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11.2 The Coming Crisis
The Climax in the Cosmic Struggle between Worship and Coercion
The prophecy about the mark of the beast in Revelation 13 describes the most intense phase of Satan’s war against God and His people. Since the death of Jesus on the cross, the enemy has been aware of his defeat, yet he attempts to drag as many as possible into the abyss. Deception is his primary weapon; when that fails, he resorts to violence. Eventually, a decree will be issued that anyone who does not worship the beast or accept its mark will be killed.
Religious persecution is a well-known phenomenon that has existed since the time of Cain and Abel. Jesus warned that such conflicts would even occur among believers. In the coming crisis, believers’ faith will be tested as they face the choice of either yielding to the world’s pressure or remaining steadfast in their loyalty to God. This prophecy reminds us that we must prepare for a time when our faith and loyalty to God will be of utmost importance.
Read John 16:2; Matthew 10:22; 2 Timothy 3:12; and 1 Peter 4:12. What did the New Testament church experience, and what does that mean for Christ’s end-time church?
What Did the New Testament Church Experience?
  1. John 16:2: “They will put you out of the synagogue; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”
    • Experience: Exclusion from religious communities and deadly persecution by those believing they are acting in God’s name.
  2. Matthew 10:22: “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
    • Experience: Hatred and persecution for the sake of Jesus’ name. Only those who remain steadfast until the end will be saved.
  3. 2 Timothy 3:12: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
    • Experience: Inevitable persecution for all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.
  4. 1 Peter 4:12: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.”
    • Experience: Expectation and encouragement to accept persecution and trials as normal parts of Christian life.
Meaning for Christ’s End-Time Church
The persecution experienced by the New Testament church serves as a model and warning for the end-time church. The challenges and trials faced by the early Christians reflect the trials that believers at the end of time will face.
  1. Continuity of Persecution:
    • Historical Continuity: From the days of the early church through the persecutions by pagan Rome and the medieval church, persecution of believers has been a constant factor in Christian history. The prophecies in Revelation indicate that this persecution will reach its climax in the end times.
  2. The Mark of the Beast:
    • Escalation of Persecution: Revelation 13 describes how persecution will begin with economic sanctions and escalate to a death decree against those who refuse to accept the mark of the beast.
    • Compulsion to Worship: As in previous persecutions, this aims to force people to conform to a specific belief system and recognized form of worship.
  3. Preparation through Compromise:
    • Today’s Compromises: The devil is already preparing professed Christians to receive the mark of the beast by encouraging them to make compromises in their lives. These compromises weaken their spiritual steadfastness and make them susceptible to future deceptions and coercion.
  4. Steadfastness of the Saints:
    • Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
    • God’s People: Amid persecution and global apostasy, the end-time church will, by God’s grace, show steadfastness by keeping God’s commandments and remaining faithful to Jesus Christ. This faithfulness is described as the “patience of the saints.”
  5. Following the Lamb:
    • Revelation 14:4: “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”
    • Lifestyle: The end-time church follows Jesus unreservedly, even if it means going against the tide of worldly order and enduring immense trials.
Conclusion
The persecution of the New Testament church and the prophesied persecution of the end-time church are marked by a continuous struggle over worship and loyalty. As the deceptions and compulsion of the beast increase, God’s faithful followers are called to remain steadfast and follow the Lamb. This steadfastness is not only a sign of their loyalty but also evidence of their overcoming through the power of Christ, even when faced with the forces of hell arrayed against them.
How easily, if at all, do you allow economic considerations to affect your Sabbath observance?
There are certainly situations where economic factors can pressure believers to compromise their Sabbath observance. For example, work obligations or financial incentives might lead people to decide to work on the Sabbath or participate in activities that conflict with Sabbath observance.
However, it is important for believers to consciously choose to keep God’s commandments and to sanctify the Sabbath, regardless of economic considerations. This decision often requires courage, trust, and the willingness to accept possible financial losses or other disadvantages in order to remain faithful to God’s commandment.
Ultimately, it is a matter of priorities and faith. By holding fast to their faith and devotion to God, believers can look beyond economic considerations and respect the holy time of the Sabbath.

The prophecies in Revelation 13 about the mark of the beast and the coming crisis remind us that the cosmic battle between worship and compulsion will reach its climax. The New Testament church already experienced persecution and pressure because of their faith, a pattern that will continue into the end times. Today’s church must prepare for similar challenges.
The New Testament church was excluded from religious communities, hated, and persecuted (John 16:2; Matthew 10:22; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12). These experiences offer a warning and model for the end-time church. The continuous persecution of believers, as seen in early church history, will reach its climax in the end times. The coming crisis will be marked by the mark of the beast, which will force people to conform to a specific belief system and recognized form of worship.
Believers will be faced with the choice of yielding to the world’s pressure or remaining steadfast in their loyalty to God. It is important to recognize that compromises in faith made today can weaken spiritual steadfastness and make believers susceptible to future deceptions and coercion. Amid persecution and global apostasy, the end-time church will, by God’s grace, show steadfastness by keeping God’s commandments and remaining faithful to Jesus Christ. This faithfulness is described as the “patience of the saints” (Revelation 14:12).
The question of whether economic considerations can affect Sabbath observance is crucial. There are certainly situations where believers feel economic pressure to compromise the Sabbath. Work obligations or financial incentives might lead them to decide to work on the Sabbath or participate in activities that conflict with Sabbath observance. Nevertheless, it is important for believers to make a conscious decision to keep God’s commandments and sanctify the Sabbath, regardless of economic considerations. This requires courage, trust, and a willingness to accept possible financial losses or other disadvantages in order to remain faithful to God’s commandment. Ultimately, it is a matter of priorities and faith. By holding fast to their faith and devotion to God, believers can look beyond economic considerations and respect the holy time of the Sabbath.

God has not promised us an easy path, but that He will be with us as we go through the coming crisis.

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