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Revelation 13 commentary

Aug 07, 2015



  1. 1. REVELATIO 13 COMME TARY EDITED BY GLENN PEASE HERE IS AN EXCELLENT MESSAGE AS AN INTRODUCTION TO THIS AND THE NEXT CHAPTER. Its Your Choice: Beast or Lamb? Revelation 13-14 - Dr. Charles Revis - 7 Nov 1999 When you go to a restaurant do you have trouble deciding what to order? I do! There are times when it drives my family crazy. My problem is that I like all kinds of food. When I read the menu I just cant decide between the chicken fajitas or the enchiladas rancheros; between the sweet and sour chicken or the shrimp and broccoli. I think the reason I have such difficulty is that saying yes to one item is saying no to several really good ones, and I want them all. So, its not uncommon for me to spend ten minutes deciding what to order. Revelation 13 and 14 contain a tremendous amount of material, and most of it is an interpretational challenge. We simply dont have time to cover all the possibilities. But, there is one thing I want you to walk away with today: Life offers you a menu. There are two main courses: Beast or Lamb. Im not talking cuisine, now. Im talking which master will you follow, the Beast or the Lamb. This is the critical decision that you must make in your brief life. In fact, at this very moment you are already making that choice whether you realize it or not. You are presently living for the Beast, or, you are living for the Lamb. You might be thinking to yourself: Heck. I dont have to make a choice between those two! Im living for myself. Forget the Beast or the Lamb! I wish to point out that to make no choice is the same as choosing the Beast. You might think that youre choosing to live for yourself, but thats just part of the Beasts strategy. For in choosing your self over the Lamb, you have chosen the Beast without realizing it. So, let me say it again, choosing to live for yourself is the same thing as choosing to follow the beast. Even if you dont recognize it as such. The Bible makes this clear. Jesus, the Lamb, said, He who is not with me is against me. (Matt. 12:30) Each day you are growing stronger in the Lamb, or you growing stronger in the Beast, whether you realize it or not. Well, by now, you may wondering, Who is this beast you keep talking about? And, who is this Lamb? They are the two central figures in these two chapters. Lets take a panoramic flight over this text, and well discover who they are. Chapter 12 closes with the dragon (Satan) making war on the church. V. 17, Those who obey Gods commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And then, Chapter 13 opens with the dragon standing on the shore of the sea. John tells us that he watches a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. This beast resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. Once again we are confronted with difficult problems of interpretation. Serious Revelation scholars end up with wildly different understandings of this chapter as a result of two basic decisions: 1. Are the beast and his associate real people, or do they stand for another entity, like a country, or the realm of darkness in general? 2. What about the time of the beast's rule-is it past, continuous, or still future? Many people are familiar with the futurist view (popularized in pop theology and novels). The first beast is a revived Roman Empire; sometimes identified with the European Common Market Nations. It will be led by a strong and charismatic leader who will rise to great popularity and power. He will have influence over many nations. He will be assassinated, and then hell rise from the grave (mimicking the resurrection). This will only add to his fame. This first beast is the Anti-Christ. He will have a sidekick, the prophet. He is the second beast of chapter 13. This prophet-sidekick will astound people with his miraculous powers. Together, the world ruler and the prophet, will set up a worldwide government and a revived world-economy. He will make war against all Christians. People will be required to receive a mark on their forehead or their right hand (the mark of the beast) by pledging full allegiance to the beast. Without the mark a person cant engage in business. Christians in this time period will be greatly persecuted because they will refuse to worship the world leader. They wont be able to buy food without the mark of the beast. It will be a terrible time for the world. In scholarly terms this is the futurist view and contains much speculation thats difficult to substantiate. Another possibility is the preterist view. The first beast
  2. 2. would be the Roman Empire. The seven heads correspond to the seven major rulers from Augustus through Domitian. The ten crowns can be explained in the fact that between Nero and Vespasian there were three short time rulers (who ruled about 6 months each). So seven big-time rulers and three small-time rulers equals ten (for ten crowns). The blasphemous names are the titles that the Caesars took to themselves. Every emperor was called divine. Sometimes the name God or Son of God was given to the emperor-a blasphemous insult to the true God. Furthermore, the later emperors went by the title dominus or kurios, which means Lord. This is the special title for God in the OT and for Jesus in the NT. The preterist view understands the beast from the sea to be the Roman Empire with its Satanic power. Look at v. 3. The head, which seemed to have a healed fatal wound would be Nero, who ruled Rome from AD 54-68. He ruled with inhuman brutality. Nero murdered many people around him. He torched Rome and then blamed the Christians. The Christians in Rome were rounded up, tortured and killed. Some were sewed up in animal skins. Then Nero fed them to his savage hunting dogs. He tied others up in sacks weighted with stones and threw them in the Tiber to drown. Others were coated with pitch, set on fire, and used as torches to illuminate Neros gardens. Nero died in AD 68. Immediately after his death it was rumored he had risen from the grave. Many people believed the rumor, and were terrified by it. Supposedly Nero was assembling a great force in Parthia in the far east. He was about to descend on Rome and assume his rule again. Neros wickedness seemed immortal; it just wouldnt go away. As late as AD 80 a pretender rose to power in Parthia pretending to be Nero. He almost persuaded the Parthians to invade the Roman Empire. In this sense the early Christians thought of Nero as the antichrist. There are many important facts that weve forgotten about Rome. Many countries willingly opened their doors to Roman domination because of the benefits it gave them. With Rome arrived justice, political stability, security from invading armies, safe roads, and steady commerce. This was called the Pax Romana, the Roman peace. Before long an organized movement arose to express gratitude to Rome for these improvements. The Spirit of Rome, or the Divinity of Rome was symbolized in the office of the ruler, or Caesar. The first temple in honor of the ruler was constructed in Pergamum in 29 BC. This was the beginning of Caesar worship. This movement spread like wild fire, and soon covered the entire empire. Before long Caesar worship became compulsory for every Roman citizen. This eventually culminated during Domitians reign (AD 81-96). Domitian was the most systematically brutal persecutor of the Jews and Christians. He demanded that people everywhere address him as Lord and God. Once a year every Roman citizen had to declare his allegiance to Caesar by saying, Caesar is Lord. Every province was divided into sections with official priests overseeing and organizing Caesar worship. These priests gave out the annual certificate that proved that a person had made the required public commitment to Caesar. Caesar worship became mandatory in all the empire. This was a political act of worship. You were a patriot, a supporter, of the Roman Pax if you had your certificate. To refuse to give your allegiance to Rome made you a traitor, a subversive to the order of the day. The certificate of annual loyalty was necessary for daily living. That certificate protected a person from persecution. It gave him the right to engage in commerce. Without it he couldnt buy or sell. The mark of the beast could well be this certificate of allegiance (or, other symbols of the Roman Empire). The only way you could receive the certificate was to pledge your loyalty to Caesar, and thus deny that only Jesus Christ is Lord. So, lets summarize this preterist view which has compelling historical evidence behind it. Revelation is a coded message to the churches in Asia. If a Roman official would read it, it would make little sense, on the surface containing nothing that would concern the Roman Empire. The Christians, on the other hand, upon hearing the letter would recognize the various entities in the symbolism. They would recognize that the beast was the Roman Empire. People were worshipping Satan by participating in the false religion of Caesar. But such worship was blasphemous, and offended God. True followers of the Lamb endured persecution and refused to worship Caesar. The first beast stands for the Roman government requiring allegiance that only God should require. The second beast is the whole system of Caesar worship with its temples and priests. Images of Caesar were placed in all kinds of places. Every trick in the trade was used to produce great signs and wonders. This power was misleading and seductive. So, the second beast is false religion masquerading as true religion. We can see how people were easily convinced to give their loyalty to Rome. The priests could easily say, Look what Rome has done for you; look at the peace and the prosperity you enjoy. Have you ever known a better benefactor than the Emperor? Surely in simple gratitude you can offer Caesar this formal act of worship? Its good