BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 2: Revelation 14:1-5

Summary of passage:  Jesus is standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000.  A loud roar came from heaven and a new song was sung by the 144,000 redeemed who are blameless, pure, followed Jesus, and purchased and offered as first fruits to God.

Questions:

3a)  John saw Jesus and the 144,000 redeemed standing on Mount Zion.  He heard a sound from heaven like a roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder and like harpists playing their harps.  He also heard a new song being sung by the 144,000.

b)  They had been redeemed from the earth.  They did not defile themselves with women and were pure.  They followed the Lamb wherever he goes.  They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God.  They’re blameless and no lie has ever crossed their mouths.

4)  Believers were purchased by the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and justified, and marked with a seal to be redeemed to heaven and have eternal life with God.  God chose us ahead of time to follow Jesus. (Ephesians).  We were redeemed or purchased through Christ’s blood (1 Peter).

5a)  By treating our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit, refraining from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), and honoring God with our bodies.  We are imitators of God and live a life of love, avoiding sexual sin, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse jokes; instead, living a life of thanksgiving and holy.  We obey and live as children of light (good, righteous, and truthful).  We are wise, making the most of every opportunity, filled with the Spirit instead of wine, speaking to others with psalms, hymns, and songs, thanking God always, submitting to Him (Ephesians 5:12-21).

Be Christ-like with love, spirit, and purpose.  Treat others better than yourself and put others first.  Have a Christ-like attitude, be a servant, humble, obedient, and act according to God’s purpose.  Don’t complain or argue and be glad and joyful.  (Philippians).

We do not lie, we confess our sins and are purified. (1 John 1)

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Loving others who are hard to love.  Guarding my mouth sometimes and speaking only praises.  Not complaining.  Being humble.  Putting others first.  Serving.

Conclusions:  We were all over the place in the Bible with only one question on Revelation.  We’ve explored this topic before this year in our study on how we are to live in Lesson 7, Day 5 when we read Ephesians 4.  We saw it in Lesson 8 Day 2 with how Daniel stayed true to God.

Going to other places in the Bible can be a good thing, but I feel like sometimes during this study that’s all we do.

Also, these week-long breaks make it harder for me to remember where we were at in Revelation.  Stopping and having to go back two weeks to remember what had just happened, so I have context for this week takes valuable time.  It feels like a stop, jerk, and go again motion that jars me and reorienting myself is frustrating.

End Notes:  Revelation says history will end with a loud bang.  Yet John repeatedly says this will bring peace on earth as God rules over a restored heaven and earth.  Here we see the heavenly choir again sandwiched between tribulation and judgment like an interlude.  This is to reassure us that all creation will once again be in harmony.

We last saw the 144,000 in Revelation 7 (BSF Lesson 13) where we learned they are the remnant, a group of believers (some say Messianic Jews some scholars say a mix of Jews and Gentiles) who were sealed or protected from the tribulation and have been martyred for their faith (we know this because they are in heaven).  Here, the beast has not defeated them and they emerge victorious.  Revelation 7 shows the 144,000 at the beginning of the Great Tribulation and here we see them at the end of it.

Again, the 144,000 is representative of all God’s people.  Yes, they are a specific group, but in the end, we will share in God’s glory as well.

Coming up in Revelation 14, we will find out what happens to the beast and does he defeat the followers of Christ (no because of the 144,000).

Mount Zion is the place where Christ gathers his redeemed and begins his rule over earth (Psalm 48, Isaiah 24:23, Joel 2:32, Obadiah 17 and 21, Micah 4:1, 4:7).

Satan copied the idea of the seal (Revelation 13:16-17) from God.

The sound from heaven like the road of rushing water and a loud peal of thunder is the voice of God (Revelation 1:15 and 4:5).

The elders have harps (Revelation 5:8).  Worshiping God and singing Him a song transports us to the foot of God at His throne.  Note the song was learned on earth and no one else can sing it but the 144,000.  Part of our job here on earth is to learn this song by accepting Jesus and drawing close to him.  Only then once we are saved will we have the new song in our hearts.

Identity of the 144,000:  are they symbolically pure (virgins) or are they literally?  Up for debate.  They could be celibate just during the time of the Great Tribulation or could be celibate meaning without engaging with pagans.

The term “virgins” is not used in the NIV.  The Greek word parthenos can be both men and women so the 144,000 are a mix of men and women.

Israel is referred to as a virgin in the Bible, reinforcing some scholars belief that the 144,000 represents all believers (2 Kings 19:21; Isaiah 37:22; Lamentations 2:13; Jeremiah 18:13; 31:34, 21; Amos 5:2).

We see them described as first fruits.  First fruits was the first portion of the harvest offered to God in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:10-14).  The nation of Israel is said to be the first fruits (Jeremiah 2:3), bringing the Gentiles to God.  In the New Testament we see first fruits being used to describe Christ rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20) or the first converts in a region (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15).  Hence, some scholars believe all believers are considered as the first fruits (or choice offering) to God.

God often speaks of the purity of His people in terms of sexual immorality as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 11:2.

However, here, most scholars agree the 144,000 are Jews who came to faith in Jesus during the Tribulation and who now will serve as the first fruits of God’s harvest and bring in the rest of the Jews.  They are holy and pure, not of the world.  Ultimately, remember, they will bring in all of us–the church (See End Notes on Lesson 13, Day 3 for more discussion of the 144,000).

Fun Fact:  This is the only place in Revelation we see “Mount Zion” used.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 5: Various Passages

Summary of passages: Various passages for the day.

Questions:

10)  Part personal Question.  My answers:

Psalm 23:  God gives everything:  green pastures, quiet waters, restores the soul, righteousness, Himself, comfort, food, overflowing cup, anoints us, goodness, love, and eternal life.

Matthew 11:28-9:  God gives rest and knowledge.

1 Corinthians 10:13:  He does not give us any more than we can bear and provides us a way out when we are tempted.  He is faithful.

1 Corinthians 12:6-10:  God gives us the Holy Spirit which gives us wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Hebrews 4:14-16:  Mercy and grace through faith in Jesus.

Revelation 21:4:  He wipes away every tear and after the Second Coming there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain.

Honestly, I’m not suffering right now.  I’m in a season of blessing and extremely grateful for it.  However, knowing God provides grace, mercy, comfort, basic needs, wisdom, a way out of temptation, and goodness is indescribably empowering in any season of life.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12  Rejoice in suffering for it is a privilege and a way to participate in Christ’s glory. 1 Peter 4:12-19  We comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God so they may have patient endurance as well.  2 Corinthians 1:3-7  Love says Colossians 3:14  Verse 17 says whatever we do, do all in Jesus’s name, thanking God.

I try to offer words of comfort when those around me are in pain or suffering, or grieving.  I try to love as Christ would love.  Recently, an acquaintance’s dog passed away and an old colleague of mine lost his wife.  I tried to offer up words of comfort in those situations.

Conclusions:  Good reminder of how to help others who are suffering because often without God those who lose a loved one can become lost.  Ironic how we brought suffering into this world and death and God could easily have turned His back on us and let us wallow in our own misery.  Instead, He is there and He comforts for He feels our pain.  What an awesome God we worship!

Conclusions to Lesson 18:  Whole lesson on suffering.  Not sure we’ve ever done this before in BSF where we’ve deviated so much from the book(s) we are studying and dived into a topic in the Bible.  The Bible does speak on suffering a lot and we’ve looked at the majority of the passages on suffering.  We could call this the study of Revelation and Suffering in the Bible.  Fitting?  You make the call.

Didn’t realize there were so many ways to ask the same question:  why do we suffer, how do you suffer, and what is its purpose.  It all points back to Jesus (even when we comfort others) and I wish we could have kept it that simple.

This Lesson for me was relatively quick to complete because we have done so much previous work on suffering. Looking up the passages is time consuming but answering them is not.  Back to Revelation next week!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 4: Various Passages

Summary of passages: Various passages for the day.

Questions:

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answers:

Psalm 73:26-28:  God is the strength, refuge, and portion forever when flesh and heart fail.

Proverbs 3:11-12:  God disciplines those He loves.

Romans 5:3-4:  Suffering produces perseverance, character, hope, and love through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:17:  Suffering allows us to share in Christ’s glory.

Philippians 3:8-9: (Read verse 10 as well)  Sharing in Christ’s suffering produces more knowledge of Christ, fellowship with him, becoming more like him, and attaining resurrection from the dead.  Giving up or losing all things results in a gain of Christ and righteousness through belief in the Savior.

Hebrews 5:8-9:  Suffering produces obedience to God and eternal salvation for believers.

When you have nothing, all you have is Him.  You rely more on God and the Holy Spirit.  You know him more and become more like Christ.  It humbles you to the point you cry out to God.  And that is what God wants–all of you.  This I’ve experienced throughout my life’s trials and tribulations and my current closeness with God.  Life is amazing when you have Him and nothing else.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I was in college, I had a hard time concentrating because songs kept playing over and over in my head.  I wondered where God was during this time and cried out to Him repeatedly.  However, He never left me and eventually they went away as I channeled my thoughts towards Him.  It strengthened me and I knew He never left me.  Now I know He’s always there even when we are hit with inexplicable events in our lives.

Conclusions:  God is more concerned about character rather than comfort.  Suffering is small compared to knowing Christ.  Suffering teaches us the greatest good of Christian life is not absence of pain but being Christ-like.  The important thing to take away is this:  there is a purpose in suffering.  God has a purpose.  You may not be able to see it now but through faith you will persevere and emerge stronger and more dependent on Him.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 3: Various Passages

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  By God’s Will Jesus took on our suffering as a guilt offering to satisfy God and to justify us (Isaiah).  Jesus says he must suffer, be killed and risen to life (Matthew).  Acts says God planned Jesus’s death for His purposes.  “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Romans–no mention of suffering here though except through death.

Truthfully, I haven’t and I don’t believe I can ever come close to expressing my gratitude and appreciation for what Jesus has done on the cross for me.  I try to though by doing His will in my life, putting Him first, caring for His people and creatures and all He has given me, giving the glory to Him for all the good in my life, thanking Him repeatedly, and trying to live the life He wants me to by being like Jesus.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  This is the exact same question as Lesson 3, Day 4 Questions 10b & 11a & Lesson 4, Day 5 Question 15 & in Lesson 12, Day 4 Question 11a.

In Mark Jesus says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow him in order to gain eternal life.  Acts tells us if we suffer for Him, it makes us worthy.  Suffering allows us to know Christ more and the power of his suffering and fellowship with him and becoming more like Jesus.  (Philippians)

Suffering increases your faith no doubt about it.  Through faith, we know Him more, depend on him more, and love Him and His ways more.  It makes us more like Christ and our gratitude grows along with our character.  I have definitely experienced all of this and more through various trials:  bankruptcy, death, hard times, moving, etc.  But the gains have SO been worth it and eternity is near.  A life led for others is richness indeed.  See yesterday’s LINK for more purposes of suffering.

Conclusions:  Day of recounting our sufferings as we’ve seen/done in previous lessons.  Feel beaten down and we still have 2 more days of this!

End Notes:  Brief Note on Mark 8:34-38:  This passage is often misunderstood.  Denying yourself and taking up your cross simply put means we surrender ourselves to Christ and take up His will.  In the first century, the cross meant crucifixion.  It meant death.  It didn’t have any traditions or rituals or fuzzy or spiritual feelings attached to the cross and it wasn’t a symbol or associated yet with Jesus and Christianity.  The cross was death.  Period.

Deny self, take up cross, follow Jesus means:  We cannot save ourselves; hence, we follow the one who can save us–Jesus.  This is why we deny ourselves–to find life.

See this LINK.  Great reference for suffering in the Bible and its purposes in the passages quoted.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 2: Genesis 3; Romans 8:18-22

Summary of passages:  Genesis 3:  The serpent tricks Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit which God had said not to eat from because if they did, they would die.  He tells her she will be like God.  She falls for it, gives some to Adam, committing the first sin in the world.  God comes along, sees his creation hiding from Him, and curses the serpent and man.  She will have pain in childbirth and be under Adam.  He will toil the land and both shall die.

Romans 8:18-22:  Verse 17:  “We share in his (Christ’s) sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  We wait in eager expectation to be liberated from decay and brought into freedom.

Questions:

3)  Because we are all sinners and with sin comes suffering.  And because Christ suffered.  Romans 8:17 says we suffer because Christ suffered and so we may have some of Christ’s glory.  Had this question in Lesson 12, Day 4 Question 11a.  Very similar question in Lesson 4, Day 5 Question 15.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We had this question (Lesson 11, Day 2, Question 5).  Bankruptcy.  Depended on Him to bring us through.  He has.  Prayed.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This passage reminds us to look beyond our present circumstances to our future home in heaven where we will be saints with crowns on our heads, forever worshiping God, surrounded by His glory.  Past suffering is for our good.  It strengthens us and increases our faith and makes us more like Christ.  (Excellent post HERE with reasons for suffering.  Very succinct with all the Bible passages).

Conclusions:  Please see the link above.  Guaranteed you’ll find a reason for suffering you’d never thought of before.  Not sure why we needed to read Genesis especially since we spend a week on Genesis 3 in the study of Genesis.  We all know sin entered the world through Adam and Eve.  And Romans was missing Verse 17 which says what verses 18-22 was trying to say in a more understandable way.

End Notes:  Genesis 3 (Taken from my previous study):  Note that God instructed Adam to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Then God created Eve. Eve must have been told by Adam but she was not instructed by God. Hence, she was chosen by the serpent to tempt as she was the weaker link. We don’t know what Adam said to Eve but Adam was standing right there. He knew it was wrong. Eve disobeyed God and Adam.

Also, if Adam had been chosen to eat first, Eve might have had an out by saying she was only obeying her husband, the head of the household. Hence, God allowed Eve to be tested first.

Eve doesn’t even seem to know the name of the tree and exactly what God said since she uses the word “touch” instead of “eat” as God did. This is not an excuse. But it does fall upon Adam to communicate to her God’s commands.

Eve was truly deceived by the devil; Adam sinned in full knowledge of what God had said. (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Timothy 2:14).

I was always told it was Eve’s fault man sinned. But upon close examination Adam bears most of the burden. He was right there (Genesis 3:6) the entire time. At any moment either one could have ran from the serpent. But neither did. It just shows how powerful and cunning the devil truly is. And what we must fight against daily.

If Adam and Eve could be tricked and disobey–those who actually walked with God–then we must be extra vigilant and strong in the Word in order to resist.

God addresses Adam first as the head and one could argue it is Adam who bears the brunt of the responsibility for the sin since Adam is the head of woman. Interesting since in popular culture you always hear how it was Eve’s fault.

We see here that God never abandoned us, even when we sinned. He always had Jesus planned to save us. It’s hard to comprehend: why would God create us if He knew we would Fall? Only God can answer that. He must think we are worthy in some way. Sometimes I wish I believed but a piece of that worthiness.

I had never thought of us being born with a wariness to Satan before. So we’re born with a natural rebelliousness towards God but a natural distrust of Satan. Again, we must choose. Naturally, we gravitate towards serving ourselves (like children). But we learn to choose and no choice in life is more important. The outcome of our life depends upon this choice.

Romans 8:18-22:  Note how the glory is already in us.  It is just waiting to be revealed. Cool to think about!!

All of creation is awaiting the Second Coming.  Isaiah 11:6-9 is the famous passage where the lion will lie down with the lamb.  What a picture of the future heaven!

End, End Note:  Day 4 of this lesson asks us specifically to look at Romans 8:17.  It’s appropriate here as well.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 17, Day 5: Revelation 13:1-18

Summary of passage:  A beast emerges from the sea with 10 horns, 7 heads and 10 crowns on his horns. On each head was a blasphemous name. The beast looked like a leopard, had feet like a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave this beast his power, throne, and great authority. One head had a fatal wound but had been healed. The whole world followed this beast and men worshiped the dragon who had given the beast power. The beast exercised his authority for 42 months (3 1/2 years, the time of the Great Tribulation). He blasphemed God, his name, his dwelling place, and those in heaven.

The beast was given power and authority over the saints and every tribe, people, language, and nation. All non-believers will worship the beast.

Beast #2 comes out of the earth. He has 2 horns but spoke like a dragon. He was under the authority of the first beast (Rev 13:1-10) and made earth’s inhabitants worship Beast #1. He performed miraculous signs and created a false idol in the shape of Beast #1 that earth’s inhabitants worshipped. This idol was given the power to breath and speak and killed those who refused to worship the image. Everyone was forced to receive a mark (the number 666) either on his forehead or right hand.

Questions:

12a)  The dragon is the anti-Father, the beast rising from the sea is the anti-Christ, and the beast rising from the land is the anti-Holy Spirit.

b)  Because Jesus is the Lamb.  This one is imitating Christ as the false prophet in order to deceive Christ-followers into following him.

c)  The Holy Trinity is defined by peace, thankfulness, spiritual growth in love and honor, songs, and wisdom.  The deceptive trinity is characterized by war, death, servitude, fear, threats, and destruction.  The antithesis of God.

13a)  Very similar to question 5a.  Deuteronomy says not to follow false prophets or gods even those who perform miracles.  God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and all  your soul.  Follow and serve God only.  Jesus says in Matthew you will recognize false prophets by the fruit they bear:  bad fruit meaning they will reap evil consequences, not for the good and not godly.  Mark says to be on your guard for false prophets.  John says in 1 John to not believe every spirit but to test the false prophets or spirits to see whether they are from God.  If they do not acknowledge Jesus is not God, then it’s the antichrist.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Very similar to questions 8b & 11c.  I know I am safe and God protects me.  I am marked with the Holy Spirit that guides me when these situations arise.  Identifying falsehoods and telling others is the best way I can share God’s truths.

Conclusions:  Good lesson.  Loved the comparison of the unholy trinity with the holy trinity.  An easy way to identify something is to ask what it’s purpose is:  is it for love, compassion, peace, and helpfulness?  Or is it for deceit, personal gain, malicious intentions, or strife?

End Notes:  See Previous Days:  Day 2  Day 3  Day 4

Lessons from Revelation 13:  Here we see important messages for Christians in today’s world.  First, we must endure our suffering and be faithful for Christ is coming.  Second, we must stand for our beliefs even when the rest of the world is worshiping something other than God.  Third, we see the proliferation of worshiping of false gods.  It’s a danger we all must be careful of.  An idol is anything you put before god.  Purge any in your life.

Conclusions to Lesson 17:  Good analysis of passage.  We’ve studied false prophets & teachings in Lesson 4 Day 2 & Lesson 5 Day 2.  A little repetition in the questions but it’s important to know there are/will be false prophets but God has given us ways to differentiate them.  False idols are everywhere and we must be aware and not check out.

Lesson 18 Preview:  Coming up, we will explore suffering, another interlude in Revelation I am not looking forward to.  We’ve already extensively covered suffering this year (See Lesson 3 Day 4, Lesson 4 Day 2, Lesson 4 Day 5, Lesson 11 Day 2 & Lesson 12 Day 4) and I’m about burnt out on how we all must suffer and will continue to suffer until the Day of the Lord.  I GET IT!  CAN WE MOVE ON?  Dwelling on my suffering is not something I like to do.  I prefer to live in the present and not the past and dwell on the positive aspects of my current situation and circumstances and not the negative.

General observations of the study of Revelation:  Due to the number of repetitious subjects, the number of lessons we have spent outside of Revelation, and the sheer volume of personal questions this year, I’m beginning to think the study of Revelation could have been compacted into half a year and then combine this with something else–another smaller book perhaps or similarly related.  I’m pretty crestfallen about the whole thing and my bubble has definitely burst over this study.  Would love to have your opinions on the matter.

One more side note that may just be me:  I’m not getting a whole lot out of the lectures.  I’ve done so much study on the passages myself that what our Teaching Leader says is nothing new to me.  Oftentimes, the message is not even on the passage but one general theme such as how Christ is our Savior or how we need to “talk” about God to others that I struggle to stay awake because the message is so watered-down.  Other insights on your lectures?

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 17, Day 4: Revelation 13:11-18

Summary of passage:  Beast #2 comes out of the earth.  He has 2 horns but spoke like a dragon.  He was under the authority of the first beast (Rev 13:1-10) and made earth’s inhabitants worship Beast #1.  He performed miraculous signs and created a false idol in the shape of Beast #1 that earth’s inhabitants worshipped.  This idol was given the power to breath and speak and killed those who refused to worship the image.  Everyone was forced to receive a mark (the number 666) either on his forehead or right hand.

Questions:

9)  “He exercised all the authority of the first beast and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast…he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men…he was given power to breath to the image of the first beast so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed…he forced everyone…to receive a mark on his right hand or his forehead.”

10a)  To deceive the elect (believers) and turn away from Christ to Satan.

b)  Moses (Exodus 7:1-5):  To save the Israelites and bring judgment upon Egypt and show them He is the Lord.

Elijah (1 Kings 18:30-39):  So that God’s people will know He is Lord.

Jesus (John 11:41-44; 20:30-31; Acts 2:19-21):  So the people will believe God sent Jesus, that he is the Son of God, which will give them eternal life.  In Acts, so the people will know when the Lord shall come again.

11a)  The number 666 will be marked either on their forehead or right hand.  This enabled them to buy and sell (trade and live).

b)  The Holy Spirit and eternal life.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m a natural skeptic, but having God’s skepticism has proven invaluable.  I’ve learned to match up what the world says with what God says in His word and through prayer.  If it doesn’t match, it’s false.  I immediately dismiss it then.  Knowing nothing is free (from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) has protected me from many a scam and knowing God’s word has protected me from many a falsehood.

Conclusions:  Never knew where the number 666 came from and I can’t wait to read the commentary on this one!  Good lesson.  Love the contrast with Satan’s purpose and God’s purpose.  God’s purpose is to save.  Satan’s is to deceive and kill.  With such evidence it’s a wonder to me how people don’t believe.

End Notes:  The word for beast is the same as the beast in the first part of Chapter 13 but John makes it abundantly clear this one is under the first one.  This beast only has 2 horns.  Scholars are unsure what this means.  It may mean this beast only has authority in 2 realms instead of all the realms.  To me, it’s less than the first beast and is another indicator he is subordinate.

Even though this second beast appears like a lamb it speaks like a dragon who is the devil.  It has the same evil purposes in mind.

This second beast is called the false prophet (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10) and is different from the first beast (the Antichrist) and the dragon (Satan).  This is the unholy trinity (which we are asked about in the next lesson).  The dragon is the anti-Father, the beast rising from the sea is the anti-Christ, and the beast rising from the land is the anti-Holy Spirit.

This beast is a lackey of the first beast.  His job is to lead people to worship the first beast.  Some of us (especially those of us who have been believers for a while) say how can this be so?  Are people that stupid?  The answer:  yes.  Man’s nature is to rebel against God and worship himself.  If someone comes along and says great things about how man will be greater under that person, then man will easily be persuaded.

The beast could perform many miracles but John highlights one in particular:  fire coming from heaven.  Why?  Remember the 2 witnesses of God in Chapter 11?  They are given the power of fire coming from their mouths to destroy those who oppose them in verse 5.  BSF touched upon another example by having us read Elijah’s calling of fire from heaven.  What’s the difference?  One is by God and one is from Satan.  How are we to know the difference?  By knowing God and His word and God’s purpose and Satan’s purpose.  That’s the only way to identify the deception.

We’ve seen false miracles and warnings all throughout the Bible.  Aaron performed miracles and was matched by the Pharaoh’s magicians in Exodus 7-9.

In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 God says there will be false prophets announcing miraculous signs and He warns His people it is a test and they must judge a worker of miracles by their message (which is usually against God), not by their works.

Jesus warns some who worked miracles – even in His name – were false followers and would perish in hell (Matthew 7:22-23).

Jesus warns in the end times false prophets would emerge and show great signs and wonders to deceive (Matthew 24:24).

Paul warns the Antichrist will come with all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

These miracles the beast will use to persuade the earth’s inhabitants to worship the first beast. Emperor worship was rampant in the first century Roman Empire.  John’s audience would have seen first-hand Satan at work.

Many scholar believe this idolatrous image is what Jesus, Daniel, and Paul spoke of as the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), which is an idolatrous image set up in the holy place of a rebuilt temple.  Abominable idolatry.  Desolate judgment.
Those who did not worship the graven image would be killed.  This was just beginning to happen in the first century with the persecution of the Christians who would not bow down to Caesar.  We are also reminded here of Daniel 3 when he refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar and was thrown in the lions’ den.

The number 666:  Some believe the mark of 666 is not literal.  The Greek word used here for mark (charisma) is generally not applied to people.  The charisma was a seal stamped with the name and date of the emperor and attached to commercial documents.  Apparently, it also stood for the emperor’s head stamped on coins.  Thus, the charagma represented the likeness or name of the emperor.

It is also a type of brand.  In Roman times, disobedient slaves were often branded with marks of ownership, much like cattle are today.  Religious tattooing was also widespread.  Soldiers had a custom of branding themselves with the name of a favorite general.  Devotees of a god labeled themselves with tattoos to designate their loyal devotion.

So was this mark visible?  Debatable but more likely it is a symbol.  In Ezekiel 9:4, we see people marked for protection and in Exodus 12:21-23, the doorways are marked as a sign for the angel to pass over.  We saw Christians marked with a seal in Revelation 7 for protection; here, those of the earth will be marked as well.  Satan is protecting his people here as well.  It is probably behavior that will be the mark:  worshiping God or the beast.

Side Note:  We have seen the Nazis mark concentration camp victims with numbers so literal is in the realm of possibilities.

The number of his name refers to the common ancient Greek practice of assigning numerical values to letters.  Since letters had numerical value, is the number 666 trying to tell us a specific person?  Maybe.  Nero is a popular choice here.  The problem is the system is so complicated, confusing, and endless as to mute the point.  Scholars have for centuries tried to figure this out.  No one knows.

I believe the simplest is the best:  We’ve seen the number 7 mean completion or perfection.  Here the number 6 is short of the number 7.  Hence, it is incomplete or imperfect.  We see the beast as the false prophet but coming up short of Jesus’ perfection.  The triple 666 is used for emphasis just like we saw “holy, holy, holy” three times in Revelation 4.

John says to have wisdom to see through the deception of the unholy, false prophet who will be human under demonic control.