The Numbers Game
Pray that God will give you the discipline to read his Word with the expectation that it will change your life.
Read REVELATION 13:1-18
 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.  The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.  One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.  Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”  The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.  He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.  He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.  He who has an ear, let him hear.  If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.  Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.  He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.  And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.  Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.  He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead,  so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.  This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat should all this havoc evoke in God’s people (10)?
Having been first introduced to the dragon (12:3), we now meet the other two members of the unholy trinity who mock God (6), and demand worship (8) and obedience (12) at threat of death (15). They are the beast (1), who is a counterfeit messiah, and the false prophet (12), whose role it is to deceive the unwary through signs (14) and to force the world to worship the beast. They appear to be allowed freedom to bring havoc on the earth, marking people as their own (16) in a demonic parody of God’s seal (9:4). Their “logo,” whatever it meant to John and his contemporaries, reflects the nature of this unholy alliance, as it is made up of three sixes, in biblical terms symbolizing the number of imperfection. This contrasts with seven, which represents God’s perfection, from the seven days of creation to the seven churches of Revelation.
At times of uncertainty and chaos we need to remain patient and faithful (10), and be clear that we live our lives following the Lamb who died (8) and not the spirit of the age, however slick its marketing strategy and wide its appeal. We belong to God — and no one else!
How can and do you live with “patient endurance and faithfulness” in the midst of a world that rejects God?
Ask God for wisdom to live your life faithfully, standing up against those who would mock him and abuse him today.