Chapter 12 shows us how God’s Church will face its tribulations of the end times. Verse 1 says, “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.” The “woman clothed with the sun” here refers to God’s Church on the earth, and the phrase “with the moon under her feet” means that God’s Church is still under the rule of the world. This tells us that God’s Church on this world, and the saints who belong to it, will glorify God by being martyred.
The phrase, “on her head a garland of twelve stars,” shows that the Church will fight against Satan in the end times and be martyred by faith. As the Word of God tells us, God’s Church will indeed triumph. Though Satan will, to destroy our faith, threaten us in all kinds of ways, make us suffer, harm us, and eventually even demand our lives, we will still defend our faith and be martyred righteously. This is the victory in faith.
In the Early Church period, many saints that preceded us were also martyred. This martyrdom comes not by our own strength, but by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts.
From the phrase, “a woman clothed with the sun,” the “woman” here refers to God’s Church, and that she is “clothed with the sun” means that the Church would be heavily persecuted. Even in the midst of the fearful tribulations and plagues of the end times, the saints will defend their faith stoutly and never surrender to Satan. Why? Because the Holy Spirit in their hearts would make them stand and fight against Satan, and would give them the faith that never surrenders to any threat or persecution even at the risk of their lives.
Also, because those who have placed their hope in the Kingdom of Heaven believe in the Word of God that tells them that the plagues of the seven trumpets would soon end and be followed by the plagues of the seven bowls that would wipe out the earth, they never capitulate before Satan.
Those who know and believe that a better world does not await them if they were to surrender to Satan can never bow before him. The plagues of the seven bowls that would be poured on the Antichrist and his followers will devour them restlessly and mercilessly. The saints who know all about such plagues, 100 percent of them, will never throw away their faith because of the threats, for the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts. The Holy Spirit who dwells in us will give us the strength to stand against Satan, overcome him, and be martyred.
When the plague of the fourth trumpet passes by and the plagues of the fifth and the sixth trumpets come, “martyrdom” will come to us. Those who defend their faith and are martyred are only those who are born again by the water and the Spirit. When the plagues of the seven trumpets descend, the Antichrist will have authority over the world temporarily permitted by God.
Knowing that his authority would last only for a short while, Satan’s servant, the Antichrist, will persecute those who serve Jesus Christ as their Lord, so that he may take as many people as possible with him to hell. But those who have passed all their sins onto Jesus through His baptism will not surrender to the Antichrist’ persecution, but stoutly defend the gospel given by Jesus Christ and be martyred.
As such, martyrdom is the evidence of faith. Those who have this evidence will have the Millennial Kingdom and the New Heaven and Earth prepared by the Lord. This applies to all those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit scattered throughout the whole world. The Bible tells us that almost all the born-again saints will be martyred during these end times.
But those who, in order to avoid martyrdom, abandon their faith of the water and the Spirit, stand on the Antichrist’s side, and serve and worship him as God will be killed by the plagues of the seven bowls and at the hands of the Antichrist himself. Their death would never constitute their martyrdom, but only a hopeless death in vain. When Satan and the Antichrist are cast out to hell, these people will together fall into it.
Betraying Jesus Christ to avoid martyrdom and lessen the tribulations’ hardships even by a little will be a foolish thing to do. When the plagues of the seven trumpets end and those who have defended their faith are martyred, the plagues of the seven bowls will soon ravage throughout this earth, leaving few survivors. What are clear is that those who have received the remission of sin will most certainly be martyred, and that for us not to betray our Lord at this moment of martyrdom, we must prepare our faith now by believing with the proper knowledge of the end times and the correct understanding of the Word.
We have received the remission of our sins, and when we are martyred, we will experience a joy heretofore unknown to us, as God would strengthen us. Let our faith be clearly set in our hearts that you and I are fated to be martyred for the Lord. When this moment of martyrdom passes by, God will most certainly give us our resurrection and rapture, allow us to be glorified in the Millennial Kingdom, give us His eternal New Heaven and Earth and make us reign, and permit us to forever live in wealth—if we steadfastly believe in all these, our suffering itself will be transformed into our joy.
The Apostle Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). While serving the gospel, Paul had suffered greatly, beaten to near death on more than several occasions. But by believing that this suffering was for the glory of God, Paul’s pain became his tremendous joy. And according to the historical records and folklore, almost all the apostles, including Paul, were martyred. Peter is said to have been crucified on the Vatican Hill upside down. And the Early Church leaders, including Polycarp, and many other saints sang praises to God even as they were burnt to death on stake. Such things would not have been possible had God not strengthened His saints.
Even as there were such faithful saints in this time, there also were those who betrayed their faith. Origen, a theologian who is highly regarded by today’s theologians, was someone who heard the gospel directly from the apostles. Yet when the time for his martyrdom came, he escaped it, as his life was spared even as his fellow saints were martyred. This would not have been possible had he not denied everything that Jesus had done for him. Origen was thus representative of those who denied the divinity of Jesus. But despite his betrayal, today’s theologians place him very high among the most renowned theologians.
Why did Origen escape martyrdom while the other saints embraced it? It was not because Origen’s willpower was weak while that of the other martyred saints was strong. The saints who were martyred while praising God did so because they believed in what Paul had spoken of—that is, in “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” They could bear their present suffering, in other words, because they believed in God’s Word of promise that He shall resurrect and rapture them, and give them His Millennial Kingdom.
We must realize clearly that martyrdom will come to us. Those who live their lives of faith with a clear knowledge of this fact are different from the rest. Those who believe that the picture of the martyred saints of the Early Church period is their own picture can have a life of faith that is strong, dignified and bold, for all the Word of the Bible would then be their own story. They always live with the faith that can embrace martyrdom—that is, they live by always believing that after their martyrdom, God would give them their resurrection and rapture, and the New Heaven and Earth that He planned and prepared for them beforehand.
Those who believe in this can always live a bold life of faith, for they know that their faith prepares them for their end, when they would be able to die while praising God. And because this is not just a simple matter of doctrine, but of actual faith, those who do not fully believe in this Word and the gospel will be the first to sell us out to the Antichrist. This is why, once you and I realize that we are to be martyred, our brothers and sisters in God’s Church, who have the same faith as ours and will be together with us forever, are so important to us. The servants of God, His people, and His Church—all these are precious to us as well.
The saints of the Early Church period had a faith that was even more earnest and definite than that of us who now live in the end times. They believed in their martyrdom, in their following resurrection and rapture, and in the Millennial Kingdom and the New Heaven and Earth. This is why they lived their lives of faith as if they were actually living in the time of the Great Tribulation, as if the Lord’s return were imminent. So when we who live in the age of the impending arrival of the era of the Tribulation read about them, their stories appeal to us as realistic and vivid, for they, too, knew and believed in all the Word of God on the Tribulation, and their martyrdom, resurrection and rapture.
Because we actually live our lives with the end times nearing us right before our own eyes, we must prepare our faith of martyrdom tightly in our hearts. Satan will challenge whoever believes in Christ’s water and blood, trying to bring down their faith. To not surrender to this challenge from Satan, we must bind the gospel of the water and the Spirit to our hearts, reexamine its grasp once more with our hope for the New Heaven and Earth, and make sure that this faith of ours is not loosened until the very moment of our martyrdom.
The reason why the saints of the Early Church period defended their faith desperately is because they had also known and believed in all the Word of the Scripture on the Tribulation, and their martyrdom, resurrection and rapture. You and I, too, will be martyred. I’ll die, and so will you—we will all die to defend our faith. Perhaps I’ll be the first to be dragged and killed. This in itself may appear as a terrifying prospect, but in the end, there is nothing to be feared, for the logical conclusion of avoiding martyrdom would be to deny our faith, something that we absolutely cannot do.
After all, God is to be glorified through our martyrdom, and He has set this as our fate. So this is something that we must go through at least once. Since we can neither avoid nor escape from going through it, let us instead run to it in full strength and leap over it boldly. We have the King’s authority that no one else has, and we also have our hope of eternal blessings. As such, we can always pray to God to strengthen us, and give even more glory to Him. By believing without fearing our martyrdom, we will receive an ever greater joy. This is a great glory for God, and a great blessing for us.
God wrote the Book of Revelation to speak to us about the saints’ martyrdom, resurrection and rapture, the Millennial Kingdom, and the New Heaven and Earth. Therefore, if you have correct knowledge of Revelation, you can live out your faith in this declining world. The road to the New Heaven and Earth written in Revelation cannot be traveled on without the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And this faith cannot be confirmed without going through martyrdom. I hope and pray, therefore, that you would bind your faith to your heart tightly, believing that you would not betray the gospel but be martyred when the time comes, and look ahead with your faith. Your life of faith will then change drastically from this very moment.
We will not die in vain, caught in the traps of Satan. Following the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we will die to defend our faith. This is the very martyrdom. The day of our martyrdom will surely come. But we do not fear it, for we know that though our bodies would be killed by Satan, God would soon make us live again in our new, glorious bodies. We also know that our martyrdom will shortly be followed by our resurrection and rapture, and that all that awaits us from then on is the blessing of reigning in the Millennial Kingdom and our eternal kingship in Heaven.
Long ago, the Roman Emperor Nero set fire to Rome to rebuild the city. When the Roman citizens became furious at this, he blamed the incendiary fire upon Christians and massacred them indiscriminately. Likewise, when natural disasters strike the world during the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist will blame us the saints for all the plagues, accuse us falsely, and kill us.
So, we must pray to God, from now on, to give us the faith of martyrdom, the faith with which we can die. If we do not abandon our faith and are martyred, the glory of God will appear. But if we abandon our faith, surrender to the Antichrist, and accept him as God, we will be thrown into the eternal fire. If we pray to God for the faith with which we can overcome the Antichrist, in other words, our Lord will give us strength and power, but if do not set our hearts steadfastly and betray our faith, He will only have hell to give us.
Let me tell you a small story from the Korean War. The North Korean troops came to a certain church in the southern countryside, where a deacon named Chudal Bae was taking care of it. Seeing that the churchyard was dirty, an invading soldier told the deacon to clean it up. But this deacon refused to do so, saying that he had to keep the Lord’s day holy. The soldiers, getting impatient, threatened to kill him right before the whole congregation if he did not clean up the yard. But the deacon continued to refuse, saying that he had to defend his faith, and was eventually killed. Later on, some Christians have called his death martyrdom, but this is not martyrdom. Why? Because martyrdom is dying for the righteous work—that is, to reveal the glory of God. Dying for one’s stubbornness under the pretext of God is far from constituting martyrdom.
Could we throw away the love of salvation that God has given us? Because of our blemishes and sins, Jesus Christ took upon all our sins on Himself with His baptism and was crucified to death. If we render our full devotion to this love of our Lord to death, far less can we throw away the gospel that gives us the New Heaven and Earth for the sake of the flesh that would simply disappear with our death. We were born into this world fated to be saved, to preach the gospel of salvation to everyone on this earth, and to die while preaching. Do not forget that the fate of the saints who have received the remission of sin, that is, our own fate is to live by faith and be martyred to overcome Satan’s challenge of faith for the sake of the glory that God will bestow on us.
We have so many shortcomings and are so full of blemishes that we cannot give glory to God with anything. To such people as us, God has given the opportunity to give a great glory to the Lord, and this is none other than martyrdom. Do not avoid it. Let us believe in God who will lessen the time of the Tribulation if we ask Him, and by holding onto our hope for the inheritance of the New Heaven and Earth, let us overcome our transient suffering that will quickly end. Let us live by believing that the Lord will not allow too great a suffering to those who have faithfully lived for Him, nor permit them anything that would make them betray their faith, but that He will protect them and bestow them with even more abundant grace.
Realizing that we are to be martyred, we need the experience of facing hardship, persevering through suffering, and laboring for the Lord. Through such things, we will grow our faith through the experience of walking with the Lord, and when the end times come, we will be able to face our martyrdom with the strength given by the Lord. If we remain without having any experience of suffering for the Lord, of devotion to Him, or of labor and sacrifice for Him, fear will overwhelm us when the time of our martyrdom comes with the arrival of the Great Tribulation. Only those who have suffered and overcome pain before can beat their suffering once again.
I pray to God that your life of faith would be that of suffering for the Lord and of victory over it, and that when the moment of martyrdom arrives, you, too, would be among the faithful who can remind their hearts and confess with their lips that all these things are their own glory permitted to them through the blessing and grace of God.
If you desperately want to take the Kingdom of Heaven with your faith, the New Heaven and Earth will surely be yours.
God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).