And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. Revelation 13:1
Looking back at the destruction of my last relapse, I’ve got to wonder if it would have made a difference if I’d have clearly seen the misery I was about to cause. If I knew that I’d lose my job and nearly destroy my marriage, would I have made a different decision? I’ve got to believe that if I could have clearly appreciated the approaching calamity, that I’d have abstained. But I didn’t. My self-destructive appetite seduced me into relapse, convincing me that I could get away with it. This great evil approached, and I failed to recognize it. I didn’t flee, but rather, because I was blind to its ruin, I indulged – and it nearly destroyed me.
I’ve often had a similar question regarding the beasts in today’s passage. In John’s vision, we’re told of a great leviathan rising out of the sea and then another behemoth rising out of the Earth. Together, the dragon from the previous chapter, the leviathan, and the behemoth make up an unholy trinity, blaspheming God and persecuting his followers. Still, the people of the Earth follow and worship them as God.
Since reading this passage as a kid, I’ve always wondered how stupid people could be. If a seven-headed beast rose out of the sea, I wouldn’t be fooled. I’d recognize it as the antichrist spoken of in Revelation, right? How is it that the nations of the world will be seduced into following an evil dragon, leviathan, and behemoth? It all sounds so absurd. Yet, John foretold that the world would be deceived by these monsters.
The explanation of course, is that these aren’t literal Godzilla-like creatures. John spoke in metaphor. He could clearly see the evil, but those in his vision were blinded to it. This is the nature of evil – to blind us to its toxic nature. Evil doesn’t tempt us with a destroyed marriage. Rather, evil tempts us by promising our needs can be met in pornography or inappropriate relationships. Evil doesn’t tempt us with losing our job due to an addiction. No, evil tempts us with a good time, assuring no consequences. Frankly, when we desire something destructive, it’s difficult to see it as the monster that it is. In our pursuit of satisfaction, we convince ourselves that evil is actually good, thereby inviting destruction into our lives. Daily, if we desire to know authentic life, joy, and peace, we must seek God and his will for us, choosing to recognize evil for what it truly is – a beast that wants to destroy us.