Our study through Revelation may be the single most important sermon series I’ve preached in my 7 years at Lake Wylie Baptist. In fact, I would say that I’ve never felt as compelled to preach a book as I have felt compelled to preach through Revelation. But why? Let’s begin with a text from Revelation itself. In Revelation 13 John describes a beast rising out of the sea which is given great authority by the dragon, Satan. We’ll pick up the text in verse 6:
“It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain… Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” (Rev. 13:6-8, 9b)
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
Instead of trying to precisely identify who or what this beast is, focus instead on what the beast does. The beast blasphemes God, wars against the saints, and wields global authority. John’s original audience understood this beast as symbolic of the ancient Roman Empire with its imperial cult; a cult which coerced the worship of Caesar. Christians, who declare that “Jesus Christ is Lord,” suffered immense persecution for their refusal to obey this beastly government. They were ostracized from society, their businesses were shunned, and many were fed to lions.
While our current world governments may not result in the final beast before the return of Christ, there can be no doubt that a godless spirit rules the day. Laws and public policies militate against a Biblical view of marriage, the bloodshed of legalized abortion continues to stain our nation, and in 2020 many churches were selectively shut down by power-thirsty officials as non-essential while pot dispensaries remained open. Beyond all this, global elites gather to plan what the rest of us can eat, how we can spend our money, and what products we may or may not purchase. Friends, in many ways, the nations of this world act like the wicked Roman empire of John’s day and the beast of Revelation 13. They do not honor God but instead, blaspheme him. Their policies wage a cold war against the saints. Their heads are swollen with pride, believing they are the saviors of the earth.
John ends his vision of the beast with an exhortation: “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints.”
WHAT DO WE DO?
In light of these recent difficulties, many Christians are wondering, “What do we do? How are we to live in a nation so antagonistic to our beliefs?” Revelation gives us the answer. More than any other book of the Bible, Revelation ministers specifically to saints in times of tumult.
This book, filled with visions of beasts and dragons, harlots and angels, wakes us up to cosmic realities. There is an ongoing war between Satan and the church of Christ, and sleepy saints are easy prey. Complacent, compromised, and cold churches can easily be conquered. We are studying Revelation precisely because it’s a call for the endurance of the saints. This book teaches us that although a beastly government may, for a time, wield vast authority, ultimately God alone unlocks history and brings it to its final culmination in and through Jesus Christ the Son.
Revelation teaches us that the church conquers in exactly the same manner as our Savior, Christ. We overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Rev. 12 11) What is it that will outlast the kingdoms of this world? What is it that will prevail over tyrannical and megalomaniacal rulers? Only an unrelenting faithfulness to the testimony of Christ.
In the end, every beast and Babylon will fall. The saints will sing the words of Revelation 19:3, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” In the meantime, our church is responsible to faithfully endure these years of tumult. We are to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of Christ. Husbands are to love their wives. Wives are to respect their husbands. Children are to obey their parents in the Lord. The church must preach the gospel of Christ which leads to joyful obedience to the law of Christ. We must regain our prophetic voice in this nation. Our power does not lie in our numbers or our ability to lobby Congress. Our power lies in the Word of Christ. We declare to this world, “Thus sayeth the Lord.” And there is no beast that can withstand that power.
I pray you will prioritize weekly worship with us on the Lord’s Day. This study through Revelation will challenge all of us because it will call us to greater love of Christ and more costly faithfulness to his commands.