Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The image of the beast that speaks

“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells." (Revelation 2:13)

"And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain." (Revelation 13:15)

At first, those two verses may not seem connected. And they may not be. But here is a bit of history, and then a speculation. You decide.

The Antipas that John spoke of via Jesus in Revelation 2, was the bishop of the church at Pergamum. Pergamum, now known as Bergama, was part of the Greek Empire. It is located in what is now Turkey, having been overcome in 1453 when the Ottomans swept in and absorbed Greece. The Ottoman Empire, AKA the Turkish Empire, retained Greece under its rule from 1453 until Greece declared independence in 1821.

The Revelation verse mentions the throne of satan, Antipas, and the martyrdom of Antipas. Because of the mention of Antipas, the common interpretation is that the place where satan dwells is Pergamum where Antipas was bishop.

This city was an important political center that influenced all of Asia Minor. Though the city itself was beautiful it was one of the darkest, creepiest cities of all- spiritually. The city was home to a plethora of  complex of pagan cults, including worship of Zeus, Athena, Dionysus and Asclepius, the healer, being of special importance. The people there were known as the "temple keepers of Asia." The largest temple was the Temple of Zeus, and it is this temple that is thought to be the one Jesus was referring to in Revelation 2:12 when Jesus says that the people of Pergamum live in the place where satan has set his throne. If a 'god' has sat down, it indicates he feels comfortable enough to sit, that he is 'at home.'

Antipas was the leader of the Christian church there, ordained by John and killed for the faith in around 92AD. Antipas's death must have been very recent when John was inspired to write Revelation 2. This was during the reign of Domitian. Christians were heavily persecuted toward the end of Domitian's reign (89-96).

In Pergamum, the tradition goes, Antipas had been very successful in casting out demons. So the priests in the city decided that Antipas was a threat to their way of life, and a threat to all the religions, and to the emperor. Tradition says that Antipas was given the opportunity to make a sacrifice to the emperor, but he refused. He was condemned to death. The common method of executing someone in that city was at the Temple of Zeus, one of the marvels of architecture of the day.

What they would do is put someone inside a huge brass, hollow bull, tie them up, and light a fire under the bull. The person inside would slowly roast. However, to add to the drama and mystique, the builders had designed the bull in such a way that made it seem to come alive. Author Rick Renner explains,


“They would take the victim, place him inside the bull, and they would tie him in such a way that his head would go into the head of the bull. Then they would light a huge fire under the bull, and as the fire heated the bronze, the person inside of the bull would slowly begin to roast to death. As the victim would begin to moan and to cry out in pain, his cries would echo through the pipes in the head of the bull so it seemed to make the bull come alive.”

Source
You can just imagine with the smoke and the fire, and the marble allowing for sounds to bounce off all the walls, how eerie it must have seemed to see this huge bull and listen to what sounded like moaning and crying emanating from it behind the smoke.

In Revelation 13 we read that there will be another image and that it will seem to have breath and to have come alive, and cause all to worship it. It is not so hard to imagine that this once again may be the method of making the bull seem alive. Though some have proposed that modern technology will have advanced to the point where the "image" spoken of in Revelation 13:15 will be a hologram, or a complex robot, or some such, it is not so hard for a man like the antichrist who will have been given power to cause false signs and wonders, to make a bull or other image seem alive. However, I am sure that it will be amazing, just as millions were overcome with mesmerizing sensuousness at Hitler's speeches or Obama's appearances, millions again will be swayed by flatteries and false miracles. Let's take a look at the beast that can seem to speak in Revelation 13, even though Habakkuk 2:19 says,

"Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it."

As for the beast that can seem to speak, "Now this is amazing. This powerful Antichrist, this world leader is established as the focus of world worship and the false prophet is given somehow the power to give him breath in the very form of that image so that the image can speak. Please notice the word is breath here, it's not life, it's not zoe, it's not bios, the two Greek words for life. It's pneuma. And I believe what you have here is the presence of the appearance of some kind of phenomena that looks like life but not bios and not zoe, not life. Some would like to say that this image comes to life, but I don't see that. Satan cannot give life. [Strong's definition of pneuma, 'a movement of air (gentle) blast; of the wind]." (source)

The spirit of antichrist is now in the world, as Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:3, "and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already." This spirit is one that hates God and seeks to stop the mouths of the people who proclaim the wondrous name of Jesus.

All the former antichrists have tried to stop the Christians; Antiochus IV, Emperor Titus, Nero, Domitian, Hitler...they were pictures and types of antichrists, which will lead to the final antichrist, the Beast. The persecution is coming, I mean the global persecution against Jews and Christians described in Revelation 12. But the Bride will not be here to experience it. For those who have already died a faithful death like Antipas, and for those who will die a faithful death in the Tribulation, refer back to the verse in Revelation 2...

"and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you"

...a personal commendation from Jesus! What a treasure! Those who die martyr's death will receive a crown, the crown of life,

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12)

"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2:10).

The best part is that soon, the beast who will be allowed to speak, and I am talking of the Beast who speaks flatteries and causes deception (Daniel 11:32), will have his day and then he will speak no more. After the Tribulation he will be tormented forever in the Lake of Fire,

"And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur." (Revelation 19:20).

He will speak no more!

Jesus speaks forever!

" LORD, Your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven." (Psalm 119:89, Holman)

5 comments:

  1. In thinking about the Book of Revelation and having studied it quite a few times, the one thing I cannot decide on are the churches or assemblies mentioned there.
    Since the Book of Revelation is so Jewish in nature, I think that it will be quite revealing to those Jews in the Tribulation period. The things that they will read about the churches will resonate with them as THEIR history.
    It seems that one lampstand was indicative of Israel united but the fact that there are seven may indicate Jewish believers scattered in churches in Gentile nations, or Israel in it's dispersion. Each letter was not to each church but all were to be written in a book and sent to each church.
    Since the Church of God will have been raptured, there is no need to write to them. But it is full of promises to those who are overcomers and those with ears to hear. It seems to speak more to an earthly Kingdom that is being formed.
    Anyway, these have always been some of the things that I have pondered in trying to reconcile the tradtional way of looking at the Book of Revelation.
    Pam

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  2. Hi Pam,

    Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it. I confess I don't understand completely what you're sharing...

    The churches were actual churches in John's day, in real locations and with real members who received real commendations and warnings from the leader of their church, Jesus. But the spiritual message overlaid on the literal is that though "the first purpose of the letters was to communicate with the literal churches and meet their needs at that time, the second purpose is to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God's truth."
    Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/seven-churches-Revelation.html#ixzz2VMPeYxpN

    That means us. We take heed of the warnings Jesus was giving tot he churches, just as we take heed to all of the New testament and the Old as well. All of scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    What is giving you trouble in reconciling the traditional way of looking at Revelation? Maybe I can point you to some resources. It is a marvelous book, to be taken literally but it does take some research to understand the symbolism. But since scripture reveals scripture, in Revelation 1:20 we are told flatly that the 7 lampstands are 7 churches... I love it when He tells us right out, don't you?

    I agree with you that Revelation is the uncreation of the earthly kingdom in preparation for the next earthly kingdom that is to be formed, (Ezekiel 41-48 is the descriptor here). Jesus will reign for 1000 years on earth after Revelation's event conclude, so all the undoing and falling apart we see in that book is preparation for the geographic changes to herald the new kingdom.

    I agree that since the global church will have been raptured when the events of revelation take place that the Jewish who come to faith in Messiah Jesus during that time will see many connections to the past prophecies they have been given in Daniel and Isaiah and Zechariah etc. But the book is still a message for us, today.

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  3. Hey Elizabeth, I certainly don't disagree with what you said at all. I know that all Scripture is Truth, no doubt. I was just trying to reconcile statements of judgment, like Rev.2:5 with the promises that we have as the Body of Christ. I see the Body of Christ as being overcomers and, that not being based on what we do, but because of the Grace of God.
    I know these are warnings and that is for our learning but it appears that these events are things having to do with the Second Coming and judgment.
    I've read many commentaries and understand what they are saying, traditionally, but just thinking out loud here.
    Sorry to be so confusing. Didn't mean to be.

    Pam

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, wrong board question here. Was response to another subject.

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