Revelation 13

Revelation 13 Devotional
Pastor Mark Hudson

We are in the fourth section of seven.  This fourth section includes chapters 12-14.  Remember, one way to look at this book is below.  The book is 7 parallel sections: the sections are as follow:

1-3                  Christ in the midst of 7 lamp stands

4-7                  Vision of heaven and the 7 seals

8-11                The 7 trumpets

12-14              The Persecuting Dragon

15-16             The 7 bowls

17-19              Fall of Babylon, beast, and false prophet

20-21             The Great Consummation and the devil’s doom

In Chapter 13, the description is rather clear to read but difficult to understand.  I will not write out a summary of what we find in this chapter.  Rather, I will attempt to explain what is meant by the beast and the enigmatic 666 without explaining every detail.  First, I do not think these events are only coming in the future.  Rather, I believe that the reader in the first century and any century following could affirm the veracity of what John is teaching.  The reader in many centuries, at specific times and place, would experience this more intensely the others.

The first beast rises out of the sea (13:1).  The first beast refers to Satan’s hand and points to the nations and governments of the world that are against the church and persecute the church (Is 17:12-13; Rev 17:15).  Just as in the first century the government of Rome possessed the authority to put Christ, His apostles, and other believers to death.  Governments can be brutally violent toward believers both in the first century and ours.  Think of North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and China currently.

The second beast (13:11) rises out of the earth and symbolizes the false religions and philosophies of the world.  These false religions often work together with the secular governments of the world to persecute the believer.  One of the reasons, the governments and false religions can work so well together is because they share a similar world-view.  The second beast outwardly appears like a lamb but when the beast opens his mouth, his language and terrible and exposes his dark heart.

You will notice the cryptic 666 mentioned in Revelation.  If 7 is the perfect number in the Bible, than man’s number is 6, the day of creation he was created.  Six will never reach to 7 and 6 represents man in all his hubris, his striving against God, and his inability to please or serve God on his own.  In fact, man is in opposition to God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind.

While it may be possible there is a literal seal on God’s people or a literal 666 on unbeliever’s forehead and hand it seems to me unlikely.  Rather, in this cryptic imagery, man in his thoughts (forehead) and his work (hand) is dead set against God.  Man is in rebellion against God in both government and philosophy.  Man, in totality, rebels against God.  But man does not have the last word.

The theme of Revelation is that God is the victor and Christ has won our victory on the cross.  Believers are more than conquerors through Christ.  Yet, I want to reflect on these two spheres: government and philosophy.  It would be easy, but reactionary and unwise, to steer clear on any involvement in politics or philosophy.  We need more godly people in our government and in the media that covers our political system.  We should care about the governing of the democratic nation God has placed us in.  Yes, governments can run amok but if God leads us to serve in this area, we can pursue many aspects of work and study involved with the government and politics.

Yes, philosophy can lead us astray.  But philosophy is a great subject to study or even pursue a degree in if done for the glory of God.  Many pastors and theologians have degrees in philosophy.  C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy must be answered… The learned life then, is for some, a duty.”

We must be wary of many areas of life but not afraid nor should we claim some areas of life off limits to believers.  All knowledge, all life, all areas of human endeavors are under God’s control.   Humans are sinners in rebellion against God and can twist any subject or idea against the God who made us and the world.  But, we have the freedom, if God calls us to business, politics, chemistry, medicine, or philosophy, to love God and purse God as we pursue our calling in these areas.

Especially during this Covid crisis, aren’t we glad for chemists?  Aren’t we praying drug company will find a vaccine?  So, in the knowledge that God will overcome all opposition, read and follow politics.  Learn to think and reason properly.  In your calling then, love God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and remember also, with all your mind.  Love God with your mind.