A Call for Endurance and Faith

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Revelation 13:1-10 | January 21 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
January 21
A Call for Endurance and Faith | Revelation 13:1-10
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father in heaven, our prayer is simple and from the heart that You would give us ears to hear, that these moments together would not be wasted time but you would speak to us a word of rebuke, of comfort, just what each one here needs from Your voice. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

We come this morning to Revelation chapter 13 as we work our way through this last book of the Bible. Revelation chapter 13.

Chapter 12 dealt with these three main characters and this great drama unfolding in our world, the dragon, the woman, and the child; that is, the devil, the Church, and Christ. Now in chapter 13 we are introduced to two more characters. These are accomplices to the work of the dragon.

Two beasts. We encounter the first one in verses 1 through 10, Revelation 13.

“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?””

“And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 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, 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. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 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.”

There are a lot of people in this country who make a lot of money reading to you the news, telling you the news, commenting on the news. This is what I found, you could do your own Google search. Lester Holt from NBC, $10 million a year; Andersen Cooper from CNN, $12 million; George Stephanopoulos from ABC, $15 million; Robin Roberts, $18 million; Diane Sawyer, $22 million; Rachel Maddow from MSNBC, $30 million. Leading them all, Sean Hannity from Fox News, $45 million a year. If you’re under the age of 60, you’ve never heard of those people. It’s true. But they are on what people over that age watch on the news. For the rest of us, and I do know who all of those people are, you may be wondering, “I’ve chosen the wrong profession,” I’m told that’s not normal journalists’ salaries but it is for those.

You may get your news from other sources, from blogs or Twitter or TikTok or Instagram or whatever meme is going around or whatever podcast your friends are listening to, and whether you follow the news just a little bit or you consider yourself a news junkie, it’s not a bad thing to have some awareness of what’s going on in the world. You might say that moderation in all things. But some awareness is a good thing so long as we realize, all of us, whatever news consumption we have, as long as we realize there is only one source that is going to tell you what really and truly matters, and that’s this book. Only God can pull back the curtain and tell you what is really going on.

Lots of people have their punditry and some of it helpful, some of it not, but so often, even as Christians, we forget what is really happening spiritually. And we have here in chapter 13 part of that story. It’s the bad part of the story, but it’s a part we should not overlook.

There is an unholy trinity at work in the world. It’s not an exaggeration, that’s exactly what we are taught in this chapter. And this unholy trinity wants you to fall for all of its tricks. Remember, the powers of darkness are not creative, they’re copycats. Like someone online who’s cynical and pugnacious and they build their brand by distorting or tearing down other people or perverting what others have done, the devil has no currency of his own. There is no diabolical currency. Well, there is, but he only deals in counterfeits. He’s a liar. He’s a deceiver.

If you tried to write out in your own piece of paper, ripped out a back of your bulletin and tried to make your own currency, no one would fall for it. But if you try to copycat American dollars and you do it very well, perhaps you can fool someone.

So it is with the devil. He’s a deceiver and he’s very good at what he does.

In chapter 12, verse 9, look at that verse. We were introduced to the great dragon and helpfully we’re told exactly what the dragon in John’s vision represents, than ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan. So the dragon is a symbol for the devil.

Now in chapter 13 we meet his two accomplices. That’s why I say it’s an unholy trinity, the dragon and his two accomplices, a beast from the sea, you see that in verse 1, a beast rising out of the sea, and then verse 11 another beast rising out of the earth. When we left off chapter 12, look at verse 17, the dragon became furious with the woman, went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God, hold to the testimony of Jesus, and where is the dragon? He stood on the sand of the sea. A bit of a cliffhanger.

Now for this next scene we are introduced to these two beast. The first beast represents the political sphere. The second beast we’ll come to, Lord willing next week, represents the religious sphere. The first beast is a perversion of good government. The second beast is a perversion of true worship.

The first beast shows us what the state looks like when the devil gets ahold of the government, or the state. The second beast shows us what religion looks like when the devil gets ahold of religion. Now God institutes government, it’s there by His authority, Romans 13, so government is a gift from God just like we don’t say that religion of every kind is a bad thing. Christianity is in a way a religion; we have a building, we have a book, we have officers.

But when the devil gets ahold of the state and when the devil gets ahold of religion, this is what it looks like: A beast from the sea and beast from the earth. You might think of it like Sauron sending forth the Nazgul across Middle-earth. This is how the dragon accomplishes his purposes.

Next week false religion, this week diabolical, or perverted, government.

I want you to notice five characteristics here in our passage of a corrupt, wicked, perverse state and then we’ll finish with the singular exhortation at the end of verse 10. Five characteristics, one exhortation. Here we go.

Characteristic number one of this first beast, this diabolical state. It has great power. That’s verses 1 and 2. Notice verse 1, this is a strong demonic beast. He is mighty in power. How do we know he’s strong? He has ten horns, he has seven heads, and ten crowns on those horns.

Now like much of the imagery in Revelation, you’re not meant to sketch it out. It gets not so much scary as it does comical. I have in my head, “How do the crowns rest on the horns? That’s very hard. You can put them on a head, but are they…?” No, it’s supposed to be evocative. It’s a composition, a picture. The beast, notice, the beast is not the devil. There’s a dragon and these are the two beasts, but rather the beast is animated by the spirit of the devil.

You see this in several places, into verse 2, “and to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and his authority.” So the authority and the power that the beast has on the earth is this great power which has given and infused by the devil.

Now listen, if you and I talk this way about demonic power, about devilish schemes at work in the state, you will be considered dangerous. Now let me hasten to add, this is important: Not every political disagreement is the result of the devil. This is not an allowance to say everyone who disagrees with any part of your political theology or beliefs is therefore demonic. Sometimes good people reach different prudential conclusions or sometimes they are very important foundational disagreements among honest people, so this is not to say that every kind, because I can just see people running out of here and saying, “yes, that’s the way we ought to talk about all politics all the time, is it’s all light and darkness, angels and demons.” No, that’s not the case.

However, Revelation 13 tells us it is sometimes the case. The beast here is symbolic for worldly society, corrupt culture, or even more specifically in this instance, I think, the state, or the government. I’m just using those two terms interchangeably. That is, those who have been granted the power of the sword, the power of coercion among a people.

Now, yes, it’s sort of the culture at large, but I think we come to that later. I think that’s more the picture of Babylon, the whore of Babylon, it’s the fallen, worldly system. This is more specifically the state, or the government.

The agent responsible for the most deaths of innocent life in the history of the world. What is that agent responsible for most deaths in the history of the world? It’s not the Church. The Church’s has had sin in its past and evil for sure, but it’s not the Church. It’s not the Inquisition. It’s not the witch trials. It’s not even street gangs or drug lords or even rogue terrorists. The agent responsible for the most deaths of innocent life in the history of the world is the state. Like those under Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin. The list goes on. Those who have been given the power and in this case a demonic power and authority.

The imagery, look at verse 2. The beast like a leopard, feet like a bear, mouth like a lion. Again, it’s not to have your 7-year-old draw a picture of this, though she could, but rather to think about this monstrous beast.

Here the imagery is taken directly from Daniel chapter 7. There in Daniel 7 the prophet predicted four beasts. The first beast is representative of Babylonia, the second the Medo-Persian empire, the third Greece under Alexander the Great and his generals, and then finally that fourth beast that Daniel was predicting was Rome. So this beast as is represented here in Revelation 13 is the fourth beast of Daniel and a kind of composite image of the other three.

So most immediately as the letter went forth, remember Revelation was a letter, it went to those seven churches in Asia Minor, western Turkey, and they would have gotten this and probably with little trouble they would have known that this was most immediately talking about the Roman Empire, sometimes known as a city with seven hills. This was the Roman Empire that was sporadically, not everywhere, but at times intensely and sporadically persecuting the Church.

So John is communicating in this vision it was the spirit of the devil that corrupted and imbued Rome as a persecutor of Christians and, lest we just leave this in the first century, it’s also teaching that that same attitude, that same spirit, that same impulse, that same worldview, is what animates every earthly authority or government or state whose sites are set on destroying the Church. In other words, there are spiritual powers behind political events. That’s what we see. This beast has been given great demonic power.

Characteristic number two. This beast has a loyal following.

Look at verses 3 and 4: One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound but its mortal wound was healed. Now you don’t see there in the ESV but that word translated as “wound” is the same word that’s used earlier in chapter 5 for the Lamb who was slain. So it’s important to see this beast is a kind of copycat of the real Christ because this beast has a kind of messianic pretention. He wants to present himself as one who is deserving of worship. So in many instances here he is a copycat of the Christ as we’ll see shortly.

So verse 3 deliberately uses the same language that was used of the Lamb that had been slain, or had been wounded. Now what is this wound? Well, I think the wound here is a reference to the death blow, the mortal blow, that was given to the devil on the cross.

Genesis 3:15 – You will snap at His heel and He will crush your head. That’s what happened on the cross.

John 16:11 – The prince of this world stands condemned.

So the cross condemned the prince of this world.

Isaiah 25:1 [sic] – In that day, the Lord will punish with His sword – His fierce, great, and powerful sword – Leviathan, the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent, He will slay the monster of the sea.

So on the cross a death blow, a mortal wound was inflicted upon the devil. We’ve seen that before, we’ll see that again. But this passage teaches he lives, or at least he appears to live. He lives, he goes on for a time.

Someone perhaps you know in those movies who’s shot and then somehow they just stumble around and they manage to pull their gun out and have a conversation and I thought you were dead. They appear to live; they’re going to die.

This beast has had a mortal wound inflicted and yet it appears to live.

If you can think in these categories, you can understand almost everything in Revelation, because you need both of these categories. On the one hand, Revelation teaches there is a devil who has been crushed, cast down, bound, destroyed, and at the same time this devil is still crushing, killing, and destroying the people of God. Maybe think of it like D-Day in World War II. After the successful Allied invasion at Normandy on D-Day and overcoming and beginning to reclaim Western Europe, you could see that the European theater that the Allies were going to win. D-Day inflicted that mortal wound. But there was still much fighting that was yet to happen and sometimes, like the Battle of the Bulge, great deadly fighting.

So in the same way the devil has been slain but he seems to live. He keeps fighting. Now the particular referent here in the first century some people think was to Nero, that Nero’s suicide in A.D. 68 had been faked, that he wasn’t really dead, or others Domitian, another emperor’s claim to be Nero come back to life, so perhaps there’s some of that imagery from the first century at work here.

But I think even more broadly what this is teaching is the devil, though he appears and has in fact been struck down, yet as he unleashes the beast, and this first one in the form of a powerful demonic state, he can inflict much damage on the world and he amasses to himself a very loyal following. You see in verse 3 – a mortal wound was healed and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. Verse 4 – and they worshiped the dragon for he had given his authority to the beast and they worshiped the beast.

On the cross the chosen of God died, came back to life, and the world said it was a lie. Here the chosen of Satan appears to live and the whole world worships in amazement. This worship, this worship of the beast, explains all throughout history cruel dictators, tyrannical states, cultures decadence, a tyrannical hold upon a people, a nation, and particularly God’s people.

There is a loyal following. Notice that these followers, many of them look to this beast as their great hope. In fact, look at the question at the end of verse 4 – Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?

If you know your history, you know in those opening years of World War II it certainly looked as if Hitler was unstoppable. Who could pull back? Who could push back his forces?

So here in the first century, Rome, the great eternal city of Rome, Rome appeared to be invincible. Who would have known, except for God, that three centuries later Rome would be overrun and sacked by relatively primitive barbarian tribes to the north? Who’s to say that the United States of America will continue for another 250 year? Or 25 years? We don’t know.

Rome looked to be invincible, though. We all get this sense sometimes, whether it’s about a corrupt government or a hostile culture or just the way of the fallen world, we can look out and think, “Who is like the beast? Who can withstand this malevolent dictator?” Or perhaps, “Who can counteract the evils that come through various media and entertainment and academy and state and regulations? Who can stand? Surely, who can stand?”

This is not a new phenomenon. All throughout history God’s people have under the thumb of tyrannical powers offered this question, “Who can stand? Who can fight?”

Now we’ll come to the end. There’s a better question to ask.

So characteristic number two, this beast has a loyal following.

Characteristic number three. The beast is full of blasphemous ideology.

Did you notice how many times we have the word “blasphemous” or “blaspheme”? You see it in verse 1, blasphemous names. Then verse 5 and 6, the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty blasphemous words. Verse 6, it opened its mouth to utter blasphemy against God, blaspheming His name.

This goes on for 42 months. You see that at the end of verse 5? We’ve already encountered this, 42 months is the same as 3-1/2 years, it’s the same as time, times, have a time. 42 months refers to the Church age. We’re in these 42 months. These last days where the Church is simultaneously invincible and vulnerable.

Just like the devil has been cast down, he is bound, he is wounded, and yet he fights, so the Church is both vulnerable and invincible. How does the devil through this beast inflict his damage on the people of God? With words. He’s given a mouth. It is by words that the devil will be withstood and it is by words that he does battle.

Yes, the beast kills with more than words. Sometimes with swords or bullets or bombs, but behind it all are words, lies, false ideas. Behind every sword that is unsheathed or very bullet that is fired or every bomb that is dropped by some tyrannical power, there is some false ideology.

Now the blasphemy in John’s day was quite literal. Since Augustus many of the Roman Empire’s claim to be deity and they demanded worship, they were given titles like Lord, Savior, Son of God. The titles that belonged to Christ alone, they were given these titles. Very literally, blasphemous names.

But even where governing authorities are not given these literal names, we should mark it very well, there is a temptation in every age to look to our earthly kings, or princes or presidents or prime ministers, as messianic figures. See, it doesn’t always just come from that side of the equation, those bad people. Sometimes it comes from our own fallen human tendencies who want to find, are eager to find salvation in the state and are eager to find some earthly Messiah to sit on the throne.

Some in our country looked on Obama in that way, and to be honest, some in our country look on Trump in that way. That is the work of the devil, to look at any earthly president as having the pretentions or the power or the saving authority or hope or grace that comes only from Christ. So much about our contemporary political environment, in fact, conditions the heart to think that salvation will come from the state, that provision comes from the state, that everything that gives life meaning and purpose and happiness will come from the state. So that marriage can be defined by the state. So that male and female can be defined by the state.

But let’s also guard our own hearts lest we think that every word from the President’s mouth, whether a President you voted for or didn’t vote for, is somehow the most important thing going on in the world. Or every problem going on in our world has a solution at the state. Or everything that ails the human race is just one election away from either being solved or from everything falling apart. That is to give to the state too much power and authority.

F.F. Bruce labeled these two beasts, the false prophet of a false god, because we’re going to see next week that false religion comes and always supports in this unholy trinity, supports the false claims of the state. A false prophet in service of a false god. This beast, this political governmental beast. Do you see how it is a parody of Jesus?

Greg Beale in his excellent commentary on Revelation lists several parallels between this first beast, a false Christ, you might even think of it as the spirit of the antichrist, and the true Christ. Both the beast and the lamb are depicted as slain. Both are said to rise to a kind of newness of life. Both the beast and the Christ have followers with names written on their foreheads. Both are described as having horns. Both are said to have authority over every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. Both are said to receive worship from every corner of the globe. And both will have a final, cataclysmic coming on the earth. The beast and the dragon to everlasting destruction and the Christ to everlasting life and victory. It is a blasphemous ideology because the government, the state, accrues to itself loyal followers and worshipers by giving to itself the sort of characteristics and power that belong only to Christ.

Of course, there is every difference in the world between an honest patriotism that is proud of your nation, that prays for your leaders, that waves a flag and celebrates our history – all of those things can be subordinate goods in the human heart. We are a people in a certain place, but as we live in this place, our heavenly citizenship and our eternal citizenship is in another place and we must never confuse what the two places can do for us and where our ultimate meaning and purpose and victory comes from.

Blasphemous ideology.

Characteristic number four of this diabolical state is a hatred for the saints.

You see verse 7? “It was allowed.” Now notice that. That is the divine passive meaning, all of this only happens because God sovereignly allows it to happen. The devil is God’s devil. He allows it to happen to make war on the saints and to conquer them. War.

If you ask somebody, “Are you into the culture war?” That’s almost always a negative term. Somebody says to me, “Oh, that Kevin DeYoung, he’s a culture warrior.” They don’t usually mean it as a pat on the back, they usually mean it as something, stop getting exercised about these cultural issues. And I get it. There is a bad sense of culture warrior, somebody who’s overly exercised or only talks about one or two things, or whose whole life has become overrun by only political concerns and maybe a fearfulness that isn’t in keeping with the hope and the joy that we should have as Christians. So there is a bad way. That’s why I don’t usually own that term.

Yet there is a war whether you like the term or not. It says quite plainly in verse 7, “He was allowed to make war on the saints.” So do you believe there’s a culture war? Well, there always has been. There always will be. Whether we take up arms or not.

The beast, notice, he will have a diverse group of followers from all around the world. In fact, his authority will seem to rival that of Christ. His authority, verse 7, was given over tribe and people and language and nation. Global, cosmic, it seems in significance and he uses this to make war all around the world against the saints. Wherever there is a government or a state that persecutes Christians, imprisons Christians, maligns, mocks, murders Christians, that is a government infused by the power of this dragon.

Then fifth characteristic. This beast has an apparent invincibility. That’s the fifth characteristic. An apparent invincibility. It looks as if he cannot be defeated.

Verse 8 divides the world into two peoples, those who dwell on the 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.

So you have those people which have their name written in the Book of Life, and they are discerning, they are the elect, and then you have all the others, they will worship this beast.

Verse 9 gives the same announcement that Jesus gave to the seven churches, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear,” and then we have this kind of poem. It’s a distressing poem. It’s a hard word, this is not an uplifting graduation speech, telling the graduates that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. This is not a cheery address assuring us of victory over the beast. Yes, the saints will in the end be victorious, but not apart from suffering and for some not apart from death.

So verse 10 says some will be taken into captivity. Some will be thrown into prison. Some will be passed over for promotions. Some will be mocked by their classmates. Some will not get into the schools that they hoped to get into. Some will suffer financial setbacks for doing things with integrity. Some will be denied tenure. Some will not be allowed into the corridors of power. Some will lose loved ones. Some will lose their reputation. Some will be killed because they refuse to worship the beast. He has a ring of apparent invincibility.

You go back up to verse 4 – Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?

So brothers and sisters, what do we do? Not so far a very encouraging message, you may say. This was a little out of the box. What do we do with this diabolical beast?

Well, certainly more is expected of us as Christians, depending upon how many there are, the resources we have, the positions we hold, the history we inherit, the ability we have to effect change through a democratic process. This was not written to a people who have the prospect of representative government. This was written to a persecuted people who are small, fledgling, under the thumb of a Roman Empire, and so yes, to whom much is given, much is expected.

So verse 10, the end of verse 10, is not the sum total of our theory of political engagement, but the end of verse 10 is one summons I’m afraid we almost never hear today in talking about politics, because notice the Spirit of God here speaking through the Apostle John did not say, “Here is a call for political strategy.” He did not say, “Here is a call for cultural transformation.” He did not say, “Here is a call for building a better Christian civilization.” Now again, there is a time and place for all of those things, to affect politics, to build culture, to bring Christian virtues to bear, but John doesn’t say any of that here. The singular call given here in this passage is endurance and faith.

I think many of us would like to think that if we just put our mind to it, and if we are just strategic enough and organized enough and we just get the next election in whatever way possible, some kind of heaven on earth can come, or some kind of Christendom can be returned. Well, we ought to labor, we ought to work. Some here will be particularly involved in the political sphere and we need Christians engaged in it.

But you see what the danger that John envisions. It seems that God is less concerned that saints figure out how to change a godless empire than He is concerned that Christians not be conformed to the godless empire in which they live. Say that again. It seems, at the end of verse 10, God is less concerned that they have a strategy to change their godless empire than He is concerned that that godless empire not change you. So it isn’t a call to dream what you might do to change your nation over 500 years, but rather the particular summons in verse 10 is to dig in your heels, steady your mind, keep a close watch on your hearts, and make sure you do not give up and you do not give in.

There is some encouragement here because you can do that. I don’t know how to transform our country. I don’t know how to take back the culture. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know what it means for a stay-at-home mom who’s just trying to run kids to soccer practices and trying to get six hours of sleep and get meals on the table. I don’t know what she does for that. But this is something that all of us can do and all of us must do. It is a call for endurance and faith.

There are times when we are called to be bold and conquer and triumph and win the world for Christ. We need that message. But when that’s the only message we hear, conquer, win, take back, dominion, if that’s the only message, we can become anxious, arrogant, cantankerous. There are times when the whole world seems against you and the burden feels crushing and the weight is almost too much to bear, and God says to you simply in those times, “I want you to keep going. Don’t quit. Be patient. Be faithful.”

I wrote an article recently about the four cardinal virtues; temperance, prudence, justice, and fortitude. Fortitude is often understood as courage, and that’s part of it, but more often fortitude was understood as endurance. See, there’s the courage that says rush into battle, the bravery that says go into battle and claim the victory, and that is a courage we need in our day. But much more overlooked is this kind of courage, this kind of fortitude, which is the fortitude of endurance and faith.

You go back to that question at the end of verse 4 – Who is like the beast? Who can fight against the beast?

We don’t have an exact answer to that question in chapter 13, but by the time we get to chapter 15, there will be a different question. Chapter 15: Great and marvelous are Your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, King of the Ages. Who will not fear You, O Lord, and bring glory to Your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You for Your righteous acts have been revealed.

At the end of the age, there will be no disputing who has the real authority. There will be no disputing who is the one truly to be worshiped.

The beast is not invincible. In fact, because of the cross, he has already been inflicted with a mortal wound.

So here’s the folly, it’s not just wickedness, it is the folly of our age. The world does not know, perhaps some of you do not know, you are worshiping a defeated devil. You are giving your allegiance to a beast that is on a leash and is destined for destruction.

Here’s the good news. When you feel tired, when you feel defeated, when you look at the world and it seems as if the opposition is insurmountable, the beast appears powerful and your God seems puny.

Now might you suffer as a Christian if you continue to speak for the truth? You might. Might you suffer if you live according to righteousness by God’s Word? You might. But if you are afraid, if you are discouraged, if you are weary in well doing, verse 10 is the word for you. Yes, there are all sorts of reasons that some of you are very fearful, feel like things have been taken away, things have been taken over. It doesn’t seem like the same place that you remember.

There may be reasons for that fear. The people just want to stoke that, that’s all they want, because that gets you coming back, that sells. This is the Word of God for us. It is a call to endurance and faith and it’s not empty.

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad. Let the distant shores from Los Angeles to Boston, from Lisbon to Beijing, from Berlin to Mogadishu, from Bombay to Manila, let all the distant shores rejoice for our God reigns, and at the end of the age, all of the nations shall give Him tribute and the unholy trinity will be shown for what it is, a demonic counterfeit destined for destruction while those who belong to Christ will live and sing and rejoice forever.

Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, give us ears to hear and eyes to see. The point of this passage is not so much to map all of these things onto the particularities of our age, but to be aware that these are particularities in every age. So You have called us in the face of opposition, sometimes fearful, threatening opposition, to endurance and to faith. O Lord, we are eager to see things change in our nation, so use us in whatever vocation we have to that end, but we would remiss, O Lord, if we did not pray that you would guard us against being changed, for the danger is probably much greater, the likelihood is probably much greater, that we would be transformed and be pressed into the world’s mode. So give us fresh courage, fortitude, endurance, and faithfulness in these days, that Jesus would be all in all and we would worship Him alone. In His name we pray. Amen.