Authored by Jerry Marshall Several years ago, the Chicago Tribune reported the story of a New Mexico woman who was frying tortillas when she noticed that the skillet burns on one of the tortillas resembled the face of Jesus (as it is portrayed in the famous Solomon picture that so many of have seen). Excited about this unique happening, she showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they all agreed that there was a face etched on the tortilla and that it truly bore a resemblance to Jesus.
So the women went to her priest to have the tortilla blessed. She stated that since discovering the skillet marks shaped in the face of Jesus, her life had been transformed. Even her husband agreed and stated that she had been more agreeable, peaceful, happy and submissive since the uniquely marked tortilla arrived on the scene. The Priest was not accustomed to blessing tortillas but after a while, he reluctantly agreed.
The women took the tortilla home, put it in a glass case with piles of cotton to make it look like it was floating on clouds, built a special altar for it, and opened the little shrine to the public. Within a few months, more than eight thousand people came to the shrine of the Jesus of the tortilla, and those who were interviewed agreed that the face in the burn marks on the tortilla was the face of Jesus and they worshipped it.
This Bazaar story illustrates that people can attempt to worship the true God in the wrong manner. As a matter of fact, that is happening in many churches and synagogues today. Our God has stated, in no uncertain terms, that there are standards that true worshippers must abide by. He desires that His worshippers worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24).
The Scriptures also indicate that our God is a jealous God when it comes to the matter of worship and desires that our worship be directed exclusively to Him.
13 “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.”
Imagining God to be other than He is and forming an image of a god from your imagination and then worshipping that image is idolatry. Idolatry is essentially giving adoration, devotion or worship to someone or something other than God. It is misdirecting the worship that belongs to God and God alone.
Idolatry is such an affront to the true and living God because an idolater is accepting to be true, a view of God, that is contrary to who He really is and what He has revealed about Himself.
During the time of the Great Tribulation, the inhabitants of the earth will be involved in the worse kind of idolatry - for they will willingly give their worship to the one who is the ultimate adversary of God, His Word and His people. There will be, at this time, the worldwide worship of Satan and his primary agent who is described in (Revelation 13), as the Beast.
In the first ten verses of this chapter, there is a revelation of six points of information about this Beast who is the Antichrist. In the first part of this study, we have already examined the appearance of the Beast (Revelation 13:1-2a) and the authority of the Beast (Revelation 13:2b, 5b, 7).
III. The Ascension of the Beast (Revelation 13:3)
What will thrust the Beast into worldwide acclaim and adoration is an extraordinary event. This event will involve death and resurrection.
A. His Fatal Wound (3a)
Many understand this to be a symbolic expression of the reviving of a past world empire - perhaps the Roman Empire. But the major problem with this view is that further Scriptural descriptions of this event, speak of the Beast as a person who was inflicted with a fatal wound and not an empire (Revelation 13:12, 14).
The phrase “fatal wound” is a translation of a Greek word, sphazo (perfect passive
participle) which refers to being slaughtered, butchered or to be put to death in a
violent manner. The word speaks of receiving a mortal wound, one that results in
And yet the passage indicates that the fatal wound had been healed
(therapeuo-orist passive indicative); it was healed, cured, restored to health;
or in this case, restored to life.
That one of the heads had been fatally wounded but was healed has led to its identification with Nero. A tradition emerged that the emperor Nero (AD 54–68) was so evil that he either did not really die or would be reincarnated as another tyrant like Domitian (AD 81–96). Nero committed suicide in AD 68 (N.L.T.S.B.).
Perhaps the Beast will receive this fatal wound as a result of an assassination plot. This ties into what I stated last week about the place of origin of the Beast being the Abyss and what this says about the nature of the Beast, or the identity of the Beast, and why he can receive a fatal wound and yet seems to resurrect from the dead.
Remember, behind all of this is Satan. He knows all too well just how effective the Resurrection of Jesus Christ has been for the cause of the Gospel, and the birth and spread of the faith. Satan has one big problem. Although he is a powerful angelic being, he is not God! Nor does he possess the power of God to give life.
B. His Faithful Followers (3b)
This “resurrection” certainly had its desired effect. It astonished the whole world and resulted in worldwide disciples of the Beast.
In (Revelation 12:9), it is stated that Satan, who is the Dragon leads the whole world astray. That has certainly been the pattern of Satan. What is described for us in this passage is one of his most effective methods, counterfeiting the resurrection.
“Theologians have noted that evil’s greatest triumphs occur when it mimics good.”
The world at this time has death all around them. Literally billions of people have died by this time because of the various expressions of God’s seal and trumpet judgments. Yet this Beast seems to have beaten what billions of others could not - death!
And so the initial reaction of the whole world is astonishment (thaumazo), they marveled, admired and stood in wonderment as they beheld the Beast once slain, now alive.
Astonishment quickly turned into adoration.
IV. The Adoration of The Beast (Revelation 13:4,8)
A. Because of His Authority (4a)
Satan is finally getting a semblance of what it is like to be like the Most High God. Although the whole world is directly worshipping the Beast, in fact they are worshipping Satan who is the real power source behind the Beast.
This worship of Satan is similar to what Paul warned the Corinthians about in his first letter regarding any participation in the idolatrous sacrifices and rituals that were common in that city.
(1 Corinthians 10:19-21)
19 “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is
anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord ’s Table and the table of demons.”
Whether wittingly or unwittingly, the people of the world, in worshipping the Beast were in fact are worshipping Satan.
B. Because of His Invincibility (4b)
By his apparent victory over death, the Beast has shown himself to be virtually invincible. After all, the inhabitants of the world at this time have seen death all around them because of the seal and trumpet judgments. Yet, here is somebody who seemed to overcome death. He is from their perspective, invincible and therefore worthy of their worship because he is a god.
It should also be mentioned, that according to the Apostle Paul and his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Beast, or the Antichrist, who is the man of lawlessness doomed to destruction, will actively prompt this adoration for himself.
(2 Thessalonians 2:4)
4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Mounce in his commentary stated:
“The motivation for the worship of the Beast is not moral greatness but the awesome power of his might.”
C. Because of His Worshippers (8)
The willingness on the part of the inhabitants of the earth to worship the Beast is not only the product of the supposed resurrection of the Beast, but it is also a product of the spiritual condition of these worshippers.
The phrase, “the inhabitants of the earth” is used consistently throughout the book of Revelation to describe unbelievers (vv.12, 14; 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 17:2, 8).
All of their names are absent from the divine register of those who possess the life of God, eternal life, through faith in the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Therefore - they are physically alive but spiritually dead.
Seven times in the N.T., believers are identified as those whose names are written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27).
The Apostle Paul gives us some insight as to why this spiritual condition exists among those who will inhabit the earth during the time of the Great Tribulation
(2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
But those who are saved and whose names are registered in the Lamb’s Book of Life can find comfort in the truth that nothing the Antichrist can say or do will ever altar their secure position of being in Christ. Their names will never be erased from the Lamb’s Book of Life.
V. The Arrogance of the Beast (Revelation 13:5a, 6)
A. Prideful Boasting (5a)
The N.A.S.B. translates the first part of verse five as “there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words...” Daniel, in his prophetic statements said of the coming Antichrist that he will have “a mouth that spoke boastfully” (Daniel 7:8, 20).
The Beast will be the personification of arrogance, uttering prideful personal claims without substance. No doubt, words of self-pronunciations of deity.
B. Blasphemous Words (5a, 6)
The Beast will defame the character of God while at the same time declaring himself to be God, which is the ultimate expression of blasphemy.
No doubt, the Beast will make a host of defamatory remarks about the Lord, His people and His heaven during his brief time upon the world’s stage.
VI. The Antagonists of the Beast (Revelation 13:9-10)
The enemies of the Beast are those who belong to the Lamb of God. They have been described as “Tribulation Saints.” They are the believers who are on the earth at this time.
A. A Call For Attention (9)
This is an appeal to the reader to give full attention because an important and practical truth is about to be declared. It is like the military command, “Attention!”
Normally, in the book of Revelation, this call for attention includes the phrase, “What the spirit says to the churches” (cf. Revelation 2-3). The absence of this phrase may imply the absence of the church due to the rapture of the church.
B. A Call For Submission (10a)
This proverbial declaration is directed to those “Tribulation Saints” who are alive at this time, and find themselves in the midst of a fallen world fully engaged in the worship of Satan and the Antichrist who considers them as the primary enemy of this new world order.
The appeal is for a steadfast trust in the providence of God as this part of His eternal plan unfolds. As a part of their acceptance, some will have to accept incarceration without retaliation. They are not to fight or resist the Antichrist and his followers. Some will even be put to death by the sword at this time.
They must follow the pathway of their Master who met death at the hands of a hostile secular power without retaliation. The Apostle Peter used the example of Christ suffering as our model to follow.
(1 Peter 2:21-23)
21 “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
Jesus understood that this was a path he had to travel in the fulfillment of God’s sovereign plan of redemption.
C. A Call For Patient Endurance (10b)
Patient endurance is a translation of but one word in the Greek – hupomone. In the N.T., this is descriptive of the characteristic of a person who will not veer off from his commitment to Christ or even his public acknowledgement of Christ, even if this means facing the greatest trials and suffering.
This then is an appeal to those “Tribulation Saints” to remain Steadfast in their faith
and loyal to their Lord no matter the personal cost. God’s holy people are summoned
to endure and remain faithful while experiencing temporary persecution.
1. Even when it seems that Satan and His ultimate agent are in the zenith of their power, God will still be in control and will limit their reign (Revelation 13:5b).
2. Although God has allowed evil to exist in this world, yet before the foundations of the world where in place, God had already arranged for the ultimate remedy that would overcome evil: the sacrificial death of His Son (Revelation 13:8b).
3. Who or what you worship is an accurate barometer of your true spiritual condition (Revelation 13:8a).
4. Suffering saints must trust fully in the sovereign purposes of God no matter the personal cost of their suffering. In addition, they must remain steadfast and faithful as they wait for God’s purposes to be fully realized (Revelation 13:9-10).