Revelation Study — Chapter 13
Revelation 13:1 "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."
The dragon, old Satan, begins to use other forces to fight his battle against righteousness. This beast represents the Roman Empire. Seven, the complete number, is used again. Seven heads could represent the seven hills the Rome sat upon. The complete rule and authority of the Caesarean lineage was in six kings and the seventh, was probably Galba of whom it is said in 17:10-11 that he should continue a short space and an eighth is mentioned which will complete the kings or emperors through Vespasian who was serving when Jerusalem was destroyed. Vitellius and Otho are disregarded as emperors by most historians. This covers the Roman Empire up until 70 A.D. In chapter 17 it is stated like this, "five are fallen, and one is, an other is not yet come," and "even he is the eighth."
Vs 2 "And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."
Like a leopard -- swift and smooth in operation. Like a bear -- strong, able to crush others under its feet. Like the mouth of a lion -- it hands down decrees, or speaks with a mighty voice, and is able to enforce these decrees.
Vs 3 "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast."
The first head, Julius Caesar, turned the government from a republic to an empire and the senate did not like it and had him assassinated. The wound healed with the coming of Augustus who overcame the opposition and established the empire.
Vs 4 "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?"
Remember, the kingdoms of the world is the territory assigned to Satan. To worship the beast is to worship Satan, the dragon. To worship the beast is to receive his mark. The beast, they thought, was invincible.
Vss 5-6 "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven."
The beast would use the mouth of a lion in boasting of great things and speaking blasphemies. So he blasphemed everything and everybody that were in any way connected with the worship of God. We can't be sure about the 42 months. There was 42 months of Jewish-Roman war before the destruction of Jerusalem. Nero ruled most of this time and the description fits him but I suppose it can be attributed not to just Nero but to the beast, the empire.
Vss 7-8 "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. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
He, the empire, made war or persecutes the saints and puts them down and he had power over all the nations. Only those who were faithful refused to worship him and their names were written in the Lamb's book of life.
Vss 9-10 "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."
Listen carefully. He who takes slaves, will be a slave and he who kills will be killed. Have patience and faith. It will happen. Jesus had said, Matthew 26:52, "... for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
Vss 11-12 "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."
This other beast is in later chapters identified as "the false prophet" or the pagan religions of Rome. He has two horns "like" the lamb. He occupies similar ground as the lamb. The religions of the empire are used to further subject the people of its domain to Roman rule. The images of the Caesars are erected in pagan temples and the people are forced to worship these images. This had been going on a long time. There are periods of time in which it is not enforced but when the enforcement begins, some people rebel and persecution ensues. The period of time about which we are studying was one of those times.
Vss 13-14 "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live."
These were pseudo-miracles, i.e., they seemed to be miracles. Remember the magicians of Egypt and Simon of Acts 8. The people were carried away with deceptive powers, not real. Jesus had warned in Matthew 24 that in those days there would be deceivers rising up. The beast that was wounded in chapter 13:3 is likely the one under consideration here. That would be the wounded empire as depicted in the days of Julius Caesar. The empire suffered a set-back at the death of Julius but was resurrected by Augustus. Now they should make an image of the beast, not just an emperor but the great Roman Empire.
Vss 15-17 "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
This is an earth beast in contrast to the beast that came up out of the sea. This beast has power but not the same kind of power the first beast had. This one has to do with the worship of the people. They were to worship the image of the beast. The image of the beast was not the beast himself but an image brought forth by the beast. This would likely be the emperor worship. Emperor worship had its beginning with Julius. Many just naturally associated godhood with the Emperor. This was more strictly enforced in the days of Caligula, waned and then was revived during the reign of Nero and was strictly enforced during the days of Domitian.
The Roman Empire would be their God. All were required to worship the image of the beast or to receive his mark in their right hand or in their foreheads. God's people were sealed in the foreheads which indicated that they were dedicated to God. These people who had the mark of the beast would be they who were dedicated to serving the Roman Empire. Anyone who was in any way rebellious to the Empire would be boycotted. They would be marked or avoided while those who were patriotic to Caesar would be favored. Neither the seal of God nor the mark of the beast were visible. They were known by their works.
Vs 18 "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 threescore and six."
verse 17 this number is mentioned. Just another indication of subjection to the
image of the beast. I suppose as much speculation has gone on in regard to the
number 666 than any number of the Revelation. In Odessa it was suggested that it
was seen in the logo of a local bank and that that bank should be boycotted. It
was seen in the logo of a soap brand. It has been attached to nearly every evil
leader of countries that has arisen. Every language has numbers that are
equivalent to the various letters of their alphabet. Kind of like our present
day 800 phone system that spell out whatever they want it to. So the speculators
have come up with a combination of figures that fit whosoever they chose.
Perhaps your own name could be figured to come out 666. Those who claim to have
this numbering ability have said that the name, Neron Caesar, Nero's proper
name, fits exactly these numbers. Be that as it may, the 666 figure is the
number of the persecutors of God's people so, actually, anyone who is a
persecutor of God's people could wear the number 666.