We view the state of the true, universal church and we see it neither giving in to darkness nor shrinking from it. In places of great persecution, the church is growing. Reports are that the church in China is strong as well as many converts among Muslims. The Christians around the world are also persecuted and a great many martyrs in the past 100 years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be improving, with persecution on the rise.
Perhaps that speaks of Rev.13:7, 15 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. The beast here refers to political, social, economic, philosophical, educational systems and individuals who war against the true church. It appears that throughout the time from Christ’s ascension to His return (last days) Christians will face persecution and martyrdom with it intensifying as the second coming draws near. There will be no relief of Satan’s attacks against God’s people.
However, when we read Rev. 14:1, 3 it paints a picture of hope. Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. Here the 144,000 is symbolic of the entire church militant on earth about to enter the church triumphant (heaven) singing a new song on Mt. Zion. Although the church suffered in the earthly warfare with the beast (Rev. 13:7, 15) they are still VICTORIOUS! This is evident by them following the Lamb on Mt. Zion and singing a new song (Rev. 14:3). No matter what the world does to Christians we have the victory through Jesus who watches over us and will usher us into His Kingdom. We are protected by God’s seal placed upon our forehead; that seal is the name of Jesus and His Father possibly given at our baptism.
Mt. Zion is where the temple with its sacrificial altar once stood. This is where Jesus will stand together with His church. How appropriate since it was His sacrifice that makes it possible or anyone to stand with Him and to be seen in right standing with God. As Matthew 10:22 says: You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Our victory is guaranteed signed in blood!
Pr. Bob Snitzer
By the Way:
Sunday 15, 9:00 Morning worship. Sermon: Elijah’s Struggle 1 Kings 19:8-19