“The Days of Restoration” Book Release is Set for Spring 2019!

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“The Days of Restoration” is on track to be published in the Spring of 2019! A digital copy of the book will be available on this website for free (both pdf and Kindle e-reader free-flowing format), and the paperback will be available for purchase on Amazon for those who wish to have a nice printed copy. I’ll provide more updates as the time gets closer. For now, you are always welcome to read the unedited portions of the book which I place frequently on this site. You can find those resources here.

Revelation 14:1-4 – The Reappearance of the 144,000

(1)  Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.

                   This chapter begins with a direct response towhat John saw at the close of chapter thirteen. John saw those who worship thebeast having the name (or number) of the beast written on their foreheads. Now,immediately following, John sees the Lamb standing on Mount Zion and standingwith him are the 144,000 who we became acquainted with in chapter seven. Likethe worshipers of the beast, the 144,000 also have a name written on theirforeheads, but in contrast, they wear the name of the Lamb and the name of theFather.

                   This is also an important time text; for since the beginning of chapter twelve, we have witnessed the backstory of the various conflicts that the first century church faced. We saw who was behind these troubles (the defeated devil), and why he was acting in that capacity (in anger over his defeat and knowing that he had only a short time). We saw him raise the Jews against the church, which soon became too little of an effort. Then we saw him raise the empire against them. But the discussion of the 144,000 in this chapter tells us that we are done with the backstory, and we’ve been prepped for the “things that must soon take place.” We are now back to the task at hand. The 144,000 were sealed in between the opening of the sixth and seventh seal. The first six seals revealed Judgment already beginning for the house of Israel. In the parallel account of Matthew 24:31, we also see the same picture (See comments on 7:1-8). Both Matthew, Luke and Revelation show the Judgment having begun (6:12-17) and Rome already surrounding Jerusalem (Matthew 24:16; Luke 21:20-21) before the sealing of the saints. So, the reappearance of the 144,000 in the vision is a telling sign that we are nearing the very end of the matter.

                   “On Mount Zion stood the Lamb.” This is not physical Zion (Jerusalem), but the heavenly, because these 144,000 are standing with the Lamb and they are about to sing; and their voice will come “from heaven.” Mount Zion is spoken of as a heavenly place in Hebrews 12:22, when the writer said to the brethren, “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”

(2)  And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps,

                   We will find out in the following verse that this voice from heaven is the voice of the 144,00. They are many voices, yet one voice. There is power in this picture of unity! Just imagine what John is seeing; a sight to behold. Mount Zion in heaven, The Lamb standing in victory on top of the mount, the faithful with him, marked with the name of God. Together, they open their mouths, and as if they were one voice, they sing mightily. O what a vision!

                   “Like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder.” Both descriptions resonate the idea of judgment and power and might. The voice of Jesus was described as the “roar of many waters” in 1:15, and the voice of the great multitude in 19:6 will also carry both of these descriptions. It was with the roar of many waters and a thunderous storm that God judged and destroyed the world of Noah’s day. As we hear such similar sounds in this text, we will soon see judgment and destruction.

“Like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.” He adds another description to the same voice that he heard; the sound of harpists. This is quite a different sound than that of loud thunder and roaring water; but these all fit together when it is recognized that the description if all symbolic, representing certain truths. We saw the picture of the harps earlier (see full comments on 5:8), and I see no reason why the meaning of the harps should change in this verse. As in 5:8 and 15:2, the singers are about to prophecy through praise and song; for harps are a figure of prophecy (again, see comments on 5:8).

Putting all three vocal descriptions together, we can conclude that the prophecy that they bring in the form of song will be one of desolation for the wicked, judgment and justice from a holy God, and redemption for the faithful.

(3)  and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

Singing a “new song” is the same pattern we saw the last time that the “harps for prophecy” were picked up (see comments on 5:8 and 5:9). New songs are a biblical figure of a new day filled with praise to God for a fresh experience of deliverance (Psalm 33:3, 40:3, 96:1, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1, and Isaiah 42:10). The enemy is falling; redemption is near.

“No one could learn that song except the 144,000.” These 144,000 wear a name that no one else can wear, and they sing a song that no one else can sing. Recall that these 144,000 are a figure of the faithful firstfruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These were still living on the earth (most of them were anyway) at the sight of this vision. Although seen (as every true Christian should see themselves) in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), they still live on earth. And the earth, in those days, was a hard place to live between the hatred of the Jews and the persecution from the Romans. But what “must soon to take place” (1:1), is a new song; a fresh look at redemption. “No one could learn that song” except those brethren. True, because no one else went through what they went through! See for yourself what Jesus said about those days in Matthew 24:9-10, 21-22. Who else could learn this song? This song could only be learned through the experiences of its singers.

(4)  It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, (5)  and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

                   Described here as the virgins of Zion, these are perfectly pure from all wrong. And before this, when their sins were piled high above them, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And they followed. They responded to the invitation of the Lord to “Come to me.” This vision now describes them as those “who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” This is the appropriate description of a genuine Christian; and you know they are genuine, for you don’t go through the fires that they went through without being a sincere follower of Jesus.

                   “As firstfruits for God.” The 144,000 have often been counted as the Jewish who first came to Christ. The reason for this is because they are called the “firstfruits” in this verse, and that they are broken down into the twelve tribes of Israel back in chapter seven. However, I think there is more to it than that. While the 144,000 are certainly inclusive of the Jews who submitted to Christ, the gentiles are also called the “firstfruits to be saved” (ESV, 2 Thessalonians 2:13). The figure of the 144,000 as 12,000 from the twelve tribes is not meant to give us a literal idea that these are Jews, but that they symbolize the faithful people of God. The gentiles have a right to be included too, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” (Romans 10:12), and “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28; see also Colossians 3:11).

Revelation 17:17-18 – Identifying the Great City

(17)  for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 

                   Revelation stands as witness that this was the plan of God and the fulfillment of his will. All the players involved, whether Jews, Romans, Vespasian, Titus, the client kings, and even that dragon who is the Devil, all are working diligently in accordance with God’s will.

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1).

                   “Until the words of God are fulfilled.” The context of this book has never shifted from its purpose. It was a revelation of the mystery which would be fulfilled in the “things that must soon take place” (1:1, 22:6); this mystery was the words which the prophets had spoken long ago (see 10:7). This statement, “until the words of God are fulfilled,” reminds us that we are still in the context of God fulfilling all that he had spoken long ago. Jesus made this same point, saying, “these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.” (Luke 21:22). And afterwards, Peter said, “the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” (Acts 3:21; for notes, see the introduction to this commentary). The taking away the old that he may establish the new (Hebrews 10:9), was an enormous theme which the prophets spoke, and it is now unfolding in the book of Revelation, to be accomplished shortly in the days of the first century.

(18)  And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.” 

                   The identity of the woman is given here as a city; and not just any city, but the “great city.” This text has been the convincing factor for many who accept the harlot to be Rome; after all, Rome is a great city. But what is “the” great city in the context? That’s the question that we must ask. Does anything in the context fit Rome? All of it would have to in order to convince me. I have been of the opinion in the past that the harlot is Rome, but now reject that idea because there are too many inconsistencies with it in the context of chapter seventeen and indeed the whole book.

                   The great city is Jerusalem, it cannot be any other city than Jerusalem. This is the city that, within the context, is destroyed by the Roman beast (they didn’t destroy their own city), in order to fulfill that which was spoken by the prophets Joel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and others. Such a city was taken away so that the “new Jerusalem” could make its entrance as the restored people of faith, in chapter twenty-one.

                   Earlier in the book, the identification of “the great city” was given to the place “where their Lord was crucified.” (11:8, see also 16:19). Notice, back in the context of chapter eleven, that “the great city” is also called “the holy city” (11:2). Later, after the destruction of “the holy city,” or “the great city” or “where their Lord was crucified,” the new Jerusalem, the church is called “the great city” and “the holy city” (21:10). So, I hope we all can see these indicators in the book; 17:18 should not be considered alone.

                   The greatness of Jerusalem is also undisputable. It was where king David reigned a thousand years before the Roman Empire. It was where Solomon make silver as common as stones (1 Kings 10:27). But most importantly, it was where God put his name, his king, and his house; thus, making it “the great city” until he removed his house from it. Yes, it was God, himself, who chose Jerusalem, saying, “I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there” (2 Chronicles 6:6). Can we argue that Rome is a greater city than the city of God? Certainly not!

                   In terms of Jerusalem’s literal greatness in the first century, Titus does a good job of summing up the circumstances, even stating that Jerusalem was richer than Rome,

“what is our chief favor of all we have given you leave to gather up that tribute which is paid to God790 with such other gifts that are dedicated to him; nor have we called those that carried these donations to account, nor prohibited them; till at length you became richer than we ourselves.” (Josephus, Wars, 7.6.2).

                   “That has dominion over the kings of the earth.” It had a history of many kings, some of them great kings; and it was a tremendously powerful city, having representation in every piece of the world (Acts 2:5, 9-11). But I don’t think that’s the main point of this verse. It has dominion over the kings of the earth because it was the seat of God and God’s house. God reigns over all the kings of the earth; therefore, if God’s throne is in his temple in Jerusalem, then this is “the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.” If we spoke similarly about Rome, we could talk about the city’s great dominion; but we know that we aren’t talking about the city itself, but the throne in the city and the man on that throne. So what city is greater, Rome or Jerusalem? A better question would be, who’s dominion is greater, the emperor or God? This description is not fitting for Rome, but only for Jerusalem.

Revelation 13:11-17 and the Earth Beast

(11)  Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.

                   Another beast is seen in the vision; this one comes from the earth. The word “earth” is ge in the Greek, and it is the word for soil. It could refer to a country, region, land, or the whole earth; the context serves as the interpreter for the word. As we have seen elsewhere in the book, ge sometimes refers to the land of Israel; but we have also seen it in reference to all the world; so again, context is everything. In this verse, commentators are very divided as to the identity of this earth beast. Some assert that it is the identity of the false prophets of Israel; while others view it to be the supporters of emperor worship. Since ge can be translated as either the land (like Israel) or as the world, we are left (as always) to consider the details of the context to determine the identity of this earth beast.

                   On the surface, it looks like this beast, coming from the earth, is in contrast to the first beast that came from the sea; which would be a point toward this beast being from Judah. However, we quickly find that the earth beast “exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence” (13:12). That doesn’t sound like Judah. We also hear that this beast commands the making of an image of the sea beast; and puts to death those who do not worship the image of the beast. It even causes all to be marked with the number of the beast, and all who refuse the mark would be persecuted. Again, none of this sounds like the land of Judah. The details certainly point to the Roman religion which drove support for the emperor. But if that’s the case, why did it not come from the sea like the first beast? Why come from an opposing origin (earth)? The answer to this question is in the identity of the earth beast; it is called the “false prophet” (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). Being a false prophet, its origin is earthly, not heavenly; and human, not divine. The figure of the beast coming from the earth is not meant to show it in opposition to the sea beast, as the details make it clear that the earth beast is the biggest supporter of the sea beast. Its earthy figure is illustrative of its falsehood; because it is not from heaven.

Some have hurt their interpretation of the book by demanding that ge should always be translated “land” and must always be interpreted as the “land of Israel.” That is not proper exegesis; for the word ge has a wide range of definitions and uses. The idea that gentiles are always the “sea” and Israel is always the “earth” does not always work in every context. Take for example, Daniel 7:17, where the four gentile beasts (Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome) are all said to “arise out of the earth.” Therefore, consistency belongs to the context, not to a word.

“It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.” Most commentators use this verse to speak of the beast’s “wolf in sheep’s clothing” attribute. But John didn’t describe the beast with the appearance of a lamb; only that it had two horns “like a lamb.” This beast was not concerned with concealing itself, for it spoke like a dragon. This isn’t your average false brother entering the assembly with a pleasant voice drawing people away; this is a very noticeable voice like a dragon. He does not need to conceal himself, he encourages a dark world to sin, to engage in the worship of men, and to hurt those who refuse to be idolatrous. What should be helpful to the Christians in this imagery of the beast speaking like a dragon while only having two stubs for horns, is that his bark is worse than his bite. Do not fear what he can do, he is only from the earth; but faithfully serve the Lord of Heaven and you will be victorious.

(12)  It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.

The two beasts exercise the same authority, as they are the Roman Empire’s political heads and religious leaders, and the two complement each other. This verse reminds us of how emperor worship was raised to such an extent that temples and idols and altars were being set up all over the world; it was because the “mortal wound was healed” (see also 13:3-4 and 13:14). The operation to go from the republic to a dictatorship, which began with Julius, was slain along with its leader. The revival of this exploit in Julius’ successor brought new life to the Roman territories and an end of terrible wars from without and within. The world marveled, and a cry to worship the emperor, which first began with Julius Caesar, was restored under the reign of Augustus, and continued for many more emperors to come.

(13)  It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, (14)  and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

                   This is the key to the identity of the earth beast. We do not hear the name “false prophet” given to the earth beast until later (16:13), but these verses establish the beast’s identity as a deceiver of the world; these verses form the conclusion that John gives later, that this is the false prophet. Here it is said that it performs great signs, and deceives the world into making idols to worship the beast.

“Making fire come down from heaven.” This is the example we are given for the “great signs” which the earth beast performs. We are not to walk away from this concluding that the Roman deceivers actually made fire come down from heaven. This is not literally true, any more than the true prophets performing great signs in Jerusalem in the very last days before its fall (11:5-6). The great signs performed by the two witnesses in chapter eleven were not literal, they served to identify the two witnesses (who were the Law and the Prophets) as being from God and having the power of God. Similarly, the great signs mentioned in this verse is not to be understood literally in this signified (1:1) book; but it serves to identify the beast as a false deceiver.

(15)  And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

                   It was not very challenging for the earth beast to breathe life into the image of the beast for the beast was alive. Unlike idolatry which existed before that time, emperor worshippers could bow before the many shrines throughout the empire to a demigod who was alive, walking and talking on the earth. The old worshippers of Baal relied on blind faith in their religion, but emperor worship had something living and tangible relating to the idolatrous statues, busts, and altars.

                   “Might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.” This verse brings up the topic of persecution again, as we saw in 13:7-8 (see the comments there). The idea that they were “slain” could not be literal but is symbolic of persecution. That’s not to say that many were not killed, for that is reported by the Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius. The Romans had a hand in the execution of the Christ, and the book of Acts demonstrates that the Romans continued their role in harming the church (with the insistence of the Jewish authorities). The epistles of the New Testament also make references to this point. Nero is certainly in the spotlight when it comes to persecution. Other than a reference to Titus (see 17:14), Nero is the only prominent persecutor of the church in the generation of saints which the book of Revelation was written to. There would be more persecution to come in the second century, but Revelation is concerned with the “things that must soon take place.” The scope of Revelation is limited to the next couple of years (about 68-70 A.D.) only. But the application of the book reaches every true Christian under every circumstance of fighting against Satan. Consider also the appendix on Domitian, if you’re wondering why I don’t talk about him as a persecutor.

                   Suetonius’ account is much smaller than Tacitus’ report (see 13:7-8), but provides significant collaboration that the persecution of Christians by the head of Rome most certainly happened.

“During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down…. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.” (Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Nero, Chapter 16).

This persecution was not limited to city of Rome (as late-daters of Revelation love to say). Peter said that it was worldwide: “the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:9). And Jesus provides testimony that the persecution had hit Asia, even referencing the death of one of the members at Pergamum (2:13).

(16)  Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,

                   Some commentators believe that this mark is either a tattoo or a stamp that was literally worn by the idolatrous people. The text does not give us liberty to suppose that this is a literal mark; to be consistent, this must be a symbolic figure. And in the scope of the book, it could be readily recognized as symbolism; for in the earlier pages, much time was spent dealing with the mark of the faithful (chapter seven). So, now we see the mark of the wicked. It is further confirmed that we are to understand this mark of the beast in direct contrast to the mark of God when, in the next thought, John sees “the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” (14:1). The chapter divisions get in the way of the point. Everyone is marked! Everyone is either identified with the Lamb, or with the beast; as Jesus had said, “whoever is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30).

The “name of the beast or the number of its name” (13:17) is said to be on the right hand (emblematic of strength) or on the forehead (emblematic of prominence). Whatever the case, it is evident that these people put all their stock into the beast (as 13:4 also admitted). They identified not with Christ, but with the emperor for their salvation. Such identification could be readily seen; there is no need to make the mark into a literal tattoo; the people of the city would know who the Christians were.

(17)  so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

                   Just like the symbolism of verse fifteen, that “those who would not worship the image of the beast” would be “slain,” here we see more symbols of persecution with “no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark.” None of this is literal, these are all pictures of suffering and persecution. Not that these things couldn’t literally happen too, but the figure is of general persecution.

Revelation 13:7-10 and the Rise of Persecution

(7)  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, (8)  and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

                   Check the book of Acts and you’ll see that the empire played a role in the persecution of the saints headed up by the Jews. However, it was Nero who took it to another level. The picture of making “war on the saints and to conquer them” is certainly a most fitting of Nero’s persecution. Which means that we are drawing closer in the timeframe to the present day of John seeing these visions. Beginning in chapter twelve, the visions took us back in time to explain how the devil was behind the attempted devouring of Jesus, the raising up of the Jewish persecutor, and now, in chapter thirteen, he is behind the raising of a greater and more powerful persecutor. None of this so far, in chapters twelve and thirteen have been “things that must soon take place” (1:1), but they are here to help the Christians understand the situation of the “things that must soon take place.” But, as this section is coming to a close, the backstory is nearly done. We are approaching the present day (when these visions were seen by John). So far, the beast was mostly a blasphemer in word, with little action; but under Nero, the persecution becomes very physical.

                   The Roman senator and historian, Tacitus (born in 56 A.D.), wrote the most detailed account of the persecution under Nero. Tacitus speaks of Nero’s attempt to blame the great fire of Rome (64 A.D.) on the Christians.

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.” (Tacitus, Annals, 15:44).

This is a tremendous record of Christ and early Christians straight from the mind of a Roman Senator who thought of Christianity as an evil in the world. Let’s start the analysis with His documentation of Christ. He speaks of a large group known by the world as Christians, who first began in Judea, but has since spread even to Rome. Tacitus notes the origins of the class called Christians who lived in the time of Nero, saying that it began with one man, whom he names “Christus,” who “suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius.” The “extreme penalty” of Roman punishment was execution by crucifixion. Tacitus said that the Roman in charge of such execution was Pontius Pilatus, the Roman procurator of that region. Tacitus then proceeds to say something strange that happened after this penalty was inflicted on this one man, “a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out.” What Tacitus means by this, I cannot say for sure; however, several scholars hold the position that he is speaking of the something mischievous in the resurrection of the executed man; following which, Christianity broke out in great strength, even reaching to Rome. Whether Tacitus is referencing the resurrection of Christ is difficult to say for sure; nevertheless, it stands as a strong possibility.

Tacitus would never had recorded the event of Jesus’ death (as it had no importance for him) if it not had been for Emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians, to which, Tacitus, as all good historians, gives the background origins of the group. The documented history that he gives of Christ’s death, as important as it is to us, is merely a side note to Tacitus’ more important goal, which is to provide the record of how the capital of the empire burned extensively for seven days, killing many thousands of Romans. Tacitus does not give his opinion as to who was guilty of setting the fire, but he seems to point to Nero. Suetonius, another first century Roman historian, gives further detail into the proof that Nero was guilty of the fire (Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Nero, Chapter 38). Nonetheless, it was the Christians that Nero blamed the fire on, and unleashed terrible tortures upon them.

The Christians seemed to be the easiest target to place the blame on. Tacitus said that they were “a class hated for their abominations.” In Roman circles they were understood as a group who denied the worship of the emperor. Tacitus even states his opinion that they were “criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment.” Although it seemed to Nero that the Roman citizens would follow suit with his attack on Christians, Tacitus reveals that “there arose a feeling of compassion” for the persecuted, probably due to the extremes which Nero took.

The persecution that Tacitus records is by no means a standard hardship. What the brethren of the first century endured was like nothing before its time, nor anything afterward. It began in Rome, but it seems that Nero wanted to put an end to the group throughout his entire empire, and therefore, extended the persecution into the rest of the world. Peter seems to reference this point when he speaks to Christians very far east of Rome about the present persecution; saying that “the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:9). Peter attributes the origins of Nero’s persecution to be from Satan himself (ibid); the book of Revelation also gives witness to this fact (13:2). The details from Tacitus are as follows: Some were covered with animal skins for releasing dogs to tear them to death. Others were crucified, while still others were placed in Nero’s garden at social affairs after dusk, where they served as lamps, being burned in flames. These details that Tacitus documents give us the sense of the wrath that Nero unleashed on Christians from A.D. 64 to 68.

(9)  If anyone has an ear, let him hear: (10)  If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

                   This statement, “if any has an ear…” is a refocus on the situation. This is the statement the Lord had repeated throughout the letters to the churches in Asia (chapters 2-3), and amid this terrible vision of this beast making war against the saints, we hear the consistency and calmness of the instruction of Christ. We are called to pay attention, not to the war and terror, but to the word of God, “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.” This is a reference to Jeremiah 15, when God was speaking of the fall of old Judah, and he told Jeremiah,

“‘Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “‘Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity.’” (Jeremiah 15:1-2).

God could not do anything to save the land of Judah; even if Moses or Samuel were there to beg for Judah’s deliverance, God would not listen. God had given them plenty of chances through Moses and Samuel (and others) in the past, but their sins have come up before God and their cup of wickedness runs over. They would be paid back justly for the injustice which they had done. So here, in Revelation 13:10, the same idea of justice is spoken of against the Romans. They may appear invincible in their wickedness now, but God is judge, and they will be repaid for what they had done to the saints.

                   “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” The saints are comforted and encouraged to endure and remain faithful knowing that God knows what is happening, and that he will repay those who do evil to his children.