Saturday, 24 June 2017

Revelation, 666, The Beast and Now

The Beasts of Revelation Today.

Some of you may be thinking …. Oh Revelation? The Beast, 666 and all that! That's for some time in the future isn't it?

No! (well no and yes - It has been for Christians in every age since John wrote it in the 90's AD ) 
How unfeeling would God have to be if He sent 'round a book dealing ONLY with events in the 2000's or 2100's or for all we know the 4100's to people suffering persecution THEN. Of course God isn't like that! Revelation was meant for them in their distress then! 
But, God being super clever, it has also been for Christians in times of persecution in every place and age since then, and will be for persecuted Christians everywhere until that wonderful day when without warning Jesus appears and world history is forever history! 
If you want a really good fiction book that is intended to give an understanding of Revelation's first recipients and what Revelation meant to them (and also an insight into modern Russia as the author was a missionary in St Petersburgh when he wrote it, I thoroughly recommend this book by a friend of mine Ben Chenoweth: “The Ephesus Scroll” ISBN: 978-0-9875792-0-1.

One does have to be both wary and confident about Revelation. I grew up in a denomination that was really into the books of Daniel and Revelation. They stole a march on other denominations who were a bit cautious and said “Well we don't really know about Revelation...” while the Adventists said “Then come and listen to us because we do know about it ...” One of their commentaries I read up for a sermon I did a few years back on the Beasts in Revelation 13 (you can hear it on :

Last night I looked at a youtube sermon on this text which had 62,000 views! And I thought he missed the obvious point, so I actually do recommend my one!) 
One old Adventist commentary said it had definitely identified “the Beast” … it was the American government! … of 1850! Because they were about to legislate that Sunday was the Sabbath (not Saturday)! Similarly 40 or so years ago one Hal Lindsay thought it was all happening at that time … obviously the helicopters in Vietnam fitted the description of the locusts! I don't mean to laugh at them: just to say that a little caution is clearly called for!

Also people who make interpretations over our horizon do us a dis-service. They take our minds off looking to see if there is an immediate application!

OK that was all a bit long-winded, so on to the point. To summarise what you can hear in more detail on the recording: The Beast from the Sea is tyrannical human government when it stops governing under God and tries to govern as God. The Beast from the Earth is human religion (or ideology) which looks “good” but is really directed by the Dragon (Satan) and supports the first beast.

To the first recipients of Revelation these were the Roman Empire and the cult of emperor worship.

Since then the second beast has had many many faces. Including I suspect the Inquisition, the Crusades, and so many other times in history when we read of “the Church” doing really, really bad things.

In our day as we see the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries, it is not hard to fit their governments to the first beast, and radical Islam to the second beast! But let's move closer to home.
What did we find in our earlier posts on government. Ideally it should be by the people and for the people
What are the dysfunctions we see now? “By the people” even in democracies has morphed into control by oligarchies. No matter which party you vote for you get a representative whose strings are really pulled by some power groups. More and more it is becoming evident that governments have little regard for the true welfare of the people they govern. Is modern democratic government still “for the people”? We have seen a voters' reaction in electing total outsiders like Donald Trump, in voting for splinter parties in Australia, and possibly the same thing at work in the rise of votes for a frighteningly unrealistic Communistic would-be-leader in the recent UK elections. None of these are tyrannical – yet. But the increasing “nanny-state” incursions into daily life show the path to a worrying future.

But more evident is the Beast from the Earth. What do you think? Do you see a rise of human religion or of ideology held with a religious fanaticism, or even the infiltration of churches by advocates for these (Galatians 2.4 speaks of “false brothers who had infiltrated out ranks…) ? Let's look closer at this possibility next time.

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