This phrase “shall wear out the saints,” came up in conversation recently. In my opinion, it begs both an explanation and answers.
Depending on what version of the Bible you are using, wear out is also translated as: exhaust, crush, hurt, and consume. It is the Chaldean word belâ, meaning: to afflict, and it is only used once in the Bible.
The terms wear out and to afflict, convey two different things to me. One makes me think of the damage I used to do to my jeans during the summers as a child. We climbed and slid across everything we could; mental pressure could certainly do that.
To afflict, on the other hand, has a broad range of violence attached to it. I can remember the knuckle to the head in grade school, but it can also mean beheadings. Needs some clarity, doesn’t it?
I was asked,
- When does this “wearing out of the saints” take place, and is it possible that we are in it now?
- Does it imply a continuous action, or it could be at a given moment?
- Is it suggesting common issues of life or a constant threat of death?
Biblical confrontations can wear you out especially when you try to follow the broken logic, that never seems to end, as every illogical argument is thrown at you. Most of these arguments are easily resolved if the person speaking would merely read their bible, but they do not. They only read and hear what they want. That is why these arguments become more of an emotion driven conversation. I used to think I could respond with concise information, such as quotes from Josephus, Tacitus, or the Strong’s concordance, in a manner that would clearly show why their arguments are wrong, and that the answer is not always so black and white, or narrow-minded. On that note: there is only one way, and his name is Jesus.
The confrontations are not so much on my part, in other words, I am not trying to pick theological fights with people, mainly because my memory is shot and I am not retaining information as I once could. I personally think that this is the Holy Spirit keeping me in check, because I know me, and I would shred these false teachers publicly if given a chance. Since I cannot, I often defer and withdraw, muttering, how’s that working for you?. I hate that, but if I look at this in terms of a warrior who has taken a hit to a dominant arm or hand, they might be rendered ineffective, but you will not remove the warrior mentality from them. That warrior mentality can become a burden at times, primarily because there is no need for such full-on clashes. Sometimes all you need to do is reason with people. One other thing; I have also come to realize that I do not have to be heard all the time. This takes a tremendous amount of pressure off me, as I have come to realize that God is in control, not me.
We should understand that Satan is the perpetual enemy of the believer. Scripture tells us that there is a particular time range involved with these events we see in Daniel’s prophecy.
Unfortunately, this wearing out of the Saints falls during a vast, nondescript period, the time of the fourth beast. The particular reference is found in Daniel’s book of prophecies.
“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them, and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.” (Daniel 7:23-26 KJV)
I felt safe in calling the time of the fourth beast, vast and nondescript because we have a sharp clarity on the identity of the three former kingdoms. The Grecian Empire plays a dominant role in understanding where this beast could come from. Starting with Alexander and continuing through to the Seleucid and Ptolemaic Empires, is, in my mind, the fourth beast empire. Many like to speculate that the fourth empire was the Roman Empire even though it was not spelled out as the others were. The typical approach most use in determining what to call the beast kingdom, and therefore decide where the “beast” will come from, is in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 9:26 KJV And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
If you have followed me, long enough you understand that this has two fulfillments. One came under the rule of the Roman general Titus with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. However, there is another fulfillment coming in the last days.
Titus, the Roman general, is considered by many to be “the prince that shall come.” However, if you do your research, you find that the evidence leans toward a Middle Eastern people, referred to as Assyrians, not Romans.
Here is what the historian Josephus tells us in – The Wars of the Jews – Book 5 Chapter 13
“.yet did another plague seize upon those that were thus preserved; for there was found among the Syrian deserters a certain person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrements of the Jews’ bellies; for the deserters used to swallow such pieces of gold, as we told you before, when they came out, and for these did the seditious search them all; for there was a great quantity of gold in the city, insomuch that as much was now sold [in the Roman camp] for twelve Attic [drams], as was sold before for twenty-five. But when this contrivance was discovered in one instance, the fame of it filled their several camps that the deserters came to them full of gold. So the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected.”
In The Wars of the Jews book 6, chapter 4, Josephus tells us that many considered the temple a citadel for the Jews and an inspiration to continue rebelling against the Roman occupation. The fire had already been ordered against the gates of the temple, but Titus argued and verbally prevailed in regards to saving the temple.
“But Titus said, that “although the Jews should get upon that holy house, and fight us thence, yet ought we not to revenge ourselves on things that are inanimate, instead of the men themselves;” and that he was not in any case for burning down so vast a work as that was, because this would be a mischief to the Romans themselves, as it would be an ornament to their government while it continued. So Fronto, and Alexander, and Cerealis grew bold upon that declaration, and agreed to the opinion of Titus. Then was this assembly dissolved, when Titus had given orders to the commanders that the rest of their forces should lie still; but that they should make use of such as were most courageous in this attack. So he commanded that the chosen men that were taken out of the cohorts should make their way through the ruins, and quench the fire.”
“Titus’s retiring, the seditious lay still for a little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those that guarded the holy house fought with those that quenched the fire that was burning the inner [court of the] temple; but these Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy house itself. At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it.”
Notice the reaction of Titus and ask yourself, does this look like someone bent on a complete destruction of the temple?
“And now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire, as he was resting himself in his tent after the last battle; whereupon he rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house, in order to have a stop put to the fire; after him followed all his commanders, and after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire. But they did not hear what he said, though he spake so loud, having their ears already dimmed by a greater noise another way; nor did they attend to the signal he made with his hand neither, as still some of them were distracted with fighting, and others with passion. But as for the legions that came running thither, neither any persuasions nor any threatening could restrain their violence, but each one’s own passion was his commander at this time;”
I perceive this statement to be the most telling of them all, and it was said by Titus, the Roman general:
“Moreover, do the Arabians and Syrians now, first of all, begin to govern themselves as they please, and to indulge their appetites in a foreign war, and then, out of their barbarity in murdering men, and out of their hatred to the Jews, get it ascribed to the Romans?”
Titus’ fear was that the barbarity of these men would be ascribed to the Romans, and that is exactly what we do when we declare the fourth empire to be a revived Roman Empire. Do you not see that ascribing Rome to the fourth empire also takes our eyes off what could be the true evil of the last days, Islam?
In recent years, I held the position that “the saints” were only those that were martyred during the seven-year period of God’s wrath, that we so foolishly call the tribulation. I did the very thing I despise, spewing out concepts as fact without checking my Bible adequately. Paul used the term saints throughout his writings, and that tends to dispel the idea that the saints are exclusive to the years of wrath. Several examples are Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Ephesians 6:8, and numerable others.
The terminology saint immediately takes me to Revelation where we see things like the woman, drunken with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6). It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the primary understanding here is martyred saints.
However, there is something notable about John’s writings. He never used the term saints in speaking about the church outside of the Revelation; the majority of the time he calls them –little children, and brethren. The feel is one of association and an understanding of the heart and character of God. Considering John’s beginnings in comparison to the end, it only makes sense that he would have God’s heart as he unfolds the Revelation, a time of nightmarish destruction and judgment. This time we call the Tribulation, is not directed at “my little children.”
Note: I have reread and edited this post several times since I published it, but just today 9/19/2021, the statements above have grabbed my heart once again. John, in telling us what he saw is giving us a play by play, and, he is pouring out God’s heart and character to us. God saw fit to retrieve His church, His body before He pours out His wrath on an unbelieving and, for the most part, an unrepentent world.
I realize that I initiated this conversation with a portion of Daniel, not John, yet they talk about the same thing; this parallel discussion demonstrates the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. We cannot discount the idea that John’s recollection of Daniel’s prophecies may have played a role in John’s terminology.
When you look at end times prophecy, there are only three people groups to consider: the Jews, the nations, and the church.
While there can and will be some crossing over between the Jews and the church; at that point followers of Christ are considered a part of the church.
Some will say that God gave up on the Jews. I do not think so. He has engraved their names and faces on the palms of his hands. You do not give up something that precious, especially after showing that level of commitment. God has a plan to drive the heart of the Jew, his chosen, back to himself. Unfortunately, there is much pain and suffering involved with that journey.
In general, the Jews have rejected Jesus, the Messiah, and therefore subjected themselves to the wrath that is coming.
“And as He drew near, He beheld the city and wept over it, saying, If you had known, even you, even at least in this day of yours, the things for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you that your enemies will raise up a rampart to you, and will surround you, and will keep you in on every side. And they will tear you down, and your children within you, and will not leave a stone on a stone because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
(Luke 19:41-44 MKJV)
The rejection of God by Israel is a common theme. An example of this is seen in the selection of Saul as king.
And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (1 Samuel 8:7 KJV)
The nations could also be referred to the as the Gentiles. Daniel referred to them as the people of the prince that shall come. Jesus, talking about the days of vengeance said,
“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24 KJV)
The church is the entire collection of believers comprising the body of Christ.
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23 KJV)
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15-18 KJV)
In general, the church is excluded from the wrath, or vengeance, that is coming upon the earth.
But God proves his love for us by this (James Moffatt), in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:8-9 KJV)
“. you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and a real God and to wait for the coming of his Son from heaven — the Son whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who rescues us from the Wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 Moffatt NT)
The church likes to hold itself in exclusivity, thinking that we are protected from tribulation. Look, Jesus guaranteed us three things:
- In this world, you will have tribulation.
- You will be hated by all men for my names’ sake.
- I will come again for you.
Tribulation and Wrath/vengeance is two different things.
Tribulation is non-stop and comes in many forms. It has nothing to do with your inability to buy a new propeller for the family ski boat. Get real, people in parts of the world where there is a heavy Muslim influence are being killed daily.
If you lived under a constant threat of death, do you think you would feel as though you are being worn down?
Perhaps the Bible in Basic English translates it more appropriately. Daniel 7:25 (a) BBE
And he will say words against the Most High, attempting to put an end to the saints of the Most High;”
It is clear that the intent is to kill the saints.
And he shall speak words against the Most High, and he shall wear out the saints of the Most High. And he intends to change times and law. And they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and one-half time. (Daniel 7:25 LITV)
Daniel 7:23 Declares that what was to come is the fourth beast. If the fourth beast is Islam, then that was initiated over 600 years after Christ’s death by Muhammad.
Born approximately in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca, Muhammad was orphaned at an early age; he was raised under the care of his paternal uncle Abu Talib. After his childhood Muhammad primarily worked as a merchant. Occasionally he would retreat to a cave in the mountains for several nights of seclusion and prayer; later, at age 40, he reported at this spot, that he was visited by Gabriel and received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that “God is One“, that complete “surrender” (lit. islām) to Him is the only way (dīn)[n 3] acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, similar to other Islamic prophets. (From Wikipedia.)
Islam has operated under various caliphates since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD (BCE). While all of them caused the Middle Eastern world grief, one of the largest most powerful was the Ottoman Caliphate.
Ottoman Caliphate (1453/1517–1924)
At the end of October 1922, the Allies invited the nationalist and Ottoman governments to a conference at Lausanne, Switzerland, but Atatürk was determined that the nationalist government should be Turkey’s sole representative. In November 1922, the Grand National Assembly separated the offices of sultan and caliph and abolished the former. The assembly further stated that the Ottoman regime had ceased to be the government of Turkey when the Allies seized the capital in 1920, in effect abolishing the Ottoman Empire. [Excerpt from, the Ottomans.org]
The reality of the statement above is that the Ottoman Empire effectively sustained what appeared to be the mortal head wound in 1924, and for many years the Middle Eastern world had peace.
Is it possible that believers have been under attack for eighteen hundred years?
Without a doubt!
Pay attention to another aspect of Islam.
“The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Ismailia, Egypt by Hassan al-Banna in March 1928 as an Islamist religious, political, and social movement. The group spread to other Muslim countries but has its largest, or one of its largest, organizations in Egypt, where for many years it has been the largest, best-organized, and most disciplined political opposition force, despite a succession of government crackdowns in 1948, 1954, 1965 after plots, or alleged plots, of assassination and overthrow were uncovered. Following the 2011 Revolution the group was legalized, and in April 2011 it launched a civic political party called the Freedom and Justice Party (Egypt) to contest elections.” (Wikipedia)
Notice that this is seven and a half years after the Caliphate was disbanded.
The mulim brotherhood had “links to the Nazis began during the 1930s and were close during the Second World War, involving agitation against the British, espionage and sabotage, as well as support for terrorist activities orchestrated by Haj Amin el-Hussaini in British Mandate Palestine, as a wide range of declassified documents from the British, American and Nazi German governmental archives, as well as from personal accounts and memoirs from that period, confirm. Reflecting this connection the Muslim Brotherhood also disseminated Hitler’s Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion widely in Arab translations, helping to deepen and extend already existing hostile views about Jews and Western societies generally.” (Wikipedia)
The point to this is that Islam has been a destructive thorn in the flesh of those who do not comply for over 1800 years. Have they been a global threat throughout their history, no, but it took a global response to subdue them in 1922. I think we can agree that they are global now, and a greater threat than ever before. Aside from that, their prime directive is to kill the people of the book, which would be the Jew and the Christian. Have you noticed that they are making a serious dent in our democracy with their goals?
If you have watched the news the last couple of years, then you are aware of Christians that are being slaughtered in the mid-East and African nations. Perhaps you have also noticed that attacks against any group outside of Islam are fair game to them. Buddhists, Catholics, you name it. They even fight each other as though there is a competition to see who can follow the Qur’an more precisely. Unfortunately, for the outsider, while the Qur’an does have passages devoted to peace, they are superseded by newer passages that demand a strict and violent compliance.
I think it is evident that there is affliction directed at Christians in certain parts of the world. Not to be left out of this violence against Christians is China and North Korea. I suppose the question is, how long until this level of violence comes to the Americas and afflicts us as well?
Do not think that your non-belief will protect you.
In general, Islam feels that any American is a Christ follower and worthy of death. Scripture tells me that you may have a chance to reject God and accept Allah as your God of choice, bowing before him in worship. Perhaps that will save your neck for the moment. I am aware that they cut a man’s head off anyway, possibly because they felt he was a coward with no backbone. I suspect it will not be as easy as that, and they may not have the time to await your decision. Of course giving into this cuts you off from any hope of a relationship with God. In other words, there is no turning back from this decision.
If you do not know Jesus Christ, you can. Ask him into your life, turn yourself over to him, and accept his forgiveness. Allow him to run your life, as you have been messing it up. You do not have to work for your salvation, as it is free and paid for, you merely have to receive this life and salvation. You will experience a peace that you have never known before and a promise that he will come for you so that you can live with him in glory.