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Monday, September 25th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Revelation 13

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Verses 1-4

The Beast Coming Up Out of the Sea

The two beasts that are described in this chapter represent the two human and at the same time monstrous instruments, which will be used by satan in the end time. The first beast will come up out of the sea, the well-known image of the nations (Revelation 17:15; Isaiah 17:12; cf. Daniel 7:2-Leviticus :). This beast is therefore also a pagan ruler over a pagan kingdom. The second beast comes up out of the earth. The earth represents Israel. The second beast is the antichrist who will reign over the apostate Israel. In these two beasts both characteristics of satan – violence and lie – are exposed (John 8:44). The first beast is more characterized by violence, the second by lies.

Revelation 13:1. Because of his plan to make war against the rest of her offspring, the dragon stands on the sand of the sea. Then “a beast coming up out of the sea” is described. Before the eyes of John – and through his description before your eyes too – it rises up from the sea. He sees a ruler rising up, right from the middle of the turbulent and unmanageable nations, out of that great mass of people. It is the same person like the person that rose up from the bottomless pit (Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8). His rising up from the bottomless pit indicates his demonic origin. This is no one else than the dictator of the restored Roman empire, the United Western Europe.

That it is him we are talking about, will become clear from what you see further. ‘Horns’ are a picture of power. The form of that power is to be derived from the ‘crowns’ that he wears on his horns. That indicates that this beast has authority over royal rulers. In relation to the horns and crowns the number ‘ten’ is mentioned. By that you know that it is about ten kings (Revelation 17:12; Daniel 7:24). They are subjected to the government of the beast.

John also mentions that this monster has “seven heads”. Of these heads it is said in chapter 17: “The seven heads are seven mountains” (Revelation 17:9). The question now is what the mountains represent. It is a historical fact that in the ancient days the city of Rome was known as ‘the city with the seven hills’. This makes clear that Rome is the political center of this monstrous ruler.

The seven heads, however, are not only an indication of the location where the power is seated. They also represent seven kings (Revelation 17:10). That is an indication of seven forms of government by which the Roman empire has been ruled consecutively. Revelation 13:3 expands further on that. What John also sees, is that this political power is against God and resists Him. He sees “a blasphemous name” on his heads. The beast adorns himself with blasphemous names, probably names that are only to be ascribed to God.

Revelation 13:2. The description of the beast is not yet finished. John has more to tell. In this beast he recognizes characteristics of three different animals. He mentions “a leopard”, “a bear” and “a lion”. If you put Daniel 7:4-6 (Daniel 7:4-Joshua :) next to it for a moment, then you read that Daniel sees the same animals. Only, he sees them in reverse order. Daniel sees a lion first, then a bear and thirdly he sees a panther or leopard. That’s because Daniel looks ahead, while John looks back.

These animals represent empires. Daniel lived in the time of the Babylonian empire, represented by a lion. That empire was destroyed because the Medes and the Persians conquered the empire. Due to the brutality with which they operated, that empire is represented by a bear. But also their government came to an end. Greece, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, conquered the empire of the Medes and Persians with a stunning speed. Therefore the leopard is a suitable symbol for it.

Daniel also speaks about a fourth beast. He says of it that it is a “dreadful and terrible and extremely strong” beast (Daniel 7:7-Ruth :). Historically this beast represents the Roman empire that conquered the empire of the Greeks. Prophetically we see this empire back in the beast that John is seeing here. The beast is both the restored Roman empire and the head of that empire. This empire and this head possess all cruel characteristics of the fourth animal, in which John sees all cruel characteristics of the three animals mentioned.

Can you imagine? The beast rises up from the sea, which means that the dictator floats to the surface. The ten kings, the rulers of different countries that together form the Western Roman empire, are inseparably connected to him. This dictator has power over them, which he exercises from Rome as his center of power. He manifests himself blasphemously and with a cruelty that is represented metaphorically by the three tearing animals, which are described.

And who is hiding behind this, who makes sure that he becomes that mighty? The dragon, which is the devil (Revelation 12:9). Here the devil grants direct authority to someone who indeed takes this out of his hand. Of course these things can only happen, because God allows them to. And He allows them to happen because they fit into His plan. But the point is that the dragon is the inspirer of the beast. The beast has power, he reigns and has great authority because the devil has given this to him.

Here you see a huge contrast between the beast and the Lord Jesus. Once satan offered the Lord Jesus all kingdoms to take them out of his hand (Matthew 4:8-1 Samuel :). But the Lord refused it. He did not want to run ahead of God’s time to become King. He wanted to receive the kingdom and the power out of God’s hand (Daniel 7:13-2 Chronicles :; Psalms 2:8). That implied for Him humiliation and the death on the cross. It is important for you too not to seek any favor in the world. Satan loves to give that to you. In that way you can escape suffering. When satan approaches you with such seductions, you are to respond like the Lord Jesus did (Matthew 4:10).

Revelation 13:3. Then John sees that one of the heads of the beast was as it had been slain. This is to indicate that the Roman empire has perished and disappeared. From history we know that in the year 476 the Western Roman empire at that time was inflicted with a fatal blow. Rome was then conquered by the Teutons. What John saw at the moment he was watching (he saw it around the end of the first century) was still to come to pass. It was going to happen after some centuries.

But to God the future has no secrets. He informs us about things happening in the future as far as He considers them to be important for us to know. He does not do that to satisfy our curiosity, but that we may live accordingly (2 Peter 3:11-2 Kings :). Therefore God shows to John (and to you) what more is going to happen.

Then John sees that the fatal wound was healed. To John that did not lie in the nearby future, but in the far future. It’s what we see to be happening in our days! To us that is the nearby future. A restoration of the Western Roman empire is taking place before our eyes. But watch carefully: this happens by the power of satan! This restoration does not happen through a new conquest with violence, but through diabolic inspiration and deliberation. John sees how this restoration stirs up admiration and adoration from the world.

Revelation 13:4. The people will be very aware that the dragon, which is satan, has given his power to this empire. They hate God that much, they have been alienated from Him in such a way that they worship the dragon as their god in an open, general and limitless admiration. They will also worship the beast. They provoke and blaspheme God by crying out statements about the beast that apply to God alone (cf. Exodus 15:11; Micah 7:18). To them the beast is not to be compared to anyone else and nobody can compete with him to defeat him. That will be the result when Europe becomes one whole.

In case you may be excited about that one Europe, then I hope, due to what God’s Word is saying here, that will turn into a shivering going down your spine. You will now be very well aware that satan is the origin of it and that it ends up in worshiping satan! That with the referendum about the European constitution on 1 June 2005 many Christians in the Netherlands have voted ‘against’, does not necessarily reflect their opinion of Europe. The argument that mattered most to vote ‘against’ was that in that constitution no reference to God and the Jewish Christian roots of the European Union had been written down. In case that had happened, then the Christians probably would have plainly voted ‘for’! That is staggering.

Now read Revelation 13:1-4 again.

Reflection: What is astonishing about the beast?

Verses 5-10

Mouth and Deeds of the Beast Out of the Sea

Revelation 13:5. Like satan has given ‘his power and his throne and great power’ (Revelation 13:2) to the beast, he also gives him “a mouth”. He, so to speak, makes the beast to be his voice. Therefore what the beast has to say is only bragging and blasphemous language. His bragging language has no limit. He brags about himself to the people and prides himself that all improvement is because of him. To God he clenches his fists and scolds and curses Him.

But a limit is imposed to the performance of the beast. He is given “forty-two months”. That is the period that you have already come across earlier (Revelation 11:2) and that you have learnt to know as the period of the great tribulation of three and a half years. In that time he will uncontrollably rage (cf. Daniel 8:24) against God and those who dwell in heaven and to the saints on earth as well.

Revelation 13:6. It is not only that the beast lacks the appropriate reverence to God. Whenever the beast opens his mouth against God, he does that to rage against Him and to express his disregard towards Him. He can only insult and sneer about the Name of God. He despises God to the deepest of his being. The words he uses are not mentioned. I think that the words you sometimes hear around you and which fill you with disgust will pale to nothing, compared to what the beast will spit out.

And not only God and the Name of God are the target of his blasphemous language. He addresses his evil mudslinging against “His tabernacle” too. The church is meant by this, wherein God as in a tabernacle will dwell among people on earth forever (Revelation 21:2-Leviticus :).

Finally he addresses his slander against the rest of the citizens of heaven. Thereby you could think of all believers who do not belong to the church.

And don’t assume that the beast speaks out this blasphemous dialog in a backroom. His blasphemous expressions which he slings at God and the citizens of heaven will happen publicly and serve as an entertainment. The people will watch his performance and his audacious language with great pleasure on television and on the internet. Everything he says and does is to propagandize his program. The purpose of this program is nothing more than setting people against God, in order to punch God from His throne. Time will tell that his propaganda will succeed, and that his program will have a dramatic end.

Revelation 13:7. The beast, inspired by satan, can do nothing but to open his mouth in order to vomit his hatred against everyone who dwells in heaven. But there are still some “saints” on earth. He is allowed to unleash his diabolical lust on them to murder after he has aired all his bottled-up feelings of hatred by slinging them out to heaven. He is given the opportunity to wage war against those who out of faithfulness towards God did not participate as in a carnival parade with the apostate mass.

The saints are not only saints by name, but also in practice. Holy means set apart for God. That there is mention of ‘making war’, means that he takes this fight very seriously, as if the faithful saints are the most dangerous enemies of the nation that have great power. He uses everything that he has at his disposal, because he wants to eliminate them root and branch, to the last man. And he seems to be successful. He conquers over them. This victory grants him international authority. Countries outside the restored Roman empire, i.e. the united Europe, will open themselves for his ideas and advices.

In his blind madness he does not know that this victory regards only the body. The saints were strengthened by the words of the Lord Jesus concerning that. He told them that they did not need to fear (for the beast), for only the body can be killed (Matthew 10:28). In chapter 20 you see them back. They sit on thrones and reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). In that way you will certainly be encouraged by the words of the Lord Jesus and by what you will share in the future, in order to endure the suffering that you experience sometimes.

Revelation 13:8. Due to all his achievements all who dwell on the earth will worship him. The admiration for the beast will have no limits. The expression “who dwell on the earth”, indicates that it regards people who consciously have disconnected themselves from heaven. Their lives have, like the lives of animals and the beast, no broader horizon than the earth and is totally and exclusively connected to the earth.

Of these people some more detailed qualification is mentioned. Their names are not written “in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain”. The absence of their name in that book has dramatic consequences. The short time of them praising the beast will be followed by an everlasting weeping and gnashing of the teeth because of the pains caused by the flames of the eternal fire.

Remarkable though, is the expression “from the foundation of the world”. You may remember the expression “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). That expression is used for those who belong to the church. They were elected even before the creation of the world. Actually the church is of heavenly and eternal origin. But there are also believers who do not belong to the church. Those are the believers from Israel and the nations in the periods before and after the residence of the church on earth. They are in relation with the earth and in that way with God’s plans from creation (Matthew 13:35; Matthew 25:34).

There is a great contrast between those who dwell on earth and the book of life. Those who live on earth are attached to the earth with heart and soul. The earth is their life. With them there isn’t any thought of God and heaven. That makes them dead while they are alive (Ephesians 2:1-Exodus :). If they do not repent they will remain in the second death for ever (Revelation 21:8).

The opposite is the book of life. That book is related to the Lamb That was slain, which indicates that the Lamb has been into death. The Lamb had entered into death in order to give life to all who believe in Him. The Lamb writes the name down of each who believes in Him in the book of life. The book is His, He keeps the records. The names of all worshipers of the Lamb are written in it, not one is missing. The names of all worshipers of the beast are missing, not one appears in the book.

Revelation 13:9. I hope that you have an ear to hear and that you allow yourself to be warned. Just now you saw together with John the beast rising up. You have heard his blasphemous language and seen his murderous occupations. The mass hysteria that will be caused by his appearance and performance among all people that will be dwelling on earth has been clearly presented to you. You have been a witness of the rise of the world government and the world religion. It is not about something that could possibly happen at a time in the far future, but about an event that is getting more and more recognizable. You wouldn’t say that this is something that is ‘far outside your scope’, would you? Indeed, it is extremely topical for you. Do not let yourself be deceived.

Revelation 13:10. The description of this beast concludes with pointing at the principle of retribution (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-Judges :). This should serve as a consolation for the saints and stimulate them to persevere. They may know that the one who throws them in prison will end up in the prison himself; and he who kills them with the sword will be killed by the sword also (Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 43:11). God will make sure that every crime that has been done to His saints will be repaid righteously. Up until that moment the saints must persevere in their faith. They can be sure that God, Who has not intervened visibly yet, will do that soon.

The faith sees the good end for itself and the retribution of the oppressors. They cannot respond violently to the brutal violence of the beast. By themselves they are defenseless and helpless. But they have a source of power that works totally differently. The source of their power is the faith in God that He will make an end to the power of the beast. In that awareness they persevere in their faithfulness to God, even if it may cost them their freedom or even more their life. Their life is not in the hand of the beast, but in the hand of the almighty and faithful God. That goes also for you when you face resistance in your witness to the Lord. When you have that trust you will not give up, but you will persevere.

Now read Revelation 13:5-10 again.

Reflection: What aspects of the beast do you recognize now already in society?

Verses 11-18

The Beast Coming Up Out of the Earth

Revelation 13:11. Then before the eyes of John a second beast appears. It is not a twin brother of the first beast, but another beast. It looks different and it does different things. But you will see that these two beasts get along very well. They are hand in glove. This beast does not rise up from the sea, like the first one, but “coming up out of the earth”. With ‘the earth’ is meant, in contrast to the sea, a more or less ordered society. It seems to represent Israel.

That’s what I think, because it appears from the description of this beast that it is an imitator of the Lord Jesus. When John sees the horns he must think of a lamb. In Revelation the Lamb is all the time the Lord Jesus. And who is the great imitator of the Lord Jesus other than the antichrist? He it is of whom the Lord Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews that somebody would come in his own name and that they will accept him (John 5:43). That also means that the antichrist will be a Jew. Israel will never accept a stranger, a person who does not belong to the Jewish people, as their king. It could only be somebody from among their own people.

Because of his horns this false messiah makes you think of a lamb. But he speaks “as a dragon”. His language reveals him. Therefore the sheep that belong to the Lord Jesus will certainly not follow the antichrist. The sheep do not listen to the voice of the stranger (John 10:5). They know the voice of the good Shepherd and therefore they will follow Him (John 10:4). This is also a touchstone for you. When you hear a voice that you do not recognize as the voice of the Lord Jesus, you must not to listen to it.

Revelation 13:12. Therefore there is a great solidarity between both beasts. But that solidarity is not one of equivalence. Actually the second beast is kept on a leash by the first beast. When the second beast exercises his power the first beast is obviously present. The second beast, the antichrist, has control by the grace of the first beast. He is not able to operate on his own, but is dependent on the first beast. The first beast, the dictator of the restored Western Roman empire, the united Europe, determines and ensures the way in which the antichrist exercises his power. This is the result of the covenant that the apostate Israel under the leadership of the antichrist, the false messiah, will make with the first beast. Isaiah calls it ‘a covenant with death’ (Isaiah 28:15; Daniel 9:27).

The second beast also has, just like all other citizens of the earth, a limitless admiration for the first beast. That admiration is so great that he makes every effort to ensure that everything and everyone on earth will worship the first beast. The cause of worship is the healing of the deadly wound of the first beast. In the description of the first beast you have learnt that this healing refers to the restoration of the Western Roman empire, that has become visible in the united Europe. With this coercion to worship the first, the second beast reveals himself as a spiritual leader of both the apostate Judaism and the apostate Christianity. It is his aim to make an end to any worship of the Father and the Son.

Revelation 13:13. His strategy is that of lie and deception, fraud and imitation. He performs all kinds of impressive signs. What you see is not to be denied. At least, that is what many people will believe. But mind you that images may be manipulated. Another deceptive factor is that you do not get to see the whole story. When two people have seen something and make a report of it, you may get two totally different reports in the end. The devil is the great manipulator and a master in telling half truths. Therefore do not let yourself be dragged by stories and movies of so called great signs that are ascribed to God.

It is a characteristic of the end time that spectacular things happen. The origin of that is not God, but the devil (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Here you see that the beast even “makes fire come down out of heaven”. Everyone sees that it comes from heaven, from God … it seems. But it is a trick of the devil who tries to give the impression through this false prophet that a true prophet is at work here. His performance is an imitation of what Elijah did several times (1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10; 2 Kings 1:12). The word “even” indicates that it could possibly be his most deceptive craftiness. With him making an appeal to the Bible people would say that a person who could ‘even’ do that, must surely be the true Messiah.

Revelation 13:14. You see how people who do not want to have anything to do with the Bible, who only live for the earth, are a prey of his supernatural manifestations. The religious feeling of man is a perfect work place for demons. People who live without God will link themselves to something that is beneficial for them, whether in a financial sense, or whether in the sense of a spiritual boost. They admire others for their own benefit. They are not aware of them delivering themselves directly to the instruments of satan. Satan gives the antichrist the ability to perform deceptive signs. Those signs happen in the presence of the (first) beast. They happen to his glory and honor.

The religious influence that the antichrist has gained by his signs has become that great in the meanwhile, that he considers it the time to establish an image of the first beast. Therefore he gives the order to make such an image. Here is mention of the establishment of “the abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:11). It is referred again to his recovery after the fatal wound. That must be enormously impressive. That is something that you observe more and more now already, the more Europe becomes one empire.

Revelation 13:15. The deceitful power of the antichrist is so great that it seems as if he brings the image to life. Satan enables him to give breath to the image. But breath doesn’t mean life. God alone can give life. The impression that the image is alive, arises because it speaks. The voice is of course that of a demon that perfectly imitates a human voice. This speaking makes the deception complete.

The apostate Jews may think that they have to do with an image of the true God. They have always been taught that idols do not speak (Psalms 115:3; Psalms 115:5Psalms 115:7; Psalms 135:17). A speaking image therefore cannot, according to them, possibly be an idol. A mass of people will fall down on their knees to worship the beast. The worship of the beast is crucial for life or death. He who does not worship will be killed (cf. Daniel 3:5-Joshua :).

Revelation 13:16. Although the people have been deceived, they have voluntarily bowed down for the beast. They have chosen for the beast. But with their choice for the beast they lose their freedom at the same time. They got caught up in a power that they cannot free themselves from. The beast empowers his control over the people and brings them to an absolute relation and subjection to himself. Nobody escapes from that. It does not make any difference whether you are a small citizen or a great minister, for he is the big chief. It also does not matter whether you are rich or poor, for you cannot buy it off. Nor does it matter whether you are a free man or a slave, for you have lost your freedom.

Everyone is forced to visibly express his loyalty to the beast. Therefore the beast makes them to apply a visible mark “on their right hand or on their forehead”. The ‘right hand’ stands for deeds. In that way the beast repossesses everything that each person does. Everything will contribute to the power and glory of the beast and his empire. The ‘forehead’ is the center of the thoughts. Through indoctrination everyone will serve the business of the beast with conviction.

Due to the advances in technology the application of the mark will (soon) be a simple act. We are on the threshold of the era that will be ruled by the beast! In case God’s Word and His revealed thoughts therein do not guide your hand and your thinking, then sin and finally the antichrist will do it. Allow yourself to become aware of this warning!

Revelation 13:17. By the means of this mark the beast will rule the whole economy. Whoever does not hand himself over to the beast completely will economically be a pariah, somebody who has been abandoned by society. To this test the faithful ones will be furiously exposed. Because they refuse to receive the name or the number of the beast to be applied on their body, they will not be able “to buy or to sell”. They run the risk of starvation.

Revelation 13:18. Due to the crafty and deceptive character of the beast, his proposals for the application of the mark will be presented very credible. The people who allow themselves to receive the mark, think that in that way they act wisely. But they act foolishly. The faithful, on the contrary, receives wisdom from God to unmask the beast. In order to do that he has to use his mind, which is the insight given by God. In that way he will be able to calculate the number of the beast.

A lot of attempts have made to calculate the number, but all of them have a different outcome. That proves that we are not able to calculate it today. That is not necessary yet, because that time has not come yet. The only time will be when the church has been raptured. In that time the wise men and those who have understanding will be able to calculate the number. It is anyway clear that six is the number of man. That is mentioned here in triple (666) as the number of the beast. Man has become equal to the beast here, the absolutely lowest point of the degeneration of man.

Now read Revelation 13:11-18 again.

Reflection: Mention the characteristics of the antichrist.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Revelation 13". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/revelation-13.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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