Overcoming the Beast – Part One (Rev 14-15)

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.

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The Mark of the Beast – Part Four (Rev 13)

On Monday, we began a new series in Revelation, starting with chapter 13. You really need to start there for this week’s material to make sense. We identified the mark of the beast as emperor worship, then saw how the beast from the sea represented the Roman emperor, and the beast from the land was the imperial cult. 

The mark of the beast today

So we come back to what we began the week with: the mark of the beast. The mark of this idolatry that society tries to force upon us. And it’s not really an outward mark. That becomes pretty clear when in the very next chapter, believers get their own mark written on their foreheads: the name of Jesus and of God the Father. A mark that shows who they belong to. Not to the  beast, not to the empire—but to God and his Son. It’s a sign of your inner allegiance.

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The Mark of the Beast – Part Three (Rev 13)

On Monday, we began a new series in Revelation, starting with chapter 13. You really need to start there for this week’s material to make sense. We identified the mark of the beast as emperor worship, and saw how the beast from the sea represented the blasphemous, self-aggrandising dictator that was the Roman emperor. Today, we meet a second beast.

The beast from the land

Revelation then introduces another image; a second beast.

Revelation 13:11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the land. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.

It might look harmless enough, but again it does the work of Satan.

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The Mark of the Beast – Part Two (Rev 13)

Yesterday, we began a new series in Revelation, starting with chapter 13. You really need to start there for this week’s material to make sense. Having identified the mark of the beast as emperor worship, we now start at the beginning of the chapter, to see what Revelation has to say about the practice.

The beast from the sea

John introduces us to the  beast imagery at the start of chapter 13. And as we work our way through the chapter, you’ll see how he’s using it to critique the Roman Empire and the cult of emperor worship. To present it how God sees it, rather than how Rome and their PR consultants would have you see it.

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The Mark of the Beast – Part One (Rev 13)

Today, Coffee with the King begins a new series in Revelation. Last year, we looked at Revelation 1-11. (We also spent some time looking at how we read Revelation. If you missed that, it’s worth reading it first, or you might have trouble working out what’s going on.) Today, we start with chapter 13. What happened to chapter 12, you ask? I’m saving that for our Christmas special in a month… 

If you have ever: made the sign of the cross, owned a bankcard, gained entry to something using a barcode, used Microsoft software or attended church on a Sunday… then someone, somewhere thinks you have the mark of the beast.

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Revelation 11 – Part Four

As we come to the final post in our trip (both meanings intended) through Revelation 4-11, we get to the seventh trumpet. Finally. (The sixth was way back in chapter 9.) In the interim, the church has been commissioned with a message, persecuted for preaching it, left for dead, and then raised back to life through the power of Jesus’ own resurrection. Now, all that’s left is the final trumpet.

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Revelation 11 – Part Three

At the end of yesterday’s post, we saw that God’s two witnesses (symbolising his church-on-mission) ended up suffering the same fate that Jesus himself did: killed in Jerusalem. Their bodies weren’t even buried, adding to the shame, and their enemies gloated over their destruction. (A bit like the gloating that happens in some quarters these days whenever Christians take a hit.) But… just like that weird story about Elijah and Enoch, and more importantly, just like Jesus… that isn’t the end of the story.

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Revelation 11 – Part Two

Yesterday we saw that although our mission to preach the little scroll to the world might get a little dangerous (involving the odd bit of metaphorical trampling-by-Gentiles), God has again measured us – his inner shrine – for protection. For we are to be his witnesses:

Rev 11:3 “And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

This verse does explain the general bad fashion sense of the church, but that’s not the main point. Here, we’re introduced to two witnesses who symbolise the church. But why two?

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Revelation 11 – Part One

We’re almost finished with our series through what is often called the “first cycle of visions” in Revelation; just one chapter to go. So here’s the lightning-fast recap:

  • Chapter 4: Is God in control? He sure is, seated on his throne surrounded by throngs of worshippers.
  • Chapter 5: If he is, then what’s he doing about all the injustice in the world – particularly the injustice done to him and to his people? He’s already done something, through the slain-yet-risen Lamb.
  • Chapter 6: But it looks like his rebellious world is getting away with it. What’s going on? He’s judging them as we speak, giving a foretaste of the final judgement if they don’t repent.
  • Chapter 7: Isn’t that going to affect us, too? Yes, but God has sealed you for protection, and you have a glorious future to hold on to.
  • Chapter 8: What happens if people ignore God’s warning? He’ll send even greater judgement.
  • Chapter 9: How’s that working out so far? Not too well – they still won’t repent.
  • Chapter 10: So what’s God going to do next? He’s sending his church on a mission to explain why the world is like it is, and call them to repent. Here, eat this scroll, ’cause that includes you.

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Revelation 10 – Part Two

By the end of Revelation 9 (on Wednesday), we’d figured out that the taste of judgement God was giving his rebellious world wasn’t working. Yesterday, we saw that the time is short – there’s nothing left to happen before God’s plan comes to completion.

Except for one thing. It’s not enough for the scroll of judgements to be opened (Rev 6). Someone has to explain why these judgements are taking place. Who will that be?

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