HERE COME THE BEASTS
Lord, we live in a world hostile to You.
Read REVELATION 13:1b–10
The Beast out of the Sea
13 The dragon[a] stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 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. 3 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 filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4 People 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 wage war against it?”
5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.[b]
9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed[c] with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed.”[d]
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
a Revelation 13:1 Some manuscripts And I
b Revelation 13:8 Or written from the creation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was slain
c Revelation 13:10 Some manuscripts anyone kills
d Revelation 13:10 Jer. 15:2
New International Version (NIV)
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Let us pray together in hope and expectancy “Your kingdom come.” Then let us live today as citizens of the kingdom of God.
Now the formidable allies of the dragon emerge. The first is called the beast of the sea, described in detail to engage our imaginations—the whole book of Revelation reminds us of the important part godly imagination can play in the life of faith. Never underestimate the power or reach of evil. The beast of the sea depicts Rome as a persecuting power. The church had suffered under Nero in a former day and again under Domitian. The Jews have always been afraid of the sea, which symbolizes primeval chaos and even hostility to God. A monster emerging from the sea would be a particular form of horror. Ten horns with ten crowns representing imperial power, seven heads (the Seven Hills of Rome?) on each of which is a blasphemous name. With features of a leopard, a bear and a lion, this creature encompasses all the power previously seen in the great world empires of Babylon, Persia and Greece.
The church would have seen in the beast code-speak for any emperor. Throughout the life of the church he has taken different forms, as godless tyrannies have emerged. One head with a fatal wound may refer to the fact that when one evil emperor dies, another rises to continue their godless strategies. It may also be a parody of Christ’s death and resurrection. Again, for a fixed period, the beast rules and receives the worship of those attracted to or frightened by raw power. Few are able to resist the beast, except those in the church, so it focuses its animosity on God and his Church. The beast seems invincible, as tyrannies so often do. More frighteningly, it appears the beast is popular: admired for its strength, however way that is exercised. Its method is totalitarian rule, demanding not just submission but worship, owning people inside and out. Resisting requires courage.
Whose side are you on? Choose between “Caesar is Lord” and “Christ is Lord.” Recognize that both choices have consequences.
Lord, give us the intestinal fortitude through Your grace to stand up for our Bible-based convictions in the midst of the resistance all around us.