A vision: persecution

In my vision I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. He had seven heads and ten horns, with a crown on each of his horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. This beast looked like a leopard, but he had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. Then the dragon gave his own power, position and authority to the beast .

I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—yet the fatal wound had been healed! All the people were amazed by this miracle and gave their allegiance to the beast. And they worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power. They also worshiped the beast and said: “Who is like the beast and who is strong enough to contend with him?”

Then the beast was permitted to utter great blasphemies against God and he was given authority to do whatever he wished for forty-two months. He spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name, his dwelling and all those who dwell with him in heaven.

The beast was also permitted to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them, and he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. And all the inhabitants of the world worshiped the beast – all those whose names were not written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain before the creation of the world.

Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand: those who are destined for prison will be taken to prison; those who are destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This therefore requires patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.

I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast and compelled the earth and all its people to worship the first beast, the one whose fatal wound had been healed. He did extraordinary miracles, even making fire fall down to earth while everyone was watching, and by the miracles he was permitted to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people of the world.

Then he ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast – the one who was fatally wounded and then came back to life – after which he gave it life so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone who refused to worship it must be put to death.

The statue required that everyone—small and great, rich and poor, slave and free—should be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number that represented his name.

Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.

John

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