Mighty God, you are my strength, my salvation, and my hope. I give all my praise to you.
Read REVELATION 13:1-10
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.
- Revelation 13:1 Some manuscripts And I
- Revelation 13:8 Or written from the creation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was slain
- Revelation 13:10 Some manuscripts anyone kills
- Revelation 13:10 Jer. 15:2
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.
‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts.’1
John resumes his customary ‘And I saw …’ to set out some terrifying images – not a vision of the future, but a revelation of the challenge of the present. The details of the first beast – its heads, horns, blasphemous names and conquest – are all drawn from the night vision of four beasts in Daniel 7. In Daniel, this pointed to the succession of empires ending with Rome, but John has combined this to depict an ‘empire of empires’ – a claim that Rome made for itself.
This very human power – symbolically arising from the ‘sea’ (v 1) of the nations in tumult, but literally coming across the Aegean to Asia – parodies the Lamb of chapter 5. Like the Lamb, it shares the throne and power of the one who sent it (v 2);2 like the Lamb, it has recovered from an apparently fatal wound; it makes people acclaim the power behind its throne in terms that belong to God. ‘Who is like the beast?’ (v 4) echoes the claim of God’s incomparability;3 ‘Who is like God?’ is the meaning of the name Michael (mi, who, ca, is like, el, God).
This presents a real challenge for John’s readers, both then and now. Such empires in history frequently blaspheme by demanding the loyalty that belongs only to God. The followers of the Lamb, who refuse to compromise, suffer and appear to be conquered (v 7) – yet there is hope. The 42 months of oppression are also a time for bearing witness (calculated as 1,260 days)4 and a time of protection and nourishing by God.5 The words ‘was given’ (vs 5,7) point to the higher authority of God. The beast’s ‘authority over every tribe, people, language and nation’ (v 7) is still subject to Jesus’ rule6 and his redemption.7
How can I discern where ‘the powers that be’8 are claiming loyalty that belongs only to God? What does it mean to live with ‘patient endurance’9 in Jesus?
Lord, I am grateful for the freedoms of my homeland. I lift up to you my brothers and sisters in other places, who face intense opposition because of their faith. Please enable and sustain them.
1 Eph 3:16.17 2 Cf Rev 5:13 3 Cf Exod 15:11 4 See Rev 11:2,3 5 Rev 12:6,14 6 Rev 1:5 7 Rev 5:9 8 Rom 13:1, AV 9 Rev 1:9
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