The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

In the Service of the Beast, Part 1

Introduction

I realize there are many ways that Christians interpret the book of Revelation. I don’t profess to be an expert in all matters of prophecy, nor do I think that understanding all mysteries is more desirable than being a Christian who truly loves. Nevertheless, in the light of what I see happening in the Church today, one theme has been coming back to me–and that is–the beast. The very beast which is mentioned in Revelation. I have decided to write about this beast today, with some trembling. I pray the Lord will help me to keep my words true, and that I won’t overreach into matters which are too difficult for me. I will strive to only speak the things which I believe the Lord is showing me, without being dogmatic about things I can’t fully see. Those of you who have learned to interpret Revelation through the lens of dispensationalism or some other “ism” may disagree with what I write. But I pray that anything from the Spirit will leave its impression on your heart, and God will help you–and me–to both know Him and walk in Him. This is what matters most.

You can read Rev. 13:1-10 here.

The Power of the Dragon/Devil in the World

There are 2 beasts mentioned in Rev. 13, but we will focus on the first beast in this writing. The first beast is given power, a throne, and authority by the dragon (13:2). Rev. 12:9 is clear that this dragon is the devil and satan, the very one who took 1/3 of heaven’s angels to earth with him in that first rebellion, and later attempted to destroy the holy Seed of Abraham (Jesus) as soon as He was born (12:4). So the first beast has power, a throne and authority that comes directly from satan.

Let us recall that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by satan, He was offered these very things–power, a throne and authority.

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matt. 4:8-10)

Satan offered Jesus “all these things” or “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” if only He would worship satan/the dragon. The offering was “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” The price was worship or service to the dragon/devil.

Jesus had come into the world to be a King who would bear witness to the Truth, and those who heard/obeyed His voice would become the born again subjects of His heavenly kingdom (Jn. 18:37). This kingdom was “not of this world” and would not be defended by servants who would carnally fight (Jn. 18:36). Since the kingdom was “not from here” according to Jesus, there was no reason to fight the kingdoms of the world for it–for none of them could hinder its advance. The kingdoms of the world were all perishing in their lusts and violence and self-glorification, one over the other. Their glories–the glories of man–were all steadily coming to nothing. King Jesus had not come to advance their material and proud causes, but to translate people into His kingdom–a kingdom in which men would no longer behave “like the Gentiles” seeking to rule over one another, but instead would voluntarily stoop to wash one another’s feet.

Jesus was to come into His kingdom as the King of all kings, and the One who would forever sit on Mt. Zion judging the nations. But the Father had chosen that the path to His eternal throne would be a path marked by tribulation, rejection, and suffering. Satan tempted Him to circumvent the lowly way of the cross and get earthly power directly from him. “Just serve me [satan], and I will give you the earthly kingdoms and their glory.” Satan could not offer Jesus the “kingdom not of this world” but only “the kingdoms of the world.”

Some think satan could not have given to Jesus any power over earthly kingdoms, but I disagree. Satan is called the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and a prince of the power of the air who works in those who disobey God (Eph. 2:2). As the dragon who gives power to the beast in Rev. 13:2, he is the source of the beast’s power over “all the world.” (Rev. 13:3)

The beast who receives his power over and in the world is energized and empowered by satan. And as there are many antichrists in the world (I Jn. 2:18), I believe there are likewise many members of this beast who rules by satan’s power.I believe the kingdoms of this world are, in fact, “the beast.” And those rulers who yield themselves to be used by satan are part of this beast. As satan has taught through his evolution lie, the world system operates by a “survival of the fittest” (or most brutal) mode. Over time, true earthly power has been consolidated in the hands of a comparative few, which is what satan wants. The more power he can get in the hands of a few wicked men, the more he can overrule and attempt to destroy the witness of the righteous.

Throughout history, Christians have tried to figure out who the beast is or will be. The early Christians certainly looked at the nations who were putting them to death as a manifestation of the beast. Reformation Christians looked to Papal Rome as the beast, and with good reason.

Today many American (professing) believers look to Islamic countries, the EU, or something else, as the beast. Rarely do they look to their own nations, especially “democratic” nations, because they are blinded by a lethal mix of patriotism and apostate religion which has skewed their thinking. Largely educated and sedated by their television sets, they swallow enormous amounts of propaganda with the rest of the citizenry. Because of the doctrines of Scofield and others, the watchmen in their churches have become dumb dogs who cannot bark out a warning about the Christian’s duty to be separate from the machinations of favored nations, including the USA, which they believe is blessed by God so long as it sends more killing aparatus to Israel. Could the USA and Israel be part of the beast which is empowered by satan? It is a difficult pill for western believers to swallow. Ex-military believers are especially loathe to consider this, for they would have to examine their “service” in a whole new light, a light which would require brutal honesty and humble repentance. But I submit that if we (the church) had been taking Jesus’ teachings seriously up til now, we would not be in such a state of confusion. The deception has come about because Truth was first despised and abandoned.

I think the predominate view of American Christians about the beast is narrow and self-serving, and lends itself to an “us against them” earthly Crusadism fueled by self-righteous patriotism (“my nation is better than others”). The reality is all nations are sinful and anti-God. The true battle is between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of men (satan’s beast) which are doing their best to extinguish it (thankfully they will fail). Is the USA a Christian nation? We know that it is not, though up til now many have contented themselves with blaming “the left” and imagining “the right” is still right. It is all a sham, dear friends. From the beginning, we have been a people who glamorized sin, and the “freedom” to pursue it. And what are we today? Isn’t the USA persecuting those who are truly obedient to Jesus, and robbing and pillaging weaker nations year after year? It is, and its persecutions are becoming more noticeable. Is not modern day Israel persecuting the faith of Jesus? Is it not devouring innocents just as other wicked nations do?–it is. Please understand that I am not anti-America or anti-Israel. I am pro Jesus, and I know that the world hates Him. While I have a debt to the world, and compassion for the world, the world cannot ever be home to me. Not even the so called favored nations.

I warn my fellow Christians to be very careful with your doctrine, lest you wind up working for one facet of the beast against another. Both Jihadists and Crusaders believe they kill in God’s honor, but Jesus commands His followers to love their enemies. That command has never been retracted, and we are all accountable to it. If God is speaking to us through His Son Jesus today (Heb. 1:2), do not deceive yourself that you can disobey His teachings and still please God. Do not say you love Jesus while casting His words behind your back. Do not seek out someone to convince you that Christians can operate under “just war theory” to the glory of God. There is a huge apostasy in the church, and the church’s taking up the carnal sword against flesh and blood to win earthly prizes from the devil, is just one of the symptoms of its massive betrayal of Christ. Be ready to stand alone, like the Hebrew boys standing resolutely before the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Do not bow to the beast, even if God doesn’t rescue you.

What does worship/service of the beast look like?

“Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:4) The beast is a winner when it comes to warfare! Beast worship includes marveling at his ability to make war against others. As an American I have heard such sentiments many times about our American military, how we have the best such-and-such in the whole world, and how we cannot be dominated by other nations (supposedly because God is blessing us). The minds of nationalists are amazed and dazzled at their country’s ability to make war. They appreciate it because they want security and happiness and material things, and would rather not consider what price is being paid to have these things. They don’t know everything that is playing out in private rooms and faraway places, and for the most part, they don’t care. They are content if the beast tramples other people they don’t even know, and do not realize that the beast will also use and trample them once it gains enough power. Be careful what you admire, Christian!

The Beast’s Hatred of the Saints

1. The beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God–His Name, tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven (Rev. 13:6). He is against God even though he invokes the name of God, or claims that God is on his side. He blasphemes the tabernacle (those who are the Body of Christ), the same people who “dwell in heaven” (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 12:22). And so the beast is against both God and His people (Psa. 2:1-3). Satan desires and receives the worship that is given to the beast (through patriotism, nationalism, racism, and militarism); but these heavenly minded saints are not impressed by the beast’s ability to dominate by force. They have discovered the more excellent way. They have realized deep in their hearts that the meek will inherit the earth. They see the beast for what he is–a usurper demanding the allegiance which is due only to God, and one who is empowered by none other than the devil. They have chosen to follow the Lamb of God wherever He goes, even though the path He walks goes THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, where affliction and a cross must be borne with perseverance. Just as their King rejected earthly trinkets of “power” offered by satan, so these reject the same.

In some countries (Israel being one of them) conscription into the army is mandatory. Those who refuse to fight or kill others on moral grounds often wind up in prison. Even in countries where fighting/killing is voluntary, it is always highly esteemed by men (but take heed to Luke 16:15.) Early Christians were put to death for refusing to sacrifice to Caesar or fight in the military. Likewise, peaceful Christian Americans were persecuted by militant Americans–many of whom also claimed to be serving God–during America’s rebellion against England. Their allegiance was to Jesus Christ and His commands, and the world had no more use for them.

Today peaceful Christians are often called parasites and ridiculed even by those professing to serve Christ. Their service to their country through willing obedience to civil law, prayers, being a good neighbor, and continually holding out the word of Truth is regarded as nothing. It seems what is desired is the burning of incense to the image of Caesar, with the acknowledgement that his works are always just and worthy of blind (and often violent) support. That is something the slave of Jesus Christ can never give, and so they are despised in the eyes of the world. But Jesus promised the world will hate His followers because we don’t belong to the world (Jn. 15:18-19).

2. It was granted to him [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:7-8) Please notice “all who dwell on the earth” are worshiping the beast, while the heaven-dwellers of 13:6 are not. Is your citizenship in heaven, dear reader, or is it on the earth? (Phil. 3:20) Those who are of the earth and carnal abide in death. They worship and serve the beast because they think the beast is taking care of them. They trust in the flesh and are cursed. But those who are in the Book of Life are not “making flesh their strength” (Jer. 17:5). They trust only in God, and this is why they risk everything to obey Jesus, even if His commands seem to be the opposite of “common sense.”

The saints are physically overcome by the beast. Are we not sent out like sheep in the midst of wolves, and commanded to be harmless as doves? (Matt. 10:16) Didn’t the Lord say clearly, “They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you” and “whoever kills you will think that he offers God service”? Wasn’t Jesus physically overcome by the beast when Rome and the Jews collaborated in His death? Wasn’t Stephen? Weren’t many early Christians physically overcome by the beast of Rome? Wasn’t Andrew killed by the beast of Greece, and Thomas killed by the beast of India? Aren’t many Chinese believers suffering at the hands of the beast today? Yes, it is granted to him to make war against and overcome the saints.

Let us not fall into the trap of thinking this beast is one country or person, and that we can stand militarily with a different country/person (disobeying Christ’s commands) and somehow overcome the beast by participating in earthly wars. For “You will be hated by ALL nations for my Name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9) “but he who endures to the end [obeying Christ despite persecution] will be saved” (Matt. 10:22). If you take up the carnal sword to kill another to “offer God service,” you will find yourself on the wrong side of the Truth, and in direct disobedience to the Word/the Sword of the Spirit. That Sword will find you and expose your disobedience, and as you have lived, so will you die. (Matt. 26:52)

Exhortation & Warning to the Saints who are Persecuted by the Beast

Concluding Rev. 13:1-10, which described the first beast for us, we have this exhortation and warning to the saints who will be overcome by the beast:

He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

This is a reminder that even though tribulation is guaranteed, because the beast will hate and persecute the saints, we must continue to be faithful to Jesus and His commands. Do violence to no man. Let your patience be exceedingly patient, and your faith the kind that does not turn back (Heb. 10:38). Our Lord is good, and none who trust in Him will ever be ashamed. Though, in the flesh, they perish like sparrows crushed in the jaws of a destroying beast…they are not unseen or forgotten. The hairs of their heads are numbered, and in their patience, they possess their souls. By refusing to allow the world to squeeze them into its mold, they overcome the world. Their sleep is the sleep of rest, not of extinction. The world is not worthy of them, and they are removed from its evil (Isa. 57:1), never to suffer again.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Rev. 14:13)

Summary

I believe the first beast of Rev. 13 is equal to the kingdoms of this world–not one or two kingdoms which we could self-righteously single out, but all of them. I believe its power and authority are directly from satan, and its primary claim to fame in the eyes of its worshipers is its ability to make war and overcome others by force. Its ultimate objective, as a tool of satan, is to destroy the saints. All nations will be used to accomplish this objective, but “the patience and the faith of the saints” will be to endure all things with a continued obedience to Christ’s commands.

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