The unknown is scary, frightening, creepy, terrifying – yes all of this, and sinister, threatening and evil. All of these words and every synonym conceivable could describe the feelings of the ancient world towards the sea. It is understandable. The sea was a mystery of gigantic creatures and dark, unknown waters erupting in violent storms ripping their wooden ships apart and drowning the helpless seafarers. Yet, so much travelling had to be done over the sea. Judea was a treacherous sea journey away from the rest of the Roman Empire and Rome.
This chapter (13) starts off like a dramatic poem:
And the dragon (Satan) stood on the sandy shore of the sea. Then I saw a [vicious] beast coming up out of the sea…
The anti-Christ will rise out of the sea, here a symbol of chaotic, political events.
The fuller picture of the counterfeit trinity that emerges in this description is super important to equip the saints with the grand plan of evil, opposing God on every possible level.
Satan delegates his power to two beasts. The beast is composite of Daniel’s monster in Daniel 7: 2-7. It describes the incarnation of all evil – a lion with eagle’s wings – a symbol of Babylon, a bear – the symbol of Media, a leopard with four wings – a symbol of Persia and the fourth beast that is not named with ten horns is a symbol of the Greeks under Alexander the Great trampling all that had gone before. All of these could be seen in the Roman Empire as described by H.B. Swete:
The empire has the vigilance, craft and cruelty of the leopard, ever ready to spring upon its prey; it has the crushing strength of the bear; it is like the lion whose roar terrifies the flock.
Paul was respectful towards the Roman authorities, using his citizenship as a tool for the advantage of his missionary calling. Here in Revelation we see a shift in the attitude towards the Romans. It is all out war between the government and the church and Rome is the representation of all evil.
The first beast represents the reality of anti-Christian government and political power. The second beast represents anti-Christian religion, philosophy and ideology. Together they produce the ultimately deceptive and seductive anti-Christian secular society, commerce and culture. The third beast is the False Prophet (13:11).
The beast of Revelation includes everything that Daniel described. Seven heads and ten horns indicate the rulers of Rome and the many consequent organizations and political powers. Many emperors and rulers took for themselves blasphemous names. They called themselves God, Saviour, Divine and so forth.
Blasphemy is all irreverent speech. To call what is human divine and to call evil good is the lie of the world we are living in today. It is a parody of the cry of the saints: “Who is like our God”. (Exodus 15:11)
It is enormously important that we know we are living in the realm of the counterfeit trinity and are informed about their ways. God does not want us to be ignorant and perish because of lack of knowledge. We are the saints, faithful and strong. It is our response to difficult times.
The head of the beast has been wounded by the Cross, but is healed to continue the deception and evil purposes. Some Roman citizens and even some in the early church believed that Nero, a particularly vile and cruel emperor, was revived after his death to inflict more torture on the church.
Revelation 13:9,10 reminds us of God’s judgment against Judah in Jeremiah 15:2,3. The persecuted are to maintain patient trust in God and not adopt the methods of the Beast and Dragon. It is repeated by Jesus in Matthew 26:52 (Amplified):
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place; for all those who habitually draw the sword will die by the sword.
The gospel of love cannot be defended by the violence of man. God will defend and revenge.
Another beast is the false prophet (13:11), the mouthpiece of the Beast. He is described as being like a lamb as a parody of the true Lamb. Caesar worship (as described in Pebbles nr 42) is symbolic of finding your salvation in politics and all idolatry. Satan can also do magic and convict with signs and wonders in the occult for the purpose of deception.
To the unbeliever, the crucified Christ is not the victor. He only perceives the “healed head” of the Beast and it looks acceptable and even attractive to him. Only the true believer knows the victory of the Cross. The unbeliever is easily deceived. He sees the fire and the image and fall down to worship. The unbeliever would never acknowledge worship, but in actual fact, the practical consequence of rejecting Christ, is worship of the Beast.
The mark (666) is the counterfeit of the “seal of the living God” of Revelation 7:2-4. Rome issued certificates for Caesar-worship.
Hebrew and Greek had no separate numerical system. All the letters of their alphabet carried numerical numbers, hence the number 666 which is the numerical value of his name.
The Jews literally wore the Word on their forehead and wrist according to the commandments in Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 6 and 11. The slaves were branded. It was called a stigma and it denoted property, one man belonging to another. You belong to one you worship. We carry the mark of God, the seal of baptism.
The warning to be alert to this deception can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12:
Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed], who opposes and exalts himself [so proudly and so insolently] above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he [actually enters and] takes his seat in the temple of God, publicly proclaiming that he himself is God.
Just reading the Word of God secures us for the deceit and treachery of the world order and the agenda of the counterfeit trinity.
Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed)? This is the antichrist [the enemy and antagonist of Christ], the one who denies and consistently refuses to acknowledge the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22)
…and every spirit that does not confess Jesus [acknowledging that He has come in the flesh, but would deny any of the Son’s true nature] is not of God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:3)
The Lamb’s Book of Life is a heavenly register of those belonging to God. According to 1 Peter 1:20 our names have been written there since the beginning, since the foundation of the earth. This fact should not be interpreted as predestination. It is merely the statement of God’s foreknowledge. He wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but he knows who will choose rightly and who will reject him until the very end. He is above time and sees all of history and the future in a moment. As mentioned so often in Revelation, time is irrelevant for God.
Nothing that the Beast does or could ever plan, can pluck us from His hand.