A Crash Course in the End Times II
Turn to Revelation 13. We’re doing something a little dangerous this morning. We’re opening up a little sliver of one of the most mysterious and disputed books in Scripture, and we’re taking a quick glance in the middle of the book. That’s usually not a good idea – but I’ve done my best to keep it all in context and give us what we need for our purposes this morning.
As a reminder, the Biblical genre that deals with the End is called apocalyptic literature. This literature is found in the Old and New Testaments – mostly in Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew, Thessalonians, and of course, Revelation. The purpose of apocalyptic literature is not to satisfy our curiosity about future things. Apocalyptic literature is a part of God’s Word, and
The purpose of God’s Word is to reveal who God is and His activity in redeeming the world.
Specifically, apocalyptic literature reveals the culmination of God’s activity, and it calls His people to faithfulness, perseverance and to participate in His redemptive plans.
Now, apocalyptic literature is full of vivid imagery – it’s alive, dynamic, poetic, it’s bizarre and it can be confusing. It would have made sense to the original audience, but to us – it’s a little tricky - it’s not black and white; therefore, we’re going to operate in the grey a little, so our ideas need to be flexible. Regardless, it’s important and God has something to say.
In Revelation 13, there are 4 main characters – let me introduce them.
Left foot, right foot, what do we do? Satan is the dragon, with beast 1 and beast 2.
Left foot, right foot, Yo, what it be? Know that disorder and chaos is the sea.
Big and wide the image you will see. Bow to the image, and a slave you’ll be.
Many saviors will come; do not be deceived, ‘cause the One and Only, last is He.
If that doesn’t make sense, it will in a moment. Remember, the sea often represents chaos. Prior to Christ’s return there will be global chaos. When there is chaos, people want what? Peace, security, food and water – people want a savior, even at the expense of freedom. This is how many historical leaders rose to power, and it will probably be so in the End.
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
Almost everyone agrees that the world is a mess. There’s a lot of good things in the world, but overall, it’s a mess and it’s getting worse. And even now, the world is looking for a savior of sorts to fix the global problems of poverty and violence. The world is looking for someone to bring peace, security and solutions to the chaos. Here, the apostle John, the author of Revelation saw beast 1 coming out of the chaos, which probably represents a …
1) Global savior
Beast 1 has seven heads and ten crowns. When you put all this together, this could be a man or woman, a nation or nations working in tandem, it could be a corporate entity or as some believe, aliens. We really don’t know, but whatever beast 1 is, it is powerful, and will be a savior figure to the world. When people are desperate for peace and security, it’s easy to accept a savior, even a bad one, or a false one or even an artificial one.
Who’s behind this savior? Satan, who is secretly working behind the scenes, and at the right time the world will say, “Finally, someone who can fix all our problems.” We need to know this because it’s our job is to warn people. Look at verses
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”
What’s the first commandment? Whatever beast 1 is, it will be so powerful, so amazing that it will seem irresistible, unopposable - people will be in awe and for my Trekkies, “Resistance will be futile.” Global apostacy, global worship ….
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.
It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
So, Beast 1, this global savior will have …
2) Global authority and effectuate global adoration
This is where a lot of people say things like one-world government and religion. I hesitate to use that terminology. In our modern world, it would not be difficult to put into effect a global authority without becoming one government or religion. The EU is a good example of this.
Also notice that Beast 1 will be adored or worshiped by the world. Whoever or whatever beast 1 is, it will be a god-like figure. People and nations will be enamored with beast 1.
Jump down to verse 11.
Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.
Beast 1 emerges out of chaos and is larger than life and untouchable. After the dust settles, so to speak, beast 2 comes alongside beast 1 as a partner in crime. “Out of the earth” might mean that beast 2 is a human, or more like a human. Perhaps beast 1 is something foreign to us - AI, an alien.
Regardless, notice that both Beastie Boys are given power and authority from the dragon. They seem powerful, but they truly have no power of their own.
Why is this important? Behind the global agendas and even some political and corporate powers is a spiritual enemy and spiritual rulers and powers of darkness that seek the destruction of mankind. This is not conspiracy theory – it’s Biblical. It’s our job to warn people of the spiritual realities and agendas – and that doesn’t make us popular.
It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
So, here we see beast 2 enforcing global adoration, or more likely global allegiance to beast 1. Think about it, if beast 1 is something foreign to us, beast 2, who possibly is one of us acts as a liaison of sort. Beast 2 says, “He’s good. He’s the real deal. We need to follow him. You can maintain your religious beliefs and your nationalities as long as you pledge allegiance to us.”
Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
Now, we have this image and beast 2 is the mastermind behind this image. The image is manufactured, and that is a key. Whatever this image is, it is created – manmade.
What do we know about this manufactured image?
a) The “image” will have a global presence and awareness.
According to verse 15, it will know who’s loyal and who’s not.
b) The “image” will receive a global voice.
It was given “breath,” the ability to communicate and speak. This is mockery of when God created Adam and breathed into him, making Adam a living being. The stage for this is being set right now.
There are many, including myself who believe this image will be some kind of Artificial Intelligence (AI). If you don’t know what is happening with AI and where it’s heading, understand that even secular scientists and inventors are warning that we need stop now. AI will soon surpass human ability, and in many ways already has. AI is designed to self-perpetuate without human involvement.
According to Scripture, whoever resists allegiance to this image will be eliminated. Science fiction? No. We just read it in verse 15. Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer said this concerning the integration of AI into society, “We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not.” Things that make you go, hm.
So, with the image comes global presence, awareness and voice, and also
3) Global economics and surveillance.
Verse 16 is clear, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, a global system of economics and surveillance will be established. And here’s the kicker, that technology exists – it is here. It’s just a matter of time for the right conditions and the right person to connect it all under one system and authority. Again, conspiracy? No. It’s in Scripture and it’s in the world today.
Am I saying that new technology and AI is evil and of the devil? Not necessarily. There are lot of good things that are coming, but they come with a cost. And as I already said, for the first time in history we can legitimately put together the pieces of the puzzle and say this all makes sense now and it’s all possible now.
We could keep going, but I think that’s enough to help us become aware of the times in which we live. All I want to do is make us aware of what’s out there, what’s coming and what could happen in our lifetime.
So, what do we do with all this information? First, remember that apocalyptic literature serves to warn humanity, both believers and unbelievers.
Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
In other words, what’s going to happen is going to happen. Can’t stop it, can’t slow it down, can’t speed it up - we have a date with destiny. It’s a warning to the unsaved to trust in Christ while you still have time, but also to encourage ...
But there’s something else here that I believe God wants for us specifically. Apocalyptic literature also serves as a wakeup call. Christians should know better than anyone that life is short. And in this short life God has plans and purposes for each person. We get one shot at life -
Make your life count!
When Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon,” it’s not a reference to time. He’s not saying, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He means, “When I come, it’s going to be quick and you won’t have time to do all the things you wish you would have done.”
In Matt. 25, Jesus separates the goats from the sheep. To the sheep He says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father and take your inheritance. When you were on earth, you served me.” The sheep will say, “When did we serve you, and visit you and feed you, Lord?”
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In other words, you made your life count.
The world is moving full steam ahead and it ain’t slowing down. No one knows how much time we have left in this world. And no one knows when the beasts and the image will emerge and when all that will happen - but that’s not the issue. The issue is whether it’s next year or twenty years, how do I make my life count.
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