Ears to Hear
“The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against his saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. Revelation 13:5-10
One of the absolute greatest blessings of this life is to have godly parents through the gracious providence of God. This is God’s first line of offense in calling future saints to believe. My 98-year-old father just went home to his reward on September 21, twelve years after my mother. His visiting pastor from the church he founded asked him a short time before his death what his favorite passage was in both the Old and New Testaments. Dad had many favorite passages, but now he answered, “Psalm 121 (very understandable for one who lived sixty-two years in Colorado) and in the New Testament, “Revelation 13, powerfully relevant for a saint today. Dad was an able scholar of the whole Bible, but, particularly in his latter years, of what the Bible had to say of the “last times and the Lord’s return. He was a faithful exegete of the Books of Daniel and Revelation, as well as many other passages from both the Old and New Testaments. His prayer for much of his life was that God would allow him to see the Lord’s return; he will, just from a different vantage point.
Recently, presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson used the term “the last days in a public statement. What a hullaballoo this raised from the liberal press. He was lambasted as a “kook, as many evangelicals are commonly referred to today. Carson is simply a courageous believer who does not shy away from truth, nor try to “nuance or “vanilla-ize prophetic warnings from God’s Word. We may well be living in or quite near to the time described in Revelation 13; a good reason why, for this time, my father chose it as a favorite passage because of its timeliness of warning for our day. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
The differentiation of genuine believers from false professors and outright blasphemers of God and the Lord Jesus Christ is taking place throughout the world even as I write. Martyrs are proliferating in the world (crucifixions, beheadings, rape, torture, oppression), even as a largely silent press and unconcerned secular populace go about their trivialized lives in the West, claiming climate change is the biggest threat to civilization in our time. If you want to see the promise of real climate change in the last days, get busy reading Revelation. Restricting carbon and CO2 while further impoverishing the poor of the world will do absolutely nothing to curtail the promised actions of God on the world’s environment as proclaimed in the Book of Revelation. “The One enthroned in heaven laughs, the Lord scoffs at them (Psalm 2:4).
If you have ears to hear, what can you do to strengthen yourself with an antidote for what is coming on the world as surely as the sun is going to rise tomorrow (for a while more anyway)? What does it take to be numbered among those described in Revelation 13:10? “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. What does this require of you?
First of all, trust in the Savior to preserve your salvation through anything and everything, a trust which obviously includes the love of His Word, for it comes from the mouth of the Triune God. Jesus is inseparable from His Word! His Word is truth, and Jesus himself is “the way, the truth, and the life (Matthew 7:21-27). Study, meditate, and obey His Word on a consistent, habitual basis. It is your food and sustenance.
Second, rest secure in His promises to you and your fellow believers through all of the devastation that is going to come on the world. Do not succumb to victimhood in the midst of tribulation. “Playing the victim characterizes this age in nearly all of its social movements. In contrast, such does not characterize patient endurance and faithfulness of a saint. The Scripture never describes saints as victims; it describes them as “overcomers! Read again the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3. Be an overcomer, not a victim. We serve and are led by the Victor over sin (including sin’s products of poverty, racism, oppression, and injustice), over death, and over the grave. Act victorious in the midst of persecution because in Christ you are and will be. Encourage fellow believers to follow your lead.
Third, become acquainted with the message of the Book of Revelation. Read the first three verses and see whether this was written for you or not. How can you say it is not after reading this introduction? God was gracious enough to give this insight in advance to every believer and to promise that you are blessed if you read it, hear it, and take it to heart. I fear there are many professing Christians who are blissfully ignorant of the message of Revelation. I fear they may be among those described in Matthew 7:21-23: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons, and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!’ But I trust that is not your testimony. You have a great Savior. He will carry you through the deep waters!
This “day of which the Lord speaks so often is closer than you may think. As the famous line from the movie Shawshank Redemption put it so well, “Either get busy living [in the light as Jesus is in the light], or get busy dying.
“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace all sufficient shall be thy supply; the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(4th verse, “How Firm a Foundation, 1787)
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