Lessons from the book of Revelation in our increasingly anti-Christian culture

(Photo: Unsplash/Aaron Burden)

As some people have discovered, exposés can prove highly embarrassing. Prince Michael of Kent seems to be the latest high-profile figure to fall foul of public scrutiny, having been accused of using his royal status for personal profit, and seeking favours from Russian President Vladimir Putin. This followed an undercover investigation by Channel 4's Dispatches programme, in collaboration with The Sunday Times.

Whatever the truth of this latest allegation, it is worth remembering that exposés can prove hugely enlightening too, which is why I have found Rory Cormac's analysis of the UK government's 'covert' actions so intriguing. His book, Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy is more than 'highly readable', it is a fascinating account of how "British leaders have consistently resorted to intervening in the affairs of others deniably".

In 1947-1948 for example, the British government engaged in acts of black propaganda, deception and sabotage because it strongly supported moves to stem illegal immigration to Palestine. As a result of this, the notional organisation 'Defenders of Arab Palestine' was set up to deliberately divert attention from British covert activity by claiming responsibility for the attacks.

This is why I love the Book of Revelation. 'Revelation' comes from a Latin word that means 'to unveil, to uncover or to lay bare' and the Greek word is equally informative too because 'apocalypsis' points to some sort of 'unveiling'. The apostle John wrote this book because he believed he could give us insight into things that would normally be hidden from view. As the late Christian writer Richard Bewes says, "Apocalyptic writing takes you behind the scenes and reveals the unseen principles that affect human history - and the future' of the universe."

Revelation has a great deal to say to a church that is facing persecution and opposition, not least in our increasingly anti-Christian culture. Little did I imagine, for example, that I would read about a chaplain at a Christian school who said he'd lost his job and been reported to the counter-terrorism watchdog after telling his students they could make up their own minds about gender identity and sexuality, and were not compelled to "accept an ideology they disagree with".

"My story sends a message to other Christians that you are not free to talk about your faith," he said.

"It seems it is no longer enough to just 'tolerate' LGBT ideology. You must accept it without question and no debate is allowed without serious consequences.

"Someone else will decide what is and what isn't acceptable, and suddenly you can become an outcast, possibly for the rest of your life."

And he added, "What was I supposed to tell my family? Being reported as a potential terrorist, extremist and a danger to children are arguably the worst crimes you could be accused of."

In the same way I find it Kafkaesque to read that a State Prosecutor in Finland would claim that criminal charges against a Christian Democrat MP are justified because her stated view that homosexual activity is sinful according to the Bible is "discriminatory hate speech" and therefore "punishable" under Finnish law.

How do we explain all this? I believe the Book of Revelation gives us the answer because it exposes the covert activity of unseen but malevolent spiritual powers at work in our world, and it is vital we understand what we are dealing with if we are going to defeat them.

The Book of Revelation is helpful here, too, because it shows us that the only way to win is to stand up for what we believe, even when that proves extremely costly. This is neither the time for timidity nor for anonymity then.

But thankfully it also shows us the devil is a little bit like a headless chicken; he may thrash around leaving all sorts of damage in his wake, but he's deeply frustrated because he knows his time is short. God is in control and those who belong to Him can't and won't lose because Jesus has conquered death.