READ: Ecclesiastes 2, Luke 21, Revelation 13
THE PATIENCE AND FAITH OF THE SAINTS
Revelation wrecks havoc on any theology that has a high view of man. It is pretty clear that in the last days things will get pretty rough. In fact, “it was granted to him [the evil beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them” (Rev. 13:7). The reality of the end of human history is not that the Church conquers evil; it is that evil has made war on the saints and was granted the power to overcome them. There is no man-centered triumphalism in the last days–there is only disaster. In Luke 21:19 Jesus foretells the last dominance of evil before His return and instructs His disciples that by their patience they will possess their souls.
Patience of the Saints. Revelation 13:10 indicates that the saints survive this final onslaught of evil through patience and faith. We do not realize what a weapon we have in patience. Many battles are won by simply outlasting the enemy. The boxer Mohammed Ali was famous for his “rope a dope” strategy. He simply leaned back against the ropes of the ring and absorbed his opponents blows, round after round, until the enemy exhausted himself. Ali would then strike at a weakened foe. Christians often overcome opposition by outlasting it. Not all opposition is evil. Sometimes good people oppose or resist us, and often the best thing we can do is wait. Time is always on the side of the righteous, and if we have the patient endurance to wait, God through circumstance adjudicates on our behalf. Many a Christian battle has been won by patience.
Faith of the Saints. In order to “out-wait” evil, we must have a base trust that God is sovereignly good and that in the end He will act on our behalf. Circumstances can be brutal, and as we get closer to the second coming of Jesus, Christians are going to find themselves hunted and overwhelmed. Our patient endurance is only possible if we retain trust that God will ultimately intervene. We have to hold on to the belief that we “WILL see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27, emphasis added). Our redemption does in fact draw near (v. 28) and so we do not wait in cowering fear but in towering faith. Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, very God of very God, is coming in glory and He is going to make a final, terrible end of all evil, all demons, and the devil himself. Battles rage around us, injustice rises, our rights removed, we are marginalized, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Through it all we wait with a trusting boldness. “Strike us as much as you will,” we declare to the powers of darkness in faith, “and we will absorb it by grace.” For we know a final knockout punch is on its way. The victory of the saints is in their patience and faith.