WE ARE AT ONE OF THOSE TURNING POINTS IN HISTORY. Post-WWII America has disappeared, and I don’t believe it’s coming back. We are at a time of great social turmoil, the collapse of trust in our institutions, and radical political and social change. God gave us the Book of Revelation for a time such as this.
Revelation is about the unseen spiritual world and how it impacts our earthly experience. It assumes a truth forgotten by most American Christians—the spiritual world controls the physical. War in the heavens precedes war on earth. What happens on earth is an expression of spiritual conflicts in the heavenlies. The message of Revelation is that despite persecution, judgment, famine, war, or temporary setbacks, Christ and his church conquer in time and space.
The Centrality of Christ
The first three chapters open with a picture of Christ Standing in the midst of his church. He is the all-conquering warrior calling his seven churches in Asia, his persecuted Bride, to repentance, perseverance, and faith.
Then chapters four through eleven shift the reader’s attention from earth to heaven. Now Christ is standing in the midst of the church (twenty-four elders) and in the midst of the heavenly throne. He is at the center of ultimate reality. Through his death and resurrection, he has “conquered.” He is sovereign over all that happens on planet earth. He is the governor of history. That means he is worthy to open the seven seals that bind the scroll of history.
The Heart of the Book
Next, chapters twelve through fifteen take us to the heart of the book’s message. Take a few minutes and read these chapters. It is a message in symbols, and we interpret the symbols by their appearance elsewhere in the Bible or the Book of Revelation. For example, chapter twelve opens with conflict between the Devil, symbolized by a great red dragon, and Christ’s church, a woman with a crown of twelve stars on her head, and God’s creation under her feet.
With what weapons will the Dragon attack the Bride? Chapters thirteen and fourteen introduce his helpers—civil government and religion. Civil government appears as a beast rising out of the sea. We know the beast represents civil government because the same beast appears in Daniel, representing four world powers. In addition, seas in turmoil are Old Testament symbols for troubled nations dominated by sin.
The Dragon gives civil government some of his power. This coalition has been a universal occurrence throughout history. But we especially see this happening right now in America as the Washington DC Swamp attracts more power to oppress, silence, and marginalize the church.
A second beast rising out of the earth also appears in chapter thirteen. This beast represents religion. It has “two horns like a lamb,” but it speaks “like a dragon.” It even performs miracles. In other words, it looks good, but it teaches devilish, demonic, and earthly doctrine. Think liberal Christianity, New Age, Secularism, or Islam.
The oppressive union of religion and state, persecuting God’s true church, has also been a constant throughout history. This second beast (religion) gives its authority to the first beast, the state. It “makes war on the saints,” attempting to “conquer them.”
This is our current situation. The Dragon is the mastermind that persecutes and torments the church. Jesus called him the Prince of this World. His weapons are Civil Government and Religion, allying themselves, and God’s people are the object of his hatred. Those who understand this are not surprised that the secular elites do not hate Islam. No, because the Dragon energizes and directs them, they hate and persecute the church of the Living God.
Chapter Fifteen through twenty-two are about Christ’s ultimate victory and the reward promised to the Saint’s who persevere through this age-old conflict. Finally, Christ’s victory culminates in chapter 19.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God…From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11–16).
First, “Don’t be surprised at the fiery trial that comes upon you to test you” (1 Peter 4:12). Conflict and persecution have been the experience of the saints from time immemorial.
Second, Evangelize! Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. We fear what is ultimate—the Lamb upon his throne—not the forces that resist us for the few decades we live on planet earth.
Third, Pray for revival. We desperately need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church.
Fourth, pray for courage to persevere through persecution. It is surely coming. Pray for your children and grandchildren. Pray for your local church.
Last, Repent! Repent for personal sins. But also repent for the sins of the North American church. Last, repent for the sins of our nation. That is what it means to be a “Kingdom of Priests.” It means we stand in the gap praying and repenting for family, church, and nation. Here is Christ’s glorious promise to those who persevere in faithfulness.
The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:26–29).