IT SEEMS LIKE SATAN IS WINNING: 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. The first is a conglomeration of multi-headed predatory animals (v2). One of these heads has received a mortal wound, but that wound has been healed.
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.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Just when it seems like God's people are conquered (v7), John provides a tremendous reminder that those whom God has chosen to be His own, those whose names have been written in the Lamb's book of life. No matter how dark the world seems, nothing can erase your name from the Lamb's book.
WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING: The second beast is not 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 aways from Christ and towards the dragon.
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL WITH THE NUMBER 666? This chapter ends with the mysterious reference to the mark of the beast: 666. Commentator William Hendriksen writes:
"This is, perhaps, the most difficult paragraph in the entire book of Revelation. The main ideas are clear; the details are obscure... In order to understand the expression ‘mark of the beast’ we must remember that not only cattle but slaves also were branded or marked. The mark meant that the slave belonged to his master. Very soon the expression ‘to receive the mark of someone’ began to mean to belong to someone, to serve or worship someone... Observe, however, that there is a difference. The believer receives a seal, the unbeliever a mere mark... Nevertheless, let not the believer despair. Let him remember that the number of the beast is the number of man. Now, man was created on the sixth day. Six, moreover, is not seven and never reaches seven. It always fails to attain to perfection; that is, it never becomes seven. Six means missing the mark, or failure. Seven means perfection or victory. Rejoice, O Church of God! The victory is on your side. The number of the beast is 666, that is, failure upon failure upon failure! It is the number of man, for the beast glories in man; and must fail!"
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: