Friday, November 19, 2010

God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.

Rev. 13:1-10 (NLT)  
   1 Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. 2 This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion! And the dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority. 
   3 I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. 4 They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. “Who is as great as the beast?” they exclaimed. “Who is able to fight against him?” 
   5 Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. 6 And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. 8 And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made—the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered. 
   9  Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. 10 Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. 
   This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.

In the previous chapter we read where John saw the significant even where Satan took his stand awaiting God to come for the great conflict, that would end in binding the author of evil for a millennium. Things appear to be proceeding according to God's plan. The next image John reports is not subsequent to the last but prior to it. It is another look at that beast and the unholy trinity that he tries to empower to oppose God at the great battle. Where did they come from? One from the sea, the other out of the land. The beast from the sea represents the city of greatest power and authority In John's day that was thought of as Rome. Other images call it 'babylon that perished centuries earlier. Still others refer to Babylon as a metaphor for the evil Jerusalem that becomes co opted by Satan.

In this great city, wherever it is, The fallen angel leader ruled with the sin nature of collective humanity. The political power of the city came from people granting their will to this enemy of righteousness in exchange for the illusion of power. Ten of them, leaders of their own kingdoms would do this. So the "Beast" is the false Christ or messiah that Satan grants authority to rule in his name as God granted to Christ to rule in His name. The second beast will become part of this unholy trinity too but we'll see more on him later. The purpose of the first beast-- we call him the "Antichrist," was to get people to worship the Dragon, or Satan. He dies this by getting people to worship himself. Satan knows that when we worship anything else other than God then we are worshipping Satan-- the anti-god  or the opposite of God. The picture unfolds with people who have resisted surrender to the true God bowing to worship the false God who will let them have things their own way. But even that turns out to be a lie and none of the promises this anti-god promises are ever delivered.

It's a lot like that even now. We recognize that all the promises of our past evil practices never brought the satisfaction or fulfillment they promised us. But our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ always brings us that fulfillment when we remain true in it. The vision taught John that there may well be persecution in physical life and the Beast will even be allowed to politically conquer God's holy people, though it will never defeat them. Those who worship the best are the ones whose names are not written in "The Book of Life." They are chained to their evil choices by self-selection.

God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.

Your servant in Christ's love

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