Last week (Revelation 13), we identified the beast as the Roman emperor, and the cult of worship that surrounded him – the “mark” of the beast. To set up a human (or society in general) as a god to be worshipped robs God of his rightful place at the centre of his creation. Believers are called to resist the temptation to go along with what the rest of the world “worships”, and instead remain faithful to the one true God. This week, we’re looking at the question we finished with last week: how do we do this?
The next two chapters (Revelation 14-15) provide us with the motivation to resist the mark of the beast and remain faithful to God. And they do so by appealing to the four cardinal virtues of the Graeco-Roman world: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Or we might like to rephrase them in more user-friendly terms: doing what is beneficial (i.e to our advantage), doing what is right, being courageous, and being self-controlled. These were the four ways in which ancient orators would seek to persuade their audience to follow their advice.