Study No. 14
- The Two Beasts –
I wish to begin by pointing out that if we had only talked about events and characters that were actually (or only) mentioned in the book of Revelation, up to this point there would have been no mention of the Antichrist at all. There was a mention of a white horse going forth to conquer the earth in 6:2 as the first seal of the scroll was opened. We have read of catastrophes that affected the earth. We have read of believers dying. We have read of many dying as a result of war, famine and a number of other things. But, if we didn’t already know better, we would have no knowledge at all of a world dictator. We even read of the persecution of ‘the woman’ and her fleeing to a place of protection … but so far, we know of no Antichrist involvement … only that the serpent pursued her.
So with that in mind, what comes now is the first mention of a rising world leader and a world power.
1. John begins by describing exactly what he was seeing:
Verses 1 and 2
- A beast rises out of the sea.
Often the sea is representative of people, non-Jewish people.
- It has seven heads and ten horns.
It is impossible not to notice that the red dragon also had seven heads and ten horns.
- It has ten crowns, inscribed with blasphemous names.
Crowns represent power, either regal or at least political leaders. The names of blasphemy? We are left to guess and since there is no direct word in scripture about the names on the crowns, we need to go to something indirect.
2Th 2:4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
- The body was leopard-like, the feet like a bear, the mouth(s) like a lion,
The book of Daniel also describes beasts. Various world powers, for example the Greeks and then the Romans were represented by beasts in Daniel’s writings. What I believe we should get from the description of this beast, is not what country it comes from, but merely the attributes which each animal brings into the picture to describe the characteristics of the beast.
Leopard–Swift, Bear-powerful, Lion-fierce.
Somehow John knows that it gets its authority directly from the dragon.
2. John, in one short statement, mentions a summary of the beast’s actions that reaches worldwide proportions. V3,4
- It received a deadly wound to one of the heads.
- It had a miraculous recovery
- the world witnessed the recovery and were in amazement.
- The world ‘worshipped’ the beast (worshipped the dragon also) and respected it as most powerful in the world.
3. John informs us that the beast has power to 'continue' for three and a half years. V5
4. The beast seems to have an anti-God mission that expresses itself in attacking God’s people. V6,7
5. The pressure on believers to ‘fit-in’ with the crowd will be immense. The whole world of unbelievers support and worship the beast. V 8-10
(Remember – during this same time, the beast cannot hurt the ‘woman’. She is protected. So the dragon, in frustration and anger, turns from chasing the woman and went after the ‘rest of her seed who have the testimony of Jesus’. They are not physically protected and many die a martyrs death. Also remember that two witnesses are preaching and bringing judgments on the unbelievers. This, no doubt, is angering the beast to no end.
John now witnesses a second beast. V11-12
Two small horns as a lamb.
Spoke like a dragon.
It rises out of the earth – some commentators say the earth is symbolic of Israel.
This beast is very different, yet very powerful. He seems closely connected to the first beast. You will notice that neither one has been called ‘Antichrist’. And as we continue in this study you will find neither one called Antichrist in the book of Revelation. One of the beasts gets the name ‘false prophet’. The two beasts together will be designated as ‘the beast and the false prophet’. As to which one of these two should be called Antichrist, we will leave that for a later time.
The second beast has the ability to do miraculous deeds.
He has the following for his mission: 13-15
- To deceive
- To instigate worship of the first beast
- To perform many signs and wonders.
- To oversee the construction of a large ‘idol’ made in
honour of the first beast
- To miraculously bring the idol to life
- To enforce worship of the idol
- To initiate ‘the mark of the beast’.
I believe we should look at what scripture gives us. Here is what we are able to observe:
Man was created on the sixth day of creation. Not on the seventh. God rested on that day, and for some reason has chosen seven and has given it a very prominent place in the book of Revelation.
Since man was created on the sixth day, we could say that six is the number of man. Someone has noted that six falls short of being seven. Man falls short of being God. God is a trinity. Satan is a counterfeiter and as such has developed his own trinity. There will be more on the unholy trinity later in Revelation, but it is enough to note here that triple six is a trinity of sorts.
Tracking the rise of and the actions of ‘the man of sin’,
the wicked world leader.
Both Matthew 24:15 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 Tell us that the man of sin will literally sit in the coming temple and claim to be God.
How does all this come into being?
Look at Daniel 11, beginning with chapter 12:1, and then move backward.
Chapter 12 describes the time of the end. Verses one and two tell us that there will a terrible time of trouble … and at that very same time there will be a resurrection from the dead of the people of God. This is identical to what we read in Revelation 11:15-18. The last trumpet sounds …. The great and terrible wrath of God is about to be unleashed … and the people of God are rescued … taken up, judged, rewarded.
Daniel 12 is describing the seventh trumpet. What we want to examine is the seven years prior. So we move backward from chapter 12.
Browsing the verses … going backwards, we notice pronouns …not names. He and him are mentioned many times. The word king is mentioned several times and in verse 27 it says ‘both kings’, indicating that there are two being featured here. Continuing backward we discover that one of these kings … a particularly vile, wicked person comes into power in verse 21.
Da 11:21 ¶ "He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honour of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue.
As we follow the events of this chapter, we will discover that this vile individual is the man we typically call Antichrist. He would be one of the two beasts we just read about in Revelation 13.
Let’s follow his predicted actions:
He will be referred to as a king later in the chapter. In contrast to another king, this one will be designated King of the North and the other one that will be introduced will be called the King of the South.
We begin by noticing how he comes to power. V21 says, by intrigue. Flatteries. The Hebrew word means ‘slick or slippery’.
He takes control of a certain ‘kingdom’ in a peaceful manner.
The next phrase is a little hard to understand … one translation says ‘the overwhelming forces will be overwhelmed by him. Today we might say … the guy took power against all odds. And we might also say, Who would have ever guessed!
Even ‘the prince of the covenant’ can’t stand before him … and seems to be taken in by him. Who is this Prince of the covenant? It would be the high priest in Israel.
- A treaty is made with him. We believe it to be a seven year treaty. At some point into the treaty he works deceitfully(?) What does this mean? This probably means he has a hidden motive, an agenda ; He becomes strong with a small people. We believe this to be the people of Israel.
- In a time of security; probably this refers to the first three and a half years of his treaty, he takes advantage of the wealth of natural resources of the kingdom he has just obtained. He spreads this wealth around to his followers.
- For a time; probably for about a year, he is doing some secret plotting against ‘strongholds’. So, if this is the upcoming Antichrist that we are talking about … he does not have total world power. There are other strong holds that he needs to worry about.
- After his ‘plotting’ he initiates an attack against his number one enemy, the king of the South. The battle will be fierce but will end with a peace negotiation. However, both kings will lie during the peace talks. V27
- After a period of time goes by … possibly a year(?) there will be another war. But just before the battle the king of the North goes back home … with great riches and with a growing indignation against the Jewish religion ... What holds him back from doing what he would really like to do? The king of the south is still a power to be reckoned with and would not sit idly by watching the king of the North do to Israel what he would really like to do.
- At a certain point he attacks the king of the South. But, because the former peace talks were all lies … the king of the South did not ‘disarm’ like they had agreed to do and actually has drummed up some allies and is ready for just such an attack. Because the king of the North is not successful he goes back very angry.
- He finds out which Jews are not really believers in temple worship, gets them to side with him, and then goes into the temple and defiles it … just as Jesus said. Just as Paul has said. V31. See also 9:27
- Verse 33 tells us that there will be quite a revival of believers right at this point. Possibly this refers to the sealing of the 144,000 Jews. It likely includes the initial wave of soul winning that will take place when true believers listen to the news, understand that end-time prophecy and the wrath of God is just around the corner.
- Believers will be ‘made white’ during this time. This is the purification of a ‘spotted’ church that up to now has been fairly at ease. V35
- The king of the North magnifies himself as God. V36
- He takes the position of ‘ruler of the world’, ruling over many, in spite of the fact that he has not 'done away with' the King of the South..
- At the time of the end the king of South initiates an attack (v40) How far into the seven years? That is hard to pinpoint. Some have said this verse is right at the midpoint in the seven years. But it says, ‘time of the end’ so it could be at the end of year seven. The King of the South is defeated because he did not anticipate that the king of the North would have so many allies.
- After the defeat of the king of the South, the Northern king is totally free to destroy and plunder a lot of other areas that must have been under the protection of the King of the South.
- He seems relatively secure with his new power and riches. Then news out of the northeast troubles him. There is more on this in a later chapter of Revelation.
- That brings us right to the point of his ‘end’.
The conflicts during this final seven years of ‘time as we know it’ on earth, are global. In other words, these are not battles between small countries situated in the Middle East while the USA, the free world, Russia, and China sit by and watch. The kings are called North and South. Then there is a reference to North/east. Whatever the proper names of the countries may be, they are huge movements, such as we would expect in a world war.
The political, global movements which Daniel has described affect the whole world. Believers at that time will experience the same things the rest of the world is experiencing unless God wants to particularly spare them. The devastation of battle is the result of fallen human nature, amplified by the evil intentions of ‘the man of sin.’
The first two battles between the King of the North and the King of the South occur during the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation period. The last battle happens right the end.
The four horsemen of Revelation1 summarize what happens to the earth while these kings and countries are fighting. You will remember one quarter of the earth dies as a result of these wars. These wars have nothing to do with the wrath of Satan against unbelievers. That happens in the second half of the seven year term. These wars have nothing to do with plagues brought on the earth by the two witnesses … they also do not appear until the second half. Therefore we can also say, these wars have nothing to do with the trumpet judgments; which happen during the second half.
What will life be like at that time?
Isa 24:20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
This may describe it to some extent.
But all of this is nothing compared to what the lost will see:
Lu 21:25 "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 "men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.
27 "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
These verses are particularly true of the second half of the tribulation.
Jesus put it this way;
Mt 24:8 "All these are the beginning of sorrows.
The phrase particularly refers to a pregnant woman entering into labor.
And apostle Paul puts it like this:
1Th 5:3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
The struggles that will affect the whole earth during the seven years start with battles for dominion
Increase with the Antichrist's hatred for God, the Jews and for Christians.
Intensify with the huge plagues put on the earth by the two witnesses.
The world suffers as the labor pains come closer and closer together, and as the intensity increases with each one. Christians living during that time will suffer under the attack of the Antichrist, but will be shielded from the severe judgments of God that are aimed at the wicked and are designed to bring them to repentance.
Re 3:10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
1Revelation 6:1-8 – The opening of the First 4 seals of the 7 sealed scroll.