Friday, February 2, 2018

Revelation 13:1-7 The Dragon and the Beast

KEY TEXT: Revelation 13:1-7 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?" And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.

KEY THOT: The beast in the Bible is often associated with an empire. In Daniel's vision, he saw four beasts rising out of the sea: "four beasts came out of the sea, different from one another" (Dan. 7:3). The first three beasts that Daniel saw were like a lion, a bear, and a leopard. The fourth beast was unlike anything on earth but was "terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong" (Dan. 7:7). It had ten horns, but three of the horns were plucked out by the roots by a little horn, leaving seven horns. And in this small horn "were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things" (Dan. 7:8). Daniel was troubled by the vision of the four beasts and asked the angels around him what they represent. And an angel told him: "These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever." (Daniel 7:17-18).

Traditionally, the four beasts have been identified as the Babylonian Empire (lion), the Medo-Persian Empire (bear), the Greek Empire (leopard) and the Roman Empire (fourth beast). The Roman Empire came to an end in 1453 when Constantinople the capital of the remaining Eastern Empire fell to the Ottomans. But the fourth beast has a double-fulfillment: it is both a past and future empire. The historical Roman Empire did not cover the whole earth, but the kingdom represented by the fourth beast will be a global one.

Daniel was troubled by the fourth beast, which was unlike the first three beasts. So he asked the angel with him for an interpretation:

  • Daniel 7:23-27 "Thus he said: 'As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time [3.5 years or 42 months]. But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.'

This fourth kingdom will be the final one before the appearance of the "everlasting kingdom" ushered in by the returning Christ. So, it has to be an end-time world order led by the "little horn" king who would speak blasphemies against God and make war against the saints.

John saw the same beast which Daniel saw. But it now revealed as a composite of the first three beasts (appearance like a leopard, feet like the bear's, mouth like a lion's) with ten horns and seven heads [three heads of which had been "put down" by the little horn king]. Many bible interpreters understand this first beast of Revelation 13 as a revived Roman Empire that would dominate the whole world. This new world order will be headed by the "little horn" dictator who, though mortally wounded, would be resurrected by Satan. It would be a given a mouth "uttering blasphemous words" (cf. to Dan. 7:8 description of the little horn: "mouth speaking great things"). He will speak "blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven" (v.6)--"his dwelling" is probably a reference to the temple in Jerusalem, which would have been re-built at that time.

There has been much speculation about who this "little horn" is. Some have identified him with Nero, Hilter, Stalin, Gorbachev, Obama and now Donald Trump! But it's best not to speculate and just be aware that there will arise one day an anti-God confederacy of nations ruled by a one-world ruler who would be anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-Israel and anti-Church. He will speak blasphemies against God, His temple in Jerusalem and against the celestial beings. In short, he has no respect for God and His authorities, because he would be empowered and inspired by Satan, the Arch-enemy of Christ.

This little-horn will rule for 42 months (3.5 years, described as "time, times and half a time" in Daniel 7) and it will usher in an era of global persecution of believers.

But events around the world are already building up to this climax: the increasing lawlessness, the increasing bias of the United Nations against Israel, the increasing secularization of former "Christian" Europe. With the globalization of internet-based commerce and digital banking, the world is now more inter-connected than ever, making a new world economic and political order a reality.

Abba-Father, thank You for giving us advanced notice about what will soon take place. Strengthen our hearts and our faith to proclaim the Gospel while it is still day, for when the night cometh, no one can work. Amen.

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