Chapter 13 introduces us to the first two of Satan's minions. Tomorrow in chapter 14 we will meet the third, the harlot of Babylon. Chapter 13, however is about beasts.
v1-8 - The first beast is a conglomeration of multi-headed predatory animals (v2).
This first beast represents the oppressive world orders & governments.
It's not so important to try and figure out which worldly kingdoms are included in those seven heads (Babylon? Rome? Soviet Union?), or which of those kingdoms was mortally wounded but will be restored, rather, keep focused on the big picture. The point here is that there have always been, and as long as the earth endures, will always be kingdoms of man oppressing the Kingdom of God.
v11-16 - The second beast doesn't seem very scary at all.
In fact, it has the appearance of a lamb (v11).
This gentle appearance makes it much more dangerous.
It represents the 'wisdom' of the world.
We can see in our day and age how it positions itself as being attractive and sophisticated, but it's always pointing people away from Christ and towards the dragon.
A big part of this second beast's mission is marking out those who belong to the dragon.
To fulfill this mission, this beast puts a mark on those who belong to the dragon, which is represented by the mysterious number 666.
Contrast the mark which the beast gives, to the way you are sealed in Christ through your baptism!
In v7, it seems like the jig is up for God's people:
The beast was given power
wage war against God’s holy people
and to conquer them.
And it was given authority over every
Does God not see what's going on? How could God's people be conquered by the forces of evil? It certainly seems like we see evil prevailing more often than not in our broken world.
But look more closely at the first line again:
The beast was given power
Even the temporary conquests of Satan and his minions are under the control of God! They have no power and can do nothing except that which God has given them. Why God allows this evil to continue is certainly a mystery to us (remember, God allows evil to exist, but He doesn't cause anything evil to happen).
Yet even though the effects from the efforts of the dragon and beasts has very real and painful consequences for our lives here and now, this evil can not harm you eternally. Read on in v8:
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.
Know that you are sealed in Christ, the Lamb who was slain and who is worthy of all honor and glory, and that nothing can or will ever change this.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Woe to you, destroyer,
you who have not been destroyed!
Woe to you, betrayer,
you who have not been betrayed!
When you stop destroying,
you will be destroyed;
when you stop betraying,
you will be betrayed.
Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
EYE FOR DETAIL— How many different types of animals were referenced in this chapter?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (v8)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will enable you to patiently endure and be faithful (v10b)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
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