The Tribulation: The Beast Emerges
In part 8, Satan got "shown the door" in heaven, and thusly began a MURDEROUS assault upon Israel, then the Tribulation saints. Now, we watch as his "Masterpiece" emerges on the scene.
"And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” (Revelation 13:1-4, NIV)
Now, one thing I will NOT do is attempt to guess who the Beast is. Too much of that has been done already over the years, and has led to much shaming of the Body of Christ. But I will discuss the attributes listed in scripture. The description of him coming from "the sea" means that the Beast would most likely be a gentile, whereas the second beast/False prophet will come from "the earth", i.e. Jewish/Hebrew ancestry, or possibly Israel itself. As for the the ten horns, they hearken back to Daniel 7:7:
"After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns." (Daniel 7:7, NIV, emphasis mine)
Revelation 17 clues us in on the meaning of the heads and horns:
"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Revelation 17:9-14, NIV)
This is an excellent example of "scripture interprets scripture", and connects the Beast to the whore later on in Revelation. The first reference to "kings" means those that have come before the beast, aka "fallen"; these have nothing to do with the 10 nations that will "rule for an hour with the beast". The term "kingdoms" refers to individual nations; we deduce that the Beast will rule a 10-nation confederation, because these kingdoms are in essence part of the Beast and are his "heads ", and the rulers are his "horns". The crowns that you see in this verse are the greek diade-mata, meaning a crown of authority. They end up giving their power and authority to the beast, which he wields.
The "fatal wound": here, so much has been postulated on this. It's a wound to one of the "heads" of the Beast, and we are told what the heads represent: seven kings and seven hills.We are not told which king it is, but if the "head" is injured and fatally but healed, then we can safely assume that it is this "king" who is injured fatally then healed. Since five of these kings have "fallen", one is and one is yet to come, we would have to the take it that it is either the one who is, the one who is to come, or the "eight king" (the one who is and now is not) that is injured in such a manner. Revelation 13:12 seems to be a clue, as it says that it was the Beast's head that had been injured, but once again, we are reminded that all the heads are the Beast's.
This issue has been a major point of contention, and one that may not be solved before our departure in the Rapture. But rather than suggest something unscriptural or unable to be backed up by scripture, let's trust it to God and move on.
As for what the Beast's features indicate:
"The body of a leopard" means that the Beast is swift and agile, quick to respond to threats and hunt down his prey. "The feet of a bear" indicates he has powerful claws that rend and tear whatever they strike, showing us that a blow from him is FATAL. "The mouth like a lion" means whatever he seeks to devour will be crushed and shredded, and is always seeking more to fill that fearsome maw. This description is not of his ACTUAL attributes physically, but they represent his inner character. He may seem to be the smoothest, most honest leader the world has seen, but underneath the polished vernier lies a monster who is truly Satan's workmanship.
"The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." (Revelation 13:5-7, NIV)
The Beast will use EVERY opportunity he can get to spit on the Name of God, and dunk it in as much fecal matter as he can: his true nature is evidenced in his loathing and malice towards the God of heaven and those that are his. He will even slander the dead in Christ!!! It won't be enough to destroy them, but he must also destroy their very memory!
"All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world" (Revelation 13:8, NIV)
One thing to keep in mind at this point is that the Beast will specifically target Christians and begin to systematically EXTERMINATE them IN EARNEST. This is what the vision of the dragon going after those who bore the witness of Jesus Christ meant. When you think about it, this will be THE worst time to be a Christian; most will likely die under the cruel hand of the beast, and they will die in painful ways that will probably curdle blood, yet the wicked of the world who have not repented would celebrate and relish such evil. It's not a time you want to be on this planet for; we should desire to serve the Lord, not to see how big we can make our spiritual bank accounts by suffering. If we suffer to deliberately gain riches, it's not for the Lord but ourselves:
"He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. " (Revelation 13:9-10, NIV)
Something to think about for those who wish to be "Tribulation Saints."
Now, some of you are probably saying:"Hey, wait a second!! What about God getting vengeance on the world during the last Seal Judgment for those that were martyred?!"
Good point; let's see if we can answer that...
God's wrath was against the planet for the saints they had killed. The Beast at this juncture, however, will PERSONALLY hunt the saints of the Lord, showing his venomous hatred. This is before the Bowl Judgments that are coming up, so the Bowls are begin filled to the very brim by the Beast's actions, and trust me...
...God is VERY ticked off over it.
"Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. " (Revelation 13:11-17, NIV)
Now, we see the False prophet emerge on the scene. And twisting the prophet Elijah's contest, he will CALL fire down from heaven rather than pray for it. While he SEEMS to have connotations of being religious (the lamb's horns), the fact that he will speak like a dragon shows where his power and authority ultimately come from.
"Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed." (Revelation 13:14-15, NIV)
At this point, the Abomination of Desolation is erected in the Temple in Jerusalem, as foretold in Daniel 9:27:
"He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." (Daniel 9:27, NIV, emphasis mine)
This verse also shows that this is the midpoint of the Tribulation, along with the earlier verse stating that the Beast would have power for 42 months (3 1/2 years). This is the halfway point for the seven year period and what a halfway point it is!
And then, the False prophet institutes the "mark":
"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."
Now, I have seen folks trying over the years to figure out what the mark is: EVERYTHING from tattoos, to RFID implants have been suggested, and many panics and rumors have happened because of it. How many over the years have tried to figure out what it is? Many will say "but we NEED to figure it out!!! It's IMPORTANT!!!"
But we need to keep this in mind: the Mark won't be secret when people are forced to take it, and no one will be duped into taking it without knowing EXACTLY what it means: rejecting God permanently and swearing allegiance to the Beast. My suggestion is that this is God's way of saying that NO ONE on earth has the wisdom necessary to figure out what it is. But rather than knock ourselves silly over deciphering what it IS, we need to remember WHAT IT MEANS, and pass THAT on.
In Part 10, we will see an angel preach the Gospel, the 144,000, and the Great Harvest.
I bid you all peace.