The Call for the Endurance of the Saints
We continue with the first beast. We have identified this beast in John’s day with the Roman Empire; however, any nation on the face of the earth which demands such loyalty from its citizens that should only be given the Almighty (e.g., worship) is of this beast and led by antichrists. There have been many beasts throughout history, but John would have us know that there is one yet to come just before our Lord’s return that will dwarf even the most dreadful beasts of the past. So, we see again what we have seen from the beginning of Revelation: Its prophecies find several fulfillments as it addresses all of time between Pentecost and today, which is why it begins, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (1:3). We’ve been reading it ever since.
We read in 13:3 that the dragon gave the beast his power, throne, and great authority. But we are led to know in verses five and seven through three passive tense verbs (“it was given,” “it was allowed” x 2) that this beast receives his dominion from the Lord Almighty for His specific purposes. The beast (Antichrist) utters blasphemies against God, His name, and those who dwell in heaven—what hubris! The Prophet Daniel prophesied one who would do the same several centuries before indicating that such has always been the case with antichrists. This beast will have authority over “every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on the earth will worship it,” indicating that we are speaking of a world-wide rule under this Antichrist. Current conditions with increasing global interconnectedness make such a rule now more possible than ever before.
And two different groups will respond to this beast in two different ways. Everyone whose name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life “before the foundation of the world” will worship the beast while the rest (those whose names have been recorded in that book since that same foundation) will be persecuted. Such a statement speaks to the doctrine of election and the perversion of man. It is only by God’s gracious election that one may bear up under the extreme circumstances the faithful will endure in that day, whereas the lost will gladly yield to Antichrist’s promises and threats. The “proverbial style” of verse ten calls for the endurance of the saints: “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain by the sword, with the sword must he be slain.” The saints trust in the One whose book their names have ever been written. They long for another city.