Beasts. Lightning. Thunder. Earthquakes. Fire from heaven. There are a lot of intense things going on in Revelation. Throughout the entire book there is the necessity of choosing sides. Either someone is a part of the fallen world, Fallen Babylon, or they are a part of the Church, the New Jerusalem and the saints. What is most interesting is that throughout the book the sides are not set. Look at this passage:
Then I saw another angel flying high overhead with eternal good news to proclaim to those who live on earth, and to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come. Worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Another angel, a second one, followed and said, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She made all the nations drink the wine of her lustful passion.” Then another angel, a third one, followed them and said in a loud voice, “If any worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or their hands, they themselves will also drink the wine of God’s passionate anger, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will suffer the pain of fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. The smoke of their painful suffering goes up forever and always. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, and those who receive the mark of its name.” This calls for the endurance of the saints, who keep God’s commandments and keep faith with Jesus.
This is in the middle of the book, and here is a message of hope to those in Fallen Babylon, those who are not Christians. There is still an opportunity to come out of the fallen world and into the fellowship of the saints! This is even after all of them have received the “mark of the beast” in the previous chapter. This is a wonderful message of grace and mercy from our God who is Holy Love. Even if you have made war against the Church, you still are offered an opportunity to leave the fallen world and become one of the saints. Choosing sides is not yet solidified. There is still time to change your mind.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, those that are in the Church are encouraged to endure. Why? Because they, too, can still make a choice to switch sides. One of the main messages of Revelation is for the saints, the Christians, to endure, persevere, to hold on to their faith until the end. The reason this message is repeated and reinforced so many times and in so many varied ways throughout Revelation is that it is a very real possibility that Christians won’t hold on to their faith and endure until the end.
This is a message of hope for those outside the Church and it is a message of warning and encouragement for those inside the Church. As long as we have breath within us, we have an opportunity to choose sides. We are never so secure that we could never fall away, and we are never so far away that we could never come to Christ.
May God give us the grace to come to him and the strength to endure!