Power Corrupts… (Oct. 21)

Daniel 3:8-12, 16-18; Rev. 13:1-10


James L. Blevins in Revelation as Drama (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984), p. 83, describes the beast of Revelation 3:1-10:

If you were Satan and wanted to control the world, what would be the best way to do it? Evil realizes that its best source of power is in government or political action. John brings together the symbols of the major world kingdoms of his day and portrays a monstrous political beast. In 13:1-5 we have a description of this beast. Since Rome was a major sea power, the beast is depicted as coming forth from the sea. It is composed of the three symbols of the major powers of John’s day. The bear’s feet represent Medea; the leopard’s spots, Persia; the lion’s head or mouth, Rome. If John were trying to bring together a similar composite political beast from our day, he might use the English bulldog, the Russian bear, and the American eagle. This horrible beast has seven heads representing the seven Caesars from the time of the death of Jesus Christ to the time of the Book of Revelation.

Reading the Scripture

Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)

•    Video:
o    For a really cool retelling of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in song, I have placed on the website a video of Louis Armstrong in the 1951 movie, “The Strip,” singing “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”

Teaching Suggestions

•    Remind class members of the guidelines for healthy dialogue.

•    You probably know what a horn, pipe, harp and drum are, but do you know what a lyre and trigon is? Pictures of the instruments mentioned in Daniel 3:10 are are available in the church office:

•    Revelation is a letter that’s meant to be visualized. For depictions of the beast see the webpage (http://www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/)
•    The Sunday Evening Gathering, Bible Study group has recently studied both Revelation and Daniel. If any of your class members are a part of that group, I’m sure they can offer some insights into these apocalyptic books. Phil Leasure, and Henry and Faye Wilson lead the group. I’m sure they would be happy to talk to you or refer you to some members of the study group.

•    Ninety Foot Tall Golden Statue: Nebuchadnezzar’s statue was huge. For comparison think of the very top of our bell tower. Marvon Smith estimates the top of our bell tower to be about 70 to 80 feet tall, which means the golden statue in the Daniel passage would rise some ten to twenty feet above the top of our bell tower. Impressive and intimidating to say the least.

•    Apostle’s Creed: The Formations Teaching Guide, final paragraph, p. 44, recommends that the class recite the Apostle’s Creed. A copy follows this session. Call the church office if you’d like to have copies made for your class.

•    The Lord’s Prayer, we pray each Sunday, includes the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come thy will be done.”
o    What competes with God’s kingdom for your attention and loyalty today: “money, career, appearance, possessions, Facebook, favorite teams, leaders, institutions, or patriotism? (“A Way to Begin,” Formations Teaching Guide, p. 42)
o    Suggest to the class: “As you pray the Lord’s Prayer in worship this morning, remember that we worship God alone, and not any other person, thing or institution.”


I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons.

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)

•    Available in Keith’s office:

o    Revelation as Drama, James L. Blevins (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984).

o    Making Sense of the Revelation: A Clear Message of Hope, written by former LABC member William Turner (Smyth & Helwys, 2000). Includes a chapter on Revelation 13.

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.