We, as Christians, probably ponder from time to time why it seems that nations that once were considered Christian have all fallen away or grievously backslidden. North Africa, Asia Minor, and Europe, once the primary regions of what once was called Christendom, have come to a parlous spiritual state. The culture of the West, that which was rooted in Christian assumptions, seems to be tottering on the brink. Is this evidence of some sort of spiritual law of decay? The first thing we have to do is rid ourselves of any notion that this is what is inevitable. The Scripture plainly tells us that it is God’s will to deliver the creation, the creation we see and touch, from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:19-21). The Scripture tells us that it is God’s will to heal the nations, not otherworldly regions (Revelation 22:2). This is all predicated on the people of God functioning together as the Holy City. This does not imply some sort of grand ecclesiocracy. It means people praying, teaching, serving, and living in constant fellowship with God. We can pray all we want for our personal needs and those of others, but we also need to learn to pray constantly and comprehensively in terms of what God’s word teaches is his will for the nations. We should teach the full counsel of God’s word firmly rooted in what our relationship with the Holy Spirit has turned from knowledge to conviction. Our lives cannot be a disconnected set of spheres, some governed by God and others not. Ritual cannot substitute for relationship. Life is to be lived beside the river of living water. Nations fail if the priesthood of believers fails.
We are undoubtedly living in ominous and unsettling times in terms of freedom, peace, prosperity, and cultural health and stability. Should Christian people, then, view this with a sense of futility and defeat? If not, where should we turn to be strengthened and renewed? Does the book of Revelation seem like an unlikely place to turn? Actually it is precisely the place we should turn.
God has given us a mandate to overcome that is not optional for us at any time or place. The outward appearance of our overcoming may sometimes seem unusual and may often look more like defeat. Nevertheless, we must be convinced in our hearts and minds that God’s reconciling purpose of uniting all things in heaven and all things on earth in Christ Jesus will be the inevitable fruit of our faithful obedience. Revelation shows how the first-generation Church overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to usher in an entirely new age of redemptive grace. We must understand the significance of their struggle with insight and clarity so that we might be worthy inheritors of the fruits of their labor.
Today we are awash in faithless, Nostradamian doomsday speculations in everything from books to billboards to ludicrous TV documentaries that assume this it what Revelation teaches. As Christians, we should regard all of this as soothsaying and nonsense. The Lord’s Prayer is our simple expression of God’s will that cannot possibly fail to be absolutely fulfilled. Spiritual warfare, however, lies between our present situation and the consummation of it. Revelation shows us what spiritual warfare looks like and how it is waged. It isn’t easy, but we can’t drop our hands in defeat. Escapist hopes will receive no validation or reward from God. We must overcome in any and all ways that God may call us. Only those who overcome do not come into condemnation (Revelation 2:11).