Studies in Daniel and Revelation

The Beasts of Revelation

Remember, chapter 13 is still considered a “parenthetical passage,” a pause in the consecutive order of the Revelation. What we are reading is a continuation of the “vision within a vision” John saw in heaven, symbolizing what will be happening on the Earth during the Tribulation. This vision is full of symbols and they must be treated as symbols and not taken literally, even though the people and events they symbolize will be real people and events.

The Beast from the sea, 13:1—10, 18

The “sea” is a symbol of population. The Beast from the sea symbolizes a nation and specifically the leader of that nation who will rise to world-wide prominence. It also symbolizes a supernatural spirit which will be the inspiration for the Beast. We know that this particular Beast symbolizes or represents the personal Antichrist. Here is what we know about him—

  • At this time, we do not know who the Antichrist is or will be. Though many Christians find inventive ways to “prove” that the Antichrist is the Pope, or President Obama or Javier Solana, the fact is it is highly unlikely he is a man now prominent in world affairs.
  • Daniel 7:24 teaches us that the Antichrist will NOT be revealed until AFTER the formation of the ten-nation confederacy is formed within the boundaries of the old Roman Empire. The Beast, the Antichrist, will rise to prominence quickly from one of the ten-nations and attempt to gain control of all of them during the first half of the Tribulation. His rising to power from “sea of humanity” symbolizes his dominance over the ten-nation confederacy near the middle of the Tribulation.
  • The Antichrist will be the head-of-state of one of the ten nations at the beginning of the Tribulation and will gain power over the other nine during the last half of the Tribulation. During this time, he will claim god-like supremacy over the lives of people, and will be worshiped by the citizens of the ten-nation confederacy (Dan. 8:25; 11:36—45; 2 Thess. 2:4).
  • During part of the last half of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will make Jerusalem his seat of power (Dan. 11:45). In fact, his capital will be in the Temple of God (2 Thess. 2:4). This is where the abomination of desolation will be placed (Dan. 9:27; 12:7—13; Matt. 24:15—22; Rev. 11:1—2; 13:12—18).
  • Even though the Antichrist will be a man and not a supernatural monstrosity, he will be inspired and empowered by Satan and the other rulers of the ten-nation confederacy. However, it must be noted that it is God who will allow Satan to empower this man and inspire him in his plans (Dan. 8:24; 2 Thess. 2:8—12; Rev. 13:1—2). It is also God who will allow the other national leaders to give the Antichrist power of their countries in order to destroy Israel.

Common titles of the Antichrist

Throughout Scripture, this Son of Perdition is given different name, each one describing his character and his nature. Among his titles are the following—

  • Antichrist. This is the most common and most descriptive title for he will be Christ’s greatest opponent on Earth. Although the word occurs only four times in the Bible in relation to this personal Antichrist of the future, whenever it is mentioned, he is the one people think of.
  • The Assyrian. Isaiah 10:20—27; 30:18—33; 31:4—20; Micah 5:3—15. While the prophecies of these Scriptures concern the Assyrian king in the day they were uttered, it becomes clear that there is a future fulfillment of these prophetic words and a future “Assyrian King.” He will oppress Israel in the years just preceding her final restoration. The territory that made up part of the old Assyrian kingdom will be part of the Antichrist’s country, hence this title.
  • The King of Babylon. Isaiah 14:4. This is one prophecy that had a partial fulfillment in the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Its complete fulfillment will occur during the restoration of Israel (“day of the Lord”), which will happen with the Lord return
  • The Oppressor, Faithless Man. Isaiah 16:1—5.
  • Gog. Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be fulfilled at Armageddon.
  • The Little Horn. Daniel 7:8, 24; 8:9, 23.
  • A Stern-faced King. Daniel 8:23
  • The prince that will come. Daniel 9:26—27.
  • King of the North. Daniel 11:36—45. This is the king of the Syrian division of the old Grecian Empire. He is called the king of the north because he will come from this northern division of Greece, north of Palestine.
  • Man of sin or lawlessness. 2 Thessalonians 2:1—12
  • Son of Perdition or “man doomed to destruction.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1—12

Beast from the earth, 13:11—17

This is a second beast, distinct from the first. He is called “the false prophet” in Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10, which are the only passages in the Bible to mention him. He will be prophet for the Antichrist, but he will be a false prophet. Here is what we know about this man—

  • He rises to prominence after the rise of the Antichrist. John refers to him as “another” beast. The word allos (“another”) means “another of the same kind.” This suggests that many of his characteristics will be the same as those of the Antichrist.
  • He will rise to prominence “from the earth,” meaning he will come from “the people of the earth,” it does not mean that he will be some kind of supernatural demonic who rises from the grave. The two beasts will be two men, not demons or resurrected evil men from the past.
  • He will be lamb-like and genuine in appearance only and will be perfectly suited to fill the role of a leader of a new religion.
  • He will have similar power to that of the Antichrist and he will allow Satan to work through him to the benefit of the Antichrist.
  • He will exercise “miraculous powers” that will deceive many into thinking the Antichrist is man from God or God Himself. Satan is known as the deceiver of men, but his deception will reach its zenith during the final three and one half years of man.
  • He will have a statue or image of the Antichrist erected in the Jewish temple, where people will “worship” it according to Matthew 24:15. Apparently, this statue or image will be so lifelike it will appear to be alive; those who do not pay it homage will be killed.
  • The false prophet will institute a program to will mark and identify the Antichrist’s supporters and distinguish them from those who don’t support him. This marking will result in the martyrdom of many, but not all, who refuse to take the mark. The so-called “worship” of the Antichrist will be a mixture of political adulation and religious devotion. Many scholars have noted that this “worship” will not be willing on the part of many, but they will feel forced and coerced into it. Unfortunately, the doom of all who willingly or unwillingly participate in this apostate worship has already been determined, Revelation 14:9—11.

The mark or brand that will be on some will take one of three forms:

· A “mark,” which will be seen by others.

· The “name of the beast,” that is, of the Antichrist.

· The “number of his name.” The common notion is that the letters of the Antichrist’s name will add up to 666 because the in both Greek and Hebrew there is not separate system of numbers; the letters of their alphabet have a numeric value.

The mark or brand of the Beast will be given sometime during the latter half of the Tribulation. Many people today speculate what form the mark or marks will take, but there is no way anyone can guess what it will look like from where we stand today.

The seven-headed, ten-horned Beast, 17:1, 3, 7—17

The Beast mentioned in chapters 11—20 is fleshed out in chapters 13 and 17. Remember, the Beast is a symbol of a man because the nature of a beast characterizes this man of the future; he will be “beast-like,” that is, cunning, wild, amoral, and undisciplined.

We have already discussed this Beast as the Antichrist. However, this Beast as a symbol symbolizes a total of three things:

  • A man. The Beast is the Antichrist, the “beast from the sea.”
  • A supernatural being. The Beast is also the “beast out of the Abyss,” the one empowering and inspiring the Antichrist.
  • An empire or nation.

The Beast, while without question symbolizes the Antichrist, must also symbolize these other two things

The Beast from the Abyss, 11:7; 17:8

Speculation abounds as to who or what this Beast is. The Abyss is not a place where human spirits go, so whoever this Beast is, it cannot be a human being, reincarnated or otherwise. The Abyss is, as taught in the Bible, a kind of prison for demonic spirits (Luke 8:31; Rev 9). It is to be the future place home of Satan for a thousand years, as well. At the present time, however, there are there are only imprisoned demonic spirits there.

This Beast, then, has to represent some sort of demonic spirit. Perhaps he will be a kind “arch demon,” under the direct control of Satan. It seems he will be the controlling influence behind the Antichrist, giving him all the power and charisma he needs to rise to political heights. In fact, a key statement concerning this demon is this—

…[H]e once was, now is not, and yet will come… (17:8)

This is a cryptic statement that means exactly what it says: this demon was on the earth at one time, now he is not, but he will be released back onto the earth in the future. This demon will be the controlling impulse behind the Antichrist, who will form another nation, symbolized by the beast. This is nothing new; the kingdoms of this world currently belong to Satan. It is true that nothing happens without God allowing it to happen and from to time God interferes in Satan’s plans for his kingdoms, but when Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness, he offered the Lord the kingdoms of the world and Jesus did not deny his right to do so (Luke 4:5—6).

From the dawn of Israel’s history, five prominent kingdoms or nations were used of Satan to destroy God’s plan. Satan has been battling God’s plan for the redemption of His people by trying to wipe Israel off the map because from Israel would come their Savior. Throughout history, we can see how Satan has used five kingdoms to do this. However, as we have seen, God has taken advantage of Satan’s plans to destroy Israel and turned Satan’s nefarious plans around to merely discipline and chastise His people. The five kingdoms were: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. These are the five kingdoms before the time of John. The sixth kingdom, Rome, was in existence during John’s time but Rome was Israel’s protector for a time, not her persecutor. A seventh kingdom or nation will arise during the Tribulation in the form of 10 smaller nations. This nation (the ten-nation confederacy) will continue to do what all of Satan’s kingdoms have always done: persecute Israel. The Beast will establish and rule an eighth nation, and it will become the most godless nation that has ever existed on earth and will persecute Israel more intensely than any other nation. This eighth and final nation will exist solely to destroy Israel and put a stop to God’s plan for the redemption of Israel, God’s people.

One of the key passages of Scripture that shows the demonic control of nations is Daniel 10:1—11:1. In the last verse, 11:1, we read this—

And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.

Michael was the Prince behind the nation of Israel and it was Gabriel’s job to strengthen him, and ultimately, Israel. This section in Daniel illustrates the fact that angels and demons have direct influence over and responsibilities for different nations on earth. God ordains certain angels, like Michael, to bring about the rise or fall of nations in order to bring about God’s will for His people on earth. These verses all illustrate how Satan tries to prevent that from happening in order to thwart God’s plans.

Now, consider this passage—

So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.) (10:20—21)

That is a reference to the coming of Alexander the Great. But notice the phrase “the prince of Greece.” Who does that refer to? Alexander, yes, but also to the force behind Alexander, a “demonic prince.” And it is that “demonic prince,” who will return to earth after John’s time (remember Rev. 17:8) to pull the strings of the Antichrist as he will be the antitype to Alexander.

The extent of the Antichrist’s reign, 13:5—18

In understanding the full extent of the influence of this future political leader, the Antichrist, the common thinking is that he will reign over the world. If we read the prophecies of the Bible without studying them, it is easy to come to that conclusion. However, as powerful as this man will be, and he will be powerful, he will not be a “world-wide dictator.” Consider—

1. Revelation 13 limits the empire of the Antichrist to the ten nations that are yet to be established within the territory of the old Roman Empire.

2. Daniel 7:7—8, 17—27 limits the Antichrist’s reign to the ten nations of the future confederacy.

3. In Daniel 11:40—45, it is stated that when the Antichrist breaks his peace treaty with the Jews (Daniel 9:27) and enters Palestine in the middle of the Tribulation and passes a law that all must worship him that—

Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. (11:41b)

Clearly if these countries escape the Antichrist and they are bordering the Antichrist’s seat of power, it is reasonable to conclude that nations across ocean or on the other side of the world will also escape his dominion.

4. Most of Israel will escape the Antichrist when he takes Jerusalem by escaping into Moab and Edom, where they will find protection, Daniel 9:27.

5. Daniel 11:44—45 speaks of “many” nations not under control of the Antichrist, and he engages them in war.

6. Zechariah the prophets wrote than many people, even some within the Antichrist’s ten nation confederacy, will refuse to take his mark and survive. Note the wording of this passage—

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. (Zechariah 14:16—17)

7. “All” as it is used is various Scriptures does not mean necessarily mean “all.” Sometimes, when the Bible uses “all” it uses it as a synecdoche. That almost unpronounceable literary term simply means that sometimes a part of something is used to represent the whole and vice versa. The definition is as confusing as the word itself, so here are some examples—

  • Genesis 6:17. If we took this verse literally, then we would have to conclude that Noah and his family and all the animals on the ark died. Not to mention all the fish and sea animals.
  • Joshua 6:21—25. Not everybody in Jericho died because we know, for example, Rahab and her family were spared.
  • 2 Samuel 6:5, 15. Not everybody in Israel was involved, for not every citizen could play a musical instrument and babies and the sick and infirm and elderly could not be brought together as the text suggests.
  • Daniel 2:37—38; 4:1, 11—12, 20. We are told that Nebuchadnezzar ruled over all men, but we know that was never true. He never ruled over Greece or Rome or many other nations.
  • Matthew 3:5—6. Not everybody in Judea was baptized. No Pharisee or Sadducee would have done such a thing, and many people in that area never heard of John the Baptist much less baptized by him.
  • Luke 2:1—3. Laws made by Roman emperors were only binding on Roman citizens or those living under Roman law.

There are numerous examples, but hopefully the above handful give you a sense of what “all” often means in Scripture.  This is why the careful Bible student must have a thorough knowledge of “all”  Scripture before making conclusions.  It is always dangerous to build a doctrine upon one verse.  The wise believer, desiring to have a full understanding of the Word of God sees the need to compare Scripture with Scripture.  Naturally, this proper kind of Bible study takes time and effort, which explains why so many of our church members and even clergymen are so ignorant of what is really in the Bible.   There is nothing worse, or as dangerous, to the well-being of the Body of Christ  than a lazy Christian.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd
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