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666
Bible Passage Revelation 13: 1-18
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & books John, Revelation.

666

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached June 13, 2023

SCRIPTURE 📖
1 I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns, seven heads, and ten royal crowns on its horns. On its heads were blasphemous names.

2 The beast that I saw was like a leopard. Its feet were like bear’s feet, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave it his power, his throne, and complete authority.

3 One of the beast’s heads looked like it had sustained a mortal wound, but its fatal wound was healed. Rapt with amazement, the whole world followed the beast.

4 They worshipped the dragon because it had given authority to the beast. They also worshipped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight a war with it?”

5 The beast was allowed to speak arrogant and blasphemous things, and it was given authority for 42 months.

6 It uttered blasphemies against God, against his name, and against his residence, that is, against those who are living in heaven.

7 It was allowed to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.

8 All those who had become settled down and at home, living on the earth, will worship it, everyone whose name had not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the lamb that had been slaughtered since the foundation of the world.

9 Let everyone listen:

10 If anyone is to be taken captive, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword he will be killed.

Here is a call for endurance and faith of the saints:

11 I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it talked like a dragon.

12 It uses all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and those living on it worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.

13 It performs spectacular signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people.

14 It deceives those living on earth with the signs that it is allowed to do on behalf of the first beast, telling them to make an image for the beast who was wounded by a sword and yet lived.

15 The second beast was allowed to impart life to the image of the first beast so that the image of the beast could talk and order the execution of those who would not worship the image of the beast.

16 The second beast forces all people—important and unimportant, rich and poor, free and slaves—to be marked on their right hands or on their foreheads,

17 so that no one may buy or sell unless he has the mark, which is the beast’s name or the number of its name.

18 In this case wisdom is needed: Let the person who has understanding calculate the total number of the beast, because it is a human total number, and the sum of the number is 666.

BACKGROUND
Like the book of Daniel, the book of Revelation is apocalyptic. Apocalypse means to reveal or disclose. So apocalyptic literature makes heavy use of images, symbols, and numbers that need dedicated study and the guidance of the Spirit of God to disclose. Like the dragon of Revelation 12, the beast that arises out of the sea has seven heads and ten horns. If the dragon symbolizes Satan, the opponent of God in the spirit world, the beast out of the sea probably symbolizes the opponent of God in the world of humankind. As God took human form in Jesus Christ, so Satan takes human form in one called the antichrist. Satan combines cunning, strength, cruelty, and ferocity (verse 1-2).

Though always in the world, the spirit of the antichrist expresses itself in different ways in various people, eras, and systems (1 John 2:18). In John’s time it expressed itself in the Roman Empire, its fullest expression will be in the days immediately before Christ’s return (2 Thess 2:3-10).

The antichrist tries to imitate Christ by giving an appearance of death followed by resurrection. He appears to lose his power, only to regain it and do greater and more horrible evil. People in general are impressed with his show of power and believe that none, not even God, can fight against him. They are overcome with a sense of awe and gladly give their allegiance to the antichrist and his master, Satan (verse 3-4; compare 2 Thess 2:3-4,9-12 ).

Suffering Christians are encouraged to endure by the news that God has set a limit to the time of the antichrist’s rule. But while he rules he curses God and demands that people worship him instead. All people give him homage except the Christians and these he mercilessly attacks (verses 5-8).

Christians are given a special reminder that it is useless to resist when they are about to be captured or killed. They cannot establish God’s kingdom in the world by force (verses 9-10).

With the appearance of the beast from the earth (who is identified as the false prophet; see Revelation 16:13; 19:20), the trinity of evil is complete. As the true Christ received his authority from the Father, so the antichrist receives his authority from Satan (see verse 2b; compare John 8:28). As the Holy Spirit gives glory to the true Christ, so the false prophet gives glory to the antichrist (see verse 12; compare John 16:14).

The spirit of the false prophet is always in the world, for it represents false religion, or whatever philosophy people use in place of religion (Matt 24:24; 2 Peter 2:1 ). It too will have its most intense expression in the days immediately before Christ’s return (2 Thess 2:11-12).

The false prophet tries to make himself look as harmless as a lamb, but his speech shows that he belongs to Satan (verse 11). He has the same satanic power as the antichrist and cooperates with him. The meaning seems to be that religious power (represented by the false prophet) joins with secular power (represented by the antichrist) to establish anti-God rule throughout the world. The false prophet gains worldwide worship for the antichrist and build a living image of him.

False religion supports the ungodly system that controls human society. Any who refuse to give their support face death (verses 12-15).

Since God marks his people with his seal (see Revelation 7:3), the antichrist marks his people. If any refuse to follow the anti-Christian system, they suffer social and economic discrimination. They are not able to buy even the basic necessities for a living (verses 16-17). But whereas the seal placed on God’s people is that of the living God (see Rev. 7:2), the seal placed on the ungodly is that of the human rebel who fights against God. Its number, 666, is that of a man, not God. It is a human number, for it falls short of the perfect divine number, 777. The antichrist wants to be God, but he must fail, for he is only a man (verse 18; compare 2 Thess 2:3-4).

LESSONS✍🏽
🔷 Satan and its agents have a limited time to work just as they have limited authority

🔷 False prophets are to be watched out for so they don’t deceive us

PRAYER POINTS🙏🏽
💥 Pray that you’re able to identify evil people and plan
💥 Ask for God’s security

CONCLUSION 📙
The power and the authority of God shall be the final ones that shall overpower every supposed power. Believers must rather be watchful that they are not deceived by the evil to go astray.
AMEN

In series Bright Morning Reflections