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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Revelation 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-18

A Beast Coming Out of the Sea

In contrast to seeing a great sign in heaven in Revelation 12:1-3, John now stands on the shore and sees a Beast rise out of the sea (out of the Gentile or Western nations) with seven heads and ten horns. As we have seen, this is similar to the dragon in Revelation 12:3, but there it is seen as a sign in heaven, for in that case the vision goes back to the past history of the satanically inspired Roman Empire. Here, the crowns being on its ten horns indicate the revival of the old Roman Empire in the Tribulation Period when ten nations give their power to the Beast (Revelation 17:13). The name of blasphemy on its heads shows that the Beast assumes divine titles, for in demanding people's unconditional allegiance it is actually demanding worship (v. 15).

Verse 2 shows that this empire will incorporate into it some features of the world empires that have preceded it. Its likeness to a leopard compares with the Grecian Empire of Alexander the Great (Daniel 7:6) with its swiftness of conquest. Its feet as of a bear reminds us of the empire of the Medes and Persians (Daniel 7:5) with its grasping strength and tenacity. Its mouth as that of a lion indicates its devouring ferocity as seen in the Babylonian Empire (Daniel 7:4). This Beast in Revelation then is the fourth Beast or fourth empire of Daniel 7:1-28, dreadful, terrible and strong (verse 7). The dragon (Satan) gives him power, his throne (his elevated dignity) and his authority.

One of its seven heads was wounded to death (v. 3). Compare this with Revelation 17:9-11, where there is the declaration that the seven heads are the seven mountains on which the woman Babylon sits. Babylon means "confusion," a name used to describe a religious mixture of some truth with much falsehood-that which has caused confusion to countless numbers of her blinded followers. This is literally the city of seven mountains, Rome. Then it is added, "There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is and the other has not yet come." The first five may refer to the five different forms of government in the Roman Empire that had existed before John wrote, which are Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs and Military Tribunes. Or they may refer to the great imperial powers of the world up to that time-Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece, as suggested in the Numerical Bible -Revelation-p. 436. In any case, the sixth head was imperial Rome (Rome under the imperial rule of the Caesars) existing when John wrote and which has long since fallen with the fall of the empire itself. The seventh head therefore will arise with the revival of the empire, and it will be this head ("the prince who is to come") who will confirm a covenant with the many in Israel, which will introduce Daniel's seventieth "week"* (Daniel 9:26-27).

{*It is most important to understand this prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 in connection with Revelation and the whole subject of prophecy. the first 69 weeks (weeks of years), equalling 483 years, have been completed with the cutting off of the Messiah at the cross of Calvary. But the 70th week is held in abeyance during all our present dispensation of grace, and will take place only after the Rapture. This 70th week is called the Tribulation Period, which occupies a very large place in prophecy.}

This head will then be wounded to death, evidently when the general anarchy takes place at the time of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:17). Many governments will be overthrown before the middle of Daniel's "week" (the Tribulation Period) and this head will be among them, being wounded to death. In other words he will totally lose his authority. The wounded head being healed indicates a striking recovery of his power which causes all the world to wonder. He apparently will bring a semblance of restored order and peace out of the chaos of anarchy, and thus be acclaimed as a great world leader.

Just as the Roman Empire will revive from a virtual deadly wound received many centuries ago, so at about the middle of the Tribulation the seventh head will revive from a deadly wound only a short time after it is inflicted on him. This seems to be the reason we are told that "the beast that was and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven" (Revelation 17:11). When he first arises at the beginning of the seven years of the Tribulation, he is the seventh head; then when revived about the middle of that time-period he is called the eighth. All the world wonders at his power in bringing back the ten kingdoms under his control and establishing apparent peace out of chaos. However, his power is satanic, and therefore people worship both the dragon and the Beast (v. 4). It is not necessary to suppose that they realize they are actually worshiping Satan, but it is he who gives authority to the Beast, and people will give the Beast a place of greatest preeminence, for they will consider him the most formidable power on earth.

He is given a mouth capable of advertising himself (v. 5), while at the same time blaspheming. He glorifies himself while showing contempt for God and His Christ. He continues 42 months, the last half of Daniel's week. As well as blaspheming God and His name, he adds to this the blasphemy of God's tabernacle and "those who dwell in heaven" (v. 6). It seems the tabernacle refers to God's heavenly dwelling, so this involves the Beast's bold defiance of all heavenly authority. As to those who dwell in heaven, this may infer that the Beast will remember the testimony of saints who have been caught up to heaven in the Rapture, and he curses the memory of them. Perhaps for this same reason the heavenly saints will appear with the Lord out of heaven when He judges this insolent enemy and his armies (Revelation 19:11-21).

This man will not make war with Israel, but "with the saints"-those in the Tribulation Period who will be awakened to take a stand for the living God (v.7). We have seen this in Revelation 11:7. Authority given him over all kindreds, tongues and nations speaks particularly of the Western nations which willingly submit to him, for Russia and Assyria (the King of the North) will not be included in this coalition.

Those who worship the beast are earth dwellers (v. 8), settling in the world as though they are going to keep it forever. Their names are not written from the foundation of the earth in the book of life, the property of the Lamb who was slain. The elect have their names written in this book because God has foreknown them. The Lamb, because of the value of His redemption, claims them as His own: nothing can change this. Others are urged to hear if they have an ear to do so (v. 9). Let people take to heart the serious folly of preferring to settle down in a corrupted and corrupting world rather than embracing the liberating grace of the Lord Jesus with its eternal blessings in heaven.

Mere earthdwellers, intent on their own selfish interests, will like cringing slaves follow the Beast in his program to cause suffering to the godly. God will see to it that they receive back the treatment they give others, whether captivity or death (v. 10). The saints thus may wait in calm patience, with fullest faith in God's eventual intervention, though in the meantime they suffer.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Revelation 13:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/revelation-13.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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