In Daniel chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar made an immense gold image. He then ordered people from every nation that he ruled, to give honour to that image as a god. The punishment for anyone who refused was immediate death.
Such events were not unusual in the ancient world. In every town and city, there were many images that people served as gods. Especially during the first 3 centuries after Christ, many Christians died because they refused to pray to false gods. Here, John describes something that is even more terrible. Both Daniel (Daniel 11:36) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:4) say that the antichrist (the greatest and most wicked world ruler) will take control over all the world’s religions. At that time, people in every nation will have to worship (give honour to) the image of the antichrist.
Isaiah describes (in Isaiah 44:9-20) how images have been in every age. He says that they are without value, and completely unable to help anyone. The reason is that they have no spirit and no life. If an image seems to answer anyone’s prayer, that can only be the work of the devil (1 Corinthians 10:19-20). The image itself can do nothing.
However, in Revelation 13:15, the false prophet (the man who speaks on behalf of the antichrist) seems to imitate God’s act to create life, in Genesis 2:7. The false prophet causes a spirit to enter the image, so that it seems to be alive. The result is that the image begins to speak the devil’s words.
It is a strange and terrible kind of life that the image seems to receive. Usually life gives birth to life, and spirit to spirit (John 3:6). However, this life brings not life, but death. The image itself orders the deaths of those people who will not give it honour. (That seems to be the correct meaning of Revelation 13:15, and not that the false prophet orders the deaths, as in some translations).
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© 2016, Keith Simons.