Thursday, January 31 2019
The Book of Revelation amazes readers. Many are fearful of its symbolism. However, a little knowledge of history helps the reader. John even writes that the reader must understand with wisdom inferring outside knowledge concerning the rulers of Rome in the first century (Rev 13:18; 17:9).
John wrote Revelation to Christians who were already enduring “tribulation” (Rev 1:9; 2:9–10). The Book of Revelation is also a book of encouragement teaching Christians that Christ is ultimately victorious while those seeking to live godly lives will endure persecution (cf. 2 Tim 3:12).
The four horsemen of John’s Revelation revealed events of the spreading of the gospel, the chaotic and destructive state of the world, and the following persecution upon Christians in the Great Tribulation (Rev 6:1–11; 7:13–14). The first mention of the Beast includes the Beast warring and killing the Two Witnesses, two prophets of God (Rev 11:7). Satan gave power and great authority to the Beast as representing the whole of the emperors of Rome (Rev 13:1–2). When the Red Dragon, Satan, was cast down to earth, he warred with Israel and then Christians (Rev 12:7–9, 13, 17). Later, John described one of Rome's emperors and called him the Beast who would greatly persecute the church (Rev 17:9–11; cf. 13:5–8).
John expressed God’s justice, “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev 13:10 ESV). Justice is an encouragement to Christians as God exercised His just wrath against those who do not repent. However, God’s justice does not contradict His mercy and grace (Exod 34:6–9). God created humanity in His image, and people still have the imprint of moral justice when their hearts are right with God. Furthermore, John saw those who were slain for the Word of God who cried out to God, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10).
Can today's Christians face persecution? Will you stand by your faith even if you lose your livelihood, your home, or your life? One day, another great persecution will come again as Revelation depicts (Rev 20:7–10). Christians must stand by faith in the gospel (1 Cor 15:1–2). Nothing will move the faithful from the hope of resurrecting like Jesus to glorified bodies (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14). On the last day, baptized believers will resurrect to live eternally in the heavenly country — “the world to come” (Heb 1:10–12; 2:5; 11:10–16).