Thursday, July 20
Revelation 13-16 gives a continuation of God’s judgments and wrath which are poured out upon the earth. We are introduced here to two beasts. For those who are familiar with the Old Testament book of Daniel with it’s four beasts, this material will be familiar. These beasts are ferocious looking images that represent some of the great oppressive empires of the ancient world. The land which we today know as the nation of Israel has always been a strategically important piece of geography. It is a point of convergence for three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. It has been hotly contested for thousands of years. All of the major world empires up to that time took turns occupying the land. It was occupied by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. I’m sure that if you were a peasant trying to eek out your life living in a small village in Israel, you would look at these various invading armies as monstrous beasts. Suddenly, you were forced to follow a new set of laws and customs, and learn to speak new languages in order to understand your captors. You would have to get used to new kinds of money in order to be able to negotiate your way in the new culture. I imagine it would have been scary and overwhelming.
John foresees a time when these beastly powerful world empires who control all of life, will be brought to an end, to be replaced by God’s Kingdom. Even though, for a while, it seems that they are all powerful and all controlling, this will not last forever. Patience is required to live as a believer in this current world system, but one day, our patience will be rewarded. Don’t lose heart. While the mark of the beast would seem to protect you from temporary suffering by the powers of this word system, it is the mark of God, which we are given when we follow Jesus Christ, that will protect us from God’s wrath. Which mark would you rather have?
(Photo Credit: http://www.trackingbibleprophecy.org/revelation13A.php)