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Revelation 13:1-10



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.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. (verses 8-10)

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This chapter includes much about the two beasts who, respectively, come up out of sea and land, and are in thrall to the dragon, doing his work and wreaking havoc on earth, blaspheming God and warring against the saints. Interestingly, all of this follows hard on the heels of the celebrations in chapters 11 and 12 regarding the establishment of God’s kingdom and the authority of his Christ. Without having to nail down the exact chronology of all these events, the unfolding vision makes it absolutely clear that the authority of the Lamb is resident on planet Earth. So, as the devastation of the beasts is chronicled, we’re meant to keep lifting our sights to a higher authority.


The section starts with a statement about all inhabitants of earth worshiping the first beast. Intriguingly, the greater portion of the verse actually alludes instead to the Lamb and his followers. We’re reminded that Christ’s sacrifice was sovereignly planned as an act of salvation, predating creation, stretching back into the recesses of eternity past. His followers’ names are securely recorded in his book of life. They may be caught up in hostilities with the beast, yes, but they are eternally secure in the Lamb.


Security, however, doesn’t necessarily mean safety. Indeed some will face imprisonment and others execution. But it’s all within the context of the Lord’s established kingdom and the fact that his followers are securely held in his hands, never to perish, never to be snatched away. Although there is a certain inevitability about the traumas of captivity or sword, there is an even greater inevitability to the Lamb’s sure embrace.


I imagine this is how those who have been martyred down the years have pressed through to victory. They’ve had their sights on the Sovereign Lord. Certainly this was true of Stephen. On trial for his allegiance to Jesus, he looked to heaven and saw a vision like John’s own, with heaven open and a sighting of God in his glory and Jesus standing at his right hand. That vision sustained Stephen through his stoning, and empowered him to reflect the very face of Jesus, with his last breath asking the Lord to forgive his executioners, a prayer fulfilled in the life of Saul of Tarsus.


In the late second century, Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna and disciple of the Apostle John, was burned at the stake for refusing to recant his faith in Christ. He is reported to have said: “Eighty and six years have I served him and he never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”


Latimer and Ridley were similarly burned at the stake in Oxford, England in 1555 for their allegiance to Christ. As flames kindled, Latimer apparently said, “We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as shall never be put  out.”


And twenty Egyptian Christians were beheaded by ISIL in 2015, likewise standing fast. Given the opportunity to renounce their faith and escape their fate, none did. The twenty-first martyr that day, a man from Ghana, was not previously a Christian but, inspired by the faith of the others, he chose to stand with them, proclaiming, “Their God is my God; I will go with them.”


“If anyone is to be killed … he will be killed.” These martyrs demonstrated patient endurance and faithfulness. May we likewise lift our sights to the Sovereign Lord.

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Lord, the Scripture challenges me. Stories of your people inspire. Whatever the circumstance, may I also choose endurance and faithfulness. For your glory.

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Reflect:In your situation right now, how can you live out patient endurance and faithfulness, to the glory of Jesus? What concrete step can you take today?

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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