will be right at that point to follow this person, Satan’s dark masterpiece, the greatest delusion that he will have ever foisted on the human race, the Antichrist. For centuries, through all of history, Satan has been the secret power, the puppet master, behind the throne of every rebellious, wicked ruler on earth. 1 John 5:19 says “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” Satan revealed this truth on the mountain of where he tempted Christ when he showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus refused, saying “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” [Luke 4:6, 8]
Satan has organized his dark kingdom with other powerful demonic beings under him, rulers and authorities and powers of this present darkness, who are puppet masters behind lesser thrones on earth. These demonic rulers have effectively but secretly swayed and influenced the decisions of the movers and shakers of human history in every era. At the end of the world, Satan will consolidate all the governments of the world into one massive empire, led by one corrupted man, the beast or Antichrist.
The word “Antichrist” does not appear in the book of Revelation; it only appears in 1 and 2 John. The word Antichrist from the Greek means “substitute Christ” — not “against Christ,” as we might think, although he is that as well. 1 John 2:18 says, “…you have heard that the antichrist is coming…” and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 says, “…that day will not come until … the man of lawlessness is revealed…” There will be one worldwide ruler.
A Grotesque Parody
In Revelation 13, we see a repulsive, grotesque parody of the Trinity. Satan (the Dragon), the Antichrist (the Beast from the Sea), and the false prophet (the Beast from the Earth), make up this horrific trio. The dragon acts like God the Father; the Beast from the Sea acts like Jesus Christ, God the Son; and the Beast from the Earth acts like God the Holy Spirit. The dragon desires to be worshipped so he uses the Beast from the Sea to cause men to worship him. The dragon gives his authority to the Beast from the Sea, a mockery of the Great Commission, when Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me...” by God the Father. Like the Father and the Son, the dragon and the beast share a throne and extend it to the ends of the earth. The Beast, the Antichrist, was apparently slain and raised from the dead in a parody of the resurrection. After his apparent resurrection, the Beast will seek to be worshipped as God. The Beast from the Sea will have power to do signs and wonders as Jesus did. Like the Holy Spirit, the Beast from the Earth will not speak of himself but will point to the Antichrist to get people to worship him. This absurd, freakish distortion of the Trinity comes at the end of human history.
The Beast’s Origin
We begin with the dragon in verse 1:“And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.” Revelation 12:9 says, “The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” The dragon is Satan. Revelation 12:17 says, “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman [generally the people of God but specifically Israel, which gives birth to the people of God] and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-- those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” The dragon will prosecute a war against Christians.
The persecution will occur through the Beast from the Sea, the Antichrist — Satan’s dark instrument to carry out his hatred and warfare against Christians. He stands on the sea shore and calls the Beast up out of the sea. This calls to mind Daniel 7, the most important commentary on Revelation 13. The prophet Daniel says in Daniel 7:2-3, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.” They come up sequentially, one after the other in Daniel 7. In Revelation 13, we have the dragon standing by the shore of the sea, looking out over it.
The sea represents the vast teeming, seething, tumultuous mass of humanity, waiting for a leader to organize them and move them in one direction. Isaiah 57:20 says, “The wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” More to the point, the angel talking to John about the great whore of Babylon who sits on the waters of the sea explains in Revelation 17:15, “‘The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.’” The sea represents the mass of humanity. Further, the sea gives the sense of the Abyss — bottomless, fathomless. Out of that region, Revelation 17:8 says, “The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction.” The sea represents the nether regions out of which demonic forces come.
The Beast’s Nature and Authority
The Beast Described
The Beast is described as the consummation of the flow of human history. Verse 1-2 say, “And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.” In Daniel 7, we are told plainly the beasts represent human empires. The first in Daniel 7 was a lion with the wings of an eagle, representing Babylon; the second was like a bear, which was Medo-Persia; the third was like a Leopard that had four wings, representing Greece; and the fourth was not identified — it was indescribable, a terrifying beast that trampled everything underfoot, representing Rome.
In Daniel 7, these four beasts come out sequentially and they represent sequential empires that rise and fall, and then the next Empire comes and takes its place. In Revelation, these symbols are combined into one beast rather than in succession. The beast, then, represents a demonic human geo-political realm, a world organized together against the Lord and His people. Up until that final phase no one ruler has dominated all the earth. The seven heads on the beast represent a flow of empires throughout human history that comes into the final form at the end of the world. 1 John 2:18 tells us, “Many antichrist have come.” History has seen a parade of antichrists, but they were not the Antichrist.
The three listed animals of Daniel’s vision are combined into a conglomerate beast, the worst of them all. A leopard represents speed, agility, stealth and cleverness; the feet like a bear represents its ability to trample its enemies with massive power; and the mouth of the lion represents the its roar and its ability to shred, to rip apart its adversaries with ferocious teeth. The worst traits of all wicked empires that have gone before in human history come together in one empire, not in a sequence, at the end.
The Beast Becomes an Individual
The beast and the man are also combined. The individual represents the empire. From that point on, the beast is referred to as an individual person. Obviously a single man, no matter how charismatic, what a great speaker, how physically powerful or leader-like, cannot dominate a planet of up to nine billion people. At first he will have minions under him, military power, lackeys who will carry out his orders. But in the end, he becomes the beast, he dominates and moves it and makes it do whatever he wants. The individual, the head of this horrifying empire, becomes the focus.
We are familiar with this way of speaking. During World War II, President Roosevelt spoke specifically of stopping Hitler after a German U-boat fired a torpedo at the USS Kearny, two months before the US entered the war after the Pearl Harbor attack. In a radio address on October 27, 1941, President Roosevelt said, “The forward march of Hitler and of Hitlerism can be stopped - and it will be stopped. ... Hitler's torpedo was directed at every American, whether he lives on our seacoasts or in the innermost part of the Nation, far from the seas and far from the guns and tanks of the marching hordes of would-be conquerors of the world.” You could be a wheat farmer in Kansas — Hitler shot a torpedo at you. This single leader represents the beast, the whole empire, and becomes the beast to some degree. Verses 4 and 8 say, “All those who live on the Earth will worship him.” The Greek is clear. Worship is focused on an individual.
Authority of the Beast
Verse 1 speaks of the authority and the blasphemy of the beast. “He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.” All these are symbols of the power and authority that this empire will have in the end. The horns represent kingly and military power, as do the crowns. But the whole system is blasphemous, an open challenge to God and to His Christ, the true King.
Antichrist will be a king of kings. The 10 horns represent kings, and their diadems represent kingly power. The final world empire will be made up of lesser kings who have been subdued and cowed by the Antichrist and will submit and yield their power to him. Revelation 17:12-13 says, “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.”
In the aftermath of the trumpet judgments, the entire world will be destabilized. Imagine the effect, for example, of the poisoning of one-third of all drinkable water on earth. People will migrate en masse in desperation to get drinking water without regard to the implications of crossing national boundaries. Combined with the other disasters and horrors occurring, world leaders will come together to find a solution. At that point, the beast’s initial skills start to emerge. He would be one of many leaders, but by his diplomatic skill, he will maneuver around the others and gain preeminence in various ways, including assassination or Machiavellian intrigue.
Daniel 8:23-24 says “... a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power.” Daniel 11:21, 23, and 32 say similar things about the Antichrist. “He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue … After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. [He is good at making deals, dark covenants that are broken when it serves him best — reminiscent of the deal between Hitler and Stalin over Poland.] … With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” Flattery, intrigue, broken covenants — that is how he begins to gain power. It is not his own power, but soon he controls everything.
Verse 2, “The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.” Satan has been ruling the world in secret through many kings and kingdoms. He divides and conquers, keeping any one nation from being too powerful. He is a murderer; he wants to kill people. It is to his advantage to have a powerful Hitler Germany and a powerful Red Soviet Union so he can kill masses of Germans and Russians. But at the end of the world, he will empower his masterpiece, consolidating world power to give the whole world to this one man. The largest contiguous empire in history was that of Genghis Khan and the Mongols in 1309, encompassing 9 million square miles, or about 16% of the earth’s surface. The largest empire in history was that of the British empire in the 19th century. They ruled about 24% of the surface of the Earth. One-quarter is the most that Satan has ever given to any empire, whether the Romans the Greeks, the Assyrians or the Babylonians, until now.
This man will do the very thing Jesus refused to do on that mountain of temptation — Satan promised him all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down and worship him. This individual is happy to do that; he worships the dragon, who then gives him authority over the entire world. Verse 7 says “…he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” It has never been done in history so this has not been fulfilled. We do not need to wonder if so and so is the Antichrist. If a leader gains control over the entire earth, he is, but if a leader does not gain control of every nation, then he may be an antichrist but he is not the Antichrist.
The Beast’s “Resurrection” and Worship
Verse 3 tells of the beast’s supernatural resurrection: “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.” This is the greatest satanic deception in history. The beast will be able to perform miraculous signs and wonders. Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.” He will empower the Antichrist to do signs and wonders.
Paul also speaks of a powerful delusion, which is effective in convincing the whole world to believe a lie, which may well be this fake resurrection. The greatest miracle that he does is his apparent resurrection from a fatal wound. Verse 12 and 14 say, “… [the false prophet] made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed … [he] ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.” This resurrection will clinch his popularity and his power and usher his reign into a whole new realm of idolatry and blasphemy.
Amazed and Cowed
Verse 3-4 say, “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?’” The whole world will be amazed and cowed by this man. After his resurrection, people will realize that resistance is futile. No one, as far as they know, will be able to stop him or defeat him. Obviously, they will not know Christ and His power, but they will think there has never been anyone like this man, and they will be correct. This awe, this sense of wonder, will be essential to Antichrist’s world dominion. What is the point in fighting him? You will lose.
Meanwhile, people are in favor of him. He has done good things for people in their extreme circumstances — he has been able to get food, clothing, shelter and drinkable water and organize us and get everyone going in the right direction. There are both positive and negative inducements to follow him.
The Culmination of Rebellion
People will fear and obey him, but that is not enough for him. He wants to be worshiped as a god. This blasphemous worship is the culmination of both Satan’s rebellion and man’s rebellion. Satan originally wanted to receive worship like the Most High; he wanted to topple God from His throne and take His place. But the entire human race has joined Satan in that evil rebellion. In Genesis 3:5, Satan tells Eve, “You will be like God [so he said] knowing good from evil.” Idolatry often takes human form, as Isaiah 44:13 mocks, “The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.”
Many rulers throughout history have sought to be worshipped as God or gods. Alexander the Great’s coin depicted him with the horns of Zeus-Ammon coming out of his head, a clear sign of deity in their culture. Many Roman emperors openly aspired to worship and to be deified. This was the essence of the imperial cult which was the backdrop of John writing this book. If subjects of Rome would burn a pinch of incense to Caesar, say Caesar is Lord, worship him, add him to their Pantheon, and be in allegiance to the Roman Empire, they could live in relative peace. If not, they were prosecuted.
Incan emperors’ subjects thought that the kings were gods. That was the essence of their ability to hold power over tens of thousands of subjects. Napoleon grabbed the crown from the Pope’s hand and crowned himself, as if to say the Pope had no right to crown him. Until the end of World War II, the Japanese saw their emperors as deities descended from the gods that they thought had founded their island nation.
William Shirer, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, said that during the Nuremberg rallies in the dark, the German people looked on Hitler as if he was the Messiah. There was a level of worship for that governmental leader that he had never seen before. This has been the tendency of human nature, to either seek worship or to give it to dominant leaders.
Almost the entire world will fall into this worship of the beast, though not everyone. Verse 8 says, “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-- all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” Christians, the elect, will hold back, will not worship the beast. This will cause him to wage active war on both Jewish and Gentile Christians.
The Abomination of Desolation
He will permit the Jews to rebuild the temple, and at the height of the building process, he will take the place over. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” This is the abomination of desolation. It is exactly at that moment the Jews will realize that old covenant worship will never be re-established, and they will turn at last to Christ, the one they have pierced. They will look on him with tears and believe in him. They will become the enemies of the Antichrist; he will pursue them and they will have to run for their lives (Matthew 24).
The Beast’s Blasphemies
His Most Powerful Weapon
Verses 5-6 say, “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words…” Notice how strongly the fact that everything he has is given to him is made clear in these verses — he was given a mouth, he was given authority he is given a certain amount of time. All of this has been given, not by the dragon but permitted by God. God is ruling over all of these events.
“The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.” His mouth is his most powerful weapon. He uses smooth talk and flattery along with lies and deceptive diplomacy. He makes grandiose, eloquent proclamations, and people melt as they hear him speak. Here he speaks proud words and blasphemies and is able, by his speaking ability, to unite the world. Everyone — Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists — at last finds unity, not only political but spiritual, religious unity, in worshipping this one individual.
The little horn’s blasphemy is a prominent feature in Daniel 7:8: “This horn [the Antichrist] had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.” Daniel 11:36, “He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.” After his resurrection, this man will become insufferable and arrogant. With his mouth he will lay claim to Heaven, and his mind will be puffed up with blasphemies. Blasphemies are words spoken against the glory of God, either by denigrating God himself or seeking worship as God. This wicked man will likely do both in large doses.
Notice how much of God’s work of salvation is meant to humble us who are saved. It is humbling to be saved by Christ. It is humbling to know that God chose the elect before we had done anything good or bad. It is humbling to be justified by faith in a Savior, who died and rose again centuries before we were born. His righteous obedience to the law becomes our obedience because we do not have sufficient obedience to go to Heaven. We were saved by grace through faith so that no one may boast.
Romans 3:27 says “Where then is boasting? It is excluded.” God chooses to save some who are weak and not influential, the lowest of the low, so that no one can boast before him. It is because of his initiative that we are in Christ Jesus. In the end, when we are standing before Him in our white robes celebrating, we will say, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” We will be forever worshiping him with no boasting in Heaven except in the Lord. He humbles us by our salvation. It is a sweet thing to be humbled, to be put in our place as a human being and to anticipate spending eternity in that place.
But this arrogant little horn, this Antichrist, lays claim to Heaven with his mouth. He demands worship as God; but the clock is ticking. It will not go on forever. Verse 5 says, “…he was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months” (the second half of the final seven-year period, also referred to as 1260 days, 42 months, or “time, times and half a time.” He is on a strict time leash, as is his master the dragon, who is filled with rage because he knows his time is short.
Verse 6 tells us who he blasphemes: “He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.”
The Beast’s Conquest
Verses 7-10 reveal the bitter truth that he is given power to conquer the saints. We need to hear and understand this carefully. Jesus warned his disciples that they would be arrested, dragged before courts and have to give an account, and then would be put to death. He told us in advance because the worst of this is yet to come, though it has been going on for 20 centuries.
Verse 7 says, “He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” When the beast directly attacks the people of God and is successful in slaughtering many of them it will be the greatest trial of faith the survivors will have ever had. “Where is God? Why has he abandoned us? Take your hand from the fold of your garment and extend it and save us. We're being slaughtered by the tens of thousands.” Throughout the history of the church, the government has persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ and shed their blood from the Roman Era on, a trail of blood for 20 centuries, but it will escalate exponentially at that time.
It is directly predicted in Daniel 7:21 and 25: “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them … He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.”
Worldwide Power and Worship
The beast has worldwide power and worship. Every nation on the face of the earth will be under his dominion. Because of his wonder-working power he will be worshiped openly as God by everyone but the saints. This will not satisfy him. He will pursue them and wage war against them, beginning with the two witnesses, who overcome any who oppose them with fire from their mouths that devours their enemies. But they cannot overcome the beast; he overcomes them and kills them. Three and a half days later they rise from the dead and ascend to Heaven.
This will be the time for those in Judea to flee, to run for their lives. They will not have time to go get a coat or do anything but flee. Pregnant or nursing mothers at that time will have a hard time running for their lives. Those who are not in Judea will have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Sometimes people were able to hide Jews and deceive the Gestapo, the human police. How is it possible to deceive the devil and his demons? He knows all the hiding places, and the Lord has given the saints over to his hands. Many of them will be captured and slaughtered. Jesus said if those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.
The Saints Refuse
Verse 8 says, “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-- all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” This can be read either that the saints’ names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life or that the Lamb was slain from the creation of the world, depending on the translation. No matter where you put that phrase, both are true. Jesus was thinking of himself as slain from the beginning of human history. Animal sacrifices pointed to him before he came incarnate. He knew that all pointed to his death. And God chose us from the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight, and we will not be deceived because of the detailed nature of this kind of teaching. We are told ahead of time what will happen and we will not be deceived because we have been forewarned.
The warfare will be fierce. Verses 9-10 say, “He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” This refers to the various ways that the saints will be killed. Ironically, these words usually referred to wicked Israel as judgment by other nations, such as when the Babylonians or the Assyrians invaded. But this is applied to righteous and holy people. God has ordained prescribed ways of dying for each of the millions of martyrs. Precious in the Lord’s sight will be their martyrdom. If you are ordained to die by the sword, then by the sword you will die. If you are to die another way, that is how it will be. This calls for patient endurance, to stand firm. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
See the Proper Role and Scope of Government
First, see the limitations of the scope and role of government. Do not worship any government leader. Do not put your ultimate hopes in a political party or an election. Do not have overweening hopes in any one individual. They are all flawed humans, even if brothers or sisters in Christ, and there are many non-Christians in the government to restrain them. But worldwide, the end will not be a utopian human governmental system. Limit esteem for government while submitting to non-immoral commands.
Worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Beyond that, worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. There is a coming king who will be perfectly righteous. He will destroy all his enemies. This is the time to not be his enemy. Flee to Christ now.
If you are here as an unbeliever, God brought you here to hear the Gospel. The Gospel is simple: God, the Creator of the earth, sent his Son, born of the Virgin Mary, who lived a sinless life and died on the cross in the place of sinners. He rose from the dead on the third day; it was not a sham resurrection like the Antichrist, but the tomb was genuinely empty because he was raised again to life. Death has been defeated and if you believe in Jesus, all of your sins past, present and future will be forgiven. But some day, Christ will come back to establish a kingdom that will last forever.
We will celebrate soon with Christmas. Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Look forward to the coming king. One purpose of this chapter is show the greatness of Christ. This beast is horrifying, terrifying, powerful, but Jesus will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and the splendor of his coming. It is not a stressor for him. When he comes with the armies of heaven, it will be a quick battle. That is what happens when creature faces creator. With his omnipotent arm, he will win the victory. Martin Luther wrote in A Mighty Fortress is Our God, “One little word shall fell him.”
Study, Develop, and Understand
Understand Satan’s current role as puppet master around the world. Many antichrists are ruling right now.
Study and understand the doctrine of the future. I have given you many details over these past weeks. Study them and pass them on as a warning to your children. This may not happen in our lifetime but it might happen in theirs.
Grow and develop in your prayer life. Take these things to God in prayer. Part of your prayer life should be a concern for the persecuted church. Our brothers and sisters in a large populous East Asian nation are experiencing the greatest persecution they have experienced in decades. It will get worse. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says of the body of Christ, “When one part suffers, the whole body suffers with it. When one part is honored, the whole body is honored with it.” Let us join our suffering brothers and sisters by praying for them and seeking as best we can to alleviate their suffering.
Lord, thank you for the rich time we have had to enjoy worship, a baptism, the chance to see the faces of brothers and sisters who are joining us with covenant membership, and then to hear the word preached. Lord, we pray that we would drink in these blessings and realize that you have loved us with an everlasting love. You have taught us these things so that we may be ready to live fruitful, holy lives in this present evil age, and to share the Gospel, to take these things and warn people of the coming judgment and warn them to flee to Christ and to live lives filled with hope. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.