Peeling the Onion: Revelation 13: 1-12

This nightmare continues –

For me, we’re still seeing the dragon on the seashore,

When the first of two beasts in this cycle

rises from the sea.

 

This beast

Has 10 horns and 7 heads,

With diadems on the 10 horns,

And blasphemous names on the 7 heads

 

You can compare Monday’s description of the red dragon,

Though it’s a bit like an audit of a bad dream for details

Let’s concede a family resemblance

But keep beast separate from dragon –

Which is bigger in your brain?

 

Likening parts of the beast

To leopard, bear, and lion,

Gives more stimulus

to my amygdala

than to my frontal cortex

 

The dragon delegates power and authority to the beast,

And the beast has borne a wound to one head, and survived.

 

The whole world worships both dragon and beast,

Asking rhetorical who could match the beast.

 

The beast has got a mouth on him –

Blasphemies for 42 months, half a fullness of time –

 

The beast conquers,

All tribes, peoples, nations, languages,

Everybody whose name was not in

The Lamb’s book of life

From the beginning

 

Take a Calvinist cut at this:

 

Most of humanity is not in the ‘book of life’

It’s not their choice or action –

They just are destined to knuckle under here

So, some advice to the wise:

 

If they take you captive,

Go into captivity

 

If they enlist you in armies,

You kill with the sword,

And die by the sword

 

Playing the assigned roles

Takes endurance,

For saints,

whether captive or soldiers

 

Too much of our moral, political, public discourse

Assumes the voice of high agency –

If I were in charge, this is what I would do.

 

Almost all of our experience and action

Enjoys much less room for agency –

Identities given, not chosen,

That must be lived out humbly

With modest personal agency

 

It’s anachronistic to imagine existential angst,

For John or his readers,

Speculating ‘if I were nobly born’

(if one were not)

Or ‘if I had escaped captivity’

(when that slave galley has already sailed)

 

What if we settle into our audience role,

As fans of the woman,

Jeering the dragon and the beast,

Like a good WMMA mob?

 

Saints,

Anticipating a place

 beyond here and now

will need perseverance

and faith.

 

Meanwhile,

it's not clear that saints

are all in the Lamb's book of life,

from the beginning!

New Jerusalem Bible

1 Then I saw a beast emerge from the sea: it had seven heads and ten horns, with a coronet on each of its ten horns, and its heads were marked with blasphemous titles.

2 I saw that the beast was like a leopard, with paws like a bear and a mouth like a lion; the dragon had handed over to it his own power and his throne and his immense authority.

3 I saw that one of its heads seemed to have had a fatal wound but that this deadly injury had healed and the whole world had marvelled and followed the beast.

4 They prostrated themselves in front of the dragon because he had given the beast his authority; and they prostrated themselves in front of the beast, saying, 'Who can compare with the beast? Who can fight against it?'

5 The beast was allowed to mouth its boasts and blasphemies and to be active for forty-two months;

6 and it mouthed its blasphemies against God, against his name, his heavenly Tent and all those who are sheltered there.

7 It was allowed to make war against the saints & conquer them, and given power over every race, people, language & nation;

8 and all people of the world will worship it, that is, everybody whose name has not been written down since the foundation of the world in the sacrificial Lamb's book of life.

9 Let anyone who can hear, listen:

10 Those for captivity to captivity; those for death by the sword to death by the sword. This is why the saints must have perseverance and faith.

1And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names.

2And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority.

3One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast.

4They worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’

5 The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.

6It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.

7Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation,

8and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

9 Let anyone who has an ear listen:

10 If you are to be taken captive, into captivity you go; if you kill with the sword, with the sword you must be killed. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.