"Allies of the Dragon"
Satan hates Jesus. His battle against the church will employ all types of evil. One is the “beast of the sea” and the other is “the beast of the earth” whose number is 666.
Allies of the Dragon
A. In the book of Daniel, when Belshazzar was ruling, Daniel had a dream. In this dream he saw four great beasts coming out of the sea. The first was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, and the fourth was terrifying with iron teeth and had 10 horns was boastful.
B. Daniel asked for understanding of his dream and was told (READ Dan. 7:17). Daniel wanted to know more about the fourth beast with the 10 horns and boastful small horn. He was given this meaning (READ Dan. 7:23-25).
C. I share with you that because I believe there is a direct connection between what Daniel saw and was told and what John sees (READ Rev. 13:1-8).
I. The First Beast
A. What John is seeing is a message to the churches. In this revelation from Jesus, John sees the great red dragon defeated several times and cast down to earth. Where he, the dragon we know as Satan, has come to make war on those who “keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17)
B. I want you to understand that you are under attack and so is this church and all those who obey and follow Jesus. It is important of us to understand that the source of the attack, the power behind the attack is Satan and evil. While Satan uses people to hurt people, it is still Satan that his behind the evil that comes into your life.
C. That’s what you need to get from this chapter. Yes, we will talk about the beast from sea and the beast from the land with the mark of 666, but reality is Satan is seeking to destroy you personally and the church which belongs to Jesus. Paul has already told us in Eph. 6:11-13 that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Peter says that Satan is like a roaring lion seeking to devour us (1 Pet. 5:8).
D. So yes, we can learn about these beasts, but don’t forget the power behind them is the dragon, Satan, and he has come to make war against you. You need be prepared every day for a spiritual battle. Call it temptation, call it trials, call it human emotions or desires, but the root of evil is Satan at work in and through mankind. He has allies. He has helpers. And while we look for the red dragon, or the red being with horns and pitch fork, we forget that his attacks are subtle and often with the help of human forces, more than demonic forces. Have I got your attention?
E. So who is this beast of the sea? In short, I believe it is the leaders of the Roman Empire. Daniel was told that the beats were “the kingdoms of men.” It is clear that in this case the beast John sees is a powerful and human. People worship the dragon because they believe the power of the beast is from the dragon. Simply put, they worship the Caesars because they Caesars say they are empowered by the gods.
F. Today we see world governments that are turning against Christians specifically and others against the moral truths given to us by God. Governments are not our god or guide, they are authorities that God allows to bring order to mankind, but many are corrupt and harmful to the Christian principles and ways of life given to us through Jesus.
G. In the days of John, Rome would physically murder Christians. We like to talk about Nero in the AD 60’s and Domitian in 90’s, but they are not the only ones to cause Christians to suffer. There is message to John that is not one Christians wanted to hear (Rev. 13:9-10).
II. The Second Beast
A. The first beast is one that has the power of government to wage war against Christians and the teachings of the church. But that is not the only ally that Satan uses. John sees a second beast (Rev. 13:11-12). Just stop there for a moment in our reading. This second beast looks like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. John sees false religions, false teachers, and false prophets that work against Christians also. This personifies all types of religious leaders who hate Jesus.
C. When you read verses 13-15 we see that this beast is powerful and supports the political persecution of Christians. Its power seems real and therefore many follow it, but remember, just like the beast of the sea, the power behind this beast is the dragon, Satan. But here is where people hear something from Revelation and come to a wrong conclusion.
D. I would guess that most of you who are adults have heard the number 666 used in some form or fashion. It is always connected to evil and it the mark of the beast. Here is the passage (Rev. 13:16-18). So, who is 666? Many say it was Nero as his name in Greek when transliterated into Hebrew is 666. But would Nero really make sense in this passage? I contend that it doesn’t. Some seek to make it Domitian, others the pope, others Hitler, but all these seem to fall short of the bigger picture being given to John. So what do I believe? As the first beast is not a single person, but the evil kingdom of man, the second beast is “the number of a man, and his number is 666.” Or as other translation put it, it is “man’s number.”
E. I get less from the idea of who 666 is, and more about the idea of what 666 means. There are two things John’s readers needed to understand: Your opponent is evil and your opponent is human. The lesson is they fall short of divine. Follow only Jesus and not a human.
F. The number 6 means to “fall short.” If 7 is about perfection, and the creatures cry out “holy, holy, holy” in the great triad, then 6,6,6 is a cry of evil, evil, evil that falls short of the perfection of the one true God.
G. While 666 may have had meaning to John of one particular person, its long-term meaning for us that of a counterfeit god that is really human empowered by Satan.
A. So we continue to hear that Satan is attacking us, and today we hear that he uses both political and religious forces as allies in his attack. I come back to the end of vs 10, “Here is a call for the endurance of faith of the saints.”
B. Will you remain faithful in your obedience to the commands of God and the testimony of Jesus? In our society that is not easy. You are called upon to walk away from the godly teachings of purity and morality. You are laughed at or ridicule or called evil if you state you believe Jesus is the only way of eternal life. So John writes to you and me and calls us for faithful endurance.
C. If you simply feel the pressure and trials that come from the unbeliever pushing you into actions that are against the teachings of Jesus, let us help you, encourage you, pray with you. It doesn’t mean you have fallen and are a sinful person. Sometimes a person comes forward seeking support, strength, and help from the people of God and God himself. If we can provide that strength for you today, then come as we stand and sing.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister