Now Comes the Beast (Part 1), Revelation 13:1-2a

Entering chapter 13 of Revelation our attention is moved from the dragon to the beast.  All his energy and machinations will be aimed at raising this beast on the world scene.  The beast will be Satan’s masterpiece, the pinnacle of his life’s work.  All his rage will be expressed through the human agency of the Beast.

Now, we ask the question:  What’s going on at this point?  Remember the sequence of events, the flow in the story here:  Satan is banished from heaven and hurled to the earth.  In a rage he sets out to eliminate the the nation of Israel and fails.  Then he turns murderously against all others he can find who worship Jesus.  That is what we learned in chapter 12.  

 

Entering chapter 13 of Revelation our attention is moved from the dragon to the beast.  All his energy and machinations will be aimed at raising this beast on the world scene.  The beast will be Satan’s masterpiece, the pinnacle of his life’s work.  All his rage will be expressed through the human agency of the Beast.

 

Now, what is the beast?  Some Godzilla like monster wading through the ocean towards shore?  The beast is both someone and something.  The beast is an individual, and, the beast is a government.  Daniel 7 speaks of the beast as a government whereas Revelation 17 speaks of the beast as an individual.  How can the beast be both a government and an individual?  Phillips explains it very well here (pg 164, 165).

 

In speaking of the beast as an individual we are speaking of a man mostly commonly known as the Antichrist.  He is also known as the man of Lawlessness, the master of intrigue, the ruler who will come, the little horn. He will be the most evil man who ever lived.  All the Hitlers and Stalins who come before him are just cubs compared to this ferocious lion.  He will be the human representation of Satan on earth.  Remember Satan is the ultimate counterfeiter, thus, just like Jesus represented the Father on earth so the beast will represent Satan.  The whole of Antichrist’s career will be one giant imitation of the true Christ:  the king of kings over all the world, worshipped, causing his father (Satan) to be worshipped, a resurrection, miraculous powers, etc.

 

The offer that Jesus refused from Satan – possession over the kingdoms of the world – will be accepted by the antichrist.  For 3 ½ years Satan will be openly worshipped by the world.  And then the end will come like a flood, it will all be destroyed, and it will all come crashing down by the power and the brightness of Jesus’ coming.  

 

We are going to examine the first 10 verses under 4 headings:  The Appearance of the Beast, the Power of the Beast, the Blasphemy of the Beast, and the Worship of the Beast.  

 

The Appearance of the Beast (v1-2a)

We are first introduced to the Appearance of the Beast in verses 1 and 2a, “And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.  And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.  He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns , and on each head a blasphemous name.  The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but, had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.”  

 

The beast appears by Satan’s power.  Chapter 12 ends with Satan looking out over the sea, not enjoying a sunset, but, in order to summons the beast.  The beast will appear because Satan is its architect.  Satan was described to us in 12:3 as a red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns, just like the beast appears to us.  This doesn’t mean the beast in chapter 13 is Satan, but, instead it means Satan is the master of this beast.  He is the evil energy surging through it; animating it with his pernicious will.  We’re even told in 13:2, “The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.”  The appearance of this beast is going to be by the power of Satan.

 

The beast appears out of the sea.  Chapter 13 verse 1 shows us the beast rising up from the sea.  Now, we’re not supposed to think of some “Godzilla” like monster with many heads wading through the ocean to shore.  The sea is a symbolic way of saying “nations” and the many peoples of the world.  For instance, in Revelation 17:15 it says so, “Then the angel said to me, ‘The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.’”  In Daniel 7 it says the same thing.  Daniel 7:3 and 17 say this, “Four great beasts , each different from the others, came up out of the sea.  So he told me the interpretation of these things:  The four great beasts are kingdoms that will rise from the earth.”    So the waters, the sea, symbolizes the nations and peoples of the world.  This beast will arise from the peoples of the world.  It will be a kingdom of this world, from this world, for this world.  It will be representative of what the people of the world want.  It will have all people as its subjects.  In essence, the beast will be the reversal of Babel (Gen. 11) when God scattered humanity over the whole earth and confused their languages.  The beast will unite all people at the end of the age.  

 

Then the beast appears with seven heads and ten horns.  This is consistently the description Scripture gives us of this beast.  We just mentioned that chapter 12:3 says the dragon had 7 heads and 10 horns.  Later Revelation 17:3 also informs us of the appearance of the beast, “Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert.  There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.”  Seven hundred years before the book of Revelation Daniel was shown visions of this very same  beast.  In Daniel 7:7 we read of how terrified he was of this beast, “After that, in my vision at night I looked and there before me was a fourth beast – terrifying and frightening and very powerful.  It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left.  It was different from the former beasts, and it had 10 horns.”  

 

So we have this beast in the Bible with 7 heads and 10 horns.  Question:  What does it mean?  Daniel expresses his curiosity in 7:20, “I also wanted to know about the ten horns on the beast’s head…”  If its not a literal monster with 7 heads and 10 horns what do we make of it?  If we keep reading we find that the 7 heads and 10 horns represent kings and their kingdoms.

 

Daniel asks about this beast and is told what it represents in 7:24, “The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom.”  Anywhere this beast is explained this is the meaning:  the heads and the horns represent kings and their kingdoms.  Revelation 17:10 says, “The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.  They are also 7 kings.”  Then verses 12 says, “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority along with the beast.”  Seven heads equal seven kings and ten horns equal ten kings.

 

A question comes up here:  Are these kings sequential or concurrent?  In other words, do these kings arise in history one after another or do they all arise at the same time?  Should we be able to see these kings throughout history or will they all come at the same time in the future?  

 

Scripture tells us the answer is both.  The seven heads represent kings who appear sequentially in history.  Revelation 17:9-11 says, “This calls for a mind with wisdom.  The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.  They [the seven heads] are also seven kings.  Five have fallen [past], one is [present], the other has not yet come [future]; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.  The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king.  He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.”  

 

The ten horns however are ten kings who will all appear at the same time.  They are contemporaries of each other and they will be given a kingdom in the last half of the Tribulation.  Revelation 17:12-13 says, “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.  They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.”  This alliance of 10 kings will get their kingdoms from the beast, then they will join forces with the beast against Jesus.  Notice verse 14 next, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.”  That’s how we know these 10 kings will not appear until the end – they get their power from the beast and join him against the Lamb and they are all destroyed by the Lamb personally.  

How could the beast entice people to go with him against God?  Take a moment to think of all that has been told to us:  He is a master of intrigue.  He is a deceiver and liar in a class all his own.  The Antichrist will be worshipped as God.  People are in full rebellion and rejection of God.  These are not kings who want to serve God.  They will be under the powerful delusion God will send.  They are hungry for power.  They worship demons.  They are addicted to drugs.  You can’t think that these kings think from the same view and values we do right here.  They believe the Antichrist is the Christ – that he is actually God in the flesh.  Plus, they are no doubt going to be promised glory and wealth for their loyalty to him against the Lamb.  

 

The question for us today then is this:  How is it that people today are enticed to refuse God?  Its a very personal question for you:  are you with the Lamb or against Him?  There’s no nuetral or middle ground.  Don’t be fooled by that thought.  Don’t be fooled either by thinking you have time and you’ll wait until you’re on your deathbed.  You have no idea if your deathbed is in a hospital, a burning car from a horribly unforseen accident, or, your chair as you clutch your chest and fall dead to the ground unexpectedly.  Point:  you don’t know when you’ll go.  Therefore, go to Jesus now.  

 

Finally, the beast appears as a mixture of former world empires.  Notice verse 2a, “The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.”  Now, you cannot read Revelation without reading Daniel, and, if you’ve read Daniel you immediately are making connections.  The lion, leopard and bear were seen by Daniel in his visions of the future.  Recorded in Daniel chapter 7 were four beasts that appeared in order:  a lion with eagle’s wings, then a bear, then a leopard, and then a fourth beast that was terrifying and had 10 horns.  These beasts shown to Daniel represented 4 kingdoms that were to appear in the future from Daniel’s day.  The Lion symbolized Babylon, the Bear was the Medo-Persian empire, the Leopard was the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great and the fourth beast, the terrifying beast, was Rome.

 

The time period encompassing all these kingdoms is called the time of the Gentiles.  It began after Israel was taken off its land by Babylon, the first kingdom.  The land and the people have been under the power and control of Gentile nations since the Exile and will be until Jesus returns.  

 

Now, Daniel’s prophecies also say that the last kingdom is the fourth kingdom and after that one Jesus will come, destroy all four kingdoms, and setup his worldwide kingdom (Dan. 2:36-45).  But:

 

  • we know that the Roman Empire ended and it wasn’t because Jesus crushed it and we certainly haven’t seen the Lord reigning over the whole earth in His worldwide kingdom.  
  • Furthermore, note that Daniel 2:44 says when Jesus comes He will crush all four kingdoms.  How can that be, since all four kingdoms have come and gone?  The first one came to be then disappeared as the second came.  Then the second kingdom ceased and the third one began.  How can Jesus destroy all 4 kingdoms at His coming if they are not around in the first place?  

 

This is why people understand the need for a revival of the fourth world empire:  the Roman Empire.  Daniel 9:26 says that the people who destroyed Jerusalem were the people of the coming ruler – the antichrist.  Who are the people that destroyed Jerusalem?  In 70AD Jerusalem was leveled by the Romans.  

 

When this happens, the revived Roman Empire will be a composite of all four kingdoms.  That’s why Revelation 13:2 shows the beast – the fourth beast of daniel – as a mixture of leopard, bear and lion.  Notice too something that was pointed out to me in a commentary:  John in Revelation lists them backwards from the order Daniel lists them.  Daniel listed them as the lion first, then the bear, then the leopard, then the terrifying beast.  Daniel was looking towards the future as these empires would appear.  John, however, is looking back on these empires so that instead the first one he sees is the leopard, then the bear, then the lion.  The traits, the distinctiveness of all four Gentile world empires in history will come together in the fourth and final beast – the revived Roman Empire.

 

Conclusion:

Next week we will look at the power of the beast.  

Take-Aways:

  1. Stand in truth.  Get your truth from God’s word.
  2. Do not be led astray by men and women who are perishing.  The Antichrist is not here yet, but, many antichrist’s are (1 John 2:18)
  3. Remind yourself God is on His throne.

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