When you hear the term “remnant” as it’s used in the Bible, it refers to a group of people who remain loyal to God after a time of hardship.
There is special meaning to the remnant of believers that will exist in the last days, when earth is at its worst, right before Christ’s Second Coming.
Scripture tells us who will make up this end-time remnant: those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17, ESV).
But what does that mean in the context of the End Times? And what does that mean for us now?
Let’s take a closer look at:
- How the meaning of “remnant” is used in the Bible
- What the remnant is and who will be part of it
- The mission of this remnant
- Other references to a remnant in the Bible
- What the idea of the remnant means for us today
Belief 13: The Remnant and its Mission
The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness. (Dan. 7:9-14; Isa. 1:9; 11:11; Jer. 23:3; Mic. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Peter 1:16-19; 4:17; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Jude 3, 14; Rev. 12:17; 14:6-12; 18:1-4.)
The word “remnant” throughout the Bible
The Bible is full of stories where God calls His chosen people out of dangerous places or destructive company for their own safety.
One well-known remnant story in particular we find in Genesis 6: the story of Noah. God told him to build an enormous ark (Genesis 6:14) so he, and anyone else who believed God’s warning, would be safe from the terrible flood that would wipe out everything on the earth.
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. … I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 6:13, 17, ESV).
Although they had received numerous warnings to repent, the general masses of people chose to reject God and live according to their own selfish ways.
But not Noah and his family. Though small in number, they made up a faithful remnant of God’s true followers.
God didn’t want any of them to be lost, so He called them out—urging them to listen to His voice and flee the evil they were living among.
In the last days, right before Jesus returns to earth to take His followers to heaven, a Noah-like situation will happen again.
The world will be filled with wickedness, as humanity leans more and more on its own impulses and ambitions (2 Peter 3:2-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9). But those who still trust and believe in God will remain strong amid the influence of the world, rejecting its self-serving ways and embracing God’s ways (Revelation 12:17).
This end-times remnant is often what is being referenced when you hear about “The Remnant.”
The End-Times Remnant and who will be part of it
Those who are part of this remnant are recognizable by the way they choose to obey God’s commandments at all costs, pledging their allegiance to Him and turning away from sin.
Our world has been sinful since close to its beginning. There have always been people who do wrong, who choose to hurt others, or who live their lives in defiance of God and His laws. But the book of Revelation tells us that things on this earth are going to get a whole lot worse before Jesus returns. Satan, knowing he has very little time left, will try everything he can to drag down as many people as possible. He knows that the more people he can hurt, the more it hurts God.
The book of Revelation is full of prophetic imagery, using metaphorical characters to symbolize literal events. In Revelation, Satan is depicted as a raging dragon, while God’s church and His people and symbolized by a woman which the dragon seeks to destroy.
“Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus…” (Revelation 12:17, ESV).
The apostle John, the last of Jesus’ disciples and the one who wrote Revelation, tells us exactly who Satan will target. Satan’s goal is to harm those who keep God’s commandments and believe what Jesus taught.
But among the lawlessness of the corrupted world, God will call for His devoted followers to separate themselves from those who have rejected Him.
“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of [Babylon], my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5, ESV).
Those who do not come out of the wickedness of the word will be subject to the same fate as Satan—utter destruction. God refuses to let sin go on forever, and those who hold on to sin will have to account for their deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10).
But God’s remnant people are not just supposed to hide in holes as they separate themselves from the world. God has a job for his people to do, a message they will deliver.
For many people, this message will make the difference between eternal life with God and the permanent second death. All who hear it will have to make a single, vital decision: either to follow God or side with Satan and share his fate.
What is the Remnant’s Mission?
As the few true believers in the last days, the Remnant have been entrusted with a God-given mission, a message they must deliver to the entire world. Rather than hiding their faith, they are commissioned to share the gospel and tell others about who God is and what He’s done.
The apostle John writes about his message when he said:
First Angel’s Message
“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water (Revelation 14:6-7 ESV.”
The first angel spreads the news that God is our creator, our only source of Salvation, and that we ought to worship Him.
We are not to seek our salvation from other sources or try to live by our own rules.
Second Angel’s Message
“Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality (Revelation 14:8 ESV).”
The second angel warns the Earth that Babylon, the biblical symbol of selfish ambition, is going to fall. God’s judgement is coming, and all the worldly things people have worked for are going to become worthless.
The only thing people can do is to flee Babylon and turn to Christ, as God commanded His remnant to do.
Third Angel’s Message
“And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Revelation 14:9-12, ESV).
The third angel’s message is the most serious of all. It warns people that their time is almost up, Christ is going to be coming soon and anyone who rejects Him and sides with Satan will suffer the consequences.
This is serious business. God is grieved to have to destroy any of the people He’s created, but sin cannot be allowed to exist forever.
That’s why God issues this warning against worshipping the beast and receiving its mark (Revelation 13:15, 16). A mark on the forehead symbolizes harboring sinful thoughts and desires, while a mark on the hand means wicked and selfish actions.
Either way, the mark means rebellion against God and choosing sin and selfishness over love and compassion. Those who make that choice have pledged their allegiance to Satan and can never be part of God’s kingdom.
But what about those who don’t receive the beast’s mark, who don’t serve Satan with their thoughts or actions? What about those who remain true to God?
They receive the mark of the Lamb, God’s sign of protection and love (Revelation 14:1). In the end, every person on earth bears the mark of either God or Satan. There is no neutral ground left. Everyone has made their choice.
How Do We Show Allegiance to God?
God has never been unclear about His expectations for us. He spelled his law out loud and clear in Scripture (Matthew 22:37-40). If we want to show our allegiance to Him and mark ourselves as His followers, then we are to care for others and love Him above all else.
Sometimes, when reading Scripture, particularly the book of Revelation, the stories of the Bible may feel distant and far away, and it becomes easy to think of them as events that happened thousands of years ago, or thousands of years in the future, and have nothing to do with us.
But it’s important to remember that even though no one knows when Jesus’ Second Coming is going to happen, God still calls us to make it a part of our lives. We are to live our lives knowing that this world is not all there is. Christ is coming again to reunite with His people, and our actions should reflect that. The book of 2 Peter reminds us of that:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:10-14).
The qualities of the people who will be part of God’s remnant, a people dedicated to Him rather than our own ambitions and desires, is still relevant today. We are to demonstrate our allegiance to God in everything we do.
There may also be times when we’re called to warn people that the path they’re on leads to destruction, tell them of the freedom and salvation Christ offers, and make sure they know that Jesus is coming soon. By doing this, we show ourselves to be God’s people as we help prepare others to be ready when He comes again.
Each of us can do our part in the remnant’s mission, telling others of who God is and helping them to be ready for the Second Coming. God doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants as many of His precious children in Heaven with Him as possible, and by spreading the remnant’s message and sharing God’s word, we can help make that happen.