The journey ahead

The Little Book of the Revelation - Sixth in a series

In the previous post, we met two groups of people: the 144,000 Jews, symbolic of the remnant, and the children of the Lord, at eternal rest after enduring great tribulation.

Before John receives the Little Book, the first group is on the earth during the last days, but later on in Revelation 14 they have arrived in heaven. The second group is seen by John in heaven, but we do not know when they arrive there.

This brings up an uncomfortable question. Often as we read or reflect on the Revelation and other Bible passages, we may wonder, When will the Lord return? But there is another question— a more difficult one: How much will Christians endure before the Lord’s return? What is the path ahead?

There are passages that provoke us to anxiety, such as in Revelation 13:

  • And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and there was given to him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.
  • And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain.
  • If any man hath an ear, let him hear.
  • If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goeth: if any man shall kill with the sword, with the sword must he be killed. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Rev 13:7-10 ASV)

These verses seem to portend that in the end, Christians will have two options: assault and be assaulted (killed), or become captives, for they will refuse to worship the beast.

The following verses also foreshadow that all will be commanded to worship the beast, and that we must be discerning, for the command will be issued by a charismatic false prophet, an antichrist:

  • And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like unto a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
  • And he exerciseth all the authority of the first beast in his sight.
  • And he maketh the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose death-stroke was healed.
  • And he doeth great signs, that he should even make fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth in the sight of men.
  • And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs which it was given him to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast who hath the stroke of the sword and lived.
  • And it was given unto him to give breath to it, even to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as should not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Rev 13:11-15 ASV)

Worship of the image of the beast is a prerequisite to taking the mark of the beast in order to buy or sell:

  • And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead;
  • and that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark, even the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Rev 13:16-17 ASV)

In Revelation 14 we read that worshipping the beast would land us in hell:

  • And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, If any man worshippeth the beast and his image, and receiveth a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand,
  • he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
  • and the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, they that worship the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth the mark of his name. (Rev 14:9-11 ASV)

And the encouragement to have patience in the face of the terrors, which was stated in Revelation 13:10, is confirmed in Revelation 14:

  • Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
  • And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them. (Rev 14:12-13 ASV)

In a linear view, the warnings and encouragements of Revelation 13 and 14 would not seem pertinent to the message of the Little Book which is in Chapter 11. However, a new series of visions that are relevant to the contents of the seals begins in Chapter 12, following the sounding of the seventh trumpet at the end of Chapter 11 when “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ”. (Rev 11:15 ASV)

Therefore, the passages above have been included or inserted, actually, in the course of our lead up to Chapter 11. In the next post we will look at one more verse that follows Chapter 11 and evaluate in what way it illuminates the contents of the Little Book.

As we stand against the world today and in harsher days to come, we remember the Lord was with Joseph in prison and with Moses in his great trials. He was with David in his battles and with Daniel in the Lion’s Den. These are uplifting Scriptures, but so is this one: Precious in the sight of Jehovah Is the death of his saints. (Ps 116:15)

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