Revelation 13 - THE DRAGON LAUNCHES TWO MONSTERS - Rev. G. VanDooren (bio)

"A Different Gospel"  by G. VanDooren, M.Th.   Burlington, Ont.  Feb. 1992
 

THE DRAGON LAUNCHES TWO MONSTERS

Revelation 13

It bears repeating that the Revelation received by John is not only a vision with symbolic numbers and characters; the key to understanding this last book of the Bible must remain that it contains a summary of the whole history, not only of the new dispensation that started with Pentecost but, as we shall see, even of the revelation given in the Old Testament.

And then, again, there are those wonderful interruptions! The book is not just one straight line running from the first year of the new dispensation till the last day. No, it was given to John and is given to us in stages, even in circles, but then circles of a spiral. At every new stage we are led a bit farther into the understanding of the sum of history and Christ's kingship over ft. There are new starts, every time history is approached and shown from another, a different aspect.

We remember the interruption of chapter seven. In chapter six, six of the seven seals of the scroll are broken by the Lamb. But then, stop! Before the seventh seal is broken, there is a picture of the church as ft is being sealed on earth, the full number of 144,000, and as it is going to be with the Lord in heaven, an innumerable multitude, in white robes and palm branches in their hands. One might say, there is a picture of the Church Militant and of the Church Triumphant. The end of chapter 6 sounds like the end of the world. People call to the mountains to hide them from the wrath to come. But no, not yet.

In chapter 11 the woes are coming. Indeed, woes! Woe unto you who dwell upon the earth. And when the twenty-four elders start singing (it is a poem indeed), they also sing about the end of history. Just listen. The nations raged, but thy wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, for rewarding the servants, the prophets and the saints ... the time has come for destroying the destroyers of the earth, Rev. 11: 18. What else would that be but judgment day, the Last Judgment? But no. Stop again! Chapter 12 comes, and there, one would say, everything starts all over again.

The new element in chapters 12,13 and 14, is that we are now shown the background of all those woes and trumpets and thunderclaps. What is behind all those wars, rumours of wars, pestilence and death? Who is the instigator of all those horrible things? Who is responsible for the mess of world- history?

Chapter 12 tells us. And we must listen to ft or rather look at ft before we can understand our text, chapter 13. Because there is the dragon! And vs 8 throws all his horrible names at him: the great dragon, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and satan, the deceiver of the whole world. It is, I think, abundantly clear that here is not only described an event that will take place at the very last end of history. No, we are even led all the way back to the beginning, when the dragon, the old serpent stood before the woman.

Yes, the woman. And then we think of Mary, because she is in anguish to deliver her son, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. And the child was caught up to God and to his throne. That is Bethlehem and ascension in one breath. Born and taken up to the throne out of reach of the dragon. Yes, indeed, but that is not all.

Also here the picture of the woman confronted by the dragon is a summary, a perspective of the whole history, not only of the new, but even of the old dispensation. In the figure of the woman one should also see Eve, the mother of all living to whom the LORD after the fall in paradise promised the seed of the woman.

Then, again, the dragon stood before the woman, the women and mothers in Goshen, when the pharaoh commanded that all male children (Rev. 12:5) must be thrown to the crocodiles in the Nile. The seed of the woman, and the dragon ready to devour those baby boys as soon as they were born.

The people of God have always been surrounded by enemies who tried to destroy the seed of the woman, so that they might prevent the birth of the seed of the woman, Jesus the son of Mary, the Son of God.

This woman in Revelation 12 is not only Mary, but she also represents all the daughters of Eve. The Lord Jesus wrote to the church at Perganum, ch. 2:13: I know where you dwell, where the throne of satan is. That was true of all the seven churches, and it is still true. Wherever the seed of the woman is born, there the dragon stands before it, to devour it. Christian homes, christian schools are surrounded by demons.

The opening verses of Revelation 12 show in lively colours what the antithesis is all about; as it has been, is today and Will be to the end. If the seed of the woman did not have an all-powerful Father in heaven, and now a Saviour to whom has been given all power in heaven and on earth, their cause would be hopeless. But it is still the same as it was said in Psalm 72, He delivers the needy when they call; from oppression and violence He redeems their life.

Again, the old testament and the new testament church in one picture.

But we know how things went. The son was caught up to heaven. And the dragon, devil, satan, deceiver, was thrown out of heaven. Michael and his angels defeated him. The great dragon was thrown down, thrown down, thrown down; three times repeated. Now that accuser of our brethren, who tried to pull Job down to hell, who accused Joshua the High Priest, as we read in Zech. 3, can no longer do that, because now Jesus Christ, our Advocate with the Father, is in heaven.

Coming finally to what is supposed to be the text, Revelation 13, the dragon thrown down, goes after the remnant of her seed. The remnant of her seed, that is all the children of God. We know that he did not and does not succeed. As Israel was led out of Egypt, beyond the reach of the dragon in Egypt, so, here in chapter 12, the woman was given two great wings to fly away from the dragon into the wilderness. As Israel was fed in the desert by manna, water from the rock and birds from the air, so the woman flies to a place where she is nourished. The earth came to the help of the woman and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth to drown her. So the earth had swallowed the water of the Red Sea and of the Jordan for the sake of Israel.

No wonder that the dragon was angry! He would give it one more try against the rest of her offspring and produces two monsters, the one from the sea, the other from the nether world.
  THE DRAGON IS ALLOWED TO LAUNCH TWO MONSTERS AGAINST THE CHURCH OF THE LAMB

We will find in verses 10 and 18:

1. This calls for endurance;
2. This calls for wisdom.

1. Call for Endurance

Scary, isn't it. Monsters! One with ten horns and seven heads. You can hardly imagine a more horrible and revolting monster. And the other one, not that horrible, only two horns even like a lamb, vs 11, but do not be mistaken. It has the voice of a dragon, possibly more dangerous than the first monster. And then, in the end, all that mysterious talk about a mark, the mark of the beast, and if you don't have it, you will be boycotted. You cannot buy or self, vs. 17. Of course, it is scary.

But the Lord has not given Revelation to his people to scare them. Therefore it is absolutely necessary, when we enter this chapter of the monsters, to keep in mind at least two things.

The first is that this chapter is sprinkled all over with expressions like it was given, he was allowed. That makes one think of what we confess in Lord's Day 10 of the Heidelberg Catechism, all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move. That goes also, as the Holy Spirit testifies in this chapter so clearly, for those two monsters. They cannot so much as move without His will.

It is true, that these two monsters are launched by the dragon. Some have even seen here an attempt by the devil to imitate God. There may be some truth in that suggestion. As the Father sent His Son into the world, so the dragon produced that first beast rising out of the sea. We read, the dragon gave it his power and throne and great authority. Did not our heavenly Father give something similar to His Son?

And, as the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son, as we read in John 14, so the evil spirit, represented in the beast from the earth, exercises his power through an evil spirit to deceive those who dwell on earth, vs. 14.

A counterfeit 'trinity" therefore. Dragon, beast and beast united in the attempt to undo the work of God through Jesus Christ and His Spirit.

Yes, you may say it this way, the dragon exercises his power on earth through these two monsters. But, they are not completely in his, the devil's hand! They are so completely in the hand of our God that without His will they cannot so much as move. If it is not given to them, if they are not allowed, they can do nothing, no harm.

That's the first thing to keep in mind when we read chapter 13. And it is a great comfort.

The second, and a similar comfort, is that after all the havoc these two monsters have wrought on the earth, and in the world, chapter 14 starts with, Then I looked, and lo, on mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had (not the name of the dragon!) who had His Name and His Father's Name written on their foreheads.

We are not going into that now, but just to point out that there are still, after all, the same 144,000 of chapter 7. Not 143,000, not even 143,999 but 144,000.

Not a single one was or is missing. "No one can snatch you out of My hands." Whatever they tried, the two monsters could not snatch a single one who has his name written in the book of life. There may come a great apostasy. as Paul foretold. Name-christians, hypocrites and hangers-on, they will all fall by the wayside and perish underway, but none of those really ingrafted into Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. And that is the only thing that counts, isn't it? To be a living member of Jesus Christ. So then, with all this in mind, a believer reads, with the eye of faith, this chapter filled with monsters.

And when he does, he remembers and keeps in mind the lesson we have learned by walking through the previous chapters. The lesson is that Revelation, also and maybe particulary in chapter 13, does not only tell us what will happen in the very last days of the age, right before the return of our Lord. The book is also like a telescope, bringing far-away things close by.

Some see here only the picture of the antichrist, usually understood as one single individual who will take over the regiment of the world. Sure, we fully believe that such an antichrist will come, as the sum of all evil personalities who have ever had power over the world, or part of ft.

But at the same time we remember what John wrote. He is the only one in the Bible who uses that name antichrist, and he uses it even four times in his epistles. Let us listen to him again, Children it is the last hour,. and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come, 1 John 2:18. Now he said; they had already come when John wrote this to his children, his congregation. And the same John wrote what he saw, he wrote this book Revelation. And if it is true that he wrote his epistles after he had seen, the vision on Patmos (and many believe that), then he must have had this chapter 13 also in mind when he wrote his letter.

Many antichrists. Although the big one, the last one is looming in the background, the first monster that we see rising out of the sea represents not only that last one, but all who went before. Perspective again! And that can be proven easily from the Bible-text itself. There need not be any doubt.

First look at the monster rising out of the sea. Try to see it with the eyes of the seven churches in Asia. Across the sea there lay mighty Rome. So out of that sea there rose the beast. First John saw his horns, ten of them, sticking out of the waves. Then the heads appear, seven of them and all crowned with blasphemous names. Finally the whole body of the beast appears. Really a monster! What was it now? A Lion, a bear, or a leopard? It must have been a monstrous sight.

But wait a moment! Have we not seen something like it before, in the book of Daniel? Yes, in chapter 7, Daniel tells us that he saw four great beasts coming out of the sea, different from one another, ch. 7:3. There was a lion, a bear, a leopard, and finally a fourth beast, so terrible that it doesn't even get a name!

But you can see for yourself, when you compare the vision of John with that of Daniel, that they are related. In Daniel, four beasts, here in Rev. 13, one beast. In Daniel the four beasts together have ten horns and seven heads. But here they are all combined in the one monster that John sees rising out of the sea.

What does that mean? First of all, one cannot understand the vision of Revelation if ft is not seen in relation to the whole Bible. What John sees is the sum of the four empires meant in Daniel 7. There were four. The one after the other. Then God's people were limited to only one nation, Israel. His people had to suffer, consecutively, first from the one nation, then the other.

But what John sees is the sum, the combination of those different beasts in one beast. Now the church has become worldwide, and now the powers against that universal church can be demonstrated in one big monster with all the horns and heads combined.

The conclusion must be that this first beast does not only represent an antichrist power at the end of the age, but that all powers through the centuries are contracted, taken together in one figure. As the woman in chapter 12 represents not only Mary but all the mothers of the church since Eve, so this first beast represents all antichristian powers through the ages until the final antichristian edition will appear.

The second argument to prove that this first beast is not just a monster of the very last end-time, is in verse 5, ft was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. Forty- two months. But is that not exactly the same period of time that is given to the woman in the desert, where she is nourished a time, and times, and half a time? That is three and a half years, and that is forty-two months! And in verse 6 of chapter 12 we find, the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, where she will be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Three times the same period of time, but three times given in different symbolical numbers: 3 1/2 years - 42 months, 1260 days.

This is not the place to go into detail as to why the Holy Spirit dealt with numbers in this way, nor to find out exactly what each of the three means to say. It may be true that 3 1/2 years stands for half of the worldtime, which then would be seven. It would then mean the second half, that is the whole time of what we call the new dispensation. But the point is that the 42 months allowed to the first beast from the sea is exactly the same time as the 1260 days given to the woman to be nourished in the place God had given to her. Like in the days of Moses, it was the desert, the place of escape and safety from the dragon in Egypt.

Numbers are messages, and therefore not to be taken literally. Maybe in the desert the time is measured by days, because Israel had to live by the day.

Every morning there was manna on the ground and the column of smoke in front. Just like with us. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness! Lament. 3:22,23.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, Mt. 6:34.

And so we recognize again all the Scriptures in this part of Revelation. The first beast was and is there throughout all the times of the new dispensation. It was there in the time of John. The seven churches were threatened by ft. And then again and again, horns and heads and crowns and blasphemies. Most certainly, as Paul writes in Romans 13, there is no authority except from God, rulers are ministers of God, and have therefore to be respected and obeyed, for example in paying taxes and revenues. Peter admonishes us to pray for all those in authority over us, and be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution ... honour all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the emperor. Thus we confess in Art. 36, that our gracious God has ordained kings, princes and civil officers, because of the depravity of mankind.

But in the battlefield of world history, the LORD has allowed the devil to use those powers and authorities against His people. And the tragedy is that such powers as a rule all too readily let themselves be used by the evil one. Both Paul and Peter were executed by the same emperor whom we should respect as minister of God. They are very willing instruments. History is filled with them. Not only the murderous Idi Amins and Saddam Husseins in recent times, but also in the days of the seven churches when the Roman Emperor was exalted as "Augustus" as though he was a god. Everyone had to burn incense for him, otherwise to the lions! The papal regime of centuries also became a monster, not only killing God's children by the hundreds of thousands, but leading millions and millions astray into superstition and worship of creatures. You know what you confess about that in the Catechism. Though they boast of Him in words, they in fact deny the only Saviour. No wonder that the Reformers saw in Rome the antichrist of their days: the monster.

In 1939 Rev. A. Ringnalda published a commentary on Revelation under the title (translated) The Kingship of Christ. Reading Revelation in those days when Hitler prepared for war, he saw in Hitler and his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels, the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth. Yes, they killed my friend in one of their concentration camps for it, but Ringnalda was right in his interpretation of Revel. 13! He saw the two monsters then and there.

Ten horns and seven heads. There have been such evil powers all through the ages. Alexander the Great, Napoleon, the Turks, Ivan the Terrible, Lenin, Stalin. Lots of big monsters, and small ones, like the many dictators in so-called "liberated" Africa. Now the Soviet Union belongs to the past. We are hearing about a new world order, even a New Age religion. But the devil has not passed away yet. Will he ever? We as christians realize that despite all the talk about freedom, democracy, human rights, civil rights and on top of it all, animal rights, the christian religion is threatened. There may be new open doors for the Gospel in Eastern Europe, but at the same time we are warned that if the christian church does not hurry to fill the vacuum left by the passing away of communism, the devil will send in his representatives. All around us there is the competition of false religions. Horns and heads. No, we do not have to wait till the very last days, not till the very fast monster - wherever he will come from - it is all around us. And what is announced as "the New World Order" most certainly is not the new world order that Jesus Christ will bring with His second coming. It is rather a new form of humanism, that will develop into a monster.

That does not mean that christians should follow the example of those who expect the Rapture any day now, so that they can turn their back upon it all, and leave the tribulation for their children and grandchildren. It does not mean that we give up hope. Being a christian is being very much hopeful! And as long as the world stands, and we are in the world, although not of it, we have a calling. A calling for mission should be our priority. The church is not yet complete. The 144,000 are not all seated yet with the Holy Spirit. We also have a christian political calling. We have to talk to kings and princes, the way the Psalms did. Psalm 2 says it all, The nations conspire, the peoples plot, the kings counsel together against the LORD and His anointed. And then: Now, therefore, 0 kings, be wise, be warned, 0 rulers of the earth, serve the LORD with fear lest you perish in the way

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints, vs. 10 One wonders why these words form the appendix to the description of the beast out of the sea. After the picture of the second beast there are similar words, This calls for wisdom. vs. 18.

First, this is said with respect to the saints., that is, as always, those who have been set apart from the world as God's own. They are the same as the 144,000 in chapter 7. Then, endurance reminds of the pressure, the suppression by evil powers. How much endurance has been and is indispensable in the dungeons, the gulags, the concentration camps. Count it for joy, James would say, and Peter joins him. It has been said that the great King keeps His best wine in the cellar. There the taste of His grace is best. And then, here is a call for faith. Faith in Scripture has a variety of aspects. In Hebrews 11 it is the assurance of things not seen. Here, in combination with endurance it comes close to faithfulness, or, even better, to perseverance. Endurance must be coupled with perseverance, in order to survive the monsters of chapter 13.

We have a whole chapter on this in the Canons of Dordt. The perseverance of the saints. The beauty of it is that, apart from the title of this chapter, perseverance, in the chapter itself it is most of the time preservation! The saints can only persevere because they have a faithful God who preserves them. Do not ever make a problem of that by asking, 'What is it now, perseverance or preservation?" It is both; they are like Siamese twins. When separated, they die. Together they live. The LORD preserves those who persevere. Those who persevere will be preserved by Him who bought them with His blood and made them His own. This also calls for Wisdom, the wisdom mentioned at the end of this chapter.

2. Call for Wisdom

Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth. vs. 11.

By using the word beast the same as for the first monster, the Holy Spirit already warns us, that we may not be taken in by its outward appearance. It is a "colleague", so to speak, of the first monster, although it looks like a lamb. It rises up from the earth. that is from the nether world, the abode of demons. Compared with the first beast, it does not look that dangerous at all. It has only two horns; not threatening at all. But it has a tongue! It spoke - and speaks like the dragon. Now, we all know how the dragon spoke, standing before the woman, Eve, in paradise. It twisted the Word of God. It deceived the woman by tampering with that Word. As the father of lies it just put the emphasis a bit different. It still sounded a bit like what God had said, and yet it now said something different. And so

the woman was deceived. Sin and death entered the world. Oh that tongue! James called out in his letter. It is a fire; it is an unrighteous world, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. It is set on fire by hell, James 3. And that is said "only" of the human tongue. But here we see hell itself, it speaks like the dragon.

Also of this second beast Scripture says, it was allowed, vs. 15. Also this second monster cannot without the will of our heavenly Father so much as move. But it gets quite some leeway. As we have seen before, the Lord Jesus warned the churches in Asia, I know where you dwell, where the throne of satan is. One wonders, which beast is more dangerous.
 
In the dutch version of Psalm 72 the words are from oppression and violence He redeems their life, vs 14. In that version is made the difference between violence (the works of the first monster) and cunning, exactly what Genesis 3:1 says, Now the serpent was more subtle, more crafty (NIV) than any other wild creature. More cunning.

Thus, again, this second beast represents not only the deception by the antichrist at the very last end of this age. Here is a warning for the churches in John's day against the Wiles of the devil. We read here, it makes the inhabitants of the earth worship the first beast, it even works great signs, and so it deceives those who dwell on earth, vs. 13f. It even makes people create an image of the first beast.

The first thing we should think of here, is that in the Roman empire of those days the christians were forced to burn incense before the bust of the "august", deified emperor. If they refused to accept the creed of the empire, if they refused to say "Kurios Caesar" instead of "Kurios Christos", they were thrown to the lions or burned alive. We may be sure that their tormentors tried to convince them with many arguments that they could confess the one as well as the other. Did not your own apostle say that Caesar is a minister of God? So then, what's the trouble? You may, indoors, in your church services say "Jesus is Lord' to your heart's content, but outdoors, in public, you must, as a citizen, take the citizen's oath: Caesar is Lord! That was the cunning of the second beast. Has it not been the same all through the centuries? Think only of the prophet Elijah, how he stood there on Mount Carmel saying, You cannot serve the LORD and Baal. It is either the one or the other, but not both together. Because that was the cunning after the violence of the war against the nations that populated the promised land. You may remember the LORD your God who led you out of Egypt, but now, here in this fertile land, you will not be fertile in any way, unless you serve the local gods of fertility, Baal and Astaroth. That became the national sin of Old Israel, when they fell for this satanic trick. As Hosea has it, she said, 7 will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my oil and my drink. That is why the LORD their God threw them out of their land into Babylon.

Again - without mentioning too many details - this symbolic appearance in chapter 13 is the summary, the perspective of the whole history, as long as this second beast is allowed to deceive those who dwell upon the earth. How the Lord Jesus, when He was on earth, warned His people! I send you as sheep in the midst of ravenous wolves, Matthew 19:16. In Luke 10:3 it even is, I send you as lambs . . ., baby-sheep. And then, turning the warning around, it becomes in Matthew 7:15, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Sheep in the midst of wolves. Wolves in the midst of sheep and lambs.

That is the second monster for you, the false prophet! Violence has done an awful lot of harm to God's people, but they could always comfort themselves with the words of their Saviour, do not fear those who can only kill the body; rather fear Him who can cast both body and soul into hell. And that happens to those who fall victim to the deceptions of the false prophets. Rev. Ringnalda, whose body was killed in a concentration camp could say to his tormentors, 'You can only kill my body", but in his book on Revelation he saw, as mentioned before, in the second beast Joseph Goebbels, that false prophet of the Fuehrer who tried to make people worship Hitler as though he were a god, just like in the Roman Empire: "Heil Hitler!" More dangerous than persecution, the violence of the first beast, was that heresies invaded the church, that they accepted false teachings, that led away from the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

That has remained the same throughout the following centuries. The beast, like a lamb, a wolf in sheep's clothing, showed up in the church whenever and wherever false teachings started to tamper with the Word. Millions and millions have been led astray, and away from the only Name given under heaven by which man can be saved, and became a prey to false prophecy and false philosophy. The letters of the New Testament are full of warnings, based on the warnings of Jesus Christ Himself when He still was on earth.

When the tampering with Scripture starts, all hell breaks loose in the literal sense of the word. This problem comes from the nether world, where the second beast comes from, just as it came from the devil in paradise.

There is, at the end of this chapter, the call for wisdom. Even before a word has been said about the mark of the beast and the number of its name, we must heed that call.

A call for wisdom. Not immediately a call for more knowledge, but for wisdom, that is for discernment. The call is, test the spirits, whether they are of God, and do not believe every spirit, beloved! wrote John. The same John, in his first epistle, chapter 4:1, saw this second monster. That takes discernment, that is the gift to see, and look behind the first and outward appearance of a spirit.

Today a lot of such wisdom and discernment is needed. And today there are a lot of stupid people, not only outside churches but equally inside. There are always people who run after the first slogan and standard that comes by. Because of a lack of solid biblical knowledge people are tossed to and fro by all winds of doctrine, to quote a warning by Paul in Ephes. 4. There are a lot of winds of doctrine.

At first there was secular humanism that said, and I quote, the church looks after the needs of the soul; we will look after the needs of the body. Having come from the old world, we discovered that on the new continent this was the general attitude. Religion is okay as long as it stays within the four walls of home and church. But it should not meddle in education, politics, social problems and the like.

This false philosophy is still alive and kicking. Today it is joined by what is commonly called the new theology and the new hermeneutics and the new morality and the new world with a new age religion. The one demon has a kinder face than the other. Some of these demons enter churches who were known as reformed churches with the "plausible" reasoning that we in the 20th century take Paul seriously in that he meant what he said, but, of course, he lived in a different age, and today we know certain things better. And there we go. But it is nothing but the second beast from the nether world. Once you fall for his tricks, you get farther and farther away, till you have lost the whole Bible as the Word of God.

There are three elements in this symbolic picture of the second monster, that still need our attention. That is, the signs it works, the mark it gives, and the number it carries. And with all three we remember the comforting note, it was allowed, it was given.

Signs

Much has been written about the miracles of the antichrist. We will not try to add or improve. But we must repeat that also here we have a summary of history. It works great signs and by them It deceives those who dwell on earth. The word deceived is stressed. It is all deception! We see Moses and Aaron standing before Pharaoh. Pharaoh was at that time certainly a representation of the dragon standing before the woman. Moses does miracles. The magicians of Egypt were, to a certain extent, allowed to do the same, in the presence of the first beast

There are many things between heaven and earth that we do not understand. Medicine men, magicians, and fortune tellers have always deceived men with their deceptive miracles. Deceptive indeed. When Paul in 11 Thess. 2 describes the man of sin, the man of lawlessness, he also speaks about signs, but he calls them deceptive signs and wonders, or with another translation, all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders. Our present world is filled with demons. Satanism, wonder-healers, and eastern mysticists seem to have secret powers that you will not find under a reformed pulpit. Did not our Lord Himself warn us? They will say, see here and see there, but believe them not!

One might add that if our great- grandparents could open their eyes today, they would be 'flabbergasted' by what they would see and cry out: signs, wonders, miracles! Telephone, television, medical experiments with genes, nuclear powers, satellites, and so on. Yes, they are all given, and they can be used to good purposes, even to the furthering of the kingdom, but we all know how much secular science with all its so- called "reasonable wisdom" has rejected the Bible, adopted the fie of evolution and declared God dead. That's how the demonic second beast today deceives mankind.

Instead of being over-awed by what faith- healers and miracle-workers can do, better watch out that you are not deceived.

Mark

The mark of the beast, a beloved topic. lt causes all people to be marked on the right hand or the forehead. Those who expect the Rapture, and the Millennium, and try hard to pin-point the date and place of antichrist, are exclaiming that the social security number, andlor the microchip are such marks of the beast. John would have been surprised because he wrote to the seven churches, that these things would happen soon.

Reminding ourselves, that it is all symbolical picturing here in Revelation, we do not have to take this mark literally in the sense that it is visible on someone's forehead. Let us not forget that the dragon is never very original. He is always the great imitator. We have seen or rather heard, in chapter 7, that the Lord sealed the 144,000. He put His mark on them. But John only heard the number. God knows who are His own. And of course, once sealed by the Holy Spirit, that is going to show in your life style. Those who are in Christ are a new creation. The devil imitates that. Together with his deceptive signs he puts his evil mark upon people. They are his. Chapter 20 will inform us that all who followed satan will together with him be thrown into the lake of fire. Those who let themselves be marked by demonic spirits in whatever form, even if it be the new age religion, will be judged together with the devil.

Yes, possibly in John's days the mark of the beast was if someone worshipped the emperor. If christians refused, they were boycotted, and put to death. Now there is the mark of unionism. If one refuses, one can not get a job. These things will get worse according as the final antichrist is allowed to take over the world for a short time.

But we should not say that the microchip is the mark. Such an invention can be used for good purposes as well as for bad. It all depends whether you are sealed by the Holy Spirit, or marked by the spirit from hell.

666

This calls for wisdom, indeed! The "explanation" of the number 666 are legion, all very clever and captious. We will not try to add another one to that long list. This calls for wisdom, let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty six. vs. 18.

Did Jesus Christ give a puzzle to his churches, that no one can solve with the certainty that his solution is the right one? We do not accept that. Not in a book of comfort and encouragement for God's own. All calculations that stem from the thesis that this number, however analysed and broken down, stands for a specific name, must be rejected, whether it be Nero, Napoieon or Hitler. Like all numbers in Revelation, it is symbolical. It is a symbol. And it is a human number, not a divine one. 3 and 7 and 144,000 are numbers of God and his chosen ones. 6 is a human number, it cannot reach to 7, even if there are three numbers 6:666.

Let him who has understanding of the dealings of God and the actions of the evil one, reckon the number of the beast. Call it humanism to its highest development. However high man, inspired by the beast, may reach, however great a world he will make without God, he can never reach perfection.

Even antichrist himself, with his new world order and his global peace will fall short. And, though the whole world may look at him and adore him, he will be blown away by the breath of His mouth, says Paul.

Those who are sealed by God, may be in for all kinds of hardships. They will be hated by everyone. Many will fall away and run after the beast. Those who have kept His Word, will not be snatched away from His hand.

The wonderful thing of it all, after the dragon has launched his monsters into the world, and after all his attempts to deceive mankind, chapter 14 starts like this: Then I looked, and lo! on mount Zion stood the lamb, and with Him a hundred and for ty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's Name written on their foreheads. Not one of them is missing.

On their foreheads, not the mark of the devil, but the name of Father. Of course, these 144,000 survived because, as ch 14 continues, they are virgins, they kept themselves pure; they were blameless. That is the reason why they are not condemned with the world, 1 Cor. 11:32. They listened to
the warning of the same John in his fir letter, Do not love the world or the things the world. The world passes away, and the lust of it,' but he who does the will of & abides forever, 1 John 2: 15-17.

Amen.


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