Rev. 13:4 – They worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against him?”
They worshiped the dragon and the beast
Witnessing the spectacle of the beast’s miraculous recovery (or resurrection), the earth’s inhabitants “worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against him?’” (v. 4).
Verse 8 makes it clear that the world’s unbelievers – not Christians – worship and dragon and the beast: “All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.” This miraculous deception – a counterfeit of the resurrection of Jesus and an answer to the resurrection of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 – is enough to convince the world’s lost people that a savior has come.
How interesting it is to observe the selective belief of those who reject Jesus. In Rev. 11:9-10, people from every tribe, language and nation display the corpses of God’s two witnesses, rejoice over their deaths, and even exchange celebratory gifts. But when God raises the witnesses from the dead, they are terrified and give glory to the God of heaven. That is, they acknowledge a divine miracle but do not commit their lives to the One who performs it. When we get to Rev. 13, however, and the apparent healing / resurrection of the beast, the earth’s unbelievers do more than pay lip service to the one who performs the miracle – they worship the dragon and the beast.
Rev. 12:6 – The woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, to be fed there for 1,260 days. (HCSB)
The woman fled
Finally in this section we are told, “The woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, to be fed there for 1,260 days” (v. 6). Keep in mind that the woman in this vision is Israel. So, we might ask: When does Israel flee? Where is the wilderness? What is the special place God prepares for her? And what is the meaning of 1,260 days?
As we noted earlier, some commentators see the woman as the Virgin Mary and conclude that this flight into the wilderness is her departure with Joseph and Jesus into Egypt after Herod’s decree to kill all infant males in and around Bethlehem. Others say the woman is the church on its pilgrim journey through the present age, nourished by God while living among a vast multitude of heathens. While these interpretations have some merit, they do not seem to fit the context as well as the understanding that the woman is Israel.
One of the most disturbing truths of the Christian faith is the doctrine of hell. Atheists use it to deny the existence of a loving God. And Christians find themselves squeamishly defending the notion that a good God sends some people to a place of everlasting torment.
“Hell is of course the greatest evil of all, the realm of the greatest conceivable suffering,” writes Christian author Dinesh D’Souza in God Forsaken. “Consequently, hell poses perhaps the deepest difficulty for Christian theodicy [an attempt to reconcile the goodness of God with the existence of evil]. Far from resolving the theodicy problem, hell seems to make it even worse.”
Atheist Robert Ingersoll asserted that hell “makes man an eternal victim and God an eternal fiend.”
Anglican cleric John Stott, who wrote the influential book Basic Christianity, found the idea of eternal suffering so repugnant he rejected it in favor of annihilation.
Even C.S. Lewis shuttered at the concept of hell. “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power,” he wrote.