As others have expressed this week, I, too, am intimidated and confused by Revelation. But I’ll do my best and trust that God will provide the thoughts and words.
In yesterday’s reading, John described the beast that rose from the sea. And it was explained that some believe this to be a reference to the Roman Empire. In today’s reading, John describes a second beast that rose out of the earth. He states this beast “makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, …” The commentary and Study Bible I read indicated the second beast is a reference to the Roman magistrate and organizations which enforced worship of the Roman Emperor or Caesar. In fact, Roman law dictated that a person refusing to worship Caesar could be put to death. Even if the offender’s life was spared, they would be economically ruined – unable to buy or sell without the mark of the beast on their forehead or hand. According to my references, the mark could refer to the seal of the emperor on contracts or coinage showing the head of the emperor. One reference mentioned that the mark on the forehead or hand was significant because the forehead represents our thoughts and the hand represents our actions.
The Christians had to make a choice – worldly success or loyalty to Jesus.
As I read, I thought of recent sermons and readings on showing the love of Christ through our actions and of the importance of worship and fellowship. The verse in James 2 that reads “Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works” came to mind. Many people have pointed out that a good measure of our priorities is the amount of time we spend on them.
When we let God into our hearts, He transforms us and it shows. We let God in (it only takes a little) and He starts the transformation; perhaps by drawing us to come to church and participate in worship and fellowship, to hear His Word. Through these things He continues the changes and, as we learn and grow in our relationship with Him, we show love to others. Through God’s grace, we will have the strength and courage to make the choice to be loyal to Jesus. Amen.