Revelation 13

The Dragon and the Beast

In the previous chapter, the characters of the woman (Israel) and the dragon (Satan)were used to describe the Attack on Jerusalem and the Great Tribulation. In this chapter, these same events are explained through the characters of the dragon and the Beast (the antichrist). As we read earlier, the title of the Beast can refer to either a king or his kingdom.

“These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth.”

Dan. 7:17
 
“Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.” Dan.7:23

As in the above examples, the Beast of the Revelation represents both the king who will blaspheme God, and his kingdom that will carry out the Attack on Jerusalem and the Great Tribulation. Before describing these events, the Revelation gives us more details concerning the rise of the Beast (the antichrist), and the dragon (Satan) who will empower him.

The Rise of the Beast


The description of the rise of the Beast begins with the image of the dragon standing on the shore of the sea as the Beast emerges from the waters.

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. Rev. 13:1

In order to understand the above account of the rise of the Beast (the antichrist), it is necessary to interpret the following Biblical symbolism.

The dragon represents the devil, who is Satan.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev. 12:9

The Sea that the Beast comes from represents the Gentile (Non-Jewish) nations.

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.” Rev. 17:15

The seven heads of the Beast represent either seven kings or seven kingdoms.

Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains (kingdoms)[1] upon which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.  Rev. 17:9-10 *NASB

The ten horns are ten kings who will give their authority(crowns) to the Beast.

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.”  Rev. 17:12-13

Based upon our understanding of the Biblical symbolism, we can say that when the Beast (the antichrist) is described as coming out of the sea, it means that the Beast will come from the Gentile nations. The dragon who stands on the shore is the devil or Satan. The description of him standing on the shore of the sea as the Beast emerges is a word picture that describes how Satan will bring forth and empower the Beast. The ten horns of the Beast represent the ten kings who will give their authority to the Beast.[2]
      
In addition to the Revelation account, more information concerning the rise of the Beast (the antichrist) is given to us by the prophet Daniel who also wrote about the Beast with the ten horns.

“The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.  He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws.” Dan. 7:23-25

In these verses, we learn that a Fourth Kingdom will appear on earth from which ten kings will arise as represented by the ten horns. From these ten kings another king will come (the Beast) who will subdue three of the ten kings. This explains why the Beast emerges from the sea with ten horns, representing the ten kings who will form this kingdom, but with only seven heads, representing how the Beast will subdue three of the kings.

After describing the ten horns and seven heads of the Beast, the Revelation next describes the kingdom of the Beast as a fourth beast with the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and a mouth like a lion.

And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. Rev. 13:2

In order to understand the above symbolism, we must, again, look to Daniel who wrote about these same, three beasts. In Daniel’s account, the lion, the bear, and the leopard represent the three successive kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, and Greece and their corresponding kings.

Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’ After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.”
Dan. 7:2-6


In the above description, the lion represents the kingdom of Babylon and its king Nebuchadnezzar who, because of his pride, was given a mind like an animal until he was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man.[3] The bear represents the kingdom of Persia and Cyrus the Great. The three ribs in its mouth represent Cyrus’s three great conquest over the kingdoms of the Medes, Lydia, and Babylon. The leopard represents the kingdom of Greece and its king Alexander the Great whose speed of conquest is depicted by the leopard with four wings on its back. The four heads of the leopard represent the four generals who divided Alexander’s kingdom following his death. Accordingly, when the Beast is described as having the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and a mouth like a lion, it is the Scriptures way of showing us that the Fourth Kingdom will follow the three previous kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Based on the historical account, this would make the Fourth Kingdom the kingdom of Rome.

The Re-Emergence of the Ancient Roman Empire

When we look at a map, we notice that the Ancient Roman Empire encompassed the regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Today, this same area includes the block of European nations that border the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the nine North African and Middle Eastern countries that encircle the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Together, these nations form the boundaries that once defined the Ancient Roman Empire. Daniel tells us that from these same nations will come the Fourth Kingdom and the ten kings (the union of European states being considered as one king) who will give their power to the Beast (the antichrist).


The future, Fourth Kingdom of the Beast was also described by Daniel in a vision of an enormous statue with a head of gold and a body made up of silver, bronze, and iron.

“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of
the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.” Dan. 2:31-33

From Daniel’s account, we learn that the head of gold represents the Babylonian Empire, the chest of silver the Persian Empire, and the torso of bronze the Greek Empire.[4] In this description, the Fourth Kingdom of the Roman Empire is represented by the statue’s legs of iron, which symbolize how Rome would break and crush its enemies.

“Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.  Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.  And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” Dan. 2:40-43

In the vision of the statue, the feet and ten toes that descend from the legs of iron form a word picture that describes how ten future kings will come from the descendants of the Ancient Roman Empire. These are the same ten nations that will give their authority to the Beast. The description of the feet and ten toes as being partly iron and partly clay represents how the Beast and the ten nations will crush their enemies like iron, just as the Ancient Roman Empire did, but will not remain united just as iron does not bond with clay. The division that will exist within the kingdom of the Beast will be due to the mixture of peoples who will make up this kingdom, and is further evidenced by how the Beast will be forced to subdue three of the kings.

The Ruler Who Will Come


Further testimony that the Beast will come from the remnants of the Ancient Roman Empire is given to us in another prophecy by Daniel that tells us that the Ruler Who Will Come   will come from the people who will destroy the city and the sanctuary.

…“The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Dan. 9:26-27


The description of the people of the Ruler Who Will Come, who will destroy the city and sanctuary, is another reference to the Ancient Roman Empire that invaded the land of Israel and destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its sanctuary in 70 A.D. Daniel said that the Ruler Who Will Come, would come from these same people.
     
All of the above points to the Beast as being the head of a nation, which, itself, will be part of a Ten-Nation Coalition of European, Middle Eastern, and North African countries, whose descendants once formed the Ancient Roman Empire, and who will give their power and authority to the Beast.

Fatal Wound

One event, in particular, will gain the attention and admiration of the whole world towards the Beast. In this event, one of the heads (kings) of the Beast will suffer a fatal wound, but the wound will be healed. When the king comes back to life, it will fill the world with wonder and will add to their awe of the Beast.

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon
(Satan) because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” Rev. 13:3-4

The account of the Beast with the fatal wound is another instance where the symbolism of the Beast is used to describe both a king and his kingdom. In this case, the Beast with ten heads is a description of the kingdom of the Beast, which will consist of ten kings (heads). The king with the fatal wound is the Beast himself who will seemingly come back from the dead. When the Beast recovers from the fatal wound, it will amaze the Inhabitants of the Earth who will worship the Beast. The description of the beast who comes back to life can also be applied to the kingdom of the Beast, which, as a re-emergence of the Ancient Roman Empire, will also amaze the Inhabitants of the Earth.  

The Beast and the Great Tribulation


After identifying the Beast as a future kingdom that will rise up from the descendants of the Ancient Roman Empire, we are then given another description of the Great Tribulation, which will be carried out by the Beast following the Attack on Jerusalem.

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. Rev. 13:5-10 


The description of the Beast who will exercise his authority for forty-two months is another description of the 3 ½ years following the Attack on Jerusalem when the armies of the Beast will occupy the city. During this period, the Dragon (Satan) will empower the Beast to wage a war against God’s people in the events of the Great Tribulation. In this description of the Great Tribulation, we learn that during this time, the Beast will gain authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.

The False Prophet


The rise of the Beast will be facilitated by the accompanying rise of a False Prophet who is described as the Second Beast. The Second Beast will come out of the earth and will speak the words of the dragon.

Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth.  It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Rev. 13:11-13


The False Prophet will augment his message with great signs including making lightning come from the sky. The signs of the Second Beast will be similar in purpose to those performed by Pharaoh’s magicians in the days of Moses and Aaron. At that time, the sorcerers of Egypt performed wonders that were comparable to those of the two prophets in order to detract from their message.[5] In the same way, during the rise of the Beast, the signs of the False Prophet will delude the Inhabitants of the Earth into worshiping the Beast and ignoring the warnings of the Two Witnesses.

With these signs he
(the False Prophet) had deluded those who had received the mark of the Beast and worshiped its image. Rev. 19:20

The rise of the False Prophet will culminate with the Attack on Jerusalem, when the Beast will kill the Two Witnesses, which leave the False Prophet as the leading prophetic voice in the land. (To read about the Two Witnesses see Revelation Chapter 11.)

During the Great Tribulation, the False Prophet will impose the worship of the Beast and will order all those who refuse to worship the Beast to be killed. In addition, the Second Beast will implement the Mark of the Beast, which is the number of the Beast that everyone will be forced to receive in order to buy or sell.

Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast (
the False Prophet) was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. Rev. 13:14-17

This chapter ends with a call to those who have wisdom and insight to calculate the number of the Beast, which is 666.

This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. Rev. 13:18

Order of Events of the Last Days

1. Wars, Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes, and Famines 
(Seals 1-4)
2. The Martyrs Pray for Judgment and Revenge 
(5th. Seal) – The 144,000 are sealed
     – 1/3 of earth is burned up in world-wide drought (1st. Trumpet)
     – 1/3 of sea turns to blood, Satan’s kingdom defeated (2nd. Trumpet)
     – 1/3 of waters are poisoned, Satan cast out (3rd. Trumpet)
     – 1/3 of Israel is struck, the Attack on Jerusalem (4th. Trumpet)
3. The Great Tribulation
– the full number of God’s people are killed
     – The Plague of Locusts (5th. Trumpet)
     – The Plague of Fire, Smoke, and Sulfur (6th. Trumpet)
4. The Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm 
– the Battle of Armageddon (6th. Seal, 7th. Trumpet)
5. Silence in Heaven 
– the enemies of God are defeated (7th. Seal)
6. The Reign of Christ on Earth

Footnotes:
[1] In the Scriptures, mountains are used to represent kingdoms (See Revelation 8, the Second Trumpet).

[2] The dragon is also described as having ten horns and seven heads in Rev. 12:3, which is a picture of how the dragon will bring forth and empower the Beast and his kingdom.

[3] This event is described in Dan. Chapter. 4

[4] Dan. 2:36-39

[5] Ex. 7:8-24

Revelation Chapter 12
Revelation Chapter 14

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