At the request of members in our congregation, I’m preaching in the wonderful book of Revelation. There are great and awesome pictures given to us in this book. We must remember however, the pictures are not the actual realities they represent. For example, chapter 6 presents the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The first horseman is a picture of the gospel riding through history and to victory. Compare Psalm 45:3-5. War, famine and death follow closely. Death’s footman is hell. These enemies of the gospel are both temporal and spiritual. The temporal diverts energies and resources from the more essential spiritual. The picture is a powerful portrayal of the forces working out God’s story at the behest of Christ (Revelation 5:9).
Revelation also introduces a pseudo-trinity composed of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. The dragon is the devil, the serpent of old (Revelation 12:9). The beast rising from the sea of nations in the image of the dragon (Revelation 13:1-2) is anti-Christian governmental power. The beast was Rome in the first century. The USSR was a manifestation of the beast in the twentieth century. A professor from the Ukraine visiting our church asked after a fellowship dinner, “Seventy years of atheism in the USSR proved its bankruptcy, why is America moving in that direction?” Good question!
Sadly the USA is a modern manifestation of the beast. Democrats and republicans alike seek answers to our national problems by tinkering with government. Neither big government nor small government will answer the roots of war, famine and death (James 4:1-4). The real answer to national woes is Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is the only eternal kingdom.
The mark of the beast is the work of the unholy spirit in unbelievers. It is the imprint of anti-Christian thought on their lives and conduct. This mark is therefore not physical but spiritual. It manifests itself in the deeds of the flesh. It advocates war, carnal and spiritual. It promotes famine, physical and that of the Word of God. It leads to death and hell.
The false prophet rising from the earth is a lying spirit infiltrating the prestigious institution of culture, education, science and the arts (Revelation 13:11-12). We know full well education, science and the arts are not innately evil. Most of our schools, colleges and universities were begun by Christians. Science first examined our universe to know the glories of God. Some of the worlds greatest art came from the hearts and hands of believers. However, education rooted in anti-Christian principles leads young people away from Christ. Science grounded in anti-Christian presuppositions directs people away from the Creator. The arts used to propagate anti-nomianism, lawless living, leads society to perdition. The false prophet is active today and is the handmaid of government. It is not inconsequential that education, science and the arts are so enamored with and supportive of the power of anti-Christian government in our own nations.
My assessment of the beast and false prophet of Revelation 13 reflects my convictions regarding government. One of our men responded, “I see why national confession of Christ is needed.” In terms of the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:18, God commissions us to build a society and culture honoring to Him. This means governments should honor Jesus Christ. The beast and the false prophet are the antithesis to this. The Reformed Presbyterian Church countered them both with the Christian Amendment Movement. Surely our nation owes allegiance to Christ. “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!” (Revelation 15:3).