Thursday, December 10, 2015

The End Time Saints

In my last article, Saints Alive in Jesus, I explained the meaning of the word "saints" or "holy ones" and who the saints are. Today I would like to narrow down our study of saints to just one book of the Bible, which gives us an excellent picture of the lives of the saints in these last and evil days. The word “saints” is used thirteen times in the book of Revelation, so let's examine each one separately.

The Prayers of the Saints
Communion with the Lord
First we see the prayers of the saints going up in golden bowls like incense before the throne of God.

“When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev 5:8)

“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.” (Rev 8:3)

“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.” (Rev 8:4). This shows that the angels have a role in carrying the prayers of the saints to God.

Could it be that even now, when the saints pray, the angels carry their prayers up to God's throne in golden bowls? It is my belief that this is true.

Time to Reward the Saints
Then we see that there will come a time for God to reward the servants of the Lord – the prophets, and the saints, and those who fear His name, the small and great alike. At that time the Lord will also destroy those who destroy the earth.

"And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth." (Rev 11:18)

War with the Saints
The beast will make war with the saints and overcome them.

“It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.” (Rev 13:7).

This same topic is covered in the book of Daniel. It says: "Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time." (Dan 11:33-35)

It follows the same pattern that we see all throughout Scripture, in which the righteous are persecuted. Abel, the prophets, the Lord Himself, and all the apostles in the first century were persecuted. So will it be with the end time saints.

The Patient Endurance and Faithfulness of the Saints
In the midst of all this intense persecution in the last days, the Scripture speaks of the need for the saints to have patient endurance and faithfulness.

“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”  (Rev 13:10, NIV)

The NASB version of this verse uses the term "destined" to refer to the fact that certain people are appointed to suffer a certain fate. If it is your destiny to go into captivity, then into captivity you will go. There is nothing you can do to change it. One way this will be fulfilled is by some of the saints being put into prison camps. If it is your destiny to be killed with the sword, then nothing can change it. One way this may be fulfilled is by some of the saints being beheaded. This verse agrees with what is written in the prophet Jeremiah, which says:

‘Thus says the Lord:

'Those destined for death, to death;
And those destined for the sword, to the sword;
And those destined for famine, to famine;
And those destined for captivity, to captivity.”’ (Jer 15:2b; cf., 43:11).

John also wrote, “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Rev 14:12)

The context of this verse is the period when the false prophet will arise, who will deceive those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast (Rev 13:14a), and who will make the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast (Rev 13:12b) and his image, and who will make people receive the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16). For the full context, please read Revelation 13 and 14, since I am merely summarizing.

John wrote: "And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." (Rev 13:15-18)

Because of this, a solemn warning is given right before Rev 14:12, in which the punishment is pronounced that will be given to those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. The warning of punishment is this:

"Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.'" (Rev 14:9-11)

Now that we understand the context of Rev 14:12, we can see why it will require the perseverance of the saints. Finally, I want you to notice that the persevering saints are described as those who keep God’s commandments and their faith in Jesus. They remain faithful to Jesus and they also keep the commandments of God. For more on this topic, please see my articles Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, The Law of Christ, Law of Love in the New Testament, The Glory of Martyrdom for Christ, The Mark of the Beast (666), and Is Obedience Optional?.

The Blood of the Saints
In Revelation, it says that God will be righteous in bringing His judgment on the ungodly when He does so. Since they poured out the blood of the saints and prophets, God will give them blood to drink. They deserve it.

John wrote, "And I heard the angel of the waters saying, 'Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.' And I heard the altar saying, 'Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.'" (Rev 16:5-7)

"And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly." (Rev 17:6)

"And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (Rev 18:24).

The shedding of the saints' blood is not unique to the end time saints. This has been happening since the foundation of the world. Our Lord spoke of a long history of bloodshed of the prophets, spanning "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary." (Lk 11:51a).  He said that the generation of Jews who were alive at that time would be held responsible for it all.

God does not take very kindly to innocent bloodshed. Someone must be held responsible, and the same will be true of the blood of the end time saints.

Saints Rejoicing Over Judgment
We see the saints and apostles and prophets are told to rejoice over God’s judgment pronounced for them against Babylon. They rejoice because the judgment is pronounced in their favor, because it is just, and because it is against their enemies.

"Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her." (Rev 18:20)

When Babylon, the great city, is thrown down with violence and laid waste, the saints and apostles and prophets, and all heaven will rejoice. The destruction of Babylon is recorded in chapter 18, and the rejoicing is described in chapter 19.

John said, "After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, 'Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.' And a second time they said, 'Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOREVER AND EVER.' And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, 'Amen. Hallelujah!' And a voice came from the throne, saying, 'Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.'" (Rev 19:1-5)

The Righteous Acts Of The Saints
As I explained in my article, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, the Bride of Christ will be clothed with fine linen, bright and clean, which stands for the righteous acts of the saints.

“It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev 19:8)

The Camp of the Saints
The saints will enjoy peace during the Millennial reign of Christ on earth, while the devil is locked up in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-6). But when he is released from the pit, he will deceive the nations, who will gather for war against the saints. However, fire will come down from heaven and devour them.

“When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” (Rev 20:7-9)

His fate is already sealed. For Scripture says, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev 20:10)

Putting it All Together
So even though the saints are persecuted on earth, and the beast makes war against them and overcomes them, and their blood is shed, there will be justice in the end. Their prayers go up to God’s throne in golden bowls as incense, and God will avenge them. He will execute righteous judgment against the wicked, and he will throw the devil, along with the beast and the false prophet, into the lake of fire and brimstone; and they will be tormented day and night forever. And the saints will rejoice in heaven, clothed in fine white linen. They will receive their eternal reward from God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Communion with the Lord" illustration is by my seventeen-year old daughter, C.V. Lacroix. You can find more of her artwork on A Brush with Life.

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend reading The Afflictions of the Righteous, The Glory of Martyrdom for Christ, Even if it doesn’t happen like we expect, Overcomers in This Life, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, The Law of Christ, Law of Love in the New Testament, Is Obedience Optional?, Persecuted or Popular?, Rapture Revelation to Angelica Zambrano, Come Out of Her, The Rise of Antichrists, Rapture Beliefs of Church Fathers, and Synching Up the Seven Seals with the Gospels. You can access the Seeking the Lord Main Directory or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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