Bible Reading Day 357
Day 357: December 23 (Revelation 13)
After the failure of satan to devour the woman (representing Israel) and her child (Jesus), we see a change of strategy in a third parenthesis to the judgments. Two beasts target the saints, and the rest of the world. Clearly these represent satan’s system and power base, opposing everything that God has created and seeking to destroy all that God loves.
The wording of John’s record shows God’s victory, even in this chapter with all its defeat for the saints and victory for satan. Phrases such as “he was allowed” and “he was given permission” appear repeatedly. Neither of the beasts has any power other than what they are allowed as part of God’s redemptive plan.
This does not mean the saints do not suffer (in fact verse 10 tells us clearly we will), but their suffering has a purpose, and God will be victorious.
The chapter ends with the famous reference to the mark of the beast and the number of the beast – 666. In some manuscripts this is rendered 616. While the full meaning will only be evident when we join Jesus in heaven, it is generally accepted that one level of interpretation identifies Emperor Nero (who was persecuting Christians at the time Revelation was written). Another level refers to the power of money (Roman money was stamped with an image – the mark – of the Emperor). Christians and Jews refusing to use Roman money on the grounds that it was idolatry to handle an image representing the emperor as God, were thus unable to buy and sell as described in this chapter.
For us today, the lesson of this chapter is that we will face persecution and suffering because satan is still the god of this world for the time being, and the world system is under his control. BUT all this is permitted under God’s plan of redemption, and the end of it is coming soon.
Just as we are about to celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby, so we will also soon celebrate the second coming of Jesus as victorious and almighty King. Let’s look ahead with hope, trust, and joy!
Have a great day!