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The Scriptorium

The Beast from the Sea

John sees sin institutionalized.

Revelation 12-15: The Fifth Facet

Week 7, Tuesday: Political power abused

Jesus directs our attention now from the background spiritual events of our experience in the world to the historical details and challenges facing the Church – the offspring of the woman – in every age. A great beast emerges “out of the sea” and commands the loyalty of all those whose names do not appear in the Lamb’s book of life.

We’re still “reading” the contents of that book, and we’re still having to contend with this self-vaunting, rapacious “beast.” Sin, we see, is becoming institutionalized.

Read Revelation 13

Meditate on Revelation 13.1-10
1.      There are good reasons to suppose that this “beast” represents political power – not a particular political entity so much as a general tendency and recurring trend. To what would you point in this vision to support that?

2.      Meditate on Romans 13.1-5. Is all political power a “beast”? According to Revelation 13.1-10, what turns God’s “servants” into “beasts” like the one in this vision?

3.      This beast speaks “great things and blasphemies.” When governments make laws that put them in the place of God, or that countermand teachings of God’s Law, they are exalting themselves and blaspheming against the Lord. What would be some examples of governments or nations doing this? Have governments throughout the “last days” (note the time parameter in verse 5) done this?

4.     The people of the earth “worship” (literally, “kneel before”) this beast. Is it necessary to describe such obeisance in strictly “religious” terms? How else might we think of such “bowing” before government? When people “worship” political power like this, what are they really “worshiping” (v. 4)? Does this mean they are necessarily aware of this fact?

5.      How can you see in verse 7 a snapshot of what we saw in chapter 12? No nation, tribe, or people is free from the exercise of political power (v. 7), and political power that will not submit to God must submit to the enemy of God and His people. What does this suggest for the believer’s calling to seek the Kingdom within any political framework?

My Reflection
Can you afford to be indifferent to political matters? Meditate on Ephesians 5.15-17. What opportunities for influencing government are available to you? If believers fail to make the most of these opportunities, what can we expect?

The Glory of God
God is in the background still, and we know that He is sovereign. Meditate on Proverbs 21.1, John 19.10, 11, and Romans 9.16-24. How do these help us in understanding why God might unloose such a “beast out of the sea” on earth during these last days?

Glory to Glory
Politicians and governments have real power, and they exercise it over the lives of real people. We do not look to politics and government for salvation, but to God. But we do look to government to fulfill its calling as God’s servant for good. What does that require of you, both in terms of loving God and loving your neighbors?

Let’s look more closely at our memory verses, Revelation 12.10, 11. Recite your memory verses aloud. Is the “accuser of our brethren” seeking to use government against the purposes and plans of God in our day? How does your memory verse counsel us to “overcome” this effort?

Closing Prayer
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Sing to the LORD with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98.4-9

T. M. Moore

The book of Revelation is the culminating episode in the story of God’s covenant. To learn more about that covenant, and to discover the way it integrates all of Scripture into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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