The first thing that we will discuss regarding the antichrist is his description. “[John] saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion ….” All of the Gentile kingdoms rose out of the sea. They all represent the fullness of human iniquity and wrath. The first thing that we note is that this beast resembles the dragon. It has the same seven heads and ten horns that were ascribed to the dragon, the old serpent (see chapter 12). The kingdoms of the world were first the domain of Satan. He is the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4). When tempting Christ in the wilderness the devil made this statement (after showing Christ all the kingdoms of the world) which was not refuted by Christ: “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” (Luke 4:6). This is the man that Satan willed to give the kingdoms of this world. The devil has been setting up his spiritual wickedness in high places on this earth for many millennia but this is the man of sin. While the devil possessed the world there were obstacles to the one world human ruler. This man took the offer. When and where he took the offer is not known. He was busy consolidating power unto himself in the opening of the first four seals. By the end of fourth seal he was seen with death and hell. Some have said that the seven heads are a reference to the seven mountains surrounding the city of Rome and the 10 horns are the divisions or toes of the latter day Roman Empire. It is beyond doubt that this is part of the latter day Roman Empire. The later description of the great whore says that she sits on seven heads which are seven mountains (Rev. 17:9). Whether the Roman Catholic Church is specifically meant is not clear. What is clear that this man shares authority of Satan over this world! The ten horns are those under the thumb of the beast. “The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (Rev. 17:12). These are kingdoms that are brought up into power with the rise of the beast. Our text says that upon the heads of the beast rest the 10 crowns. The glory of the latter day Roman Empire rests solely upon the heads of the beast. He is the one that bears the rule.
Further, the description of the antichrist involves a name: upon his heads the name of blasphemy. Some have pointed out that when Nebuchadnezzar believed that he was the ruler of his own kingdom he was made a beast (Dan. 4:30). Nebuchadnezzar was the first of the Gentile kingdoms. The last of the Gentile kings started out as a beast. He started out denying that God ruled over the kingdoms of men. This beast opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God (II Thess. 2:4-6). Notice that upon all the heads is the name of blasphemy. It is the mode of the entire form of governance. The whole form of government bears the name of blasphemy. The name over the head of Rome is the Vicar of Christ. That is a form of blasphemy to claim to sit in the stead of Christ upon the earth. This form of government claims that it rules over all the earth. This government claims that they are God and in unison speak against Him. We have been in a slow steady movement toward the belief that government is God. We have been conditioned to believe that it is the government that cares for our needs from the cradle to the grave. We are being further conditioned to believe that all of our rights do not come from the Transcendent God but from government. We just lack that dynamic figure to publically claim that his government is the source of all provision and all rights. Barnes stated, “the whole power was blasphemous in its claims and pretensions. The word “blasphemy” here seems to be used in the sense that titles and attributes were claimed by it which belonged only to God.” This is the end of secular humanism. This is the new Babel. Can you imagine a world of rulers that believe that they possess all authority in heaven and earth?
The description goes on to describe the features of the beast; “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion….” These are similes as seen by the words “like” and “as”. The beast itself is obviously the latter day Roman Empire as described in Daniel 2. It is the beast that is described by Daniel thus: “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Dan. 7:7, 8). We remember that the entire image of Daniel 2 was in existence when the Kingdom of God came to the earth (Dan 2:44). So it is not surprising to see this beast bear marks of the Babylonian, Medio-Persian, and Greek empires that preceded it. It had the mouth of a lion which answers to Babylon. “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Dan. 7:4). It had the feet of a bear which answers to the Medes and the Persians which followed. “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh” (Dan. 7:5). It had the body (as it is implied) of a leopard which answers to Greece. “After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it” (Dan. 7:6). So it embraced and worked with the elements of the remnants of these other kingdoms (It would take in all that encompassed those other Epmires). There is without doubt significance to the parts that this beast was like but what the significance of those is not easy to decipher. The body of the Greek Empire may speak of the conquering policies of Alexander or the humanist philosophies of Greece applied. The feet of the Medea-Persian Empire may refer to the cruelty at which it advanced under Darius. The mouth of the lion may refer to the original blasphemies of its kings (maybe going all the way back to Nimrod and Babel).
So we go beyond the description to find the true source of power of this beast. As the Son came in the authority of the Father, so this man of sin comes in the authority and power of Satan; “and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This goes back to what Satan said to Christ in the wilderness. He gave the kingdoms of the world to this man (Luke 4:6). There are three specific things here stated that the beast is given by Satan. He is given first his power. Power here denotes strength. Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar that “the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory” (Dan. 2:37). We cannot act in any way unless we have power to do so. Think shortly about all that has been given to this man of sin thus far in our study. A crown was given him (6:2), power to take peace from the earth (6:4), a great sword (6:4), power to kill one fourth of the world’s population, a mouth to speak blasphemies (13:5), and the ability to make war with the saints (13:7). Power here is the power to act. The devil entered into Judas and gave him the power to act against Christ. The devil entered into this man and gave him power to act. He empowered his words to move people. He gave him armies and weapons at his disposal. He gave him influence. This man of sin is prophesied to be “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders…” (II Thess. 2:9). Secondly, he gave him his seat. This does not simply mean authority here because the authority is yet to follow. This specifically is his throne. This speaks of how high he lifted this man up. He brought him to the highest seat in the world. We fail often to realize that there is spiritual wickedness in high places. The political rise of this individual was satanic in nature. His rise brought him all the way to the mercy seat in the temple where he proclaimed that he was God. Lastly, he was given of Satan not just authority but great authority. His words became law just as the letters sealed with the king’s ring carried full authority. This man was not only the one world administrator but the one world legislator and judiciary. We see the trend of giving more and more power to administrators even in our supposed free country. We live in a world that is ripe for a dictator and Satan will raise one up in the coming days.
The next thing we see is the delusion of the world after this beast. “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” The thing that we must remember about this time is that it is a time of great deception. The beginning of sorrows were highlighted by deception of those saying that they are Christ (Matt. 24:4, 5). One can assume that that related to the rise of the beast with all its horns, and heads, and crowns. They all bore the name of blasphemy. No doubt their blasphemy mirrored the humanist jargon of our day, “We are the ones that we have been waiting for.” But, at the time of the end and thereafter there is a specific kind of deception that Christ warned His followers of. “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:23, 24). The fact that this deception could, if possible, deceive the very elect (that is the redeemed) means no doubt that the deception hits home in the realm of scripture and prophecy. Christ goes on to say, “Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matt. 24:25, 26). The end of the deception is to cause men to believe and think that they are following the “real” Christ, the one that would come and restore all things to humanity. What better way to convince men that the antichrist is Christ is by in a feigned way to imitate the fulfillment of prophecy regarding Christ, specifically the resurrection?
The delusion of the world starts with the imitation of resurrection. When this happened is not known. Our text seems to indicate it happened as the beast rose out of the sea. If I had to guess it would have happened sometime prior to the 11th chapter which correlated with his assent into Jerusalem where he sat in the temple declaring that he was God (II Thess. 2). If Christ was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection so the antichrist will attempt to declare himself to be Christ (i.e. God) by the same. Now as you may guess there are those that spiritualize the text to say that this is not an actual imitation of the resurrection and of those ideas many could be expounded. However, it is to be pointed out that the rest of the chapter hinges on this sole event. The false prophet that preaches the beast points time and again to the fact that this beast had a deadly wound which was healed (see v. 12 and v. 14). So this event is the sales point for the deceived world. The world was looking for a miracle and the devil will give them one. He comes “with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thess. 2:9-12). The world will be ready to believe this lie because they have already abandoned true repentance and all truth connected to Christ.
It is apparent that there is at the very least an appearance of death; however we remember that this is part of a delusion and is a lying wonder. John later offers this commentary: “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition” (Rev. 17:11). There is a lot in that text to unpack that we will wait till we get to that point to offer further comment. But, what is clear is that there will arise a seventh head which will be this Antichrist. This individual will continue for a short time under the color of one of the world leaders. At some point that time will end which is presumably the time of the deadly wound. And when this leader apparently arises he is something wholly different. He is then considered to be eighth but still of the seventh. One can assume that this is the point in chapter 12 that he sits in the temple declaring that He is God. Thus he goes into perdition. This mirrors again what Paul said: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2:3, 4). He comes to the state where he is totally damnable and fit for destruction of which the term perdition speaks. Such was said of Judas which finally betrayed Christ (John 17:12). And such will be said of this beast: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev. 17:8). I myself have surmised since the source of the alleged miracle is satanic and the world since the sixth seal has known that the true Christ opposes them and the fact that the beast arises from the bottomless pit that the dragon is trying to show the world that he can win. The original prophecy was that the seed of the woman (which is Christ – see chapter 12) was to bruise (a deadly wound) the head of the serpent. One can then surmise that the devil uses this to show the world that he survived the deadly wound and thus will have the world singing “who can to make war with the beast” in opposition to Christ. This is the great lie that they will believe; they will believe that they can oppose Christ and this demonic event will get them to believe that through the beast it is possible.
So the beast was wounded to death and the deadly wound will be healed. If it were possible the very elect would be fooled by this. I am glad that His sheep hear his voice and will not follow another (John 10:4, 5). But the world that knows not Christ will wonder after the beast. At this point it seems universal for it says that “all the world” will do so. What a scary time this will be. It will appear that all have drank the devil’s Kool-Aid. The word wonder in this context speaks of the awe toward this event and the man that was subject to the event that the world had. They could not keep it out of their mind or away from their eyes. They were enraptured by this event. They followed with wondering gaze. What a deluded world!
Now are you ready for what follows? “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” They worshipped the devil, knowingly. This is where our present world is headed. Barnes said this: “That is, they did it, as is immediately specified, by saying that he was “incomparable” and “invincible”; in other words, that he was superior to all others, and that he was almighty.” They will worship the devil because they will see that the power of that the beast wields is he power of Satan. The devil has always sought worship. He sought it in the desert when confronting Christ. Here he gets it from the entire world. Here, Lucifer proclaims that He is like the most High (Isa. 14:12-14). They worshipped the dragon and they worshipped the beast along with the dragon. The world had started a new religion with the devil worshipped as the father and the beast as the son. The world will know that they are worshipping these figures in the stead of the real Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
So the world sings a song that matches their delusion. They sang that the beast was unequalled and that he was invincible: “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” This is obviously a reference to the war of those with whom the beast made war with in the last chapter; those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Christ. The battle lines are now clearly set. It is those who belong to Christ against the world. It is also a statement against their God. In the song of Moses Israel sang famously these words: “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders” (Ex. 15:11, see also Micah 7:18 and Isa. 46:5). Thus the world looks at the one fighting against the God of Israel and says “who is like unto the beast?” Thus they declare that the beast is unequalled. Not even the God of heaven could equal him. Thus they declare that he is invincible. It is possible that this was sung before the Lord opened the earth to swallow up the flood of the dragon in the last chapter. But no doubt it remained what they sang all the way to the end and the defeat of Armageddon. This mirrors what was sung of the first one world leader all the way back in Babel when the world said of Nimrod, “Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord” (Gen. 10:9). The unrepentant world found in the man and the devil that empowered him who they thought could stand before the Christ that they had recently cowered before (Rev. 6).
It is important to note that at this point the world is now not only embracing a false Christ but a false gospel. The unbelieving world has always been ready to accept false gospels, those that speak of the goodness of humanity and its good works which merits in whole or in part its own righteousness. But, one day they will embrace an imitation gospel; the antichrist that will die and rise (as opposed to the real gospel – I Cor. 15:1-10). It will be the ultimate embracement of a gospel without sin. There is in it an absence of sin, law, and the idea of the need of vicarious or substitutionary sacrifice. This false gospel will see salvation in their false Christ not from sin but from God. This same message the serpent had from the beginning (i.e. God is lying, ye shall be as gods if you will follow [worship] me – see Gen. 3:1-6).
This beast will also have a message. “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” We see that he was given only a little space and a little time. He had 42 months. For the elect’s sake the time was short (Matt. 24:22). So we know that we are in the last half of the 70th week of Daniel (Dan. 9:27). His power has a limit set by God. The proud waves can go no further. There is a limit to the perdition of the beast set by God. It not only says he was given power to commit the acts of his will (this is the indeed the end of Nietzsche’s supermen and their will to power) but he was given a mouth. We can surmise that this not only means that he was given the ability to speak but that he was given a dedicated audience. A voice crying in the wilderness is of no value unless there is a multitude in the wilderness to hear. God allowed him to speak and allowed him to be heard. There was a willingness for a world with itching ears to hear this man that told all the original lies of his father the devil. This therefore becomes a description of his message.
There are two aspects of his message, it consisted of great things and it consisted of blasphemy. There was a seeming sublimity to his words and there was blatant blasphemy to his words. First, consider the greatness of his words. There was given him a mouth speaking great things. Like Herod the people considered his voice to be the voice of a god and not a man (and his end would be the same of that of Herod, Acts 12:22). This is a fulfillment of the prophecy regarding this man. “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things…. And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows” (Dan. 7:8, 20). Of course there is a relationship between his great words and his blasphemy (they are one and the same). “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan 7:25). That text is the exact mirror of our text, even down to the time of the power of this beast. His great words in and of themselves stood in opposition to the Most High. There was a definite swelling to his words that seemed sublime to the hearers. It was what the world wanted to hear. He spoke with that wisdom that came from below that is earthly, sensual, and devilish (James 3:15). The commentary of Peter here is applicable to the state of that world to come: “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Pet. 2:17-22).
But, as stated above, his great words were indeed blasphemous words. Blasphemy is defined as something being said about God that is indignit, reproachful, contemptuous, or irreverent. It is an attempt to injure God by denying that which is due to him or attributing to Him that which is not agreeable to his nature. The names of blasphemy which were bore on the seven heads above could be .taken in both instances. They no doubt attempted to take the glory of God and attribute it to themselves and attempted to drag the name of God through the mud by equating him with their abominable behavior. The same can be said specifically about the beast (antichrist). One may hear the echo of the blasphemy of Rabshakeh here with the beast (II Kings 18).
There are four specific forms of blasphemy that make up his message. Four is the number of the earth so it is fitting number here for the response of an unrepentant world toward God. This blasphemy is a direct prophecy found spoken of by David (Ps. 2:1-3). First, when he opened his mouth he did so in blasphemy against God Himself. This he has done simply by declaring himself to be God (John 10:33, II Thess. 2). He has dragged the name of God down to the level of sinful men and has spoken of himself as having the glory of God. We may have even positive contemptuousness against the true God in his words that may mirror that of foolish atheists like Richard Dawkins (I call men like Dawkins fools due to the fact that the assume to be able to sit in judgment of God and still presume to judge things that God done as morally wrong but without an appeal to God as a moral lawgiver; if God is not the ground of morality than idiots like Dawkins have no reason to attack God on moral grounds – atheists cannot eat their cake and have it to – See I John 2:18). He blasphemed God and he particularly blasphemed His name. The name of God is that which declares God’s nature and authority. One of the great commandments is to not take the name of the Lord God in vain (Ex. 20:7). The antichrist drags the name of God through the mud by taking upon himself and his sinfulness. He like Pharaoh of old said, “Who is the Lord that he should rule over me?” The beast also blasphemed the tabernacle of God. Now there are several ways that this can be taken. One way it can be taken is that it is a reference to the Jews who are now fled to the wilderness (he blasphemed the saints on earth and then in the next clause the saints in heaven). God was dwelling among His people. Another way to take this is that it is synonymous with the temple itself which the beast profaned with the abomination of desolation. It would beg the question of why the word temple was not used. Still yet another way is to say that the term tabernacle is a reference to Christ. After all it is Christ in whom all the fullness of God dwells (Col. 1:19, 2:9). It is Christ who dwelled or tabernacled among us (John 1:14). And prophetically it is not only the Lord that the latter day kings will take counsel against but also against His anointed (Ps. 2:2). I reject the idea that the tabernacle means the church as most commentaries attempt to teach for that would be more fitting to the final clause. I myself fancy that it is Christ particularly that is attacked and spoke against by antichrist. They blasphemed Him when He came the first time and so they will blaspheme Him when He is coming again. We see our culture more and more attacking the person of Christ. Finally the beast blasphemed them that dwell in heaven. If they hated the Father and the Son then they hate the ones that came to the father by Christ. I can see a scenario in which all the great works of the saints when they were on earth were spoken against and torn down; where all that they had done were called works of evil by a world that calls evil good and good evil. Even now there is a rewriting of history to make the works of Christian men contemptuous. Those that belong to heaven will never find their accolades from this world (Phil. 3:20). That is the constant message of antichrist and even now the spirit of antichrist is in this world.
We then come to the purpose of the beast. He was not one for words only but backed it up with deeds. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” This man had a mission. Barnes noted here that the same power that enabled the beast to blaspheme in the above verses here empowers him to make war and overcame the saints. Hatred of the people of God is always satanic in its origin. This is the crux of what was taught by Christ in the 24th chapter of Matthew. There was war against the nation of Israel specifically (Matt. 24:22). There in that great chapter the word elect was used to describe the nation of Israel which mirrored that treatise of Paul from Romans chapter 11 (Rom. 11:5). The term elect regards those who have been chosen in Christ and in the terms of the 70th week of Daniel speak of the remnant of the children of Israel in specific. In the text before us the word saints is used. They are those that are sanctified and set apart by God. The term is synonymous with the term elect in many aspects for it describes them that are His. They are not limited to the remnant but speak of all that are His. Whether that means that there will be those that were saved that were not of Israel at that time is not known. It surely does encompass the saved of Israel at this time and the term speaks of their salvation; their sanctification. It also identifies whatever suffering that is occurring with the suffering of all saints. The seventh chapter of Daniel also uses the term saints. It tells not only of the suffering of the saints under the hand of Anti-Christ but of the glory that shall follow. “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom… and shall wear out the saints of the most High… And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan. 7:21, 22, 25, 27). There is certainly suffering appointed for the people of God. We shall through much tribulation enter the kingdom of heaven. The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). The world hates those who are sanctified so it will not be surprising that the beast will find purpose in making war with them. But it also says that he will overcome them; Daniel said that he prevailed over them. There will come a point in the future for believers that it will feel like all is lost but the greatest victory is yet to come at the coming of Christ.
The purpose of the beast was not just to destroy the saints, which he will be partly successful, but to bring the whole world into subjection. Power was given to him to blaspheme God, make war against the saints, and to bring the whole world under the dominion of darkness. The key term is the term “all” in our text. Every kindred or family will be under his thumb. Every language that is spoken will be giving praise to him, every nation will be under his sovereignty. The dream of the global socialists will be realized, the end of secular humanism will be reached with this man deified and reigning over all. This is the world’s darkest hour. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Again, we run into the word “all.” All of the world, every person that dwells on the earth, shall worship the beast. This time the word all meets a qualifier. There will be those on the earth that are written in the book of life. The phrase here is spoken of in the negative. Those that worship the beast are not written in the book of life. They are lost and they are undone. They have made a final choice against Christ and now their fate is sealed. There is time no longer for them and they are forever unrepentant. However, wherever there is a negative then there is also a positive. There is a company of people called saints that are securely and finally written in heaven. It is this positive that Daniel spoke of: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Dan. 12:1). There is our ultimate deliverance. Jesus said to His disciples, “rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). All that are found written in that book will be saved (Rev. 21:27). These saints are not found written because they have their own righteousness for it is the book of life that is of the Lamb. It is the book of His works and His righteousness on their behalf. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). The lost who will not be found written in the book of life will be judged out of the books according to their own works. Thus they will be lost (Rev. 20:11-15). But, those written in that book are of the Lamb and of His righteousness (II Cor. 5:21). Thus their names will never be blotted out (Rev. 3:5). He was purposed for their salvation since the first promise in beginning (Gen. 3:15). God shed blood to cover man’s sin in the garden. He came in the time appointed to shed His precious blood on Calvary for their salvation (I Pet. 1:20, 21). Because He was slain from the foundation of the world in the promises of God they are able to say that they have been written in His book from the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:9). Salvation is in the Lamb. So the world is triumphing in the wrong thing for while they bow to the beast they must perish with him but the saints that are scattered and slain have their names written in heaven and shall never die. They are secure in the Lamb.
As if that is not enough encouragement there is further encouragement for those that are of God. The encouragement here belongs to all who not only find themselves in the actual situation of our text but for all Christians who find themselves at the mercy of the antichrists of this present world. “If any man have an ear, let him hear.” Faith comes from hearing what the Lord has to say. He alone is in the eternal position of being able to see the end from the beginning. That is why it is vitally important for us to open our ears to hear. We need faith. Faith is tired and fortified in adversity. The word of God and the comfort thereof is free to all who will open their ears and therefore their heart to what the Lord has to say.
What word of comfort does the Lord has for the martyrs? “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” This initially does not sound like words of comfort especially to our effeminate culture which praises cowardice and calls it political correctness. We are never supposed to say that we even have enemies much less look forward to the time in which time where they will reap what they have sowed; where they will receive the righteous vengeance that belongs to the Lord. People who embrace an effeminate view of scriptural spirituality cringe when the approach imprecatory scriptures but we who hold to the truth of the scriptures can find rejoicing in the ultimate judgment of God on those who hate Him and reject Him and go about to harm or destroy those who follow Him. For instance the psalms are filled with things that are called imprecatory prayers; prayers which contain curses on their enemies. Such as Psalm 137 which contains curses upon the people of Babylon (see also Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, and 139). None of these such prayers are ever spoken of in the spirit of self-vengeance but commit the vengeance of the persecutors to the hands of God. Some say that Christ when he taught us to love our enemies eschewed imprecatory prayers but they forget that Christ in His holiness did not view that His message of love was contrary to the Old Testament he called down imprecations upon the Pharisees in Matthew 23. Those who love God love His holiness as well and rejoice in His judgement. Even the apostles spoke in imprecations (I Cor. 16:22, Gal. 1:8-9, 5:12, II Tim. 4:14). We have already seen an example of the saints rejoicing in the judgment of God in our study of this book (Rev. 6:10). It is not contrary to the spirit of love through Christ and our prayer for the salvation of our enemies to also recognize and rejoice in the ultimate judgement of those who hate and blaspheme God. We pray that individual men will know the grace of God even though we glory in the fact that God will judge sin; especially those who mistreated those that are His (Matt. 25:41-46).
Those who hold the effeminate approach our text prefer rather the readings of the corrupted Alexandrian and Vatican texts which make the text teach that there is a need for the martyrs to submit to their appointed death or captivities. No doubt that is true and there is a need for believers in all ages to submit humbly submit to our persecutors in death if that is what God has called us to do. But is that the meaning of the text? Those who say that it is compare it to similar declarations of Jeremiah (Jer. 15:2, 43:11). They fell to see that those text are speaking of the judgment of God upon those that are appointed to death or to captivity. That is not the case. It is not God’s just judgement that is falling on the saints but rather they are said to be renewed in hope even in the experience of their trials. It mirrors what was said by Jeremiah when he pronounced judgment on Babylon for their treatment of Israel (Jer. 50:17, 18). It also mirrors what was said by our Savior Christ when He spoke of those that were imprisoning (and would ultimately kill) Him: “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt. 26:52). Thus our Savior pictured our text and gave His hands to the binding, His back to the smiters, and His body to the altar. He did it with a joy before Him. Our example is He! This is the patience (or rather the sustaining spirit) of the saints. This is the faith of the saints. The powers of darkness shall not always rule. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:16, 17). That is why we count them happy that suffer (James 5:11). And here we have the warning to the wicked. You will persecute the righteous at your own eternal cost. God will judge. Thus who imprison His children will themselves be imprisoned. They that turn the sword on the children of God will one day have the sword of the Lord turned upon them. Beware that you are not on the wrong side of this great spiritual war. Submit yourselves to Christ lest one day He be angry with you (Ps. 2:12). Don’t be on the wrong side of the “must” of our text.