Worship the Beast or Follow the Lamb
Revelation 13:8-10

All the world will worship the beast
God doesn't follow the majority vote

   Years ago, fellowshipping with humble Christians in the hills of Rwanda, I was impressed that God's measure of greatness is different from ours. As everywhere, Satan has inspired many in Africa with hatred, but not all. Many were dear people living in mud-and-stick huts battling the vermin that descended from their thatch roofs. They often suffered and died for lack of food when the rains didn't come and from not having the medical care I took for granted. In heaven, perhaps God will make up for their poverty here by preparing for them the biggest, most beautiful mansions. I will praise Him! He loves them no less than me.
   In the same way, God doesn't judge religious movements by their size or political power. The Jewish society Jesus was born into certainly had religious leaders with an outward form of piety mt2327f and who held power over the people lu1146. They had a beautiful temple and traced their lineage back to Abraham jn0839. Now let's turn to our verse:

   "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8)

   We have already looked at this verse in context and observed that the future tense in the term "shall worship" projects to his role during the time of the beast from the earth. Now we will begin to examine specific points of interest.
   First, in case you missed the point, the word "worship" shows the beast to be a religious power. We will understand this better as we continue through this chapter and the next one.
   "All . . . worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life. . . ." But, by implication, some will refuse to worship. Their names will be written in the book. Because the righteous are the exception to the "all" statement, we see that they are a small number by comparison. See de0707, re1217, lu1323.
The massive end-time religious movement will be a false one
   As we proceed, it will become very clear that the religious movement just before the coming of Christ will sweep the world off their feet. Only a few were saved from the flood 1pe0320, and relatively few will heed the final call to come out of spiritual Babylon re1804. I believe we are now (1998) in the last years before the great time of trouble. All the world will wonder after the beast (13:3). At that time the great religious power structure which seems so good will turn out to be false re1613. May we each be able to say in that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." (Isa. 25:9) ez1310.

When was the Lamb slain?

    "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8)

   When was the Lamb slain? Of course, at Calvary nearly 2000 years ago. But the commitment was made "from the foundation of the world." With God, a promise is certainty. In accepting Christ we "have eternal life."
   "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13)

   We are not living beyond the threat of death, but God's promises are sure. In believing we may know. Eternal life through the blood of Christ was assured from the beginning! Does "from the foundation of the world" mean, around the time of creation maybe after Eve's sin or before creation? Peter clarifies 1pe0119.

   Even before the foundation of the world God knew that sin would enter it and that we would need a Redeemer. Amazing love! He knew the choice our first parents would make, yet He loved us, and we may love Him. As you stop to think of it, love would not be love without a choice. What a price heaven has paid for that freedom! "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
   True love is faithful. The disobedience of God's people is symbolized as adultery je03. Love means obedience jn1421, 1jo0503.
   Many today, even many theologians, do not believe that God knows the future. They somehow try to limit Him to their own human capacity. God does know. The whole book of Revelation is His prediction of the future "the things which must shortly come to pass."
   Of course God's foreknowledge does not interfere with our free choice. We may choose to love God and enjoy the happiness such a choice brings. Let's personally confirm that choice today with our Lord and Saviour.

Was our eternal destiny decided long ago?

  "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8)

   Some translations turn this verse around to say that the names were written "from the foundation of the world" instead of the Lamb being slain then. For example:
   "And all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundations of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered." (NRSV; similar to NJB, NASB, RSV).
   I confirmed the KJV reading with a verse explaining that Christ was foreordained from before the foundation of the world as the Lamb to save us 1pe0119. To identify the beast worshippers (the wicked) as those whose names have never been written in the book of life is a seriously different theological concept. Although the alternate translation is possible, I don't believe it to be a good choice. First, the word order in the Greek is essentially as shown in the KJV which we have been quoting (and in NIV, REB, NKJV).
   The change frightens me because of what it says about the character of God. It tells us that He created some people to be lost that they have no opportunity to be saved. If this is true, God is seen as unfair punishing them for what they can't help ro0623! And because they are unable to choose differently, it justifies sin. On the coin's other side, those whose names are in the book are seen to be saved no matter what they do. This argues against the very existence of sin and hence the need for the gospel. Jesus would then have died for nothing. Perhaps the translators justify their change from the reading of 17:8.
   ". . . and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is." (Rev. 17:8)

   At first this verse appears to agree with the new twist of the NRSV. As we look closely, however, we see that, although the book of life was from the foundation of the world, the names were not necessarily absent from it since then. In other words, 17:8 does not necessarily disagree with the new reading of 13:8, but it does not solidly confirm it either. To understand unclear or apparently conflicting passages, we need to read more on the subject. I'll share a verse which clarifies what I consider to be the error in the changed meaning. Then we will look at another passage which helps pull the picture together. As we have seen, 17:8 allows that the names may have been written but no longer appear at the time being discussed. Here is the passage which confirms that names may be removed followed by one with clarification about what happened before the "foundation of the world."

   "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (Rev. 3:5; also see Psalm 69:28)
   "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." (Eph. 1:3-5)

So we have all been "predestinated."
   It is His will that we be His children through Christ. Does this mean that all the Ephesian believers, including those who might have returned to their sinful ways were automatically saved? Does it mean that a person who falls away after having received the gift of the spirit and having enjoyed the Scriptures is still saved? Not according to Hebrews. he0604. (and the next verse).

And can one who has not repented and turned from sin be saved?
   ". . . the soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezek. 18:4). See ez1823.

   Notice our text in Ephesians again. Before the world began, God made a way in Christ for us to be "holy and without blame" (sanctified and justified). Acceptance of that provision is our choice. We must turn from evil ways if we want eternal life instead of eternal death. So were the names of all who would ever live written before the world began, in the book of life? I believe we can read the texts that way because a redeemer was promised then (Eph. 1:3-5), one who would die for the whole world (1 John 2:2; Rom. 5:8) including those who refuse the gift of salvation.
   So what is the problem with the alternate reading of our key verse? It does not allow for blotting out names of those who refuse the gift, and it gives others no opportunity for salvation. Predestination means no choice no choice about what God promised. We do, however, choose to accept or refuse the gift.
   In reasoning out what these verses mean, let's not miss the exciting truth that God loved us so much that He gave His Son, and that He was willing to go through with our creation knowing all the pain it would cause Heaven for countless years. May we never take lightly the precious, precious gift of Calvary!

Why was it called the book of the Lamb?

   "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8)

   Maybe you have recognized why the book was called "the book of life of the Lamb slain." Do you remember when we studied  the following passage about the sealed book: Rev. 5:1-9; also re2127.
   Is the book in chapter 13 the same as the one in chapter 5? That one was claimed by the Lamb that appeared as slain, so we can say it was His book. I shared then how I felt that it was a book of judgment, and that the unsealing was Christ's removing Satan's claim that all sinners must die. He could do this because He was the sacrificial lamb, slain. I shared how I understood the first four seals, for which horses went forth, to represent classes of people in the judgment.
   It seems to me that this book (or scroll) in chapter 13 is the same one as in chapter 5, or it is the part of it containing the names and records of those who have gotten victory over sin and have claimed the blood of Christ. (cf. 15:2) Only those whose names (characters life record with sins blotted out) were found written in the book of life of the lamb refused to worship the beast.
   How marvelous is the work of our Saviour. He is our priest and our advocate before the Father as we place our faith in Him.

   "If any man have an ear, let him hear." (Rev. 13:9)

   An interesting statement! Don't people with ears usually hear unless deaf or dead? Small children, when told to put away their toys, may ignore the request pretending not to hear. As adults we have our own ways of not hearing. But if we love God, will want to listen when He asks us to put away our toys. Here in the heart of Revelation 13, God has just described the beast power. He has explained that the names of those who follow its attractive system will be will be absent from the Lamb's book of life.
   On the surface, what we have read is only a confusion of beasts with horns, heads, and evil intentions. In fact, many people feel that, aside from a few clear passages, the book of Revelation somehow describes the ancient Roman Empire and holds little relevance for our day. Our verse is like a pause. God quietly invites us to hear, to dig deeper, to probe for meaning in the text, asking for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. And what qualifies us to do this? An ear, something He has provided.
   Tragically, those who don't want to hear soon can't hear. Do you remember the passage in 2 Thess. 2, explaining the activity of "the man of sin"? He ". . . opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (verse 4). Then we read that the wicked one would work like Satan "with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (verses 9-11).

Pleasure in unrighteousness?
   Do we love what tastes good regardless of its effect on our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit? Do we enjoy the unrighteousness presented on TV? Do we try to broaden the narrow pathway that God invites us to walk along?
   Also notice the phrase, "received not the love of the truth." That love is a gift. We can ask for more of it!
   ". . . at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. . . . Israel [those who claimed to be God's people] hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day." (Rom. 11:5-8)
   "And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and . . . [after the shattering of the power of the holy people], all these things shall be finished. . . . Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." (Dan. 12:7-10).

   None of the wicked shall understand because they will not listen. The challenge to see and hear is not just for those who doubt that God exists. It is for those of us who love our own ideas and don't want to learn anything that would upset them. May we each be among the wise the election of grace.


   The concept of our verse, "If any man have an ear, let him hear" (Rev. 13:9), may also be seen in the calls of the three angels in the next chapter. See the chart showing parallels among chapters 12, 13, and 14.

The work of the beast, past and future

   "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." (Rev. 13:10)

   Earlier I suggested that being taken captive and being killed in this verse related to the beast's mortal wound. Perhaps it would be better to relate the captivity to that event and being killed to his final demise as expressed in the following verses:
   "And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet . . . . These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." (Rev. 19:19, 20)

Leading into captivity
    This may be seen as leading into the bondage of sin (Rom. 7:23; 2 Tim. 3:6), and killing with the sword as persecution of God's true people. In the apostate power's thrust for control, people were taught its corrupted system of worship, and those who refused were persecuted to the point of death. If we recognize the beast as the horn in Daniel 8 and hence the king in the same chapter, we may see the same activities and results in the description of that king:
   "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full [after the peak of pagan control], a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences [or "a master of intrigue," NIV], shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy [or "corrupt"] wonderfully [leading into bondage of sin], and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people [kill with the sword].
    "And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace ["when they feel secure," NIV] shall destroy [corrupt] many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand [killed with the sword]." (Dan. 8:23-25)

    When we studied the opening of the seven seals, I explained how I saw the first four horses as groups claiming to be Christians (Zech. 10:3) in early and end-time Christian eras with their riders representing their leaders. The connection here is that horses 2 and 4, apostate early Christianity and apostate end-time Christianity, are seen in the verse we are studying. They reflect the beast's taking captive and killing with the sword.

   "And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace [religious freedom] from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword" [see "not by his own power" in Dan. 8, quoted above]. (Rev. 6:4) And see Rev. 6:8.

   So in chapter 6 just quoted, the apostate church is given a sword for the medieval persecution (13:1-7 re0603) and he uses it more during the end time persecution (13:11-18). The dip in power in the middle is the time of the mortal wound and gradual recovery from it.
   I believe we are near the end of that time of relative peace. Just today (6/25/97) the news announced the US Supreme Court decision to overturn the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That act of congress was "restoration" because an earlier Supreme Court decision, in the Smith case, denied the freedom of an Indian tribe to smoke their ceremonial plant. The high court justified today's decision on the basis that the Act limited the federal courts! In other words, the courts are taking more power; my government may now again legally deny religious freedom. If based on the Smith case, an additional freedom (like speech) has to be in jeopardy at the same time before the First Amendment freedom is granted. If only religion is at stake, it may be denied. The door is now wide open for popular, majority religion to become law !!! This is the mentality that justified persecution during the dark ages.
   As we continue, you will see what God said about the loss of freedom at the end of time. In fact, you might want to prayerfully read the rest of chapter 13 yourself before seeing my comments. Time is short. May we each be committed to our Lord Jesus.

Patient saints

   "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." (Rev. 13:10)

   Notice the last sentence. "Here is the patience [or 'perseverance'] and the faith of the saints." This is their response to the beast's killing with the sword. That violence was described in verses 5 to 7 where 42 months were allotted to the beast v5, he blasphemed v6, and he overcame the saints v7. Looking ahead to a similar statement gives us perspective. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." (re1412a).

   So what do the saints endure this second time? The preceding verses describe the punishment of those who choose to worship the beast and his image (14:9-11) re1409c. Of course the saints here don't endure punishment God pours out on the beast worshipers. They endure the ire of the system (and hence the people) being punished the system initiated by the beast from the earth. The earth beast arises after the time of the first beast which seems to have been killed by the fatal injury.
   In the two parts of this chapter we see a comparison between the saints of the middle ages and those of the end time. Assurance is given in 13:10. The beast which survives the fatal injury really will be killed with the sword.
   Marvelous assurance. Although God permits persecution, He will be victor in the end and we, who chose His side will live and reign with Christ!
   Another way to translate this verse is "He who is to go into captivity will be led into captivity. He who is to be killed with the sword will be killed with the sword. . . ." Although our first translation seems to fit the circumstances better, the latter is also in harmony with the truth of the rest of Scripture.

   Did you notice the difference between the two "patience" statements? In both cases the saints are patient they persevere. (Remember that saints are literally "holy ones," those who resist the pressure to defile themselves.) During the medieval persecution, they are seen with "faith." The beauty in the truth which Luther and other reformers championed was that faith means faith in God as revealed in His word rather than faith in the pronouncements and ceremonies of the church. Do you remember the passage he realized when doing penance?

   "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Rom. 1:17)
   Marvelous truth! No amount of doing or of paying money brings our salvation. And what will be the mark of the saints in the end time? Let's read the second verse again: "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
   Faith? still in Jesus, but also obedience to the commandments of God. We will have opportunity to examine this verse more closely when we come to it. In the meantime, let us rejoice in Christ, our link with heaven, and let us determine to be faithful.

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