Saturday, December 22, 2012

Overcome or Be Overcome

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Saturday, December 22, 2012: Revelation 13:1-18

It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.  Revelation 13:7 (NKJV)

On June 6, 1994, one of the greatest battles of history was fought.  We call it D-Day, the Allied Invasion of Normandy in World War II.  In many ways, that dramatic and courageous military action turned the war and helped shape the world we know today.  Many of us have vicariously walked through those days through films such as Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and The Longest Day

In 1994, on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, PBS produced a documentary to memorialize that great battle.  They interviewed men who had fought there.  These men, now in the later years of their lives, recalled vividly the details they experienced.  Two of them stand out to me.  One was a foot soldier who stormed the beach.  With tears even after all these years, he recalled the carnage and horror as they landed and charged the embankments.  He remembered, as he looked at the devastation around him, thinking, "We're going to lose."  As he saw bullets ripping apart the Allied advance, he could not see how victory was possible.

The other soldier was a reconnaissance pilot who flew over the invasion.  From that high perspective, he could see the waves of Allied soldiers as they advanced and took out one after the other of the enemy's outposts.  As he saw this, he thought to himself, "We're going to win this thing!"

Two different views of the same battle!  The difference was proximity and perspective.  The footsoldiers who were CLOSE to carnage could feel the danger.  The closer you are to the battle, the most devastating it can seem.  I have unfortunately never been in military conflict, but I have seen people in "hand-to-hand" spiritual conflict with the devil.  In the intensity of that battle, I have often seen good people wilt as they felt overwhelmed by the attack.  We need to back up and get a higher PERSPECTIVE.

The pilot could see what the footsoldier could not.  In similar fashion, we need to see this end-time battle from a higher perspective.  We need to see from the Lord's eyes!

This 13th Chapter of Revelation tells us of the WORST PERSON OF HISTORY.  He is not even called a man.  He is referred to as THE BEAST.  In other portions of Scripture, he is the Anti-Christ or "the man of sin".  In verse 7, we find that he has the ability to tear down the people of God -- to overcome them.  We must balance this verse with verse 11 of the previous chapter.  There we read that "they overcame him!"  So which is it?  Are we the OVERCOMERS, or are we BEING OVERCOME by the enemy?

The answer is simple and profound.  Satan can destroy our bodies but he cannot destroy our souls!  He can throw us into jail, but he cannot kill our faith!  He can rip out our tongues, but he cannot keep us from proclaiming the love of God in Christ!  The only way Satan can fully wipe out believers is if they allow him to.  We do that by not availing ourselves of the protection and power of God in our own lives.  We win, but it might mean martyrdom.  "They loved not their lives unto the death."

There may be times in coming years, as Satan's forces continue to rally and grow, that you might be tempted to think, "WE'RE LOSING THIS BATTLE!"  It just looks like Satan is winning.  But, we need a HIGHER PERSPECTIVE.  Chapter 13 of Revelation tells us of the power of Satan.  But Chapters 19 and 20 tell us the end of this story -- "Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD."

I will close with the word of that great Reformer Martin Luther.  His greatest hymn is "A Mighty Fortress in Our God."  The third verse goes as follows:

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us. 
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

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