Revelation 13: 1-10
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its 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. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 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 filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?’
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling-place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
‘If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed.'
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
Yesterday we saw that Satan’s strategy is to attack Christians and to destroy the Church.
To see how he does this we need to look at Revelation 13 and the two beasts that are described there, the first in verses 1-10 and the second in verses 11-18.
The first beast, the Beast out of the Sea, represents attacks on the Church from the State – external attacks from political powers and earthly rulers and authorities.
In 13 verse 2 we read that the, “...dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.”
Throughout human history we have seen Satan’s power manifested at different times through human governments and authorities. The State and its leaders demand total and complete allegiance. Christians refuse to give it to them because only God deserves this sort of allegiance. Therefore the church is attacked. The attack may be through physical persecution and violence against Christians, oppression, anti-Christian legislation and even making it illegal to be a Christian.
For the Apostle John who wrote the Book of Revelation, he saw this clearly being played out right before his eyes as because of his own faith in Jesus he had been exiled to the island of Patmos. Under the Roman Emperor Christians were being burned, tortured and attacked.
Right throughout history every regime and empire that has set itself up against God and God’s people has fallen and been defeated and it seems like evil has gone for good. But it’s not long before, as it says in verse 3, “....the fatal wound had been healed” and a new political power or government arises elsewhere, demanding total allegiance. It then begins its own attack on God’s people all over again.
We could point to Pharaoh in the Old Testament, the Roman Emperors in John’s time, Stalin in Russia during the 1930’s who killed tens of thousands of Christians, or Hitler who sought to destroy both Christianity and Judaism, and who once said: “We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany." We could also look at China and see Mao Tse Tung and the Cultural Revolution which sought to replace Christianity with Communism and which saw thousands of Christians arrested, imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith.
This persecution of Christians still continues today, in fact it is estimated that every single day on average 5 Christians are martyred because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s very easy for us, with our comfortable, accepted Christianity, to ignore what is going on around the world today in many places, simply because they love and serve and worship Jesus just like we do. Satan is at war with the Church and will do whatever he can to destroy us.
Even here in the UK we are increasingly seeing this happen in much more subtle ways. Through equality legislation and political correctness the Christian church is being squeezed in ways which many would never have imagined 20 years ago.
I’m not the prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I would predict that in the next 10-20 years in the UK, Christians who seek to be faithful to Jesus and the Bible will find themselves in prison, they will be persecuted, discriminated against, and may even have their lives taken from them as Satan’s strategy of destroying the church get’s rolled out in our country.
It is in these times that those who are truly faithful to Jesus will be separated from those who only pay lip service to Him. As verse 10 states: "This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people."