I must say that whenever the reading is from the Book of Revelation, I get intimidated while I’m also fascinated. One of the things that fascinates me is the continuing push and pull between good and evil – God and Satan. It is difficult sometimes to know which is which due to the symbolism. In these verses, the beast seems to be aligned with the dragon, and we know from the previous verses that the dragon is not a representative of God’s side. Some believe that the beast represented the Roman Empire, or some deification of a secular authority or even an anti-Christian power. Later, it was believed that the beast represented the Roman Catholic Church.
In any event, the purpose of these verses is to establish the players as they wind their way into the final battle. The beast appears to be subordinate to the dragon. Unlike the dragon, the beast was given the ability to communicate and was given many earthly powers. This places the Christians in a very difficult position. Life during the Apocalypse is becoming increasingly difficult for true believers. This leads to the last verse in this passage which says “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”
Frankly, I can’t think about the Apocalypse. It takes my whole energy to get through the week with my Christian values in tact. If the Apocalypse happens during my life time, I’ll have to deal with it when it comes. I simply cannot plan for it other than to pray that I will have the strength and courage I will need to get through.
However, I can deal with the constant battle between good and evil on a daily basis. I can pray, I can read and study the Bible and I can listen for God’s message to me. It is difficult for me to wade through the esoteric studies of the Book of Revelation. But, I think I can practice “patient endurance and faithfulness” without getting too bogged down in the arcane symbolism of Revelation.