Heaven’s Perspective: the Battle Between God’s Followers and the Mark of the Beast!

It is reasonable to believe that thousands of Christians were martyred during the first two centuries of Christianity.

Christians who lived during the reigns of Nero (54-68 AD), Domitian (81-96 AD), Trajan (98-117 AD), and Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) experienced persecution that involved crucifixion and death in the Roman Colosseum.

Early Christians found Jesus’ words about persecution more relevant than the way they are viewed by 21st-century Americans.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body and after that can do nothing more.

“But I will show you whom to fear: fear the one who, after killing, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear that one!” (Luke 12.4-5).

I am reading Jesus’ words with a cup of coffee in my hand in the comfort of a modern home. Others have read his words with a different kind of interest while being in prison, under torture, or facing execution for their faith.

Jesus assured his followers of the Father’s care. He said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12.6-7).

We can be confident of the Father’s concern and care in spite of the world’s hatred. God’s love does not allow his followers to deny their relationship with him.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

“But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12.8-9).

Denied by God

Emperor worship was demanded by Roman subjects in the first two centuries. Christians were persecuted because they were available scapegoats for the ineptitude of Roman leaders like Nero.

They refused to worship the emperor and made themselves easy targets for oppression.

John’s vision of those who carried the seal of God (Revelation 14.1-5) is contrasted with those who chose to deny God and receive the mark of the beast.

Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image and receive the brand on their foreheads or on their hands,

They will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (Revelation 14.9-10).

Revelation 13 and first-century history reveal the fate of those who refused the mark of the beast. In this chapter, we have the fate of those who accept the mark of the beast.

Revelation gives us a perspective on world events from the vantage point of heaven. A heavenly perspective reveals the truth of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are those who have been humbled by life, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5.3-6 my translation).

We can only be blessed when we see the world through God’s eyes.

On the other hand, there is God’s wrath on people’s adamant refusal to accept his love.

We do well to take into consideration Jesus’ message of woe.

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.

“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets” (Luke 6.24-26).

Let’s keep the blessings and woes in mind as we consider that the seal of God and the mark of the beast corresponds to who has our allegiance.

Remain Under the Load

The Greek word for endurance paints a picture. It describes someone who “remains under a load.”

The vision of blessing and woe encourages Jesus’ followers to remain faithful in the face of temptations to turn away from him.

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them” (Revelation 14.12-13).

In contrast to the woes that come on those who align themselves with the world’s system, the heavenly perspective pronounces a blessing.

The proclamation from heaven carries God’s authority. As Jesus said in Luke 12.6-7, God intimately knows his faithful followers.

We may be rejected by society, but our name is known in heaven. All of heaven is watching the behavior of those who endure and are victorious.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.

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