Religion and Economics

In Revelation, John saw the “Beast ascending from the Earth,” the “False Prophet,” who was intent on deceiving the “Inhabitants of the Earth” on behalf of the First Beast and the “Dragon.” The “False Prophet” uses religious propaganda to deceive men, and economic might to suppress anyone who does not conform to the dictates of the World Empire.

Those who were members of the “Inhabitants of the Earth” rendered obeisance to the “Beast from the Sea,” and by proxy, to the “Dragon,” namely, Satan. With members of this group, no coercion is needed to secure their subservience to the “Beast.”

Dollar Ben Franklin - Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash
[Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash]

The “
False Prophet” promotes religious devotion to the “Beast” and gives it concrete expression by encouraging the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to erect an “image” in its honor, and he employs economic sanctions against the followers of the “Lamb” who refuse to give allegiance to the “Beast” - (Revelation 13:4-8).

The “Beast from the Sea” has “Ten Heads” and “Seven Horns.” One of its “heads” appeared to be “slain,” but its “death stroke was healed.” The description “as having been slain” was applied previously to the “Lamb.” Likewise, the “Beast” was wounded “and lived,” just as Jesus “died and lived” - (ezésen - Revelation 2:8, 5:6, 13:3-4).

The restoration of the wounded “head” mimicked the Death and Resurrection of the “Lamb,” and the restoration of the “Beast” to life impressed the “Inhabitants of the Earth.” Thus, the First Beast is the counterfeit of the Lamb - (Revelation 13:3-6).

The “False Prophet” has two “horns like a lamb.” It is not identical to the “Lamb,” but it imitated him by speaking with what sounded like the voice of Jesus. While the “Lamb” has “Seven Horns,” the second “Beast” has only “two”; it is a pale imitation of the true “Lamb.”

The “False Prophet” has the power to summon fire from heaven, making it the satanic counterpart to the “Two Witnesses” who consumed their opponents with “fire from their mouth.” Unlike them, however, the “False Prophet” does not bear the “Testimony of Jesus.” Instead, he promotes the ideology of the “Beast.” Like the “Two Witnesses,” he is a “prophet” though a false one, which is why Revelation calls him the “False Prophet.”

RELIGION AND ECONOMICS


The “False Prophet” employs religious devices and deception to direct the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to venerate the First Beast, but it uses economic pressure to punish anyone who resists, especially, the “saints” who, like the three Jewish exiles in Babylon, refuse to render homage to this “image” – (“O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, you serve not my god or RENDER HOMAGE TO THE golden IMAGE THAT I HAVE ERECTED!” - Daniel 3:13-14).

His attempt to deceive the “saints” was anticipated in the letters to the Seven Assemblies of Asia with their warnings against “false apostles,” the “Nicolaitans,” the “prophetess Jezebel,” and the “teachings of Balaam,” each of whom encouraged believers to “commit fornication and eat food sacrificed to idols,” attempts to trick or coerce believers into participating in the Imperial Cult.

Thus, the “Beast from the Earth” was active already in the “Seven Assemblies of Asia.” His economic attacks are reflected in the economic deprivations suffered by the congregation in Smyrna, a foretaste of the more severe attacks yet to come - (Revelation 2:2-6, 2:14-15, 16:13, 19:20).

The stress in Chapter 13 is on the use of religious deception to seduce the “Inhabitants of the Earth,” and economic pressure to coax or coerce the churches into giving allegiance to the First Beast. The “False Prophet’s” tool of choice is the Economic Sanction.

The “False Prophet” imitates the “Lamb” and his true prophets. He represents a counterfeit of the true faith of Jesus Christ used to deceive men and cause them to give their allegiance to the “Dragon” and his earthly proxy, the “Beast from the Sea.”

National Cathedral - Photo by Ryan Arnst on Unsplash
[National Cathedral - Photo by Ryan Arnst on Unsplash]

The goal is to destroy the Body of Christ through deception and apostasy, or more directly, by economic pressure and persecution. Already deceived, the “
Inhabitants of the Earth” are willing supporters of the “Dragon” in his quest to annihilate those who have the “Testimony of Jesus.”

The marginalized congregations of Asia would have recognized the arrogant pretensions of the Roman Empire in John’s visions, especially the demand for the veneration of Caesar.

If there is a lesson for us, it is that the “Dragon” and his earthly vassals imitate the true faith and thereby deceive the “saints.” For disciples of Jesus, this counterfeit religion looks and feels familiar. If we do not exercise discernment and commit our lives totally to Jesus and his Kingdom now, we may find ourselves tricked into giving our allegiance instead to the beastly World Empire.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Caesar's Power - (The False Prophet uses economic power against those saints who refuse to give their allegiance to the Beast)
  • Allegiance to whom? - (Satan offered Jesus unlimited political power for his Messianic mission if only he would accept the Devil as his overlord)
  • Fleeting Power - (In the end, only God’s kingdom will prevail and endure. All other political powers are transitory, and already they are passing away)

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