Posts by rickbarbareblog

I am a retired Clergyman and College instructor. I live in Trenton, SC in Edgefield County.

Revelation 13: the Image of the Beast, Part 4

Revelation 13:15

15 And [the Beast from the Land] was allowed to give breath to the image of the [ the] beast [from the sea], so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

Image above is from Wikimedia Commons; “The number of the beast is 666” by William Blake 1805 in the public domain.


We see in these verses the continuation of the message about the Beast from the Land —

The triple alliance between Satan (Dragon), the state (Beast from the Sea), and false religion (Beast from the Land) results in opposition God and persecution of His people.

This reminder about the apocalyptic images is important —

“Both these beasts oppose the Church throughout this dispensation [from the Resurrection-Ascension to the Second Coming of Christ]; yet the apostle describes them in terms that indicate the form that they assumed during the closing decade of the first century AD.” (see Hendriksen, p. 144, below.)

The reminder prevents us from reading newspaper/media headlines today, and then extrapolating today’s news as “Bible prophecy fulfilled,” specifically. Of course, it is fulfillment, but of the kind that every age sees until the Second Coming of Christ! This is the essence of progressive parallelism in Revelation.


I. All who bear unquestioning allegiance to the State/Civil Religion-amalgam are worshiping “modern Beasts.

vs. 15 And [the Beast from the Land] was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast [from the Sea], so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

False religion allied to evil government always manipulates things in such a way as to lend credence to itself. It only appears to possess vitality, however. Psalm 115 remind us the nature of allegiance to anyone or anything than The Lord our God —

4
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
9
O Israel, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.


In ancient Greece men would consult the Oracle at Delphi for guidance about decisions they had to make. A priest would be questioned by one seeking advice. The priest would speak to the Pythia, who had inhaled the psychedelic vapors from the fissure opened by an earthquake. She muttered some phrase that the Priest interpreted and conveyed to the inquiring person.

Priestess_of_Delphi

Priestess of Delphi (1891) by John Collier, showing the Pythia sitting on a tripod with mind-altering vapor rising from a crack from the earth beneath her. Wikipedia Public Domain image.

Croesus, king of Lydia, consulted Delphi before attacking Persia, and according to Herodotus was advised: “If you cross the river, a great empire will be destroyed”. Believing the response favorable, Croesus attacked, but it was his own empire that ultimately was destroyed by the Persians. (WikiPedia “Oracle” page.)

How can people be duped by false government-religion working in tandem? Religion doesn’t have an oracle to consult. No, but the state always has ruling-elite-handlers who know what the vassals ought to think and do. Figure into the modern mix the main stream media, and we have our modern day oracle piped into our dens.

In his day, Richard M. Weaver, called the government-media cooperative “the great stereopticon.”

Weaver gives the name “The Great Stereopticon” to “the technologically enhanced thought control to which we are subjected by newspapers, film, radio, and television.” [I’m sure Weaver would add the Internet if he were writing today instead of in 1948.] (see Brother André Marie, below.)

Here, notably, Weaver echoes the sentiments of C. S. Lewis in his book The Abolition of Man (which was written nearly contemporaneously with Ideas Have Consequences), and anticipates the modern critique of consumerism. (see Weaver, below.)

“Consulting the Oracle” by John William Waterhouse – 1884 WikiMedia Commons public domain

Consider this example of “a modern day oracle” speaking —

In November of 2015, a National Park policeman approached the tour group I was leading on the grassy knoll of Bunker Hill in Boston. He demanded I stop teaching about the battle that had been fought there in 1775, and drew his ticket book (not his revolver) and threatened to write me up for “illegal guiding,” a crime unknown in statutory law and a term new to Landmark Events, our history tour company.

We had been there a number of times in previous years and until now had always received a warm welcome and at least indifference over my lecturing about the battle on the grounds around the monument. I lecture using a headset transmitter while our guests have unobtrusive receivers and ear buds so we don’t disturb non-group members who may also be visiting the site. Unlike our groups, most people just visit the history center, climb the steps of the massive obelisk that commemorates the battle, and then move on. The National Park Service (NPS) personnel help people inside the monument and museum and run the gift store.

The president of our company…gently informed the irate guard that the NPS police and interpreters, indeed, work for us, the American people. In response, the guard threatened to ticket him and all our guests. In the end, the park rangers could neither provide a guide for us nor allow us to continue.

Sometime later [Landmark Events, a history tour company] led a tour to Charleston, South Carolina. The NPS interpreter told us that they would separate all the children from the families once we arrived at Fort Sumter. When [our tour director] remonstrated that we do not separate our families and that we have our own historians, she wagged her finger in his face and said “we know what your children need to know.” (see National Park Service, emphasis mine, below.)

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” ― George Orwell, 1984


The false prophet performs seeming miracles to convince the masses that the idolatrous religion is indeed real. But, it is a tool of Satan bent upon forcing men into loyalty to the state (and ultimately to Satan himself). The magical manipulations of the oracles and shrines in John’s day was proverbial. The Priests could make them say whatever they wanted to.

Christianity in the 21st Century must not lend an evil government a sense of propriety. The Church and faithful believers must speak out prophetically whenever the government depart from the clear teaching of Scripture.


VinfernoLuciferKingOfHell_m
Paul Gustave Doré, 1832-1883 (artist); Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321; Wikipedia image in public domain

Next time on to the Mark of the Beast!

Notes (Commentaries on which I rely sometimes without direct quotation.)

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Brother André Marie, (2008). “The Great Stereopticon” article accessed 21 November 2020 from https://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-84.html

Death of an Age. (2013). Faith for all of Life May issue. Accessed 5 November 2020 from https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/the-death-of-an-age-and-its-faith

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Michaels, J. R. (1997). The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Revelation. Accessed 29 October 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/Beast-Earth

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

National Park Service. (2016). “A New Version of Making America Great (Again).” Accessed 10 November 2020 from https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/save-this-page-add-my-notes-a-new-version-of-making-america-great-again

NIV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Patheos. (2014). “Your Ultimate Concern Is Your God.” Accessed 19 November 2020 from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/uncommongodcommongood/2014/09/your-ultimate-concern-is-your-god/

Weaver, R. M. (1948). “Ideas Have Consequences” article from Wikipedia. Accessed 20 November 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideas_Have_Consequences

WikiMedia Commons for Images

Wilcox, M. (1984). The Message of Revelation. Bible Speaks Today series. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic. © 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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Revelation 13: the Beast from the Land, Part 3

Revelation 13:15-19

Image above is from Wikimedia Commons by Ki Sigit Ariyanto Dalang Wayang Kulit CC BY-SA 4.0. “Shadow play,” also known as shadow puppetry, is an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment which uses flat articulated cut-out figures (shadow puppets) which are held between a source of light and a translucent screen or scrim.

Government without God is shadow-play. Secular humanism, which most Western liberal churches believe, is false religion!


We see in these verses the continuation of the message about the Beast from the Land —

The triple alliance between Satan (Dragon), the state (Beast from the Sea), and false religion (Beast from the Land) results in opposition God and persecution of His people. 

I have stated before in this blog that apocalyptic images were familiar to the first century church, like “political cartoons” are to us in the Twenty-First Century. “A political cartoon, a type of editorial cartoon, is a graphic with caricatures of public figures, expressing the artist’s opinion.” (see Wikipedia, Political Cartoon below.) 

Halliburton

Example from the Second Gulf War. “War 2” by Carlos Latuff.
2006 from Wikimedia Commons

We who were adults in the Second Gulf War era, realize this cartoon says private oil firms make the money while military and non-combatants spill their blood.

“Between the logistics giant Halliburton and a myriad of armed security companies, private military contractors comprise the second largest “force” in Iraq, far outnumbering all non-U.S. forces combined. There are as many as 100,000 civilian contractors and approximately 20,000 private security forces.” (see Fontline Report, 2005, below.)  

Private security can operate off the grid and without the “bothersome” constraints of law.


The Horrors of War, During and After

Our soldiers are noble and do what any administration asks them to do. They often return damaged and troubled. After they serve, they are often ignored and shelved in VA facilities.

Many eventually die and are forgotten by the nation that asked them to give “their last full measure of devotion.” The motivation of the soldiers going into battle is often very different from the motives of the government which sends them to fight.

I like the theme song for HBO’s “Band of Brothers” — “Requiem for a Soldier.” I listened often to that song as my sons were sent to fight in the wake of the 911 terrorist attack (both graduated from military colleges).

You never lived to see
What you gave to me
One shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty
With a host of brave unknown soldiers
For your company you will live forever
Here in our memory.

In fields of sacrifice
Heroes paid the price
Young men who died for old men’s wars
Gone to paradise
We are all one great band of brothers
And one day you’ll see we can live together
When all the world is free.

I wish you’d lived to see
All you gave to me
Your shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty
We are all one great band of brothers
And one day you’ll see – we can live together
When all the world is free.

Lyrics from the YouTube site.

Note the third line in the middle verse — “young men who died for old men’s wars.” “Older men declare war, but it is the youth that must fight and die.” — Herbert Hoover

PTSD is the reason many soldiers commit suicide after they return stateside. One question de-briefers ask is, “Did you see a person in your unit die?” Really! “How many did you see die?” would be a fairer question. Many die in their comrades arms as they try to save their lives.

If you want to know what the ground war was like in Afghanistan, see the documentary film “Restrepo” by National Geographic (click on this blue link and see a clip from the film; the entire film (1hr. 29mins.) is also available on YouTube). “In May 2007, the men of Second Platoon, Battle Company began a 15-month deployment in the Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. Military.”


Red and Faye

Image above is of Marvin Joe “Red” Blankenship, my maternal grandfather, in Fayetteville, NC, at his wedding in 1939 to Faye Williams (not my grandmother, but a sweet lady. Faye always made the best Apple hand pies for breakfast when we visited them in Spindale, NC.)

I once asked my maternal Grandfather, Marvin Joe “Red” Blankenship, what war was like. We always called him “Red.”

He replied, “I was a machine gunner on a tank at the Battle of the Bulge. The German infantry was mostly 16-17 year old boys. We mowed them down as fast as they came toward us, firing until the machine guns turned orange from heat and would fire no more until cooled. I still see the faces of those young boys in my dreams at least once a week.” I never asked him again.

My mother said she asked him the same question once. He told her a similar story—his unit sneaked into a German camp on recon and slit the throats of boys while they slept. She never asked him again.

He served on past WWII and retired from the army after 30+ years. One day when he could take it no more, he went to his bed for his afternoon nap and put a bullet through his head. He was a causality of war even though he lived beyond the conflict. Like many veterans in wars he had smoked (“smoke ’em if got ’em) and used alcohol to cope. He had quit both before I knew him, but the damage had been done. His wife Faye had been a strong Christian influence on his life! He told Faye he couldn’t go through another winter with COPD and pneumonia. I believe I will see him again in heaven!

PTSD is a living hell! One with it relives the battles over and over again as long as they live. A PTSD incident can be triggered by a sound, a smell, or a place.


Secular Humanism is the West’s Religion

Ironically, [Secular Humanism’s] faith has led to what has been called “perpetual war for perpetual peace.” To demand the unity of all men is the essence of total imperialism [or New World Order for global unity]. The result is total warfare.

The peace lovers are history’s greatest warmongers. Worldwide interventionism to effect world peace has characterized the policies of late of the U.S.S.R., the U.S., the U.N., and others. …Man without God ends up as man without man, unable and unwilling to live at peace with anyone, and unable to live at peace with himself. …Hell then is logically “other people” [according to Sartre], and the humanistic faith in man as his own god becomes history’s major impulse towards suicide. The Satanic temptation (Genesis 3:5 “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”) thus becomes the counsel of death to men and nations. (See Death of an Age, emphasis mine, below).

Where we Get Hope

Our only hope is to acknowledge the Ancient of Days and His Law. See Daniel 7:9-18.


Veteran’s Day 2020

I wrote this post on Veterans Day 2020. I honor our soldiers! However, I do not support the concept of “my country, right or wrong.” The Church of Jesus Christ should speak truth to power and be the conscience of the nation.

By the way, when I was drafted in 1972, I went for induction along with 178 others from Greenville, SC. They took two guys only. (I suspected something was in the works to end the war in Vietnam.) I did not have to serve, but I would have done what my country asked of me without question. Our soldiers make that same commitment even before they set foot on a battlefield, and we at home sleep undisturbed each night.


Section 60 is a small part of a much larger story. It’s a piece of Arlington Cemetery, roughly 14 acres out of 624. It’s most notable as the place where many of the people killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. It has been called “The saddest acre in America.”

We honor the soldiers even if we disagree with our government’s foreign policy at times.

Excuse me for writing so much personal material about war. However, I am trying to show where the State allied to a false, civil religion operates—i.e. secular humanism. We as Christians cannot endorse courses of action that are contrary to the Word of God. We need to speak out. The church needs to address issues instead of endorsing or opposing candidates in elections. The stand on issues spoken loudly enough can deal with the candidates.

Next time, part 4, and, yes, I’ll get to the Mark of the Beast.

Notes

Death of an Age. (2013). Faith for all of Life May issue. Accessed 5 November 2020 from https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/the-death-of-an-age-and-its-faith

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Frontline Report. (2005). “Private Warriors.” Accessed 10 November 2020 from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/warriors/etc/synopsis.html

Liberty Under God and Its Alternative. (2005). Accessed 5 November from https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/liberty-under-god-and-its-alternative

NIV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

WikiMedia Commons for Images

Wikipedia, Political Cartoon. (2020) accessed 10 November 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_cartoon

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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Revelation 13 The Beast from the Land, Part 2

Image above is “The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea” by William Blake 1805. Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

Revelation 13:12-18


We see in Revelation 13, the alliance between Satan (Dragon), State (Beast from the Sea), and false religion (Beast from the Land) to oppose God and persecute His people. 

vs. 12 [The Beast from the Land] exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. [ESV]

Compare Genesis 3:15 to see the meaning of the wounding of Satan’s head.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise* your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (ESV, emphasis mine.

*Bruise (Shooph in Hebrew) means figuratively, to overwhelm — break, bruise, cover. The serpent’s poison is lodged in its head; and a bruise on that part is fatal. Thus, fatal shall be the stroke which Satan shall receive from Christ [on the cross]. (see Bible Hub, below.)

headheelImage from https://pastorhistorian.com/2005/12/21/the-first-christmas-message-genesis-315/

“Verse 15 is known as the proto-evangelium — the first Gospel. It proclaims that God’s people will finally triumph over the serpent. The “seed of the woman” is a collective noun, indicating corporate victory. However, if left to ourselves, we cannot win this war. No, it took Jesus, Eve’s seed par excellence, to deliver the crushing blow (Col. 2:15), and if we are in Him, we share in and extend His victory (Matt. 28:19; Rev. 20:4).” (see Proto-evangelium, below).


I. The godless state seeks to mold people into conformity with Satan’s purpose and plans.

To review, the Beast from the Sea is an apocalyptic symbol for a government that opposes God and persecutes His people.

“…The vision is fulfilled in every generation whenever the state, with the help of religious institutions, tries to make itself the object of worship or to claim for itself allegiance that belongs to God alone.” (see Michaels, emphasis mine, below).

The Beast from the Land is an apocalyptic image of false religion which  assists the godless state and pressures God’s people to conform to the will and wishes of Satan. Our modern false religion is “secular humanism” where each man is his own god. See Genesis 3:4-5 —

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (see ESV, emphasis mine, below)

“Men who believe they are gods who have the right to determine all things will act in terms of that self-image. A divinized man is sure to be full of himself. Sometimes this results in ego-centrism, selfishness, or a lawless anarchy. Often, too, it results in men pooling their energies to control others.” See Liberty Under God and Its Alternative, emphasis mine, below.)

The so-called “New World Order” in our day is a prime of example of globalists attempting to subdue all people under one worldwide identity. It reminds me of the Tower of Babel — Gen. 11:4 “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”[ESV]

Turris_Babel_by_Athanasius_Kircher

Image from wikipedia in public domain; Illustration of the Tower of Babel, published in Turris Babel by Athanasius Kircher, 1679.


II. False religion aids the State to mold people into conformity with Satan’s purpose and plans.

This literally reads in the Greek—”he does all the authority of the first beast in his presence.” It is evident that the idea is that the second beast has the authority of the Beast from the Sea and that it performs wonders in the presence of it with its approval. The trifecta work together to achieve the same ends.

daniel05

Daniel 3:4-6 4 “And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Image from Pinterest, saved by Julie Lassetter.

“[the Beast from the Land] makes the earth. . .worship the first beast [from the sea]” — The task of false religion is to bolster up the state. It forces men into conformity to the state. It often uses national tragedy and common national experiences to forge the people into a godless homogeneous society. This society is indicated by the term “the inhabitants of the earth.”

Those of us familiar with Daniel in the Old Testament understand the desire of the state to make people conform to its wishes. The alternative in Daniel is the fiery furnace or the lion’s den. 

shadrach-meshach-abednego-1

Image from ARPA Canada at https://arpacanada.ca/news/2019/05/22/ontariobenchers/shadrach-meshach-abednego-2/

Most likely today, people will not be executed for non-conformity. Western countries like taxpayers too much. But if Christians are tortured or executed, remember the fourth man in the fire! 


A member of the Church of Almighty God (Christian group in China) has suffered persecution by drugs. She was arrested in 2013, and the police tortured her cruelly, trying to extort a confession from her. The woman developed severe pain in her head, and officers used the pretext of “treating her headache” to deceive her into taking psychotropic substances.

“A few days after taking the drugs, I felt a lot of pain in my stomach and heart, my hands and feet trembled, and I had muscle cramps all over my body. I also vomited from being nauseous and experienced blurred vision,” the woman recalled. Sometime later, a prison doctor advised her to stop taking medication, but the guards continued forcing her to take drugs for ten more months.

“Although it has been two years since she was released from prison, she continues to develop headaches whenever recalling the past. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by vomiting. Besides, her responsiveness rate has dropped a lot, and she has become very forgetful. (see Bitter Winter, below)


III. Deception of people lies at the heart of Satan’s plans to pervert God’s program for mankind.

vs. 13 And [the Beast from the Land] performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. [NIV]

“And he makes great signs, so that fire comes down out of heaven in the presence of men.” This is an obvious parody of the two witnesses’ ministry in Rev. 11. False religion “apes” the true testimony of the Church in order to win men over to its false system. The word for “sign” (sēmeia) is the standard word for “miracle” in the Gospels. These are false miracles.

Imitation in Rev 13 with line

vs 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. [NIV] 

“the earth-dwellers make an image of the beast” — The task of the Beast from the land is to create idolaters out of the earth-dwellers. Image Greek = eikōn, icon) is not just a copy, but is something that partakes of the essential character of the original. Compare I Corinthians 10:18-22 —

18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?  [ESV; emphasis mine]

False religion in league with evil government is idolatry. [cf. II Thess. 2:1-12 on this passage.]

Continued next week…the mark of the beast 666!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bible Hub. (2020). Accessed 7 November 2020 from https://biblehub.com/hebrew/7779.htm

Bitter Winter. (2019). “Devastated by Drugs: Nightmare of Detained Believers” Accessed 7 November 2020 from https://bitterwinter.org/devastated-by-drugs-nightmare-of-detained-believers/

Death of an Age. (2013). Faith for all of Life May issue. Accessed 5 November 2020 from https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/the-death-of-an-age-and-its-faith

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Liberty Under God and Its Alternative. (2005). Accessed 5 November from https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/liberty-under-god-and-its-alternative

Michaels, J. R. (1997). The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Revelation. Accessed 29 October 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/Beast-Earth

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

NIV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Proto-evangelium. (n.d.). Tabletalk Magazine. Accessed 6 November 2020 from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/proto-evangelium/

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 13 The Beast from the Land, Part 1

Revelation 13:11-18

Image above is in the Public Domain “The Devil whispers to the Antichrist; detail from Sermons and Deeds of the Antichrist, Luca Signorelli,” 1501, Orvieto Cathedral

I. Satan uses his allies to lead people away from God.

vs. 11: Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth (or land). It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. [ESV]

Roman Governor Arrives for Annual visit

I have used the above image several times. It pictures a Roman triumph, but illustrates the relationship between The Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Land. The Roman governor would pay his annual visit to the area he governed. The seven churches of Asia would have seen the governor land from a ship. Soldiers would have lined the route to the Praetorium — the place of his residence. All along the way, people would have small altars where as he passed they would burn incense. It was a part of the Emperor Cult, but incense also masked the vile odors of the city.

My wife and I have walked the route in Ephesus from the upper city down toward the artificial harbor (long since silted up) along the ancient colonnaded street descending from the theater. It is a steady decline to the harbor which today is silted up and swampy. To the first century citizens, it looked like the Roman Governor came up from the Sea. There were headless statues of Emperors all along that inclined wide street. (The bodies were all Augustus-like in pose and clothing; the heads were replaced depending who was the Emperor at the time.)

Ephesus Ancient conceived

Image above Ephesus and the Aegean Sea in the past. Image from http://art-now-and-then.blogspot.com/2017/09/ephesus.html

ephesus theater today

The Theater of Ephesus with harbor street today. Due to ancient and subsequent deforestation, overgrazing (mostly by goat herds), erosion and soil degradation the Turkey coastline is now 2 miles away from the ancient Greek site with sediments filling the plain and the Mediterranean Sea. In the background: muddy remains of the former harbor, bare hill ridges without rich soils and woods. Image above from By Jordan Klein from San Francisco, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0.

The Emperor cult was not forced on Asia Minor. Dead Emperors were declared divine by the Roman Senate and worshiped. This was a given in John’s Day. Asia Minor built temples and worshiped living Emperors. The sane Emperors declined to endorse this practice unless it was also primarily dedicated to Augustus. On the land we see false religion allied with a wicked state.

II. Godless government wedded to perverted religion is a tool to deceive people in and out of the Church.

“Another beast” — John uses the word Greek word for “another” (allos) meaning “another of the same kind.” This beast is similar to the first, wild beast. In Rev. 19:20 this beast is personified as the “False Prophet.” This beast arose from the land or the ground (gēs). The former Beast was “the evil, world system.” This other beast seems to represent false religion allied to evil government. (It is not all false religions, but it is just those which are allied to evil governments.) We see this in N. Korea, where a religion built around the Kim family works to brainwash people into worshiping the supreme leader instead of God. 

A modern example of false religion wedded to the State

“North Korea’s indoctrination of its children—ensuring the worship of the ruling Kim family—is one of the first steps the state takes to control 25.7 million people living in the country that has been No. 1 on Open Doors’ World Watch list for the last 19 years. Now, recent changes are tightening even further the country’s grip on its youngest citizens.

north-korea-edited“Timothy Cho (substituted picture for safety), a refugee living in Europe, remembers growing up in North Korea and the “brainwashing” he and all young children went through. “Even in nursery school, we had to bow to the pictures of the first leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung and his son, Kim Jong-Il,” he says. As a child, he heard stories of Kim II-Sung having magic powers. “I learned that Kim Il-Sung was able to catch a double rainbow with one hand because of his “majestic powers.”

“Everything in North Korea revolves around the Kim family, Timothy shares. North Korean children are brainwashed so that they will honor the leader of their day. In preschool, the teachers prayed to the leaders at lunchtime. We had to give thanks to the dictators for our “daily bread,” Now, I realize they stole this from the Lord’s Prayer. There’s even a (Santa Claus-inspired) story of Kim Il-Sung bringing gifts if you follow him.” (See Open Doors USA below.)

Stealing the Lord’s Prayer from Christianity and twisting it to fit the Kim family is the the Satanic Trifecta at work in the Twentieth-first Century. 

III. Satan’s Beasts (his “tools”) imitate Christ and lead people into active rebellion against God.

“Two horns like those of a lamb” — This beast, like the first, is marked by itsStatue of Gold in Daniel imitation of Christianity. The two horns are “lamb-like.” Yet, the mouth betrays the character — it is “dragon-like.” Like in Daniel’s day, that which is out of conformity to God’s Word is idolarty.

“John’s vision is not so much protesting against some isolated aberration in the first century A.D. as [he is] staking out the limits of good citizenship [for believers of all ages].”

As long as the state is simply the state, an institution created by God (as it was for Paul in Rom 13:1-7) or at least tolerated by God (as it was for Peter in 1 Pet 2:13-17), it is possible for a Christian to be a good and loyal citizen.” 

But when the state oversteps its bounds so as to become God, good citizenship is no longer an option. The battle lines are drawn, even though the Christian’s role in the battle is a passive one governed by the counsel of verse 10: ‘if anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go,’ and ‘if anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.'” (see Michaels, emphasis and bracketed words are mine, below.)

Christian_heroes_and_martyrs_(1895)

Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (Christian heroes
and martyrs, 1895) WikiMedia commons.

The role of the Christian in an evil state is to follow Christ and His Word, and if necessary, suffer the consequences. This is not an inspiring picture in Revelation 13, but this is the reality most Christians experience daily in the Far East and Africa today. Now we are seeing it brought home to us in the West. It’s just a matter of time. It always costs to be a Christian, and John is making this clear to the First century and the Twentieth-first century Church!

Next time Beast from the Sea, Part 2.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Michaels, J. R. (1997). The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Revelation. Accessed 29 October 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/Beast-Earth

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

NIV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Open Doors USA. (2020). Accessed 10 October 2020 from https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/preschool-with-a-side-of-atheism-north-korea-intensifies-early-brainwashing-efforts/

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 13 The Beast from the Sea’s Activities

Revelation 13:5-10

Image above: The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883) Wikimedia Commons

I. Satan is permitted to do his evil, but he is restrained by God.

vs. 5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 

“Authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.” NASB — “Was given” is passive voice. This indicates an implied divine agency. Satan gives the beast his authority. However, it is God himself who permits this. Satan would do much more than he is able to do but for God’s sovereign control over all things. The problem of evil is insurmountable from human understanding. We can try to circumvent it by shaving off God’s sovereignty and making it look like he is not in control of all things. I would rather be without understanding and have God sovereign than to view Satan’s actions as uncontrollable. This is where humility and prayer come in.

Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern_1860_176
Image depicting Jesus Christ sending Satan away during his temptation by Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 Wikipedia public domain

The Beast is allowed to speak his blasphemies for 42 months — the time of the Church’s testimony and the time between Christ’s Ascension and Second Coming. Note that John uses the accusative of time to indicate duration. False governments oppose God’s Church, but they do not wipe it out. And they cannot do it except God permit it.


II. Satan is our implacable foe who spews out slander and lies.

vs. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling (tabernacle), that is, those who dwell in heaven. 

Tabernacle (2009 model by Gabriel Fink CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia commons

The Beast’s blasphemiesblasphēmia = slander. The word for “dwelling place” is skēnē — “tabernacle.” It is a reference to heaven and not to the heavenly tabernacle which was the prototype of the earthly one. The verb form of the noun is used in the next phrase — skenō. Godless governments hate God, heaven, and all who dwell there. No wonder we are so persecuted. We are citizens of that realm they hate so much.

III. God Fulfills His purposes through the war Satan wages on the saints.

vs. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation…

The original painting is by Briton Rivière in the Manchester Art Gallery. Image published by Thomas Agnew and Sons, 1892 (Daniel in the Lions Den).

“War on the saints” — Here again, as in the 5th verse, we encounter the past tense passive voice of didomi — to give. It refers to God’s permission to do something. God permits civil governments to oppose his people. God has given authority to civil government to rule over all people. When such government is good, God’s people prosper. When it is evil, God’s people suffer. By and large, an evil civil government will oppose God’s people. Maybe the evil government is used by God to keep the Church pure. God’s people will ultimately prosper in spite of the activities of an evil civil government. Romans 8:28 functions in this sphere as well as in an individual’s life.


IV. Satan lures the earth-dwellers to worship the image of the beast from the sea (godless government).

vs. 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Worshiping the Golden Calf wikimedia commons Bible card published 1901 by the Providence Lithograph Company

Those who worship the Beast and those who refuse — The “earth-dwellers” are those who are opposed to God and his people. They find no other ambition and desire except to live here on earth.

The concept for “dwelling” is the same as that expressed in verse 7 in regard to the saints, but the words are different — vs. 7 = skēnē ; vs. 8 = katoikeō = [kata “down” + oikeō “dwell in a house”] has the idea of “settling down” in it. These folk who settle down in this world system are unsaved. They are not of the elect. They one desire is a home on this earth.

Psalm 135 makes a telling observation about idolators —

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.

“Before the foundation of the world” — This phrase should be attached to the words “the Lamb who was slain. . .” and not attached to the word “written… .” The emphasis is upon redemption before the world was even made. It demonstrates that the plan of salvation was not an afterthought with God. It was in his plan all along. ‘Written’ is in the perfect tense. They were written in the past and continue in the book in the present. See NIV Rev. 13:8


V. God sustains us in our warfare with godless humans and Satan as we live true to Him.

vs. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

This phrase can either refer to what precedes or to what follows. It is a solemn call to the hearer in the public worship service to whom the epistle is being read to listen if he has spiritual senses with which to perceive it. It is a characteristic phrase used in the synoptic gospels (see Mark 4:9 and Rev. 2:7). The call here in Revelation is in the singular, whereas our Lord’s call is in the plural. It is also in the present tense stressing the fact that the message is timeless. I feel the solemn call goes with what follows because it fits in with the formula since it starts with the same words ‘if anyone…

vs. 10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.

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

Image uploaded to Pinterest by Bonnie Caldwell

Captivity and Killing — This is a confirmation of the sure purpose of God which is at work during this entire period of the testimony and persecution of the Church. The Christian destined for captivity will go there and the Christian destined to be killed will be killed. Why does the Lord say the obvious? Is this, Whatever will be, will be’ kind of fatalism? No, but the Lord is assuring the suffering church that evil is also within the confines of his will.

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.


North Korean refugee John Choi* shares how he grew up believing Christians were evil and dangerous. “We watched the government’s propaganda alongside public executions. It told us that Christians wanted to kidnap children and that the cross was a symbol of the devil.

“Even in nursery school, we had to bow to the pictures of the first leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung and his son, Kim Jong-Il. The first man I saw executed was a Christian. They said he had smuggled Christian things into the country and had enticed people into the church. The whole village was told to come and watch. The children were allowed to sit at the front to get a good view. It enforced this belief that Christians were dangerous.”

Despite these lies and toxic culture, God broke through to this new believer … this new member of our family. Praise God that he found faith in the one, true God. * Not his real name. (see Open Doors USA, below.)


The saints’ perseverance — Christians move forward and trust the God who works in such a plan as has been outlined above. It is not blind fatalism. It is trust in a God who works for our good in the midst of seeming chaos. Who covers us with His protection until His plan is accomplished for our lives. Then, he takes us home to heaven to live with Him forever.

Next time the Beast from the Land!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Open Doors USA. (2020). Accessed 21 October 2020 from https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/urgent-north-korean-christian-arrested-and-in-grave-danger-pray-for-release/

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© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 13: The Second Member of the Trifecta of Evil — The Beast from the Sea

Revelation 13:2-4

Image above is a French tapestry of “The worship of the Image of the Beast” by Jean de Bandol; licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikikedia Commons.

vs 2: And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 

“Verses 1-2 are a creative reworking of Dan. 7:4-7.” (see Beale, p. 267, below)

Triumph_of_Aemilius_Paulus_(1789)

A “triumph” was granted to a victorious Roman General to display the fruit of his victory and the glory of Roman Empire. Picture in public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

I. Satan energizes this present evil world system in its domination of  mankind.

The activity of the dragon (Satan) against the newly formed people of God [the seven churches of Asia Minor in the first Century] now picks up that activity as it will be carried out by the Empire through the second and third members of the “unholy [Trifecta]”: the emperor himself and the “chief priest” of the cult of the emperor. (See Fee, p. 177, below)

In Daniel 7:4-6 there are four beasts described. They are the world powers of Daniel’s vision. John’s Beast is a composite of three of the four of Daniel’s vision. The Roman empire was a conglomeration of all of the empires which had ruled the world previously. Its Empire ended, but the power of it was passed on the succeeding nations. (see Beale, below.)

The_Scripture_history_of_idolatry,_showing_the_connexion_between_the_traditions_of_pagan_mythology_and_the_Bible_(1838)_(14597409667)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Image worshiped by all except the three Hebrew youths. Along with Daniel, they were  the only ones who could adequately advise the king. They had wisdom from God. Wikimedia commons image.

Some view this Beast as both government and an individual. I think that it is best to view it as government. It is not just the final manifestation of the end times that John has in view. It is the evil, world system in general that is present in every age. The traditional view is represented by John Calvin, who identifies the four beasts as the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires respectively.

In our day, people look to government to meet needs that God alone can meet. As one has noted before — whatever a person considers of ultimate concern is to him God. I John 2:15-17 rightly commands us — 

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [ESV]

World (kosmos in Greek), is defined by Thayer as “worldly affairs; the aggregate of things earthly; the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which, although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.” (see Thayer below).

“One of the realities of humans as religious beings is that they tend to become like the deities they worship.” (See Fee, p. 178, below.)

As governments in our day become more and more uncivil and brutal, those who look to them for their every need will become like them.

Richard M. Weaver wrote — “Most of the world lies under the control of haters of mankind.”


Leviathan

DORÉ, Gustave (1832-1883) The Destruction of Leviathan (Is. 27:1) image in the public domain.

1 In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. [ESV]

II. All human government allied with the Dragon has been dealt a fatal blow by Christ on the cross.

vs. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 

(1) Some believe that this is just a general way of saying that whenever an evil government is seeming done away with, another will rise to take its place.
(2) Others see in this a reference to the sacking of Rome in AD 410 and the fall of the empire in AD 475. Afterwards, a conglomeration of nations will arise out of the empire which will culminate in the government of the end times.
(3) I see in this a reference to the fatal blow Jesus dealt Satan’s kingdom on the cross. The present evil world system is “passing away” (I John 2:14-16) from that fatal blow. It still hangs on; but it will be destroyed! One cannot help but see parallels here between Christ’s death and the “death blow’ of the beast.

Satans Conterfeits of Christ

Note both are said to have been “slain” — the same Greek word is applied to the “slain Lamb” in Rev. 5:6 — sphazō. Here is deliberate deception. The beast obviously attempts to pass himself off as a religious entity worthy of the worship of the masses because of his ”miraculously healed wound.” The word “wound” is plēgē in Greek. Its English counterpart is “plague.” Plēgē is used in Revelation of divine Judgment. This lends credence to the view that the wound was divinely inflicted by the Lord on the Cross. “The whole earth marveled at the beast” — “Marveled” — the past passive of thaumazō — is nothing less than worship.

Blake sea beast 1805

William Blake: The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea, 1805 . Wikimedia commons image in the public domain.

Men worship evil, human governments because of Satan’s energizing of this world’s system. He causes men to stand in awe of governments that provide for the elderly, promote science, and “shelter its citizens from the cradle to the grave.” Evil governments often become cultic. Such is the danger of civil religion connected to a government. There is a danger that the church will get caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment and fail to fulfill its prophetic ministry to the government. “The church is to be the conscience of the nation.” We are not in society to confirm the course of the civil government even when that course is wrong. “My country right or wrong” is a terribly flawed maxim. We are here to provide moral leadership. Such a ministry is not popular. But, God has not called us to a popular ministry. He has called us to a faithful one.


III. Adulation of government and its services is idolatry of the worse kind.

vs. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

“Who is like the Beast?” — The function of civil government is always to keep the peace so its citizens can prosper! It is not here to receive our worship (see Romans 13) . The phrase, “Who is like the beast,” may be a parody of Michael’s name — ‘who is like God’. Also, Psalm 35:10 may be in view. The Beast — this evil world system — is accorded divine honors and prerogatives. Men tend to worship what gives them a sense of security. God sees to it that human government doesn’t completely insulate our lives. He brings calamity and heartache upon us as individuals and as a society to keep us ever looking away to the need for something transcendent.

Next time, the Beast from the land.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Fee, G. (2010). Revelation (New Covenant Commentary). Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. Kindle edition.

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Thayer, J. H. (1889). Greek Lexicon. Accessed 18 October 2020 from https://biblehub.com/greek/2889.htm

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© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 13: The Satanic Trifecta Revealed!

Revelation 13:1-8

Image above: The Revelation of St John: 12. The Sea Monster and the Beast with the Lamb’s Horn. A woodcut by Albrecht Dürer. Wikipedia; public domain. 

Chapter 13 spells out in no uncertain terms that Christians are marked people as we worship and serve Jesus as Lord and not the Caesars of our day.

The Link Between Chapters 11-13 — The visions of all three chapters are linked by reference to the persecution of the church. In chapter 11, the church is faithfully witnessing during tribulation between the First and Second Advents while the godless masses carry out persecution against her members. In chapter 12, the dragon who persecutes the woman and her seed, is seen to be the cause behind all of the persecution of the church. At the end of chapter 12, the dragon takes his stand on the sea shore to watch as his cohorts begin to do his bidding, as seen in chapter 13.

“This chapter forms part of the theme of the persecution of God’s people that John began to develop in ch. 12. Turning from the inner dynamics of the struggle, ch. 13 shifts to the actual earthly instruments of this assault—the two dragon-energized beasts.” (see Johnson, A. F. p. 701, below.) 

Revelation 11-13 context

From the Chart above one can see Chapter 13 uses a marked hand to indicate forces attempting to influence work. I do not believe these are to be taken as literal marks (e.g. microchips under the skin or a bar code on the arm, etc. as popular prophecy books claim).

In the courts of England in the past they used to brand mark a person’s thumb on the underside with a letter to indicate his crime. This way no one would do business with a criminal after he was released. He would turn his palm up to shake hands and all would know instantly what he had done. I will speak more about the “666 image” later. Perhaps it is better to see the mark as invisible but detectable by one’s outward loyalties. Such is the mark of baptism upon a believer!

The Identification of the Two Beasts of Charter 13 — The two wild beasts are the Dragon’s minions. They perform his bidding, receive his authority, and provide him with followers from humanity. They also persecute those who will not follow the dragon his program.

These three — 1. the Dragon; 2. the Beast from the Sea; 3. the Beast from the Land — form the satanic trifecta of evil. They cannot form a genuine Trinity because they do not share the same substance like the Godhead does. But, they are attempting to pass themselves off as an ersatz “Trinity.” Together, they are bent on the destruction of God’s plans and opposition to God.


vs. 1 [And the Dragon stood on the shore of the sea.] And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.

I. When governments do not recognize King Jesus as Lord of Lords, they become like wild beasts in their treatment of non-conforming people.

Daniel's_vision_of_the_four_beasts_from_the_sea_and_the_Ancient_of_Days_-_Silos_Apocalypse_(1109),_f.240_-_BL_Add_MS_11695

Daniel’s vision of the four beasts from the sea and the Ancient of Days – Silos Apocalypse (1109) Wikimedia Commons public domain image

“Beast,” in Greek, is thērion — meaning “wild beast.” This is a designationStatue of Gold in Daniel for evil, demonic forces behind human governments. It is taken from the book of Daniel (7:4-6) . In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he envisioned his  government as a golden statue.

In God’s estimation, human governments under the influence of demonic forces are wild beasts. Government is
supposed to support right and punish wrong, but often it does the opposite. Satan’s two earthly instruments are viewed by God as wild beasts ready to devour mankind.


Romans 13 states clearly —

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (ESV)

Roman Governor Arrives for Annual visit

Think of the annual visit of a Roman governor to his province (pictured above). He would be given a procession from the harbor in Ephesus to the Praetorium—the Roman governor’s residence—high above the theater that seated 25,000 persons. (The high vantage point said to Ephesians, “Beware! Rome’s eye is on you!”)

The imperial cult was not merely a matter of stone temples, lifeless statues, and voiceless inscriptions passively waiting to be noticed. Priests and celebrants regularly brought these sites and their ideology to life, following a calendar of imperial celebrations, including the monthly commemoration of the reigning emperor’s birthday. As the procession passed by, householders would sacrifice on small altars outside their homes [note the altar in the picture above]. The whole city thus had opportunity to join in the celebration. (see DeSilva, pg. 42, below).


II. When Christians refuse to render homage to State as god, we are treated badly by our neighbors for non-conformity.

The problem is not giving respect to our government officials. We owe them that according to Romans 13 and Jesus’ words to His disciples. We as believers are caught in a quandary sometimes. Jesus has an answer—Mark 12:15-17 —

Hadrian_Denarius12 Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Our quandary comes when “our Caesar” usurps what belongs to God and requires us to obey it. We cannot render unto Caesar the things that belong to God!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Statue of Jesus Christ as King in Świebodzin, Poland CC BY-SA 3.0

III. Our obedience to and honoring of God has priority over our yielding to man’s wishes.

The Imagery of the Sea — In Rev. 11:7, the beast is said to arise “out of the abyss” (also in 17:8) . This indicates that the sea, here in 13:1, is a symbol for the abyss, in 11:7. “The ancient [Israelites] de-mythologized the sea-monster myths to depict the victory of the Lord of Israel over the demonic forces of evil that in various manifestations had sought to destroy the people of God.” (see Alan F. Johnson, 1987 ed. p. 524, below.)

The seven churches would have recognized the beast from the sea as the Roman Governor. We will speak later about the beast from the land (religion of Asia Minor).

Note Isaiah 57 about Israel and the wicked nations around her —

18 I have seen [Israel’s] ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19 creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord, “and I will heal him.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” (ESV; emphasis mine) 

I leave you with two quotations —

“He who marries the spirit of the times will soon find himself a widower.” — G. K. Chesterton

“What, then, is it for a man to serve his own generation? I note, first, that it is not to be a slave to it. It is not to drop into the habits, customs, and ideas of the generation in which we live. What is it, [then]? It is to maintain true religion. — ( see Spurgeon, below)

We move on to more in the 13th Chapter next time.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

DeSilva, David. (2009). Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation, Rev. Ed. in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). “His Own Funeral Sermon.” A Sermon (No. 2243)
Delivered October 19th, 1890. Accessed 10 October 2020 from https://archive.spurgeon.org/sermons/2243.php

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 12: Facing a Fierce Foe but not Backing Down!

Revelation 12:13-17

Image above: Guido Reni – Massacre of the Innocents public domain Wikipedia.


We have seen in the past two posts that main point of this chapter is —

We as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ are in a cosmic Spiritual Battle in which Satan and his allies are seeking to destroy us. 

Let’s see in this post how fierce the conflict can become.

I. The church is the new Israel of God which is the target of Satanic attack.

vs. 13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.

Satan cannot get back at God directly. He does attempt to do so indirectly, however, through man. He takes his anger out upon the children of God. The specialized use of the Greek past tense stresses entering into an activity — “began to… .” The Greek word diōkō means “to put to flight,” “to pursue,” or “to persecute.” Since the devil cannot sling dirt in God’s presence any longer, he does so by pursuing His people and persecuting them.


II. God always provides for His people’s needs in times of persecution.

vs. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Isaiah 40 gives us this promise —

28
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (ESV; emphasis mine.)

Beale points out that this verse takes us back to 12:6 and explains it further — 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

This section brings to mind the promises given by the Lord to Israel in Exodus 19:4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself; and Deut. 32:10-12.

This is direct Divine intervention for the purpose of deliverance. For the time designation see the note on vs. 6. Both of the verbs are passive in voice — indicating an implied Divine agent.

The church is once again portrayed as latter-day Israel taking over the role of the old Israel, and with the spiritual wilderness (erémos) representing God’s protective presence substituted for the physical wilderness of Sinai. (See Beale, p. 260, below.)  

Wolf in Sheep clothing

Wolf in sheep’s clothing, /u/Departedart, Digital, 2019


III. One of Satan’s chief means of defaming God is to corrupt His church by error.

vs. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.

The water brings to mind the Exodus. The water was a barrier to their escape. The word for “swept away by the stream” is potamophorétos. It was used in an A.D. 110 papyrus (a letter written on paper) meaning “to become river borne.” The thought may be that the godly are wrestling with a flood of deception.

Psalm 144 relates this possibility

7
Stretch out your hand from on high;
rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
from the hand of foreigners,
8
whose mouths speak lies
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

Psalm 32:6-7 sounds this same promise of protection.

6
Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. (ESV; emphasis mine)


IV. Our Lord God of Armies (Yahweh Sabaoth) has all resources at His disposal to aid His people.

vs. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.

A_Covenanters'_Conventicle,_from_a_children's_history_book

A conventicle in progress, from H. E. Marshall’s
Scotland’s Story (1906) public domain image from wikipedia.

The river runs under ground and does not destroy the woman. This speaks of the many ways the Lord will deliver his people during tribulation.

In the “killing times” in Scotland, an old Covenanter preacher had been delivering a sermon out in the rural countryside. All fled at the sound of horses and soldiers. The preacher ran into a cottage. The family hid him in a cupboard. Unknown to anyone a spider dropped down and began to weave a web over the cupboard door. Then the soldiers broke in and turned almost everything upside down. When they came to the cupboard, the captain said, “Don’t bother with that. The door hasn’t been opened in ages. There’s a spider web across the door.”


V. Obedience to Christ and Faithfulness to His Word brings the most suffering and the greatest success. 

vs. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

The church itself will not be destroyed. This is symbolized by the invulnerability of the woman. However, Satan will attack individual members of the church and seek to destroy them. This is symbolized by the “making war against the rest of her offspring.” The phrase “make war against” is identical to that used in two other places — 11:7 where the beast attacks the two witnesses and in 13:7 where the beast attacks the saints. “Could this possibly correlate the three groups and indicate their common identity under three different figures’?” (see Johnson, A. F., below.) Satan hates those who obey God’s word and who possess the testimony of Jesus.


In China, reporting Christian activities to police pays money

In parts of China, Christianity continues to be suppressed and stifled — especially with the next generation. We have recent reports that in China’s Gushi County—home to almost 2 million people—citizens have been encouraged to report “illegal” religious activities in exchange for monetary rewards. Reportedly, a reward of 500 yuan (around $73) was promised for photos, video or recordings of religious events. The information about the reward came to light when a summer camp hosted by a church in the county was interrupted and raided by government officials who accused the church of holding “illegal” activities. During the raid, plainclothes police confiscated personal and church property and took the pastor and his wife to the police station. A church member told China Aid that the officials suggested they acted on information from a third party, saying they had received “report from folks.” [Open Doors, USA website]

Still the house churches grow!


[vs. 12:18 or 13:1?] And he [or I] stood on the sand of the sea.

“And he stood on the sand of the sea.” This refers to the Dragon. The Textus Receptus or TR (the Greek manuscript from which the KJV was translated) reads “and I stood on the sand of the sea,” referring to John. The oldest manuscripts have the 3rd person singular and not the 1st person singular.

This verse is included in the KJV as a part of 13:1. It is obvious that it should be 12:18. It forms a link between the two chapters. The Dragon watches as his proteges, the Beast from the sea and the Beast from the earth rise to do
his bidding. These three figures are the “Satanic Trifecta.”


We do not know when persecution might come our way. Death is the last enemy we face in our earthly life. As we testify of God’s to wondrous grace in Christ, we never know who might be listening in the corner while we speak to someone who appears unresponsive.

Sangster-318Rev. William Edwin Sangster (1900-1959), very famous preacher, had been on a speaking engagement one evening and decided to give his wife a call. He usually did before leaving for home on a long journey. He connected to the long distance operator and gave her the number. (This was way before cell phones.) As he was waiting to be connected to his wife, he sang the words to a favorite hymn —

My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.
(Richard Baxter, “Lord, it Belongs not to My Care,” 1681)

The operator had been listening in to make sure the connection was made. When he finished singing that last verse, she asked him to repeat the words. She said, “You’ll never know how much those words meant to me tonight!”


Application for Chapter 12

Chart for Application of Reve 12

Next time Chapter 13!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 12: Satan’s Defeat Enforced!

Revelation 12:7-12

7 Now war arose in heaven…


Image above: Michael casts out rebel angels. Illustration by Gustave Doré for John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Public Domain from Wikipedia.


The battle in heaven and the hurling down of the dragon are not to be understood literally. Satan is “hurled down from heaven” in this sense, namely that he has lost his place as an accuser of the brethren. Whereas Christ was born and rendered satisfaction for sin, Satan has lost every semblance of justice for his accusations against believers. (See, Hendriksen, p. 141, below.) 

This section of the Chapter is connected with the first section since vs. 3 states that —

3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. [ESV; empahsis mine]

Verses 1-6 describe the characters and the background to the warfare in which we as Christians are involved. We do not have the luxury of deciding whether or not we will fight since we are born on the battlefield as Christians!

Satan as Accuser

Image: From Wikimedia Commons; ancient illuminated manuscript of the scene in Job. 

Vss. 7-12 explain how Michael and his angels defeated the devil (waging war with the dragon) and his angels in heavenly combat, and record actions which are the heavenly counterpart of earthly events recorded in vss. 1-6. (see Beale, p. 252, below).

Satan’s anger is directed at God’s people since he does not have access to God’s presence to make his accusations in person any longer.

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.

I. No matter what we as believers experience by way of persecution, we must always remember the Devil and his minions are behind the scenes pulling the strings.

Verses 7 & 8 This war is not one that will occur at the end of the age. It is one that has already occurred at the ascension. As a result of Christ’s finished work on the cross, Satan is no longer allowed access to heaven where God dwells as he did in the days of Job.

See Job 1:6-12 and Job 2:1-8

Michael is an archangel who is entrusted with Israel’s welfare. Just as he was concerned with Israel of old back then, he is also concerned with the new Israel, the Church of the Lord Jesus Jesus Christ, at present. Angels keep watch over the people of God (cf. Heb. 1:14). It is not stated in the Word of God that we each have a guardian angel. It simply states that we are protected by angels. Many of us need more than one, I’m sure!

II. We must ever bear in mind, in the skirmishes of everyday life, we face a defeated foe.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Verse 9 — The Dragon is further identified as: 

1. that ancient serpent (cf. Gen. 3:1) ;
2. the devil = adversary;
3. satan = slanderer;
4. deceiver = one who wanders off the course and thus leads others astray as well. 

The angels which fell with Satan share his lot. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan says, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” World is oikoumenē — the inhabited world.

III. God is sovereign over the battle and will bring the curtain down on the strife in His own good time! 

10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Verses 10 — “As elsewhere in the book, the narrative material can be interpreted only in the light of the hymns.” (See Johnson, A. F., below.) The war was fought and has already been won. It was fought at Calvary and the victory was enforced at the ascension.

Jesus_Christ_on_the_throne_by_Cima_da_Conegliano

Jesus Christ on the throne in heaven
Giovanni Battista WikiMedia Commons

The singers are not identified. However, the plural is used indicating that a group is speaking and not an individual The hymn uses the aorist tense (past tense) to describe Christ’s victory. It has already been accomplished. You ask, ”Why is there still fighting, then?” This is a good question. It shows that you and I are in the battle, and not on the sidelines as so many seem to be.

Omaha_Beach,_D+1,_June_7,_1944German_surrender_army.mil-2007-05-07-132957

Between two days; Top: D-Day+1 and Bottom: VE-Day

The period between D-Day and VE-Day — Christ is currently “mopping
up” the battlefield. His victory has already been won. It will only fully be manifest at his Second Coming.

The singers are proclaiming the triumph of Messiah. Each word describing the triumph has its own article. Jesus’ victory has ended Satan’s “accusation parties.” The genitive of time is used to indicate the kind of time referred to. Satan’s accusations came at any hour of the clock. The saints were not even exempt while they slept. Note the emphasis upon the authority (exousia) of Jesus. This is the key issue in the spiritual realm — authority. Satan can no longer flaunt the sins of God’s people. They have been dealt with in Christ.

Since God will no longer listen to Satan’s accusations against us, why should we! 

IV. We have resources to defeat all evil forces in the trenches of everyday warfare we face.

11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Resurrection

The Resurrection of Christ by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1875)
Wikimedia Commons image

Verse 11 — “They,” the stated subject of the sentence, is emphatic. Greek is an inflected language. The subject is contained in the verb itself. When it is stated in Greek, it is for the purpose of emphasis. It comes first in the word order. The aorist tense (past tense) indicates that victory is always won by the use of these weapons. This specialized use of the aorist tense (past tense) is called the Gnomic use of the Aorist. It is a universal truth. In English we state universals in the present tense. These three things are necessary for one to overcome Satan:

1. to be redeemed
2. to hear witness of redemption
3. not to love our lives as our ultimate end 

F. W. H. Myers, in a line of poetry about St. Paul writes —

Christ! I am Christ’s, and let the name suffice you,
Ay, for me too He greatly hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.

12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Verse 12 — The great anger of Satan is due to his knowledge of the restriction of time placed upon him by God. He only has the brief period. He knows that God will triumph. Yet, he will not submit to him.

Next time, the third section of Chapter Twelve.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 12: Main Characters and Story Line

Revelation 12:1-6

1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. [ESV]

Image above : The Woman Clothed with the Sun Fleeth from the Persecution of the Dragon, for William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey, by Benjamin West, American, c. 1797, oil on paper on wood – Princeton University Art Museum; public domain.

The Context of the Chapter 

The basic plot of the story was a familiar one in the myths of the ancient world. A usurper doomed to be killed by a yet unborn prince plots to succeed the throne by killing the royal seed at birth. The prince is  miraculously snatched from his clutches and hidden away, until he is old enough to kill the usurper and claim his kingdom.” (see Johnson, A. F., below)

The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is in a Spiritual Battle in which Satan and his allies are striking out at them since Satan cannot strike out directly at God. 

We are beginning new cycles of judgments with a pause for explanations at the beginning. This is in keeping with the interpretation of progressive parallelism. We are not seeing any kind of chronological development. We are seeing in-depth explanation of the same period of time covered by the letters to the seven churches, seals, and trumpets. But we are seeing a clearer focus on the very end.

There is a danger of seeing the two opponents — God and the dragon — as equals on the battlefield of history. The heresy of Manicheanism taught this. 

The most striking principle of Manichean theology is its dualism, a theme gleaned from the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. Mani postulated two natures that existed from the beginning: light and darkness. The realm of light lived in peace, while the realm of darkness was in constant conflict with itself. The universe is the temporary result of an attack of the realm of darkness on the realm of light, and was created by the Living Spirit, an emanation of the light realm, out of the mixture of light and darkness. (see Manicheanism, below.)

Destruction_of_Leviathan

Gustave Dore etching public domain

God is Almighty, Omnipotent and enforces His will on all who oppose Him. Now let’s see what verses 1-6 teach us about our spiritual battle.


Verse 1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

There are three signs (sēmeion) in this chapter — the woman, her child, and the dragon. They are signs in the sense of being portents — unusual persons that are significant in the drama.

Remember that symbols morph quickly in apocalyptic literature. The woman is obviously more than a symbol of the mother of our Lord. She is clearly symbolic of the godly remnant. She begins as a symbol of the believing remnant in Israel of old in vs. 1-6. In 7-17, she is obviously symbolic of the new Israel.

I. John is taking us behind the scenes of life in this world to show us why things are so difficult for us.

He is describing spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. Satan, our archenemy is set to thwart the plan of God at every point. The twelve stars, for some commentators, are symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Gen. 37:9 for a comparison with Joseph’s dream). However, Josephus uses these items, i.e. the sun, moon, and stars, to describe the priestly vestments. This could be a way of stressing the priestly character of the church. In any case, the woman is more than just Mary the mother of Jesus because her persona fills the whole stage of this scene at the beginning. She is pictured as being beautiful beyond imagination. The woman’s crown is the stephanos, the victor’s crown.


Verse 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.

This is the birth of Messiah. However, it probably refers to more than just the birth in Bethlehem. It stresses the travail of the people of God prior to Christ’s birth.


Verse 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 

la_bete_de_la_mer

The “heaven” referred to here is the spiritual realm, and not the place where God manifest His presence (cf. Eph. 2:1-3; 6:10-12). It is the place where spiritual conflict takes place. The action occurs on earth, but John sees the characters in the spiritual realm before the action starts on the earth. The dragon is the serpent, Satan. He has a real dominion as illustrated by the crowns. The crowns are diadēmata — kingly crowns. He is powerful as illustrated by the 10 horns. (Medieval Tapestry of the Dragon pictured right above.)


Verse 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 

rebellious-angels-7508415

The casting of the stars to the earth may be just a way of saying that Satan flexes his muscles in the spiritual realm and the repercussions are felt on the earth (see Morris, p. 158, below) . It also may be an allusion to the fall of the angels in the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. Stars are frequently used to represent angels (see post on Rev. 1) . The third part is a significant minority. The dragon standing in front of the woman in a hostile position speaks of Satan’s attempt to thwart God’s plans all through history before Messiah’s birth. It began with Adam’s fall and culminated with the slaughter of the innocents by Herod. Just as Jesus was an intended victim of Satan, we also as those who are God’s children will be as well.


Verse 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne …

1024px-Jacopo_Tintoretto_-_The_Massacre_of_the_Innocents_-_WGA22591

Jacopo Tintoretto, Massacre of the Innocents

Only two events are given in this narrative concerning Jesus’ earthly life — his birth and ascension. These two events are the beginning and the ending of his personal conflict with Satan. The emphasis is upon a male (arsen) child. “Will rule” is mellō (‘about to” — used here to indicate the future time) plus poimain (“to shepherd”. “Snatched up to God” is pros ton theon indicating that the risen Christ is in the very presence of God the Father. A. T. Robertson, the great Greek scholar of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that pros is the “face-to-face preposition.” Jesus is in a face-to-face relationship with the Father in heaven.


Verse 6 … and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

The desert is a figure taken from the OT to describe the Lord’s ability to shelter his people during her tribulation just like he did when his ancient people were in the wilderness.

There is also a warning in this promise.

The word “place” (where she had a place prepared by God; cf. also v. 14), Greek topos, is synonymous elsewhere in the NT with “temple” (e.g., Matt. 24:15) and was often used in the LXX (about forty times) for the “sanctuary.” The place prepared by God is an invisible geographical area of cultic security like the temple of 11:1-2. The church at Ephesus is warned that an unrepentant spirit in the future will result in Christ removing their lampstand “out of its place (topos)” in His heavenly temple (2:5). This means that they will not have the benefit of spiritual protection provided by that temple. (see Beale, p. 250, below.)

Those who are not faithful to the Lord in trial may have His protection removed. This does not mean that all who suffer in persecution were unfaithful to the Lord. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” says Tertullian (c. AD 155 – c. 240).

Graphs for Revelation 11

The Time period chart from Chapter 11

Here we encounter the term 1,260 days again. It is the length of time the witnesses are to testify according to chapter 11. It seems best to consider it as the same time frame as the 42 months, the 3½ yrs., and the time, times, and half a time. It is roughly the time of Jesus’ earthly witness as Messiah. It stands in the Revelation for the time between Christ’s Resurrection-Ascension and His Return for His people — the Last Days.

Next time we will move on to the next section of Chapter 12.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Manicheanism. Accessed 14 September 2020 from https://www.theopedia.com/manicheanism

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved