“The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made, will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died.”
“The ten horns of the beast are ten kings who have not yet risen to power. They will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast. They will all agree to give him their power and authority. Together they will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because he is Lord of all Lords and King of all kings. And his called and chosen and faithful ones will be with him.
Revelation 17:8, 12-14 NLT
It appears that, in John’s vision, the beast wearing the scarlet cloak somehow died and was cast into the “bottomless pit”. But the angel informed John that this beast would soon be resurrected, and, although his time would be short and he would soon end up in “eternal destruction”, he would dazzle the followers of the “great prostitute” when he reappeared. There’s nothing like a supernatural experience to rally the followers of a religion – perhaps membership of the devil’s worship cult, the “great prostitute”, was cooling off a bit. But note that it was only those who were not God’s people, those whose names could not be found in the Book of Life, who were taken in by this evil deception. The resurrection of Jesus was, and is, pivotal to our faith. But it is just like the devil to counterfeit the ways and works of God, to try to fool his followers into believing that he could be resurrected as well. But thankfully not for long.
The beast had ten horns, representing ten kings, who had yet to reign on earth. Some scholars have tried to relate these kings to the rulers of kingdoms or nations already passed, but John’s narrative seems to suggest that they will be reigning with the beast and will make war against the Lamb, Jesus Himself. And on the victory side, will be Jesus’ “called and chosen and faithful ones”. So there is another battle coming, and we, or our Christian descendants, may be numbered with the forces of the Lamb. As I have said before, it is only of limited value to try to work out, with the insufficient information we have available, who the ten kings were, or will be. Instead, we pilgrims are encouraged to be ready for Jesus’ return. In Matthew 24:42-44 Jesus said, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” So we can be tempted to try and relate episodes in John’s vision to world events and draw conclusions, but Jesus was quite specific. The danger is that if we find a relationship between what is happening around us in the world and what John saw in his vision, we could become complacent and assume that Jesus’ second coming wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. But that isn’t what Jesus taught. Because He could come at any time means we must be in a constant state of readiness.
What does “being ready” mean? We must maintain our relationship with God through prayer, reading His Word, keeping short accounts with God through repentance, sharing our faith – the Bible is full of suitable and appropriate instructions to encourage us pilgrims in our walk towards our Promised Land, Heaven itself. Whether or not the End Times finally conclude before we die is of secondary importance. What matters is ultimately being with Jesus. Forever and ever, amen.
Dear Father God. We thank You for this glimpse of the devil’s tricks, preparing us for what is to come. We praise and worship You, the One who was, and is, and is to come. Amen.