Sometimes it just feels like Satan’s winning the game. No matter how hard we want to believe otherwise, our heart and our mind struggle because of our circumstances. Yet, as the people of God, we need to remember:
- Satan’s not winning – he’s been cast down. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night (Rev. 12:9-10)
- He’s not winning – he knows God has placed hedges where He wants them. Satan wanted to destroy Job, but he also knew that God had placed a protective hedge about that upright man (Job 1:10).
- He’s not winning – Jesus demonstrated His victory during the wilderness temptations (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus had no intention of bowing down to the enemy. He had come to defeat him.
- He’s not winning – Jesus disarmed the powers through His cross (Col. 2:15). He has triumphed over them.
- He’s not winning – he is headed for eternal judgment. John gives us that word in Revelation 20:10 – “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
It might seem today like Satan’s winning in your life, the church, or the world, but he is a “loser.” Do not be deceived. Persevere in the faith!
Adapted by Mark Johnson
Fundamental to the structure and theme of Revelation is the call to “conquer” or “overcome” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21(twice); 5:5; 6:2 (twice); 12:11; 15:2; 17:14; 21:7). The need to “conquer” is present due to the spiritual war between good and evil. “This military metaphor assumes that the faithful in each congregation are engaged in a struggle to remain faithful” (Koester, Revelation and the End of All Things, 57). Those who faithfully persevere may enter the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:7).
As Richard Bauckham points out, “The visions that intervene between the seven messages to the churches and the final vision of the New Jerusalem are to enable the readers to move from one to the other, to understand what conquering involves” (Theology of Revelation, 88). The saints win the victory by faithful endurance in following the Lamb wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4). But what does “faithful endurance” look like? What is involved in persevering in faithfulness to God?
Searching the messages to the seven churches for what is involved in conquering, one finds: deeds (works, toil), endurance, intolerance of false teaching and evil (Rev. 2:2-3); suffering, being slandering on account of Christ, faithfulness until death (Rev. 2:9, 10); holding fast Christ’s name, not denying the faith; being faithful witnesses, and repentance (Rev. 2:13, 16); deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance, and not holding to Satanic teaching (Rev. 2:19, 24-25); purity (Rev. 3:4); deeds, obedience, not denying Christ’s name, and perseverance (Rev. 3:8, 10, 11). The most prominent threat to faithful endurance in Revelation is an accommodation to culture.
The “conquer” terminology in Revelation is not just used for those on God’s side. The beast is allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them (Rev. 11:7; 13:7). It is important to note that this does not mean that “you win some and you lose some.” The “conquering” of God’s people “is described both as the beast’s victory over them and as their victory over the beast. In this way, John poses the question: who are the real victors?” (Bauckham, Theology, 90).
If one is viewing life from an earthly perspective, it looks like the beast wins. However, this same event (the martyrdom of God’s people) is considered to be “victory” from the heavenly perspective. Only by means of a vision from heaven (Rev. 7:9-14; 15:2-3) or a voice from heaven (11:12; 14:2) can those who die because of their faith in Christ be recognized as “conquerors.”
Christians triumph over evil by faithful witness to the truth of God. Maintaining this witness and resisting evil, even to death, allows one to participate in the power of the victory Christ (Rev. 12:11).
Because life is difficult and the walk of faith is an upward climb, we need encouragement. We need to be urged on when we don’t feel like going anymore. We need to have our thinking jolted in God’s direction when temptations and struggles pull us down. The Book of Hebrews offers a word of encouragement to keep your faith strong.
First, the writer encourages us to keep listening to God’s message in Christ. God has always revealed His will to His people. But in the last days, He went to the trouble to become flesh and deliver His once-for-all-time will to mankind. If you want to stay faithful to Him, focus on Christ, His character, and His message for your life. Without staying focused on His message, we will drift away from God.
Next, the writer urges us to profit from examples of faithfulness and unfaithfulness. This will help us to imitate successful, rather than unsuccessful spiritual behavior. People like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Moses, and especially Jesus, never gave up walking with God. They inherited God’s great rewards and promises. The Israelites, on the other hand, were redeemed from slavery only to die in the wilderness before reaching the promised land. This disaster occurred because they did not heed the word of God or trust His promises enough to do His will. Let us, then, run the race of faith with endurance, as Jesus did, and be careful not to repeat the faithless fall of the Israelites.
In addition, Hebrews encourages us to draw near to God personally through Jesus Christ. Since Jesus has opened the way to God by His own death, and since He always stands before God to intercede on our behalf, we should regularly draw near to God in prayer and praise. We can come to Him any time with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith, knowing that He will welcome us. Constantly seeking and receiving His grace, constantly seeking and receiving His divine help, we can weather the storms of life faithfully. Being in a trusting personal relationship with God and Christ Our High Priest is crucial to continued faithfulness and spiritual growth.
All of us made our confession of Jesus Christ as our Lord, King, and High Priest. The Bock of Hebrews can be summarized in the writer’s repeated exhortation “Let us hold fast our confession,” (4:14; 10:23). “Do not cast away your confidence,” he says in another place. So be encouraged, fellow Christian, to endure in your faith. Never give up, because God has prepared for us a city and will keep all of His wonderful promises!
“The most significant characteristic of the church as the people of God in Revelation is its calling to be a faithful witness” (Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly, 131).
Jesus is portrayed as the faithful witness, who remained true to God despite trails and suffering (Rev. 1:5; 3:14; 19:11). Jesus is the faithful witness because He is the authoritative witness to God’s ways and truth, countering the world’s values and ways. The sharp double-edged sword comes from His mouth (1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:11, 15, 21) as He comforts His faithful followers and rebukes those who are not in conformity to the ways of God (Duvall, The Heart of Revelation, 105-106).
Jesus fulfilled His mission by going to the cross for the redemption of the world (Rev. 1:5; 5:6, 9).
The task of a witness is to speak courageously in word and deed, testifying to the truth of God and speaking against falsehood. The witness accomplishes his or her mission through service, sacrifice, prayer, forgiveness, and speaking the truth in love.
Martin Niemöller was a Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis during Hitler’s reign of terror, is credited with saying:
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Not being a “faithful witness” is not an option for God’s people.
Success for faithful witnesses is not measured by the number of converts but by the steadfastness of our testimony.
Translations of Revelation 5:6
NAU Revelation 5:6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth
NIV Revelation 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
NJB Revelation 5:6 Then I saw, in the middle of the throne with its four living creatures and the circle of the elders, a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns, and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits that God has sent out over the whole world.
NKJ Revelation 5:6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
The Greek word translated as “between” in the NASB is μέσος: a) BDAG – middle, in the middle, among; b) EDNT – in the middle, amid, in the midst, between; c) Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar – middle, in the midst (58; *μεσο) – Meso is a combining form that when added to another word carries the meaning of “middle,” such as “mesomorphic” (the state between liquid and crystalline), “mesoplast” (the nucleus of a cell), and “Mesozoic” (the age between the Paleozoic and Cenozoic ages).
Other texts in Revelation with the “throne” and the “Lamb”: a) Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; b) Revelation 7:17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd; c) Revelation 22:1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb; d) Revelation 22:3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him
The “child” (Christ) is taken up to the throne – Revelation 12:5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne
The Lamb is the “King of Kings”: a) Revelation 17:14 These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful; b) Revelation 19:16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS
Compared with references to God and Christ, references to the Spirit in Revelation are comparatively few, but the Spirit’s role is crucial. The Spirit plays an essential role in the divine activity of establishing God’s kingdom in the world. References to the Spirit fall into two major categories: those which refer to “the seven Spirits” (1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6) and those which refer to “the Spirit” (1:10; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).
The Spirit functions as the prophetic voice of God and the Lamb. John refers to his witness “prophecy,” which is understood to be a message sent from God through an inspired messenger (1:3). John received visions through the Spirit (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). God’s Spirit speaks through the text of Revelation (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). The Spirit conveys words from God and the glorified Christ directly, using the first person singular (1:8; 2:1–3:22; 21:5–8)
The Spirit prophetically calls the churches to play our appropriate role in the unfolding drama: to abandon idolatry and be faithful to God, especially during times of suffering. Together the Spirit and the Bride call people to experience the life that only God gives (22:17). In other words, the Spirit is not only prophetic but also missional, sent out into the world (5:6).
The prophetic-missional Spirit calls the church to bear witness in the world (19:10). In a sense, the whole Christian community is appointed to make prophetic witness (11:3–10). However, John indicates that he and others have a distinctive vocation as prophets, who were inspired in ways that other people are not (22:6, 9).
The Spirit brings the saints into the presence of God for worship (1:10; 4:2).
The Spirit reassures the church that faithful witness will result in ultimate rest and reward, not defeat (14:13).
Michael J. Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), 122.
Richard Bauckham, Theology of Revelation (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1993), 109-110.
Craig R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 224.
Revelation is the strangest book in the whole Bible, and for many people, it is a closed book. They avoid it, thinking it too mysterious for them to understand. On the other hand, a few people seem to live in the book of Revelation, concentrating all their reading of Scripture on this one book alone. Both of these extremes are shortsighted.
Revelation addresses the common challenges facing Christians under Roman rule, rather than speaking only to those enduring a time of terror. Some of the readers were struggling, but others were affluent and complacent. Revelation’s visions work to shape the fundamental convictions of the readers and call us to renewed faithfulness to God and the Lamb (working) out the implications in the contexts where we live.
The goal of these sermons in Revelation is to present the message of Revelation in a manner that is accessible, engaging, and meaningful. Revelation is not about the antichrist, but about the living Christ. It is not about a rapture out of this world but about faithful discipleship in this world. We will be addressing the central truths and realities of Revelation that we can know for sure. We will also be asking, “what type of congregation (and individual disciple) is Revelation attempting to form?”
08-05-18 One Weird Book Revelation 1:1-3
08-12-18 The Center of the Universe Revelation 4:3-6
08-19-18 The Conquering Lamb Revelation 5:4-6
08-26-18 The Seven Spirits Before The Throne Revelation 1:3-6