Revelation chapter 13 Part 1
Revelation chapter 13 Part 2
1. We learn of two beasts in this chapter: one ruling civil government and the other ruling religious convictions – neither accepting GOD’S order of rule! As we learned from other passages within this study, when evils rules, it does so through one or more of the three worldly elements: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes or the pride of life (1 John 2: 15 – 17). These three elements prompt the actions of greed, hate, oppression, injustice, immorality, deception, etc.
2. GOD established government (authority – Romans 13:1 - 5) in three areas: civil, family and the church. When mankind adheres to His rule within these areas, souls are influenced toward Christ Jesus. Yet, through enticing mankind (including Christians) to ignore God’s rules, Satan’s delights are satisfied. This is the lesson learned from observing these two beasts.
3. While most reliable translations conclude Revelation 12 with verse 18 and begin chapter 13 as we see in this place, we must not forget the scene from chapter 12 as if concluded. The dragon emphatically desires the destruction of at least the remnant of the woman (i.e., Christians). That very thought enters this chapter as we see both the beast of civil rule and the beast of religious rule as subservient to the dragon (whose rule obviously comes from Satan.) Therefore, the entirety of chapter 13 examines an increase intensity of evil upon those of righteousness in attempt to have their faith weakened and their service to God ended.
The term “sea” is a symbolic term for humanity. Just as “earth” is a term for humanity. Both terms permit us awareness of all humanity being subjected to the evil influence of this beast. (See 12:12). In that this beast rises from the “sea” shows this ruler comes from the people. Though he is NOT the dragon, he is a servant of the dragon and bears some common traits of his appearance (12:3). The “ten horns” are indication of great power; the seven heads indicate complete mind-set regarding the mentality of the world including their lusts; the ten crows show his rule over such powers of evil within his kingdom; with each of his seven heads having the name of blasphemy, we see the complete disrespect for God and His Word.
The appearance of the beast is unique in that it contains all the traits expressed by Daniel regarding the three kingdoms preceding the fourth (i.e., Roman) empire:
Lion = Babylon – a very great power
Bear = Medo-Persian – brute, cruel power over mankind
Leopard = Greece – swift and cunning in executing power to conquer.
Totaled together as one, we find all these characteristics in Rome!
On one of the heads was a mortal wound, healed! This created great wonderment among the people of this kingdom. It would appear to the unwise such a wound indicates an immortal, invincible being. While many will attribute this symbol to Nero (rule ended in 68 A.D. by his suicide) and its “rebirth” in the life of Domitian (81 – 96 A.D.) it seems more fitting to explain the “mortal wound that was healed” as simply an apparent indestructible power whose appearance prompts allegiance in order to prevent self-destruction. In other words, it would be easier for mankind to surrender to the dictation of this worldly power and live physically, than to reject its power and be killed for such rejection. Yet remember Revelation 12: 11 in which we learned the conquerors of evil “loved not their lives unto death.”
The world worshipped the dragon – the supreme power of evil, AND the beast – the subject/ruler of evil in this civil government. In the world’s wisdom, this was the only possible choice – they loved PHYSICAL life more than servitude to God! Compare Mark 10:42 – 43.
Words have great power and influence upon hearers. This dictatorial beast had such power, and it entered the ears and then the minds of the people. His arrogance with speaking “great swelling things and blasphemies” shows his blatant disregard for God and God’s Word. His continuance for forty-two months (1260 days) is equal to the limited time we observed in chapter 12. As long as the church and those comprising the church exist upon the earth, they will encounter such arrogance and blasphemy in attempt to dissuade them from God. Verbal persecution is just as harmful as any other persecution inflicted upon the faithful. (2 Tim. 3:12) Examine 2 Peter 2:10 – 22 regarding various actions and motives of the wicked.
The blasphemous statements coming from this beast denounced God, God’s name (and thus the name of God’s children), God’s tabernacle (here meaning the very physical body given to man in which man dwells – 1 Cor. 3:16 – 17; 6:19); and “them that dwell in heaven” meaning members of the Lord’s church. It is evident this beast hates everything about God and godly things! See 2 Thessalonians 2:1 – 17 for an examination of such an evil ruler! Acts 12:21 – 23 shows this arrogance resulted in the death of Herod Agrippa.
This verse verifies what we just examined: his power was over all kindreds, tongues, and people. His fight was with the saints – GOD’S PEOPLE. See again Daniel 7:21 – 22.
The BOOK OF LIFE records the names of the redeemed (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 21:27; 22:19). Daniel mentioned this book (12:1) Notice carefully in this passage the statement, “all that live on the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb …” Clearly, those whose names ARE written in this book do NOT worship this beast! Further, these are the ones “who love not their lives unto death.”
This statement is worthy of much consideration. These are VERY SERIOUS WARNINGS. Only the faithful will survive the persecution inflicted upon those who serve God. If there were souls among the faith whose faith was weak (and we have no doubt such was the case, for such remains the case) the warning MUST be heard and HEEDED. Too many KNOW the word of God, accept the fact God warns them, YET ENTER THE WORLD OF SIN WITHOUT REMORSE! God is NOT willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and has exerted all within His power to make ALL men heed that warning!
This is additional warning! Realizing the cruel environment in which Christians are forced to live, they require encouragement to remain faithful! The faithful would not desire removal from the Lamb’s book of life. While the fight against such evil is frustrating and wearisome, it is endurable WITH THE PATIENCE REQUIRED WITH FAITH, VIRTUE, KNOWLEDGE, TEMPERANCE, GODLINESS, BROTHERLY KINDNESS, AND CHARITY!
1 Peter 2:23
Romans 13: 1-2
Now we see the second beast who comes from the earth (evil mankind, but a different evil that of the sea. Remember both “sea” and “earth” are terms describing humankind, they are two different terms, thus showing two extremes of evil among mankind – one of civil government and the other of religious falsehoods. Coming from the “earth,” he had swallowed the spewed flood of waters from the dragon (which would have been lies – see 12:15 – 16). Learning deception from the dragon, this beast disguises himself as a lamb, but is in fact a false prophet! (Matt. 7:15; 2 Cor. 11:15) His is allied with the beast ruling civil government and for this alliance, promotes “emperor worship.” While this is an obvious symbol of the Roman government and its evil influence upon the world, it is still a common item within today’s world.
This confirms what we just learned from the previous verse.
False prophets deceive the minds of mankind with their “great wonders” which are in fact workings of Satan. See 2 Thess. 2: 9 – 10, Matt. 24:24; Exodus 7 and 8.
The insistence of this “religious” beast was that the people create an idol to the beast of civil government. The lies of this beast were presented as truth (thus an “experience liar”) and so those without the knowledge of God’s Word follow the “impressive declarations” of falsehood. See also 1 Tim. 3:13; 2 Peter 2; Jude 12 – 13.
Sinful power is an intense power! This evil beast had the “power” (i.e., authority given from Satan) to give the image of the first beast a voice – thus causing the belief that the image could hear and understand! This “religious” beast also had the power (authority) to kill any would refuse to worship the image of the beast. Thus, the gauntlet is set for the faithful: would they serve God and die in the flesh, or would they serve the false prophet and evil ruler of government in order to live in the flesh?
Regardless of one’s status in life (rich or poor, powerful, or weak, free or slave) everyone had to receive the mark (approval and proof of ownership) of the beast. Without it, commerce was not available – thus more oppression (vs. 17) upon the righteous. “In their foreheads” means “in their minds” and is the direct opposite of the sealing God has done with His saints. (See John 6:27; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30; 2 Tim. 2:19).
That the mark was in their right hand (their actions) OR on their foreheads (in their mind directing their attitudes and thoughts) shows this “religious” beast demanded loyalty from all within his domain, and with the “kingdom” of the first beast. Without this loyalty, the result would be death – either by oppression (including deprivation) of those things making life possible, or by the sword of their tyranny.
18. The phrase “herein is wisdom” is equal to “he that hath ears to hear, let him here” and “herein is patience.” It is a warning to the FAITHFUL whose minds must be accepting of God’s Word which is wisdom (1 Cor. 1:2:24; 2:5). Wisdom is in this warning – the wise would UNDERSTAND the message is NOT furthering the cause of the wicked but obviously warning against it! The UNDERSTANDING (wise) will count the number of the beast and realize its imperfection. Throughout scripture, we see the number seven indicating COMPLETENESS. The UNDERSTANDING will note this number of the beast is the number of a MAN – uninspired and uncaring regarding the souls of men. It can NEVER be a complete number for it is an eternally INCOMPLETE number – 666.
As an aside, many have concluded through numerical studies (called “Numerology”) this number equates with the various names often associated with evil. For example, LATIN, HITLER, POPE, etc., have each received their notice within man’s interpretation of this symbolic number. The point we make here is simple: it does not matter WHO it is that teaches falsehood or insists on blasphemous conduct toward God and His Word, and it does not matter WHAT holds these falsehoods and/or blasphemous dictates. The symbol is one of ABSOLUTE EVILNESS in God’s eyes and HIS CHILDREN must not engage evil at any cost. The conflicts Christians would face (and do face) in such opposing civil and religious rulings are not to be compared with the joys awaiting the faithful (Rom. 8:18). If we will remember that fact, then our allegiance to God and His Word will grant us the strength to overcome (1 John 5:4; Rom. 8:37).