The Image of the Beast
There has been only one perfect hero in all of time and eternity. That was of course Jesus Christ - the son of God. In Jesus - the man and the image of the man were exactly the same person. It is always right to follow the example of Jesus. He merits hero worship. He is a hero.
For every other hero recorded throughout history, there is a less than perfect side. Some hero's have a better record than others for things done outside the limelight. A few were truly close to being the person the public perceived them to be. An example of a man who was good by human standards was George Washington. No matter how hard the skeptics may dig through history, they don't seem to be able to find any dirt on him. That's good. Someone known as the father of any country should have a squeaky clean image. But, usually the hero's life shows some character flaws that should not be copied. The Bible is full of hero's and heroines, but in almost every case, some misconduct is included in their biographies. Abraham - patriarch of the Jews - had a son outside of his marriage. Moses - leader of the people and writer of the first 5 books of the Old Testament - had a terrible temper. King David - a man after God's own heart - committed adultery and then murder in an attempt to hide his sin. I think God recorded these things to help us remember that those in authority or public position are still just human beings born with the sin nature like everyone else. They are going to mess up sometimes. It also shows that God forgives every repentant sinner - no matter what their station in life may be.
Today, like never before, celebrities of all sorts are thought of as more than mortal. The lives of these celebrities are very public. It seems the details of their private lives are forced on all the public, whether the public is interested or not. You cannot get through a check out line in the grocery store without being bombarded with magazines and tabloids that reveal the details of celebrities' lives. Headlines are 45% celebrity headlines' 45% weight loss plans; and the remaining 10% covers the rest of what is going on in the world. When Princess Diana died, her death was mourned globally as though she were the sister of everyone alive. Of course I was sympathetic. But I never met the woman. I was very sorry for her family and the people who knew her. At that time, my sister had just died; so I knew first hand what her loved ones and friends were going through. But what I saw around me was NOT NORMAL. How could people who never met her grieve as though they had just lost a beloved family member? I believe it was at least in part because she projected the image of being everything to everyone. She was everywhere you looked smiling from some magazine cover. She was what ever your fantasy might be. Some people may have pretended they were actually the princess. Others may have seen themselves as her good friend. To others she was the ideal woman - or what every man wants in a woman. She was anything their minds wanted her to be.
In real life she was just a mortal human being. She went through a terrible marriage. According to some reports, she suffered from personality disorders. Amidst all the glamour and publicity, there were some very sad aspects to her life. But her image was that of perfection and one living in constant delight. Maybe the public just saw what they wanted to see. Perhaps they were delusional. People are created with a heart that wants to worship the perfect God of creation. He alone is worthy of honor and worship. People who reject God will eventually find someone or something else to adore and worship.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 says:
10. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Celebrity obsession has created a delusional public. They love the image of a man or woman as though that is the real person. They have no concept that the IMAGE of a celebrity is NOT the real person. An example is John Wayne. His image was that of the great American hero. He was larger than life. In truth, he was never in the military at all. He had a legal exemption during WWII because of his family. Celebrity obsession may be so appealing to fallen man because it requires nothing of them except blind loyalty. No sins must be confessed, and no changes to the inner person are required.
There is a great danger for those involved in hero worship. They are filling a need to worship God by giving undeserved attention and devotion to a mortal. They have rejected God, His truth, and His righteousness. Their souls are in danger of eternal separation from God in a place called Hell.
Revelation has numerous passages referring to the image of the beast. It is puzzling to understand exactly what the image of the beast may be. The book of Daniel offers some help. First - the great king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw an image of a man. This dream foretold of four kingdoms that would exist. His kingdom was the first. Median/Persian was next. Greek was third. And Roman was fourth. The king saw each as part of a human figure made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and then iron mixed with clay. He saw these kingdoms as great achievements of man.
But then Daniel also had a dream. He saw the four kingdoms represented by wild animals - beasts. Daniel saw the kingdoms more as they really were - earthly kingdoms in a world in rebellion against God.
This leads me speculate that it may be possible that the image of the beast spoken of in Revelation is the inward man. His public image will not be that of the evil creature he actually is. His image will be that of a good man; and a leader who is able to get things done.
His image will be the image of the ideal leader that people have longed for throughout history. In truth, inside and outside, the beast will be the poster boy for the sin nature that came to mankind when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. (Of course it is likely that the ‘image of the beast’ will be much more complicated than that, but he still will likely have a public image that is certainly not the man he really is.)
All through history there have been giants of evil whose outward appearance seemed benevolent or good in the beginning. But inwardly, they were servants of the devil. They were beasts.
An example of just such a man from recent history is Adolf Hitler. In the beginning to the people of Germany, his evil nature was not apparent. It seems that they saw not the real man, but an image or perception of what they believed a savior would be. This could not have happened except that first they had rejected the truth - and God then allowed a delusion to come to them. They believed a lie.
Eventually, the beast of Revelation will come on the scene. His actual name is not known. It is just prophesied that he will come, and he will be terrible. His personal image will not show the true character of his evil nature. His image will draw people to him like a magnet. Inwardly, he will be a beast.
To avoid worshipping him will be very difficult for those who come under his authority. People will WANT to worship him anyway. His image or personal charisma will be so appealing and strong that people will just want to follow him. They will want to believe him. They will have already rejected God. Having rejected the truth, they will be ready to believe a lie.
Something will happen to wake up some of the people living at that time. The Bible tells us some will refuse to believe a lie. They will refuse to worship the beast. Most of them will get their heads chopped off for refusing to worship the beast. It is pretty amazing that even though the beast starts chopping off heads, his followers will not notice his beastly nature.
Most of the rest who refuse to worship and take the mark will probably starve to death, or die of exposure to the elements, or be killed in some horrific natural disaster. Living conditions then will be overwhelmingly bad. The Bible just tells us that it is time of trouble such as the world has never seen. There are no words to describe just how bad it really will be.
All people have a private side. It is human nature to show one side to the public, another to those they work with, and another to close friends and family. Certain situations actually require different behavior. The problem comes when the character of the individual is presented as totally different depending on the circumstances and group which he or she is around at the time.
But Jesus was the same person 24 - 7's. He has commanded Christians to be like Him. We are to love one another as Christ loved us. We are to treat others the way we want to be treated. We are supposed to show the love of God to others by the way we live and act. Our inner person is not supposed to be a beast. Who we really are, and our image or how we are perceived by others, is supposed to be the same thing. Honestly, we can't hit the mark of perfection. Like heroes of the Bible, we are all going to stumble and fall occasionally. Thankfully, God is willing to forgive us and still use us. So today is a good day to start improving our own image.
The song for this article is I Am Thine Oh Lord. The chorus says "draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord". Drawing nearer to the Lord is a sure fire way to improve your image.
Thanks for reading this article.
God bless you.
Have a good day.
I AM THINE, O LORD
(Draw Me Nearer)
I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.
O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!
There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.