Rev. 13:15 – He was permitted to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (HCSB)
He was permitted to give a spirit to the image
In verse 15 John writes of the false prophet, “He was permitted to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
Note first that the false prophet is permitted to give life to the image of the beast. His power comes from Satan; his permission comes from God. Thusly armed, he gives a “spirit” to the image. The Greek word pneuma is used more than 300 times in scripture and may be translated “spirit,” “breath” or “breeze.” It also may refer to the human spirit or rational soul; an angel, demon, or the Holy Spirit; or even a ghost. Here it appears to be best translated “breath” or “life,” for the image speaks and acts.
This is a stunning miracle, for it convinces many to worship the first beast. It’s quite possible that the false prophet uses sleight-of-hand tricks to make it appear the image is speaking. However, it could be that demonic forces are at work. In confronting the Corinthians with the truth about hand-carved idols, Paul pulls back the veil to expose the truth that those who offer sacrifices to idols – which cannot speak or act – are in fact sacrificing to demons, which the idols represent (1 Cor. 10:20). But in Revelation, John depicts the idol as being alive – or apparently so. Whether animated by demons or creative illusions, the image of the beast inspires both wonder and terror in the hearts of people, for he pronounces death sentences on those who hold fast their allegiance to Christ.
This is the fourth in a nine-part series of articles offering sound reasons to believe the Bible is the Word of God.
In Systematic Theology (Vol. I), Dr. Norman Geisler presents many lines of evidence supporting claims for the Bible as the Word of God. In unique fashion, he labels each line of evidence with a word beginning with the letter “S,” making his arguments relatively easy to follow and remember. This article borrows his headings and then incorporates some of Geisler’s research with numerous other sources, which are cited.
Reason 4: The testimony of the supernatural
The Bible features nearly 300 prophecies of the Messiah, the latest of which dates to more than 200 years before the birth of Jesus. Every prophecy has been fulfilled, with the exception of those pertaining to His glorious return. Many are clear and specific, including:
† His virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:21).
† His being “cut off” or killed 483 years after the declaration to reconstruct the temple in 444 B.C. (Dan. 9:24-26).
† His birthplace in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:1; Luke 2:4-7).
† His miracle-working authority (Isa. 35:5-6; Matt. 9:35).
† His rejection by the Jews (Ps. 118:22; Isa. 53:3; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7)
† His suffering and death (Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Matt. 27:27ff).
† His resurrection (Ps. 2:7; 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
† His ascension into heaven (Ps. 68:18; Acts 1:9).
† His place today at the Father’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:3).
Contrast these specific predictions and their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth with the predictions of psychics today who, according to The People’s Almanac, 1976, are wrong 92 percent of the time. Even the highly reputed visions of Nostradamus are suspect. He often was wrong, especially when being specific, and his predictions were usually so vague as to be practically useless.
The bible gives us many supernatural confirmations of its divine origin. For example, Moses, Elijah and other prophets were given the authority to perform miracles to confirm God’s sovereign power and divine message. Jesus, we are told by Luke, was “a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22).
Next — Reason 5: The testimony of structure
This is the fourth in a series of articles on Jesus in the feasts of Israel.
|Name||Scriptures||Time / Date||Purpose||Fulfillment|
|Pentecost||Lev. 23:15-22; Num. 28:26-31; Deut. 16:9-12||50 days after Firstfruits (May/June)||To dedicate the firstfruits of the wheat harvest||The outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)|
Scripture uses three names to identify the feast many Christians today know as Pentecost (Shavuot in Hebrew):
- Hag Hashavuot, meaning “the Feast of Weeks” (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10; 2 Chron. 8:13). It’s called the Feast of Weeks because seven weeks were counted from the Feast of Firstfruits until this feast.
- Yom Habikkurim, or “the Day of Firstfruits” (Num. 28:26). This is the day in which the firstfruit offerings of the summer wheat crop were brought to the Temple. This day marked the beginning of the summer wheat harvest, while the Feast of Firstfruits marked the beginning of the spring barley harvest.
- Hag Hakatzir, or “the Feast of Harvest” (Ex. 23:16). This feast marked the beginning of the summer harvest season.
In the Greek language, Shavuot was known as Pentecost, meaning “fiftieth,” since it was celebrated 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits.
The Biblical Observance
Three Scripture passages outline the biblical observance of Shavuot. Lev. 23:15-22 and Num. 28:26-31 describe the Temple offerings, and Deut. 16:9-12 outlines the requirements for individual worshipers.
Like the feasts of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles, Shavuot was one of three “solemn feasts” decreed by the Lord (Ex. 23:14-17; Deut. 16:16; 2 Chron. 8:13). All Israelite men were obligated to present themselves at the Temple. The Temple services for Shavuot closely resembled those of the Feast of Firstfruits, since both holy days were observed with firstfruit offerings. However, the offering for Shavuot was different. It consisted of two long loaves of wheat bread with leaven in them, as the Lord commanded: “Bring two loaves of bread from your settlements as a presentation offering, each of them made from four quarts of fine flour, baked with yeast, as firstfruits to the Lord” (Lev. 23:17).
The loaves of bread were not burned because God had forbidden leaven on the altar (Lev. 2:11). Instead, these loaves with yeast in them, along with two lambs, formed the wave offering for Shavuot. The priest waved them in front of the altar forwards and backwards, and then up and down. After that, they were set aside “for the priest” (Lev. 23:20) and became the festive meal the priests ate later that day in the Temple.
The Modern Observance
After Roman troops destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D., many of the feasts changed, since the Temple had been the focal point of the spring and fall festivals. In 140 A.D., the Sanhedrin decided to change the emphasis of Shavuot away from agriculture and onto the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Although the Bible does not associate Shavuot with Sinai, the giving of the law occurred in the third month (Ex. 19:1), so there was some justification for the decision. Shavuot became known as Zeman Mattan Toreatenu, “the Time of the Giving of Our Law.”
Today, it is customary to decorate synagogues with flowers and greenery for Shavuot. This reminds Jews that Firstfruits is a harvest festival and, according to tradition, Mt. Sinai once was covered with grass and trees. Key Scriptures are from Ezekiel 1:1-28 and 3:12; and Habakkuk 2:20-3:19. These passages describe the brightness of God’s glory. After Shavuot was refocused on the giving of the law, Exodus 19-20 and the Book of Ruth were added to the festival’s readings. In addition, many synagogues hold Shavuot confirmation services for teenagers to celebrate completion of their childhood studies and their commitment to observe the Mosaic Law.
Dairy foods are traditional Shavuot fare. This is because, the rabbis say, the law is like milk and honey to the soul. Among the dishes are cheesecakes, cheese blintzes, and cheese kreplach. The blintzes are cheese rolled into pancakes the fried in a skillet. The kreplach are dough pockets stuffed with cheese. It is also customary to bake two loaves of hallah bread. They represent the two loaves of bread offered in the Temple and the two tablets received on Mt. Sinai.
It’s also customary for observant Jews to stay up all night studying and discussing the Torah. They study the opening and closing verses of each Sabbath reading, the opening and closing verses of each book of the Bible, and the entire book of Ruth, with breaks throughout the night for coffee and cheesecake.
Acts 2 records the fulfillment of Shavuot as the promised Holy Spirit descends, indwells believers and ushers in the church age. Key points to remember are:
- Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come and live in believers’ hearts (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7), and He said it would happen soon after His ascension (Acts 1:4-5).
- The Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost as Jews from all over the world gathered in Israel (Acts 2:5). They heard the sound of a rushing, mighty wind and came together to investigate it (Acts 2:6). In this way, God began to use believers, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, to be His witnesses, beginning in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). The 3,000 saved on the Day of Pentecost were Jews.
- While unleavened bread symbolizes Jesus’ sinless humanity (Luke 22:19), the two loaves used at Shavuot / Pentecost contain yeast and symbolize that the Body of Christ (the church) would be made up of sinners.
- The two loaves used at Shavuot also symbolize Jews and Gentiles, demonstrating the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham to bless all the nations through him (Gen. 12:3; see Gal. 3:26-28).
- Just as faithful Jews brought the firstfruits of their wheat harvest to the Temple on Shavuot, so the 3,000 Jewish believers on the Day of Pentecost were the firstfruits of the church.
- One of Jesus’ parables about the kingdom of heaven refers to wheat and tares – a message that the true church, like wheat, would exist along with false professors of the faith, like tares, until Christ returns and separates them (Matt. 13:24-30; 34-43).
Next: The Feast of Trumpets
Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips