Revelations: Chapter 13
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy"
As we begin with verse one in this chapter, let us remember what the Book of Revelation is about: THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST (within you). John is not writing about something that is going to happen externally, but about Christ who has come to live within His people (to indwell in His temple). The imagery that was given to John by the Holy Spirit illustrates the transformation that takes place individually, then corporately, as the body of Christ is united and ruled with the mind of Christ. It is by this progression of transformation that Jesus Christ, who is the head of the body, will return in the fullness of His glory. The message throughout this book is not to be measured by what we do, but by who we are in Christ. When we live out the reality of our union with Christ, we will change the atmosphere around us. By renewing our minds to this union, we will outwardly manifest Christ's nature.
Verse 1: John is not literally standing upon the sand of the sea. This is an allegory symbolizing spiritual truth that is connected to what John wrote in chapters 11 and 12 about the 7th or last trumpet. Remember that in chapter four John was told to "come up here" into the heavenly realm of understanding. He is still there (spiritually) in the presence of God (seated with Him). From this position on the mercy seat looking back toward the Holy Place and outer court, there is no veil separating the inner court from the other courts. It was destroyed at Calvary. John is witnessing the spiritual understanding of the people in the middle or Holy Place while being spiritually seated in heaven with Jesus Christ. In order to sit on the mercy seat of God we must know who we are in Christ. It takes knowing that we are kings and lords of THE KING AND LORD.
Notice that John is using the word "beast" and not the name of a particular animal like a gorilla or bear. Webster's dictionary describes the word "beast" as a despicable, contemptible person. This "beast" is man's "ego" arrayed in his own glory (Ezekiel 28). These Christians (not non-believers) are likened to wolves in sheep's clothing who use the word of God to justify their "good" behavior and their "right" to point a finger at the faults of others. They focus on how to be "good Christians" and are motivated by the rewards they will receive in heaven, but their judgments cause separation and division in the body of Christ.
The problem many people have with chapter 13 is a misunderstanding of the "mark of the beast." It has been taught by theologians as something stamped in our foreheads or forearms by the antichrist that could keep us from entering heaven. For centuries people have feared several different things out of ignorance about what this mark really is. In reality, everyone has already been subjected to the "mark of the beast" because of Adam's sin which caused mankind to fall short of their true identity in Christ. This mark has existed since the fall of Adam in Genesis chapter 3. However, the power it possessed was destroyed at Calvary. Any power it may seem to have today is only because of the fear, ignorance, and insecurity man has allowed himself to create with his imagination.
When we started our study of the Book of Revelation, we read in the first chapter, verses 5 and 6 that it is, "Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Jesus Christ is the faithful witness who removed and destroyed everything pertaining to this "mark" when he died at Calvary and was resurrected from the dead as the first begotten son.
Our salvation is not based by whether or not our flesh has been stamped or tattooed with a "666" mark. We have already been saved spiritually through Jesus Christ who died once and for all. It is our souls that must be awakened to our true nature and identity in Christ. What is "stamped" on our heads or hands is symbolic of what we are thinking and doing.
This "beast" is not a mature believer in Christ, but someone who has some understanding of the Scriptures and of what it means to be a Christian; however, the authority given to them by the Holy Spirit to function as kings and priests is not being used to unite the body of Christ in love, but to bring judgment and condemnation to those around them. They are not intentionally vindictive, but the imagination, or the beast within their head is battling with TRUTH.
The "seven heads" symbolizes the perfection we have in spirit. However, even though God has declared our perfection in Him, we must go through trials and testing periods in our life with what is in our head to bring the soul and body into that perfection. Every time the word of God rises up within us, a battle will take place against our carnal understanding as it tries to justify and control our spiritual (Christ) identity. This is why John uses the word "beast." King David declares in Psalm 73:22, "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee."
In Proverb 9:1-2 we read, "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table."
God says we are perfect (Phil. 3:15) with the mind of Christ today (1 Cor. 2:16). We cannot replace God with our own perfection; however, we are each in Him as part of His body with His DNA or "seed identity." Even though Scripture says we are perfect now, most Christians believe that we cannot come into perfection until after we die. So while we are still in our natural body, the law has been mixed with grace to control our imperfections created by our imagination pictured here as "ten horns." Our perfection is to be manifested by the faith of God in us, not by the bondages of "being a Christian." Let's read what Paul said to the Galatians in 2:17-3:3:
"But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"
Today, we have already been circumcised and cleansed from what used to be the source of our spiritual life, the old Adam nature. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:8-10). If we do not believe that we are NOW sons of God, it is because we have allowed "the beast" to rise up and suppress our true identity in Christ.
The "ten horns" or the law is found today in Christian doctrines, formulas, routines, regiments, boundaries, limitations, and traditions. These things cause man to look at the external issues. The only boundary we should be concerned with is the love in our hearts; the law has been fulfilled. When a lawyer challenged Jesus by asking which was the greatest commandment of God, Jesus answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27).
The only law we should have is to love…not only by what we say, but also by what we do (1 John 3:18). As sons of God, we have been given the position of authority to see others from the position of their righteousness in Christ. We have the capability to look at their hearts and not their external actions. With the love of God, we also have the ability to see strangers as brothers and sisters in Christ even though they don't acknowledge that we are all part of the family of God.
As we finish up with verse one we read "and upon these ten horns were ten crowns, and upon his head is the name of blasphemy." These crowns symbolize the rulership that is connected with the law. This is not the law of love, but it comes from the "beast" of natural man found in those that call themselves Christians. Remember that the "sea" is symbolic of those that have entered into the middle court. They may be known as being spirit-filled, Pentecostals, or the Charismatic movement. I appreciate this time of growth that is necessary for the body of Christ, but my experience with those in this stage of development is the manifestation of separation and confusion to the body instead of love and unity. Many Christians consider that they have the fullness of power and authority at this stage forgetting that there is a Tabernacle experience we all must go through to be seated in heavenly places (the mercy seat of God). Paul tells us, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:29-30).
The "name of blasphemy" is not literally referring to someone with this name, but having this imagination which speaks against the nature and character of God, yet they believe they are acting as a Christian. Paul sums up this verse in Galatians 5:13-6:2:
"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts (which begins in the mind with words of imagination) of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost) . But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong (know who they are as a son of God)to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit (mind of Christ), let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual (cover him with the love of Christ through intercession for the body of Christ) should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (NIV).
Verse 2: "And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."
Notice that John uses the word "like" to describe "the beast." If we would allow the Bible to interpret itself we would find this same imagery used by Daniel in chapter 7. If there were any literal understanding about this imagery, it would have already happened before Jesus Christ walked the earth.
In Daniel 7:2 he writes about four winds which we also find in Zechariah as four horses or in the New Testament as the four gospels. The winds spread the gospel, and the messenger becomes one with the message. Daniel tells us that the beast doesn't come out until the winds begin to blow. The gospel will reveal Christ in each of us, but it will also expose what is not Christ; not in a judgmental condemning way, but as purification surrounded by love which causes us to question, "if this truly is Christ, then what have I been taught?"
Again, these are not literal beastly creatures that John is writing about. This is not a literal leopard that really has bear's feet and a lion's mouth. We are talking about the character and nature of believers in Christ who are still living under the laws of carnal man. The unique characteristic about a leopard is that it has spots. Ephesians 5:26-27 tells us, "That he (the spirit of God in us) might sanctify and cleanse it (any opposition to God) with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
God does not see any flaws in us today. He made us perfect in the day that we were created, and He does not make any mistakes. It is our own imaginations, thoughts, and actions that must be adjusted to line up with who the word says we are. We have to get beyond the dust and sand mentality (outer and middle court) and come into the star company (inner court) where we are seated today in heavenly places (understanding).
The "bear" represents the deep, heavy and intense obstacles in our lives (all the things which need to be put under his feet) Ephesians 1:22. God's kingdom has no discord or problems. We lack the manifestation of the power and harmony of the Kingdom of God because we do not seek the inner knowledge of who we are in Christ.
The "lion" is symbolic of the king of all creatures. It represents those that are believers in Christ. Jesus Christ is the King of kings. The problem with this picture is that instead of their words edifying and bringing unity to the body of Christ in the Father's love, they roar with judgment and condemnation (spots of a leopard and obstacles of a bear).
Let's read what Jesus says in Matthew 15:6-20:
"You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'" Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?" He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit." Peter said, "Explain the parable to us." "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'" (NIV).
In finishing this verse, we see the dragon connected with the leopard, bear, and lion symbolism. I find it humorous to think that if we were confronted with these animals in a natural habitat a "dragon" would ever give it's position over to these other animals. If we would just stop and think, we would see that John was prophesying metaphorically with parables. As we mentioned earlier, the dragon is the "imagination created by self, or carnal mind" which challenges the mind of Christ within you. With this understanding, "Let the communication of your faith become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus" (Philemon 6); "for it is Christ that is in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
Verse 3: "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast"
Remember, we are not discussing a literal creature with seven heads. The "seven" is declaring the perfection and righteousness we have already obtained through Christ Jesus. When we don't live our lives according to who we are now, but with a "someday" when I get to heaven mentality, we nullify the power within us as sons of God and regress to the limitations of our carnal understanding. The church has given false power to the number six (the number of man or the old Adam) that only exists because of what religion has created to justify their doctrines. Jesus Christ did not throw a life line to the old Adam, but he went to the cross and identified himself AS the first Adam. The man that went into the tomb was not the man that came out of the tomb. The risen savior was not recognized immediately as Jesus Christ. The same goes for us as His body. We have already been crucified in His crucifixion. Today we are new creations in Christ.
The deadly wound is the imagination of man that is contrary to the mind of Christ. Isaiah prophesied that in one day (Calvary), "the LORD will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; the elders and prominent men are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. Those who guide this people mislead them,
and those who are guided are led astray" (Isaiah 9:14-16 NIV).
When we do not appropriate our full Christ identity, the only thing we can offer others is the same limitations the world knows. Because the world will challenge believers to "prove" that their belief in Christianity is better than any other religion, a religious warfare takes place in the mind and hearts of believers thinking they have to prove God.
Think about this: If we are in Christ, and Christ is in us, and Christ is God; then who does that make us? What more is there for Jesus Christ to come back and do? Our time in this earthen vessel called flesh is for the purpose of growing up in Him to be the manifestation of Christ in and for the world. God said that HE is "I AM." Since we are the body of God; that makes us "I am."
How often do we add words to this completed statement (I am) when someone asks "How are you?" Do we respond with answers that agree with the WORD; the mind of Christ? Many times we ADD to the finished work of our identity by saying things like, "I am…sick; I am…poor; I am…depressed; I am…ugly; I am…lonely; I am…a sinner." This is when God's grace really shines and transforms our knowledge of Him as God into knowing Him as Father. Otherwise, God would not have a family, and the earth would not be full of His glory; the sons of God. According to Rev. 22:18-19, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall ADD unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Verse 4: "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?"
The "they" are Christians that have not understood they are already in Christ. Instead, their focus is on being a "sinner saved by grace" trying to get the "demons" out of their life and everyone else's around them. The church is represented as a "women" who has the Spirit of God, but one who has been a harlot because she has been receiving "seed" from man's thinking processes (Matt. 16:23). In the world we start as a virgin, but in the WORD we start as a harlot and end up as a virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Again, the dragon is the imagination that is controlling or "giving power" to the "beast" also known as the carnal man or Adamic nature (ego). He subtly uses logic and reasoning with the Scriptures to justify and ignite the senses of people. How often do we lift up certain preachers or speakers because they have charisma in their presentations; yet their whole message is about "someday when you get to heaven." There are no signs and wonders or resurrect of the dead. Instead, they preach through guilt, fear, and condemnation emphasizing a "hell" and "death" that Jesus has already destroyed.
Who can make war with this beast or the imagination of mankind who is using the power and authority of Scripture for their own glory? It is the power of the tongue that produces life and death. It is the imagination within us that will limit the fullness of who we are. Recalling what we studied in Rev. 12:10, "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." The word "salvation" is the inclusive, sum of all the blessings bestowed by God on men in Christ through the Holy Spirit. When we understand that we have already received what we "think" we are going to receive "someday when we get to heaven" we can begin to function and operate as sons of God with the Father's power and authority on this earth.
We have no power of our own to control the imagination of man that has power likened to a dragon. If you try to tell yourself "no, no, no" of your own strength you'll find yourself wrestling with your imagination. However, because of the finished work Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary, God has given each of us the power to defeat this beast within ourselves when we boldly come to the mercy seat of God and allow our hearts and minds to be seated with Him surrounded by His love and grace. In this position, we have His authority to overcome the imagination of carnal man. God gives us His love and in turn we are able to love ourselves as He loves us. We are then able to extend unconditional love to others instead of judgments that are created by our carnal understanding (Luke 10:27). This is what Jacob encountered when he wrestled with his true identity in Genesis chapter 32.
Verse 5: "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months."
Please stay focused on who we are talking about in this verse. This is not a weird looking monster that we might see in movies or on television, nor is this a non-believer who strongly opposes God. This beast is the "old man" within us that has refused to die. Paul said, "For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God" (Galatians 2:18-19 NKJV). "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin ONCE FOR ALL; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires" (Romans 6:5-12 NIV).
How often do we hear spirit-filled believers in Christ use their tongue to judge and condemn others? How often do we hear those that are functioning in the five-fold ministry use the word of God to cause fear and anxiety in the body of Christ instead of the love of the Father? Notice this "beast" seems to speak great things or truths by using Scripture, but he also speaks things that do not line up with the nature and character of God. A simple reminder of this is when you hear Christians refer to themselves as "sinners saved by grace." God does not share his temple with anyone. We may still be in a growing stage of understanding which causes us to do things wrong, but we are not sinners! Even the children of God in the Old Testament never considered themselves separated from being God's family, yet Christians today think it sounds humble to call themselves a Christian and a sinner at the same time. This mindset is double-minded, lukewarm and has no place in the Holy of Holies where God's power and authority is to be released. Today, we have the mind of Christ! It is not to be mixed with our imagination.
The forty-two months symbolizes a time of ministry. It is not a literal three and a half years. Our lives are a time of ministry for us to grow in in Christ (in love) so that we become equipped to function on this earth to do the Father's business as Jesus did. He demonstrated the Father's unconditional love for mankind by removing death, hell, and grave from us so we can know Him in our true identity as His sons.
Verse 6: "And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven."
So who is this "he" opening his mouth and speaking against God? It is the believer in Christ that does not consider himself good enough to be considered a son of God. The tabernacle of God is the Holy of Holies or where He dwells within us. "those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:" (Matt. 15:18-19). Our hearts should be declaring "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty maker of Heaven and Earth that by Him, through Him, and for Him are all things created; for He is all in all."
The warfare that goes on around us is created within us. We create our own atmosphere by the thoughts released through our mouths. In John 10:34, Jesus quotes, "Ye are gods…" to the Jews which had already been written in Psalm 82:6-8, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations." Notice, Jesus only quoted the first three words to them. Since they knew the Scriptures, Jesus only had to give reference to the Psalm in order for their minds to finish the rest of the verses. It should have been a word of encouragement for them to know they were already children of the Most High God, but because the prophecy included "the bondage of dying as men and falling as princes," they instead took offense and accused Jesus of declaring blasphemy.
Notice also that the word "gods" in verse 6 of Psalm 82 is the same word used for "God" in verse 8. It is the word Elohim (el-o-heem'); plural of gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God. If we considered ourselves "gods" alone we would be declaring blasphemy; but as children of the "Most High God" ('elyown (el-yone'); an elevation, the Supreme), we then are ruling and reigning in power and position that flows through us coming from our Heavenly Father. This is only accomplished when we know who we are in Christ through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There is subtlety to what is taking place in verse 6. This is not a world leader shouting blasphemy against God. These are people that have been "born again" by the Spirit of God, yet they have not yet come out of the bondage of the "Adam" identity. They harbor ideas and thoughts such as: "I am a sinner that has been saved by grace; even though I am a Christian, I will never be perfect until I get to heaven; I came from Adam and am just a poor wretched human being not worthy of anything." This is BLASPHEMY coming out of the mouth of God's children, yet Christians are continuously expressing these thoughts in the house of God. In the natural, this would be likened to cussing, and parents would be washing their children's' mouths out with soap.
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear"(Hebrews 11:3). Isaiah 29:16 declares, "You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'He did not make me' or Can the pot say of the potter, 'He knows nothing'?"(NIV).
Verse 7: "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindred, and tongues, and nations."
The word "with" should be the word "met-ah" meaning "in the midst of." The war that is going on in this verse is not a war between men, but the war between what God says in our heart and mind versus what our imagination tries to create and justify with Scripture. Our natural man wants to exalt itself above God instead of being in God; not by considering ourselves "holier than God," but by denying the fullness of who we are in Christ. "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God:" (Galatians 2:17-21).
While our thoughts are still as children of God, the imagination has power over our humanity (kindred, nations, and tongues). This is all part of the growth process. God is in total control of what is happening and as our humanity battles with the seed of God in us we will grow up in Christ. It may not happen according to our timing, but it will happen. It's just like the different stages we experience in natural growth and development. Many times our bodies will say we are at one age, but our minds will war by demanding that we are another age. This is why we see 12-year olds trying to be 20, or 40-year olds trying to look 25.
In the spirit realm, we have been crucified and resurrected with Him, but our humanity will try to argue with the mind of Christ in us saying that we still have to die and that we can't come into the fullness of our inheritance until someday when we get to heaven. God is Spirit and Heaven is where He abodes. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:10-12, "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ."
It is good news that the imagination cannot win a war that has already been won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died once and for all over 2000 years ago. His death is my death, and His resurrection is my resurrection! The negatives of our lives are just part of the process to bring out the positive within our spirits for the purpose of teaching us to "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:2-3).
Verse 8: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
If we were to read this verse with our natural understanding, the way the church has preached it for hundreds of years, it would bring separation and division to the body of Christ. The church has taught that those whose names are written in the book of Life are going to heaven and those who are not included because they never prayed a "sinner's prayer" are going to hell. Again, God is Spirit, and it is only by the Holy Spirit releasing the wisdom of God through the mind of Christ in us that the revelation of Jesus Christ can be manifested out of us. The "earth" is not the literal planet, but those that insist upon camping around the outer court (dust company), or middle court (sand company) in their Christian life.
The book of Life is not a big clerical book that angels are writing or erasing names in. It is the people of God living their life by the faith of Jesus Christ who gave His live for us before the foundation of the world. There is no death in Him. Paul said in 2 Cor. 3:1-3, "Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart."
If we believe that He died and has been resurrected, then there must also be a firstfruit company of people called the church that believe they are not supposed to go through a natural death since they have already died with Him. This is the gospel the disciples preached and shared with the many nations which stirred up controversy and brought forth persecution. Paul emphasized this in Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
Jesus is the head of Christ, and the church is the body. There cannot be a resurrected head and a dying body. The body must have the same LIFE flowing through it that the head has; resurrected life. When Paul explained who the "unknown God" was to the Athenians on Mars Hill (the one they worshipped as the God of heaven and earth) he emphasized that the main difference between the unknown God (Jesus Christ) and the other gods was the power He had in resurrecting the dead (Acts 17).
"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to ALL life, breath, and ALL things. And He has made from ONE blood EVERY nation of men to dwell on ALL the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for IN HIM we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, BUT NOW commands ALL men everywhere to repent, because HE has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by THE MAN whom HE has ordained. He has given assurance of this to ALL by raising Him from the dead. And when they heard of THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter." So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them" (Acts 17:24-34 NKJV).
The word "foundation" is the Greek word "kat-ab-ol-ay" meaning "conception." The word "world" is the word "kos'-mos" meaning "the orderly arrangement of creation." In the beginning, before Genesis 1:1, God had created a way for all of His creation to return to Him so that the Scripture had already been fulfilled declaring that God is all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). Jesus Christ was slain BEFORE the foundation of the world; before the fall of Adam. He died for the sins of the world before there was a world "who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight" (Ephesians 1:3-4 NIV).
Verse 9: "If any man have an ear, let him hear."
In the original text the words "if any man" are not written. The verse should read "have an ear, let him hear." This is a time to pause and consider what the Holy Spirit is saying to each of us. He has not been talking about a someday occurrence of destruction, but the process of what is taking place in each person (past, present, and future) as a corporate body for the manifestation of Jesus Christ on this earth. "You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth" (Psalm 65:5 NIV); "Remember to extol his work, which men have praised in song. All mankind has seen it; men gaze on it from afar. How great is God-beyond our understanding" (Job 36:24-26 NIV).
Verse 10: "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."
John is telling us in this verse the same thing that we read in Matthew 7:1-2, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (NIV). The "sword" is the WORD of God. How often have we heard Scripture quoted to justify a "yea or nea" situation that pertains to someone else? As new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) there cannot be any condemnation (Romans 8:1).
"Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." This is one of those places that holds a mystery to be searched out by those that hunger and thirst for God. First of all, if we have been crucified with Him and the life we NOW live is by the faith of the Son of God (Gal. 2:20), everything we need in the flesh has already been provided. Jesus Christ never once asked the Father for anything for Himself, but always for others. This should be our lives today, to give unconditionally to others despite the warfare of our natural reasoning and understanding about the situation.
Let's read James 1:2-8, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does"(NIV).
A key to understanding these verses is to read it the way it was written instead of the way it has been translated. Go to "If any of you lacks wisdom" and read from there first, then go back to verse 2. It takes the wisdom of God to be able to count it all joy in the midst of trials and persecution.
Paul tells us in Romans 15:1-7, "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" (NIV).
Verse 11: "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon."
Notice that this beast is coming from the earth or the worldly mentality of man. The two horns represent what is going on in the head of this person. The "lamb" signifies that this is a believer in Jesus Christ, who "speaks like a dragon"(one whose heart is full of religious mixture.) Jesus refers to this type of believer as a viper when he says in Matthew 12:34-37, "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (NIV).
Verse 12: "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."
We have discussed the first beast and the deadly wound that was healed in verse 3. What is this deadly wound? It is the antichrist, or self focused spirit, that does war in our heads with our true identity as children of God. This verse is describing the religious system called the church that is functioning in their own intellectual power and strength to justify their carnally-minded interpretations of Scripture. Because of ignorance to the ways of God, the "first beast" has given power to church doctrines, academic education, theocracy, and church finances to stir up the imagination, or "deadly wound," versus giving God all glory and praise with a goal to unite the body of Christ as one.
As believers in Christ, it is pertinent for us to always have teachable spirits which are receptive to the ways of God. When we give more strength and power to the doctrines and beliefs of the church than the possibility that we might be missing the truth of God, then we are worshipping that first beast (SELF). We must look at every word and every accusation that comes to us and learn from it with a heart's desire to change anything that needs to be changed giving thanks to God for opening our ears to hear what the Holy Spirit revealed.
Verse 13: "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men."
This "second beast" is not a separate person from the "first beast," but are those in the position of ministering and teaching others. These may be people that have been lifted to a position in the church to have power and authority (i.e. pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, apostles, leaders, Sunday school teachers, elders, deacons, church administrators, counselors, etc.) that know the Scriptures and the power of God. They use it to bring justification and control by demonstrating "great wonders" which plays upon the senses and emotions of those they were given by God to be receiving His wisdom and understanding.
The "first beast" pollutes the outer court with justification mixed with the grace of God. The "second beast" adds this mixture of grace and self-justification with the imagination of self gratification to pollute the middle court. This prevents those in the middle court from manifesting the love and life of Jesus Christ. Their prophesies come through what is happening in the world instead of by the Spirit of God. Since there is power in the words that are spoken, "great wonders" will be manifested. These leaders will try to give glory to God, but the problem is that their declarations do not line up with the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. They are using Scripture to justify their own imagination of what is going on in the world.
What happens are wars and rumors of wars that have been created by men who justify and separate themselves from others in the name of God. We are all children of God, but no one is all God. It takes all of mankind to form the body of Christ. That body can only function properly with the mind of Jesus Christ who is the head. The responsibility we each carry is to BE who we were created to BE, manifesting Christ, not our own thoughts and ideas. A dead man is dead. The life we are to be living NOW is in Christ. In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus told the religious leaders (second beast), "why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye" (NKJV).
Many church leaders are working for a paycheck and have not truly been called by God. If their salaries and perks were taken away it would be interesting to see how many would voluntarily serve in ministry. Many of these people are performing theatrics on a platform, emphasizing the need to give for the needy or for the building fund, while they go home to their mansions, Mercedes, and maids. Many times they play on people's emotions by showing pictures of children that are starving, yet they give very little themselves.
True leaders serve from the position of "walking in another's shoes." Pastors do not have to experience every problem or challenge in life to be a good pastor, but they must realize that they are in a position to bless and unite (purify with fire) the body of Christ. They do not judge by the outward appearance of a negative situation, but find the root of understanding the heart of what God is working out in people's lives.
Verse 14: "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live."
Who is doing the deceiving and who is being deceived? In Malachi Chapters 1 and 2, the Lord refers to the deceivers as the priests who had brought "strange fire" to the alter. They went through the motions of ritual cleansing for themselves and the people, but their hearts were not giving glory and honor to God.
In Matthew 27:63, it was the chief priests and Pharisees who refered to Jesus Christ as being the deceiver. Then in 2 John 7-9 we read, "For many deceivers (those preaching the word of God)have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (resurrection of the body of Christ). This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ (unconditional love to all with the power of resurrection life) does not have God (eternal life, love, light). He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both (as He is, so are we in this world) the Father and the Son" (NKJV).
Those that are being deceived are not the non-believers, but Christians who abide in the word from the perspective of receiving their inheritence "someday" when they get "somewhere" called heaven. They are people that hang on to their past and have been taught that they will never be good enough for God because of the sin of Adam. Deception comes when we do not live by faith, but by signs and wonders.
Verse 15: "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
A key word in this verse is "image." Where are images created? They are in our thought processes. The "image" of the beast tries to emphasize a killing of the old Adam. The "beast" will try to use Scripture to justify guilt and condemnation. Jesus Christ is the faithful witness who declares we are in Him where there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). If we know we are new creations in Christ, we don't need to be killed again. We already died with Him at Calvary, and today we live a resurrected life in Christ by His faith in us.
Verse 16: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads."
I have addressed this "mark of the beast" issue earlier of what John was talking about; but to make sure we don't have any preconceived ideas, the "mark of the beast" was the first Adam; the number of man. Because we were born in this flesh, we received the mind of humanity (forehead mark), which creates the thought (mark of the right hand). However, our flesh is not who we are, but the vessel we are living in. While living in our natural bodies, God is teaching us about our Christ nature even when the old Adam nature tries to separate us from Him (Gen. 6:5). In this process of growth He is our Father who will never leave us or forsake us no matter how much we may stumble (Deut. 31:6). He is training us up in the way we should go (Prov. 22:6).
Verse 17: "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
This verse has nothing to do with being able to buy food or sell merchandise. It has nothing to do with being tattooed with the number "666," UPC Codes, or computer chips being implanted in the skin. As long as we continue to lift up the "mark of the beast" or the old Adam, we will buy what the beast is selling. When we know that we are new creations in Christ and that we are the righteousness of Christ today, then there will be no old Adam, and we won't be buying what the "beast" is selling.
Let us not frustrate the grace and mercy of God, but renew our minds to the knowledge of Christ as we are seated with Him on the mercy seat of God. Jesus Christ died once and for all. There doesn't need to be another killing, but a renewing of who we are today in Christ because His death was our death, and His resurrection is the life we now live.
Verse 18: "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
This is not a literal number, but a triple witness of humanity. We are a triple being (spirit, soul, and body) and by His Spirit God is working through our humanity to perfect our thinking in order to bring us back to our true identity in Christ. God is not separating us, but bringing us together in His love that surpasses all understanding. It is the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Ingathering, and the Feast of Oneness. Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:11).
To get rid of the "mark of the beast" or mankind, we must renew our mind (Rom. 12:2) with the "mark of the cross."
"Knowing this, that our old man is (already has been) crucified with him, that the body of sin might be (has been) destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (our imagination). For he that is dead is freed from sin (carnal understanding). NOW if we be (already) dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live (now)with him: Knowing that Christ being (has been) raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. LIKEWISE reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:6-11).
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel-not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (1 Corinthians 1:17-25 NIV).