Sermon Overview & Prayer: The Evils of the Beast and the Song of the Redeemed
"The Evils of the Beast and the Song of the Redeemed" - CJ Mahaney
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And the beast was...allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs...It deceives those who dwell on earth. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder...and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb. (Revelation 13:1-3, 5, 11-13, 18, 14:3-7, 10-11, 18, 14:1-4)
The scene opens with a furious dragon intent on making war against the church. He is filled with fury because he has been decisively defeated by the Lamb who was slain. And he knows his time is short. The dragon positions himself by the sea from which the first beast emerges. In Scripture, the sea is pictured as a chaotic region from which rebellion and chaos arise.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, as we behold and experience the chaos of the sin-corrupted world around us, we pray with our Lord Jesus: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The beast from the sea embodies the evil empires identified in Daniel. This is the human incarnation of the dragon whether it be individuals or institutions in opposition to God and His people.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we are reminded that those who are not wholeheartedly devoted to you are against you. We pray for discernment—not to be cynical of everyone, but to be courageous in the face of persecution, and compassionate towards those deceived by our adversary, having been taken captive to do his will.
“When a man’s name is written in the book of life he will not be forgotten. His place is secure.” (Leon Morris) Perseverance is a major theme in Revelation. This book unveils to us the world as it really is so that we might endure rather than faint in suffering, trust God rather than be dismayed by suffering.
PRAYER: Lord, thank you for these reminders: “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” While we, by your grace, endure and persevere in the present, help us to remember your choosing us in eternity past, and your glorious inheritance for our eternal future. May these gifts inform and empower our faith and faithfulness in this present evil age.
The second beast, an ally of the first beast, rises out of the earth. This beast is less terrifying in appearance and instead specializes in deception. The first beast is oppressive, but this beast is deceptive. These two beasts reflect two different strategies of the dragon against the people of God: persecution and seduction. Discerning Christians are to resist any conformity to the deceptive voice of the beast. We are called to recognize the voice of the beast, whether its in politics, education, entertainment, economics, even the professing church, as he promotes idolatry.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, continue to renew our minds from God’s Word that we might discern truth from lies, righteousness from wickedness, selfishness from servanthood. Help us to set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth, lest we be drawn into the deception of calling evil good.
Everything suddenly changes when John sees into the heavenly throne room. He sees the Lamb standing triumphantly and hears the church celebrating the Lamb and His triumph. This scene is a dramatic contrast in content and tone to what preceded it.
PRAYER: Lord God, we know that this glimpse of glory far exceeds our ability to even remotely comprehend the awesome wonder of your sovereign rule and reign. Please press deeply into our hearts and minds a faith-filled anticipation that far outweighs the trials, tribulation, and sufferings of this life. May the joy of that day be our hope and strength in this day!
“And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”
This new song appropriately celebrates the triumph of the Lamb over our sin, death and the dragon.
One day we will join them and sing this song to the Lamb.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, blessed Lord and Savior, gracious Counselor and Comforter, help us to live lives that display the hope, faith, and promise of heaven. May our assurance of future glory compel others to ask us of the hope within us. And may our testimony of the gospel be a means of adding many more voices to this song of worship to the Lamb!
OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
At the end of Revelation 12, the dragon (as a symbol of the devil) stands on the sand of the sea and begins to wage war on the children of the woman. In Revelation 13, we see two beasts to whom the dragon gives his power, authority, and throne that represent the two ways the devil attacks believers. The first beast oppresses and persecutes God’s people, and the second beast deceives the people of earth to make them worship the first beast and receive the mark of the beast that signifies their allegiance in mind and action. Though these beasts wage war on the earth, the 144,000 stand with the Lamb, marked as people of God, and sing a new song that only they can sing.
- How has Revelation 13 affected your understanding of how the devil attacks believers?
- CJ reminded us that the first beast’s limited time and authority displays God’s sovereignty over the dragon and the beast. How has God’s sovereignty and his electing grace comforted you in suffering?
- The second beast represents the ways the enemy tries to deceive. What are some ways that you’re tempted to compromise with the idolatrous culture?
- CJ reminded us that the existence of the two beasts calls to the believer to have endurance in suffering and wisdom in the face of deception. How has the Lord used suffering or temptation to cultivate endurance and wisdom?
- Revelation reminds us of how the world really is, and this passage reminds us that everyone has a mark on their forehead. How has this passage affected your view of unbelievers or your evangelistic efforts?