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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The two beasts and us (Rev. 13)

What lessons can we learn from what John describes when detailing the activities of the two beasts? Here are four.

First, it would be possible to deduce from what is said about the two beasts that Christians should avoid all expressions of political power and religion. Yet elsewhere the Bible makes clear that Christians can participate in the political world – Paul tells us to pray for rulers and we know that some Christians in the Bible had positions of authority. It also means that sometimes Christians will use things that their original owners dedicated to false religions. Paul gives instructions about how Christians should react when invited to a meal of which some of the courses may have been dedicated in a pagan service.

Second, the details in Revelation 13 reveal that we are involved in a cosmic, spiritual battle between the Saviour and the enemy of our souls, the devil. The goal of the Saviour is to gather in his people recorded in the Book of Life and the aim of the devil is to attack them once they acknowledge Jesus as Lord. So those who are converted through responding to the Gospel can expect opposition and persecution.

Third, we need to recognise that at certain levels the whole world lies under the authority of the evil one. This is allowed by God for his own purposes. The influence that the devil has is extensive and shows itself in many areas of life. Although he works behind the scenes, two areas he manipulates are the political and the religious, which is a reminder that the devil works through people. They may oppose one another, but those in both areas are blinded by him. It is easy for us to see this with regard to false religions, but we should also see this with regard to many rulers as well. 

Fourth, we need to see the true spiritual condition of those without Jesus. In previous chapters of Revelation, visions were given of them being attacked by hostile demonic powers determined to destroy them. And in this chapter, they are described as slaves of the two beasts. Jesus told the people of his day that they were enslaved by the devil. We should be full of compassion for them and bring the gospel to them.

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