Have you ever had a dream? Maybe you had a dream about the legendary British King Arthur and his wife Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot along with the knights of the round table. I love fantasy stories where the good men conquer evil and honor the homeland. In one fantasy dream I found that by flapping my arms I could fly like a bird. I could move around and even stay in one spot in the air. That was a great dream. Maybe your dream was a nightmare much like Dorothy’s dream in the story of the Wizard of Oz. Poor Dorothy thought that she was trapped in a foreign land among strange people along with her magic slippers. Our next chapter in Revelation is almost like a nightmare. It is about dragons, and two horrible beasts. It is the Apostle John’s vision.
Revelation 12 introduced us to four of seven signs. These first four signs included a woman, a dragon, a male child, and Michael the archangel. The woman was the nation of Israel, the child was Jesus Christ, and the dragon was Satan. Satan was angry and enraged because he dicovered that his end was near.
Two more signs will be given in this study in Revelation 13. They are two beasts. The first one has seven heads and ten horns and the second one performs signs and wonders. The first beast is the Antichrist and the second one is the false prophet who requires men and women to receive the mark of 666. When we reach the end of this study, there will be only one more sign.
As Revelation 13 opens we are told that “he stood on the sand of the seashore.”
And he stood on the sand of the seashore. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. (NASB) Rev. 13:1
The key question we want to ask is, “Who is standing on the seashore?” The answer is given in Revelation 12:9 and Rev. 20:2. At the end of Revelation 12 we were told that the dragon, or Satan, was enraged and went after the woman to destroy her. Therefore, the first verse of this chapter is still talking about him.
The First Beast
As Satan stood on the seashore a horrible beast came up out of the sea.
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. (NASB) Rev. 13:2
The beast had seven heads and ten horns just like the dragon in Rev. 12:4. The symbols are important because they reveal that the dragon and this horrible beast are related. The seven heads and ten horns help us understand that Satan and this beast are connected to the nations (or empires) and events described in Daniel 7.
The ten diadems or crowns of this beast are on his horns. The dragon had seven crowns, but they were on his seven heads. The location of the crowns shows that even though they both have the same number of heads and horns they are different. They are related, but they are not the same individual or creature.
Different parts of this beast look like a leopard, a bear, and a lion. These same symbols of a lion, bear, and a leopard are identical to those found in the prophet Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:4-7. We will soon discover that Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 are describing the same empire.
In Daniel 7:4-7 we find four beasts. The first one is a lion representing the Babylonian Empire. The second one is a bear representing the Medo-Persian Empire. The third one is a leopard representing the empire of Greece. The fourth and last beast had ten horns. The four beasts represent four empires and the ten horns on the last beast represent a fifth empire which is a restoration of the Roman Empire or some nation of European descent which controls the Middle East. Both Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 refer to a lion, bear, leopard, and ten horns.
Revived Roman Empire
But the beast in Revelation 13 has all of the symbols. What does this mean? The answer is as follows.
Daniel 7:11-12 explains that the fourth beast also represents all of the nations which have occupied the land of Canaan. Each one has been succeeded by another and each one has controlled the land of Israel. So the last beast represents all Gentile control of the land of Israel (Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:1-2). That is why God says,
As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away . . . (NASB) Dan. 7:11-12
When the revived Roman Empire is destroyed, all the other empires will be destroyed too! The revived Roman Empire – the last empire – represents all Gentile nations which occupied the land of Canaan.
Earlier in Daniel 2, the same kingdoms were represented by a statue of different metals. The Roman Empire was represented by legs of iron, and the revived Roman Empire was represented by the feet of iron and clay. Then Daniel 2:44-45 says that all of the kingdoms or empires will be destroyed when God sets up His kingdom (Dan. 7:9-10). Once more we see that when the revived Roman Empire is destroyed the other empires are destroyed too! This means the beast in Revelation 13 represents all of the nations which have occupied the land of Canaan. It is the revived Roman Empire.
Now we must ask, “What is the meaning of the seven heads?” The answer is found in Revelation 17:8-13 where we will read that the seven heads of this lion-bear-leopard beast are seven mountains.
As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away . . . (NASB) Dan. 7:11-12
Some have said the seven mountains represent Rome or the Roman Catholic Church because they say that Rome has seven mountains. But Rome has more than seven hills which implies that the seven hills cannot refer to Rome. The best meaning of the mountains is provided in Daniel 2:35, 44-45. The mountains were a common symbol for kingdoms or empires. Therefore, the seven mountains represent seven empires. Daniel 2 and 7 describe only five key empires which controlled the land of Israel, because the dream started with the Babylonian Empire. Now we are told that there are two more empires, for a total of seven empires.
Revelation 17:10 gives more information about the seven mountains or seven heads. The seven mountains are seven kings or kingdoms.
. . . 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. (NASB) Rev. 17:10
We are told that five have already fallen. Daniel tells us that three of them are Babylon, Medio-Persia, and Greece. History reveals that these two other empires which had fallen were the Egyptian and the Assyrian Empires. This makes a total of five. “One is” refers to the Roman Empire. This was the empire which controlled the land occupied by Israel when the Apostle John and the Holy Spirit wrote the book of Revelation. The empire that had “not yet come” is the restored Roman Empire. It is the return of the Roman Empire to power. These are the seven heads or empires. This means the beast in Revelation 13 represents all of the empires which have occupied the land occupied by Israel and represents the last empire – the revived Roman Empire.
Daniel 7:8 also tells us that a little horn will arrive and murder three of the ten horns. Only seven horns will remain. Daniel 7:15-28 explains that the Antichrist will rule for times, time, and half a time. He is the leader of the last empire – the revived Roman Empire.
During our study of Revelation 12:14 we discovered that times, time, and half a time referred to 3.5 years or 1,260 days (Rev. 12:6, 14). In a few verses (Rev. 13:5) we will soon discover that this 3.5 year period is referred to as forty-two months. Once again both Daniel and Revelation 13 are talking about events which will occur during the last 3.5 years of the Tribulation.
Revelation 17:11 gives us yet another important piece of information. Here we are told that the beast is one of the seven heads – and is “also an eighth.”
And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast. (NASB) Rev. 17:11-13
Now we are told that the beast’s ten horns represent kings who have not yet received a kingdom. That means the kingdom or empire is coming in the future. These kings will support the Antichrist for awhile, but three will be murdered by him. This will leave seven kings and make the Antichrist the eighth king. That is what “himself also an eighth” refers to and again this agrees with Daniel 7:8, 20, 24-26.
First Beast – Summary
This has been a long explanation about the beast. It is important to understand what this beast represents. He the Antichrist who rules over the revived Roman Empire, along with seven other kings. The coalition started with ten kings and their extraordinary power will be demonic.
Now we come to an extremely interesting passage.
And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; and they worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” (NASB) Rev. 13:3-4
What does it mean that his head was slain? We have already discovered that the Antichrist is a human leader of the seventh and last empire. That is the first piece to the answer. Next, verse 12 says that his fatal wound was healed, but verse 14 says that he was killed with a sword and then returned to life. Some have said that this means the Roman Empire “died” and “returned to life.” But the Roman Empire was never conquered. Historians say that it declined and ceased to exist in A.D. 476 for a variety of reasons.
The answer is found in the fact that the verses say his wound was healed and that he returned to life. It appears that someone will attempt to assassinate him and then he will fake his own death and appear to have returned to life. It is doubtful that God would allow him to return to life just like Jesus did. We must remember that only God the Father has the power to raise the dead (John 5:21, 25).
The death of the Antichrist appears to be an imitation of the death of Jesus Christ since the phrase “as if . . . slain” is used for both of them in Rev. 5:5-6 and Rev. 13:3. Satan wants to have his own “Jesus Christ,” and the world will be stunned at his resurrection and will worship both the Antichrist and Satan. They will follow the Antichrist.
The Arrogant One
When men and women sense that they are highly respected and honored, they often become arrogant and self-willed. This is true of politicians, people in business, and in the church. The Antichrist will respond in the same way.
And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. (NASB) Rev. 13:5-6
God will give the Antichrist authority for 42 months or 3.5 years to do almost anything that he desires.
2 Thessalonians tells us that the Antichrist will have demonic power and be allowed to deceive the world with signs and wonders.
. . . the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (NASB) 2 Thess. 2:9-12
Those who are not Christians will believe what they see and hear because they have rejected Jesus Christ and have not responded to the testimonies of the 144,000 witnesses, the two witnesses, angels (Rev. 14:6-20), and to many Christians who will be alive during the tribulation. The world will not understand that they will be living in a terrible time.
Antichrist At War
Like most leaders the Antichrist will want their support and when he does not receive the support of the Christians, he will try to kill them. We will discover in a few verses that “Christians” will have the opportunity to show their support by receiving the mark of the beast which is 666. Those who do will reveal that they were not real Christians. Those who are Christians will refuse and many will die. The real Christians will become obvious.
And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints. (NASB) Rev. 13:7-10
The False Prophet
Another beast is introduced in the last part of the chapter. He is the false prophet according to Revelation 16:13 and 19:20.
And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. (NASB) Rev. 13:11-13
This individual is very powerful. We know very little about him. We do not know from what part of the world he will come. But He will be able to make the world worship the Antichrist. He will probably be a very charismatic individual with great demonic power. God will allow him to cause fire to come down out of heaven and to perform many other signs and wonders.
He will also cause people to make an image of the Antichrist and worship it. Non-Christians will be willing to do this. Why? Will they think that he is an alien or a powerful man who tapped into his supernatural powers? Will the world think that he is a powerful, good witch, someone who has spirit guides, or that he has tapped into the “force”? Whatever the reason, the world will be willing to worship the Antichrist who returned to life. He will be Satan’s “Messiah.”
And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (NASB) Rev. 13:13-14
God will give the false prophet the power to cause the image to come to life, and many who will not worship the image will die.
Apparently in an attempt to force everyone to submit, the false prophet will force persons in the world to receive a mark on their forehead or on the back of the hand.
And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. (NASB) Rev. 13:16-17
In the United States electronic devices are already being inserted under the skin of dogs in order to track their location on the earth and to have a record of their medical history. Devices to be inserted under the skin of citizens are already being considered in order to control immigration and to monitor inmates in prison. It has also been rumored that the best place to put some of these devices is on the backs of the hands or on the foreheads. The technology is already here and it is being refined.
The false prophet will attempt to know where everyone is located. Men and women will not be able to do anything without the mark. The world will not be able to buy food, purchase clothes, cars or homes, rent rooms, travel, obtain gasoline, or do anything else without the mark.
Meaning of 666
What does 666 mean? The last verse of this chapter says this,
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. (NASB) Rev. 13:18
The number of the beast is 666. Many have tried to identify the Antichrist, but they have all failed. Some have said that Nero was the Antichrist because they were able to take his Greek name and convert it to Hebrew letters and then assign numbers to the consonants. The total of the numbers is 666. Others have said it was Rome because the Roman numerals add up to 666. Still others have noticed that the words “The Latin” adds up to 666. Many other options exist.
If we are honest, we must admit that we do not have the wisdom to know what the number 666 represents. We do not know who the Antichrist will b; only God does.
This chapter is full of details. It is an extremely important chapter in understanding the final moments of the Tribulation. It is amazing that God will give authority and power to Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet to do almost anything they desire. Satan will try to destroy God, but he will fail miserably. Men and women of the world will think that their type of messiah has finally arrived. The Antichrist will have brought “peace” to the Middle East, and will have demonstrated awesome supernatural powers. But they will not realize until it is too late that their messiah is an evil one. Life on this planet will be horrible as the Antichrist seeks to control every man and woman and as God sends one horrible plague after another to planet earth. What a miserable, horrible place it will be!
Christians will die, but I would imagine that they will welcome death. For the Christian, death means going home to be with God. Victory belongs to the Lord. It will come in six more chapters.
Come quickly Lord Jesus . . .