The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe,people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed. If anyone has an ear, he had better listen!
If anyone is meant for captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed by the sword,
then by the sword he must be killed.
This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints.
Admittedly, most of the time I have no idea what to do with Revelation. In many cases, I know what I don’t want to do with it, but when it comes to making concrete statements on what certain things mean, I tend to be pretty careful.
In any event, we know it was written to Christians who were undergoing serious persecution, and was ultimately supposed to give them hope in Jesus’ final victory, while acknowledging present suffering.
So in verse 8 when it talks about the beast having authority, I’m not so concerned with who or what the beast is necessarily, but more so with the purpose of the symbol, which is to acknowledge that satan has power in the present world, and that power is used to do evil, often against God’s people.
As for everyone whose name isn’t in the book of life who will worship the beast, it seems to be a good portrayal of the kingdoms/warfare view, which is essentially that people are either a part of God’s kingdom, and are called to advance that kingdom. If they aren’t in God’s kingdom through faith in Jesus, then they are essentially against God, and have aligned themselves with ‘the beast’. So the question is, since I believe I’m a part of God’s kingdom, am I utilizing my energy, words, actions, etc. to advance that kingdom?
And then the refrain, which is found all over Revelation, that Jesus’ people are supposed to persevere. We have the spiritual power to persevere through trials because Jesus who began his kingdom, will come again in power to defeat satan, and fulfill the renewing of all creation.
As I think about the end, which is Jesus’ victory, I’m compelled to weigh my actions based on whether or not they are helping to advance Jesus’ victory until he comes.