Beastly [July 31, 2022]



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.


John is describing a slice of the dynamics in the time in which he lives and in which the church is growing. {Interesting how the church grew in response to adversity.} This is a descriptive of the cycle of sinful rebellion which has been around since the dawn of time. Sinful people have always been, and will always continue to be, in cosmic treason against our gracious and merciful Creator. Events described in these chapters moving forward are not mile markers telling us exactly where we are as the story of the end of times unfolds. Jesus warned us against that. What we're seeing are descriptive moments, not predictive moments.


Instead of seeing these things as signs that the end is near, see them as signs that the world is broken and in need of repentance. God is telling John that the time for the wicked to repent will one day end, and then it's over. All that's happening around the first beast is the over and over and over-again-ness of human wickedness. Those who carry the mark of the beast will be doomed.


Let's now turn to verses two through four:

And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”


All of these animals are mighty and awesome and powerful. If I could, I

would love to have as a pet a leopard or bear or lion. But never all three-in-one. Here, they represent the overwhelming impact of the Roman empire under the influence of Satan himself. Through ruling authorities and powerful institutions, Satan will try to crush the church and keep people under his influence.


And what do people do whose names are not listed in the Lamb's Book of Life? They worship the beast. They worship tyrannical rulers and authoritarian institutions. They give themselves to the sins of this fallen world. Without guilt or shame. It's going to get ugly.


But here's the beauty for those whose names have been written down from before the dawn of time. They will persevere. They will not be devoured by the beast. They will worship the One who is the only source of authority. I

love this promise from Jesus in Matthew 24:23-24:

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

We love that promise. Jesus is telling us that we will persevere. We will not lose faith or give our faith to something or someone else. Right there he says, even if it were a possibility, we would not be led astray. As the elect of God, having your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life, means the first beast is powerless against you.


Joseph Parker was a pastor and preacher in the late 1800s. He was a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon. While his style and approach were markedly different from his peers, he was respected by all for his faithfulness to Jesus Christ and the Bible. Think about facing all kinds of trials and tribulations, knowing that you belong to Christ. Think about the attacks from the beast you have faced and will continue to face. Hear these words spoken from Joseph Parker to you:

"It is thus Jesus will reign, not to destroy, not to kill, not to massacre. He will reign to help the poor and the needy, the woman and the child, the far off and the destitute, the misunderstood and the friendless. And He reigns not by force of chariots and multitudinous horse, not by the grandeur of his earthly state, but by that loving sympathy which understands everybody. And ultimately, nothing can hinder Him putting on His head crown after crown until all other kings, no matter who they are, look petty beside His majesty."


If you are counted among those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, what a beautiful promise that is. But woe for those who worship the beast, for none of the beauty of that promise will be theirs.


He is an important question we all must ask ourselves:

WHO IS MY KING?


Let's finish the first half of this chapter with verses five through ten:

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was

slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.


Verse ten is something else you might want to write down. If someone ever asks you what the point of The Book of Revelation is, this ought to be your go-to answer:

HERE IS A CALL FOR THE ENDURANCE AND FAITH OF THE SAINTS.


Don't miss the beautiful point and promise. These powerful demon spirits have infested the world. They hold sway over all those who willingly allow themselves to be used as tools of wickedness. Governments and institutions and all those within them who have or desire to have power over others are co-conspirators with the beast. They have the freedom to act. They will do whatever they can get away with doing. They exercise authority. And make no mistake. It happens everywhere. It happens everywhere. People allow themselves to be used by evil to do bad things.


So throughout history, these demons act on naively blind unbelievers and willing accomplices to keep people away from Jesus Christ or to try to pry believers away from Jesus Christ. We see the cycle repeated over and over again. But the elect of Christ…those whose names are written in the

Lamb's Book of Life…will not bend. We have the assurance of our salvation.


Finally, verse eight repeats the purpose of the first beast:

And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Satan works through people and institutions and governments and leaders and media and everything else in-between to keep people away from God. That's his plan and his desire. He covets the worship that only belongs to God. You see, it's never a question of whether or not someone worships. We all worship. It's simply a matter of who or what is worshiped. Everyone worships. Does a person worship the One, True, Holy God which leads to salvation? Or is it the beast in all his manifestations, which leads to eternal damnation?


The ultimate offense against God is the devotion unbelievers give to secular authorities and institutions that have been perverted by the devil. These temptations were rejected by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the

kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

- Matthew 4:8-10

That's it! If you regularly worship God and use your gifts to serve Him with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then you have the assurance the your name has been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. Anything short of that is done in the service of the first beast. It's simple. God has given us this big, beautiful world in which to live and serve Him. We worship together. Our lives reflect the Fruit of the Spirit. We love our families, our communities, and our neighbors as ourselves. We embrace the sanctity of life. We honor the image of God in which all people are made. In obedience to the Bible, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our goal is to leave our little corner of God's great and wonderful world better than we found it. That is how we push back against the vile and wicked influence of the beast.


Stand apart from a fallen world. Satan has been defeated. He just doesn't know it yet. But we do. Therefore we stand firm and fast in a deeply broken and scarred world.


Let's pray:

FATHER, WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORD OF HOPE AND PROMISE TO US. AND WE ARE GRATEFUL THAT, NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD AROUND US, OF HUMAN ORIGIN OR OF THE DEVIL, FROM THE NATURAL OR THE SUPERNATURAL REALM, FROM THE FOOLISHNESS OF WICKED HUMAN HEARTS OR THE DECEPTION OF SATAN, NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD, WHICH IS OURS IN CHRIST JESUS. NOTHING. WE THANK YOU THAT WE LIVE IN HOPE NO MATTER WHAT MAY FALL. AND WE GIVE YOU ALL THE GLORY, PRAISE, AND HONOR, IN CHRIST'S NAME. AMEN.


*Making the point about how people project ungodly desires onto political leaders, here's an excerpt from an interview with Barbara Walters, after Barak Obama won his second term as President:

  • PIERS MORGAN, HOST: You have interviewed every president of my lifetime. Why is Obama facing so much opposition now? Why is he struggling so much to really fulfill the great flame of ambition and excitement that he was elected on originally in 2009?

  • BARBARA WALTERS: Well, you've touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be - I shouldn't say this at Christmastime, but - the next messiah…people feel very disappointed because they expected more.










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