“And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb but spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on it’s behalf and made the earth and it’s inhabitants worship the first beast whose fatal wound had been healed.” -Revelation 13:11-12
A Dragon in Sheep’s Clothing
The beast from the earth has two horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. Some sheep have horns but the last time I checked they don’t sound like dragons. Well, I’ve never heard a dragon before but I doubt they say, “baaa, baaa”! Okay, that’s not exactly what this means. Continuing on…
Have you ever heard the phrase, “A wolf in sheep’s clothing”? In Revelation the lamb is a symbol of Jesus. But this beast is not Jesus. This sure doesn’t sound like Jesus. But this beast is trying to look like Jesus – christian like. This is “a dragon in sheep’s clothing”!
Jesus warned his disciples, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matt. 7:15).
This lamb-like beast makes the inhabitants of the earth worship the first beast from the sea. It also can perform great signs and miracles, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of everyone (Rev. 13:12-13).
That reminds me of when fire came down on the apostles and followers of Jesus on pentecost (Acts 2:3-4). After that they were given power to speak with great authority and do miracles (Acts 2:43).
Worship and miracles and fire! This almost sounds like a false religious movement.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Let’s see what else this lamb-like beast is up to.
“It deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. It was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” – Revelation 13:14-15 (paraphrased)
This sounds serious! But what is an image?
The first mention of an image in the Bible is in Genesis 1 where God makes people in his image (Gen. 1:27). We could say an image is like a mirror. We were created in God’s image. We were created to reflect His image or character. This lamb-like beast is reflecting the dragon, or Satan’s character.
A Story About a Bad Guy!
There’s a story in the book of Daniel about an image. I think it will give us some clues!
God gave the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, a dream. In his dream he saw a large image or statue made of various metals. A head of gold, a chest of silver, thighs of bronze and legs of iron. The feet were a mix of iron and clay. God told Nebuchadnezzar that the different metals represented different nations or kingdoms that would rise and fall. The head of gold, representing Babylon, would be destroyed by another kingdom.
King Nebuchadnezzar didn’t like God’s version of things. He didn’t want to accept that his great kingdom of Babylon would be taken over by another kingdom. He decided to change the image into whatever he liked. Instead of a head of Gold, he made a huge image that was made entirely of Gold. Take that – God!
Nebuchadnezzar wanted to create his own future and it was all about himself. To make sure everyone knew how great he was, he ordered all the people in his kingdom to bow down and worship this image or they would be killed.
Great guy, right? He called that worship. I might call it, a really, really, crazy, bad guy!
This story sounds just like the earth beast in Revelation 13, demanding worship! In fact, it sounds just like Satan and how his pride got him kicked out of Heaven. Before we go back to Revelation, let’s finish the rest of the story in Daniel.
Enter the heroes – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These three Hebrews refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold even though they knew they would be thrown into a hot, fiery furnace and die. They were determined to worship only the God of heaven, even when everyone else around them was caving in. You can be sure they had lots of Hebrew friends that were bowing down to the image.
They decided to follow God’s plan for worship, rather than Nebuchadnezzar’s plan. When they were thrown into the fiery furnace for their defiant act, they came out better than before. The ropes that bound them were burned off and no hair on their head was burnt.
When they stood for God, God stood for them. God has power to rescue his people when they obey him. You can read the whole story for yourself in Daniel, chapters 2 and 3.
The Final Crisis (a big problem)
Revelation 13 tells us that the final crisis of this world will be about worship. Satan has always wanted to be worshipped. When Jesus was here, Satan offered him all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down and worship him. But Jesus said, “Away from me Satan, for it is written, Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” (Matt. 4:8-10)
The two groups of people at the end time are those who worship God and those who worship the dragon and the beast. Who will you worship?
It’s easy to say, “I will worship God, of course!”
Here’s the deeper question. Do we worship God the way he instructs us to in his word? Or do we worship him however we feel like? Maybe we don’t even think about it much and do whatever our pastors and parents have taught us. That’s okay too – unless we discover that God’s word says something different. Then what?
When you find truths in the Bible that are not accepted by the majority of Christians will you go along with the crowd and do what everyone else is doing or will you decide like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to worship God in God’s ways, no matter what happens because of your decision?
When you stand up for God, he will stand up for you. You have nothing to be afraid of. Even death cannot separate us from the love that Jesus has for us. Remember he has the power to raise us from the dead. Living with him forever will be worth whatever trouble we may face in this crazy world.
Decide today to follow the true Lamb – Jesus – wherever he leads you.