Journey with Daniel
“Failure Upon Failure”Categories: A Month of Victory
Failure Upon Failure - Revelation 13
In the movies the evil genius always has a group of henchmen ready to do his bidding. In real life wicked people rarely work alone. The masterminds of some evil enlist others who will carry the bombs and deliver the packages. There would be no Al Capone without his henchmen. There would be no Hitler without his generals. There would be no Darth Vader without his storm troopers (oops that last one wasn’t real life, I don’t think).
Satan doesn’t work in this world alone. We are told in Ephesians 6:12, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Satan has spiritual forces who are against believers. They are at his disposal.
We learn from Revelation 13 that Satan also has physical forces on earth that he uses against believers. He was using these forces against the early church to break their spirit and faith, and he still uses these same methods on believers today.
We are coming into the middle of the story that started in Revelation 12. The devil was unsuccessful in his effort to destroy the woman and the child, because when Jesus died on the cross God raised Him from the dead and He ascended to the right hand of God (Rev. 12:5). The work of Jesus removed the devil’s power of sin and death (Gen. 3:12; Heb. 2:14), so that he can no longer accuse God’s people before God’s throne.
Chapter 13 describes how Satan wars against the saints on earth. He uses two helpers; a beast from the sea and a beast from the land. In chapter 12 Satan lost the battle against Jesus, but he wages a war against the church thinking if he can destroy the church then the work of Jesus will be for nothing. In chapter 13 we learn how Satan wages this war against the church. Most of the chapter is about the devastating power and deadly purpose of the two beasts. In fact, fifteen out of eighteen verses focus on the power and destruction of the beast. The first beast is described in verses 1-8; the second beast in verses 11-17. The beasts are described as pervasive, invincible enemies.
The sea beast speaks arrogantly against God and assumes titles that belonged exclusively to God (vs. 6). The beast appears to have unlimited power (vs., 2). Not power given by God but given by Satan, the dragon. He declares war against the people of God. It appears the whole world is under his authority and power. Who would be foolish enough to resist? Only the Lamb, when He comes in His power can overcome the beast (19:20). The knowledge that the beast will be brought down gave the saints a reason to persevere. Their faith in the power of God to overcome enabled them to endure while the purposes of God were being worked out in the history of man (vs.10).
The land beast deceives (vs. 14). He works great wonder deceiving man by the apparent miracles he could perform. Whatever signs God allows Satan to perform, they are never of the same quality as those worked by God's servants. This difference is clearly set forth when the sorceries of Simon are seen in contrast to the attesting signs performed by Philip (Acts 8:5-13). In the biblical sense, an authentic miracle is an observable act directly produced by God with means other than physical laws of nature. If Satan could do the same, there would not be a way to determine the true message of God from the devil's false words. Whatever signs Satan has attempted to duplicate have only been counterfeit, as Moses proved before Pharaoh (Exod. 7:10-12).
He also uses the threat of death and economic destruction (vs. 15, 17). This was to get man to bow before Satan and worship him. If Satan can intimidate, deceive or threaten man he can accomplish what he wants even if Christ did die on the cross.
“Having failed in his first three attempts to stop Jesus from being able to provide salvation, Satan now begins this fourth effort. His plan is to mount a heaven persecution of Christians in which he hopes to kill all Christians or drive them into denial of their faith. If he can achieve this, it will not matter that he failed in his other attempts. It only takes the span of one generation to push the message of Jesus into extinction. So he will try to persecute the church out of existence. With no one left to tell the story, it will not matter that Jesus died to make forgiveness possible.” (Stafford North, Unlocking Revelation, pg. 71)
But he is doomed for complete defeat and failure (vs. 18). Not just failure but failure upon failure.