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Evil Extinguished by Fire

Revelation 19:19-20
But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. (NIVUK)

The previous verse identifies the combatants in the battle to end all battles: "Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army." (Revelation 19:19) In other words the Antichrist and the world's rulers will amass their forces to fight against the Lord Jesus Christ and His angels. This is not the church fighting the world. Like the Israelites, hemmed in between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, the church must, "… Stand firm and … see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today." (Exodus 14:13; Lamentations 3:26)

As impressive as the united global militia may be, they are not the real problem. They are wickedly inspired by the beast who is the Antichrist, and the false prophet who performs supernatural signs and is opposed to the supremacy of Jesus Christ. The false prophet will deceive the world into accepting the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:16-17) – pragmatically submitting to what purports to be an invincible world power which is against Jesus Christ. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:1-30, who were threatened with the fiery furnace, God's people will be saved but the beast and false prophet will be captured and thrown into the lake of fire (Daniel 7:11); the graphic description of hell (Isaiah 66:24).

With the beast and false prophet destroyed, all of Christ's enemies are put to death by the sword in His mouth, the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). That Word, which the wicked has defied so long, will be the charge-sheet against them. The destruction of evil will be total. The unbelieving dead will go to Hades until the final judgement, after which they join the beast, the false prophet and the devil in hell (Revelation 20:10, 13-15). Although we do not know the identity of these evil puppet-masters now, when they are seen in their true colours, the church will know that the Lord is about to take the final action against them. The destruction of the wicked brings no pleasure to the Lord, for He loves all that He has made (Psalm 145:17) and longs for them to repent and be saved (Ezekiel 33:11).

Times will be hard for those who follow Jesus; the opposition to the sovereign rule of Christ will increase and the plagues of Judgement from God will demonstrate how hardened people's hearts are against Him, for they will not repent (Revelation 16:9). In the face of that, some believers may be tempted to think that the Lord is not in command and that the only way forwards is to capitulate to evil. Revelation shows a different future. In the end, Jesus wins! The consortium of world powers, the Antichrist, the false prophet and all who have received the mark of the beast will equally share the enduring torment of the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). But those who stand firm in Christ will be saved for all eternity. There are only two eternal end points: torment away from Jesus or triumph with Him for ever. According to your destination, choose your route carefully: live for Jesus now whatever the cost, because of the glory that lies ahead.

Sovereign Lord. Thank You for affirming to the church that You are fully in command and that in the end Your rule will prevail. Forgive me for doubting, and creating a lifestyle based on short term personal objectives which do not glorify You. Please help me to live each day in the light of eternity, and stand firm with Jesus whatever the opposition. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams