Analysis. Many IFA intercessors recognize anti-Christ actions — and even anti-Christ persons — in every era and among the nations. Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler murdered millions of God’s people in pursuit of their own exclusive claims to sovereignty.
When most Christians consider the Antichrist, they think of an individual, because of the beast from the sea depicted in Revelation 13 or the man of lawlessness described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4. This figure uses satanic power and charisma to obtain nearly total political, governmental, societal, and economic power globally. He will even compel worship of himself and of the satanic forces that empower him. A false prophet who will sculpt and enforce the official narrative will aid the Antichrist.
I agree that the Antichrist as he is discussed in Revelation 13 will arise in the end times, though I used to wonder how any one person or entity could subdue the entire world.
I do not wonder anymore.
Governments today shut down entire nations upon the pronouncements of global health agencies. Media of all sorts have stirred up fear and crushed dissent, even cowing usually independent people. Watching how quickly and thoroughly a recent virus has conquered the world, I see now how a single leader or a consortium of leaders with a shared satanic goal could indeed gain the power associated with the biblical Antichrist.
The worldwide reaction to the COVID-19 crisis served, I believe, as a “global grooming” for the advent of the Antichrist. Seeing the Church’s response, I have wondered if we, the people of Jesus, are ready for “the real deal.”
How many of us donned a piece of cloth across our faces whenever mandated? How many of us submitted reluctantly to uncertain medical treatment to keep a job? How many of us locked ourselves away in our houses, hoping someone else would deal with the ailing and suffering ones?
Even worse, how many of us essentially allowed the beast into our corporate worship services by agreeing to governmental meddling? “The days of seclusion have not been generous,” the Lord told me directly in March 2022. “And indeed, much evil has been done because of the demonic ‘lockdowns.’ ”
I do not mean to condemn; I was one who did some of the things cited above. Given how easily I caved to the restrictions associated with this medical emergency, how will I fare under greater persecution? What about when the Antichrist really emerges? When Christ returns, will He find me faithful?
The letters Christ commanded be sent to the seven churches in Revelation provide spiritual direction. The apostle John, who received the visions in that book, pastored these churches of Asia Minor. Their context and their spiritual conditions yield important principles and prayers for our battle-readiness.
Most of John’s churches were being squeezed between the established religion of Judaism and the powerful pagan Greco-Roman government and culture. The Romans enforced an imperial cult of worship. Conquered peoples were forced to make offerings to the emperor and his image.
Because of the exclusive nature of the worship of the Lord, Jewish people were exempt from official worship of the emperor. Instead, they were allowed to make offerings to the emperor’s health.
Initially, Rome was ignorant of the difference between Judaism and Christianity. But when Jewish leaders began to denounce the nascent churches and their beliefs, Christians were plunged into danger.
Christ commended the church at Ephesus for good deeds, hard work, perseverance, adherence to the truth, and rejection of false doctrine. That church seemed to be a high-functioning one, in a culture dominated by the worship of Artemis, a fertility goddess.
Sadly, though, its people had lost the vitality of their relationship with the Lord. Jesus urges them to return to Him with their initial passion. They needed to repent, lest they slip away entirely.
Lord, we repent of taking You for granted, neglecting our first love. Forgive us and return us to the passion and the full-orbed relationship we had with You when we first believed. In Jesus’ name.
Jesus gives an encouraging word to Smyrna. Significant persecution is impoverishing the believers there, and Jesus encourages that church — where Polycarp ministered — to remain faithful to the point of martyrdom.
When Christ refers there to the synagogue of Satan, He is not talking about the Jewish people as a whole. He is talking about those Jewish people who were “outing” Christians to the Roman government.
Lord, help us to remain faithful to You even when everything turns against us, even to the point of death. In Jesus’ name.
Pergamum was a center for imperial worship and witchcraft, which is why Christ refers to it as the place of Satan’s throne. Scholars believe that Antipas, who is mentioned by name in the letter, was burned alive in the belly of a brazen bull used for witchcraft. Beyond his refusal to worship the emperor, Antipas may have been targeted because his prayers drove many demons away from the region.
Lord, show us where we entertain ungodly practices, thoughts, and behaviors. Forgive us and change us. We decree that witchcraft will not thrive over a people born free! In Jesus’ name.
While commending the church of Thyatira for its love, faithfulness, service, and perseverance, Christ harshly reproves those who entertain false teachings from “Jezebel.”
The historical Jezebel, the queen and wife of Israel’s King Ahab, is one of the most evil figures in all the Old Testament. She murdered most of the Lord’s prophets and established Baal worship and witchcraft in the land. Christ deliberately evokes her evil by applying her name to the person who is then deceiving many in Thyatira.
This church’s false prophetess taught accommodation with the culture, leading many into idolatry and sexual immorality. Christ had warned her, but she refused to repent, so He would now judge her and her followers.
Lord, show us where we have tolerated false teaching, immoral behaviors, and ungodly cultural accommodation within our churches. Convict, forgive, and change us. We would not be among those deceived, led astray, and destroyed. In Jesus’ name.
Christ sounds an alarm to Sardis, calling this church to repent of spiritual deadness. Suffering no obvious persecution, the church seems sluggish as a result of the wealth and luxury that city enjoys.
That city had a history of lethargy. Sardis’ king thought the city was unconquerable because of its fortress acropolis. But legend has it that Persia did breach its defenses by observing where a soldier had crept out of a secret entrance to retrieve the helmet that had fallen from his head. Christ warns this church against a similar lack of vigilance.
Lord, awaken and quicken us. We repent of complacency and deadness. Forgive us and change us. Help us strengthen what is about to die in our relationship with You. In Jesus’ name.
Philadelphia was located in an earthquake-prone part of Asia and had been leveled at various times in its history. To this day, the region experiences regular tremors. In contrast, the steadfastness of this little church is notable.
Jewish leaders denounced the church members, and the government persecuted them. As a result, they were not among the city fathers whose names might be inscribed on temple columns. In view of that ostracism, Christ’s promise of making them pillars — inscribed with God’s name — in the Lord’s temple is particularly poignant.
Lord, help us remain faithful, standing firmly upon the Rock when the world shakes around us. We want to be pillars in Your temple, inscribed with Your name.
Laodicea was a populous banking, medical, and textile center. It also revolved around entertainment, having two large amphitheaters with sun exposures that enabled their continuous use.
Lacking any fresh spring nearby, Laodicea relied upon the cool runoff from the mountain snows and from the rivers to its south. These waters mingled with aqueduct-ferried waters piped in from the thermal hot springs in Hierapolis and Pamukkale to the north. The resulting water was lukewarm. Many people reacted to the mineral content of those waters with vomiting.
In view of this background, Christ warns the church of Laodicea against its spiritual arrogance stemming from wealth, ease, and self-sufficiency.
Lord, forgive us for our arrogance and our false sense of self-sufficiency. Change us, purify us from unclean waters, and fill us instead with the fresh, cool waters of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for giving us these letters as a warning, as an encouragement, and as direction for spiritual preparation. Establish us firmly in relationship with You through Jesus Christ and in the truth as a safeguard against deception. Convict us of any compromise, ungodliness, or complacency. Help us to stay faithful and undeceived through any persecution and through all the days of the Antichrist. In Jesus’ name.
Does this help you pray more effectively for the Church today? Share it with others.
New York City–based Joyce Swingle is an intercessor and a contributing writer for IFA. With her husband, Rich, also a contributing writer for IFA, Joyce shares the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world through theater, speaking, writing, and film. Prior to going into full-time ministry, Joyce worked for about 20 major magazines and now works in pastoral ministry and Christian counseling. Read more about Joyce’s work at www.Richdrama.com. Photo Credit: Canva.