SCRIPTURE: Revelation 13
In his vision, John now sees a horrible beast, which seems to symbolize a powerful empire (Rome?) with a fatal wound that appears healed. That beast has a beast that serves it (the Caesar?), and subjugates all nations, refusing to help those who do not worship him (or Rome), those who do not willingly take the mark of loyalty? This is just one possible application, it could apply to empires and rulers throughout the ages, that ought to be defeated, under the rule of Christ (the mortal wound) but seem to be healed, doing just fine. They have power, they perform amazing signs, they experience great victories, while the followers of Jesus are persecuted, exiled, martyred. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
What stands out in this vision is that the dragon who has been defeated, who knows his time is short, is doing what he can through the nations and rulers of this world, to intimidate Jesus’ followers from staying true to Him. Though Jesus is victorious, if often does not appear that way, and as His followers we often despair – ‘Jesus, what is going on, are You really in charge down here?
This vision is intended to show us that the enemy is still at work, and it appears as if he is winning… but he is not. It’s still under control. It’s all according to the plan (the scroll with the seals on it).
What are the ‘powers’ that threaten Jesus-followers today? Depends where we live. For some it is their government (some Muslim or communist nations), for others it’s their worldview (system, philosophy – democracy, consumerism, liberalism, etc.) and the temptations they bring. The very freedoms and ‘blessings’ I enjoy in Canada are the things that can distract me away from Jesus.
Lord, help me to see that I am in as much danger (maybe even more) in the freedoms I enjoy, being lulled into an apathetic, worldly pattern of life. Open my eyes to discern the tempting voice of the beast.