The Weekend Word
- We must remember that Satan is a creature and that he is not the creator – in fact he is not even ‘a’ creator. He cannot do any new thing like God can – he is a fallen angel.
- What he can do and does do is a distortion or a twisted copy or imitation of the real thing. Behind all of Satan’s glamour and glitz is not truth – but simply a parody of the truth.
- The kingdom of Satan is nothing more than a Hollywood film set that looks like magnificent buildings but are only frontal facades. Behind the façade is empty space and Satan himself is just an empty windbag.
- What we are going to see in this chapter is Satan enlisting the help of the two beasts. Who are these two beasts – Godzilla and King Kong?
- The dragon has been foiled in trying to destroy the child (Christ) and the woman (the Church) so he will now settle for attacking the offspring of the church – the individual believer.
- Let me get to the punch line early. These two beasts represent the institutions the devil will use against the believers. We face these beasts daily.
- To help clear up what the dragon is doing, think back to the great theology of Walt Disney. Remember Mickey Mouse in Fantasia – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice where Mickey is orchestrating the activities / events? Mickey creates chaos – here comes the mops – here comes the water.
- This is the kind of image you get with the beast from the sea and the beast from the land.
The First Beast
1 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.
- He rises out of the sea. The sea = the abyss, the bottomless pit (Rev 11:7). Throughout the OT the sea has symbolized chaos and evil. Is this the reason that Rev 21 says “and the sea was no more.”? Was there to much pain and evil in the sea to make it past the final judgment?
- We will see in Daniel 7 that 4 beasts appear – where did they come from – “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea.”
- Where else have we seen the OT refer to the sea in a similar way?
- Gen 1:2 we see that God created the sea. The waters before were without form, no order.
- Psalm 74:13 – You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
- Job 41:11 – Job speaks of Leviathan.
- Noah and the Flood = destruction.
- His description is a clone of the Red Dragon, but in a strange way he is also an evil parody of Christ in his claim to universal rule – which we will see in Rev 19.
- What do the heads and horns etc represent? Any guesses to the blasphemous names? (see v.6)
2 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.
- A note about the description – this is not about his appearance. It is about who he is and what he does.
- Note, just as all power and authority have been given to Jesus, so too has the Dragon given such authority and power to this beast – the anti Christ.
- Do the descriptions sound familiar? Are they something that the original hearers would connect to right away? See Daniel 7:1-11 – the same four described beasts – the lion – the bear – the leopard and the Tin Man … oh, wrong story – the beast with Iron Teeth.
- We know from other studies that the four being described in Daniel are the political institutions of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
- John is seeing this beast as the 4th beast that has swallowed up the previous three and has morphed into the super beast – the Roman Empire and Emperors of that day. What is John saying? “We are living in the time of the fourth beast – Rome.”
- However, I do not think that we can limit this to the Roman Empire. I would extend it to all earthly powers, authorities and institutions throughout time and history that stand opposed to the church until Jesus returns. So, once Rome goes away (and it did), we do not think that we no longer need to worry about the beast – do we?
- This is referring to the state that opposes the church – every system that opposes the church – government – every institution or power or authority or philosophy or educational system that is working against the church – THIS is Daniel’s beast – it is not an individual person although a person may spearhead the opposition.
- Opposing the church can come in the form of uniting the two so they seem compatible. Harry Smith at ABC had this to say about the first Obama inauguration:
- “Politics, patriotism and the presidency – it is the place where the secular and the religious merge. One of the sacraments of our national religion is the inauguration, and so it was the 2 million pilgrims made their way to the Washington Mall to witness this most sacred event.”
- At this point Harry Smith went on to use more religious talk to describe the event. “As the speech was delivered, emotions were laid bare, tears were shed – an inauguration is a renewal of faith, a confirmation that the republic and our belief in it endures.”
- His concluding statement was this; “and with the agenda and problems you just hope that some of the momentum and some of the inspiration of yesterday can continue to filter through the culture.”
- The point? This is what is being unveiled here in Rev 13 – ‘watch out for the political authority / power who present themselves as if they are the savior.
3 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.
- Now for more mimicry and deception – just as Jesus died and rose from the dead – now the beast does a similar act. Is there a political example? I don’t know. Nero committed suicide June 8th 68AD – There is legend that he did not die and rose to escape to join up with his enemies the Partheons and fight against Rome.
- What is to become of this ‘risen’ beast? Next week.
The quality of your biblical exegesis is very good, far exceeding the quality of your contextual application by a large margin. Partisan political commentary may win you admirers on one side, while alienating those expecting more from a Christian Bible expositor.
It is interesting that you would find partisan political commentary where there is none. I will assume you are referencing the Harry Smith comment, although at first read I thought you may have erroneously picked out something from my mention of the tin man.
I taught this to my old class in 2010 and what we saw in culture was one more attempt on the cultures side, to blend political favor in the religious realm. This can be witnessed in Smith’s televised description.
Perhaps the division for ‘blog word count’ is too limiting to complete the flow of who are the 2 beasts we see in chapter 13. But trust me, John is warning against such unions.
What a load of BS and a waste of time. Yeah, I’m sure John is referring to American Xns. Sheesh.
This is what happens when, according to Protestants, “anyone” can interpret
Scripture. This is why we need trained pastors, priests, etc. Welcome to 10,000
MLD, why don’t you just become a CC preacher. Their messages are full of this
sideways, undiscerning crap.
I’m utterly befuddled by the last two comments.
Unless the smoke has effected my mind, MLD is simply pointing out that empires become beasts and do so with the support of the masses.
If that’s not applicable to today, then I don’t know what is…though MLD and I would differ on which era had the most odious leader of this beast…
Here’s my objection:
“watch out for the political authority / power who present themselves as if they are the savior.”
That is not what Obama did, but it is exactly what the current President does, supported by his Christian thought leader spiritual commission and others.
Whether some of Obama’s supporters placed inappropriate hopes in him was not his fault (unless he encouraged that), otherwise, Paul and Barnabas would be in the same boat, because people on at least one instance tried to worship them as deities.
I’m sorry but the last few paragraphs of MLD’s article turned my stomach when so much of what our current President does and says actually bears witness to what MLD wrote.
I think MLD’s observation is applicable across party lines and an accurate application of this text.
Jean – you totally missed it then. My comment was not about Obama or about his politics but about the culture and a false church, represented by Harry Smith’s words.
““Politics, patriotism and the presidency – it is the place where the secular and the religious merge. One of the sacraments of our national religion is the inauguration, and so it was the 2 million pilgrims made their way to the Washington Mall to witness this most sacred event.” – and the mention of “our national religion” should be a clue.
I think you interpreted my writings through your own political lens and not by my words.
“when so much of what our current President does and says actually bears witness to what MLD wrote.”
And this makes my point that it has continued down through history from the time John wrote about Rome of his day down to today – we are to be warned not to compromise with the beast.
I believe this is what MLD is saying:
There’s going to arise some metaphorical beasts. Some have arisen, one is still active.
The last beast, the still active beast, is Rome. It represents systems that oppose Christ. MLD has been consistent on the PhxP in his belief that Antichrist is a system, such as the papacy, and not a person. (I believe this is standard Lutheran opinion.)
MLD sees the admixture of religion and politics as symptomatic of “Rome.” He quoted a journalist who called presidential inaugurations “sacred” to prove his point.
This has nothing to do with Trump or Obama.
MLD, forgive me if I have misunderstood you.
Xenia – you have it right —- except, the Red Dragon and the Beast out of the sea and the Beast out of the land are ever present vs what you said some have arisen, one is still active – they are all active which we will see for the remainder of the chapters through 19 and then their destruction. (one beast is a political beast – the political system and one beast is a religious beast)
I guess I should have given a spoiler alert.
As much as I admire your article, I have to remember that Eastern Orthodoxy spread to its greatest extent under the ceasaropapism of the Byzantine Empire and later, the conversion of Russia under St. Vladimir and 1000 years of Orthodoxy as the state religion. Emperors choosing Patriarchs; Patriarchs choosing Emperors, murder and skulduggery galore. Makes today’s political scene look very tame.
*I* would say these governments, these systems, while acting an awful lot like “Rome” were not “Rome” because they promoted religious truth (Eastern Orthodoxy.) In other words, they were not opposed to Christ. They were for Him, not against Him.
Still, I like your article, even if it makes my side look tarnished. Sometimes Christians need the protection of their government. Protection but not interference or compulsion.
Xenia – the idea of the beast is not that all government or society’s institutions are bad – not by a long shot – but only those and on the occasions when they do turn against Christ. The institutions can be political, economic , religions, schools etc.
This is why we can say the papacy is the anti Christ without necessarily naming each pope, as some were not so bad.
The Byzantine Empire was the Roman Empire, of course… After the fall of the Western Empire, the Eastern half (Byzantine) continued as a Christian Empire for the next 1000 years, still calling itself Rome.
There’s so much that could be said about this topic. My mind is running from idea to idea…. Most of it not relevant to your article.
I think, as with all things, we, as individual Christians need to be sure Who we are looking to for salvation and to be suspicious of *all* worldly systems. Be alert.
Rome and its emperors, some more than others, promoted the divinity and worship of the emperor. That was devilish and arguably an example of an antichrist, but even there it’s not a slam dunk. 1 John and 2 John, which use the appellation, seem to indicate that the antichrists came out of the church.
I just don’t see the application to the Obama administration for a number of reasons. You could say that he may have had supporters with utopian hopes, but no sane person nor him thought he was divine or a savior, nor did he establish a cult.
I have not trusted the US government for a long time and if I knew all that there was to know, I never would have trusted it. However, governments are ordained by God and we have to get along with them the best we can without compromising our faith as Christians. Same with every big organization. I thought for a while that Amazon was getting too big for its britches and that it surely was a beast of some sort. I was going to withdraw from the Amazon system… that lasted about half a day when I realized a textbook I needed cost a small fortune in hardcover but only $9.99 on Kindle.
“This is why we can say the papacy is the anti Christ without necessarily naming each pope, as some were not so bad.”
That makes no sense at all. Explain to us how a pope is not the antichrist, but the office he holds is?
Xenia, the admonition is not to disengage from government or even to distrust. The admonition is and has always been, do not compromise. You know, that pinch of incense stuff.
I will even toss Jean a bone here. The president’s faith council is that very compromise – regardless who the president is / was.
I would take issue with some things in this article, not so much in terms of interpretation, but in terms of tone. As often happens, it is very “American-centric”. If we were looking for political/religious alliances that are persecuting the Christians we might do better to look to multiple Islamic regimes, the actions of Red China, the rise of neo-facists in Eastern Europe, the union of Russian oligarchs with the Patriarchate of Moscow, North Korean state leader worship or even the Church of England’s subservience to the British parliament…. These, and many more, fit the narrative more than our American-centric views of either Obama or Trump. That, however, is a very American trait… everything has to do with us, even prophecy. We are very self-centered as American Christians and it leads us into arguments like this…
American centric – what does that mean? I was teaching a class that was seated before me. To reach those folks another discussion of hardcore foreign government persecution of the church would once again fly right past them – it is too macro and obvious and would only solicit a reaction of “those poor Christians in other lands.”
No, I was teaching about the subtle ways that the beast wins over the church – even our own little church through compromise.
We will see in these next 4 chapters that the call revealed in John’s visions is against compromise and towards perseverance. Persecution is expected and rewarded by God.
The reason we have none or very little persecution in the American church is because we compromise before we can be persecuted – and the beast is just as happy with that result. There was nothing political about my comments – the mention of the Obama inauguration was just as a timestamp of the Harry Smith comment.
MLD was teaching Americans, in America. He used an American example. The passage is a warning. MLD was warning the Americans in his class.
“…and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.”
Don’t want to get into an argument on this, but it is not just about us, even if we are teaching it in America.
Duane, no one said it was “just” about us. In the whole article I gave one example that people in my class would recognize.
Hey, I was just one small church bible teacher with a small class of 70-80 people. Having not presented at the Sorbonne, I take my best shot. 😉
Cheap shot, but nicely expressed…. Again, it’s not just about us.