In this chapter, we are introduced to the unholy trinity. In the Holy Trinity, we have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In Rev. 12:9, we see the imitation of the Father in the great red dragon. The first beast of Rev. 13 (the Antichrist) is the imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second beast in Rev. 13:11-18), also known as the false prophet, imitates the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. In the form of this counterfeit trinity, Satan will launch his greatest effort to deceive the nations of the world, successfully. Paul describes the nature of this man, the Antichrist (explain). See 2 Thess. 2:9-10. “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness…”
It seems to me that when the Antichrist is at the zenith of his power, it will be virtually impossible for men to believe the truth. There will be strong delusions. They will believe a lie. The groundwork for this diabolical system has already been laid and is ready to burst forth in devilish fury. The Holy Spirit, whom Paul calls the Restrainer, is the One who prevents this evil system from breaking forth right now. In the first 10 verses of Rev. 13, we have a description of the Antichrist and the empire over which he will rule. Rev. 13:1-3 describes the kingdom-empire, while Rev. 13:4-10 describes the rules of the empire.
The Kingdom-Empire (Revelation 13:1-3)
Revelation 13:1 - In verse one, John sees a beast rising out of the sea. What sea is meant here? See Rev 17:15. Then there is the beast – What is this beast? The beast is the Roman Empire and John sees it as rising out of the midst of a troubled world. First of all, the phrase, “seven heads and ten horns,” refers to a kingdom of 10 nations (the Common Market in Europe).
Now, this kingdom not only had 10 horns, but it also had 7 heads. These are both past and future aspects of the empire. “There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.” (Rev. 17:10-11) The seven heads refer to seven successive phases of government and political history of the Roman Empire. At the time John was writing (AD 90) it could be said, “five are fallen.” “One is,” refers to the one under whom John was living. The seventh “is not yet come.” But it will come, and out of it will emerge the beast or the Antichrist, who will rule the world (Rev. 13:8).
By reconstructing a world government out of the ruins of the ancient Roman Empire, the Antichrist will be able to do what no one else has been able to do. Napoleon did his best to become a world ruler. Bismarck dreamed of making Germany the capital of revived Rome. Hitler envisioned the Mediterranean Sea as a German lake and the whole world as his empire. Though others have failed, in the not too distant future, the Antichrist will arise and will have worldwide power.
Then notice, “and upon his heads the names of blasphemy.” There are at least two ways by which the Antichrist will blaspheme God: (1) By making himself equal to God and exalting himself above all that is called God (2 Thess. 2:4), and (2) By slandering God and taking His name in vain. Daniel 11:36 says, “this king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper until the indignation shall come: for that that is determined shall come.”
Revelation 13:2 - In this verse, John says that this empire “is like a leopard, bear, and a lion,” referring to Daniel’s prophecy. This is to say that the revived Roman Empire will incorporate into it the smooth swiftness of the Grecian Empire, the new power of the Medo-Persian Empire, and the regal majesty of the Babylonian empire. As this tremendous empire emerges from the chaos of the world system, there arises with it the Emperor. He is depicted in Rev. 6 as “the rider on the white horse.” He is given super-human wisdom by Satan to temporarily solve earth’s overwhelming crises – poverty, hunger, and war. The sins of that day will be: Satan worship, murder, drugs, immorality, and theft. See Rev. 9:20-21. For approximately three years, the world will have a great measure of peace and prosperity. This is why the beast is worshiped and obeyed. Please note that it was “the dragon who gave him his power, his throne and great authority,” (see Rev. 13:2). This man could really be described as Satan incarnate.
Revelation 13:3 - In this verse, John sees one of the heads of the beasts, “as wounded unto death.” This deadly wound is healed and the entire “world marvels at the beast.” There are many theories as to what this actually means. The one that strikes me as being correct is that the wounding of one of the heads in all likelihood is a reference to the seeming death of the Roman Empire toward the close of the fourth century. At this time, Satan receives one of his heads, described by Daniel as the “little horn.” John speaks of him as the beast, the Antichrist.
The Rules of the Empire (Revelation 13:4-10)
Revelation 13:4 - The world will be dazzled by this spectacular display of power. They will go after the Antichrist in amazement and admiration, as seen in verse 3. In verse 4, we see that they will worship the dragon - Satan – and the beast – the Antichrist. Note also the blasphemy here: Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
Revelation 13:5-8 - These verses give a description of the character of the Antichrist. He is an out and out blasphemer. He hates God. He hates God’s people. He persecutes them relentlessly. His power is worldwide over kindred - tongues – nations. Those who worship him, says John in verse 8, are those whose names are not written in the book of life. The inference is that those who don’t worship him have their names in the book of life. This is when the world church and world government come into being (things will continue like this for 42 months or 3½ years).
Revelation 13:9-10 - These verses exhort everyone to hear and to understand these tremendous truths. Also, in order to encourage the harassed saints of the tribulation period, God is assuring them that this condition is only for a short while, and that ultimately God will effectively deal with the great persecutor and killer.
The Second Beast (Revelation 13:11-18)
The False Prophet - The generally accepted theory is that this beast is a Jew, although this is difficult to establish from the scripture. This man has the same vile nature as the Antichrist:
- He looks like a lamb, but in reality he is like a dragon - the embodiment of all that is evil.
- He has unlimited power (humanly speaking).
- He establishes worldwide worship of the beast (Rev. 13:12-14).
- He has the power to do great miracles (Rev. 13:13).
- He makes fire come down from heaven (an imitation of Elijah’s miracle – Pentecost – Two witnesses).
- He also has the diabolical power of deception (Rev. 13:14). This is not surprising when we read in verse 12 that he has all the power of the Antichrist, who derives his power from Satan.
- He also makes an image of the Antichrist, and then makes this image appear to live (Rev. 13:15). Since God alone has the power to give life, this is a great deception.
There are two possible explanations for this: (1) From what scientists of our day have been able to do with computers, we know that such things as movement and speech could be programmed into this image so that it would appear to live. (2) The word “life” in Rev. 13:15 could also be translated “spirit.” It is possible that he can order an evil spirit to inhabit and control this image. It will be a huge deception (a diabolical lie). Satan will be loose upon the earth. To make an image move or speak will be nothing to him. In Acts 16:16-18 the Devil spoke through a person. The young woman, who was possessed with the spirit of divination and who followed Paul, said, “These men are the servants of the most high God.” (The confession of demons in the Gospels)
There is absolutely no evidence in Scripture that gives Satan the power to give life. But, Scripture attests to the fact that he has the power of death - the death of the drug addict, drunkard, sex maniac, or murder and suicide. One of the reasons the Lord came to earth was to destroy him that had the power of death; that is, the devil. “Do not fear him who can kill the body – fear Him who has the power to cast into hell,” – Matt. 10:28.
The Mark of the Beast - Without this mark, no one will be able to buy or sell. This mark will be branded or tattooed on the forehead or right hand of every person. To accept this mark with its implications, obedience and worship of the beast, is an unpardonable sin and it seals ones eternal doom. Read Rev. 14:9-11.
The Unpardonable Sin - Let us look at the unpardonable sin for a moment from a different point of view. There are many who think they have committed the unpardonable sin. They have a vague idea of what the unpardonable is. Some have wept in my presence, because they felt that they committed some sin that was unpardonable. The unpardonable sin of Matt. 12 was actually against the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees said that the miracles that Jesus did were performed by the power of Beelzebub. In ascribing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit, they blasphemed and committed the unpardonable sin. The Lord said that this sin could not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come (The Age of Law – The Age of The Millennium). So, this was really a dispensational sin.
Can we commit this sin today? Not in the same way – but we can commit an unpardonable sin. It is possible to sin so much that the conscience becomes seared, then to lose all desire to repent. It is possible to shun or refuse God’s offer of salvation so often that one passes over the deadline, never again to have the desire to accept Christ. Also, every time you hear the message and have a desire to accept Christ, and refuse, you are actually refusing the invitation of the Holy Spirit. Some day he will leave and never return. My Spirit shall not always stay with man (Gen. 6). Think about the following examples: (1) The rich farmer left God out, (2) The Pharisee – religious man, (3) A rich man – “easier for a camel […] from Matt. 19:24, (4) Going your way or procrastination, and (5) indecision. Unbelief is the unpardonable sin.
Questions for Reflection - The first five verses of Revelation 14 give us a preview of the Millennium. The Lamb of God is standing in Jerusalem. With Him are the 144,000 whom He had sealed at the beginning of the Tribulation (Rev. 7). The Tribulation is over and there are still 144,000. Not one of them was lost. Rev. 13 gives us the mark of the beast. Rev. 14 gives us the mark of God. God’s care and God’s promises never fail. May I ask you, have you been sealed by God? Sealed by His Holy Spirit? (Eph 1:13) Sealed unto the day of redemption? (Eph 4:30)