1. Tonight we head into a chapter which is easily one of the most difficult chapters in the entire Bible. Widely divergent opinions are held by many different Bible teachers.
2. Let me say that we are on track and we are safe so long as we interpret the Word of God in a normal, literal way, whether we are studying prophecy, doctrine, history, or any other Bible subject.
3. In our study of Revelation chapter 12, we learned the identities of three of the first five persons John has shown to us. The woman symbolizes the Jewish people. The child is the Lord Jesus Christ. The dragon is Satan.
4. In this portion of Scripture we will learn the identities of the last two great personalities of the Great Tribulation.
5. As we begin, try to imagine yourself in Johnís position, as the seer who observes these things unfold your eyes. Imagine the amazement and how astonished he must have been.
(13.1) 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.
1. This beast is literally a wild beast, which is what the Greek word refers to here. This man is a wild beast, not like the living beings referred to in chapter 4. Notice that this wild beast of a man rises up out of the sea. But what is meant by the phrase ďa beast rise up out of the seaĒ?
2. Several opinions are put forth here that are plausible. Some commentators feel that the sea is representative of turmoil in the world, and that this first beast rises to prominence amidst turmoil, just as Napoleon rose during the French Revolution from a lowborn nobody who was an army corporal, to become emperor of France. Others point out that the seas are often symbols, in Scripture, of the great Gentile masses, and that this beast must, therefore, be a Gentile. Still others feel this refers to the Mediterranean Sea, and that the beastís origin is from this area.
3. I believe there is some truth in each view. After the Rapture there must, of necessity, be much chaos and disorder in the world. This beast of a man will then come along and rise to prominence in the regions of the Roman Empire and will, with a great display of organizational and diplomatic genius, restore order to that greatly troubled region.
4. The fact of this beastís tremendous authority and dictatorial rule is seen in Johnís description of his 7 heads, 10 horns, and 10 crowns. Heads speak of authority, horns of power, and crowns of imperial rule.
5. Turn and read Daniel 7.1-8 with me, particularly verse 8. This is parallel prophecy that will help you to visualize what will happen at that time:
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.
2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
6. Notice the similarities between Daniel 7.7-8 and Revelation 13.1. Notice, also, the differences. Daniel speaks of empires, while John speaks of a man. The answer to why these passages seem different even though I have described them as parallel prophesies lies in the fact that there is little difference between the empire and the emperor.
7. Was not Nazi Germany an extension of Adolph Hitlerís personality? Was not Italy an extension of Benito Mussoliniís personality? Was not Soviet Russia an extension of Joseph Stalinís personality? Was not Communist China an extension of Mao Tse Tungís personality? This is how Daniel could write about the empire and John could write about the beast, and they two are basically writing about the same thing.
8. That this beast of a man is opposed to everything that is of God is seen in the last phrase. ďAnd upon his heads the name of blasphemy.Ē
(13.2) 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.
1. This man about whom John writes, who is so much like a beast, is a kind of composite personality. If these symbols are representative of the great Greek, Persian, and Babylonian empires of the ancient past, and all of the dreams and aspirations of those empires, then this man is the sum total of all the hopes and aspirations that unsaved mankind has ever dreamed of accomplishing.
2. This beast will have the military genius of the Greeks, who dashed like a leopard in conquest across the known world under the leadership of Alexander. At the same time, he will have the might of the Medo-Persians, who were able to field a standing army of more than one million men, and stamped and crushed the known world like a giant grizzly bear. Finally, he has the mouth as a lion. That is, he speaks with tremendous authority. His words are law. And all of these aspects of the beast are further heightened by the fact that the beastís power, his seat, and his authority are backed by the dragon, by Satan.
3. Turn to Matthew 4.8-11 and read with me:
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
4. Satan once offered the world to the Lord Jesus Christ, in return for worship. Christ, of course, refused Satanís repugnant offer. The Lord of glory would take His kingdom back by force, not by compromise. He was not about to barter with the Devil for what He had created from nothing. But this man in Revelation 13.2 will dicker. This beast of Revelation chapter 13 does accept Satanís offer, and thus becomes the most powerful mortal in the history of the world.
5. How can this happen? Keep in mind that the world that we now live in is controlled by the Devil. First John 5.19 reads, ďAnd we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.Ē That is, the whole world is controlled by the wicked one.
6. This is why First John 2.15-16 says what it says about the world: ďLove not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.Ē
7. Do not love this present, evil world. You see, it is contaminated and defiled by the one who controls it, the one who energizes it, the one who fills it with his own moral decay and putrefaction. It is all a matter of personal loyalty, after all. The world is attractive, and enticing, and fun. Who could deny that? But as a matter of personal loyalty to God and His Son, Jesus Christ, we are told to choose. You have to choose. You cannot have it both ways. If you love the world you cannot love God. And if you truly love God you cannot love the world.
8. That this beast of a man becomes as powerful as he will become shows us two things: First, it shows us whose side he is on. Since the whole world lies in wickedness, for him to ascend to the position he will occupy he cannot be on Godís side. Second, for Satanís hireling to succeed as he will shows us that God will have withdrawn His influence to a great extent, letting the Devil have his own way, not knowing that by getting what his wicked heart craves he will still be fulfilling Godís grand design.