Welcome to week three of the APOCAFLIX summer movie series! This week our focus turns to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the two Beasts and Prostitute (blood drinking prostitute, at that) in Revelation 13, 17 and 18.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to ruin the movie for you if you haven’t already seen it. Actually, the illustration that resonates best with the epic Revelation narrative this week is the apes nature to follow the dominant ape. There is an infinitely small hierarchy in a shrewdness (did you know that was the correct word for a group of apes?!), and whether it’s into peril or safety, the entire group follows the lead of the most dominant ape among them. We see a very vivid picture of this in the Delusion that is at the heart of this week’s Revelation focus.
Now, remember the story of Revelation is simply things we already know told in epic fashion. Those things we know relative to where we are in Revelation this week? …
- Delusions lead people away from Christ — we can get so caught up in the things of this world that we become blinded to who God created us to be.
- Those who are faithful endure — the delusion is much easier to follow, it takes courage and sacrifice and submission to stand firm and endure.
- God Wins. — no matter how powerful the delusions are, God wins … period!
Delusions become far more powerful when championed by a dominant figure. That “ape” can so easily lead people into a place where the emotion transforms into celebration and worship. Celebration and worship of things that are not of God. People begin to follow and it’s not long before the most dominant “ape” leads them into places of “truth” that he chooses. Relative truths from the mouths of men, not absolute Truth from the mouth of God. This week we are given pictures of three dominant figures and an epic delusion. Let’s take a minute to look at each of them.
Beast #1 | Revelation 13:1-10
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Whoever has ears, let them hear: “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
The people who heard this Revelation first, would have recognized this Beast. Reading or hearing this vision, the first century Christian would find the description of this first Beast very familiar. That’s because they would have known the story of Daniel and his vision. In that vision, Daniel saw four Beasts. The first Beast looked like a lion. The second looked like a leopard. The third, like a bear. And the fourth, a huge Beast with ten horns and … (sound familiar?). These Beasts represented the four great kingdoms of mankind … The Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Greeks and finally, Romans. I believe this first Beast that John sees and shares is meant to represent all the kingdoms of man. The kingdoms and nations of this world. And the delusion here can be best summarized in the form of extreme nationalism. A celebration and worship of the nations and economies and empires of this world.
Beast #2 | Revelation 13:11-18
Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, 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. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
This Beast has a resonance with the first one, but is uniquely described as having horns like a lamb. This beast is like the first one, but has the appearance of religion. Does this conjure any thoughts in your mind. Do you begin to make a connection with the Crusades, the great nation sponsored religious systems? How quickly can we see the devastation and ruin that has been inflicted in the name of “religion?!” This Beast, as the first, is of man. But this one is far more devastating, as it masquerades and adorns itself with the purposes and authority of God.
An interesting note on that number of man, the number of the beast … 666. We see that number mentioned one other place in the Bible. In 1 Kings and the story of Solomon and the building of God’s temple and Solomon’s palace.
The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, 15 not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the territories.
1 Kings 10:14-15
King Solomon built a beautiful temple to honor God, but he built and even grander temple to himself. Solomon’s palace dwarfed the temple in size and grandeur, and very plainly spoke the story of his ultimate ruin. He turned from complete dependence on God to the success and trappings of his worldly kingdom. This is the picture of Beast #2.
The Prostitute | Revelation 17:1-6, 18
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
Babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.
This final figure, this last epic picture is resonant with the Beasts before her. It’s much like looking at two different pictures in an art gallery that stir very common thoughts and emotions. This final figure encompasses all that was the first two Beasts, all that is the “power and grandeur” of mankind. To the first century Christian, this would have been very clearly a reference to the Roman empire. Is it very clearly the picture of anything to you?
So what should you leave this week with? With what should we be challenged and encouraged?
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow. I will never mourn.’ Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
Don’t fall for the delusion!
Hold firmly to the truth!