The unfolding of history is a series of patterns whereby God teaches his disciples the path to holiness. Humans possess free will, but this free will is not unlimited. In other words, humans do not possess an infinite number of choices, and the reality is that most of our choices are conditioned by our backgrounds, our personal preferences, and our circumstances.
Many jokes have been made about the analogy of a snowflake to describe our uniqueness, but there is a striking truth when we investigate this analogy. First, while snowflakes each have a unique character and an individual design, such a design is not completely without limitations and patterns. In fact, there is a limited domain to which snowflakes exist, and it is within this limitation that there exists an apparent endless supply of unique designs.
Taken as an analogy for human existence, we are both utterly unique and yet existing within fairly set patterns of behavior and existing.
This was a long introduction to my commentary on the Book of Revelation Chapter 13. In this chapter, the sacred author deals with the beast and the dragon, which can easily be grasped as symbolic of great evil within the world.
The penetration of such a text will never be ever fully realized until the second coming of Christ, but I present for your meditation the view that this pattern emerges throughout history and within the history of the individual soul.
There are some salient features of the beast that should aid our goal of mediation. First, I draw your attention to the connection with blasphemies and the notion of immorality. In the early stages of puberty and childhood, many children take a certain hidden delight in doing that which is taboo. There can be a kind of thrill of breaking a convention, of disrupting the established norms of one’s families and our society.
This tendency has both a holy counterpart and a distortion that is exploited by the demons. On the holy side of things, it is good to let yourself be stretched and your understanding challenged. To be pushed beyond your current way of existing and to constantly test the horizons of what you know and can do.
The satanic counterfeit is a destructive tendency towards egotism and power. The man who can destroy has a perverted control over the other, but this power is ultimately hollow and bereft of virtue. Such a person can deconstruct many things with precision and wit, but they are never able to build.
Evil is always a counterfeit of that which is good, true, and beautiful in this world. It never exists unto itself, but rather it is always a parasite.
Continuing with our meditation, there is a specific reason that the nations give themselves to the beast in a kind of unholy communion. In Revelation 13:3, we hear, “I saw that one of its heads seemed to have been mortally wounded, but this mortal wound was healed. Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast.”
The display of power and miraculous powers seduces the nations into giving themselves to evil. In the lives of many believers, there is a tendency to surrender to that which seems intelligent, educated, and polished. When clever marketing stirs the lower emotions and gives us an experience of delight, we gladly submit to it without reflection and consideration.
Many people will sell their souls for peace, understood in the most carnal of senses.
In the most extreme of cases, this is the essence of demonic possessions. There is a truce made between the individual and the evil forces of the devil. If I give you my allegiance, you will alleviate my suffering. In contrast, Jesus says to us, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,” and “Take up your cross and follow me.”
For fear of the cross, many turn towards the beast who offers comfort.
Understanding these points enlightens the mind and leads to freedom, In one’s thoughts and experiences, we see the work of the enemy and the path of freedom. In the world, we see the unfolding of history whereby evil arises and is conquered, nations rise and fall.
In the life of believers, this illumination can bring great peace when we accept in humility that God is the master of history and that in his providence, he ordains all things for the glory of his saints. This is the essence of the path of holiness, the surrendering of mind and will to our Lord with complete abandonment.