Out of the Deep
Dear Father, I open my heart afresh to You and pray You will fill me with poise and power today.
Read REVELATION 13:1-18
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.
“History is not a series of random, meaningless events. It is rather a succession of periods and happenings which are under the sovereign rule of God, who is the God of history” (John Stott).
Here we meet the first of the dragon’s allies, the beast from the sea. It is clear from his first description that the beast bears the dragon’s image from ch. 12 and has powers delegated from him. The sea was always an alien place to the Jews—restless and fearful. To John the monster represents persecuting Roman imperialism. It is totalitarian, apparently invincible and increasingly the object of worship. The seven heads could be both the seven hills of Rome and seven Roman emperors. The fierce features resembling a leopard, bear and lion combine the three images in Daniel into one person, to show how powerful he is. The deeper truth is that this beast from the sea represents what godless politics does in every age in the hands of the devil.
The parody of death and resurrection in v. 3 would, to those first readers, have called to mind the myth that Nero, who committed suicide in 68 A.D., was believed to have survived and come to life again. In a sense, this is what he did when his successor, Domitian, resumed his politics. The beast has demonic recuperative powers. Here we sense a description of the use and abuse of state power, especially against the Church. We have seen this scenario time and again through history, not least in the last century as some states have sought universal worship and obedience from their people. Domitian demanded that people should speak of him as Lord and God, but the Church is called to be faithful to Christ, to endure and to refuse to compromise. The 42 months, like the three and half years, or the 1,260 days all cover the same period, namely the whole Church age.
Have you felt the tension of recognizing the legitimate authority of the state and yet refusing to violate the law of Christ? How well are you prepared for that?
Lord, I thank You for the freedom of worship in this land. Help me to contribute to my society, correcting wrongs, affirming the positive and being a light for You.
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