Progressive Parallel Interpretive Approach:
Each section begins with the risen Christ & ends with a picture of His coming victory.
First half of Revelation: The conflict between the Church & the world
Ch. 1-3: Christ message to His church
Ch. 4-7: The seven seals
Ch. 8-11: The seven trumpets
Second half of Revelation: The conflict between the Church & the world is a manifestation of the war in Heaven between Christ & satan (the dragon / accuser)
Ch. 12-14: The dragon & the woman:
Chapter thirteen introduces us to the first two of Satan's minions. Tomorrow in chapter 14 we will meet the third, the harlot of Babylon. Chapter 13, however is about beasts. The first is a conglomeration of multi-headed predatory animals. One of these heads has received a mortal wound, but that wound has been healed. This first beast represents the oppressive world orders & governments. It's not so important to try and figure out which worldly kingdoms are included in those seven heads (Rome? Babylon? Soviet Union?), or which of those kingdoms was mortally wounded but will be restored, rather, keep focused on the big picture. The point here is that there have always been, and as long as the earth endures, will always be kingdoms of man oppressing the Kingdom of God.
The second beast is not very scary at all. In fact, it has the appearance of a lamb. This gentle appearance makes it much more dangerous. It represents the wisdom of the world. We can see in our day and age how it positions itself as being attractive and sophisticated, but it's always pointing people aways from Christ and towards the dragon.
This chapter ends with the mysterious reference to the mark of the beast: 666. Commentator William Hendriksen writes:
"This is, perhaps, the most difficult paragraph in the entire book of Revelation. The main ideas are clear; the details are obscure... In order to understand the expression ‘mark of the beast’ we must remember that not only cattle but slaves also were branded or marked. The mark meant that the slave belonged to his master. Very soon the expression ‘to receive the mark of someone’ began to mean to belong to someone, to serve or worship someone... Observe, however, that there is a difference. The believer receives a seal, the unbeliever a mere mark... Nevertheless, let not the believer despair. Let him remember that the number of the beast is the number of man. Now, man was created on the sixth day. Six, moreover, is not seven and never reaches seven. It always fails to attain to perfection; that is, it never becomes seven. Six means missing the mark, or failure. Seven means perfection or victory. Rejoice, O Church of God! The victory is on your side. The number of the beast is 666, that is, failure upon failure upon failure! It is the number of man, for the beast glories in man; and must fail!"
Because we know that we have been sealed by God, we can patiently endure all that satan and the world throw at us. Mediate on v10b today:
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
Prayer for the Day: Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for sealing me into your covenant by putting your mark of baptism upon my head. Please keep me from fear of being overwhelmed by this world as satan throws all of His fury towards humanity in ways that are both fearsome and even worse, attractive. Preserve me by your Spirit. In Jesus' name, Amen.