I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.
–Revelation 6:9

The Bible says that persecution of Christians will escalate during a future period we call the Tribulation. During the Tribulation, millions of Christians will be slaughtered for their faith in Jesus Christ. You say, “I thought all Christians were going to be raptured before the Tribulation.” Yes, the church will be raptured before the final seven years of Earth’s history. But during those final seven years, many people who remain on earth will come to faith in Christ.

John said that many of the people who become Christians during the Tribulation will be martyred. In Revelation 6:9 he says, “I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” The final world dictator, whom we call the Antichrist, will launch a worldwide attack against Jews and Christians. During that time, no one will be able to buy or sell goods or services unless they take the identification code called the mark of the beast. “He causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17). Unless you take the mark that shows your allegiance to the Antichrist, you won’t be able to buy food or medication or health care.

You may wonder, “How could government control our lives like that?” To find the answer to that question, all you have to do is take out your smartphone. Embedded in that smartphone is a chip that connects to a GPS that allows you and other people to know where you are and where you are going. Soon that same kind of technology will be able to track every action we do.

There will be all kinds of rationalizations for why people need to take this mark, which may be a tiny computer chip embedded in our skin. People will say, “We need to ID everyone for national security.” Or, “We need to make sure transactions get recorded so the government can tax them.” There will be all kinds of logical reasons for this identification system, but we know where it is leading. The Bible calls it the mark of the beast. Since the beginning of Christianity, believers have been persecuted. And the persecution right now is the greatest level it has been in history. We also know that in the future there is going to be a worldwide persecution of Christians.

I believe in the rapture of the church, but that doesn’t mean Christians get a pass on persecution. I think things could be very, very terrible before the church is finally raptured. There is no guarantee that we will be exempt from persecution. In fact, Jesus said that as we prepare for His return, we need to be prepared for persecution as well.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Christians in the Crosshairs” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.