Read This Week: Revelation 22
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. – Revelation 22:3-5 NIV
The tour of the City of God and the believer’s forever home moves inside the gates in chapter 22. The HGTV show, House Hunters, has never had or dreamed of an episode like this. The interior resembles an exquisite garden, remindful of the Garden of Eden, where it all started. But instead of four rivers like Eden, this holy city has one, indicative of its only life source, God himself. It flows down directly from His throne and contrasts all things that became of Eden. Here, people will have access to the tree of life without consequence.
The river, the garden, and the actuality of a single source of life are among several comparisons and antitheses to the awful tragedy of what happened at the beginning and what it rendered for human beings throughout the ages. Even the name of God written on the foreheads of the redeemed stands in sharp contrast to the mark of the beast that will adorn the heads of those who pledge their allegiance to him. But the most notable difference is the curse of original sin that infiltrated the utopic reality of Eden.
John declares in verse 3 that there will no longer be any curse. This conflict with the curse absolutely reflects back to Genesis 3, where it enacted, befell humankind, and plagued everyone who has drawn breath since. However, in the new heaven and earth, the curse is gone. What Jesus died for and made permanent through the resurrection is certain in chapter 22. Creation has been made new, the enemy, who perpetrated the curse, is banished to hell, and the effect of sin and death is gone forever.
Men and women in Christ will no longer be tempted, taunted, and threatened by the darkness but will exist victoriously in perpetual light and, with the Lamb, reign forever and ever (v.5). Revelation ends its narrative of our life in the future with a correction of the past and in doing so encourages those who do right to continue to do right, and holy people continue to be holy (v.11).
This is our takeaway, to live as children of light in anticipation of the curse being gone for all time. To live like we know it. Like we know that one day, there will be no more night. May we reflect on the words of this indelible book and on these lyrics of Walter Harrah’s epic hymn, No More Night:
The timeless theme
Earth and heaven will pass away
It’s not a dream
God will make all things new that day
Gone is the curse
From which I stumbled and fell
Evil is banished to eternal hell.
No more night
No more pain
No more tears
Never cryin’ again
And praises to the great “I Am”
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.
Read This Week: Revelation 21
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth.” And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” – Revelation 21:1-5 NIV
The entire book of Revelation has been building to this point. Building to the forever reign of the Great I Am. The One who is was and is and is to come. All the death, darkness, destruction, good versus evil, grace versus judgment, chaos, confusion, and pain will now fall away in the face of Almighty God and eternal glory and majesty. What was lost in Eden ages ago will be reclaimed and ultimately set right in the end for God’s people. Verses 5 and 6 sums this up when the Lord triumphantly says I am making everything new. It is done.
He will indeed make everything new. When we consider the creation and the fall and juxtapose it with Revelation 21, it is apparent that God intends to holistically correct, repair, and restore the natural order of His original design for creation and people. He will administer and enact a new thing that was planned for the old.
Here are a few examples of the new heaven and earth (v.1) and how they contrast with the world’s current reality. There will be no more curse from sin; therefore, there will be no more pain and tears (v.4) and no more death (v.4). Because the curse is gone, there will be no more need for the elements to balance the ecosystem and environment. The glory of God will sustain it, so we will not need the sun (v.23), the seas (v.21), or the moon, as there will be no more night. It will be a new experience for the inhabitants of this unbelievable city.
Imagine what this will be like for the family of God. It is nearly too wonderful to grasp that Christians will live in a place where the great street of the city is of gold, as pure as transparent glass (v.21), and its foundations are made of twelve layers of the most precious jewels and priceless metals (v.19-20). The light of God will shine continuously, and there will be no churches, denominations, theological infighting, divisive debates, or separation. There will be no more crime, strife, injury, and abuse of others or relational discord, for in this city, nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful (v.27).
This encompassing newness of life and worship is what the believer in Jesus Christ has to look forward to. We are expectant citizens of a new city. One where God has restored, renewed, and cleansed His people and where He has lavished his untold beauty and poured out His amazing grace for all time. Living there will be worth everything we have and will endure in this old world. May we go about our lives now as hopeful and eager citizens of the future city of God, loving others, serving our neighbors, being kind, and joyfully singing as those who have gone before us the lyrics of the Isaac Watts’ hymn:
We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion. We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.
Read This Week: Revelation 20
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations and gather them for battle. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:1-3 and 7-10 NIV
There is something so satisfying and fulfilling about the moment at the end of a novel, short story, long-running show, or movie when the villain is defeated. We all feel a sense of relief and atonement when the antagonist finally meets their end and when they collide with their inevitable and permanent failure. Throughout a narrative, we can develop more of a vested interest in seeing how the enemy goes down than how the hero comes out on top.
Revelation 20 describes the end of Satan, the ultimate villain, in great detail. He is the adversary at the top of the heap of sinister, menacing, and horrifying opponents, the bad guy from which all other bad guys spawn. And we learn in this chapter how his seemingly endless regime of terror finally concludes for all time. John shows us the end game, the two final stages of the devil’s fate, and we anticipate it more than any other evildoer in the annals of history or literature.
The first stage involves Satan being bound and chained in a bottomless pit or abyss. This chasm is not hell but a place of outer darkness where the devil is banished for a thousand years. It is something of a cosmic prison or holding place that God has reserved for him while Jesus enacts his thousand-year reign on earth. The Lord establishes His righteous and glorious kingdom for a millennium with the enemy and his cohorts exiled and neutralized. Verse 3 tells us:
He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
The second stage is akin to the sequence in a movie where we think the villain is dead but inexplicably rises back up to pose one final threat to the protagonist. God will release Satan from the darkness of the pit to have one last go at Him and mankind. Verses 7-8 explain this dreadful moment: When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth and gather them for battle.
But just like the bad guy in a film, the devil is quickly put down, never to get up again. The Bible goes on to say that fire comes down and consumes the enemy and his dark armies. And he is thrown into a lake of fire, where he will experience the torment he inflicted on all men and embodied forever. This is God’s end game for the devil. This awful demise is the culmination of his evil rebellion in heaven from ages past that resulted in unfathomable chaos, pain, and destruction on earth by his hands.
Yet, Christ prevails once again and for all eternity. He is the hero. He is the conquering champion, redeemer, and savior that we are more interested in rooting for than we are in rooting against his enemies. All eyes are on Him and his power and authority to execute his perfect end game for us.
Read This Week: Revelation 19
I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and his thigh, he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords. – Revelation 19:11-16 NIV
How does it all end? It is the enduring question of humanity. It is the lasting inquiry of philosophy. It is the ultimate wonder in theology and the origin of all our doubts, demands, and times we lay awake at night. People have tried to decipher what the end of the world looks like for centuries. They have looked for evidence throughout history and gone to great lengths to answer how it all resolves. This question intrigues and haunts every human being who has the ability to think and reason. Revelation 19 gives the ultimate answer.
This chapter begins with praise and worship. The crowds of heaven celebrate the Lord for ending the existence and rule of Babylon and its evil influence. They are honoring and worshipping God’s triumph and anticipating His eternal sovereignty and supremacy. Verses 2 and 6-7 capture these scenes:
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory, and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
We see that God is prevailing and the bride of Christ is ready. The church is ready to be reclaimed and vindicated by the King of kings. Verse 10 captures John’s amazed reaction to the marriage supper of the Lamb, the Bridegroom preparing to take His bride and intercede for her one last time.
The Revelator falls on his knees in worship before the angel as an act of submission to this powerful culmination of Christ’s return. John is so overwhelmed that the angel has to tell him to get up and refocus his worship on the worthy one. He said, Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus. Imagine being so overcome with awe that you forget what you are doing. That’s how amazing God can be in our lives; we are so awestruck by His power that we lose ourselves in the majesty of the King.
Finally, this section describes the hope of a glorious ending. It ends with Jesus Christ the King, the Heavenly Warrior, returning to claim His bride, and establish His mighty reign on earth. It is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in John 14:3. This chapter shows the greatness of Christ in His name (v.16), the righteousness of His judgment (v.11), and as a conquering King (v.12-16). The hope of Christ and the brilliance of the end is found in the Heavenly Warrior and that He is and will forever fight for and claim His children. He has the power, authority, and capacity to not only fight but win for all time. He determines how it ends.
Read This Week: Revelation 18
The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh, and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, refined flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as enslaved people. They will say, “The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.” The merchants who sold these things and gained wealth from her will stand far off. They will weep and mourn. – Revelation 18:11-15 NIV
Revelation 18 is the finality of what the previous chapter sets up – the fall of Babylon. As stated before, Babylon was a powerful empire. This section details the city’s economic, social, and political vitality and prowess. It tells of all the merchandise, clothing, food, spices, and jewelry sold and traded there. Babylon was, by all accounts, an epicenter of the ancient world. It was also a literal and figurative symbol of man’s rebellion against God and the ultimate representative of what it means to be secular. That is why the description of its fall and ultimate demise is so compelling and devastating to the beast’s mission and evil desires.
Because of Babylon’s immense status as a formidable city and as an emblem of the world and anti-God philosophy, John records the warning to followers of Jesus to get out of Babylon before its ultimate end. Verses 4-5 say: Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins or receive any of her plagues; her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.
This warning is a physical and spiritual alert to the believers during Babylon’s fall and a warning for all Christians across generations. It is a reminder that there is nothing the world has to offer to match life with God. No money, wealth, possession, or affluence can provide the meaning and purpose of a relationship with Christ. No status or social standing can bring the value or worth that comes with knowing you are God’s child and made in His image. No position can give one eternal salvation that comes through the blood of the Lamb.
God cautions us to get out of Babylon because it offers nothing of eternal significance for our lives, just temporal, counterfeit pleasure that will not last and will lead to destruction. The Lord makes it clear through John that what Babylon offers will disappear and vanish just like the lies of the enemy and his overtures of a better future. The fruit the world tempts with will be gone. The opulence and comfort that it promises will go away. The glory and fulfillment the world advertises will soon vanish. Only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and what is done for Him will last forever.
The words of verse 14 should always serve as a reminder of this: The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.
Read This Week: Revelation 17
The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom but who will receive authority as kings along with the beast for one hour. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They 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. – Revelation 17:12-14 NIV
Revelation 17 describes the categorical victory that Jesus will exact over the beast, his followers, and the totality of his empire. The enemy and his domain will be overthrown, and the religious system he has set up and confused and deceived people with will also be torn down. This demolishing of the false religious scheme is important because it is not enough to eliminate the evil players but to destroy the root of all deception and corruption that has plagued and sought to control people for ages.
The Lord will annihilate Babylon, which has been the epicenter of anti-God philosophy, politics, and activity since Nimrod founded it in Genesis 10. New Testament commentator Warren Wiersbe wrote this about Babylon’s origins and wicked generational influence. He said, “It is ‘the great harlot’ and ‘the mother of harlots.’ The Babylonian system has, in one way or another, given birth to all false religions. She has also seduced people into opposing God and persecuting His servants.” Verses 5-6 of this chapter describe Babylon this way:
The name written on her forehead was a mystery: Babylon the Great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. 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 spirit of Babylon is alive and well in the modern world. It is seen in the willful denial of the truth and subjective moral reasoning. That which is seemingly deplorable, wrong, and misleading is viewed as admirable, correct, and honorable. Service and benevolence to one’s neighbor are pushed aside for self-interest and egoism. Faith is mocked as a crutch for the mentally weak, and pursuing God is jeered as a thing of the past.
But the Holy Spirit is also alive and powerful in our day. He banners and highlights objective truth as it wins out. He captures minds and hearts to see and recognize what is suitable, appropriate, and virtuous. He places inspiration and guidance in the lives of people to put themselves aside and serve others as Jesus did despite the natural desire to seek their concerns. The Spirit keeps believers strong in faith and emboldens them with passion and persistence when the world persecutes and derides their conviction.
Babylon will be conquered at the end of days, but the blood of the Lamb has effectively defeated it at this very moment. The Lamb of God has already disarmed the powers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col. 2:15). Followers of Jesus have and will endure the wrath of the beast and harlot. Still, they stand behind the cross victorious now and forever. Verse 14 tells us definitively of the enemy’s eternal fate:
They 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.
Read This Week: Revelation 16
Then they gathered the kings together to the place in Hebrew called Armageddon. – Revelation 16:16 NIV.
One important thing to remember when taking in a portion of Scripture, like Revelation 16, is that God is, first and foremost, holy. We speak so much about the character of God and His eternal attributes, which are innumerable, glorious, and unrivaled. We often discuss His love, grace, mercy, goodness, patience, and faithfulness. We highlight His peace, comfort, strength, and omniscience.
All these things are true of the Father, but in recalling these characteristics, we must always recognize that the chief among them is His holiness. The supreme quality cascades, allowing the Lord to be the righteous judge. He is worthy of His seat of judgment and justified in His measures of expression because of His holiness. We must keep this in view always, but especially when trying to absorb parts of the Bible like this one.
There is no way to describe this chapter other than brutal and challenging to read. If you love people and care for others like Jesus does and calls us to, reading the ending account in the series of God’s final judgments is heavy and hard to digest. It tells of the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath and the ultimate fall of Babylon, leading to the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to earth. It also brings forth a place (or word) known even in secular circles and referenced as a metaphor for fierce battles, destruction, and apocalyptic conflict. That place or word is Armageddon. It means the hill of Megiddo, “the place of soldiers and slaughter.”
Armageddon is a valley that is twenty miles long and fourteen miles wide. It forms a vast natural battlefield that can contain troops, horses, artillery, and combat tech as far as the eye can see. One can stand on the famed Mount Carmel, look out over Armageddon with its topographical grandness, and understand why it is the gathering place of the world’s armies. It also has historical significance, as it was where Gideon faced the Midianites (Judges 7) and King Saul died (1 Samuel 31). Additionally, many encounters happened here during the Crusades of the eleventh through fifteenth centuries and when the British defeated the Turks in 1917.
The nations’ armies assemble here according to God’s will and are led by the enemy and his demonic factions as they prepare for the final battle with Jesus. Before this occurs, God unleashes his final righteous judgment on the earth through the Seven Bowls.
The first is sores breaking out on people and not going away (v.2). The second and third are reminiscent of the Exodus, where the waters turn into blood and contaminate the water supply (v. 3-6). The fourth, the sun will scorch the earth and burn people (v. 8-9); the fifth will see the world covered in darkness and people begging for light with no relief (v.10-11), and the sixth will be the drying up of the Euphrates river (v. 12-16) that will allow for the invasion of the Holy Land by the armies of the east. The seventh and final judgment is a massive earthquake followed by hail that weighs in the neighborhood of a hundred pounds that falls on people (v. 17-21). This chapter is a harrowing and disturbing account of God’s justice for sin.
Take heart and be encouraged through the difficulty of this chapter. The King of Kings is and will be victorious over evil, darkness, sin, and death. The rage and wrath of the nations and the supernatural but limited power of the devil are no match for Him in our present day and will be no match for Him at Armageddon. We currently face threats of war and uncertainty among nations. Still, we can be confident that in our times and the ones to come, God will exact His holiness, righteousness, and triumph that we will take part in for eternity.
Read This Week: Revelation 15
And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and the number of its name. They held harps given to them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will worship before.” – Revelation 15:2-4 NIV
John now sees the seven angels holding seven flasks or bottles of God’s wrath. In the previous chapter, the Scriptures told us that the wrath of God would be poured out as judgment on all those who worshiped the Antichrist, took the mark of the beast, and pledged their allegiance to the enemy. It says they will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath (14:10). The Lord is about to exact righteous judgment on His enemies in the form of the “third woe,” but before He does, there is another pause of blessing, spiritual reflection, and praise; to celebrate the impending victory of The Lamb.
These verses describe the revelator witnessing those who have come through the tribulation and endured the beast’s reign. These believers resisted the false prophet and his teaching, refused to take the mark of Satan, and withstood the vicious assault that the dragon unleashed on the world. They did not adopt the satanic system or give in to the mounting influence around them to consent to the evil forces that the devil sanctioned. They also confronted and did not participate in worshipping idols, false gods, and deceitful ideology. They stood firm and faithful at a high cost.
The believers of the tribulation, because they don’t take the mark of the beast, cannot hold jobs or buy and sell merchandise. They often go hungry, live in poverty, and make do with little to nothing. They depend entirely on God for their provision in every area of their lives. Some are thrown in prison, tortured, and publicly beaten, while others are murdered and executed. Yet, they remain faithful to Jesus and the mission of the gospel. They will not waver despite their suffering and will not relent regardless of their anguish. They stay true to God’s word, remain steadfast in His kingdom’s purposes, and lift their voice to make the sound of victory, a sure, eternal triumph that belongs to the King of Kings. Verses 2-4 illustrate this sound of success with these words:
Those who had been victorious over the beast held harps given by God and sang the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations, for you alone are holy, and all nations will come and worship before you.
The actions, behaviors, songs, and examples of these Christ followers should be an encouragement, blessing, and inspiration to all of us in our time. It provides us with hope and assurance that amid our suffering, we can remain faithful and devoted to the God of the universe and His promises. We don’t have to succumb to the world’s influences or embrace the systems of men just because so many others do. We can stand on the word, speak boldly of love and grace, and make a joyful sound of victory among our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and community. We can be victorious because of Jesus.
Read This Week: Revelation 14
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne. – Revelation 14:1-3a NIV
Don’t you love listening to and hearing a new song? It’s almost as if we anticipate how it will land in our hearts or how it will pull at our emotions and evoke memories and thoughts.
Revelation 14 is a reprieve from the horror and devastation of chapters 11-13. In it and the following two chapters, we see an emphasis on the voices of God’s people. We see the Lord Himself speaking to His children and those far from Him. But we also see people speaking out and singing out in praise and worship of God. We see them preaching the gospel, warning the world to repent and run to the Father’s loving arms. We read where the remnant and others are lifting their voices to proclaim the good news of Jesus and the finality of the last judgment. We also see them singing a new song because God is doing something new.
We see two distinct and collective voices in this particular chapter. The first one is the voice of 144,000. These are the faithful Jewish people that John described in Revelation 7 that are now standing with God on Mount Zion. The Bible also tells us that this collection of people is lifting their voices to speak and sing. Verses 1-3 say:
There before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne.
The experiences and terrible nature of the tribulation have not broken their spirits. It has not caused them to turn away from the one true God. It has not given them doubts or pauses about His character, goodness, eternality, and grace. Their struggles have not changed their faith or resolve. Their sorrow has turned into singing and joyful noise. They have separated from the new world order and turned again to the new mercies of God. Their example is quite the encouragement for us living in the trials and turmoil of our day. May we not lose hope and focus on what is happening around us but instead fix our eyes and hearts on an unchangeable, immutable God who constantly does new things that cause us to sing new songs in honor of Him.
The other voices raised in this section are those of the angels. They declared a message of triumph and worship of God and His power and mighty works. Verse 7 describes this time of divine worship in this way:
Fear God and give him glory because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.
The angels continue to raise a new song in the heavens around specific acts and things He has done on behalf of Himself, the kingdom, and His people for all time. They sing a new song of the righteousness of God (v.6-7). They sing a new song of the fall of Babylon and the ultimate defeat of the enemy and his evil soldiers who act on his behalf (v.8). They sing a new song of warning about following the beast while allowing an opportunity for repentance and salvation (v.9-13). And they sing a new song of God’s harvest and judgment (v.14-20) and the fall of evil that corrupts, dissuades, and poisons people.
We can sing a new song to God every day in our lives. He always does new things among us in His sovereignty and good pleasure. Something that we can’t predict, understand, or sometimes believe. Yet, He loves us so much that He is still doing things that blow our minds. May we raise our voices, praise His name, and sing of His glory and eternal reign.
Read This Week: Revelation 13
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. People 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 wage war against it?” It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, to receive a mark on their right hands or foreheads so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. – Revelation 13:1-4, 16-17 NIV
Chapter 13 continues to unfold the narrative of the evil trio of Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. It isn’t easy to read this portion of Scripture and not be unnerved at the depths of depravity and the notion that God will allow the enemy to unleash his fury and wreak havoc on the earth and all the people who dwell on it. We saw last week that the devil is ultimately not strong enough to overcome the mighty power of God and that he will meet his eternal demise, but the words of verses 7-8 should humble and touch us when it says this about the beast which the dragon empowers:
It was given the 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.
That passage reads like something from a Tolkien novel or a Marvel movie. But no science fiction or fantasy writer could truly capture the horror of this part of the tribulation. The idea of the Antichrist possessing the power to wage war against God’s people, conquer them, and have authority over every nation is beyond the finite imagination. He will begin his reign in unifying peace and end it in unimaginable evil and plundering.
Furthermore, another beast (false prophet) will rise, and as verses 12-13 tell us, he will exercise all the authority of the first beast on its behalf and make the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast. The third beast will perform great signs, even causing a fire from heaven to come to the earth in full view of the people, similar to what the two witnesses of God had done before him. This false prophet will also be the one to force all people to receive the infamous mark of the beast, also known as the number 666. It will be a harrowing time for the world, yet they will inconceivably worship the evil trinity.
The beast will be formidable in his time, but he nor the third beast will be able to overcome The Lamb. In this sense, and for all time, the Lamb of God will win over the beast that resembles a leopard but has feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. These foreshadowed events that John captures for us are similar to current times. The spirit of AntiChrist is alive and pervasive in the world, and Christ-followers must not be a part of it, be deceived by it, or succumb to its allure. We must be faithful to Jesus while avoiding false worship and staying on God’s mission to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person. They need it now and will need it then.