When people think of the book of Revelation, many probably think of passages similar to ours today—rich language describing eccentric creatures that can tend to have confusing symbolism associated with it. I simply want to offer a few thoughts about the passage and then think through some application. (NOTE: many of these notes come with the aid of the ESV Study Bible. If you don’t have one, a study Bible is a great resource to have!)
- John uses very descriptive language to describe this beast. It had: 10 horns, each one with a diadem, 7 heads; it had similarities to a leopard, feet like a bear, and the mouth of a lion.
- Its power and authority had been given to it by the dragon (Satan).
- John is describing that both the dragon and the beast were receiving false worship from people.
- Many believe that this beast represents an Anti-Christ, an opponent to Christ’s reign. This beast/Anti-Christ was uttering blasphemy, leading people to worship him instead of God.
- This beast was given authority over all people, except for those who are written in the Book of Life (Christians).
Why is this important for you? The reality is that we, even today, must be on guard against the subtlety and allurement of idolatry. It might not be the golden calf like in the Old Testament or a beast like this picture in Revelation, but consider this definition of idolatry from Tim Keller:
[An idol] is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give…
An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.
What do you place great importance on? The object of your importance might not be inherently sinful, but the weight of that importance can be. What are you desiring that you believe will bring completion that only God can offer?
These questions might be the most important you ask yourself this week. Consider taking some time and really writing out and reflecting on these questions, asking God to search your heart.
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice