SCRIPTURE: Revelation 13:11-18
This vision symbolically portrays the increasing power of Rome in John’s day, but also describes how in the final days the governments will enforce loyalty, denying those who refuse to “worship” their power access to the basics of life (those without number cannot buy or sell). In John’s day people had to declare “Caesar is Lord” in order to be left alone, Images of Caesar were posted everywhere, a reminder of who was in charge. The number 666 has a hidden meaning (though people have found ways to work out all kinds of historical figures). It is both a specific and a symbolic image.
We are not in the day where this is happening, yet. Elsewhere in the world many can relate to these words. Many Muslim nations enforce loyalty, and conversion to Jesus is punishable by death. In China the state demands loyalty to government over faith. People will often not do business with Christians. Christian girls are raped, impregnated, then forced to marry and covert, or face death. We may find these visions far-fetched, but there are many Christians throughout the world who take great comfort from them, for they are going through them literally!
Lord, help me not to become apathetic because we live in such ease and comfort. Help me not to forget that around the world people are suffering for their loyalty to You. Amen.