Today’s reading: Revelation 13
In today’s reading, we see the Dragon and the two beasts. These make a trinity meant to ape the Holy Trinity.
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. 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. Revelation 13:1-3
Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. Revelation 13:11-12
Notice, the dragon gives his power and thrown to the sea beast, aping the Father giving authority to the son. The earth (or land beast) exercises the authority of the sea beast and makes everyone worship it. Here aping the way the Holy Spirit brings people to Christ.
Then there is the prophecy that everyone knows. The number of the beast:
Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
The famous “666” reference is almost certainly a reference to the Roman emperor Nero of the first century. The Hebrew letters for his name as well as the Hebrew letters for the word “beast” add up to 666. Nero as the main reference is also corroborated by the fact that beast is given authority to act for forty-two months which is exactly how long Nero’s persecution of the Christians would last.
So the next question is, does the “666” point to anyone else in history? The answer is a little indirect. Nero and Rome probably also represent all pagan secular governments that persecute Christians. So when a government turns against the Church this is in some small manner the fulfillment of this prophecy. We have seen this happen many times in history and will undoubtedly see it again. Ultimately, it is likely to occur on a worldwide scale.
One of the interesting aspects of the rise of these beasts is:
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?”
This is an important verse. Note that worship of the beast stems in part, from indifference and despair. The people see the power of the beast. They see the rest of the world go that way. What can they do? So they choose not to resist. They go along to get along. Jesus warned against just this attitude of being lukewarm. This we must not do. Remember, Jesus said that the world hated him so it will hate us. However, the world won’t hate us because we give to the poor, or because we run schools and hospitals. It will hate us when we refuse to go the way the secular world and embrace sin. The secular world wants contraception, abortion, homosexual marriage, euthanasia, and cloning, etc. We see again why true doctrine is so important. How do we know the right answers to these questions in a changing world? The Church was given a divine voice to speak for God on these questions. So that when the world is going one way when it is lukewarm and follows the beast so to get along, we can instead know the right way and turn to the Lord.
Tomorrow: Revelation 14