Study 11 That Which Was: The
Two Beasts of Revelation 13
From God’s perspective the events of Revelation 13 are past. Revelation12 sets forth that Satan was cast out of heaven. Satan was cast out of heaven two thousand years ago. Jesus Christ’s work of grace confined Satan and his work to this earth. In that same work of grace Jesus equipped the Church for her Divine call and task: to bring Satan’s reign on earth to an end. (Eph. 3:10) Because we (the human race) allowed Satan into the world, God’s plan is to render Satan ineffective on this earth through those that are redeemed. For this reason and purpose Jesus reveals to us the beasts kingdom in Revelation 13. From the Divine’s perspective that kingdom is presented as “that which was”.
The Church needs to see history - both present and future - from God’s perspective. Satan’s authority is a thing of the past. God has already defeated Satan, and cast him out of Heaven. In Christ Jesus God has empowered the Church to make Satan’s work a thing of the past on earth. If the Church doesn’t do it; who will?
Let us examine John’s account of Satan’s reign of evil: and from that come to an understanding of how the Church is called to defeat Satan.
John finds himself standing on the sea shore. Since the sea represents society, it is society which gives rise to a beast. This sea beast resembles the dragon of chapter 12. Like the dragon this sea beast has seven heads and ten horns. It is also stated in verse two that the dragon gave him his power, seat and great authority. So obviously his aims, desires, and purposes are the same as the dragon of Revelation 12. By this John presents us with greater detail of Satan’s endeavors to halt God’s purposes and plans. As the dragon he attacked the Church directly. As the sea beast he attacks from within society.
Paul also refers to this work of Satan, he calls it “the mystery of iniquity”.(2 Thess. 2:7) We need to note that this mystery of iniquity is at work in the world at the same time that the mystery of God is unfolding. (Rev. 10:7) Can you have evil and goodness coexist in the same time period? Therein lies the mystery of God’s kingdom. (Matt. 13:24-40) We assume that if God is loving, caring, and wanting His will done on the earth He wouldn’t and/or shouldn’t allow the evils of our time. Thereby we fail to realize and acknowledge that we are responsible for the evil, not God.
Iniquity came about as the result of Satan’s pride. It was allowed into this world by Adam and Eve’s rebellion and selfish desires. Because of the later God began to network with humanity in order to bring about man’s salvation. The Church is vitally important in bringing that plan to fruition. For this reason the Church needs to pay special attention to the words of Revelation 13.
Revelation 13 presents the details of the mystery of iniquity and how Satan endeavors to get the upper hand. Those details are given in figurative language. This mystery of iniquity is portrayed as a beast that arises out of the sea - i.e. society. Therefore Adam isn’t the only one at fault for the evils in this world. We must ask ourselves: where was the Church when society allowed the rise of the beast? After all God had provided her with all the necessary weapons in Christ Jesus.
Unlike the dragon who has crowns on his head, this beast has crowns on his horns. An indication that his mode of operation is changed from that of the dragon. The dragon tried to devour Jesus and pursued the Church. This sea beast does not do so. Instead he blasphemes God. He speaks blasphemy and his heads carry a blasphemous name. If the dragon gives this beast its power, (v4) how come he has changed his mode of operation? Does he think that blaspheming God brings better results than attacking the Church? Surely God isn’t vulnerable to his blasphemy! No, God isn’t vulnerable, but society and the Church are vulnerable to the beasts blasphemy.
We think of blasphemy as speaking evil of God. However notice how the word blasphemy is used in Luke 5:18-26. Jesus tells a palsied man that his sins are forgiven.(v20) The scribes and Pharisees held that only God could forgive sin. Not recognizing Jesus as Divine they saw Jesus as speaking blasphemy. So in a strict sense to blaspheme God is to claim to be Divine when you aren't. Question: Would Satan claim divinity? Answer: Does a liar tell lies?
Blasphemy is also defined by a parallel truth found in this same account. To say one is forgiven of their sins is to declare them righteous before God. Clearly only God can say who He accepts as righteous and who isn’t righteous. So when Jesus declared this mans sins forgiven, He was declaring this man righteous before God. Since the scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus as human they considered His declaration blasphemy. So it is blasphemous to declare someone righteous when you do not have the authority to do so, i.e. you’re not God.
The Jews of Jesus day considered themselves righteous. After all they were God’s chosen people! Since God had given them the law, they assumed that made them righteous. However righteousness is not imputed on the bases of keeping the law, but on the bases of faith. (Romans 4:2-5 & 24) In order for God to declare us righteous we must believe in Jesus Christ. Believing in God’s redemptive act at Calvary is the one and only way to righteousness. It is the testimony of Acts that the majority of the Jewish community rejected Jesus as the way to righteous. They insisted that one had to keep the law. But the law doesn’t bring justification, it only makes one aware of their transgression. (Rom. 3:20) Paul is very clear about this matter: justification and righteousness come through faith in Jesus Christ. (Rom. 3:21-30)
Therefore anyone who endeavors to establish another means of justification and righteousness blasphemes God. Even though such action is called religious, it is still blasphemous. The breaking of the seals showed that society rejected God’s means of salvation and endeavored to establish her own. That endeavor revived the beast with the fatally wounded head. Jesus Christ’s work of grace dealt a death blow to the head of the beast. However society revived him by our rejection of God’s provision and our endeavors to establish our own means of righteousness through religious activity. Doing religion as a means to be right with God, blasphemes God, His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.
So it is not God who revives the beast with the fatal wound. We as a society revived that beast! Not only did we revive that beast we continue to worship it as well. We look at Christianity with all its faults and failures and conclude: this can’t be the only way to God. Is it any wonder that John is shown that this religious beast has power “over all kindred, tongues, and nations”.(Rev. 13:7) It is not Christianity that has failed, but we have failed Christ and therefore presented the world with a flawed Christianity.
However the beast is not all powerful. There is a means of escape. Those whose names are written in the Lambs book of life can escape the beasts power. Note it and underline it – there is no other means of salvation but that of the Lamb. This Lamb was destined for death before the foundation of the world. God planned your escape before He created you. You either overcome by the Lamb or you don’t overcome. To say there are many ways to God sounds good, but getting accepted by God isn’t the issue. God decided to accept you through Jesus Christ, before He created this world. God ratified that covenant 2000 years ago. So since then the question is: Do you accept God's povision of the Lamb? Not to accept Him means that you accept the dragon and his system by default.
The text states that the sea beast continued for 42 months. Forty two months at 30 days in a month equals 1260 days. A day equals a year, which then means this blasphemous religious beast exercises his power until about the year 1260. (This is assuming that the period indicated begins with 1AD.) Thereby John indicates that this religious beast dominates the people of the world until the time of the printing and public reading of scripture.
The second Beast
With the onset of the reformation a second beast emerges from the earth.
The earth like the sea speaks of society, but refers to a more structured
and solidified society. A society that is not as giving and fluid as the
sea. This second beast who rises out of the earth has two horns like a
Obviously the words “like a lamb” point out that this beast is intentionally deceptive. This beast wants to appear as a lamb. In Revelation the picture of the Lamb speaks of redemption, so the beast wants to be seen as redemptive. However his speech gives him away – he is kin with the dragon.
According to John 1:1 and following Jesus is God’s word to us. Jesus declares God to us, and He is God’s authoritative word. (John 1:18) As God’s word to us He was made flesh and dwelt among us. Being found in the form of man, he became obedient to death. Through His death on the cross He is established as God’s official and only Lamb for sin. For this reason John can declare: “God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17) Note it, mark it, and never forget it: The Lamb did not come to condemn the world but that through him the world might be saved. He is God’s means of salvation for the world!
Thus God’s word to us is redemption, justification, and reconciliation. So obviously God favors humanity, He is not against us. God’s statement in Jesus Christ is that He loves you, so much so that He provided the means for you to be reconciled to Himself.
On the other hand Satan’s speech betrays him. His speech reveals what he’s really like. What is Satan’s speech? Condemnation! Accusation! Guilt! So in our religious mind set we think that because we condemn the abortionist, or the homosexual, the sin and the sinner, we’re demonstrating righteousness and holiness. However we are not called to condemn. We have been called to be ambassadors of reconciliation. ( 2 Cor. 5:18&19) Remember the disciples encounter with the Samaritans. (John 9:55-56) James and John assumed they should call down fire from heaven to destroy them. Jesus rebuked them because they were of the wrong spirit. Jesus did not come to destroy people but to save them. The disciples speech showed what spirit they were of. So take note: your speech reveals your spirit.
This second beast is said to have two horns. Nothing is said about heads or crowns, yet he exercises “all the power of the first beast.” (Rev. 13:12) Since horns are symbolic of power it follows that this beasts power is concentrated in two areas. The first of these areas is that he causes the dwellers on earth to worship the first beast. That worship arises from the fact that the first beast’s fatally wounded head is healed. We have already discovered that head is religion. Religion becomes the utopia of the people of earth. To this end this second beast performs deceitful signs “in the sight of men.” (v12) To reject God’s absolute truth is to be open to a lie. Accepting religion as a way to God causes the people of earth to be open to that which is fraudulent and deceitful.
When Paul writes about the mystery of iniquity he speaks of the “man of sin, the son of perdition”. (2 Thess. 2:3) This “man of sin” shows himself to be God “with all power, signs and lying wonders”.(2 Thess. 2:9) That is precisely the charge that can be made against the dragon and beast of Revelation 13. This suggests that they are one and the same
To better understand this beast system – a.k.a. “man of sin” - let us exsamine Paul’s words in greater depth. Because we have held that Paul is speaking of a singular person, when he refers to the “man of sin”, we have missed both Paul’s and John’s point. Like the Jews we don’t consider ourselves as part of, or contributing to the evil in this world. The Church is God’s creation, how can it be part of the evil in this world? However such thinking has caused us to be blinded to the statement of the text.
Paul said: “he as God sitteth in the temple of God.” Who does Paul say is the temple of God? Paul makes it very clear as to who he sees as the temple of God. 1 Corinthians 3:16 is emphatic: “know ye not that ye are the temple of God.” (see also 1 Cor.6:19; 2 Cor.6:16) Paul never uses the phrase “temple of God” except to refer to what we are individually and corporately. Like Jesus Paul uses the Greek word "naos" (Strong's Concordance 3485) when refering to the individual as the temple. (John in Revelation uses this word exclusively. "Naos" is the word for the inner temple - the Holy of Holies. "Hieron" is used for the entire temple.) Therefore when Paul speaks of the man of sin as seated in God’s temple, he is obviously speaking about what we as Christians have allowed.
So not only have we as a society revived the fatally wounded beast, but as denominational churches we have allowed Satan to shift our focus. We have battled with and condemned one another over various doctrinal positions. We have fallen from the place of anointing known by the Apostolic Church. We have given ourselves to betraying Christ – the Anointing - claiming that it is not for today. We actually hold this position to be God’s will. Is it any wonder that Paul said “he as God sitteth in the temple of God.” The beast with the fatal wound has been revived, and the people of every kindred, tongue, and nation have come under his power, because we who claimed to represent Christianity have fallen short of the glory He called us to.
As John said the second beast “exercises all the power of the first beast”. That power is displayed in two areas, represented by the lamb like horns. One of those horns represents religion. The other horn represents economics. Both appear lamb like, but they are beastly. This second beast escalates Satan’s influences on earth by causing the people of earth to “make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” (Rev. 11:14)
Take note of the words “make an image to the beast”. The words clearly indicate that this is not an image of the beast. It is not an idol or statue with the physical form of the beast. The dative form suggests something that is commemorative and pays tribute or homage to the beast.
The word “make” further suggests the employment of special creative abilities. Thus the act of creating this image is an act of homage to and worship of the beast.
We also need to look at the word “image”. We most naturally understand the word to imply something that has the physical form of that which is worshipped. However scripture tells us that man is made in the image of God. Since God is Spirit, the term “image” can not imply physical form. The term must be understood to imply some intrinsic qualities. It is entirely possible that this is how the term should be understood in Revelation 13. Taken in this fashion it would imply that this image has the qualities of the first beast. These qualities are listed as: being under the power of the dragon; to be blasphemous; and to have power over all peoples which would include the saints.
Revelation also states this image is given life. The Greek word used here is not speaking of the God kind of life. Rather the word is best understood as a life like principle, characteristic or quality; such as the ability to influence or draw someone toward a prevailing tendency or attitude. It carries the same idea as when we refer to “the American spirit”; or a “school spirit” or “the spirit of the age”. Thus the life of this image is a spirit of influence and motivation. Since that life is not God like you can be assured that this image influences and motivates that which isn’t God like.
The image of the beast is said to have the power to kill those who don’t worship it. There are two things we should note about this statement. First: “should be killed” is not a statement of fact. In the Greek text it appears in the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is used when there is some doubt, uncertainty, or indefiniteness about the action. Secondly: if the killing does take place it is not the image that carries it out. The image influences men to do so. This is implied by the term “speak”. The image can not articulate verbal expressions. Instead it influences, motivates and projects certain thought patterns, which in turn give rise to certain actions in people. One of those actions is to kill for the sake of the image.
Perhaps the most important verses to note are Revelation 13:16 and 17. The word "give" that has been translated “received” is of special interest. I insist it should be rendered “give”. The Greek word used here (didomi) is used over 300 times in the rest of the New Testament, and it is never rendered as “receive”. John uses it 57 times in Revelation, and each of those times it is translated as “give” except in this verse. This overwhelming evidence from scripture demands that the word must be rendered “give” in Revelation 13:16. The immediate context gives us no reason to translate it otherwise.
Therefore Revelation 13:16 addresses the giving of a mark, not the receiving of a mark. It is this giving of a mark that is deliberately and purposefully the focus of Revelation 13:16. Thereby the giving of the mark is set apart from the receiving of that mark. The giving of the mark is unavoidable and inescapable. Notice: “all” give a mark. The text makes it clear that there is no social class, economic class, or political class that is exempt. Non can escape the giving of the mark. It is the giving of the mark that governs buying and selling. The receiving of the mark is another matter, which we will deal with in a future study.
So it is obvious that the beasts stronghold is in the field of economics. No one can carry on trade unless they give the mark, the name of the beast or his number. What is the thing that our worlds economic systems function under? Money! Money is the mark of the beast. Credit is the name of the beast. In our generation that name has taken on a number – we know it as the credit card number. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:17-22. Jesus is asked about the legality of paying taxes. He answers by requesting a coin, then asks: “whose is this image and superscription?” According to Strong’s Concordance both the word “superscription” and “mark” have the same etymological root. Thus Jesus directly refers to money as an image, and indirectly as a mark.
The word “mark” as used by John is used only one other time in Acts 17:29, where it is rendered “graven”. The phrase “graven by art and man’s devises” very accurately describes money. Revelation 13:16 and 17 are therefore profoundly accurate as a description of the development of our economic system. The mark in the right hand is parabolic language for cash. With time this developed to what is known as checking – the mark in the forehead. However to increase trade merchants extended credit to purchaser, thus the name of the beast. Not wanting to be outdone banks got into the credit card business and out of it grew the credit card number, or as John states “the number of his name”.
However in verse 18 the number is stated to be the number of the beast. Thus both the beast and its name have a number. The number is stated to be "six hundreds, six tens, and six ones".(literal translation) A strong indication of our decimal system which is based on numerical units of ten. A system that is at the core of trade which is governed by money.
So the mark of the beast is not something yet to come, it is with us today. Everyone carries on trade under its influence and dictates. The giving of the mark for the purpose of carrying on trade is unavoidable – we have all come under the power of the beast.
One of the greatest deceptions of our time is the false value we have placed on money. Money of today has no intrinsic value. Both the American and Canadian bills are printed on paper that is made from flax straw. Our coins are minted on cheap metal alloys. Interestingly enough the penny is made of copper the cheapest of fine metals, therefore it is the only part of the system that has intrinsic value. This has not always been so. For until the year of 1972 all coins where minted with gold, silver, nickel and copper. Paper money was backed with an equal value of gold held on deposit. However in 1972 the banking industry was allowed to withdraw from the gold standard. So today our money is not backed by gold and coins are not minted with precious metals. Yet we allow our lives to revolve around money. Why?
Truly as John stated the image has life and speech. For the image on our bills and coins dictates to all people what can and can’t be purchased with any given amount of money. Money dictates the worth of men and commodities. People are not valued for their person but on the basis of what they earn and can produce. Do we worship the image? When a life is less important than money, are we worshipping the image? We destroy commodities, or pay farmers not to grow crops, in order to keep prices high, are we worshipping the image?
Some of Jesus’ strongest statements where made about religion and money. Look at Luke 16. Jesus tells a story about an “unjust steward”. (v8) In verse nine Jesus instructs “make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” Jesus is saying to follow the unjust stewards example. The point of the story is that you can’t serve God and money. (v13) The Pharisees response to this was to deride Jesus, because they were covetous. (v14) Jesus tells them: “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (v15) Got the picture? Don’t make money your god!
Paul warned Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim.6:10) We quickly counter with “it’s the love of money, not money that is the root of all evil”. By saying this are we siding with the Pharisees? Are we trying to justify our covetousness? Consider this statement: “it’s not the temptation that is sin, it’s the yielding to the temptation that is sin.” So does that mean the temptation is amoral - neither good nor evil? Definitely not! It is because the temptation is evil that yielding to it is sin. The same holds true for money. The image represented by the mark has life – a spirit which draws us into unrighteousness if we have a fondness for money. Remember Jesus called it “unrighteous mammon”.
Paul’s statement is totally encompassing. The love of money is the root of all evil. Thus Paul is saying the love of money is the motivational force behind every evil. Do we try and skirt the issue by countering Paul’s statement? By so doing we are suggesting that the love of money isn’t the root of all evil. However look around you: we have become beast-like because of our love of money. Yes the image has life and speech, and that life and speech is revealed and manifested in man’s actions in regard to money.
So the second beast is present and at work in society today. His horns of religion and economics may appear lamb like, but they are antiChrist: in spirit, motivation, and characteristics. Together they constitute “that wicked” whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. (2 Thess. 2:8)