The “Beast” found in Revelation has long been the center of much eschatological speculation over the years, and I’ve decided to focus this series of posts to the proper analysis and criticism of various theories available on the internet and elsewhere.
Before I get started, though, it’s important to first understand the perspective John (author of Revelation) was coming from, and the mindset of the audience he was writing to – one of expectation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ as supreme conquerer of the world, even in spite of the many who had “fallen asleep” before his return by AD 66-68.
I heard from a sermon a few weeks earlier a quote (not verbatim) that bears repeating:
the Apostle Paul believed that the second coming of Christ had major ramifications in terms of the lifestyle of a believer
some of which I’ve repeated in earlier posts.
The main problem, even dealt with in the early church, was that some believers fell into a “chicken little” mentality where the imminent coming was so emphasized, they used this as justification to stop working. For the longtime churchgoer I’m sure this passage has been extrapolated to some degree:
6In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
Here we can infer that the Thessalonians were not working, but instead being idle due to their belief that Christ was imminently coming. (Please note: this is not an extremist belief!) The problem was that the Thessalonians, using the well-known “Everything is permissible for me” (1 Cor 6:12), justified laziness through this belief alone, allowing it in totality to guide their actions.
As we proceed into the beginning of the 21st century, the parallels in human thought to the first century are rampant – from the continued mass destruction of the environment and mass extinction of species to rising abortion and divorce rates to continued overconsumption, hyperindividualization and degradation of societal ties – all are justified if we’re saved, right?
I don’t think so. In addition to continually reexamining ourselves on a daily basis, it is fundamentally important that we understand how things came to be, and where we are headed as a civilization in order to bring further meaning to Scripture as to what our role is here on earth as representatives of Christ.
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