The thirteenth chapter of Revelation begins with John’s vision of the dragon on the shore, watching the first beast come out of the sea. This is the same dragon we have talked about in the last couple of posts. The beast is described as having ten horns and seven heads, and on the ten horns were ten crowns. On each of the seven heads was a blasphemous name. The beast is described with some more physical characteristics, but further we see that “the whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.” The Red Dragon and the Beast sound very similar, but to help us keep them separate, here is a quick reference guide.
|Characteristics||The Red Dragon||The Beast|
|Crowns||Seven on the Seven Heads||Ten on the Ten Horns|
|Unique Traits||Great and Powerful Tail||Blasphemous Names on each Horn|
People worshiped the dragon and the beast. We will learn more as we study about the beast and the dragon. What I want to focus on today as the first post on this chapter is people we “worship.” In our culture, we idolize or “worship” a lot of people and groups besides God, the only one who should receive our worship. So, watch who you worship!
What Came After The Beast’s Appearance?
2 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. 3 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. 4 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?”Revelation 13:2-4
Do We Have To Be The Best?
It seems natural to love and idolize popular people and groups with great talent. We do this with movie stars, music groups and individual singers. Shows on television such as American Idol and America’s Got Talent, demonstrate how much we love to lift up people and make them so important to us. We also want to be recognized as “The Best” to other people. Some people believe that winning is everything. We worship and idolize politicians, sports and athletes, churches, pastors, teachers, authors, friends and even ourselves. So many are important to us, more important than God. I can even fall into the trap that Satan did thinking that I’m more important than God!
Watch The Politicians We “Worship”
I have to watch how much attention I give people and groups. While I may truly like them, they do wrong like everyone else. They are human! Often, we even idolize politicians and our favorite political party. Popularity is one thing, but really worshiping and idolizing people, making them more important to us than God Himself, is something that we all need to be careful of. Worshiping (idolizing) or hating someone can be equally damaging.
Here are some good questions to consider when we promote someone we like from a political standpoint.
- Why do we like those who lead?
- Do we agree with the stands on important issues?
- Are they great leaders?
- Are they taking our country way downhill or making it greater?
- Can we trust them?
- Are we part of the process of electing great people to represent us and lead us(voting)?
- Could we make a difference ourselves if we lead and run for office?
From a political perspective, these are all great things to value, but when they become so important to me that I’m willing to value them beyond what God says is important (relationships, loving each other, unity, values), they can become an idol… even if they are standing on good principles.
Watch How Much We Idolize Sports And Athletes
Look at how much sports teams and athletes become so famous and build such a brand that people’s emotional state becomes attached to that person and the first thought of the day is about that athlete or team. We become enthralled with the next chapter of their saga. Consider for a moment Tom Brady who has captured the hearts and minds of many football fans as the quarterback who has more Superbowl rings than anyone else in the history of the game. Everyone wants the life, notoriety, the relationships, the wealth. But none of it will last forever like our love and dedication to God. You may even find yourself worshiping these folks for their stand on an issue like Colin Kaepernick or Tim Tebow, but they too are only human and their position and their lives only last so long. Make sure you worship the right things!
Watch The Churches, The Preachers And Teachers We “Worship”
Recently, Hillsong Church was in the news. Pastors in this church have been in several scandals. Other pastors, Bible study authors, televangelists and musicians have been as well over the years. Many people in ministry, were living in sinful and questionable situations. These scandals cause concern for people who question “the church” and God. People want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” If godliness is dependent on what we see when people mess up, many of us would not know Christ.
A Pastor that I know recently gave an illustration that I believe fits well. He likes a specific restaurant. Every now and then, he gets something that doesn’t taste as good as it usually does, but it doesn’t stop him from ever going back again. But we need to remember that no matter how tempted we may be to lift up and worship the church because of God’s people that they are broken too and we need to look back to Christ as the one to be worshiped.
People Will Disappoint
From time to time, we will be disappointed in people, and in churches. People make up the church and they are sinners, hence they will do wrong and upset some along the way. If you are truly going to learn, worship the Lord and fellowship with others, the Lord has to be your first priority, not people who upset you on occasion. If this is the case, you will be “church hopping” all of your life because someone will always disappoint and/or hurt you. This isn’t to say that you should go to a church that doesn’t teach from the Bible, doesn’t encourage each other and you don’t fit well with the people in your specific body of believers and you can’t serve with your spiritual gifts.
Expect accountability. We have to choose who we follow. Look inside Scripture and observe what defines godly teaching, a godly church with godly leaders. Don’t follow someone who really isn’t teaching us to be godly and living it! If we listen to those who preach to those with “itching ears”, we aren’t going to be spiritually fed and encouraged to be godly. And our life and values will not be pointed back to God and godliness. Always look back to scripture and worship the author of it!
Not Always What I Want To Hear
I have seen this even recently where a person wanted to justify certain moral issues that the Bible teaches specifically, are wrong. You will see below in 2 Timothy 4:3, that people want to be taught to “suit their own desires.” They look for those who teach what they want to hear, what is acceptable to them. It is a shame and it sets them up to worship something other than Christ because our value and our “north star” must to shift to something else when we deny what scripture teaches.
Preferences Don’t Equal Spirituality
These standards are true moral issues, not just preferences. Preferences might look like style of worship music, version of the Bible used, and clothing worn at church for example. This point needs to be established too. Some people like chicken more, some like beef, some like vegetables. Preferences don’t equal spirituality! Don’t get caught up in ridiculous arguments that point us to legalisms either! 2 Timothy 2:23 Our ability to follow rules instead of Christ can lead us to worshiping the wrong things too.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.2 Timothy 4:3
There Will Be A Day
While people today believe that it is “safe” to love, idolize and worship certain people, and embrace certain beliefs and philosophies. At some point, you will be lied to. Really lied to! They will tell you something very wrong to believe, the wrong way to live and worship. Unfortunately, much of this is happening already! But in Revelation, when the Dragon and the Beast are introduced, far worse events will happen and people will believe worse lies and in a very harsh world.
Don’t Be Deceived
As people are used to putting someone up on a pedestal and idolizing, they will someday do this to the person who turns out to be the real Antichrist and will fool everyone. He will look real good at first, but later will be a horrible person. He will be deceptive, as Satan is even today. As believers in Christ, we won’t experience the antichrist as we will already be with the Lord and other believers in heaven. We always have to be aware though and be careful that we are not deceived!
Who Do They Point You To? Why?
Is it wrong to love and appreciate the talent and ability someone has? No, not always! Can we admire a person who does a great job in their area of talent? Of course we can! Where do we draw the line between admiring and respecting someone and really idolizing them? I ask myself four questions when considering this:
- Does the message and talent point you and others to the Lord?
- What benefit do you receive when you spend time listening to them?
- Am I tempted to do something ungodly by listening to them or watching the movie or show that they are in?
- Do they condone immorality and go against what the Bible teaches us to do or not do?
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