Reflections on Revelation #224

Day 224

Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. 10 Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful. Revelation 13:9,10. (NLT)

When talking about the end of the world Jesus said, “He that endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13). What we are about to discover is not an easy time for God’s people. These 2 verses are the centre of the Chiasm that began with the end of the previous one in Rev 12:17. It’s opposite/opposing verse is Rev14: 1. This identifies the 144,000 – the group who are sealed – as the group in 12:17 who have patience endurance and “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.” They are the ones who stand for what was seen in heaven in Rev 11:19 – the ark containing the Ten Commandments. While this group is yet future it is my heart’s desire to be in that group should I live to see it.

The word translated “patience” or “endurance” (RSV, NKJV, NIV,) here is literally “remaining under.” It is the picture of someone stuck for a time under a heavy burden or difficulty. He or she is in a position to escape the load but chooses not to for some higher cause than just escaping difficulty. Patience is about hanging in there for the long term, even when it doesn’t feel great in the short term. In Rev 13:10 the saints are willing to endure captivity and death because their hearts and minds are in heavenly places.

What is the point of patient endurance? One reason why God asks us to wait is that waiting is a tremendous tool for personal growth. In Rom 5:3-4 Paul tells us that suffering produces patience (same word as Rev 13:10) and patience produces character. So, patience is not an option for Christians. In those times of waiting, God’s plans and purposes are revealed to us in ways we would never discern in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It develops strength of character in us. It will take great strength of character to endure the trials of the End-time. Enduring is never fun, but it’s a lot easier when you keep your eye on things above! Endurance is the substance of faith.

Paul said, “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36 NASB) Paul was misunderstood, maligned, mistreated, persecuted, and often reviled but he pressed on in faith until death. How can we learn to do the same in discouraging circumstances? Luke declared in Acts 14:22, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

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