Do you always do the right thing?
A bit more cheese for dinner. Today we have not one but two beasts, one appearing with a wound and one making people do what the first beast ordered. Some people have spent ages trying to match these beasts to people like Hitler or Stalin and to work out exactly how many hours we have before Jesus comes back as a result. That doesn’t really work for many reasons, mostly because these images are pictures to help us to understand, and they are not meant to be read as “this happens, then this will happen exactly like this.” They tell us in broad strokes what will happen and why it will happen.
But having said that, the parallels between these beasts and evil dictators are quite clear, and might help us understand what God is trying to say through them. Take Stalin for instance. He did many evil things to people and treated them like toys to be discarded when he had had enough of them. Life in Russia under him was hard, and often there wasn’t enough food to go around. Unless you were in a special position, often you couldn’t feed your family. Sometimes that meant you must have done horrible things to others – maybe reporting on them. Sometimes that meant you had to subscribe to his view point and be totally committed to achieving his political ideals. It was like going around with a mark on your head, saying who you belonged to. Unless you had the right mark, you couldn’t buy food.
John says in verse 18 “This calls for wisdom.” Obviously, the stakes are high and there are so many cases when people choose life over death and remaining faithful to God. I’m not sure if I was tired and hungry and couldn’t buy food whether I would always make the right decision to be faithful – we can only pray for wisdom and the help of the Holy Spirit when we’re in that kind of mess. And also, obviously, pray for the places in the world where evil dictatorships and groups like so-called Islamic State have dominion.
Lord God, thank you that you are stronger and better in every way than those beasts. Thank you that you give us wisdom when we need it. Help us to be faithful to you today, no matter what is going on around us. Amen.
How can you pray for the persecuted Church today?