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Celebrating the Death of Truth

Revelation 11:7-10
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city – which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt – where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. (NIVUK)

John was shown a terrible scene. The two witnesses appointed by God to proclaim the truth of Jesus and the gospel, who had been protected during the time of their ministry (Revelation 11:3-6), then came under a dreadful attack. Their attacker is the 'beast' from the Abyss. Who or what is this evil creature? Daniel 7:3-7 identifies four beasts, each one a powerful global empire (Daniel 2:31-43). This is the first of 39 times when the beast is mentioned in Revelation. The beasts in Revelation are also global authorities, which will attempt to silence the church and kill off the truth about Jesus and His Gospel. The beast's origin is the Abyss (Revelation 9:11), the home of the devil, confirming that the beast is powered by Satanic authority (Revelation 13:2). It may be a powerful individual or global authority (Revelation 17:11), or a coalition of powers (Revelation 13:1); and a second beast is found in Revelation 13:11. The beast is probably the same as the 'man of lawlessness' of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, and the Antichrist of 1 John 2:18.

The description of the beast's activity is quite gruesome. It will escalate a conflict with those who speak up for truth, taking everything away from them, including their lives. Even in death they have no dignity. Their bodies are not buried but exposed to public mockery by the wicked, in a place which has the worst connotations of Sodom and Egypt. They will share the humiliation of their Saviour (Psalm 22:16-18). Worse still, their persecutors will celebrate the death of truth with a festival. These, whose consciences had been tormented by the public proclamation of Jesus the King, will give each other gifts in the false belief that they are free of His authority (Matthew 21:38-39).

Although the description in these verses point to a future catastrophic series of events, we already see antichrist activity. As the Second Coming of Christ draws closer, we should not be surprised at the intensity and scale of public hatred of Christians (1 Peter 4:12-14). The Christian heritage of some countries will be no defence against the overt hostility from authorities who seek global dominance. Indeed ordinary citizens will be entranced by the beast (Revelation 13:3) and conspire with its power to crush the church.

This is not an 'encouraging' message, but to warn and prepare God's people. We need to be ready to stand for Christ when all health and wealth is taken away, when the church is no longer respected: when church members and their ministers are paraded for public abuse. The easy-believe, no-cost, self-seeking and comfort-club church will have no courage to stand for Jesus. Only those whose hope is in Christ alone will stand, until they share His human fate. Every church must now be training people to become life-long disciples of Jesus, looking for His reward only. If you are reading this where the church is persecuted, you will understand how important it is to persist and to pray for the church in the so-called free world, that all God's people may be ready when the time of tribulation comes. Resolve today to put away every idol, to resist temptation and to run in holiness straight towards Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Holy God. Thank You for calling me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. Forgive me when I forget who I belong to, and that I have been called out of darkness into the light of Christ. Please help me to set my course unashamedly as a Christian, following Jesus. And help me to pray for my brothers and sisters world-wide who, today, are suffering for their faith. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams