|Identity of the Beast
General: This chapter 13 is another key chapter of Revelation. It concerns the rise of two ungodly men who are extremely important characters in the "end of the world" study. They can be said to represent the height of wickedness of all time. They are both called beasts in this chapter. However, the second one has a name change to "the false prophet". Both get all their power, direction, and authority from Satan, the dragon. The dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist), and the second beast (the false prophet) make up the unholy trinity, as discussed briefly in the last chapter commentary. This trinity is compared to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity.
What is John "seeing"? Is this literal or symbolic? By now in our studies, we should be able to look at this scripture and recognize that this is symbolic. We look at dragons and beasts and most of the time we can, by context, know. This scripture is talking about beasts, horns, multiple heads and crowns, the sea, etc. that indicates symbolism.
The first of the men to be studied has already been discussed some in the previous studies. The two witnesses have been killed by the beast, the Antichrist. This started the Antichrist's almost unlimited (could have been stopped by God) power. As far as the beast is concerned, there is nothing to stop him at this point. Now he is starting the last 3-1/2 years called the Great Tribulation. This beast is called or referred to in different terms or names by noted persons: Daniel calls him "the prince that shall come" (Dan. 9:26; [9:26 commentary]); Isaiah calls him "the wicked" (Isa. 11:4); Jesus called him "the abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15); Paul called him "the man of sin, the son of perdition" (2 Thes. 2:3).
v 1: "And I stood" - (estathe) / "And he stood" (estathen) are on various manuscripts. If it is "I" (KJV), then it is John looking at the water; if it is "he" (NASB), then it is the Dragon looking at the water probably looking for his final evil monster to arise out of the water. This is controversial; however, the final results, in this case, are not changed.
Daniel's "great sea" probably refers to a sea of nations which, like the ocean's roaring and crashing waves, are troubled (i.e. nations rise and fall). Revelation sea represents a similar symbol (Dan. 7:3; [7:3 commentary])).
Animals represent in Daniel 7 and 8 and Revelation represent empires. Remember horns represent power. Therefore, the horns represent ten kings or leaders of ten empires. John is seeing an empire rise up out of the politically troubled waters (nations or empires). This is the fourth beast of Daniel. This was Daniel's end-time empire. This is what John is "seeing". (Dan. 7:17; [7:17 commentary])).
This beast is different than the first beast, the dragon, Satan. This is a man to be worshiped (to be verified in verse 8). Since the beast is a symbol of a man than the sea is symbolic of mankind. After all, a man must come from men.
Much of the symbols are very obviously similar to the frightful beast in Daniel's vision. The last beast of Daniel would seem to be verified by this verse. The seven heads is symbolic of the seven hills on which Rome is built. Now you might say there is no Roman empire now. And you probably do not expect to see one. However, it is scriptural that the Roman empire will rise again. Not in the form we know it used to be. But, in a form of a government of persecution very similar to the evils that the Roman empire performed. That was part of Daniel's reading of the large statue about which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed. Recall the feet were made of iron and clay. That meant the legs were strong but not as strong as the original Roman empire. The legs could crumble. This was to be the revived Roman Empire.(Review Daniel 2 scripture; Dan. 2 commentary)
v 2: This verse essentially reiterates the descriptions given in Daniel. That is why it is very important to know something about Daniel before studying Revelation. There are so many cross references. The beast seen was likened to a leopard, bear, and lion. The leopard was the symbol of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. The bear was representative of the Persian empire. The lion was representing the Babylonian empire. By reviewing the history of these empires through Daniel, you can get the idea of how terrible they were by themselves. In Daniel, the fourth beast was also discussed as a non-descript (i.e. not an animal) terrible beast. Review the following scripture readings and the commentaries.
For discussion of the lion: Dan. 7:4; Dan. 7:4 commentary.
For discussion of the bear: Dan. 7:5; Dan. 7:5 commentary.
For discussion of the leopard: Dan. 7:6; Dan. 7:6 commentary.
For discussion of the fourth beast: Dan. 7:7; Dan. 7:7 commentary.
So what do the symbols mean here? Some scholars have a hard time applying directly the Daniel 7 descriptions to this Revelation chapter. In Daniel (Dan. 7:2) there is a reference to the four winds of heaven upon the sea. In Daniel, the symbols act as independent characters. In Revelation, they seem to be together and all working together. In Daniel the four beast come later than Daniel (Dan. 7:17), i.e. they are in the future. When you examine the Daniel sequence, the fall of Babylon came before the four beasts. Which says the reference to the beasts are after the fall of Babylon. Since the beast descriptions comes after the fall, the beasts must be for the future. THUS, the four beasts in Revelation may be representing the four great kingdoms or countries (or confederations) from the north, south, east, and west. For example: the representations of the west may be British and American; the east may be countries east of the middle east; the north may be Russia. What about the fourth beast. Daniel speaks for how horrible this beast is. It will eventually overcome and overpower the other three. They may be the Mediterranean countries. The beast appears now to be a combination of all beasts. The horrors of each kingdom discussed in Daniel now are combined into one terrible power more horrible than any of the other kingdoms. The beast comes out of the sea, the nations, of the north, south, east, and west. So THE BEAST is part the symbols but also part dragon. It is the part dragon that gives this Beast its power.
We need to look at the heads, horns, and crowns of the dragon and beast. There may be significant differences that may be important:
v 3: This is one of the most important verses to show the power of the Antichrist and the relationship of him to the Unholy Trinity. John saw one of the heads wounded badly enough to kill the Antichrist. However, it seems miraculously the wound is healed. What would you say is you saw a man shot, knifed, beaten to death and then suddenly come back to life. You would look at him is awe. You might even look at him differently from then on. You might even look at him as divine. That is part of the problem. After the two witnesses are killed and ascend into heaven, the Antichrist now has unrestrained power. Believers were raptured, martyred, or are living on earth in fear and in hiding. All the rest fall into the trap of following a very charismatic or magnetic personality. These followers will now be able to persuaded by the Antichrist that he is divine and deserves worship, not God. If there is a question of which head was killed, it is not stated. However, many believe the head representing Rome as described in the previous verse.
NOTE 1: It is important to know the scripture and then to understand the meaning is not necessarily literal.. The KJV says he was "as it were wounded" to death. Other Bible versions have something like "as if it had been slain". Remember the "like", "as", "as it were" are saying it is simulated by or similar to but not necessarily exactly as written. In this verse, IF you assume he really was killed and was healed, then this was miraculous. IF you believe it LOOKED like he was killed and falsely brought back to life, it was a sham to convince the people he was divine. If the wounded head is Rome, then the words that his wound was healed, could be referring to the revived Roman Empire. The only hint to how the kill occurred is in Rev. 13:14. It appears it was by a sword.
NOTE 2: At this point we should recognize that the second beast we will recognize as the Antichrist is endwelled with Satan. Therefore, worship of the Antichrist is accepted because the worship is then also to Satan. Therefore, it would be easier for the non-saints to worship something they can see. This is very much like looking at God the Father and Jesus the Son. The Father and Son are one in the Trinity. Therefore, one can worship Jesus and be worshiping God.
Something to worry about is the fact that just because the empires in the previous verse do not exist as they used to be, they may be in a revival. That is from where the "revived" Roman empire term comes. Egypt has attempted to become the world spokesman for Islam. Persia (now modern Iran) has world attention because of its oil and terrorists. Modern Iraq (ancient Babylonia and Assyria) is probably the strongest Arab nation militarily. Greece and Italy are still important in the Mediterranean area. There religious cultures are firmly entrenched in the nations of the north and west (orthodox churches and Roman Catholic Church). None of these has yet achieved the power necessary to take over. The NATO Alliance and the European Common Market and the common Euro currency are certainly in the direction to make us think. These may fit the 10 horns nations that will give their power over to the Antichrist. But none of these is the revived head.
v 4: Now the people worship the dragon, Satan. Remember Satan gave the power to the Antichrist. They say who could be equivalent to this beast. Who would even dare to make war with an ever so powerful entity. Before the rapture, our society would have been "worshiping" other forms such as spiritualism, astrology, witchcraft, eastern mysticism and Satan-worship. The minds will be blinded by drug addiction and sins of every description. By the time the two witnesses and the 144,000 people preached in the first 3-1/2 years, the people will know about the God sent seals and trumpets. Yet, they will not believe (2 Cor. 4:4). For some reason, they are LOOKING for something to believe in and worship. Since they can SEE what the Antichrist is doing, it is easier for them to be dragged into a belief with no satisfactory ending.
v 5: This verse is stating that the words of Satan, the dragon, were given to the Antichrist to say great things and to speak against the churches and religious people that do not worship him. They will talk down on God in every way possible. The unbelievers are in a position to believe any blasphemy the Antichrist has to offer. This extreme power will last for 3-1/2 years, the last half of the tribulation, the Great Tribulation. Remember that blasphemy is saying anything against God and anything held sacred.
v 6: The Antichrist speaks almost nothing but blasphemies against God, against His name, those that are in heaven (angels, martyrs, etc.) and the tabernacle or the synagogue. He will defame God Holiness, truth, love, law, and grace. He will curse the heavens and anything that is in it (Dan. 7:8, Dan. 7:20, Dan. 7:25).
v 7-8: To subdue the world, once and for all, the Antichrist must get rid of all opponents or dissidents. These were the saints. They did not offer physical resistance; however, the moral power was very strong. They were people who would try to turn potential followers of the Antichrist to followers of God. The power and authority was given to the Antichrist to by the dragon, Satan, to make war on the saints (Dan. 7:21; Dan. 7:21 commentary). The saints are all believers. He was given the power to beat the saints no matter what their race, language, or country (Dan. 7:25; Dan. 7:23-25 commentary). That covers all persons on the earth that were not followers and believers in Satan through the worship of the Antichrist. That would be much like our following God by worshiping Christ.
All the people on earth except the saints will worship the beast, the Antichrist. The persons who worship the beast do not have their names in God's book of life. This book of life is also of Jesus, the Lamb who was slain. Remember, the book of life has the name of the saints. More on this book later (Rev. 3:5). The people will have rejected God as the true God. They will believe the lies of the beast (Rom. 1:25).
This is the case of humanism winning out over the people. Man desires to have total control and no faith. Now they have a visible man in whom that they can have a belief. By far the majority of men and women through the ages have either rejected or neglected Him and thus have died in their sins. This is really prevalent in the tribulation.
v 9: Here is a "finale" of the presentation of the beast, the Antichrist. This term is used commonly by Jesus to state that if you have ears, listen. This statement was used in all seven letters of Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Take this as a pleading message from Christ. PLEASE listen to what I am telling you (through John).
v 10: Those that are instruments of suffering and captivity of others will indeed be in captivity and suffering themselves when God's time for judgments come. He that kills and hurts and maims will also suffer when God's time for judgments come. The patience and faith of the saints will pay off with eternal life with God.
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