The Beast can’t do anything without our permission. It doesn’t take violence, vitriol or venom. All it takes is your will, your Compassion, and your Faith.
The Smartest Member of The Family
My son just started kindergarten this past Fall. And I have to say (here comes the ubiquitous “daddy being proud of his boy” moment) for a kid that has always had problems with huge changes, transitions, and pivots, the move from daycare to public education has gone remarkably well. In fact, there have been no behavioral issues, no fights, no screaming matches with teachers… It’s as if the lid has been pulled off and he finally has the ability to truly come into his own!
That’s saying a lot. Because daycare was… well… a struggle. And that’s nothing against the facility itself – the staff there was always amazing – but my son… that’s one stubborn cookie.
As a result, he’s always struggled with the process of learning how to read. If you think about it, it makes sense: why put the energy into learning to read when, traditionally, mommy and daddy have done all of that for him? (This despite the fact that his older sister loves to read and goes ridiculously out of her way to show us how thick her books are – it’s a wonder he doesn’t catch on)!
But while reading has been a difficult thing for him to grasp, he’s had absolutely no problem at all with numbers. In fact, he loves numbers! From counting to math equations, he can’t get enough of them! He even likes to show off his multiplication skills!
It’s gotten to the point where he has actually declared – on more than one occasion – that he is the smartest member of the family because he knows 32+32 equals 64.
I mean… how do you argue with something like that?
You’d think I’d be super excited about this whole love-by-numbers thing. Don’t get me wrong – I am excited! But for some reason I can’t shake this sort of unease that I have with it.
From Obsession To Control (Or Lack Thereof)
The “unease” is kind of a hard thing to explain.
On the one hand, it’s great that my son has responded so well to this. He can count super high, he can do math, and multiple-digit numbers just don’t intimidate him in the slightest. He’s got a comfort level with the subject – at such a young age – that I daresay I may have never really had. That’s going to do wonders for him as he gets into more complex arithmetic down the road. Calculus may well be a breeze! (Okay… that might be a reach)!
On the other hand… kids have a tendency to get obsessive about some things. Okay… to be fair, adults definitely do, too. I’m certainly guilty of that. And my son is no different. It’s to the point now where I’m concerned that my son might be getting a little obsessed with numbers.
And when human beings get obsessed… that’s when they start to lose control.
Not just lose control… that’s when they begin transitioning to a place where the thing they’ve mastered up to this point starts to control them. Over time, this whole obsession thing turns into a monster.
But this is a special kind of monster. I like to refer to it as a “Beast”.
Like most monsters, the Beast isn’t a real, tangible thing. Yet, at the same time, it does exist. It does have unspeakable power. And with that power it can do unfathomable damage.
How much power? How much damage?
In the end, that’s up to you.
The Number of The Beast
As nearly every human being alive knows, the Bible mentions a couple of pretty terrifying Beasts in Revelation Chapter 13. The below is from Revelation 13:16-18:
16Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.
(Here we are coming back ’round to numbers again!)
Depending on who you ask, theories as to who or what this “beast” could be range from a resurrected Nero, to the AntiChrist (though typically that’s a reference to the first beast from earlier in this chapter – the beast described above is the second beast), to Satan himself.
As to the “number” that gets marked, some have suggested this could refer to your social security number, credit cards, or any other number of things that are used to identify you, or otherwise grant you access to something.
Personally, I don’t think it’s any of those things.
Earlier, I said that the amount of power the Beast has, and the amount of damage it can create, is all up to you.
That’s because this Beast can’t do anything without your permission. That permission is how the Beast marks you. You carry that mark with you wherever you go because you let yourself be marked. The Beast knows where you are, what you’re doing, and how to get to you.
As a result, the Beast can manifest in many different ways.
Obsession is certainly one of those ways, and one of the most common.
Another common one is fear. It’s something we all deal with at one time or another, and in varying ways.
For instance, though I’ve been recording and releasing music now for over 20 years, I only just recently performed my first ever live Ender Bowen show. On the surface, it’s easy to say that this is because of time, money, logistics, family, mortgage, and other adult responsibilities. Those are all true and reasonable explanations, but they’re also all things that can be overcome with passion, patience, persistence, and a good bit of tactical strategery!
So why did it take so long to overcome them? Why didn’t I even really try?
Something I learned in therapy last year is that I apparently filter everything through a core belief that “I’m not good enough”. This has had an effect on nearly every aspect on my life, not least of which causing me to be terrified of getting up on stage and doing the thing I know I was born to do. As a result, I gave Fear permission to turn my reasonable explanations into excuses.
Once I rescinded that permission, everything changed.
How To Defeat The Beast
Have you ever thought about why protestors, or people on social media (on either side of the political divide) are so eager to shout down, silence and cancel their perceived enemies, even when those “enemies” offer an olive branch of genuine dialogue? Have you ever thought about why they’re more than happy to say awful, terrible things about and to their “enemies”, even when given the opportunity to have an honest discussion?
You’d be right if you said that was fear. But it’s not fear of their “enemies”. It’s fear of each other.
It’s the fear of being torn down, canceled and ostracized by people they consider their contemporaries, or even friends, that keeps them from being willing to step forward and have an honest, good faith discussion. After all, you can’t be seen to be giving your enemies any opportunity. You can’t appear to be willing to hear them out. That’s the worst thing you could do.
They don’t listen. They don’t discuss. They just shout.
This is what happens when you give the Beast control.
Make no mistake – this is how people in power control us. This is how they keep us from having good faith conversations with each other. This is how they convince us they “have our back” when in reality they’re tricking us into giving up more and more of our power.
If you look at the Beast in Revelation this way… it makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? Maybe this is how we’re being marked. Maybe we’ve always been marked in one way or another.
And if the whole world is marked like this, it’s easy to see how that simple inability to talk to each other can exacerbate fears, and lead to the kind of hate and violence that consumes all of humanity.
Sounds a lot like a kind of Armageddon to me.
The good news is that this Beast is easy to defeat. All we have to do is remember the power we have. Remember that the Beast can’t do anything without our permission. It doesn’t take violence, vitriol or venom. All it takes is your will, your Compassion, and your Faith.
One last thing: I see the Dragon and the two Beasts in Revelation Chapters 12 and 13 to be the anti-trinity to God’s “Father, Son, Holy Spirit”. I’ve talked before about how I see the Holy Trinity as representing Love, Compassion, and Joy. If we agree to that notion, then the Dragon is hate, the first Beast is animosity (maybe even indifference) and the third Beast is misery, or despair.
If the Holy Trinity’s purpose is to connect human beings together with strong bonds of Love, and Knowledge of each other – thus further connecting us all to the Lord – then this “Unholy Trinity” must seek to divide, conquer, isolate, and ultimately destroy us.
But, again, it can’t do that unless you let it. And that has always been the case.
What do you think about this take on The Beast, or the “number” of The Beast? Can you see where this idea of giving these things permission can have a negative effect on not just your own life, but on all of humanity? Where do you see the Beast having control over your life, and how do you think you might take that control back? How might you help others do the same? Share your thoughts and experiences below!
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