The Great Imitator
Most of us are familiar with the saying, “Imitation is the highest/best form of flattery,” but that is only part of the quote from Oscar Wilde. Here is the full quote:
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” [Oscar Wilde].
I played baseball growing up
I started in the outfield and made my way to third base and shortstop before settling in at first base
I loved playing first base, because I was involved in almost every play
My favorite Major League Baseball, first baseman was Eddie Murray of the Baltimore Orioles
I wanted to be like him and play like him
He was nicknamed “Steady Eddie”
I was a pretty consistent player and good hitter
I was right handed like him
I tried to switch hit like him, but was a much better right handed hitter
I wanted to imitate him and Cal Ripken Jr.
I have always looked up to my Father, both as a Father and as a Pastor
Part of my preaching style definitely comes from him
The preparation of a sermon is a combination (hybrid) of at least four influences in my life
Preaching verse-by-verse through books of the Bible came through reading multiple books by Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement
The basic outline of ME, WE, GOD, YOU, WE came from reading Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley
The big idea came as a result of taking a preaching class in seminary and reading Haddon W. Robinson’s book Biblical Preaching, The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages
Finally, the identification of principles found in each passage was a result of the teachings of Dr. David A. Dorsey, deceased OT Professor at Evangelical Seminary
I am imitating what each of those individuals has taught me about preparing and delivering God’s Word
Who do you look up to?
Is it a teacher, parent, mentor, celebrity, athlete, etc.?
Do you imitate what they say and do? Why or why not?
Who have you or are you imitating right now?
Perhaps it is or was a teacher in high school or a professor in college
Maybe it’s a professional athlete
It could be a parent, grandparent, or mentor
Depending on what field you’re working in, it could be someone that is recognized as a leader or innovator in that field
We’ll see today that Satan and his beast (Antichrist) will imitate God and Jesus in an effort to draw people away from God. They will say and do some of the same things that God and Jesus did. This is all a part of Satan making war against the offspring of the woman. What should our response be as followers of Jesus Christ? John wants us to understand that...
BIG IDEA – When Satan attacks, we are called to faithfully endure.
GOD (Revelation 13:1-10)
Making war against the offspring of the woman
Last week we saw that the dragon was unsuccessful at overtaking the woman (Israel), so he turned his attention to her offspring (believers both Jews and Gentiles)
He is making war against them
What we’ll see today and next week, is specifically how he is making war against the woman’s offspring
The water beast (Antichrist) – political evil
The earth beast (False Prophet) – religious evil
The dragon is making war through the two main structures within the culture
Let’s look, then, to how he makes war through the political structure
Beast Revealed (vv. 1-4)
Anticipation of the dragon (v. 1a)
The dragon is standing on the edge of the sea
While it is not stated here, the dragon is probably standing there with anticipation
As we noted last week, this dragon (Satan) is persistent
He is not discouraged or dissuaded by continual defeat by God
The failures he has experienced have only made him more and more angry and more and more determined to make war against God’s people
John sees the beast coming up out of the sea
There was great fear concerning the sea
Throughout the ancient world the sea was associated with evil
The imagery here only lends credibility to those fears and beliefs
John describes for us, then, what he sees as this beast rises from the sea
Appearance of the beast (vv. 1b-2a)
The beast described by John reminds us of the four beasts that Daniel saw in his vision
These four beasts came up out of the sea
Read Daniel 7:3-8
“In Daniel’s vision, he watched the emergence from the sea of a lion-like beast (Babylonia), a bear (Medo-Persia), and a leopard (Graeco-Macedonian); and this is followed by a fourth beast altogether different from those that went before.” [Patterson, The New American Commentary, Revelation, 274]
These were the political powers of the ancient world with one political empire yet to be revealed in the future
We see a lot of similarities between the four beasts described by Daniel and the one beast described by John
In Revelation 17 we will see a fuller explanation of what each part of the this beast represents, so we’ll save address the beast’s appearance in more detail when we get there
Horns always represent power and strength in Scripture
So this beast will obviously have some kind of political power during the second half of the tribulation
As with the enormous red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 12:3)
The multiple heads represented wisdom for the dragon, so they also represent wisdom here for the beast
“In addition to his ten horns, the beast is described by John as having seven heads. As will be seen in Revelation 17 . . . , those seven heads represent seven successive world empires: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and Antichrist’s final world kingdom.” [MacArthur cited by Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 222]
These crowns are the diadema, or royal crowns
This speaks of kingdoms, authority, and political influence
Blasphemous name on head
Each of the seven heads had a blasphemous name written on it
John’s readers would have connected the blasphemous names with “the titles of divinity attributed to the Roman emperor (‘lord,’ ‘savior,’ ‘son of god,’ ‘our lord and god’).” [Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 491]
In the Roman world, the giving of titles of divinity was reserved for the emperors after their death (except for Domitian who demanded it, while he was still alive)
The Greeks didn’t wait for their rulers to die before they gave them titles of divinity
“During his lifetime Augustus had allowed his eastern subjects to pay him divine honors, and at his death the Romans proclaimed him divus (one like the gods). On his coins Nero was referred to as Savior of the World. The Roman senate regularly declared its deceased emperors divine. Domitian was addressed as Dominus et Deus noster; Our Lord and God.” [Mounce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 245-46]
The beast (Antichrist) is attempting to usurp Jesus’ power, authority, and divinity
He is imitating the original in an effort to receive the worship, only due to Jesus
Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, not this beast from the sea
John finally describes what the body of this beast looks like with descriptive words that his readers would have understood
Body of the beast
Resembled a leopard – “represented the Greek empire under Alexander the Great. It speaks of the swiftness of its destructive power.” [Akin, 222]
Feet like a bear – “represented Medo-Persia and symbolized its great strength and devouring power.” [Akin, 222]
Mouth like a lion – represented Babylon, “with its majesty, power, and fierceness.” [Akin, 222]
We see this beast from the sea that represents incredible political power and influence, but where did he get this power and authority from?
Power and authority of the beast (v. 2b)
His power, influence, and authority was given to him by the dragon (Satan)
These are the three most important attributes that the dragon can give to the beast
The power would be important in accomplishing what seems like miracles as we’ll see in v. 3 and in performing mighty deeds that would influence the inhabitants of the earth
The idea of the throne is that beast will rule over the earth
He will be the sovereign over the earth just as the dragon had been
2 Corinthians 4:4, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Finally, the dragon gives the beast great authority so he will be able to rule over all the inhabitants of the earth
Worship of the dragon and beast (vv. 3-4)
One of the heads of the beast looked like it had sustained a wound that it should not have recovered from, but it had been healed
This is part of the deception of the dragon and the beast
It appeared as though they had the power to miraculously heal a fatal wound
The wording is significant here, because it never says that the wound “was” fatal
NIV – seemed to have a fatal wound
NLT – seemed wounded beyond recovery
NASB – as if it had been slain
Revelation 13:14 helps to clarify that the wound was not actually fatal
Revelation 13:14, Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
The dragon and the beast use the deception of a “fatal wound” and the “miraculous” healing, to draw people into following and worshiping them
Their deception worked
The whole world marveled at the miracle they had seen and gave their allegiance to the beast
The “sacrificial” giving of authority to the beast simply drew the inhabitants of the earth into a deeper devotion to the dragon (Satan)
Their worship of the beast included two questions
Who is like the beast?
Who can make war against him?
Imitating the original
PRINCIPLE – Satan will imitate God in order to draw people to himself.
The beast imitating Christ
The horns of the beast are a parody of the “seven horns” of the Lamb
While the dragon is the king of the evil empire, he has given the beast his power
Revelation 5:6, Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Jesus is the One who has ultimate power through God the Father
The beast has ten crowns on the ten horns
Jesus is identified as the rider of the white horse in Revelation 19
Revelation 19:12a, His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.
Jesus is the true ruler of the universe, including the earth – He is divine royalty
There is a blasphemous name on each of the seven heads of the beast
Again, in describing Jesus in Revelation 19, we see that there is a name written on Jesus
It is not a blasphemous name that tries to imitate or mimic God, because Jesus is God
Revelation 19:12b, 16, He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
The beast had what appeared to be a fatal wound that had healed
This is Satan trying to imitate Jesus’ death and God’s miraculous resurrection of Him
This so called miracle got the attention of the inhabitants of the earth
It’s interesting that the genuine miracle of Christ’s resurrection was scorned by so many, but the fake healing of the Antichrist is embrace by the whole world
The deception of Satan is complete and thorough
The dragon imitating God
The dragon gives his power, throne, and authority to the beast
God did this with Jesus
Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Matthew 28:18, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Worship of the beast
The inhabitants of the earth worship the beast (Antichrist) like they should have worshiped God
They ask two questions in their worship
Who is like the beast?
Who can make war against him?
Genuine worship should be directed to God – there is no one like our God
Exodus 15:11, “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
Psalm 89:6-8, For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the counsel of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
We already know the answer to the second question
God can and will wage war against the beast and will be victorious
We saw that in Revelation 12:7-8, the dragon and his angels fought against Michael and his angels
They lost and were hurled down out of heaven
We also see in Revelation 18:1 that an angel from heaven was given great authority and announced that Babylon the Great had fallen
We need to make sure that we are imitating the original
Paul challenged the Corinthian believers to imitate Christ
1 Corinthians 11:1, And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ (NLT)
1 Peter 2:21, To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (NIV)
Read Philippians 2:3-8
John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
My Next Step Today Is To: Imitate Jesus Christ in my speech, actions, and attitudes.
While the beast seems to have great power and authority, it is limited and controlled by God
Beast Controlled (vv. 5-8)
PRINCIPLE – God has ultimate authority and allows certain things to happen according to His plan and purpose.
We see in these four verses the divine passive once again
The Greek word is translated as “was given”
Every time it is used in Revelation is it representing the fact that divine control in involved over all things
Here divine control is over the beast and what he is allowed to do
God allows the beast to do three things
Blaspheme and slander (v. 5-6)
Blaspheme means to revile or defame someone in speech, to harm their reputation
This seems counter intuitive for God to give the Antichrist permission to harm his reputation
This reminds me of what our modern culture calls a “roasting”
It normally happens when someone is being honored, but instead the other guests say things about them to defame them and make them look bad
I’m not certain how this is supposed to honor an individual, but it is something that is commonplace in our culture today
The Antichrist is given permission by God to “roast” God
The Antichrist is given permission to do two things with his words
Paul wrote about this to the Thessalonian believers
2 Thessalonians 2:4, He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming to be God.
Daniel 7:8, “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.”
Daniel 7:25, He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.
Daniel 11:36, The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.
Slander God’s name, His dwelling place, and those who live in heaven
The Antichrist will make false statements about God’s name
He will do the same concerning God’s dwelling place
Finally, he will also make false statements about the saints living in heaven
All of this is only for short period of time – 42 months (3.5 years)
The second thing he is given permission to do is to make war against the saints and conquer them
Conquer the saints (v. 7a)
We see here that Satan will use the Antichrist to accomplish what he is going to do with the offspring of the woman (Rev. 12:17)
This is all under God’s sovereign control
We’ll see in v. 10 that the conquering of the saints will include imprisonment and death
Osborne explains a significant paradox in Revelation, “as the dragon and the beast conquer the saints, they are conquered by the saints.” [Osborne, 501]
This is not the end for the saints, in fact, it is just the beginning of eternal life for them
When Satan attacks, we are called to faithfully endure.
The third and final thing that God allows the beast to do is have authority over the inhabitants of the earth
Authority over the earth dwellers (vv. 7b-8)
The use of the phrase “every tribe, people, language and nation,” simply means everyone on earth
There is one important distinction about who the beast has authority over
He has authority over all the people on the earth, whose names are not written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb – all unbelievers
Jesus predicted that this would happen when He was teaching on the Mount of Olives
Matthew 24:24, For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.
The result of the beast having authority over all the unbelievers on earth is that they will worship him
This isn’t hard to believe, because they will be astonished by the “miracle” of the supposed fatal wound inflicted on the beast that is “healed”
They are also impressed by the generosity of the dragon in giving the beast his power, throne, and authority
PRINCIPLE – God had His redemptive plan set down from the beginning of time.
From the creation of the world has been hotly debated in this verse
Does that phrase modify the writing of names in the book of life or the slaying of the Lamb?
The word order, in Greek, favors the modification of the slaying of the Lamb
So Jesus’ death on the cross was planned from the very beginning
1 Peter 1:18-21, For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
We can be thankful to God for fulfilling His plan of redemption that was planned out from the beginning
The idea of believers being predestined before the beginning of time is not without Biblical backing
That seems to be the clear understanding of Revelation 17:8
Paul also taught this in Ephesians 1:4-5
So the beast has arrived on the scene and is given power and authority from Satan and is allowed to do several things under God’s control
As this section of Revelation comes to a close we see a familiar phrase that was used in the letters to the seven churches
He who has an ear, let him hear
Now the remainder of the phrase is omitted here, what the Spirit says to the churches
This is not addressing the churches at this point, but rather the saints/believers
Saints Endure (vv. 9-10)
The fate of followers of Jesus (vv. 9-10a)
Some believers will be imprisoned during the second half of the tribulation
Other believers will be killed with sword (martyred)
We see this same exhortation in Jeremiah 15:2, And if they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says: “‘Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity.’
Jesus also taught his disciples what they would have to go through to be His follower, which applies all the way through the end of time
Matthew 24:9, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
We know persecution, imprisonment, and death are guaranteed for followers of Jesus Christ, so what are we called to do when it comes?
What believers are called to (v. 10b)
When Satan attacks, we are called to faithfully endure.
We must patiently endure and be faithful while we’re imprisoned
We must patiently endure and remain faithful even to the point of death
For us today, we may not experience imprisonment or death, but we may experience persecution and ridicule by those who don’t believe in God
Some people have been hardened towards God, because of life circumstances
Perhaps God didn’t answer their prayer the way they wanted Him to, so they have turned their back on God
Others simply don’t want to submit to the Lordship of Christ in their life – they want to be their own boss
Some individuals make the statement that they have “tried” Christianity and it didn’t work for them
Tragically, some have been physically and emotionally abused by those claiming to be Christians
My Next Step Today Is To: Endure patiently and remain faithful when my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers ridicule and persecute me.
“It is, and it will be, costly to follow Christ in this world, but don’t compromise! Even it if means you’re being slain, hold fast to your faith. Even if it means you lose your job and all your money, hold fast to your faith. Even if it means ridicule and oppression and isolation or imprisonment or death, follow the Lamb! And one day you will stand with him, you will sing with him, and you will be satisfied completely in him (“Fighting,” 2012) [David Platt cited by Akin, 226].