In Revelation, Satan attacks the “Lamb” by waging war against and persecuting his followers.
At times, there may be so many “trees” that we find it difficult to see the “forest.” Put another way, details distract us from seeing the obvious. This is often so when dealing with the visions of Revelation. But according to its very first word, the book is intended to “reveal what things must come to pass,” not to conceal them or to mystify us.
Such is the case with the “war” of the “beast from the sea.” Very often in popular preaching, this creature becomes an all-powerful political leader on the world stage that wages war against any nation that resists his will. Or alternatively, he uses his military might to attack the nation of Israel.
This interpretation ignores the plain words used by Revelation to describe this creature’s “war” that it wages “against the saints.” And the passage makes no bones about his intention “to overcome them.” Whether that means he kills them or causes them to apostatize makes little difference. His goal is to destroy them one way or another – (Revelation 13:1-10).
Lest we have any doubts, the very next chapter identifies who these “saints” are. They are “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” They are identified by their association with Jesus, not by their nationality – (Revelation 14:12).
And this “beast” has “seven heads and ten horns,” just like the “great red dragon,” and he operates with all its authority. When the “inhabitants of the earth” give their allegiance to him, effectively, they “render homage to the Dragon” – (Revelation 13:1-6).
And in the preceding vision, the enraged “Dragon” set out to wage war against the “rest of the woman’s seed, those who were keeping the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.” That is, against the “brethren” who were redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb” – (Revelation 12: 11, 12:17).
To state the obvious, the victims of this “war” are the men and women who follow Jesus, those who remain faithful in their “testimony” and overcome the “Dragon.”
Whether the “beast” also wages war against other nations or the state of Israel is never stated in the book, though all the “inhabitants of the earth” willingly give their allegiance to this creature. Of course, if “all” the nations submit to him, what would be the point of conducting war against them? They are NOT the enemies of the “Beast.”
Likewise, in chapter 11, the very same language was used to describe the “war” by the “Beast from the Abyss” against the “two witnesses” who were identified as the “two lampstands.” And in the book, lampstands represent churches – (Revelation 1:20, 11:4-7).
In each of the preceding passages, the clause used to describe this “war against the saints” 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).
The book of Revelation is making a very clear point, and more than once, but are we listening? Before the end, Satan will launch his final great attempt to destroy the church, that is, the “brethren” who have the “testimony of Jesus” and follow him wherever he goes.
And this makes perfect sense from the book’s perspective. The “Dragon” failed to destroy the messianic “son,” the one who was taken to his “Father’s throne.” Following his exaltation, the Devil was “expelled from heaven” and lost his prosecutorial power. The “son” against whom he waged war was now beyond his reach, so he did the next best thing – he prosecuted his “war” against the followers of the “Lamb.”
The earlier letters from Jesus to the “seven churches of Asia” provide excellent examples of precisely how Satan conducts his war against the “saints” – Through deception and deceivers (e.g., “false apostles”), economic deprivation, and persecution.
Whatever the “beast from the sea” may do to the nations of the earth, his purpose remains fixed – To destroy the “saints” – and his control over the political and economic spheres of the earth will be employed to accomplish that purpose.
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