Shepherd God, you lead me beside still waters, and into green pastures. Refresh me by your Spirit today, I pray.
Read REVELATION 13:11-18
The Beast out of the Earth
11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.[a] That number is 666.
- Revelation 13:18 Or is humanity’s number
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIs it an advantage or disadvantage to be a Christian in your country? Does it give you, or deny you, access to power?
The beast from the earth is seen by many as representing the priests associated with the emperor cult that flourished in Asia Minor. Not only was emperor worship seen as a reflection of one’s commitment to a community, but during this time large temples operated as both banks and marketplaces. Thus, there were associated privileges of economic, social and political security that came from paying homage to the emperor.
Have you ever had to make an ethical choice as a Christian that has cost you financially? In this passage those who do not bear the mark of the beast (vs 16,17) – possibly a reference to the imperial stamp on commercial documents, or the impression of the emperor’s head on coins of the time – are isolated economically. They cannot ‘buy or sell’ (v 17) without the mark.
But this is just the beginning. The beast from the earth can also ‘cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed’ (v 15b). Many scholars have related the number 666 (v 18b) to Nero, but there are evil rulers from throughout history whose behavior provides analogies. Revelation’s power lies in the reminder that earthly, evil power is limited (Revelation 12:12) and that it is God who remains in control.
Are you aware of a situation where you are pragmatically compromising your beliefs? Will it be costly to change your behavior?
Lord, during so much decision making today, I need your wisdom and direction. Show me clearly how you want me to live.
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