After finishing my sermon yesterday, I had a nagging suspicion that I hadn’t clearly shown why I believe that government was the second member of the unholy trinity, i.e. the beast of the sea. If you recall Daniel’s vision in chapter 7, the four beasts are all called four kingdom’s that rise from the earth. These four kingdoms war against the saints and make great progress in extinguishing the gospel until the Ancient of Days pronounces judgment upon them.
…we understand John’s vision of the beast of the sea as a retelling of Daniel’s vision, which I believe is a fair given the great overlap in details between these two visions, then the final form of the beast in Revelation is also a kingdom, or government that covers the earth and wars against the saints. The Christians of the first century would have understood this kind of imagery as they lived under the domination of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, it was the second beast, or the false prophet, that legitimized Roman rule and threw all of her religious weight behind the worship of the Roman pantheon and particularly the Roman caesars. These caesars relished the worship of the people, and ultimately, in the Edict of Decius, even made it illegal for people to transact business without a sworn parchment declaring that they had indeed sacrificed to the caesar.
As we come to the end of time, another form of world government will again rear it’s head under the power of the Dragon and will establish a form of peace, much like that which existed in the Pax Romana, and with the increasing technology and military might of the day, no one will be able to stand against it. Like all former ungodly governments, it will depend upon the help of the religions of the world to give it credence, for who can possibly cry out against peace? The only problem will be that it establishes a peace that isn’t founded upon Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
For example, in my city of Bellingham, WA, there are a group of pastors and church members who gather from a variety of denominational backgrounds praying for peace in the middle east. They have been praying for 20 years or more. That is a noble goal. The only problem is that they want peace without acknowledging that only through repentance and faith can peace be found. How do I know? I was asked to join them a few years ago and even invited to lead a prayer meeting. When I submitted my prayer focus of praying for the Jews to repent and come to their Messiah, and praying for the ARabs to repent and turn to Christ and praying for the violence the Chrsitians had done in the land to be repented of, the only peace they would let stand was the repentance of the Christians. To pray for Jews and Muslims to come to Christ was anathema to this group of mainline church goers.
Such are the seeds upon which such a world government will grow. Unfortunately, the government and peace these folks will establish will be the very government and peace which wars and persecutes the church. It will seek to destroy the church, because she will be the only entity who refuses to bow to her demands of sovereignty, pluralism and secularism. (Have you ever noticed that in a pluralistic world, ever religion or faith practice is tolerated, except the declaration that Christ alone is God. This is evidence of the ungodly character of such governments.)
The seeds of such a world power already existent? For the “secret power of lawlessness is already at work” (2Thes 2:7). The United Nations is the largest such endeavor currently alive, but there are other smaller governmental structures that are similar (EU, NATO, NAFTA, World Court at the Hague, Even the govt. of the USA in recent years has begun to look more like the beast than the lamb, etc..). Is one of these “The government” referred to Revelation 12-13? Who knows, maybe maybe not, only time will tell, for history has been full of other world empires that oppressed and destroyed. Many have come and gone through history, that is why the beast was mortally wounded but lived. But when the government does finally arise, the scope and power it will wield will be far greater than any in previous history and the church will nearly die, save for the breaking in of God almighty to rescue his people and judge the world forever.
But what the Christian must remember in the mean time, is that ungodly government and false religion are the two handmaids that Satan uses to bring his fury against the people of God. Therefore the Christian must be ever vigilant to call forth justice, to speak against any claims of ultimate sovereignty and to be wary of all invitations to peace without acknowledging the one from who peace flows, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and who breaks down the dividing wall of hostility and makes the two one in his body.