The Little Book of the Revelation - Fifteenth in a series
The scene turns dark as India ink poured into a well. We bend to look, perplexed, but see no edge nor level.
These next verses of the Little Book reminds us that the darkest hour is before the dawn, and we think of the many encouragements in the Revelation to be overcomers or conquerors, and to be patient to the end:
- To Ephesus: To him that overcometh, to him will I give… (Rev 2:7)
- To Smyrna: He that overcometh shall not be hurt of … (Rev 2:11)
- To Pergamum: To him that overcometh, to him will I give of… (Rev 2:17)
- To Thyatira: And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give… (Rev 2:26)
- To Sardis: He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in … (Rev 3:5)
- To Philadelphia: He that overcometh, I will make him a … (Rev 3:12)
- To Laodicea: He that overcometh, I will give to him to… (Rev 3:21)
- Here is the patience and faith of the saints. (Rev 13:10)
- Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Rev 14:12)
And think of all the encouragements in Scripture to wait on the Lord, to endure, to keep the faith! A few references: Psalm 37:34, Matthew 24:13, Hebrews 10:38. Even we may be more than conquerors! (Rom 8:37) Let us run with endurance the race that is before us (Heb 12:1) and mount up with wings like eagles (Isa 40:31) as events close in.
Zion is a wilderness (Isa 64:10)
- VERSE 7
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.
God determines when the end will come, and by then, Christians will have completed the work of preaching the gospel. Next comes their death in the Lord (Rom 14:8); the beast who gained his power from the dragon (Rev 13:4) has worn out the saints of the most High. (Dan 7:25)
- The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. (Isa 57:1)
- VERSE 8
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Where is Zion? Where is the city of our God? The people of the Lord are not comforted but they are despised. Should they rejoice in their sufferings— do they complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of the church? (Col 1:24) — Understand, this has nothing to do with the cross of Christ but of ministry that is an agony, for if we endure hardship, we will also reign with him. (2 Tim 2:12)
When will the great city be ‘a praise in the earth’? (Isa 62:7) How long will it be before death is swallowed in victory? (1 Cor 15:54) Do we not have the mantle of Elijah, and can we not proclaim with Elisha, “Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah?” (2 Ki 2:14) Why must we die in captivity, in Egypt, and why in Sodom, the place of final judgment?
- Wherefore should the nations say, Where is now their God? (Ps 115:2)
- I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. (Jer 23:14)
- VERSE 9
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
The unsaved relish the demise of the saved, and wait three and a half days, keeping them in view to ascertain their souls should no longer hover nearby, and to verify they are dead. Rabbis taught that it took the soul three days to transition to the afterlife, so, does this scene reflects that belief?
Now we see that the ‘peoples, tongues, kindreds and nations’ were not only the saints but also their tormentors. Jerusalem is not only the city of God where we are born and live in Christ, but it is also the place of terrifying contrast—of blind zeal and slavery to sin, where our Lord was crucified.
This confusion of opposites must be resolved. We cannot continue in strife and darkness.
- It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void. (Ps 119:126)
- And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. (Isa 8:17)
The goats and sheep must be separated, the wheat and chaff divided.
- VERSE 10
And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
The people who are blind and rebellious show their delight by sending one another gifts to celebrate because their consciences were tormented by the Gospel. Obviously, one can be without spiritual vision, evil in thought and deed, yet nevertheless have some semblance of a conscience that is urgent to quiet.