Having called for the endurance and faith of the saints, John’s vision continues with the appearance of another beast:
“Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It 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. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by sword and yet lived” (Rev 13:11-14).
Sue and I were confronted almost simultaneously 16 months ago by two beasts of modern life: her bad fall that has left her battling vertigo and insomnia up to this day; followed by the Covid virus restrictions and all of the never-ending impacts on all of us because of government rules that have violated some of our most precious freedoms. We have focused on perfect unity with God, trying not to yell out in frustration, “Why, O God?” and, “How long, O Lord?” But the beasts keep on coming – or so it seems. It has been quite ironic that these blogs have arrived at the Revelation at this time, where the imagery and timing are so difficult to understand.
What follows in this passage leaves us with some very chilling questions about the beasts:
“And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, 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. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666” (Rev 13:15-18).
Can you think of an event today that very nearly replicates the above “branding” of people? How about certain cards some people must have in order to work, travel, or go to school – name, rank, and serial number?
Are we seeing glimpses of John’s vision today? I know better than to suggest timing that only God controls, and I want to be in perfect unity with him. But it seems like certain “beasts” are slowly blocking God-given freedom, while the actual face of him who controls these beasts is well-hidden for the time being.
He is a man. And his number is 666.
God’s got this!