Our dreams and visions are in the context of real events and real people but mixed in with lots of strange imagery at times! Just try listening to your friend tell you their dream last night!
John is seeing his vision unfold in the context of being fully aware of a story about an Emperor, Nero..
“One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” (Revelation 13 v 3-4)
The worst head of the beast from the sea (the Roman Empire in the time of John) has to be Nero. No one was as wicked and as determined to persecute the Christians as Nero. There are many gruesome stories such as to lighten his garden landscape he would burn Christians on poles. He committed suicide in AD68, “a fatal wound”.
But by the time of this vision many believe he remained alive. In fact there had been many claiming to be Nero in return. Immediately after his death someone claimed that he was a resurrected Nero, one during the reign of Titus and then prior to this vision during the reign of Domitian, Nero makes another return.
Even in the Jewish/Christian world the belief that Nero would return was prevalent so that the name became synonymous with the anti-Christ.
Are you feeling you have heard this story somewhere else? Of course! It is a parody of Jesus Christ who will return soon, though there have been many false Messiahs saying he has done so already.
The dragon only imitates or tries to do so.
We have already seen the beast resembles animals and Jesus is the Lion-Lamb.
The beast from the sea is a 10 horned beast and the Lamb has seven horns.
One of the heads seemed to have had a fatal wound and the Lamb looked as if it had been slain.
The world worship with the question ‘who is like the beast?’ and yet God’s people for generations have asked “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
Soon we will read in verse 7, “And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” and John saw around the throne the 4 living creatures and 24 elders singing “and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
What about the second question? Who can wage war against it?” We know the answer and again eventually will get to this verse in 19:16, “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.”
We don’t do fake, imitation and any parody of Jesus. We don’t bow our knee to any kind of emperor. We worship the Emperor of all Emperors, Jesus!
So as disciples of Jesus we remain committed to Him and we worship Him alone! This is perhaps what John is hearing also.