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August 1, 2017

THE TWO BEASTS – PART I

by Leslie John

Leslie M. John

THE TWO BEASTS (PART I)

 (From Revelation 13:1-10)

THE FIRST BEAST (ANTICHRIST)

INTRODUCTION

“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”  (Revelation 13:1)

The dragon that gave its seat, authority and power to the first beast did not just come up in this chapter, but it was there in the Garden of Eden; but then, who was that dragon and who these two beasts are?

Imagery generally impresses people but in some cases imagery causes confusion.  An angel seen in pictures as a woman with pleasant face in white clothes and with beautiful wings is not only an impressive figure for children but also adults.  At the same when Satan is presented as a man with horrible face with eyes wide open, painted in red and black colors, and with two horns projecting from his head with his tongue stretched out projects a view as if Satan has bad features.  No, Satan indeed wants us to think that he is horrible to look at; but in fact, he comes like an angel of light as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14  and sometimes as like a roaring lion (cf. 1 Peter 5:8).   Satan is cunning, crafty and he is deceiver.

Antichrist and False Prophet are presented as two beasts in Revelation 13 and such imagery as beasts serves similar purpose.  They are indeed more dangerous than they are presented as.

John speaks of antichrist in his letters and yet he does not mention the term “antichrist” even once in the book of Revelation. The meaning of “Anti” is “against”.  He is the one who works against Christ.  However, there is much more in the words of Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians and John’s words in the book of Revelation.

Antichrist who blasphemes the name of God is revealed only after the Church is removed from the earth.  This man is the “man of sin” who is also called the “son of perdition”.

The serpent, which is also called the ‘dragon’, was craftier than any other beast of the field that the Lord God made.  He enticed woman into sweet talk in the Garden of Eden and used a very pleasing yet cunning phrase and that was “Did God actually say, ‘you shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?

The woman may have been taken aback at this question; but she yielded to Satan and said “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”.  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die” and continued cheating her. The woman not only ate the forbidden fruit but she also gave it to man, who also ate and thus both transgressed the command of God (cf. Genesis 3:1-5 ESV)

By one man’s sin we are all made sinners and unless we are redeemed from our sin we cannot even see the kingdom of God. Ever since man fell from the presence of God, there is a constant conflict between the “seed of the woman” and the “seed of the serpent”.  Redemption of mankind from the bondage of sin under Satan commenced in Genesis Chapter 3:21 and from then onwards man struggles to escape from the temptations from Satan.

It is only by the cleansing of our sin in the blood of Jesus Christ that we will have our salvation and whosoever confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, and believes in heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved and will have everlasting life.

Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “seed of the woman”, defeated the “seed of the serpent” at the cross by offering himself on the cross on behalf of us and paved the way for our salvation. In spite of making provisions for receiving salvation free of cost man has been constantly refusing to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

The Church was a mystery in the Old Testament period and it came into being with Holy Spirit coming into this world on the Pentecost day to dwell in the hearts of all those who are saved; and all the saved ones are part of the Church. Jesus promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church and the Church will be protected from the “Great Tribulation”. 

Out of 70 weeks of Daniel’s 70-week prophecy 69 have been completed and the seventieth is yet to come. Immediately after the fullness of the gentiles is come in, as Paul wrote in Romans 11:25 the Church will be removed from this earth the seventieth week begins.  After the Church is ‘caught up’ to be with the Lord forever and ever, the “man of sin” who is also called “son of perdition” will be revealed. He rules peacefully for 3 ½ years and breaks his covenant and persecutes people.

Two times the word “after this” is used in Rev. 4:1.  After the seven letters were written to the Churches, and before the throne in heaven was shown to John. Historically the seventh church, which is Laodiceans Church, is the present age. The events that follow after this are recorded from Rev. Ch.4 onwards. There is a clear interval seen between verse 5 and 6 of Rev. Ch.12.

“She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5 ESV)

“and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6 ESV)

THE RISING OF THE FIRST BEAST

Revelation Chapter 13 presents us with the details of two beasts; one rising out of the sea, and other rising from the earth. It is necessary that we understand who these two beasts are.  They are two distinct beasts and yet they work together for the common good for the benefit of their head, which is the dragon also called Satan.  Thus they form a satanic trinity.

First it is about the first beast. It is not necessary to get disturbed at the symbolism presented in this chapter or any other chapter in Revelation. It could be taken as symbolism or real. If donkey can speak to Balaam and the latter could understand what the donkey spoke to him, the language of the beast also could be understood by the people living during those days, when the beast comes on to the scene. 

It is imperative that we recollect the dream that Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel saw and the interpretation of the dreams by Daniel.

Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream a mighty image and according to Daniel’s interpretation he was the mighty image (cf. Daniel 2:31-35).   The appearance of the image was frightening. He was the head which was of gold and represented the first kingdom.

Next, his chest and arms in the image, which were of silver, was the second kingdom, inferior to his kingdom, the third part of the image was of his thighs which were made of bronze, which ruled the entire world, and the fourth part of the image was the last kingdom, partly of iron and partly of clay. It was weak because its feet and toes were made of potter’s clary and partly or iron.

 “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined”  (Daniel 9:26)

The fourth kingdom will be a divided one; one partly strong and the other partly brittle. First one is of the terrible beast, and the second one is of the ten kings and their ten crowns and seven mountains. (cf. Daniel 2:31-43; Rev. 13:1)

In Luke 21:24 Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the trampling of the city by the Gentiles and His prediction turned out to be true when after sixty-nine weeks of the Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy He (Messiah) was cut-off and the people of the prince came and destroyed the temple at Jerusalem, and levelled the whole city of Jerusalem to the ground.

These four kingdoms, as history presents to us the facts, are: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Roman Empire I (of iron) and II (of iron + clay). Final victory will be of the God of heavens, whose kingdom shall not break but will stand forever.

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” Daniel 2:44

Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:23 corresponds with the vision of Nebuchadnezzar’s in Daniel 2:44. He interpreted his dream and finally said:

“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces” Daniel 7:23

“Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power” Daniel 8:22

From Revelation17:9 it is understood that the seven heads are seven mountains. Horns always represented the power, and here ten horns represent ten kings. This is yet future. A ten-nation federation is going to be formed, and then after their time another shall rise and that is the one who is called “Antichrist” or Pseudo-Christ, “man of sin” or “son of perdition”.  In Daniel’s vision he is referred to as the “little horn”

“I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8 ESV)

 “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. But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. (Daniel 7:24-26 ESV)

“Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land” (Daniel 8:9 ESV)

John saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns were ten crowns, which were “diadems”, and not “stephanos”. Diadems are ornamental crowns worn by the kings which stephanos are earned by athletes. And, again from Rev. 17:12 it is understood that the ten horns are ten kings.

John saw in his vision the first beast whose appearance was eccentric and horrible. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns.  One of its seven heads suffered a deadly wound, perhaps as a result of a scathing attack made on it; however, this mortal wound was healed.

Marvelous as the healing was, the earth-dwellers are surprised and taken into false belief that he is the

Christ. They will be deceived and follow him and worship him. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 that because they received not the love of the truth God sends them into strong delusion that they believe in a lie.

“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11)

They who refused to worship the living God saying there is no God then seek to refuge in the beast and worship it. Psalmist wrote in Psalm 14:1a that “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God”.  They not only worship the beast but flatter it and praise it saying “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

This first beast looks like a leopard but its feet were like a bear’s; and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. Even though it has lion’s mouth and the power to utter blasphemous words its boasting mouth was limited to a period of forty two months. It does not speak words devoid of meaning, but it speaks haughty and blasphemous words. It does not speak the words of men or against men, but speaks blasphemy against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling and of those who dwell in heaven.

Apostle Paul speaks of this ‘man of sin’, the son of perdition’ in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2:1-17. The ‘man of sin’ receives such great power that he puts to death the two witnesses who had the power to call fire from heaven and swallow anyone who tried to hurt them. (cf. Revelation Ch. 11:3-19)

The situation in that period will be so pathetic that even the saints in this period are conquered by the beast. he saints of this “great tribulation” period are not protected. If it were to be in the Church period, the beast could not do any harm to the saints in Christ because Lord Jesus said, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church; and the Church period is here now. Do not let your soul go into “great tribulation” period.

The beast is given authority over every tribe and people and languages and nation. Every one, of all the earth-dwellers, whose name is not written in the “book of life of the lamb”, will worship it.

Lord Jesus Christ, who was identified twice by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God”, was slain on behalf of us on the cross in order that sinners may by confessing Him as the Lord, and by believing that God raised Him from the dead receive everlasting life to be with Him forever and ever conformed to His image and in glorified bodies.

However, those who preferred to refuse Him as the Messiah become remnant to be as earth-dwellers with mortal bodies still suffering pain and sufferings, sickness and worship the beast, finally to be thrown into ‘lake of fire’ along with the beast.

Who can be against the Almighty God or speak against the living God?  Just as the beast speaks blasphemous words for limited period some also speak, either in their ignorance, or in arrogance that there is no God, and end up in unimaginable misery. They have no hope of their life after their death.  They prefer to enjoy worldly pleasures now and say, “we will see after death”, but when it comes to happen it would have been very late.

Patience calls for it and the saints are comforted that they should not take up sword for sword. Vengeance belongs to God and persecutors will not escape punishment from the living God.

“If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:9-10 ESV)

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