“Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.” – Revelation 13:10,NLT
The 13th chapter of the book of Revelation describes the rise of the Antichrist and it’s beastly New World Order .The final manifestation of human government prior to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ .This political leader will rule “over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.”(Rev.13:7) In his arrogance he will wage war against all the holy ones and God will allow him to conquer them.This will indeed be a time of trouble and persecution for all those who claim to be followers of Christ and want to carry worshipping and proclaiming his name.
Long ago, prophet Amos under inspiration wrote: “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”(Amos 3:7)God never let his people in the dark ,especially when the greatest persecution of all times is at hand.That is why He warned us in advance about what the future holds for the persecuted Church.
In Revelation 13:10 we are told of 3 distinct destinies of the end time Christians.They are called destinies because the Lord allowed John to see into the future the 3 different outcomes of believers that live during the Great Tribulation .What is certain is the nature of persecution but what is not predetermined is what type of persecution each individual Christian will ultimately experience .Much has to do with the way we act and prepare ourselves now !
“Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison”
The first destiny is imprisonment :”Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison” Rev. 13:10a)The final persecution of the Church will find many unprepared or in places that any escape will not be possible .Jesus sounded a similar warning when talking to his disciples about the Signs of the Times ,we read in Luke 21:12 :”But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.” This came true during the first century AD after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ when sudden persecution broke out in Judea and the surrounding cities immediately after the formation of the Christian Church at Pentecost 33 AD. The same destinies awaits many also in the future .Pointing towards a future fulfilment Jesus warned the congregation of Smyrna :”Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”(Rev. 2:10)
Notice how Satan himself is behind this final persecution leading many Christians to be captured and imprisoned. Jesus warned that his followers will have to endure a complete number of days in prison “10 days” and not expect an early release .In fact ,their imprisonment could ultimately lead to the point of death .Christians need to remain vigilant with a view of receiving their victor’s crown with their death .
“Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword.”
On the night of Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, unbeknown to the wary and sleepy disciples Judas the Iscariot led a band of soldiers in the dark in order to capture Jesus Christ .Seeing that their master was about to be captured Peter draw a sword in order to defend Jesus. W read in the gospel of John :” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)”(John 18:10) “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”(Matt. 26:52)Jesus was stating here a universal spiritual law.Nothing holy can come out of violence. True followers of Christ are not meant to use violence to avoid persecution.
This incident in the garden of Gethsemane points to a greater fulfilment when many faithful will be caught unaware, as Peter was, on the eve of the the greatest persecution to hit the Church since its establishment. Many Christians ,especially in countries were carrying a weapon is acceptable in the eyes of the Law (like the United States) will find themselves with no option but to use arms to defend themselves.Jesus didn’t warn the Christians against using arms but ultimately anyone doing so will taste death.
“This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently”
There is also a third destiny ,one that is implied in the final words of Revelation 13:10 but is clearly defined in other parts of the book of Revelation.We read in Revelation 13:10 c :” This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently.” There will be many who escape prison and death by sword but they will still have to endure through those tumultuous times.The book of Revelation reveals that many will have to flee to the “wilderness”.We read in Revelation 12:6: “The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.” These are the exact three and a half years of troubles and woes for the world that appear so many times in Revelation and other parts of the Bible .The “woman=God’s earthly Church” will have to flee into the “wilderness” persecuted by Satan in a place that has been prepared there from God. It is the same place that the prophet Jeremiah spoke about in Jeremiah 23:7,8:” “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when they will no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.” (Jeremiah 23:7-8)The Children of Israel, who were brought up from the land of Egypt, had to go through the “Great and Terrible Wilderness” before they were ready to enter the promised land. In the same manner, the believers at the end of the ages will have to go through the “greater wilderness” before they are ready to enter the Messianic Kingdom.