The antichrist and the false prophet are introduced here. The antichrist is the opposite of Jesus, but deceptively like him – a “mortal wound” that had been healed.
The fierceness of the antichrist is obvious. He’s a servant of Satan himself – and looks an awful lot like the “dragon.” The antichrist draws people in to worship him. People marvel at the power and authority of the antichrist.
The church appears here, too. It is a church that loses. Or, at least, it is a church that seems to lose.
“And it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.”
We don’t like the idea of losing. No one does. As Christians, we are trained in the idea of winning – of being “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).
But there’s something in the walk of faith that we sometimes forget, or omit, or simply would rather not think about. The walk of faith also is about suffering. It is, at times, about losing. We do have opposition on this earth.
The gathered, martyred saints were people who suffered and, in the world’s eyes, lost. The apostles, nearly every one of them, were killed for their faith. The antichrist spirit of the world conquered them in many respects.
And believers in Christ across the world, through the centuries, have suffered injustice, persecution, and death. Many of them were “conquered,” too.
This can be frustrating. We’re Christians. We are “in Christ,” and he’s the ultimate conqueror. Surely, we aren’t supposed to lose. Surely, believers aren’t supposed to suffer for their faith. They aren’t supposed to fall back into sin. Churches aren’t supposed to close. We’re not supposed to get sick. And we’re not supposed to live in poverty. We’re trained in winning.
The apostle Paul, the great suffering apostle, wrote, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
This is an encouragement in the face of suffering and of apparent defeat, when the spirit of the antichrist rages like a lion in our lives and when things seem hopeless. Suffering, trials, and tribulation are part of the story of our lives in the faith. But they aren’t the end of the story.