December 6, 2011

Wednesday after the Second Sunday in Advent

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 50, Is. 11:1-10, Mk 3:20
Evening - Ps. 49, Is. 12, Rev. 13

Commentary
Revelation 13

If the beast if 13:1 sounds familiar it is because we have already met him in 12:3. The difference is that in 12:3 he is the devil, and in 13:1 he is a personification of the devil sent to do the devil's work (13:4). The sea (13:1) represents lost humanity, restless and tossed about by every wind of doctrine. We will look at this beast more fully in coming chapters. For now four things are important. He gets his power from the devil (13:4), he speaks blasphemies (13:5), he makes war on the Church (13:7) and the majority of people follow him (13:7 & 8).

Who is this beast? He is Rome persecuting the Church and killing the Christians. When the city of Rome burned in 64 A.D. Nero blamed the Christians and began a three hundred year policy of persecuting Christians. This is the era of the catacombs, the Coliseum, and the fire. No one knows how many Christians lost their lives during this time. Shortly after John wrote Revelation, Peter was killed in Rome. Paul soon followed him in martyrdom, along with countless others.

He is also identified as Nero and the dynasty of Caesar, who forced the Romans to worship them as gods and killed those who would not (13:15). The mark of the beast (13:16) was a certificate that allowed those who had worshiped Caesar to travel and buy and sell merchandise (13:17). To be caught without a certificate was to risk death at the hands of the Romans. Nero's name in Hebrew, John's native language, has the numerical value of 666 (13:18). The second beast (13:11-17) is the religion of emperor worship enforced throughout the empire.

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