In this chapter, which is quite pivotal to the whole book, we see Satan try to counterfeit the whole Trinity of God by joining together and giving his power to the two beasts, which come up out of the sea and the land. We can even see a false resurrection! Satan always wants to show off his power to entice people to follow him.
Revelation 13:1-10. The false prince.
The symbolism of the animals reminds us of the four great beasts in Daniel 7. What an amazing contrast with our wonderful ‘Perfect Lamb, without blemish and without spot’ 1 Peter 1:19. Daniel interpreted a dream for Nebuchadnezzar which turned out to be a prophetic word about a great image. with head of gold, its chest and arms were of silver, brazen loins and thighs, legs of iron and feet and toes of iron and clay, Daniel 2:31-35. According to most commentators each of these parts represented different sequential Empires. The head of gold represented the Babylonian Empire, the silver chest and arms represented the Medo-Persian Empire, the loins and thighs of brass the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, and the iron legs and iron and clay-mixed feet and toes represent the Roman Empire, (see lesson 18).
The two major divisions and the ten subdivisions of the Roman Empire outlined by the legs, and toes represent a world system. It is a system of authority and power where the Beast is described as having seven crowned heads and ten horns each having a crown, just like the red dragon in Revelation 12:3. The power was phenomenal due to the ‘dragon giving his might and power and his throne and dominion’. In other words, he gave it all he had. This is his greatest and last possible attempt at world domination – just as a gambler stakes all on a single and last throw of the dice! Thankfully, we have the advantage of being able to read the end of ‘the Book’ to know that Satan’s last wager will fail.
The Beast shows the Satanic family likeness, by again trying to emulate God the Father with His Son Jesus. The entire interpretation of this prophetic dream, although given to Daniel by God and understood by Daniel was to be ‘sealed up’ until the time of the end, the very end of the Church Age, Daniel 12:4 TLB. “But Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal it up so that it will not be understood until the end times, when travel and education shall be vastly increased!”
For those who have the ‘eyes to see,’ we know that these ‘end times’ are approaching, simply because of present day events. Never in all of history have people travelled like those of this time. Never has so much knowledge been available. We have books, newspapers, the Internet, radio and television all catering to the vast appetite for knowledge, and it appears that ‘the more we get, the more we want.’ During the period from 1950 to 1970 it is estimated that knowledge, fuelled by technology, had doubled! By the end of 2012 that knowledge had doubled every 72 hours! It should be of concern that men now prefer to deny creation, and instead try to prove that we are descended from the apes! Interestingly we see in this passage people are given a Beast to follow and worship. However, for believers, ‘knowledge’ is also increasing on a spiritual level, expanding our interpretation of the Word. Increased knowledge and revelation from the Word is constantly challenging us to change some of our long held traditions. All these great inventions and thirst for knowledge result in growing the Gospel on a daily basis. We are increasingly mobile primarily to spread the Gospel and the Holy Spirit is recognised as the Person Who gives insight and understanding to many complicated passages of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
It is precisely at this time that the interpretation of this prophetic dream will be revealed, the seal will be broken and people will begin to fathom the full implications of the satanic system, which is represented and evidenced through government, politics, religion and commerce. This organisation will have been forming little by little through the years of Western economic plenty and whose hallmarks are greed, control, subjection, subversion, apathy, self-centredness and totalitarianism, just like their leader! In charge are Satan and his demons, and they will be aided and abetted by the Antichrist and by the false prophet who are, at this point in time yet to be revealed. In the 1980’s Clifford Hill prophesied that the UK would experience Revival under a totalitarian regime. This seemed impossible at the time with the political system, as it was then. However, this system has been changing and so now, a more totalitarian form of politics appears to be manifesting, before our eyes!
When the Beast system is revealed, the Antichrist will have been working overtly, for more than 3½ years. We know that it is at least this amount of time, because he is regarded as a man of negotiation, conciliation and peace, during the first half of the Tribulation Period and it is not until he breaks his agreement with Israel, that he declares himself in his true colours, as the mouthpiece of Satan and his co-conspirator. However, it is important to say that although we know much more about the Antichrist, we do not know his identity yet, and although we know much more about the political and socio-economic system and we can see its development, we cannot yet determine the exact form that it will take. This system is even now, rising up out of the people and governments in power on the earth and it will manipulate and control those of mankind, who bow the knee to it. It is, however, a system so totally at odds with the Word of God that Believers can never and will never submit to its control, preferring instead to be martyred for their faith, Revelation 13:1-3.
‘The sea,’ is not a sea of water, but as we have seen before in Revelation 4:6, it represents the people; but this time they are the people of the earth during the Tribulation Period. The Beast represents the system which will be used to control the people. It is an administration that will enthral and literally captivate the majority of those people, who remain alive at that time. This officialdom will be the basis of control through the entire world and will be the method by which Satan and his unholy alliance have power over its inhabitants. “The coming [of the lawless one, the Antichrist] is through the activity and working of Satan and will be attended by great power and with all sorts of [pretended] miracles and signs and delusive marvels–[all of them] lying wonders and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing,” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 Amp. Up until this time Satan’s power has been subject to another, so Paul said that his calling was to “open their eyes and to turn them from the power of Satan to God,” Acts 26:18. We still live in the time of great mercy, so we need to sense the urgency of this time and to share Jesus.
The previous Empires were Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Greek. The Roman Empire – the sixth, and the seventh – are presently forming. It was during this time of the Roman Empire that the Kingdom of God was announced and Jesus was born. It subsequently appeared that this event had dealt a death-blow to the development of Satan’s attempt at world domination – hence one of the heads having a deadly wound – but we know that Satan has not finished yet – his time for captivity in the bottomless pit has not yet arrived! This death stroke was healed and the seventh beast empire, which is a world-wide system of all that is and has been contrary to God over the centuries, will come to the fore. This focus on the Beast and his system’s resurrection helps to take the edge off the impact made upon the people, by the resurrection of the Two Witnesses. Each Empire has experienced increasing oppression for God’s people, but this End Times one will be the worst. This system will not just be a Western one, or a revived Roman Empire, for the image described in Daniel has two legs representing the East and West; this implies that it will be worldwide. The ten toes of Daniel’s interpretation could be kingdoms of this Empire, and we don’t yet know which these are to be. Some have said that the world will be divided into 10 zones (kingdoms) and that this is already in preparation through the World Government.
The remarkable and sad thing about this Beast system is that the whole world will want to belong to it, after they see the deadly wound has been healed, Revelation 13:3-4. As we have seen, the very essence of this scheme is opposition to God. The nations will regard the Beast as invincible; no one will dare to come against him and there will be a deceptive peace. The names on the crowns on the Beast’s heads were blasphemous, so it is of no great surprise to discover that when this Satanic order was given the power of speech (and this may be advertising, television, or media of any sort), it could only utter boastful and blasphemous words. God is warning those living at this time, not to be fooled by the Beast’s character and to avoid the temptation of becoming involved. This demonic system will slander God and Heaven, which has been prepared for those who love Him, including those who have followed Jesus Christ and are already with Him in Heaven, Revelation 13:5-6.
The whole purpose of this satanic system is to involve everyone; to suck them into the quicksand of its surroundings, then to control them utterly and completely. We shall see in a later chapter that, once taken in, men and women will be powerless – they will not be able to think straight – it will be as if they become automatons. The Beast system will exert its authority and exercise its will, for three and a half years. The good news is that this system is time-constrained; the three and a half years will be the entire extent of the second half of the Tribulation period. However, the implementation of its authority will only grow in ferocity, as it seeks to encompass the entire remaining population of the world, Revelation 13:7-8.
The system’s ultimate focus is to destroy God’s creation, especially His people and it will look, humanly speaking, as if it is being successful. Any remaining Believers will be discriminated against, imprisoned, tortured and martyred in Satan’s vain attempt to destroy them. The good news is that even if they do pay the ultimate price, their lives will be preserved forever, as in death, they will go home to be with the Lord forever. The world will not be worthy of them!
As the persecution worsens, the people of the world will increase their homage to the corrupt system. At this point, it is important to remind ourselves, that God knows who the Believers are, as He has known them from the foundation of the world, 1 Peter 1:18-20. The Beast is totally impotent when it comes to the glorified people of God; pathetically, he is reduced to name calling! In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul describes Satan’s whole aim throughout history, (he) “Who opposes and exalts himself so proudly and insolently against and over all that is called God or that is worshiped, [even to his actually] taking his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming that he himself is God.”
Revelation 13:11-18 – The false prophet.
Not content with one beast, the worldly financial and commercial system, which rose up out of the turbulent sea of humanity, now has a second beast rising up out of the land. ‘The land’ represents an ordered society, civilised and cultured, but very much of the world. People desire to worship something. This need is built into us from creation, so mankind’s choice is ‘Who or what’ to worship? Here, these men of the world have made their choice. They have rejected Jesus, so when Satan gives them the opportunity to be organised in a worldly, orchestrated opposition religion, they fully embrace it and become doubly enmeshed, both financially and spiritually, in this religious lie.
This second beast looks like a lamb – but this lamb has only two horns, rather than the seven of the Lamb of God (Revelation 5:6) – but it has the roar of its master, Satan. The former paganism, depicted by the Roman Empire, was apparently wounded to death by the coming of Jesus. This paganism now revives, but this second beast has been ‘christian-ised’. It looks like religion, has a form of godliness, but there is no substance. This second beast is the false prophet; the head of new all-embracing worldwide religion, Revelation 13:11-12.
The focal point of this new and false religion is Satan himself. It is through the Beast system, which promises wealth and riches, prosperity beyond everyone’s wildest dreams, that Satan entraps the unwary, who are ready and willing to be deceived at a moment’s notice! These people are persuaded to follow a lie, because of amazing signs and wonders, Revelation 13:13-15. Jesus performed miracles and gave His followers authority over all the wiles of the enemy. Now the enemy confronts humanity with false powers, just as Pharaoh’s ‘wise men’ did when challenged by Moses in Egypt, Exodus 7-8. Deception is a terrible thing, and world religions are filled with it. This ungodly duplicity will be virtually impossible to resist and its power will be demonically increased during its 42 month reign of terror on the earth.
Jesus’ death, as a sacrifice and substitute for us, is the ONLY answer to sin. NOTHING else will ever be sufficient, but it takes courage to believe in, and to receive His Amazing Grace. Just being good is not enough; our good deeds are compared to ‘filthy rags’ in Isaiah 64:6. Yet many people throughout the earth, today willingly choose to follow Jesus, even if their choice means that they will face persecution, or being ostracised from family and friends. Some are martyred; some suffer terribly for their faith as history has always shown, Hebrews 11.
The result of this deception is that a statue is erected to honour ‘the system’ and it is given the satanic breath of life by the second beast – the false prophet. This image will have the power to put to death those who would not bow down to it. This is not new. In the Book of Daniel it is recorded that King Nebuchadnezzar made an image and insisted that when music was played, all people had to bow down to it. Anyone who did not bow down was to be thrown into a fiery furnace to die, Daniel 3.
The role of the false prophet will be to make religion acceptable and point all to worship the beast. He will be very charismatic and will take full advantage of men’s carnal appetite, which has been allowed the freedom to do what it has desired for years, thus the pornography revolution, as an example. He will be able to move the masses to tears, or stir them into a frenzy; he will totally control them. People will not recognise his lies, as he subtly moulds their opinions. This false prophet will blind people with his wonders, but these are signs from hell. The Beast will now take his followers into the Temple and set up his image in the Holy Place, which is the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of by Jesus Himself, Matthew 24:22. To worship this image will be the crowning act of blasphemy for mankind, from which there is no forgiveness.
Is there anything or anyone whom we can revere more than God? What could be more important than worshiping King of Kings, Who made us, and loves us so much? The Western World has enjoyed relative peace until recently, but we need only to search the media to find people who are being prosecuted for their beliefs, even here in the West, or others who are condemned to death for converting to Christianity, or sharing their faith and what Jesus has done in their lives. Perhaps we should try to imagine how we would react in such circumstances?
Worship is our voluntary response to God’s Love. When we become Believers, the Holy Spirit places a seal on us – not a physical mark as the Beast system requires – but a mark which is identifiable by God; His fingerprint on us, declaring that we belong to Him. How can we as Believers take on any other mark, especially one that is Satanic and in direct opposition to our Lord and Saviour? The trademark of the beast will be imposed by placing an indelible, non-removable logo on a person’s right hand or on their forehead; it will be visible at all times and will be displayable on demand. Without this authority, it will be impossible to buy and sell goods and it will evidence allegiance to the beast system, demonstrating that the bearer of this mark is not a Believer, Revelation 13:16-17.
The few Believers who are left at this dreadful time will need to make a difficult choice. Should they choose to refuse the mark of the Beast, we’ve seen that this will prevent them from buying and selling, so consequently, they will become outcasts and unable to feed themselves or their families. Will this mean that they will be tempted to follow the satanic line? These marks are mutually exclusive. Once the mark of the Beast has been chosen, there is never an opportunity to change your mind. What you have chosen, you have chosen – forever! Many will receive the mark, as they are convinced that what the Beast is doing is best for the world and that it is necessary to unite, in order to eradicate poverty and war. More will receive the mark because they have been too busy to think it through for themselves and so have been swept along with the crowd. Others will take the mark as they are too afraid to be different and do not wish to stand out from everyone else. The false prophet’s subtle plan, under the appeal of world unity and the good of mankind, is very successful.
The number of the beast system is a man’s number. As this system has not yet been implemented, it is very difficult to decipher its meaning. The number ‘666’ has been identified with man in all his fullness – complete man – but without God. Many people have attempted to put names of people to this number, by adding up the supposed sum of the digits in code, in Latin, and in all sorts of other ways. People have hypothesised that the owner of this 666 man-plate is the Pope, Henry Kissinger, Hitler, Nero or indeed many others, but the fact is that when people need to know, it will become very obvious, Revelation 13:18. John encourages those who recognise the number of the Beast, to make the choice to repent of their wrong-doings, to turn and follow Jesus, trusting Him to make the necessary arrangements to show them the way to stay safe until He returns.
From this chapter, we see that the main challenge for us is to ensure that we each become a wholehearted follower of Jesus, even through trials, tribulations and trouble; in other words, through the good times and bad. Nothing and no-one else is worthy of our allegiance, Joshua 24:14-15. What choice will our family and friends make at this horrific time in His-story? How can we, as Believers, influence their decision?
25 Revelation 13 –The False Prince and False Prophet – Challenge Questions
It is suggested that you answer all the questions in your homework but only do those marked with ‘*’ in your group to save time and give more time to prayer.
1. *Read the Notes and the Bible Verses referred to in them. Highlight the points that ‘speak’ to you and be prepared to share with your group.
2. Which section stands out for you from the whole of Revelation 13? Why?
3. *Do you think it is going to be easy to identify this Beast system?
Read Revelation 14
4. *Who are the 144,000? What is their purpose in life?
5. With whose names are they sealed? What other points are made about the 144,000 in this chapter?
6. Do you think it will be hard for them to do their job? Has there ever been such a time in history when it has been difficult to be a Believer?
7. *Do you have a seal on you and your life at the moment? How can you be sure? Who has placed it on you and with whose authority?
8. *What does the Seal on Believers guarantee? Can we lose this seal?
9. What job has God asked you to do for Him at this time in history?
10. How can you do the work that God has asked you to undertake? Can you do it on your own?
11. *Midway through the Tribulation Period, an angel begins to preach the Gospel. Who was he preaching to? What did he say as a warning?
12. *A second angel will speak, what will be the message of this angel? What is the meaning of what the angel will say?
13. *What does the third angel say? What system will be wide spread at this time?
14. *What will it take for someone to be victorious as a Believer at this time of the Tribulation? Will they be different to the characteristics that we have to possess as Believers today? Can you give examples from your own life?
15. *Describe what happens at the final harvest in your own simple words. How should Christians feel at this time? Revelation 14:14-20