This morning David returned to the Revelation series, speaking from Revelation 13 and gave two key reminders as a refresh:
1. Revelation is ultimately about Jesus, to help us know Christ better
2. We’re also reading Revelation to follow Christ better
The book of Revelation is a letter, written as a discipleship manual to help Christians in their faith and to help them follow Jesus in their particular situations – and it can serve this purpose for us too.
We return to the dragon that was encountered in Chapter 12, who had attempted to kill Jesus but failed, so went off to wage war against the people of God. This chapter tells us that the dragon does not go after Jesus’ disciples directly but elicits the help of two other creatures.
First is the sea beast, who has a substantial impact, and does not just gain people’s attention, but also receives their worship:
Verse 8 tells us that all inhabitants of the earth will worship this beast – but thankfully with exceptions!
The end of verse 8 reminds us afresh of who Jesus is, the Lamb who was slain for the world to restore our relationship with God, and He has been, is and always will be Lord. This is why we must follow Him, why He is worthy of all our worship. He is the eternal Lamb, who has written our names in His book of life.
We need to value true worship, because everyone worships – our choice is in what or who we worship. If not God, we will worship something else, so as Christians it is imperative that we don’t get distracted or compromise our values.
But who or what is this beast that John sees? (Cf. Daniel 7). This sea beast represents any human kingdoms that oppose or have rejected God. This was manifested in Rome at the time of this letter, but ever since, the beast has shown up in different human states, kingdoms and empires which reject God, promote different gods, trample truth, manipulate, oppress, and persecute.
John doesn’t want his readers to be uninformed or unprepared for the challenges they face in following Jesus in their world, and so encourages them to persevere and remain faithful:
We must do the same – stand our ground in a world which will try to dilute our worship and compromise our values, to get us to conform to their ways.
The second beast that John sees comes from the earth. This beast looks like a lamb, mimicking Jesus, but speaks like a dragon, exercising the authority of the first beast and putting a mark on people, again mimicking the Lamb who marks God’s people with the Holy Spirit. Represented here is false religion, which can look fine on the surface, but ruin people’s lives – we are to be wary of deception, to be on our guard against false prophets.
The mark of the second beast is wrong thinking and wrong activity, and the enemy longs for every person’s life to bear this mark. If we are to be on our guard against this beast, we require God-given wisdom to discern what is of God and what is not. If we sense that we are lacking in this required wisdom, then we must ask God for it.
Moving forward we should:
- See Jesus afresh, as the Lamb slain for you from the creation of the world
- Value worship, because your name is written in Heaven
- Faithfully endure, no matter what pressure you come under from human kingdoms or political powers
- Be wise in the face of deception from false religion and false prophets