Revelation 13:15-18 remains one of the most annoying challenges of interpretation within all of the Holy Bible.
"Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die. He required everyone ... to be given a mark on the right hand or the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. His number is 666" [or 616 in some manuscripts].
A beast rises from the sea and survives what seems a death-dealing injury, and is then "miraculously" healed. But it takes a second beast coming from the sea to create an image of the first beast, which can then move about and issue commands. At our elementary level of understanding, we must ask why all the machinations? Can't the first beast simply take control? If not, why not? How come the image rather than the real thing is required to get things done?
I write these words on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 28. This is just hours before former President Trump is scheduled to address CPAC, where he will likely receive a hero's welcome and be recognized as the de facto face of the Republican Party.
Earlier in the week, attendees were stunned to see a 200-pound, golden Trump statue wheeled into the CPAC convention, sparking a flurry of stories and headlines, including this one, today, from The New York Times: "At CPAC, a Golden Image, a Magic Wand and Reverence for Trump."
Many others were quick to compare the golden statue of Trump with the golden calf that the Israelites worshiped. (Ironically, in synagogues around the world this week, religious Jews will read that very account of Israel worshiping the golden calf.)
His executive order, the details of which he announced in a Lubbock restaurant, contained a word of caution for Texans:
"Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed. Today's announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year," Abbott said.
He also encouraged Texans to remember their duties to care for one another saying "each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others."
He continued, "With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."
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