(12.11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
1. What happens when the brethren can no longer be accused before God day and night? What happens when Satan is cast down to the earth? Such persecution of the brethren who will then be alive on earth as has never before been seen begins.
2. But how will our brothers and sisters respond to the attacks? The same way they have always responded. “And they overcame him.” “The word ‘they’ of verse 11 seems to indicate that this verse has to do with such saints as are still upon the earth; although the verb is in the past tense – ‘overcame.’” They will overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
3. Understand that it will look like our brethren are losing. It always looks like you are losing when you die. But that is the paradox for the child of God, who gains his life by losing it. The martyr never loses by losing his life. Never! He always gains, because he gains the martyr’s crown, given to those who die for Christ’s sake. Turn and read Revelation 2.10 with me:
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
4. But how does the martyr gain? On what ground? Victory is won for us by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, Satan’s accusations were for the purpose of tarnishing us, staining us with sin, pointing out to God that you or I might have a blemish. But what does the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, continually do for the child of God? First John 1.7 reads, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” So, Satan’s efforts against us are always in vain.
5. When Satan is cast down and intensifies his persecution of the brethren, nothing changes so far as God is concerned. There is still the precious soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb. And there is still “the word of their testimony.”
“The word of their testimony” reveals that they were true martyrs. Those who are Christ’s cannot deny Him. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). There is something that is strengthening in giving a testimony. Don’t misunderstand me—some of the testimonies given today are pretty shallow. Some of them are given by those who ought not to be giving a testimony, because the people close to them know their shoddy living, and it makes them rather cynical and skeptical. The place to give a testimony is not at a nice, well-fed church banquet where all the saints say amen to everything you say. If you have a life to back it up, the place to give your testimony is out yonder in the world, when you are up against that godless, blaspheming crowd. Let them know that you belong to Christ and that you are in Christ. There is something strengthening in that. There is something that makes a man stand tall when he can give a testimony like that. I know of a man in business who is a big, double-fisted fellow. He is an executive in a very hard-hitting concern, and there are a lot of blaspheming folk around him. When he hears someone blaspheming, in a very quiet manner, he will say to that person, “I’d like to tell you what Jesus Christ means to me.” The Lord Jesus says, “If you deny Me before men, I’ll deny you before My Father in heaven.” These are the true martyrs. The word martus means witness. These are the ones who witness for Him.
6. “And they loved not their lives unto death.”
a. They will love Jesus more than life, and they will show it by giving up their lives for Him. Thus has it always been for the child of God in the midst of terrible persecution. Thus will it always be...until Jesus comes.
b. There are some these days who will attempt to draw a parallel between the moslem suicide bombers who are willing to die for Allah and the Christian martyrs of the past and those who are presently being martyred for the faith in other parts of the world as I speak. Such a parallel can only be a twisted perversion of reality. Moslem fanatics die as they are taking the lives of innocent people. They are dying as they commit acts of murder. Christian martyrs, on the other hand, have never died while taking the lives of others, but forfeit their lives to their persecutors for Jesus’ sake because of an unyielding devotion to Christ and their refusal to silence their mouths for Him.
(12.12) Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
1. The voice from heaven continues. The “therefore” refers back to the verses 9 and 10, where we are told that Satan will be cast out of heaven and cast down to the earth.
2. The host of holy angels, presumably, are the ones who will have cause to rejoice, while everyone on earth will have cause only to complain.
3. Pay attention to the phrase “inhabiters of the earth and of the sea.” That is likely a symbolic reference to Israel, termed “the earth,” and the Gentile nations, termed “the sea.”
4. Why would the Jews and the Gentiles bemoan Satan’s setback? “for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath.” Because Satan’s setback will stir up great wrath on his part, knowing that “he hath but a short time.” Again, we have an explanation for the extremely intense persecution that will fall upon the Jews during the great tribulation. Satan’s insane fury will reach a fever pitch as he realizes, in his mad panic, that the end is coming for him.
5. But those of us who are now Christians will, by then, be in heaven already, and we will be rejoicing over the devil’s defeat, along with the host of holy angels. “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.”