The Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Earth
Open Your Bible
Revelation 13:1-18, Proverbs 1:7, Hebrews 10:32-39
BY Guest Writer
There is just no way around it. The apocalyptic scene described in Revelation 13 is horrifying. It appears that every possible embodiment of sheer evil will be turned loose on the world—particularly against those who “hold firmly” to the testimony of Jesus (12:17). Add to that, supernatural deception and oppressive brutality will be the all-encompassing order of the day (13:13–17). Everything is utter calamity. How can we possibly face the prospect of such disasters? I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to simply disappear before the catastrophe begins.
But what about today, here and now? As we consider our own times, what can we say to encourage God’s people who are currently facing such ferocious animosity? How do we pray for believers whose lives are threatened day in and day out by vicious, nearly unimaginable manifestations of hatred? While Revelation 13 may be part of a much more comprehensive and sober glimpse into the future, there are also crucial lessons for us today.
Bottom line for now: there are no easy answers when God’s people are faced with cruel injustices. There are no detours around the painful suffering brought about by those who practice evil. Instead, “this calls for endurance and faithfulness from the saints” (13:10). We are called to stand with those who are subjected to persecution, insults, and unjust treatment (Hebrews 10:33–34).
And how can we best do that? With fervent intercessory prayer. Scripture tells us that God is always with us, but with fervent intercessory prayer, we can pray for His presence to be known and felt by those who suffer. We can cry out on their behalf, asking God to grant them peace.
In talking with friends and acquaintances whose suffering makes my own experiences pale in comparison, I have been both humbled and amazed by what their words have in common. As a result of their truly grim circumstances, they have come to know a deeper intimacy with God. May such be true for all of us!
It’s difficult to pray well, but it’s important to proclaim God’s “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) on behalf of those who need endurance for each coming hour. May they (and we) be assured that the One who is coming will not delay (Hebrews 10:37) and that there awaits us “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11, NIV). We cling to these truths even when everything else seems to give way at the very foundations (Psalm 46).
That “rich welcome” that awaits God’s faithful and enduring people has stayed generations of believers. The book of Hebrews assures us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses as we run the race set before us. I like to think of them cheering on God’s faithful people as we feebly struggle, yet keeping our eyes on “the source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Elaine A. Phillips received a BA in social psychology from Cornell University, an MDiv from Biblical Theological Seminary, and an MA in Hebrew from the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, where she and her husband, Perry, studied and taught from 1976–79. She holds a PhD in rabbinic literature, and teaches Biblical Studies at Gordon College. She also serves as a historical geography field instructor for Jerusalem University College. She has published a commentary on Esther in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary; a devotional book, With God, Nothing Is Impossible; and, most recently, An Introduction to Reading Biblical Wisdom Texts.