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The Beast out of the Earth February 4, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Revelation 13:11-18.

Summary: In this passage, John observes a beast emerging from the earth. This beast acts on behalf of the beast from the preceding passage; in particular, it compels all unbelievers to:

  • worship that first beast; to this end, it performs miracles and signs
  • have the mark of the first beast on their hands and foreheads; otherwise, they would be destitute.

John references the number 666 as the number of the first beast.

Thoughts: This passage should be lumped in with the preceding passage. In fact, the pastor at my old church covered both passages in one sermon; he offers the following insights in one of his devotionals:

The two beasts, then, are the Roman imperial power and the local provincial authority which enforces the worship of the emperor. The dragon is Satan, working through the empire, demanding worship due God alone, and persecuting those who resist. Yet while this passage refers directly to the Roman imperial system, its application is not restricted to the first century AD…Revelation 13 applies whenever a government aspires to blasphemous claims or ambitions; all the more, if it oppresses the people of God…

…We must avoid two extremes today. One is excessive loyalty. Governments tend to self-promote and self-aggrandize. Many use patriotism to promote compliance. Christians are to be absolutely loyal to God alone. The other extreme to avoid is disparagement of our government, especially after a polarizing election. Government is not demonic unless it demands absolute allegiance from its populace, deifies itself, or persecutes the church.

Thus, both of these passages offer solace to believers who are subject to state-sponsored persecution. They realize that Satan works through their government to oppress them – yet they also know that God has already won the ultimate victory over Satan. If they maintain their faith in God in the midst of state-sponsored persecution, then they will join God in His ultimate victory. These passages should also spur believers in countries that practice religious tolerance to pray for their brothers and sisters who do not enjoy religious freedoms – that they would emerge victorious from these severe tests.

In verses 16 and 17, we see that people could not “buy or sell unless” they “had the mark…of the beast.” The pastor at my old church offers some insights on this point in one of his devotionals:

The mark of the beast is required for all commercial transactions: the emperor’s seal was required on business contracts, his portrait was on the face of coins, and professional trade guild meetings included emperor veneration. In short, the emperor cult competes for loyalty with God…

If I had been a believer in a first-century church in Asia Minor, this financial restriction would have been a severe test of my faith. How would I obtain food, drink and clothing? How could I avoid any contact with coins that featured the emperor’s portrait? Would I resort to a life of begging on the streets of my city? I certainly hope to meet the members of these churches in the next life and learn how they were able to maintain their faith in God without succumbing to the demands of the emperor cult.

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1. youngearth - February 6, 2016

https://truthlife.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/identifying-the-seven-heads-of-the-sea-beast-of-revelation/

The Beast out of the earth is still to come. Look how mightily ISIL is trying to play that role.

flashbuzzer - February 6, 2016

I think it is important to focus on the primary application of this passage (i.e. how would John’s original readers have interpreted this passage). So in that context, they would have viewed the beast out of the earth as the “local provincial authority.”

2. youngearth - February 8, 2016

I am in agreement with the majority of your post however I think your viewpoint is way too restricted in scope.

The link I provided identified 7 Roman emperors of the day who demanded to be worshiped as deity. In fact John received the vision of Revelation from Jesus during the time that Emperor Domitian was demanding to be addressed as “The Lord God”. That beastly Roman persecution against the church lasted roughly from AD 37 to 138 and involved 7 Roman Emperors. Instead of eliminating the church the dragon-beast scattered the church throughout the earth and ultimately made it bigger and stronger.

However just as this battle between the woman and the dragon involves the whole earth. Satan the deceiver will one day deceive the whole earth once again except for Christians.

This is also clear in context about the dragon’s future beast:

rev 13:7 And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
rev 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast
rev 13:14 it deceived the inhabitants of the earth

Surely Revelation was written for the 7 churches in Asia around 95 AD but it is also clear from context that this last book of the Bible is also meant for the entire church of believing Christians throughout the earth until Jesus returns as Revelation promises.

So then the mark of the beast is a literal future mark that will one day be demanded by decree, emperor style, to be imprinted on everyone’s hand or forehead.

The beastly model that we can recognize in our day is to consider how the world would look if an ISIL styled government controlled the entire earth. In fact this sword based ISIL model was not available to be recognized until only a few short years ago and we see how much damage this little beast has already done to Christians in
Iraq, Syria, and North Africa. With large migrations of young radicalized men now moving on to Europe we should be acutely aware of where this is all going.

Now this thought about what will soon happen on this earth would be uncomfortable or perhaps terrifying for Christians if Jesus had not already warned us. However we can rest assured that the future beast is only permitted a word wide reign of exactly 3 1/2 years / 42 months / 1260 days and no more.

This is a good reason for Christians to refuse to submit their bodies to wearing tattoos or other body markings as this might make it more difficult for them to resist when the time comes for God’s people to firmly refuse submitting themselves to wearing a permanent body mark which will be required for ALL buy-or-sell transactions throughout the earth.

There is really no protection or avoidance of the inevitable tribulation that will happen to the true Church as the day draws near for the return of Christ except for “patient endurance and faithfulness” on the part of all Christians.

flashbuzzer - February 9, 2016

Thank you for your detailed comment.

It sounds like we agree that God had a message for the 7 Roman churches in Asia and He delivered it through John in Revelation.

It also sounds like we agree that Christians through the ages can draw important lessons from Revelation (hopefully this is clear from the “Thoughts” section of my original post).

I suppose we differ (to some extent) regarding the details of those lessons. In particular, it seems that you adopt a more literal interpretation (e.g. “a literal future mark” and “exactly 3 1/2 years / 42 months / 1260 days”) of Revelation 13. In contrast, I tend to view many of the corresponding details as symbols. This is a classic debate and I’m fairly confident that it won’t be resolved until Christ returns.

I should reiterate my belief that the beast out of the earth – as far as John’s original audience understood its meaning – had already arrived in the form of the “local provincial authority” (quoting from my former pastor). That being said, I would agree that ISIL exhibits aspects of the Roman emperor cult.

In any event, I’m glad that you’re focusing on our call toward “patient endurance and faithfulness” in our context. Let’s continue drawing closer to God as we obey that call.


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