Friday, 26 March 2021
He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. Revelation 13:15
The previous verse referred to the “image to the beast” that was wounded by the sword and lived. As noted, the preposition “to” could actually be “of,” “for,” and so on. Translators will choose their translation of such words based on how they perceive what is being conveyed. The word “of” is likely what is actually being conveyed. With that in mind, it now says of this beast out of the earth that “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast.”
The assumption set forth is that this beast (the one out of the sea of verse 13:1) is an alliance of nations that had one nation (one head) seemingly mortally wounded. However, its wound (military, financial, by pestilence, or whatever) appears to be miraculously healed. Because of the amazing turnaround of events for the beast, the beast out of the earth will follow the mold of the beast out of the sea.
As an example, to understand what might be conveyed here, we currently see the EU as an alliance of nations. If one of the nations of the EU were to have a seemingly mortal wound (economical, biological, military, etc.) and the nation were to revive, it would be an indication that this type of unity (represented by the beast here in Revelation) would be worth emulating as it has an underlying strength to heals its own problems.
The beast out of the earth may then develop an “image” or model patterned after this type of arrangement. The word “breath” can also mean “spirit” or “life.” Each of these translations is possible and the final decision is left to the individual translator. In other words, the supposed context viewed by the translator allows any of these options.
To give “life” to this image isn’t necessarily to breathe the breath of life into it as God did to Adam. Instead, it would mean to animate it in the same way the beast upon which it was patterned is animated; to make it a fully functioning organization. In this capacity, John then says, “that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
The beast out of the earth sees the ability of the beast out of the sea to heal, even when one of its heads appears to have died. It is a governmental structure worth emulating, and so an image, a replica of its structure, is made. In forming this image, this new government is given powers. This would refer to the authority to issue edicts and proclamations just like any governmental organization.
To “cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” then refers to its ability to enforce its edicts and proclamations with the power it has solidified. Whether this is a localized beast in Israel, or a worldwide beast, its structure will be based on the same type of organization as that of the beast out of the sea. There will be a military/religious state constructed which will only tolerate absolute obedience. It will be something like Nazi Germany on steroids, and it will be terrifying for those who won’t bow the knee to its evil ways.
Life application: Again, as has been repeatedly stated, the events here are future, and so all that is stated here is speculation. The only way to look forward with any reasonable analysis of what is coming is to look back on words and phrases that have been seen previously in Scripture and try to determine what John is seeing in relation to that.
Various options are given here because the size and scope of what is coming is completely unknown. This is because the word translated as “earth” can refer to the land of Israel specifically, to the inhabitants of the earth, or to the physical world. To be dogmatic about what lies ahead is presumptuous.
What is coming will be understood as the fulfillment of these prophecies by those who see it. This is certain, based on what is said in verse 13:18. The one who is wise will see and understand.
Until then, it is the responsibility of Christians to spread the gospel. It is the one avenue to being spared from the disastrous calamities that are coming upon the people of the world. The only hope is for them to call out now for salvation. The only hope is to call out for JESUS.
Lord, time and again we have seen nations demand absolute obedience from those who are under their scope of authority. This is because we reject You and try to do things our own way. Help us to remember that You alone are worthy of our worship, and if we reject this, we bring great calamity on ourselves. Amen.