(18 verses, 1:45 to read)
John receives a vision of two beast, perhaps best understood as political and religious tyranny and strife respectively.
1-10: The beast from the sea is described and revealed.
11-18: The beast from the earth is described and revealed.
– The previous chapter concluded with the dragon ready to make war as he stood on the the sands of the sea. The scene here in chapter 13 continues this picture as the first beast arises from the sea with the dragon looking on. This beast from the sea is perhaps best understood as a representation of those things the dragon can use in the secular realms of governments, various sources of information, economics, and so forth to do war with the “woman” and “her seed”.
– As the beast from the earth comes into the picture, it is plainly seen that, together with the beast from the sea, the entire world is at risk.
– The beast from the earth is of a different stripe than the beast from the sea, but they are of like kind. Unlike the first beast, this beast is persuasive, not coercive. The beast from the earth can be seen as various types of religious tyranny, which would mean primarily false doctrine, that the dragon uses in his warfare.
The number 666, mentioned in chapter 13 of Revelation, receives much attention and has become an unsettling number for some Christians. The committee that coordinated and compiled the Lutheran Service Book, perhaps with this in mind, intentionally selected the very comforting hymn, “O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe” as the 666th hymn. The text follows:
1. O little flock, fear not the Foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow;
Dread not his rage and power.
What though your courage sometimes faints,
His seeming triumph o’er God’s saints
Lasts but a little hour.
2. Be of good cheer; your cause belongs
To Him who can avenge your wrongs;
Leave it to Him, our Lord.
Though hidden yet from mortal eyes,
His Gideon shall for you arise,
Uphold you and His Word.
3. As true as God’s own Word is true.
Not earth nor hell with all their crew
Against us shall prevail.
A jest and byword are they grown;
God is with us, we are His own;
Our victory cannot fail.
4. Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer;
Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare,
Fight for us once again!
So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise
A mighty chorus to Thy praise,
World without end. Amen.
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-Pastor Weslie Odom