04 December 2022

The Empire Strikes


In the book of Revelation, Satan attacks the Lamb by persecuting his followers, those who have his testimony

Satan’s chief agent, the “Beast from the Sea,” is unleashed against the kingdom of God,  the men who have the “testimony of Jesus” and follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

Satan represented as the “Great Red Dragon” is the invisible power behind the imperial throne, and he uses the World Empire in his campaign to destroy the church.

Satan is the “Ancient Serpent” who has been at war with the “woman” since the time he seduced Eve in the Garden. And in Revelation, he sets out to make “war” on the “seed of the woman,” that is, the men who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” – (2 Corinthians 11:3, Revelation 12:17, 14:1-4).

The chapter concludes with the “Dragon” standing on the seashore as he summons his own “seed” to wage war against the “woman’s seed.” And the first of his offspring is the monstrous “Beast that ascends from the sea.”

IMPERIAL AMBITIONS


The image of a creature with “ten horns” that are crowed with “ten diadems” symbolizes the World Empire that exercises dominion over the nations of the earth, and no one dares to wage with it:

  • Who is like the Beast, and who can make war with him?... And there was given to it authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.”

But the Empire does not attack any of the nations or “kings of the earth.” All of them are its allies and subjects. Instead, the “Beast” launches a war of extermination against “the saints,” and the passage makes no bones about its intention to “overcome and kill them.”

The Empire’s goal is to destroy the people of God. And Revelation leaves us in doubt as to the identity of his targeted victims, the “saints.” This group is comprised of those “who have the faith of Jesus.” In short, disciples of Christ – (Revelation 13:1-10, 14:10-12).

And the “seven heads and ten horns” of the Empire demonstrate that the “Dragon” is the real power behind Caesar’s throne. The “Beast” is empowered with all the authority of the Devil. Thus, when the “inhabitants of the earth” give their allegiance to him, effectively, they acknowledge Satan as their overlord – (Revelation 13:1-6).

IMPERIAL VICTIMS


The targets of this imperial attack are the men who follow Jesus whatever the cost, the ones who remain faithful in their “testimony” despite tribulations. By doing so, they overcome the “Dragon” by the “word of their testimony.” That is how a disciple of Jesus “overcomes” and qualifies to reign with him “on my Father’s throne, just as I also overcame” – (Revelation 3:21, 12:11).

The “inhabitants of the earth” are NOT the enemies of the “Beast.” Nowhere does the book state that the “Beast” wages war against other nations. If anything, they are his accomplices in the plot to destroy the church. Later, we find both the “nations from the four corners of the earth” and the “kings of the earth” allied with the “Dragon” in his final drive to annihilate the “saints” - (Revelation 19:17-21, 20:7-10).

Previously, in chapter 11, the same language was used to describe the “war” by the “Beast from the Abyss” against the “Two Witnesses,” and they are identified as the “two lampstands.” And in Revelation, lampstands symbolize churches.

In short, the image of the “Two Witnesses” attacked and killed by the “Beast” represents the attempt by the Empire to destroy the church – (Revelation 1:20, 11:4-7).

In each of the preceding passages, the clause used to describe this “war” is derived from Daniel’s vision of the “little horn” that “made war on the saints and prevailed against them” - “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them” - (Daniel 7:21).

Hence, before the end, Satan will launch his final attempt to destroy the church, the “brethren” who have the “testimony of Jesus” and follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.”

And this makes perfect sense from the book’s perspective. The “Dragon” fails to destroy the messianic “son” who, instead, is taken to his “Father’s throne.” Following his exaltation, the Devil is “expelled from heaven” and loses his prosecutorial power.

The “son” whom he attempted to devour is now beyond his reach, so he does the next best thing – he prosecutes his “war” against the followers of the messianic “Lamb.”

The earlier letters to the “seven churches of Asia” provide excellent examples of precisely how Satan conducts this war – by means of deception (“false apostles, Nicolaitans, teachings of Balaam, Jezebel”), economic deprivation, and persecution.

Whatever the “Dragon” and the “Beast from the sea” may or may not do to the nations of the earth, their purpose remains fixed – to destroy the “saints” – and Satan’s control over the political and economic spheres of the earth are employed to accomplish this nefarious plot.


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