The Weekend Word
Worship and Blasphemy
4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
- It sounds like the beast is in total control here. John is laying it out and telling the truth – watch out!!
- I love this question – “…and who can fight against it?” GUESS WHO?
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.
- Is this not the same as the serpent in the garden? He didn’t have a mouth to speak, but it was given. Haughty = proud words.
- It is important to note that the beast was allowed to execute authority from Satan for the church age – not by God’s authority.
- Look for the divine passives in these verses – the passive verbs show that God is at work – “was given”, “was allowed” – God does allow things that make us scratch out heads.
- The power and the authority of the dragon and the beast are not equal to God – their power and authority is controlled by God.
- The 42 months are the 1,260 days (42×30). The beast will use all of his institutional power to say blasphemous things and false teaching against the church.
- This is the time of the church age – the time of the church witness – the time between the 2 advents of Christ, the time when the church will be trampled upon, persecuted and apparently defeated – see ch 11 and here in v.7.
6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
- What does this mean? To blaspheme God’s name is to blaspheme God himself – God and his name go together. God reveals himself to us by giving us his name. If he does not give you his name you have no access to God and his dwelling.
- Watch out for those who blaspheme his work through his baptism and his supper.
7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
- One reminder here is that the beast is not exclusively government but any earthly authority.
- “…and conquer them.” – what does this mean – is the church finished?
- The beast can kill us – he can take away any power and authority we have but he cannot separate us from God – Rom 8:31-39.
- Remember the 2 witnesses of ch 11? Killed! Even in John’s day – he was locked away in prison. So what is the answer when we look at this and see what happens to the church under persecution?
- What do we make of Rev 12:13-17? What of Christ’s promise that ‘the gates of hell will not prevail.’ Or Paul in Rom 8:37 – more than conquerors? What is the answer?
- It is Christ! The cross is the answer because God reigns there on the earth.
8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
- “…name has not been written…” – Is this double predestination? No.
- What this is saying is that you whose names ARE written in the book of life will not be found among those who are worshipping the beast. In other words ‘do not fear, those who are worshipping the beast are not you.
- *** There are some translational issues in this verse***
- You are secure, your names are secure – you are God’s child who was chosen before the foundations of the world.
- He wrote your name in the book of life with his blood, baptized you into the kingdom. This is not you losing your faith – the beast cannot conquer you in this way.
9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:
10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
- This is a call to perseverance. This should give confidence to the persecuted Christians. God is in control, no matter what you see or what you hear. Your eternal election is sure – Rom 8:31-39.
- Now this is odd. Some, not believing that God protects during this tribulation, that God does not guarantee perseverance have adopted a theology of escapism – that the church will be caught up and flown out – raptured.
- Using a strictly literal hermeneutic combined with a strictly futuristic reading of Revelation, men like John Darby, James Brookes, C.I. Scofield, and Lewis Sperry Chafer began to teach what the majority of modern evangelicalism believes today. In 1924, Chafer started Dallas Theological Seminary, which has produced widely-published scholars such as Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, and J. Dwight Pentecost. These professors either taught or influenced men like W.A. Criswell, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, J. Vernon McGee, Paige Patterson, Norman Geisler, Chuck Smith, Dave Hunt, and Hal Lindsey. The many books written by these men have forever changed the evangelical understanding of the end times.
- When speaking of the beast as antichrist, the 2nd half of the 20th century was dominated by such thoughts which have lead to great speculation. Men like Mikhail Gorbachev (the birthmark on his head was too obvious), Henry Kissinger (a politically powerful Jewish leader), Ronald Reagan (his three names all had six letters!), and Saddam Hussein (the new Saladin restoring a new Babylonian Empire) have all been identified as possible Antichrist figures.
- But let me stress and emphasize – the entire book of Revelation – all 22 chapters are to God’s church, about God’s church and for its benefit.
- God is preparing his people to endure for life in this world until the end.