“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11
Jesus wrote the letter of the book of Revelation, aka ‘the Apocalypse’, to reveal Jesus Christ for who He truly is. Before His physical appearance on earth, the world will be in turmoil as sin and collapse abound. Revelation was written to ‘the overcomer’. The ‘overcomer’ is the person who finds victory over the darkness in this last difficult time period of history and will live with Jesus forever in His eternal kingdom.
This post is a continuing blog that will be updated regularly, for those who see the dark clouds gathering all around them and want to know how the Bible tells us that we can overcome whatever we face. It won't be easy, and that's an understatement. But we can trust that Jesus will help us each day because His words are full of accounts of people who overcame insurmountable odds and how they were able to stay strong.
What (or who) are you looking at? The True and Living Perspective
In Israel’s history, the nation of Israel was divided into the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah. Hezekiah lived during the dark days of Judah when Israel had already fallen to the Assyrian Empire of the North. Israel had taken their eyes off the True and Living God and looked in fear at the Assyrians and their armies and horsemen. In fear, they paid them tribute and they worshiped their gods so they would not be attacked. But instead, the people of Israel had been dragged out of their homes and country and were deposited in the land of the Medes, what is today an area of Iran. Because they had turned their backs on the One True God, Yahweh, who loved and protected them, and they worshiped the foreign gods of neighboring countries, God relinquished them to what they chose to serve - imaginary gods that had no power, demonic forces that only wanted to harm and enslave them, and their own darkened hearts that chased after lust and greed only providing emptiness and slavery in the end.
In 2 Kings 19, we read about the story of King Hezekiah. He was faced with the same powerful Assyrian army. Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, taunted Hezekiah and the small nation of Judah. He reasoned that he had conquered all the gods of the surrounding nations, so he would conquer, or overcome, the God of Israel too.
“So Sennacherib again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, “Give this message to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you by saying that Jerusalem will not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the other countries, devoting them to destruction. Will you then be spared? Did the gods of the nations destroyed by my fathers rescue those nations—the gods of Gozan, Haran, and Rezeph, and of the people of Eden in Telassar? Where are the kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?’ ” 2 Kings 19:9-13
But Hezekiah was given the true perspective, and that is how he overcame. He knew that it was easy for Assyria to defeat those gods of other nations, because those gods had no real power. They were imaginary gods - just idols made with human hands. The One True God, the true and LIVING God, sits above all the kings of the earth, and all the gods that kings and subjects worship. He is real and He is alive. He created those kings and His kingdom is above all other powers.
“And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see. Listen to the words that Sennacherib has sent to defy the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have cast their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods, but only wood and stone—the work of human hands. And now, O LORD our God, please save us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God.” 2 Kings 19:15-19
The true and living God answered Hezekiah’s prayer, because he overcame by knowing the identity of the True and Living God, having a relationship with Him, and knowing He was more powerful than any earthly king, kingdom, or schemes of men. Sennacherib had pride in his armies and horsemen. The Assyrian kingdom was known by this great strength, and so the True and Living God spoke directly to Sennacherib as the One who breaks horses and leads them about by their nose.
“Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it; in days of old I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass, that you should crush fortified cities into piles of rubble. Therefore their inhabitants, devoid of power, are dismayed and ashamed. They are like plants in the field, tender green shoots, grass on the rooftops, scorched before it is grown. But I know your sitting down, your going out and coming in, and your raging against Me. Because your rage and arrogance against Me have reached My ears, I will put My hook in your nose and My bit in your mouth; I will send you back the way you came.’ 2 Kings 19:25-28
The True and Living God told Sennacherib of Assyria that it was He who used Assyria in their campaigns to bring down other nations and their fake gods. And He knew Sennacherib’s own heart and life. The True and Living God is above all kings, and their schemes are not outside of His control. God then told the Assyrian that He would treat him like one of his broken horses, and would put a bit in his mouth, and lead him back into his land. And He did.
“And that very night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 men in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning, there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.” 2 Kings 19:35-36
Looking back at Hezekiah in this account, he overcame because he had the right perspective. He knew his God was the True and Living God and that what looked like nearly insurmountable odds, were no match for the Creator God who leads kings around like tamed horses.
In the last days, before Jesus’ return, He told us there would be wars and rumors of wars. That nations would rise against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms. And he said a final one world ruler and kingdom would rise out of the chaos. It will be a huge temptation to look at the crumbling of the world in fear, and at the shiny promises of the world leader, and to give into his system. After all, the entire economic infrastructure of the planet will collapse - all jobs and all supply chains will stop. A new system will rise where allegiance to this leader will provide people a way to feed and shelter their families. So many will believe this is their only option. The promises of that king will lead to the same things that Israel received when they paid their loyalty to the king of Assyria - exile and slavery - but this time it will be the permanent exile from the eternal kingdom of God and permanent residence in hell. The exile and slavery of the last days will be the Antichrist’s system and his ‘mark’ of allegiance that cannot be overcome once that choice is made.
But there is the choice to overcome for those who refuse the ‘mark’ and allegiance to the Antichrist. Choose not to look at the kings and kingdoms of this world in fear or in faith and to submit to them. Choose not to look at your resources or your ingenuity or your governments or alliances to save you. All these things will be gone.
We must decide today, in a day when the choices are getting harder to make, but the full darkness hasn't yet closed in - to have the perspective of Hezekiah. Keeping our minds on what is true and on the True and Living God and His ultimate promise is the only way to overcome fear and the temptation to give in to the solutions of this world. The True and Living God, Jesus Christ, will return one day and defeat this emerging kingdom and the final king, and will return to set up His eternal Kingdom for all who trust in the good and gracious TRUE and LIVING God! The kingdom that is rising today will not last because it's king already has a date with destiny in the lake of fire. And so will everyone who chooses his side. He is a false god who has no power against the True and Living God. Those who choose Jesus will live forever with Him in His glorious kingdom, and can trust in that promise, no matter what dark threats or fleeting promises the kings of the earth offer today.
"And the second beast performed great signs to cause even fire from heaven to come down to earth in the presence of the people. Because of the signs it was given to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image to the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet had lived. The second beast was permitted to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship it to be killed. And the second beast required all people small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark—the name of the beast or the number of its name. Here is a call for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and that number is 666. Revelation 13:13-18
"And a third angel followed them, calling out in a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives its mark on his forehead or on his hand, he too will drink the wine of God’s anger, poured undiluted into the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented in fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. Day and night there is no rest for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:9-11
Jesus Christ is the True and Living God. He defeated death and the grave when He died on the cross and rose again, just like He told His followers that He would. He will keep His promises to return and defeat the evil world ruler, the kings of the earth, the false prophet, Satan, all of their fleeting promises and enslaving lies. Those who choose to follow Jesus will enter His eternal Kingdom.
“Grace and peace to you from Him who is and was and is to come, and from the seven Spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness (TRUE), the firstborn from the dead (and LIVING), and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood, who has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and power forever and ever! Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him—even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come—the Almighty.” Revelation 1:4-8