In our country, it is really easy to replace the Lamb from His throne in the name of Patriotism. Many American Christians have a very skewed idea of where the line of patriotism and idolatry fall. Our political party can get chosen over our desire to follow Christ, when the beliefs of one clash with the other, we tend to choose the party’s agenda over the Lamb’s. The enemy’s goal is to destroy the Bride of Christ and to turn her allegiance from the Lamb, to Himself (the Dragon). This is his hearts desire, even way back in the book of Job he was up to this trick and he still attempts the same time of allegiance changing tactics.
The Enemies goal is to turn our allegiance. Here we will see two beasts, which he uses and will use against the Bride of Christ; more so subtly now and more in force to come.
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,[a] that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:
10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. (Revelation 13 ESV)
The Beast of War (vs. 1-9)
The dragon couldn’t stop Jesus from coming and his attempts earlier on at trying to drown the Bride failed (chapter 12), he will now attempt a new tactic. Eugene Peterson describes it well when he says: “Since it is not against creatures that he (the Enemy) will mount his assault, but against creatures of Christ, he requires a stratagem that will deflect their obedience and falsify their witness. He will frighten them into disobedience; he will deceive them into illusion”. Here with the Beast of War, we see his first tactic is to scare us into disobedience. He will wage war upon us, he will destroy us, kill us, mar us and bring persecution our way in an attempt to change our allegiance. He will whisper into our hearts (now and then) “Why would God allow you to go through so much if he loved you? I can make it end to prove my love for you”. His whispers will turn many from their allegiance to the Lamb unto himself. Job did not change allegiance in the face of this beast, why should we? Many of us suffer and we are tempted to walk away from the Lamb, it makes no sense, it is so ridiculous and painful. Yet, God is still King. Jesus Himself suffered. His suffering is our key. The Dragon’s beast of war upon us will try to get us to focus upon our self and forget the suffering of the true Lamb. He will attempt to beat the Lamb’s suffering out of our minds and frighten us into disobedience but we must not give in. Death is not the worst thing to happen to us, there is a truer reality, a spiritual one going on around us. John reminds us to endure and be faithful (Revelation 13:10).
The Beast of Deceit (vs. 11-17)
Here, we see the second beast that will have the same power as the first one. This beast will look like the Lamb of God but will have the voice of a dragon (his Father’s voice) and will be there to deceive the nations and the people of God. This is the beast of lies, causing the people to worship the wrong god. Satan has desired worship from the beginning and here he thinks by imitating the God he can be worshiped as god. The Dragon is the most unoriginal anyone can possibly get. Here we see his goal in imitating all of the aspects of God’s personality: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He has for himself The Dragon, The Sea Beast and now the Land Beast to compete with these aspects of God, yet they are a mirage comparatively. The first beast was once beloved due to his wiles, bringing of freedoms and his seeming dedication to peace. People followed him because he seemed good. He ended up turning violent and warring against the people of God. Here we see an aspect of the Dragon that will once again pretend to be of God by signs and wonders and will deceive many. Again, if there is refusal to worship, death will be the reward. How can people be tricked? Peterson says: “When a person or movement is religious, appears to be on good terms with the supernatural, and urges us to engage in religious acts, we let our guard down…Most of the conspicuous religion that is in vogue at any one time in the country derives from the land beast. Expose these religious pretensions. This religion has nothing to do with God”. The goal of the enemy in the future here in this picture of the beast as well as now is to take our allegiance and worship from the Lamb to Himself.
Allegiance to the Lamb (vs. 10 & 18)
With all of this craziness to come (and currently happening) how do we maintain our allegiance to the Lamb? Verses 10 and 18 help us to see how this is possible. 3 things are listed: Endurance, Faith and Wisdom. The trials of the war beast are going to be brutal (and sometimes are brutal now), we must ask God to give us endurance and strength to not retaliate as the enemy would desire us to. Vs. 10 speaks into this a little bit. Peterson states it this way: “Killing the opposition is the sea beast’s way of solving its problems. It is not ours. Ours is endurance and faith”. The enemy desires for us to fall as he is fallen. He will push and pull, steal and kill all in hopes of causing us to be knocked out of the game…and God will allow it for a time to go on (3.5 years) but we are to endure and have faith. In order to have this faith, Tozer says: “We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen” (Tozer, Pursuit of God pg. 63). The visible pain and suffering can become the enemy to the unseen reigning of Christ and the future destruction of the Dragon. The Dragon will do anything in his power for us to lose sight of the unseen reality that will become reality because God has promised it. His tactic with Job is his tactic against us and his desire is the same as well: that we would cures God and leave our allegiance to the Lamb and align with him. We must also have wisdom, which comes from the Spirit of God, asking Him to help us discern what is true, not just embracing everything that comes our way.
Our C&MA (the denomination I am a part of) President; John Stumbo recently shared how he found this very reality within his own life. In 2008 he fell sick and was near death in the hospital for 77 days. When he got home, he still couldn’t swallow and was severely weakened by this mysterious muscle condition. He said he sat for months, reading the Bible alone and desperate but the Bible was like sandpaper to his soul. All of these promises, all of those promised experiences and he wasn’t experiencing any of them. Then God gave him a picture of a potter at the wheel. The potter had just formed the pot but decided to smash it back down to the base so he could make a new model out of the same clay. John realized God desired to use the suffering and times of solitude and silence to reshape him into something new God was making. He then saw the unseen reality of his circumstances and realized God was doing something new in and through him, he kept his allegiance to the lamb and now is our new president!
The enemy desires to blind us with war and false teaching. He wants us to take our eyes off of Jesus. Anyone doing miracles who doesn’t do them in the name of Jesus and doesn’t proclaim Jesus as Lord is a false prophet guided and directed by the enemy to take our allegiance from the Lamb. Any leader feigning peace but turning on God’s people is a leader sent from Hell to push God’s people into disobedience through fear.
The enemy couldn’t defeat Jesus, so he is coming after the Bride of Christ. Now and in the future he’s gunning us down, trying to pick off the weak and change their allegiance from the Lamb to himself (the Dragon). He will use fear and false teachings and false prophets to get us to worship him…it’s been his goal all along to be worshipped! Let us learn from Job, and Jesus that we must keep fixed upon the Lord. May we endure through faith and be wise by the Spirit to pick apart his schemes and maintain our Allegiance to the Lamb!