We ended chapter twelve with Satan by the sea as if to summon his henchmen from the troubled waters. Unable to stop the church, represented as the woman, Satan summons his minions to destroy her offspring, the people of the church. Us. Here, in chapter thirteen, we're going to see how he tries to push people from the narrow path of following Jesus Christ.
To get the overall feel of these verses, here's something you might want to write down:
The two beasts of chapter thirteen represent the power of Rome and how local authorities are all too willing to cooperate with Satan in carrying out his plan.
In essence, we are having described for us the nefarious ways in which
governments and institutions are corrupted to further Satan's cause. And,
yes, that includes churches, too. No one is immune.
Let's start with verse one:
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.
The first beast summoned from the sea gives us a lot of initial information:
The number seven carries the notion of completeness. A seven-headed beast is the ultimate enemy of devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
The diadem represents royal authority.
The names of blasphemy upon the seven heads is the best part. Here John addresses Roman emperors assuming titles of deity. One emperor allowed people to pay him divine honors. After his death he was declared divus, "one like the gods." On coins, Nero was referred to as "Savior of the World." Domitian was addressed as "Our Lord and God."*
As Jesus said when Satan was tempting him in the wilderness, "You
shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve." To
assume the titles of divinity was arrogant blasphemy.
Here's something that's important to remember:
The beast was the Roman Empire as persecutor of the church.
In other words, there always has been and there always will be the deification of secular authority. The drive for authoritarianism is strong in sinful human nature. Make no mistake. For all that was right about the handling of the pandemic these past two years, there was also a lot wrong. A lot of the wrongness revolved around money, power, prestige, position, and control. Remember, while science never lies, sometimes, scientists do. Here, in chapter thirteen, we see a beast demanding control, allegiance, and unquestioning praise. It is a pathology of power.
As we move through this pivotal chapter, I've grown to understand an overarching thematic push to what is developing.