Revelation – Jesus IS Coming Back!
Worship. We “lifers” (grew up in the church) remember hymns of worship. Coming from Oklahoma we had a little gospel thrown into the mix. This caused division in our idea of worship in my home church. My own parents were appalled and said, “We can have a piano and organ…but guitars?” They were uncomfortable and I didn’t know exactly why. We had a choice to sing from the hard back hymnals or the paperback gospel books. (No overheads at the time!) It seemed to me as a child that smiling gospel singers where more fun than solemn hymn singers but that was my child-like impression.
THEN, during my “youth group” years choruses hit the big stage and a whole new war of worship opinions began to roll out in the church. Yikes, sing a scripture chorus in place of a hymn? “What is the world coming to?” (Now, I’m kind of laughing out loud.)
WHO was/is right? No one.
Before jumping into the next installment of John’s vision, let us remember where John was when he had this revelation of Jesus Christ. He was IN WORSHIP! John had worship on his mind and is preeminently concerned with worship. John is responsible for a circuit of churches on the mainland whose primary task is worship. Worship shapes the human community in response to the living God! If worship is neglected or perverted, our communities fall into chaos or under tyranny.
Our times are not favorable for worship. We have points of disagreement. Where does that come from? The world is hostile to worship. The Devil hates worship. As The Revelation makes clear, worship must be carried out under conditions decidedly uncongenial to it. Some Christians even get killed because they truly worship God.
This next passage is not easy reading but look closely at WHO is being worshiped. It is the BEAST, not GOD. It is not about what we sing or what we do in worship. It is about GOD and only GOD. Worship is our heart’s , response to God living freely in us. Worship is being grateful for all God has done in us and for us while abiding with us. Worship is not the song we sing or the instruments we play. Worship is our heart’s response to our living God.
The Beast enters into our worship when we debate what we do, what song we sing and how we respond to God. Now, I’m tearful. For my heart has been broken by those in God’s church who came only to “feel good”, to sing only the songs they knew were “right” and “holy” and to put down others whose response was different than their response. Holiness comes from God washing us white as snow by the blood sacrificed by Jesus Christ, His Son. Worship is our response to His Redemption of us. WE have nothing to do saving our souls. We realize that it is God and God alone who saves us and calls us His own. The Beast, and the Dragon (Satan) who gave him authority hates our worship of God alone. Everyone who did not know God and worship Him, worships the Beast.
Revelation 13, The Message
The Beast from the Sea
1-2 And the Dragon stood on the shore of the sea. I saw a Beast rising from the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads—on each horn a crown, and each head inscribed with a blasphemous name. The Beast I saw looked like a leopard with bear paws and a lion’s mouth. The Dragon turned over its power to it, its throne and great authority.
3-4 One of the Beast’s heads looked as if it had been struck a deathblow, and then healed. The whole earth was agog, gaping at the Beast. They worshiped the Dragon who gave the Beast authority, and they worshiped the Beast, exclaiming, “There’s never been anything like the Beast! No one would dare go to war with the Beast!”
5-8 The Beast had a loud mouth, boastful and blasphemous. It could do anything it wanted for forty-two months. It yelled blasphemies against God, blasphemed his Name, blasphemed his Church, especially those already dwelling with God in Heaven. It was permitted to make war on God’s holy people and conquer them. It held absolute sway over all tribes and peoples, tongues and races. Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world’s foundation in the slaughtered Lamb’s Book of Life will worship the Beast.
9-10 Are you listening to this? They’ve made their bed; now they must lie in it. Anyone marked for prison goes straight to prison; anyone pulling a sword goes down by the sword. Meanwhile, God’s holy people passionately and faithfully stand their ground.
The Beast from Under the Ground
11-12 I saw another Beast rising out of the ground. It had two horns like a lamb but sounded like a dragon when it spoke. It was a puppet of the first Beast, made earth and everyone in it worship the first Beast, which had been healed of its deathblow.
13-17 This second Beast worked magical signs, dazzling people by making fire come down from Heaven. It used the magic it got from the Beast to dupe earth dwellers, getting them to make an image of the Beast that received the deathblow and lived. It was able to animate the image of the Beast so that it talked, and then arrange that anyone not worshiping the Beast would be killed. It forced all people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to have a mark on the right hand or forehead. Without the mark of the name of the Beast or the number of its name, it was impossible to buy or sell anything.
18 Solve a riddle: Put your heads together and figure out the meaning of the number of the Beast. It’s a human number: 666.
WHO do we worship? No, seriously think about it…
Do we allow the beast to enter our hearts to pull us away from the worship of God to think only of our own comfort? Are we worshiping ourselves at that point?
Could the dragon and the beast be lurking in our churches today?
The beast’s “number” is almost up. Jesus IS coming back for his own. “Meanwhile, God’s holy people passionately and faithfully stand their ground.”
Francis Chan, a well known Bible scholar and preacher, was met by a random church goer who said, “I didn’t really like church today.” Francis responded, “That’s okay, we weren’t worshiping you.”
Worship is an audience of ONE…The One and Only God.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Wow. The imagery of the worship of the dragon and then the beast hits close to home in our country. We spend a lot of effort getting things right while sometimes missing the point of worship which is our response to You and You alone. O Lord, thank you for your revelation to us today. I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. May the words and meditations of my heart please You and bring you praise!
In Jesus Name, Amen