Themes in Revelation: Tribulation
Week 12, Wednesday: Wars and Martyrs
Spiritual sickness leads to unreasonable and violent behavior, and not always against the followers of Jesus. Violence is like a flood, and when the dragon wants to destroy the Church, he will “flood” the earth with violence in hopes of destroying the followers of Christ (Rev. 12). War is terrible, horrible, and destructive of everything that is good; yet human beings continue to pursue it as a policy for gaining their sin-sick ends. Not all wars are unjust, but all wars bring out the rage of tribulation, especially as that is expressed toward the Lord and His followers.
Read Revelation 13
Meditate on the following passages from Revelation
1. In the book of Revelation, war is most often presented as violence against the saints of God (cf. Rev. 13.7, 17; 19.19). Does such “war” always involve battlefields, military actions, and overt violence? Do the dragon’s minions conduct “war” by other means against the saints?
2. In Revelation 6.9-11, departed saints are described as having been “slain for the word of God and the testimony they held.” We discussed this earlier as a symbolic way of describing every believer’s calling to lay down his or her life and take up the cross of Jesus. How does doing so set us at odds – lead us into war – with the world around us (cf. Eph. 6.10-13; Jn. 15.18-25)? What should we expect as we engage in this “warfare”?
3. In Revelation 11 tribulation in the form of violence comes upon the “two witnesses.” Isn’t the Gospel supposed to be “Good News” for lost men and women? Why do people sometimes respond so violently to the proclamation of the Gospel? Do you experience this response from people as you tell them the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom?
4. In Revelation 19.11-21 Christ is depicted in martial terms upon His return. Is He really going to “strike” rebellious nations with a “sharp sword,” or clobber them with a “rod of iron”? How should these images lead us to think about what will actually happen when Jesus returns? How should they counsel us in carrying on our “warfare” during this time of tribulation?
5. The book of Revelation warns us that war is to be expected, in particular, against those who hold fast to the testimony of Jesus. Yet John’s book begins with the words, “Grace to you and peace…” (Rev. 1.4). How can believers know peace amids the tribulations of war, whether spiritual or otherwise?
Do you think of yourself as a “soldier” in Christ’s “army”? Would you describe your life as an ongoing “warfare” for Jesus’ sake? Why or why not?
The Glory of God
Christians are sometimes uncomfortable thinking about God as a Warrior against His enemies. But war is a fact of these times of tribulation and thus provides a useful metaphor for thinking about Christ’s rule over the nations. Explain.
Glory to Glory
How, at the beginning of your day, might you make better use of your time in order to prepare for the warfare you expect to confront throughout the day?
Recite your memory verse aloud: Revelation 1.9. Share it with a Christian friend. Explain to your friend what you’re learning about living in the Kingdom of God during this time of tribulation.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
T. M. Moore
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The book of Revelation is the culminating episode in the story of God’s covenant. To learn more about that covenant, and to discover the way it integrates all of Scripture into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.