Spirit Filled Spirituality

Don Carson2 Chronicles 26;

Revelation 13; Zechariah 9; John 12

IT TURNS OUT THAT SATAN HAS two unholy beasts to assist him, one that comes out of the sea (Rev. 13:1–10), and the other out of the earth (Rev. 13:11–18). Together they constitute an unholy triumvirate that in some ways apes the Trinity.

Admittedly, many of the apocalyptic symbols in this chapter have been interpreted in mutually exclusive ways by different schools of thought. It is entirely beyond these brief meditations to defend a particular structure. In my view, however, these beasts represent recurring historical manifestations of evil—in the one case, evil in its guise as outright opposition against the people of God, and in the other, evil in its guise as religious deception. (It is not for nothing that the beast out of the earth is described later in this book as “the false prophet”: e.g., Rev. 19:20.) Satan deploys not only agents who overtly and viciously attack believers, but also agents whose mission it is to seduce and deceive, if it is possible, the very elect.

Observe one of the extraordinary elements in the description of the first beast. He has received a fatal wound, but the wound has been healed. This sounds incongruous: surely if the wound has been healed, it was not fatal, and if it was fatal then obviously it could not be healed. But this symbolism is meant to describe the repeated historical manifestations of this monster. He emerges in a Nero, in the Roman Emperor, in Innocent III, in a Hitler. In every case, the monster is cut down. Many people think that evil in its worst form has finally been destroyed. The thousand-year Reich lasts a decade and a half: surely this was the war to end all wars. Then the genocide starts again—in the Eastern block, in China, in Cambodia, in Rwanda. The beast receives a fatal wound, but always the beast comes back to life.

Note some of the symbols used to describe the false prophet. He looks like a lamb, but he speaks like a dragon (Rev. 13:11): this probably does not mean that he roars like a dragon and scares everyone off, but that he appears innocent, even though his speech is the speech of the dragon—the “great dragon” of Revelation 12:9, none other than Satan himself. This “lamb” turns out to be Satan’s mouthpiece. He performs miraculous signs and thereby deceives the inhabitants of the earth (Rev. 13:14). There is no suggestion that the signs are mere tricks; miraculous power does not necessarily attest divine power. Ultimately he uses the authority he derives from the first beast to constitute an exclusive identity for his own followers, excluding all others with severe economic sanctions (Rev. 13:16–17). Even little historical knowledge can remember manifestations of such deceitful coercion.

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Favorites

  • The Cleansing of the Temple by RC Sproul +

    http://www.ligonier.org/account/dashboard/sermon/151/download/ In this incident of Jesus cleansing the temple, Dr. Sproul points out that the activities being performed were legitimate, Read More
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    During the Gospel Coalition conference in 2013, Kevin DeYoung gave a thoughtful, spirit-led sermon on Luke 15. He was able Read More
  • Centered on one or the other by Ray Ortlund +

    ". . . a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" Luke 7:34 What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered? That's Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Book of God, Walter Wangerin +

    I was in a leadership turbogroup during the spring of 2007. At Randy's suggestion, I listened to Walter Wangerin's audio Read More
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    Martin Luther had a barber named Peter Beskendorf who asked his world-famous customer and doctor of theology, "Dr. Luther, how Read More
  • Clay Enoch Devotional Sculpture +

    Clay Enoch, a sculptor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, creates powerful bronze sculptures with Biblical themes: Creation, Praise, Contrition, Still Water, Read More
  • Without Faith...Can I Survive? +

    Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ Read More
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