Revelation 13 sets forth the most disturbing, troubling, yet thorough depiction of the Antichrist and the system he will reside over in all of scripture. John writes, And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. [Rev. 13:1 KJV] There are a couple different thoughts as to who exactly is standing on the, “sand of the sea.” The King James Version uses the personal pronoun, “I” indicative of the one standing here as John. This is perfectly consistent with the fact that throughout the book John is writing that which he observes. The other thought is that some ancient manuscripts and translations like the Vulgate and Syriac have it as, “He” which would connect this to the last verse of chapter 12. In this case it is the “Dragon” who brings the “Beast” up out of the sea. The pronoun, “I” is used some 165 times in Revelation. I believe it refers to John here, as again he is the one being shown the Revelation and the one writing the written record of that which he is shown.
“Sea” in biblical imagery refers to the mass of humanity or nations. It would more specifically refer to the region around the Mediterranean Sea, as this is the area from which the “Beast” system as well as the “Beast” himself will arise. We are introduced here to both a system as well as an individual who are yet to be revealed. The system will be the final world power that will arise at the final three and a half years of the Great Tribulation, the individual is the one referred to variously in the Bible as, “The Assyrian” [Isa. 10:4, 24], “The son of perdition” [2 Thess. 2:3], “The king of Babylon” [Isa. 14:4], “The little horn” [Dan. 7:8, 24; 8:9, 23], “King of fierce countenance” [Dan. 8:23], “The king of the North” [Dan. 11:5 – 45], “The man of sin” [2 Thess. 2:1 – 12], “The Antichrist” [1 John 2:18], and of course “The Beast” as in Daniel 7:11 and right here. This “beast” corresponds to Daniel’s fourth nondescript beast in Daniel 7.
As we pointed out last time in reference to the Dragon, the “seven heads” refer to the seven nations or Empires who have or will stand against Israel and the Jewish people, six of which have come and gone, one that is yet to form, which will be some sort of global government system. It will not be the final system, that is reserved for the ten-nation confederacy headed by the Beast, symbolized here by the “ten horns.” The “ten crowns” are the ten leaders who will give their power to the beast eventually uniting with him to fight Christ at Armageddon. All of this is yet to come, even though it is forming even now. The “names of blasphemy” on the heads of the beast point to this being the most evil, antichrist, anti-god system the world has ever known.
John writes, And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. [Rev. 13:2 KJV] The beast system will have characteristics of past Empires. It will have characteristics of Greece (Leopard), Medo-Persia (bear), and Rome (Lion). Beside all of this his authority and power will come directly from the Dragon himself. Having been cast to the earth and knowing that his time is short, Satan will indwell the antichrist as no man before or no man since.
This next verse has been sensationalized and dramatized to the point that its meaning has been largely lost to many Evangelical Christians. The conventional thought goes like this, at the mid-point of the Great Tribulation the Antichrist will be assassinated, and his body will lie in State for three and a half days, after which time Satan will raise the Antichrist from the dead. This will cause the world to wonder after the Beast and will cause multitudes to worship him as Messiah. I have heard many well-known Bible teachers put forth this interpretation, I used to teach it myself. In all fairness, I can see how some could see this meaning. It simply is not what the verse is teaching. In saying that I realize that is quite a statement, however I believe it is true. How do we know that this is not an assassinated Antichrist being resurrected? 1) – This would mean Satan has the power to raise the dead – Even though his power is great, he does not have the power to raise the dead. The power to raise the dead, the righteous and unrighteous, belongs solely to the Lord Jesus Christ. [See John 5:28, 29] 2) The speculation that has surrounded this passage renders it improbable – Those who have believed John refers to an assassinated Antichrist down through the centuries have said Nero, Judas Iscariot, Adolph Hitler, etc. would rise in the Last Days to lead this beast system. All of this speculation gives further credence in my opinion to the rejection of the “wounded head” being healed applying to the future Antichrist. 3) It ignores the plain meaning of the text – John does not say, “His head was wounded and his deadly wound was healed.” No, he says, And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. [Rev. 13:3 KJV]
Remember, the beast John sees rising up out of the sea of Gentile nations has, “Seven heads.” One of those heads appears to be mortally wounded, but then is healed and comes back on the scene. Think about all of the past Empires who have persecuted the Jews. Egypt, while still existing as a nation is no longer the mighty Empire it was in the days of the Pharaohs. What about Assyria? It eventually fell and was assimilated into other nations. The once mighty Babylon is no more, although several have tried to raise it back up from the ash heap of history. Medo-Persia and Greece are both long forgotten as great Empires. Only one of the past Empires has never really died, although it appeared to, but has lived on in the European nations, and of course I refer to Rome. The Roman Empire, at least in part, is destined to be revived in the time of the end. It should be noted however that this Beast System is all about mixture. Therefore we probably shouldn’t refer to it as the Revived Roman Empire, but as the revised Roman Empire. Why do I say that? Because it will have characteristics of past Empires. I’m telling you, the world has never seen a military/political monster as this system will be. This idea of mixture is also seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which Daniel interpreted. You will recall the feet of the great image. The feet symbolized the final Empire that would arise at the time of the end. Daniel stated, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. [Dan. 2:33b, 34] This final Empire will have the strength of the iron but will be weakened through mixture. Notice the 35th verse,
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. [Dan. 2:35] The word, “together” indicates that elements of all past Empires will be united inthis revised Roman Empire. No wonder all the world wonderedafter the beast. The good news is that the Beast system will be brought down and utterly destroyed by the return of the King of kings and the Lord of lords! It will be replaced by the Kingdom of God. John continues,
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. [Rev. 13:4, 5 KJV] Satan will get his proverbial, “fifteen minutes of fame” during this time. Make no mistake, he craves worship. He attempted to usurp the authority of God and receive the worship and adoration that only belong to God in eternity past. He will carry this failed quest out until the very end. He has a limited time to carry out his plan. He will only be allowed to continue, “forty and two months, or three and a half years.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. [Rev. 13:6 – 8 KJV] In his hateful rage, the Beast, empowered and indwelt by Satan; will begin to hurl blasphemy against God and against those who dwell in Heaven. That is the Church folks. To be honest, I don’t understand how anyone can read the book of Revelation and then state that the Church will be present on the earth during the Great Tribulation. To be sure there will be saints present on the earth whom the Beast will make war with and overcome and kill, but they are not the Church. They would be individuals who have come to saving faith after the catching away of the Church. Please notice the phrase, And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. This is indicative of permission being granted, for a limited time, to the Beast to make war with the saints and overcome them. We must understand that the devil can do nothing to a believer, to a child of God, without the permission of our Heavenly Father.
Ancient spirits who ruled the past Empires of history will come forth to aid and abet this final despot in his quest for world domination. However, even though he will be allowed power (Gr. Exousia – Authority or superhuman ability) over all kindreds, tongues, and nations; he will not be successful even though he will come close. We know for example that Edom, Moab, and Ammon escape the Antichrist, and quite possibly prepare the place of refuge for Israel during the intense persecution they will face in the final three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation. [See Dan. 11:41] This is again where many see Petra as the place of refuge in the wilderness.
Even though the buzz phrase of today is tolerance for all and of every belief system, there will be no tolerance for any religion other than demon worship that will be cloaked in worship of the Beast during this period of time. All those whose names have not been recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation (Gr. Katabole – Founding, conception) of the world will fall for the lie and worship the Beast.
If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. [Rev. 13:9, 10 KJV] Those who have their “ears” tuned to hear the Word should hear. Hear what? Hear the message that the Spirit is bringing forth here. All have ears, but not everyone hears. That is, not everyone hears the Word of God. Not all are receiving the Lord’s message. It has been this way since the fall of mankind. It will be this way until the very end. The Holy Spirit gives a word of encouragement to whose who will inhabit this planet during the Great Tribulation. He gives a word to those who will come to faith following the rapture of the Church and consequently face the wrath of the Beast. It is simply this, “Those who are presently leading you into captivity, are destined for captivity themselves. Those who are killing you with the sword, are destined to be killed with the sword themselves.” John records that this is, the patience and the faith of the saints. This is what the saints who live on the earth at this time will be called to. Endurance with faith and patience, knowing that Jesus will Return to defeat the forces of Antichrist and reign forever, thus ending their misery and suffering of the Tribulation hour.
We will be introduced to yet another beast, this one arising from the earth, next time. Please join us then if you can.