We know the Holy Spirit gives breath to the worship of Jesus Christ. We understand that sentence and we are more than thankful for the truth of it. With that in mind we now see a further activity of the beast of the earth and importantly what is behind the number 666.
As we read the verses look at how much this second beast is focused on image. Travel to India and you become very much aware of Murti puja which is the key Hindu practice of worshipping sacred images of god/s and divine personalities.
“Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honour of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” (Revelation 13 v 14-15)
At the time of John’s vision we know through early historical writings that images were created not by the state but by religious priests in honour of the state and the emperors and they would use apparatus to make these images move and even have sounds come from them in order to deceive people to worship the political power. Why? Maybe for peace and accommodating the empire camped all over their land. Maybe for rewards and favours. Maybe that they too were deceived to do so.
666: is trying to blend in to the culture.
- This is done by teaching and prophecy
Remember the false apostles of the Church in Ephesus? (2:2) Then the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans in the Church at Pergamum (2:14-15) and infamous Jezebel of Thyatira (2:20-24). How does this apply to us?
- Anything that says you can be a Christian as well as being this and that.
- Jesus Christ plus emperor worship, idolatry and whatever else culture offers. Put your Buddha statue and your cross next to each other and worship both. (note: both are wrong, we worship Jesus)
- The church must become culturally relevant and acceptable and that might mean re-interpreting what the Bible says and finding a new value system; the world has changed now; it is culture over the Bible. (The world hasn’t changed for this to happen: it was happening in John’s day)
- This is done with the threat of punishment.
There are countless stories of persecution today and the majority come from the religion, group or state that the believer is converted from or within but who refuses to continue to bow down to its rules of worship.
Carrying the name Christian is enough for many to be tortured and killed without question especially under Islamic militant rule and civil war.
What are the threats to Christians in your own nation? To you? If you don’t compromise? We may think of only physical persecution. However it might come economically. We might find we lose our jobs, our promotions, churches may lose their charitable status and tax-exemptions. We will see this in the next verses tomorrow.