The Beast that is like Both Lamb and Dragon

This meditation is based on a passage for October 30, 2010 in the Daily Lectionary Year 2 from the Book of Common Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (1993).

Text: Revelation 13:11-18

Reflection and Question: Following the beast that is like a lamb and a dragon, and the first beast whose mortal wound has been healed, and the beast wounded by the sword and yet lived, is too much for me. I confess that I can’t keep them all straight. Nor do the numbers make any sense to me, nor should they, as they are related to the assignment of numbers to the Hebrew and Greek alphabets. By this code, the number of the beast is that of Nero Caesar who persecuted Christians in Rome. What I can wrap my mind around is that all will be marked without any distinction between small and great, rich and poor, free and slave. What do you make of this passage for our time?

Prayer: Blessed Holy Spirit, we stand before this revelation to John in all wonder and humility. Grant us wisdom to fathom the images John painted to strengthen the faithful Christians of his time. Use our understanding to encourage us as well. Amen.