The beast is also referred to as a king (Revelation 17:10, 11). The Bible often refers to a government or state as either a kingdom or a king. This beast is said to rise "out of the sea" (13:1). John explained this later: "The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (17:15). Thus the sea is a mass of people.
Daniel was given a vision and was troubled as to the meaning of one part of it, so he asked for an interpretation. The part that troubled him dealt with the fourth kingdom. This kingdom would occur in the distant future, as can be seen in the interpretation given him. "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom" (Daniel 7:21, 22; cf. 18).
Daniel wrote more about this future kingdom.
Many believe this unidentified fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire. If so, it is a future revived empire, at least encompassing the geographical areas of the old Roman Empire, as the following events indicate. Judgment will come against it, and "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him" (Daniel 7:27). This has not happened, so this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. John was given more details of these events, and as we continue our study in Revelation these will unfold.
This beast is described in more detail later by Daniel.
Daniel next described some events that will occur at "the time of the end" (Daniel 11:40ff.). These will be discussed later.
The first beast is also described by Paul. He wrote, "That Wicked [will] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (II Thessalonians 2:8-10).
The beast John spoke of in Revelation had one of its heads, a king, "wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed" (Revelation 13:3a). This miraculous healing gave this king new power. "All the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (vv. 3b, 4).
Satan gave this beast the authority to do his work for forty-two months. During this time he spoke against God and waged war against the saints. He spoke "great things and blasphemies; . . . he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" (Revelation 13:5-7).
All people will worship the beast except those whose names are written in the book of life. The saints are warned not to resist him. "If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints" (Revelation 13:9, 10).
A second beast, "coming up out of the earth" (Revelation 13:11), arose during the reign of this first one. The purpose of this second beast is similar to that of the first one. He too is a tool of Satan, yet he comes from a different place. His coming out of the earth contrasts to the beast that rose out of the sea. Many believe "the earth" refers to Israel since the sea represents the multitudes and nations (see "waters" or sea interpretation in 13:1; 17:15).
The second beast will be a deceptive one. He appears as a lamb but will speak as a dragon. This is because he obtains his authority from the first beast. And he will use it to make "the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast" (Revelation 13:12). To do this he will perform great signs, such as to make "fire come down from heaven" (v. 13). This sign will deceive the people to follow his wishes. One is to make an image to the beast. He will give power to this image so it can "speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed" (v. 15).
This second beast will cause all to receive a mark on "their right hand, or in their foreheads," in order to buy or sell (Revelation 13:16). "No man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (v. 17). This mark will show that one gives his allegiance to the beast. God's people are later warned not to receive it. Here they are told how to identify it. "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six" (v. 18).
Today we do not know who this number 666 identifies. Many have come up with various suggestions. Their confusing interpretations only show that man cannot identify this mysterious number at this time. Apparently we do not know with certainty what this number means before the "beasts" arrive on the world scene. When they arrive, and there is a need for the followers of Jesus Christ to identify them, the meaning of the number 666 will be clear, and it will play an important part in identifying these "beasts."
Those who do not worship the beast will be slain (Revelation 13:15). These will number 144,000 (cf. 7:4). They will have had the "Father's name written in their foreheads" (v. 14:1). They will not bear the mark of the beast but rather the seal of God. "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God" (14:4, 5).
These believers are described as "virgins." This term probably does not mean they never married but that they abstained from spiritual fornication and adultery by remaining separate from the beast. Jesus, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and Paul, in II Corinthians 11:2, used the term virgins to describe true believers. The Old Testament also frequently uses the term to describe the faithful (Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 31:4, 21; Lamentations 2:13; Amos 5:2). These firstfruits are the first of mankind to suffer martyrdom during the 31/2 years of the tribulation. This is Old Testament terminology that describes the first of the ripe fruit or grain that was offered to God.
Following this three angels will proclaim that the time of judgment has arrived. The first one will proclaim to all men, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Revelation 14:7). The second angel will proclaim that "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city" (v. 8) because of the evil she brought to the nations. The third one warns, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" (vv. 9, 10).
Not all of mankind will worship the beast. Some persevere and keep "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). They are to be patient and endure. Some of the Christians will suffer and die because Satan will continue to make war against the saints (cf. 12:17). John was told of those who died because of their faithfulness, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (14:13). Later we will learn that they will receive a particular blessing.
Then John saw "a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle" (Revelation 14:14). An angel told Him, "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe" (v. 15). This Son of man is the Lamb, Jesus Christ, who now comes as the Judge. The Father "committed all judgment unto the Son. . . . because he is the Son of man" (John 5:22, 27). The Son of man was mentioned being in the midst of the seven candlesticks, the seven churches discussed in chapters 2 and 3 (Revelation 1:13; cf. 1:20).
Then came another angel with a sharp sickle. He was told by yet another angel, "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe" (Revelation 14:18). This he did, "and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God" (v. 19). Isaiah used the term winepress in relation to God's day of vengeance (Isaiah 63:3; cf. Jeremiah 25:30, 31). This was a time of great judgment.
In the next three chapters these events are described in fuller detail. They begin with "the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God" (Revelation 15:1). The seven plagues are described in chapter 16. Between the sixth and seventh plagues is inserted the announcement of a message from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet "unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (16:14). The place of this war is "called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (v. 16). This war occurs later and ends with the beast and the false prophet being thrown into the lake of fire (19:11-20).
After the description of the first six plagues or bowls of wrath (Revelation 16), the angel that revealed the seventh and last one told John, "Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (17:1, 2). John then saw "a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns" (v. 3). On "her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (v. 5). She was "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (v. 6).
This description is in mysterious terms, and John wondered what it meant. The "woman . . . full of names of blasphemy . . . Babylon the Great" is a "great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (Revelation 17:3, 5, 18). The angel told him, "Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns" (v. 7). The interpretation of this picture is given in the rest of the chapter.
The beast John saw "was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition" (Revelation 17:8). He is a king that "was" but has lost power; he "is not" (v. 11). He was mentioned earlier, in chapter 13. He again receives power and becomes the eighth king to reign.
"The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth" (Revelation 17:9, 10). Associated with them are seven kings. "Five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come" (v. 10).
"The ten horns . . . are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast" (Revelation 17:12). These ten kings come to power later, and together with the beast that will come forth from the abyss, they will form a confederation with one purpose. "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings" (v. 14). This ten-nation confederation is also described by Daniel (see Daniel 2:41ff.; 7:7, 24).
"The waters . . . are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" over which the woman reigns (Revelation 17:15).
These ten kings and the beast will go against the woman, Babylon the Great, and destroy her (Revelation 17:16). This will be done because God desires it: "For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled" (v. 17). God uses them only to destroy Babylon, and later they are destroyed.
The destruction of Babylon is described in great detail in chapter 18. "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen" (v. 2). She is "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." She is described as misleading the kings and making the merchants rich (v. 3). Although Babylon misled many, there were still some faithful ones living in her. These were warned, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. . . . Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her" (Revelation 18:4, 5, 8).
Babylon's destruction is mourned by many. "The kings . . . shall bewail her, and lament for her. . . . Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. . . . The merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her" (Revelation 18:9-11). They lost their trade of luxurious and splendid things. "Every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors . . . cried when they saw the smoke of her burning" (vv. 17, 18).
But not all will mourn. "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her" (Revelation 18:20). After Babylon's destruction, John heard, "Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand" (19:1, 2).
This is from Chapter 7 of the book, Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1997 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.
We highly recommend you read this book. It may be ordered from Biblical Viewpoints publication (see below) or visit Books. You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and bibleviews.com source. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send them to the Webmaster. This page is presented by:
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This is from Chapter 7 of the book, Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1997 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.
We highly recommend you read this book. It may be ordered from Biblical Viewpoints publication (see below) or visit Books.
You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and bibleviews.com source.
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send them to the Webmaster.
This page is presented by:
Back to the Articles page.
Return to Home Page
May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.