By Luke Johnson | February 23, 2016
Two questions to remember as we read:
- Who is Jesus?
- What does it mean to follow him?
What do you remember about Revelation 12? (The woman and the dragon)
- The woman gives birth to a baby boy (Jesus).
- The dragon (Satan) tries to kill him, but he’s snatched up to heaven.
- The dragon tries to kill the woman, but she’s taken to a protected place in the desert.
- Jesus dies on the cross and ruins the dragon’s power.
- The dragon is enraged and turns on God’s people -- those who follow Jesus.
READ Revelation 13 - A bunch of fake Jesuses.
Pretty weird stuff! What stood out to you? What did you find interesting?
What do you think of the beast that comes out of the sea? Do you notice anything similar between the beast and the dragon? (Compare 13:1 and 12:3)
This beast is a copycat. The dragon gives him its power. But the beast isn’t only copying the dragon.
Look at verse 3: Who is the beast copying with its “fatal wound”? (Compare to Rev 5:6 -- he’s copying Jesus!)
How does the beast spend its time? (13:5-8 - blaspheming against God and waging war on his people)
What do you notice about the second beast’s appearance? What does John want us to notice about it?
(13:11 - “two horns like a lamb”; speaks “like a dragon”; 13:13 - does Elijah’s miracles)
The second beast looks like the Lamb but talks like the Dragon. He’s a deception. His job is to lead everyone astray. John is constantly showing us that Jesus the Lamb is the one who is worthy of worship.
But the beasts make a mockery of Jesus and trick the whole world into worshiping them instead.
READ Revelation 14 - Scene-change, and the Lamb’s victory.
What do you think is important about the way John describes the people standing with the Lamb? (14:4-5)
These are people who didn’t fall for the beasts’ tricks, who resolutely followed Jesus alone. “No lie was found in their mouths.” These people are nothing like the deceptive dragon and the beasts. They even have the Lamb’s mark on their foreheads instead of the beast’s mark. There is no mistaking them.
Where have we see the 144,000 before? (Rev 7 - the faithful multitude who followed Jesus to the death)
What warning does the angel give about following the beast instead of Jesus? (14:9-12)
(God is about to crush the beasts, and anyone who follows them will suffer the same fate!)
John gives us some really clear warnings after talking about these beasts -- things he wants us to understand so badly that he doesn’t bother to use metaphors to say them. Did you notice them?
- 12:17 - John doesn’t want us to be confused. He tells us plainly, “The dragon is after Jesus’ followers.”
- 13:10 - When the first beast shows up, John calls us to “patient endurance and faithfulness”.
- 14:12 - When the fate of beast-followers is announced, John calls for “patient endurance” from those who follow Jesus.
When have you received a ‘pep talk’ before? (Before a big test or important game? Before a scary challenge?)
Why do you think John would give pep talks like these in the middle of his story?
John knows that life is going to be hard and dangerous for people who follow Jesus. There is going to be deception everywhere, people telling you to do things or think things that look right, but are actually false in a really dangerous way. John is saying, “Wake up and pay attention. Remember, there is only one true Jesus, only one true Saviour. Keep your mind sharp and your eyes open. This is going to be rough.”
Think about your own life right now: Are there choices people are asking you to support or take part in that make you concerned? Or things people tell you to accept, even though they go against what you believe?
The Dragon is already at work around us. He’s been busy already, shaping our culture in ways that cause people to get confused, or to lose their way. He’s really angry at Jesus, and is doing everything he can to lead the world away from him -- to trip up people like us who are trying to follow Jesus.
John knows his Old Testament!
John is writing about his visions by using images from the Old Testament. By reading the Old Testament along with John, we can start to understand more of what John is telling us, and where all of this is leading.
READ Daniel 7:3-14
Do you notice any similarities between the vision in Daniel and what we read in Revelation?
- The first beast looks a lot like the 4 beasts in Daniel. (7:3-7)
- Revelation’s beasts talk boastfully just like the ‘little horn’ in Daniel. (7:8)
- God is on his throne, and gives authority to the son of man to destroy the beasts. (7:13-14)
What’s the “happy ending” that Daniel sees? (7:14 - the “son of man” is in charge, and the world worships him instead of the beasts, and rules a kingdom that can never be destroyed)
Think about our big questions.
We’ve read a lot today! Think about all this stuff and try to answer these two questions:
Who is Jesus?
What does it take to follow him?
(What does Revelation expect followers of Jesus to do?)