*May 25 - 31
The Dragon Versus the Remnant Part 1
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Rev. 13:1-10.
MEMORY TEXT: "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints" (Revelation 13:10, NIV).
REVELATION 13:1-10 also repeats what was said in Revelation 12:6, 13-16 but adds significant new information. The purpose of the repetition is to indicate that the religiopolitical power that the dragon used during the Middle Ages will rise again to life and will be a key player in the attack against the remnant. Revelation 13:11-18 is a development of Revelation 12:17, which talks about the dragon's enraged attempt to make war against the remnant, those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. The beast from the earth (starting in Rev. 13:11) is the second instrument used by the dragon to revive the beast from the sea and to attack the remnant.
At first glance, then, the verses do not paint a pretty picture; however, even amid the rise of this beast, amid its blasphemy and persecution, the Word gives us hope, because even here the Son of God and His death is revealed. Thus, no matter what the dragon and the beast do, Christ has won the victoryand God wants us to know, again and again, not only that He has won but that He has won on behalf of us.
*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, June 1.)
Sunday May 26
"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. 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" (Rev. 13:1, 2).
Outline of Revelation 13:1-11:
1. Description of the beast
2. Experience of the beast (vss. 2-4)
3. Work of the beast (vss. 5-7)
4. Experience and evaluation of the beast (vss. 8-10)
5. Exhortation to God's people (vss. 10, 11)
Review these verses until the sequence of events is clear.
What does the phrase "coming out of the sea" (NIV) mean? Isa. 17:12; Dan. 7:2, 3; Rev. 13:1; see also Jer. 46:7, 8.
Which elements of this beast in Revelation 13:1 point to the prophecy of Daniel 7? Make a list of the common elements (see Dan. 7:2-7; Rev. 13:1, 2).
One of the first things that John observed about this second beast was its seven heads and ten horns. Because the dragon of Revelation 12:3 had those same features, the vision emphasizes the close connection between these two entities. The ten horns point to Daniel 7, in which ten horns symbolize the division of the Roman Empire (Dan. 7:7).
By pointing to Daniel 7, John helps identify the historical moment when the beast appears within the historical flow of apocalyptic prophecies. In Revelation 13, the beasts of Daniel 7 appear in inverted order: leopard (Greece), bear (Media-Persia), and the lion (Babylon). John moves from his time backward to Babylon and then forward to the future. The great beast he describes here is not one of those three from the past but a different one, the terrible beast of Daniel 7:7, the Roman Empire.
The reference to the ten horns makes the prophecy even more specific. The fact that each of the ten horns has a crown indicates that pagan Rome had already fallen and that the nations that sprang up after its demise are exercising their political authority. Thus, the work of this beast happens after the division of pagan Rome, which means that, like the little horn in Daniel 7, it represents ecclesiastical Rome.
What did the dragon entrust to the beast? Rev. 13:2.
The text describes what could be called an enthronement scene: The dragon is appointing the beast as coregent in his kingdom and as his instrument in the prosecution of his own goals. The dragon is trying to do what God did with Christ: Christ received authority from God and sits on the throne of His Father (Rev. 2:27; 3:21); the dragon imitates this same process. He still, obviously, wants to be like God! (Isa. 14:14).
Read Revelation 1:18, 5:6, and 13:3. What parallels exist between the experience of Christ and that of the beast? Why would these parallels even exist? What point is made by paralleling them?
According to Revelation 13:3, the beast gets a deadly wound. The intention of this wound (Rev. 13:3) was to kill the beast; the wound, however, was healed, and the beast continues on. When Revelation 17:8 talks about a beast that" 'once was, now is not, and will come' "(NIV), it seems to be referring to this specific political and religious power.
What will be the result of the beast's healing? Rev. 13:3, 4.
The experience of the beast has a universal impact"the world will be astonished" (NIV) (see also Rev. 17:8). The text also makes it explicitly clear that the beast is not only a political power but also a religious one: The dwellers of the earth worshiped the beast and the dragon. The reason given is that there is no one like the beast. But the uniqueness of this power is located in the authority of the beast to impose its will.
|Compare this idea that no one was like the beast
13:4) with these verses:
10:6. In what ways can you see the great-controversy theme in this
Why is whom we worship so important? Why would God even care whom we worship? After all, if we are "good" people, live good lives, and treat our neighbors kindly, why does it matter whom we worship or even how we worship? Discuss.
For how long did the beast exercise the authority given to it by the dragon? Rev. 13:5.
Revelation 13:5 takes us back to Revelation 13:2, the moment whenafter the beast came out of the sea-the dragon gave it his power and authority. Verses 5-7 describe how the beast used that authority and power and for how long, as well. At the end of the 1,260 years (1798), the "deadly wound" (vs. 3) is inflicted.
The parallel with Daniel 7 is significant. Daniel also mentions the 1,260 years (vs. 25), the boastful speech of the little horn against God (vss. 8, 11, 25), and that the little horn persecuted the saints (vs. 25) and prevailed against them (vs. 21). We are dealing here, in Daniel 7, with the same religiopolitical power as in Revelation 13.
Read Revelation 13:5-7 and describe in your own words the nature of the work of the beast. What characteristics of the beast stand out?
The term that predominates in the description of the work of this anti-God power is blaspheme. A general statement is made"opened his mouth to blaspheme God" (Isa. 13:6, NIV)and then it is explained in more detail:
Blasphemes the name of God. To blaspheme the name of God is to rob Him of His dignity, power, and authority. This happens when humans appropriate for themselves divine functions and prerogatives (see Mark 2:7) or when, through their conduct, God's reputation is damaged (1 Tim. 6:1). The beast accepts the worship of the dwellers of the earth; what could be more blasphemous than that?
Blasphemes the dwelling of God. Daniel 8 describes the attack of this same power against the mediatorial work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. Humans are declared to be able to mediate divine grace and to forgive sins. The heavenly sanctuary is blasphemed when it is considered of no effect for humans.
Blasphemes those who live in heaven. In Revelation the people of God are considered to be already dwellers of heaven (Rev. 14:1); perhaps, then, the blasphemy directed against them is manifested as the persecution they face for serving the Lord (vs. 7).
|Though most of us who love God would never think of blaspheming Him, in what subtle ways can we be guilty of that sin without even realizing it?|
Please read Revelation 13:8.
Numerous points come through from this verse regarding the activity of the beast. First, it is talking about something universal, "all that dwell upon the earth." The activity of the beast is not limited to any specific geographical area.
Second, the issue of worship clearly comes into play. The world will be divided over the issue of worship.
Third, only those whose names are not written in the book of life worship the beast, the implication being that those whose names are written in the book do not worship him.
What do the following teach about the book of life and about having our names written in heaven?
Exod. 32:32 _____________________________________________________________________________
Dan. 12:1 _______________________________________________________________________________
Phil. 4:3 ________________________________________________________________________________
Rev. 3:5 ________________________________________________________________________________
Rev. 20:12 ______________________________________________________________________________
Rev. 20:15 ______________________________________________________________________________
Rev. 21:27 ______________________________________________________________________________
After this description of the beast and of those who worship him, Revelation 13 gives a word of exhortation in verses 9 and 10, telling people to heed what is being said. Though opinions differ on the exact meaning of verse 10, it does seem to be saying, in context, that the beast power will one day receive retribution equivalent to the crimes it has committed.
|Read again Revelation 13:8. It talks about the "book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Notice the contrast between life and the lamb slain. How do you understand the relationship between the death of the Lamb and the names being written in the book of life? What does the Lamb's death have to do with our names being in that book? Why are some names not in it?|
"Here is the patience and the faith of the saints" (Rev. 13:10).
Why is the remnant exhorted to develop some specific qualities? Rev. 13:10.
The phrase "patient endurance" is the translation of the Greek word hupomone, whose basic meaning is "to remain under." It seems to express two main ideas. First, to persevere in one's commitment in spite of pressures to the contrary. This is the kind of life not controlled by external circumstances or by the pressure they place on the individual; it is a life oriented to a very specific and central goal, a willingness to endure anything in order to achieve it.
The second idea expressed by hupomone is one of expectation. In fact, it is this aspect that makes it possible to "remain under," to endure. Those who possess this Christian virtue anticipate the moment of deliverance. They know that the stressful or even life-threatening circumstances they face are not the permanent mode of Christian existence, and, therefore, they persist by looking forward to the final deliverance at the return of the Lord.
The other virtue that John mentions is "faithfulness." The Greek word used by John is pistis, usually translated as "faith." But the Greek term could mean "faith, trust, faithfulness." In this specific passage, the best translation seems to be "faithfulness." John encourages his readers to remain loyal to the Lord under any circumstance. When faith, understood as the total surrender of our lives to Christ, is confronted with temptation, it expresses itself as faithfulness to God (see Heb. 11:17). The remnant must be unwaveringly faithful to the Lord.
In what ways can we, even now, before persecution, learn to develop both patience and faithfulness?
"The Lord will have a people as true as steel, and with faith as firm as the granite rock. They are to be His witnesses in the world.. . to do a special, a glorious work in the day of His preparation."Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 494, 495.
|Most of us, at some point in our Christian experience, have had to exercise both patience and faithfulness. In fact, it often takes faithfulness to be able to exercise patience, and patience is needed to develop faithfulness. Discuss the relationship between these two concepts and why we need both, especially now.|
FURTHER STUDY: The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 816 819; C. Mervyn Maxwell, God Cares, vol. 2, pp. 324-340.
Note the following in conclusion to this week's study:
The mortal wound. Revelation 13:1-10 indicates that the fatal wound inflicted on the beast took place after the 1,260 years. That specific prophetic period came to an end in 1798, when General Alexander Berthier arrested the pope with the intention of terminating the papacy. "Pius VI, although 81 years old and ill, was seized and taken as a prisoner to France, where he died (Aug. 29, 1799). On this day the total destruction of the Holy See seemed to many to be accomplished."New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. VI, p. 191.
"After stripping Pius VI of his temporal power, the French deprived him of his liberty. His death while a prisoner marked a low point in papal fortunes not plumbed for centuries and gave rise to a prophecy that the apostolic succession had come to a close with the demise of 'Pius the Last.' "New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. X, p. 965.
SUMMARY: The dragon left to prepare himself for his last attack against the remnant. The unity of religious and civil power he used during the 1,260 years will be established again and used against the remnant. The critical issue will be the true object of worship. There is safety for those who belong to Christ, whose names are written in the book of life. The sacrifice of Christ is powerful enough to preserve them in hope and faithfulness.
Some young people in Fiji have found a fun way to share Jesus with others while they break down barriers of prejudice. They combine puppets, drama, and music to make their message attractive to children.
Once a month the youth, ages 8 to 15, visit a church or a village to tell Bible stories and dramatize the dangers of drugs. Their message is simple: Christians can have fun.
The young people visited one village that was so prejudiced against Adventists that they chased a man, who became an Adventist, from his home.
When the youth arrived, they were given just five minutes to speak with children in the church. Their leader explained that five minutes was not enough time, so they found another place to meet.
Shortly after the program began, the village gong rang, calling everyone to compulsory worship. Most of the children stayed at the meeting. A deacon came to retrieve the children, but still some remained. Finally some parents came to get their children. But one by one the children returned to the puppet performance. The young people told the children Bible stories, presented skits, and taught them new songs. The children were delighted.
Before the puppet ministry entered this village, no organized Adventist work had been allowed there. But after their visit, the villagers' attitude toward Adventists softened. Some asked for information on what Adventists believe.
The Adventist man who had been chased away was invited to return. He asked some Adventist lay preachers to come and hold worship in his home. He hopes that people will hear the singing and stop to listen to the messages. All this has come about because young people opened the door of a hostile village to the loving Jesus through their puppet ministry.
Some members of the puppet group (left). Jokapeci Tui is a secretary at the Fiji Mission in Suva and a leader of the puppet ministry.
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