Thursday, December 29, 2016
1 Then I (John) saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names (titles) that blasphemed God (blasphemy). 2 This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion! And the dragon (Satan) gave the beast his own power and throne (seat) and great authority. 3 I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery (deadly wound)—but the fatal (deadly) wound was healed! The whole world marveled (wondered) at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. 4 They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. “Who is as great as the beast?” they exclaimed. “Who is able to fight against him?” 5 Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. 6 And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering (even vilifying) His Name and His Temple (Tabernacle)—that is, those who live in heaven. 7 And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people (saints) and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. 8 And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made—the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered (sacrificially slain for sins). 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. 10 Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people (saints) must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.
11 Then I saw another (second) beast come up out of the earth (land). He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke (roared) with the voice of a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 He did astounding miracles (signs), even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. 14 And with all the miracles (signs) he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. 15 He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die. 16 He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. 18 Wisdom (discernment) is needed here. Let the one with understanding (insight) solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a (certain) man. His number is 666. Revelation 13:1-18 (NLT)
Revelation chapter 12 ended with the evil fiery-red dragon standing by the seashore (Revelation 12:18) after his failure to devour and kill the woman and her male Child (Jesus) (see Revelation 12:3-6, 13-17). The fiery-red dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil or Satan—went off to make war against the rest of the woman’s offspring—those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:9, 17).
Revelation 13 opens with John, the human author of Revelation, seeing a grotesque beast rising out of the sea with seven heads and ten horns, and ten crowns upon its horns (Revelation 13:1; see also Revelation 11:7). Written on each head of the beast were blasphemous and insulting names that cursed the true God of heaven and earth (Revelation 13:1). The fiery-red dragon, Satan, gave his power, his throne, and great authority to the beast (Revelation 13:2). One of the beast’s heads seemed to have a severe and deadly wound, but its wound was healed, similar to Jesus’ wound in Revelation 5 (Revelation 13:3, 12, 14; see also Revelation 5:6). Apparently, the dragon miraculously restore the beast to life in imitation of God’s resurrection of Jesus. The whole earth marveled and worshipped the evil dragon and the beast (Revelation 13:3-4).
Many commentaries call this first beast a counterfeit or the antichrist! The beast here, first mentioned in Revelation 11:7, is described in similar terms to the beasts (especially the fourth) in the vision of Daniel 7. Importantly, the beast’s power comes from Satan (the dragon).
The beast was given a mouth uttering arrogant, self-centered, and blasphemous words and the beast was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months (Revelation 13:5; see also Daniel 7:8, 11, 20, 25; Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:4). God allowed the beast to operate 42 months just as Satan has given the beast limited power through God's permission. Furthermore, the beast opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His Name, His dwelling (the Temple), and those who lived in heaven (Revelation 13:6). Moreover, the beast was allowed to make war against God’s people (the saints) and given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (Revelation 13:7). Sadly, the people of the earth (pagans) whose names were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life worshipped the fiery-red dragon and the beast (Revelation 13:8).
Then, John saw a second beast, but this beast rose out of the land or earth (Revelation 13:11). This second beast had two horns like a lamb and the beast roared or spoke like the red-fiery dragon (Revelation 13:11). This second beast exercised all the authority of the first beast and made earth and the people to worship the first beast (Revelation 13:12). Furthermore, the second beast performed great signs and miracles, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people (Revelation 13:13). With these various signs and miracles, the second beast deceived many people of the world (heathens) (Revelation 13:14. Many commentaries call this second beast the false prophet, and he is a deceiver or trickster performing all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders (see also Deuteronomy 13:1; Matthew 7:15; Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 16:13-14; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10).
Moreover, the second beast encouraged the people to make a statute of the first beast (Revelation 13:14). The second beast gave breath (life) to the statute of the first beast so that the statue of the first beast could even speak (Revelation 13:15). Most important, the second beast caused the people (heathens), both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked (tattooed) on their right hand or their forehead (Revelation 13:16). No one could buy or sell unless he had the mark (tattoo), that is, the name of the first beast (antichrist) or the number of its name (Revelation 13:16-17). John warned the people that this marking of the beast calls for wisdom. The beast’s marking is the number of a man, and his number is 666 (Revelation 13:18). The antichrist’s mark of 666 represents a symbol of the greatest imperfection and concentration of evil that the world has ever seen even more evil than Nero, a Hitler, or a Stalin. The “mark” of the beast is in contrast to the seal of God and the Lamb given to God’s servants (see Revelation 7:3-4; Revelation 14:1).
Who is this satanic beast representing 666? Over the centuries, a great deal of ingenuity has been expending in attempting to answer this age-old question. Some people have identified this satanic beast as Nero, Hitler, Stalin, and even Saddam Hussein. In the symbolic use of numbers, seven is the perfect number and the number of God. The number six represents man. Often in Jewish apocalyptic literature, six represents an evil number because six represents man apart from God. Thus, many biblical commentaries see 666 as the ultimate concentration of evil.
Revelation chapters 12 through 14 mark a major division in the book of Revelation by introducing three evil characters – the dragon and his two evil beasts. Some biblical commentaries call these three characters the unholy or evil trinity. These three characters are Satan the dragon, the false Christ or antichrist, and the false prophet. These three evil characters actively oppose the true God, His true Christ – Jesus, and His people (the church). John, the human author of Revelation, wanted the church to know these three evil characters—the dragon and his two evil beasts—are the REAL persecutors and enemies against the church (see e.g., John 15:20; Ephesians 6:10-13; 1 Peter 5:8-9). The dragon and his two evil beasts account for the age-long conflict between God and His people.
For centuries, Satan has raised up his leaders or counterfeit agents that persecute God’s people. Similar to the antichrist (Revelation 13:3), these counterfeit agents receive their power from Satan. Even more, Satan has sent out counterfeits or false prophets throughout history to attack God’s people by deceiving and manipulating God’s Word (see e.g., Genesis 3:1-5; Jeremiah 14:14-16; Jeremiah 23:16; Matthew 7:15; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1-3). Satan and his false prophets take God’s truths and produce a counterfeit version of God's work and teaching. Jesus’ warned His disciples in all three Synoptic Gospels that false prophets and false messiahs will appear who are empowered by and sent by Satan to deceive God’s people (see e.g., Matthew 24:4-5, 10-11, 23-24; Mark 13:5-6, 21-22; Luke 21:8). Jesus instructs His people not to be deceived by these false prophets, false messiahs, and other deceptions!
However, God the Father and Jesus Christ have already defeated the dragon and his two evil beasts (see e.g., John 16:33; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:4-5). Moreover, God’s people have defeated the dragon and his two evil beasts by the blood of the Lamb and by the faithful word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11; see also Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; Revelation 3:5, 12, 21). John wrote the book of Revelation to encourage God’s people to remain wholeheartedly faithful to God and NOT TO ACCOMMODATE, COMPROMISE, AND WORSHIP with the unholy trinity—Satan the dragon, the false Christ or antichrist, and the false prophet and not accept their evil values and teaching (see Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12; Revelation 21:7-8; see also Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19)! John warned God’s people that these evil characters would appear godly with fatal wounds that have healed and performed numerous miracles and signs, but they are evil and their ways lead to eternal death (Revelation 13:1-3, 11-15; Revelation 14:9-11, 17-20; Revelation 20:10; see also 2 Timothy 3:13-16).
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