We heard that the book of Revelation is all about Jesus, and it is altogether true. But upon reading Revelation 13, where Satan’s final blow against God and His faithful is illustrated, one will only find the word ‘God’ once in the chapter, and it is aligned with the people being persecuted. Jesus and the Holy Spirit seem nowhere to be seen in Revelation 13.
Beginning from Revelation chapter 1 to 12, the great controversy between good and evil is a roller coaster ride where either side is winning over the other in the course of human history. In Revelation 13, God appeared to back off a bit, allowing Satan and his legions to take their course against the inhabitants of the earth. In the middle of the persecution and horrible blows against God’s faithful in the last days, Jesus seems silent.
Of course, we all know that a day will come when good shall forever and finally prevail against evil. Revelation 14 and onwards show us this hope. Knowing where Jesus is, and what He is doing, during those ‘silent’ times when the saints were and are persecuted will give us solid trust, patience, and comfort from our Savior.
What’s in Revelation 13?
By identifying Satan’s plan in the last days will help us see where Jesus is throughout those troubling times. We will see later that Satan’s final act has been exposed as early as the time of the prophet Daniel, centuries before the Apostle John saw the vision of Revelation 13.
Revelation 13 is where we can read the most feared mark of the beast – 666. Here, Satan uses human agents to accomplish his evil mission. He uses the beast from the sea, the beast from the earth, and the image of the beast to persecute and kill those who will not worship him. All these are symbols which pertain to literal groups of people helping Satan do his final attack against God and His remnant church before Jesus’ second coming.
Whoever exactly these groups are is not the focus of this article; we want to focus on the events. Satan’s plan is that the beast from the earth, through the initiative from the people, will make an image of the first beast. This image of the first beast will then be given “life” and will be able to “speak [and] cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:16).
By miracles, deception, persuasion, and persecution, Satan and his agents will try to cause all the inhabitants of the earth to submit and worship him.
Because all the previous Bible prophecies have been fulfilled, this gloomy scenario against God’s faithful in the very near future will surely happen as predicted. Prophet Daniel mentioned that this persecution had never been witnessed by anyone ever since.
“…and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time…”Daniel 12:1, NIV
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Active and yet deadJust as a body without the breath of life is dead, a church with active members yet void of the Holy Spirit is also considered a dead church.
But again, where is Jesus during those difficult times?
The answer can be found in Daniel 3. But wait, isn’t it that we are studying Revelation 13? Why then we go to Daniel 3? Because these two chapters are similar in many ways; you’ll see.
In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar built an image and commanded everyone to worship that image (sounds like the image of the beast in Revelation 13?) and that those who will not bow down will be thrown into the fiery furnace (persecution in Revelation 13). This is not an ordinary furnace but was heated seven times (great time of trouble, right). Sounds like Revelation 13? No doubt about it!
This is how the Old Testament writings help in understanding the New Testament prophecies. We will never fully understand New Testament Bible prophecies if we will not consider understanding the stories from the old times.
Continuing with the story in Daniel 3, three Jewish friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) refused to bow down and were thrown into the fire. Now, this is where we can see Jesus in that severe persecution. As the three friends where inside the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar saw another Being together with the three. All unharmed!
“Look!” he answered, “I see four menDaniel 3:25 NKJV
loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
We have no doubt that this fourth Man is Jesus Himself. Safe and unmindful of the things around them, Jesus was with the three in the middle of the fire! This tells us that despite the coming severe persecution as mentioned in Revelation 13, Jesus will be in the midst of His faithful ones to protect and comfort them.
Saints will remember the old Psalm 23: “though I walk through the valley and shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.”
We “may not find” Jesus in Revelation 13 and God seemed to back off a bit in that chapter, but the experience of Daniel’s three friends in the furnace teaches us that Jesus will be in our midst during that imminent time of trouble.
We also learned a method of understanding Bible prophecies where we use the old testament stories to better grasp the themes and messages of the new testament prophecies especially the book of Revelation. This is why we do not take for granted the literal events and stories we read in the other books in the Bible. They will surely help us better understand the prophecies for the end times.
We mentioned only a few of the similarities of the events in Daniel 3 and Revelation 13. Can you add more?
How about the number of Daniel’s friends and the number of angels proclaiming the end time message (Revelation 14)? Do you think that number is coincidental? Were both groups persecuted but triumphant? What characteristics do they have in common?
Share your thoughts to us using the comment box below. Praise God for His guidance.
This article is based on ‘Revelation 13’ sermon by Kameron DeVasher which can be heard at audioverse.org.