“If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” (13:10)
Since the beginning of the church, all around the world, followers of Jesus have been imprisoned and killed for their faith.
Much of the history of the American church has emerged from a fear of this very thing. People came to America to pursue religious freedom, fleeing persecution, and have gone to great lengths to prevent it from happening again. I hope Christians in Iran don’t hear about the things we deem “persecution” these days.
I’ve heard a lot of warnings about who could potentially be this “beast” or “anti-Christ”. Pretty much anyone rising to power or influence has been speculated as such.
While this could be describing one culminating future event, it also clearly portrays the original reader’s current situation under Nero Caesar. Since Nero’s death in 68AD, innumerable world powers have risen up, probably with some demonic influence, and caused similar threats to the people of God.
Instead of being ready to say “no” to a future “mark of the beast”, let’s daily focus on our allegiance to the Lamb: King Jesus.
It’s an allegiance which cannot be divided. This Kingdom, we are a part of, is upside down. That often means you won’t find the same expectations for both. Is it an eye for an eye, or is it turning the other cheek? Is it keeping score, or is it forgiving debts? Is it no trespassing, or is it hospitality to strangers? Is it fighting for rights, or laying them down for one another?
What does it look like to follow the Lamb now? Entrusting ourselves to the One who conquered death for us and answering the call to persevere.