What do we respond to the depictions of the Antichrist in Revelation 13? John records this vision to strengthen the church. He’s writing to congregations, just like ours, who live in real cities, with real families, with real governments, with real religious beliefs.
This isn’t fanciful mythology. This is real.
Is the Antichrist alive right now? Is the mark of the beast already in our culture? Is the False Prophet already on TikTok or Twitter? We don’t know.
So, what do we do?
1. Embrace faithful endurance.
If we go to Revelation 13:9, we see a familiar expression: “if anyone has an ear, let him hear.” And then what follows is dismal. The pressure and pain of persecution will not be easy.
Yet, there is a call for endurance and faith. What does this mean?
When persecution hits, it’s easy to fall into despair. Hardship tends to reveal our expectations for what it means to follow Jesus. It also has an uncanny ability to reveal our idolatry—the things we really trust in. And so, this text calls us to fortify our faith – to be sure that we know what kingdom we’re really living for, what King really deserves our allegiance, and who really defines obedience for us.
With so many deceiving voices in the world—even now—we must hear the voice of our Great Shepherd.
This means patient steadfastness. You see, there is a temptation to use the same “tools of the trade” as the beast. We can trade violence for violence. I’m not calling for some form of blanket pacifism. But I am cautioning of what I feel in my own soul when I feel threatened and mistreated.
Eugene Peterson is so helpful to me in Reversed Thunder, his book on Revelation: “When we live in a world of violence long enough, it is easy to adopt violent means ourselves, especially when we know that our cause is righteous and the opposition is evil. Killing the opposition is the sea beast’s way of solving its problems. It is not ours. Ours is endurance and faith” (125).
Oh, be careful, church! Let us practice endurance and faith whenever we face the spirit of the antichrist.
2. Pursue godly wisdom.
The second calling is in Revelation 13:18. It follows the warning about the mark of the beast. The text says, “This calls for wisdom.” Why wisdom? Because the nature of deception and propaganda is that you don’t realize what is happening.
The lies seem so believable. The masses are buying into “the narrative.” The culture around you is changing, and you don’t even realize how it’s affecting you. So many people begin to believe something that it’s hard not to join them.
The caution here is to not lose our heads! We need to be saturated with the Scriptures and aware of what is happening around us. We need to ask God for wisdom. We need to apply our hearts to wisdom. We need to help one another be wise—to know how to apply the Bible in the world in which we live.
While the Devil stands on the shore of the sea calling up his best strategy, can I remind you that our King is alive and seated in the place of victory! And while the Devil’s plans may be fearful, we need not lose heart.
This chapter is in the Bible so that you can pay attention to the man behind the curtain! That gives us hope to live right now! To faithfully endure and to be wise in our generation.
The apostle John said this in another letter about ten years before receiving The Revelation:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:1-6).
Let’s be faithful and wise against the Devil’s strategy!