“Here is the call for the endurance of the saints.” Revelation 13:10
For years, I assumed that Revelation contained a hidden message, one too difficult for me to understand, and so I stayed away from this book. Though the book of Revelation is written in a very different style than the other books of the Bible, its message is not different. This is one of the great encouragements for us to read this book and draw strength.
The key biblical themes of the cross, repentance, faith, the church, heaven and hell, and the glory of God are all present in Revelation. The visionary nature and strange images in the book are meant to bring these themes to us in new ways, not to cover them so we can’t see them.
One great theme of Revelation, and of the Bible, is the endurance of God’s people in faith and faithfulness to him.
In Revelation 12-14 we are introduced to the great dragon, the woman giving birth, and the male child she delivers. The dragon seeks to devour the child and torment the woman, but he is cast down while the child and the woman are kept safe and nourished. This is a reference to Satan’s attempt to end the life of Christ in various ways and his ongoing opposition to God’s people. But God’s plan in Christ and for his people is not ultimately threatened, though the opposition to it is real.
Then we see how the dragon gives authority to two beasts who deceive people and lead them to worship someone other than the Lamb who was slain, Jesus Christ. Life is full of deceptions and temptations to give our allegiance to the messages and values of the world over that of Christ.
The number 666 is included in these chapters. Seven is the number of the divine, and of completion. The number six falls short. 666 is the number of the beast, and of a man (Revelation 13:18). Those who bow to the values, ways, and idols of the world are falling short of the glory of God and are marked in the heart as opposed to God. They are seeking the kingdom of man, not God.
A dragon, beasts, and 666 can be overwhelming to us, confusing to the point that we simply stay away from Revelation and opt for more straightforward portions of the Bible. But wait! In the middle of all this imagery is a clear message. “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”
The message of Revelation is that no matter what happens or how hard life gets, stay in faith and faithful to Christ. No matter how clever the arguments against the ways of God, salvation in Christ, and obedient living, stay faithful to him. No matter how much it appears that we will have to give in to the values of the world to get along in it, stay obedient to Christ.
The dragon is cast down, the beasts are deceivers, and the true mark of God’s people is his name on our foreheads, not the number of fallen and rebellious humanity.
The final scene is again one of worship (Revelation 14:1-5). God’s people have followed the Lamb to the throne of glory and are singing a new song of worship. They have endured by grace through faith.
Brothers and sisters, let us run with endurance the race set before us.