Leading Others to Christ
Throughout the Book of Revelation, various beasts are mentioned who represent people in positions of worldly authority in John’s day. Many of them share the characteristic of doing seemingly miraculous things meant to influence people to offer them worship and allegiance. Here in Revelation 13:11–18, John mentions a beast who had the ability to overcome a seemingly mortal wound. Another is said to call down fire from Heaven. However, John is clear that these acts were nothing more than stunts designed to deceive the people (Revelation 13:14). And, if the people weren’t swayed by seemingly miraculous acts, government officials would put economic pressure on them designed to convince them to fall in line to avoid harsh punishments.
In our own day, there are still people who try to amass followers. Some even do so in the name of God. How do we recognize leaders truly sent from the Lord? One characteristic godly leaders will have is a desire to point people away from themselves and toward Jesus Christ. Their boasts will be in what Christ has done rather than in what they can do. In verse 18, John says the mark taken by those who worship the beast is 666. Scholars generally agree this number either represents Nero Caesar (whose name would have equaled 666 using the technique known as gematria when written in Hebrew) or is simply a number used to show the inadequacy of all humans (since 7 was the number of perfection and 777 would represent the perfection of our triune God).
As we consider what it means for us to faithfully worship and follow Jesus Christ, the One Who humbled Himself by taking on flesh that first Christmas morning, it is important we remember that our call to follow His example of humility will be diametrically opposed to the world’s definition of power and greatness. Rather than bow our knees and offer our allegiance to the worldly leaders or seek to amass followers by drawing attention to our gifts and abilities, we must follow in the footsteps of Jesus and unapologetically point others to Him no matter the cost.
Revelation 13:11-18 (ESV):
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 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. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.15 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. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 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.