Today’s reading is about another strand of God’s victory over the evil world that has been oppressing and persecuting God’s people — the villains of the 42-months (3.5 years).
Satan — 13:1
It’s important to realize who’s behind this whole thing. Just in yesterday’s reading we were reading how the dragon (Satan) went off to make war with the rest of the Woman’s children to see if he can pick them off one by one; and now he is pulling up his vicious minions for this one last push — going down in a blaze of eternal “inglory” and infamy. It is Satan that is behind the great persecution of the first two centuries, the persecution now, and the last great push toward the end of time. Refuse to be picked off! Persevere! Be courageous! Do what’s right! Stand firm with the Lord!
The Beastly government — 13:2ff
The original readers of this revelation probably clearly understood the Roman Empire to be the beast here. Will there be such a government toward the end of time? If so, it will likely be something like the old Roman Empire — broadly influential over most of the world, anti-Christian in nature, economically strong or controlling, and (by looking at the beasts it is compared to) swift, violently powerful, and viciously consuming. Worst of all, he’ll make war with the saints during this “42 month” period (not likely to be literal) and will overcome them! This brings the words of Jesus to mind, (Luke 18:8) “I tell you that [God] will bring about justice for [persecuted saints] quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” And those living during these dark days have severe challenges before them — Revelation 13:10 “If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.”
The Beastly religious leader — 13:11ff
The beastly government will be buttressed by a beastly religion. Rome, of course, demanded emperor worship (“Caesar is lord!”) while offering a pinch of incense on an altar — as a token of loyalty to the state. Will there be something like this toward the end of time? Maybe. Perhaps as a real religion, perhaps as just a statement of faith in certain “politically correct” things (e.g., atheism, evolution, or 1984-like credos that must be accepted as truth) that try to supplant the supremacy of Christ as Lord. Christ must always reign supreme, must always be the priority, in the Christian’s life. It may cause trouble with the world around us, who will embrace the world’s wisdom, but we must remain faithful!
The Doom of the villains — 14:1ff
But these villains will finally meet their ignominious end, no matter how powerful or invincible they may seem to the eye. The Christian can rely on the promises of God and can persevere on the basis of those promises of God, who will not allow evil to stand or triumph — Revelation 14:12 “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.”
Singing the song of Moses — 15:1ff
What is the song of Moses and why is it relevant here? The song of Moses was sung by newly freed men when Israel crossed the Red Sea leaving the drowning Egyptians and their slavery behind (Exo. 15:1ff). It is relevant because God’s people in this passage have also been rescued — (v. 2) “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name.” Point? After the salvation of the Lord has been completed, we will have more than adequate reason to also rejoice! Hang in there, whatever the challenges are, and sing the song of Moses, too!
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.