Monday, January 19, 2009
Revelation 13:1 - 18
This chapter introduces us to two beasts. The first one, commonly known as the Antichrist, is unveiled in verses 1 through 10, while the second beast, known as the false prophet, is revealed in verses 11 through 18. The first beast is political; the second is religious. Both, however, are energized by the power of Satan, and thus constitute an unholy trinity-the devil, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. Remember, Satan is the great imitator. The incarnation of himself in these two villains is his final attempt to wreak havoc upon earth. Knowing that he has but a short time left, he makes an all-out move to usurp God's position and authority through his two allies- the beasts of this chapter.
Verse 1: 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.
As stated earlier in our study, Bible chapters and verses came into existence in the 1500s. They are very helpful in locating passages, but they are not inspired. At times they even cloud the information being presented. Actually, verse 1 of chapter 13 should have been part of chapter 12, for the subject is Satan and his persecution of earth dwellers. Therefore, according to the original Greek manuscript, the personal pronoun should be he instead of I, because he pictures Satan standing upon the sand of the sea. Accordingly, this portion of Scripture should read, And the dragon was wroth with the woman...and Satan stood upon the sand of the sea.
Satan standing upon the sand of the sea pictures his control over earth's teeming millions at an appointed time (chapter 17, verse 5, and chapter 20, verse 8). This control is established through the two satanically-inspired beasts who come out of the sea and the earth. The first beast (the Antichrist) rises out of the sea and has seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns. He is a literal man, but demon-possessed, for he (or his power) comes out of the abyss, for the beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit (chapter 17, verse 8).The seven heads, loaded with blasphemy, also portray the five kings who had ruled up to John's day; the sixth king who was in power at that time; and the seventh king who will reign as the Antichrist during the Tribulation hour.Chapter 17, verse 10 confirms this: And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. Likewise, the ten horns also picture ten nations over whom the beast or Antichrist rules. The scene before us pictures the final, or seventh, world leader ruling over a confederation of ten nations during the end time.In order to understand that the ten horns are actually ten western nations-each of which was part of the old Roman Empire-one must study the prophecy of Daniel in chapters 2 and 7 of the book bearing his name. Let's digress for a moment and investigate.
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon in Daniel's day, had a dream. When he awakened, however, he could not recall the dream. Therefore, he called his magicians, astrologers, and soothsayers together, requesting that they both recall the dream and explain its meaning. Not one of them was able to do so, even under the sentence of death:And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven (Daniel 2:13,16,19).Next we find Daniel in the presence of the king, explaining God's vision to him in verses 27 through 36. This is one of the most important texts in the entire Bible because it reveals the history of the world from that time to our present day.
Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; As for thee, 0 king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, 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. 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 threshing floors; 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. This is the dream.
Nebuchadnezzar was astonished as his dream was revealed, and shocked as its interpretation was given. Daniel told the king that he (Nebuchadnezzar), as the leader of the Babylonian empire, was the head of gold and that the two arms of silver (representing the Medes and the Persians) would soon overthrow him. Next the stomach and thighs of brass (Greece) would defeat the Medes and the Persians.
Eventually the two legs of iron (the Roman Empire, headquartered at Rome and Constantinople) would conquer the Greco Empire. These events occurred exactly as God had revealed them to Daniel and as he, in turn, told Nebuchadnezzar.Now notice something extremely important. The ten toes of iron and clay never destroyed the legs of iron-the Roman Empire! Why? Rome fell through internal corruption.This historical fact is the subject of Edward Gibbon's great book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Therefore, we see that the final world power is a union of ten western nations represented by the ten toes of the great image. The iron tells us these nations were part of the old Roman Empire, whereas the clay speaks of deterioration as the empire weakened over the centuries. Thus, the final world power will not be communism but a confederation of ten western nations under the first beast, or the Antichrist.
The ten toes also coincide with the ten horns of the beast in the verse under consideration. In the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream (2:36-44), Daniel described the toes as kingdoms, concluding with the statement,And in the days of these kings [ten of them, as pictured by the ten toes] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.For centuries Christians have prayed Matthew 6:10: Thy kingdom come. During the Tribulation hour, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of Revelation 7:3-8 will preach the gospel of the kingdomùthe good news that the King is about to return. Can you hear them shouting this exciting information in the streets? The King is coming! The King is coming! Finally the King is seen returning in chapter 11, verse 15, and chapter 19 verse 16.
Then Daniel 2:44,45 occurs:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.Yes, King Nebuchadnezzar's dream has come to pass throughout hundreds of years of history, and the present alignment of the European Union may well be the final piece in the puzzle. Prepare to meet thy God (Amos 4:12).
Revelation 13: 2 - 7
Verse 2: 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.
We have already discovered that (1) Babylon, (2) Medo-Persia, (3) Greece, and (4) Rome constitute the four empires of world history. We have also learned that the revived Roman Empire, in the form of a final ten-nation confederation, becomes the end-time power block. Daniel 7 pictures these four empires as (1) a lion, (2) a bear, (3) a leopard, and (4) a beast who is a combination of the previous world powers he has conquered. The beast's empire contains a portion of each preceding empire. Actually, the only difference between the descriptions of John and Daniel is that the order is reversed in the Book of Revelation. The reason for this is simple: John is looking back to the beginning while Daniel is looking forward to the conclusion. Putting it all together, the message of the ten horns, the ten toes, and the four beasts is one and the same from different vantage points-and all picture a world dictator governing ten nations at the time of the end! This ten-nation confederacy constitutes the revival of the fourth power-the old Roman Empire-as typified by the fourth monstrous animal or beast.
Verse 3: 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.
The wounding of the beast is mentioned three times in this chapter-verse 3, 12, and 14. The wound produces death, but restoration to life follows. Some commentators think that this statement represents the fall of the old Roman Empire and its restoration through the ten-nation confederacy. Others believe that it speaks of the resurrection of Judas Iscariot, for he and the Antichrist are the only ones ever called the son of perdition (John 17:12 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3). God alone knows.
A third possibility would be that the Antichrist is assassinated midway through the Tribulation hour, perhaps in retaliation for overthrowing three members of the original ten-nation federation. Such an event would give the great counterfeiter, Satan, the opportunity to perform a resurrection. This would prove invaluable to the prestige of the Antichrist, since the deity of the Lord Jesus was affirmed by His resurrection 2,000 years before (see Matthew 12:39,40). Remember that the Antichrist proclaims himself God and even sits in the Temple in Jerusalem during the Tribulation (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Matthew 24:15). Thus, a counterfeit resurrection would assure the world that he is all he claims to be. I personally believe this to be the correct solution, because when it happens, all the world [wonders] after [him]. Mankind is literally overwhelmed by the Antichrist's power and authority.
Verse 4: 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?
Another reason that verse 3 may speak of an actual resurrection is that millions who previously would not believe in the Antichrist now begin to worship himùand Satan.
In the second half of this chapter, we will see that the false prophet or religious leader of the Tribulation period actually enforces the worship of the Antichrist! Since the people think of him as God, they cry, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Yes, who can combat this self-proclaimed god and be victorious?
Verse 5: 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.
The Antichrist's blasphemy during the final three and one-half years of the Tribulation hour most likely has to do with his mockery of the Almighty. One of the reasons God hates idolatry (the use of images in worship) is that He wants no rivals. Hear Jehovah in Exodus 20:4 and 5: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God. Think of the insult to the Eternal One when the Antichrist says, I am God, and teeming millions bow to him, to Satan, to the false prophet, and to the image-the abomination of desolation-erected in his honor. This blasphemy continues.
Verse 6: And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Jesus, the true God, was accused of blasphemy in His day because He claimed to be God (see Matthew 9:3). Ironically, the world accepts the Antichrist's claim to deity, and this perpetrated lie is blasphemy to God. The blasphemy is undoubtedly intensified because Satan himself is speaking.Now, here is a thought-provoking theory: during the first forty-two months of the Tribulation, the Antichrist acts under the influence of Satan. However, after Satan is cast out of heaven (in chapter 12) and comes to earth, he may actually incarnate himself in the dead body of the Antichrist who had the wound by a sword, and did live (chapter 14). Thus, the beast is raised from the dead by the counterfeiter (Satan), who dwells in that body for the final forty-two months, claiming deity. As a result, he is able to experience that which he sought when he was cast out of heaven, crying, I will be like the most high (see Isaiah 14:12-14). Satan's ultimate desire is now realized-he is worshipped as God. The blasphemy is unspeakable! He desecrates everything his filthy hands touch, including the Tabernacle and its worshipers.
Verse 7: 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.
The fight is on for the saints of the Tribulation hour. Remember, this is not the Church. Satan battles the Church as they return with Christ (chapter 19, verse 14). In the scene before us, he is attempting to destroy the millions who washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (chapter 7, verse 14) and who also refused the mark of the beast (chapter 20, verse 4). Instead of experiencing defeat, they overcome (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony (chapter 12, verse 11).During this time, the Antichrist controls the entire world. He is an international despot exercising power over all kindreds, tongues, and nations. Such a one-world government is almost upon us. Consider for a moment the global organizations which have become existent in our day: (1) the International Atomic Energy Agency, (2) the International Labor Organization, (3) the Food and Agricultural Organization, (4) the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or World Bank, (5) the International Development Association, (6) the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, commonly called UNESCO, (7) the World Health Organization, (8) the International Finance Corporation, (9) the International Monetary Fund, (10) the International Civil Aviation Organization, (11) the Universal Postal Union, (12) the International Telecommunications Union, (13) the World Meteorological Association, (14) the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultive Organization, and (15) the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades Organization. The formation of such international alliances has led outstanding thinkers to state that a New World Order is on the horizon.Presently we may be witnessing mankind's final approach to the much-publicized New World Order, or one-world government, of the Antichrist. At this point in history, all the world will be amazed as this self-styled deity takes control, and the majority will submit to his authority. However, God always has a remnant who will not bow to Baal or other deities.
Revelation 13: 8 - 18
Verse 8: 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.
The true believers of the Tribulation hour will have nothing to do with this satanic monster, even though they will not be able to buy or sell without his approval (chapter 13, verse 17). Their love for Christ will mean more than life, shelter, and food. They will love Christ to the end, for John declares,
I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and l saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (chapter 20, verse 4).Is the Tribulation hour approaching? Will a demon-possessed or devil-incarnate human claim deity and be accepted as world leader and be worshipped as God? I believe so. Why? Henry Spaak, a spokesman for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) in Brussels, Belgium, headquarters for the Common Market, made a profound statement relevant to that organization's goals and operations a few years ago. He said, We do not want another committee. We have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of the people and lift us out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and be he God or devil, we will accept him. Mr. Spaak, your wish will soon become a reality! The life-and-death matter of verses 1 through 8 is so important that God repeats the warning He so often presented to the seven churches.
Verse 9: If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Beware! Take heed! Think seriously! Why?
Verse 10: 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.
This is the exact caution Paul stressed in Galatians 6:7: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Verse 11: And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb [identifying him with Christianity], and he spake as a drag on [tying him in with Satan].
Verses 11 through 18 introduce us to the second beast (the religious fake, or false prophet) who is the third member of the satanic trinity. The devil imitates the Father, the Antichrist imitates the Son, and the false prophet imitates the Holy Spirit. This religious hypocrite fulfills the prediction of the Saviour who said in Matthew 24:24, For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Verse 12: And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
Clearly, the power of the false prophet is in the realm of religion. He is coequal in power with the Antichrist. One heads up the secular world, while the other controls the religious scene. These two work closely together. The Antichrist shares his authority with the false prophet, protecting him and his religious colossus in return for a promise of loyalty and devotion. Thus, as head of the world church, the false prophet sees to it that the Antichrist-who was wounded and resurrected-is worshipped. What a team! This second beast is also one of the greatest miracle workers in history.
Verse 13: And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
These great wonders are called lying wonders in 2 Thessalonians 2:9. They are not magical, sleight of hand manipulations, but the result of supernatural power from the dragon that enables these men to even produce fire. Since God often revealed himself by fire (see Genesis 19:24, Leviticus 10:1, 2, and 1 Kings 18:38), the false prophet also uses fire. Satan shares his supernatural power for one reason:
Verse 14: And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
The sole purpose of all these miracles is to prepare the people for idolatry. The false prophet actually entices mankind to build the greatest statue in history in the very image of the Antichrist. This monstrosity will be erected in Jerusalem and will be placed in the Jewish Temple. Such a blasphemous act is against the city conscience and is forbidden by the second commandment (see Exodus 20:4). This is why the image is such an obnoxious, hateful, and abominable thing and is labeled the abomination of desolation by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:15.
Verse 15: And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Since the image is able to speak, it might well be the ultimate achievement of our present-day computer systems, already capable of conducting intelligent conversations.Professor Seymour Wolfson, of Wayne State University in Detroit, is an expert in the field of computers. He states: Already there is a report of computer systems that have the storage capability of ten trillion human beings. Personally, I believe that the Antichrist will enslave and control earth's four billion inhabitants through such an all-knowing, monstrous computer. Such a system is absolutely essential to his having all the facts on every member of the human race at his fingertips. As a result, he will, with unerring precision, be able to know who receives his orders, obeys his commands, and honors his laws. His computer will also tell him who earth's rebels are!
Verse 16: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
Verse 17: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Verse 18: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
As we have seen, the Antichrist will undoubtedly use a computer to enslave earth's population during the Tribulation hour. Also we discover that he will effect and maintain this control through commerce- the buying and selling of products. In order to make his plan operable, the Antichrist will also introduce an international identification system in the form of a mark (possibly a laser tattoo) placed in the right hand or forehead of every individual participant. Without this mark, no man-no man-will be permitted to purchase or sell even the smallest item of merchandise.
According to verses 17 and 18, this identification mark will be-or will include as a prefix-the digits 666. The use of 666 as a prefix appears most plausible, as this is the only way one person could be differentiated from another. If all numbers were identical, mass confusion would ensue. Therefore, prefixes preceding the 666 or using the 666 as the prefix code are essential for marketing purposes.With specific reference to verse 18, one should be aware of the fact that there have always been, and always will be, individuals who claim to know the identity of the Antichrist. They take the number 666 and, through all kinds of mathematical formulations, attempt to come to a conclusion. Their efforts, however, can amount to no more than mere speculation because we cannot know who the Antichrist is until he arrives on the scene, and he cannot arrive until the Church is raptured. Still, God's Word admonishes the Christian to be wise (see Matthew 10:16) and watchful (see Matthew 24:42), especially as the day of Christ's return approaches (see Hebrews 10:25).As shocking as the information presented in this chapter may seem, such a day is at hand. A cashless, checkless society is in the planning stages and a number of countries are already experimenting. To be sure, It's later than you think! The reign of the Antichrist is upon the horizon. This new Hitler, with a monstrous computer which will enslave millions, may soon control the earth. Unbeliever, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6).