Author: Ron Graham

Book of Revelation

The Beast from the Sea
—Revelation 13:1-18

Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Signs >3rd sign >The Beast

The leopard-like beast with ten horns and seven heads serves the dragon. He blasphemes against God and heaven, and leads the whole world into evil. He makes war against the saints (Revelation 13:1-10).

There are three beasts in Revelation, the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. We have already discussed these in an overwiew lesson. The lesson below is about the second of these beasts.

1 The Nature of the Beast

Revelation 13:1-2

from the sea An angel had announced, "Woe to the inhabitants of earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you..." (Revelation 12:12). So now, in this vision, a beast arises from the sea. This will be followed by another vision in which a beast arises from the earth.

heads, horns, crowns The Beast has heads, horns, and crowns just like the Dragon because the Dragon’s authority is given to, and exercised through, the Beast and his image (Revelation 12:3, Revelation 13:1-8). These heads, horns, and crowns are signs of political authority, military might, and financial dominion —the trappings of a world superpower.

leopard, bear, lion The form of the beast resembles a mixture of leopard, bear, and lion. These are creatures swift, strong, and feared. They represent "power, throne, and authority" (Revelation 13:2). The vision is portraying a powerful kingdom encompassing several nations. In John’s time this was the Roman Empire, but it was not the first such empire and it certainly was not the last. The beast still lives..

2 The Blasphemy of the Beast

Revelation 13:3-6

blasphemous name All the beasts heads have this blasphemous name, signifying total corruption of this empire. It is a completely antichristian kingdom, taking on the attributes of Satan’s kingdom in material form. This kingdom sets up its own false religion. Its king is worshipped as God incarnate when only Jesus Christ has the right to be so regarded and worshipped (2Thessalonians 2:7-12).

deadly wound healed The beast exhibits a deadly wound in one head, and then shows it healed. Consequently the world at large marvels at this “miracle” and at the beast’s mighty power. But it's all a deception and a lie. Worse, it's a parody of the death and resurrection of Christ (Revelation 13:14).. Yet people applaud the beast’s blasphemies..

42 months (Revelation 13:5). This is the three-and-a-half symbol, 42 months being three and a half years. We have discussed this symbol in the overview of times in Revelation . The tribulations inflicted by this beast are severe, but temporary, and their time is set. The beast will not overcome the saints forever.

3 The Battle Against the Beast

Revelation 13:7

to make war The Dragon (not God) granted great authority to the beast (see Revelation 13:2). The Beast was given power "to make war with the saints and overcome them" (Revelation 13:7, cf Revelation 12:17). This is the spiritual battle between good and evil of which Paul speaks (Ephesians 6:10-17). It's a war in which all Christians participate, fighting the good fight of faith.

overcome them Christians will suffer persecution and even martyrdom; it is in this sense that the beast will "overcome them" (Revelation 13:7). However this war will be won by the saints in Christ, not by Satan, and the tables will be turned. "If anyone takes captive, to captivity he will go. If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed." (Revelation 13:10). The beast and his minions may imprison and kill the saints, but in the end he will be imprisoned and killed.

4 The Saints Endure

Revelation 13:8-10

book of life The world, in this vision, is divided into two groups. First there are those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life. Second (by inference) there are those whose names are written in the book of life (Revelation 13:8). This becomes critical in a later vision (Revelation 20:11-15). Jesus himself so divided the world in two, for example in his parable of the two gates (Matthew 7:13-14) and in his parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:1-3).

foundation of the world There is some confusion in the translations as to whether the words "from the foundation of the world" apply to the names not being written in the book of life, or to the Lamb being slain. This depends on whether you take the title of the book to be “The Book of Life of the Lamb Slain” or the longer title “The Book of Life of the Lamb Slain Before the Foundation of the World”.

The Lamb Slain

The latter title is rejected by some on the grounds that it doesn't make sense to them. Jesus was not slain at the foundation of the world. But the title doesn't say “at”, it says “from”. "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" simply means that, before the foundation of the world, God decreed the Lamb’s fate and the purpose of his death. Consequently that also predetermined the fate of every accountable human being, depending upon their faith in the Lamb.

This is taught by Peter who calls Jesus, "a lamb unblemished and spotless... foreknown before the foundation of the world" (1Peter 1:18-21). It's also taught by Paul who says, "God chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4). Paul considered our election (names written in the book of life) to be possible only in Christ, and this provision was the kind intention of God’s will before the world was made, to be fulfilled in the fullness of the times (Ephesians 1:5-14).

Names Written

On the other hand, the angel in later visions speaks to John of those "whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 17:8). We are born with our names written in God’s book of life, however Jesus can "erase" a person’s name who does not overcome through the power of Jesus (Revelation 3:5). And Jesus, the Lamb slain, can write that person’s name into the book again by such complete forgiveness that the name is once more considered to have been written from the foundation of the world. Amazing grace!

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