Friday, January 25, 2013

Revelation 13: Blasphemy is the Worst Sin

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Since this is a continuation of last time, let's copy over the explanation of what each character is supposed to represent according to Guzik
  • The woman, representing Israel
  • The dragon, representing Satan
  • The man-child, referring to Jesus
  • The angel Michael, head of the angelic host
  • The offspring of the woman, representing Gentiles who come to faith in the Tribulation
  • The beast out of the sea, representing the antichrist
  • The beast out of the earth, representing the false prophet who promotes the antichrist

The First Beast (v. 1-10)

John saw a beast rising out of the sea with 7 heads, 10 horns, and a diadem on each horn, and blasphemous names on the heads.

What does it mean to have blasphemous names on it heads? Is it like in world of warcraft where everyone's names are hovering over their heads? And what kind of blasphemous names? Like naming your warrior Barabbas? Cause I totally have never done that, I swear!

Guzik says that this speaks to the beasts character. Makes sense to me.

The beast was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, its mouth was like a lion's. The dragon gave authority to the beast. One of the heads of the beast had a mortal wound, but then it was healed, the whole earth marveled and followed the beast. They worshiped the dragon and the beast and asked who could fight against the beast.

This I find quite interesting. The people saw the beast heal itself of a mortal wound and then started worshiping it. It really seems that rule by fear is just the way it was back then. Do these people even like the beast, or are they just terrified and worshiping it because they think it will help them from getting killed. When they ask who could fight against it, are they hoping for someone to rescue them from needing to worship this monster?

Apparently the beast described as a leopard, bear, and lion to connect it to Daniel 7. Guzik says that the wound is supposed to establish him as an antichrist, as he is using the tools of Jesus. 
As people worship this beast and bow down before his government, it may be that they do not know they are bowing down to Satan himself; but it is worship of Satan none the less. 
I love this quote, it once again shows the twisted nature of this worldview. Worshiping Satan is bad even if you don't know what you are doing. How can you hold someone accountable for something they did if they didn't understand their actions?

The beast was given a mouth and started saying haughty and blasphemous things. It was allowed to rule for 42 months. It blasphemed against God and those residing in heaven. It conquered the saints and everyone on earth worshiped it. Anyone who is still alive, let him hear "If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain."

It is interesting that so much attention is put on the blasphemy. This evil being has taken over the world, and his biggest crime seems to be that he is blaspheming. It's mentions blasphemy 3 times. It also mentions that some people are killed, but in a matter of fact way, and in such a way that it sounds like it is all according to plan. It doesn't even come off as the beast is doing this and he is bad, it read more like there are some people who need to be killed and he's doing what he is supposed to do.

Apparently some would say a more apt title than "antichrist" would be "blasphemer". Once again, this simply cracks me up. If his worst crime is saying bad things about someone (especially someone strong enough to take care of himself), then I am not terribly bothered by it. Also, a quote about the 42 months
The beast continues without restraint by God for a period of forty-two months - the familiar three and one-half years. The duration of the period shows that the beast has full reign for the first half of the final seven years, and that during the whole time he is still under God’s authority.
Again, we see acknowledgement that even the 'evil' characters in this story are performing according to God's plan. So anything that they do which is evil is ultimately the responsibility of God.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

How much faith can they have if they are worshiping the beast? From verse 8 "all who dwell on earth will worship it"

The Second Beast (v. 11-18)

A second beast rose out of the earth, it had horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It makes the inhabitants worship the first beast whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs including making fire come down from heaven.

That this guy is a prophet for the beast does make sense. He does similar things that the prophets for Jesus did, but he's working for the other side. What is the deal with the mortal wound? It has now been mentioned twice, so it is clearly important.

He tricked people into making an image of the beast, then breathed life into the image so it could kill people who don't worship it.

Breathing life into the idols is pretty cool, having the idols kill people though, not so great.

He marks everyone's right hand or forehead with the number of the beast, no one can buy or sell unless they have this mark. The number is 666 (footnote: 616 in some manuscripts)

When it says everyone, it clearly doesn't mean everyone as those who don't have the mark can't buy or sell. It is frustrating to me that we can't trust the words that are in here.

I just love numerology
“That as 12, the square root of 144, is God’s number, so 25 is the square root of antichrist’s number 666; and by this enigmatical expression we are taught that antichrist should be a political body, that should as much affect the number 15, as God seemeth to have his church affected the number 12.” (Poole)
What are the lessons from today's reading?

Revelation 13:5-6 Blasphemy is apparently the beasts biggest sin

"And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven."

Revelation 13:10 Even the beast is following God's plan

"If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain..."


  1. I have serious problems with the concept of "sin". Let's put that aside for a second and even grant it exists. (that hurt to type...anyway...) How can blasphemy possibly be considered the worst sin when things like murder, rape, and slavery exist? We are to believe that offending a perfect being is worse than rape? That just seems silly to me. If I were a perfect being, I'm fairly sure I would not care one whit about what you think of me...but who knows...I'm not a perfect being after all...

    1. I know what you mean. The fact that blasphemy is singled out so much demonstrates that this God is a huge egomaniac. Of course we know that it isn't the imaginary God who is the egomaniac, but it is the church leaders who don't want people talking poorly about their religion.

  2. "So anything that they do which is evil is ultimately the responsibility of God."

    If only believers would see that, Hausdorff!

    I think you wisely answered RB's objection. Blaspheme is so important because of the fact that it undermines belief. If you curse a god, and that god does nothing to you for it, what does it tell you about that god? Does it really exist?

    FYI, the "sea" that the beast rises from may be a reference to Greece (the Greek isles) or, more likely, the "sea" is a term used to describe all the people on earth, similar to how you might say that there was a "sea of people" at a concert, referring to the crowd. I'm less sure of what the beast coming out of "the earth" is supposed to represent, unless it is a reference to someone coming up from Hell through the earth.

    There is one school of thought that says the 666 and much of this passage is meant to be about Nero. In Roman numerals, Nero Caesar allegedly adds up to 666, but I haven't done that math myself. Nero committed suicide, but there was a legend that said he would rise again, and, in fact, at least a handful of fake Neros showed up after his death! That may be the allusion to the appeared-mortally-wounded-but-came-back thing.

    Oh, and " 25 is the square root of antichrist’s number 666..." Someone get that guy a calculator. 625. the square root of 666 is 25.8+, which any normal person, if they had to round, would round it up to 26. But I know you know that, given your background. You must have cracked up reading that. :-)

    1. The sea being a sea of people is interesting. Alternatively, if the sea is the greek isles, couldn't the land just be a person coming out of a group of people in a land locked location?

      The Nero thing is interesting, but of course we also know that given any number that is supposedly important, if we search through enough data and manipulate it in enough days we will find something that is apparently significant somewhere.

      sometimes you want to truncate instead of rounding I guess. *shrug*

    2. Yeah, you may be right about landlocked country Hausdorff.

    3. Oh, and about Nero... I think I know what you are saying, and I think a lot of people do just that with prophesies. However, I think Nero is a more significant target than other some other historical guesses for a couple of reasons:

      1) Nero is normally the go-to figure for Christians to claim that they were persecuted under Roman authority, because there is actually a bit of supporting evidence supporting that claim. The imagery of Christians being thrown to lions and (if I'm remembering correctly) used as human torches came from Nero's reign where, after much of Rome burned down, he allegedly tried to blame the Christians for causing it.

      2) Nero ruled and died just prior to the very-significant Siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple there.

      But it is still a bit of speculation as far as I'm concerned.

    4. That's a good point. It's quite possible that Nero was who the author was talking about. Perhaps it was the kind of thing that was just understood at the time, but putting the number instead of the explicit name gave them some kind of plausible deniability.


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