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Agents of the Apocalypse: A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times

Agents of the Apocalypse: A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times

by David Jeremiah

Learn More | Meet David Jeremiah
It was a Sunday morning in the first century AD, and the members of the Ephesian church were gathering to worship in the spacious atrium in the villa of Marcellus, a wealthy Roman convert. "The Roman emperor Domitian has demanded that everyone in the empire swear an oath to worship him," said Marcellus. "He has already launched an aggressive campaign to enforce the edict in every city under Rome's jurisdiction. What is worse, he has especially singled out Jews and Christians because he suspects our disloyalty to Rome."

At that moment, an aged man who had been sitting to the side stood slowly, aided by the staff in his hand. The apostle John faced the group. "My dear brothers and sisters," he began, "you ask what we can do. There is but one answer." At the age of ninety, his voice still rang out clear and strong. But there was a warmth in his delivery that dissolved much of the tension in the room. "We can stand ready to give back to our Lord Jesus Christ what He has given to us. He gave us life by giving up His life, and we must do no less for Him...."

The commander seized John and shoved him out the door. The other soldiers followed and bolted the door from the outside, trapping the Christians who remained within. One soldier produced a torch, lit it with his flint, and set fire to the house. As the soldiers led John toward the Roman garrison, John could see the house begin to blaze. They were fifty paces away when the commander stopped and turned toward the now-flaming cottage. "What is that noise"

"It is singing," John replied. "My faithful brothers and sisters are singing a song of praise to their true Lord, Jesus the Christ, whom they will meet face-to-face within this very hour...."

As the days on Patmos wore on, each like the one before it, John began to feel that his life had become meaningless—that he was doomed to live out his remaining time on earth without purpose. He often wondered why he hadn't been martyred like his fellow apostles.

That's when it happened.

A great voice boomed from just behind him. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last." The mighty words reverberated through the heavens like rolling thunder. In that moment, the familiar landscape of Patmos faded and John gazed awestruck at what no earthly human being had ever seen—the very throne room of heaven. Vision after vision followed—some horrifying to behold and others majestic beyond imagination. As the last vision faded, the apostle heard these final words: "I am coming quickly!"

He had been given a vision of things to come—a message that would assure the Lord's churches across the world that although terrible persecution loomed in their future, their ultimate triumph in Christ was certain.

The apostle John, in writing his great book from the Isle of Patmos, joined an exclusive band of chosen servants who had received similar instructions from the Lord and had done their work under adverse circumstances. Moses wrote the Pentateuch in the wilderness. David wrote many of the psalms while fleeing from the murderous King Saul. Isaiah wrote while watching his nation degenerate, and according to tradition, he died a martyr's death. Ezekiel wrote while he was in captivity in Babylon. Jeremiah's life was one of trial and persecution. Peter wrote his two letters just before he was martyred. Paul wrote his letters amid being beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, and robbed, and while facing hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, slander, and just about every other kind of tribulation known to humankind (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).

And John received the most extensive revelation of future events shown to any writer of the New Testament while he was banished to Patmos—a small, rocky island in the Aegean Sea. He was shut out from the world but shut in to God, and from that lonely island he gave us the book we know as the Revelation of Jesus Christ....

As we open the book of Revelation, it quickly becomes apparent that we are about to encounter a message with a high purpose. Though it bears certain similarities to prophetic passages in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Matthew, Revelation is unique. It tells us what kind of book it is in the first few paragraphs.... The primary purpose of the book of Revelation is not to paint a picture of the end times, although it does do that. It was written primarily to unveil, or uncover, the majesty and power of Jesus Christ. The book is neither a puzzle nor an enigma but a disclosure of who Jesus is.

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