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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 dragon is the same as the one in the previous chapter, which has already been identified as Satan (12:9). The beast coming out of the sea is separate from the dragon. The sea in may be symbolic of many people, as in chapter 20, verse 8. As seen in the later verses of this chapter, this beast is actually Antichrist because he derives his power from Satan, requires people to worship him, and institutes economic dictatorship over the entire earth. The word beast means a ferocious animal. It is symbolic of the character of the Antichrist. In chapter 6, verse 1 he was introduced as a rider on a white horse. When he is first revealed he is seen as a powerful deliverer from the problems of the world. By the time he institutes his ultimate control over the earth he is seen a dangerous, bloodthirsty animal.
As shown in the previous article, the explanation for the seven heads and ten horns is given in chapter 17. They are seven world empires, starting in ancient human history, five of which had come and gone.(Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece), one of which existed at the time (Rome), and one which was still future.(17:10) The ten horns are "ten kings which have not yet received a kingdom" (17:12) who will reign with "the Beast" (Antichrist) for a short time. This means that the final world empire controlled by Satan will begin as an alliance of ten member nations. The blasphemous names refer to the ungodly character of each of these world empires.
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.
The Prophet Daniel himself also had a vision about a succession of empires which were described as a lion, a bear, a leopard, and an indescribable, frightening beast with iron teeth. (Daniel 7:1-7). These empires are exactly parallel to the ones in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (chapter 2). They therefore represent Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The beast in Revelation 13 has characteristics of the first three of these empires, symbolized in reverse order by the leopard, the bear, and the lion. With the power granted to him by Satan, he epitomizes the cruel conquering power of Rome, the last of the world empires to date. Antichrist's career during The Tribulation Period will undoubtedly fulfill the nightmarish prophecies of the rest of Daniel's vision (Daniel 7:8-11,19-26).
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.
There are two ways this prophecy might be fulfilled. The first is the most direct, since the fatal wound was on one of the seven heads. The sixth head represents Rome, which ceased to exist as a world empire in AD 476 when conquered by the German chieftain Odoacer. In that sense, the sixth head suffered a fatal wound, and will be miraculously brought back to life by the emergence of Antichrist's world empire of the last days. One problem with this view is that all the previous empires also ceased to exist. Thus they all suffered a fatal wound, but only this one will come back to life.
The other possible fulfillment is that Antichrist himself will receive a "fatal" wound to his head and then be "healed." Since he is a false Christ, perhaps he will even imitate Jesus in the all-important area of resurrection. If this is the meaning, it is interesting to notice that the wording of the prophecy is not "raised from the dead" but that "the fatal wound had been healed," possibly meaning that his "death" was temporary, and medical means were used to restore his life. In our times, many people experience death (indicated by a flat line monitoring brain activity), but are brought back by restarting their hearts. Others are having their bodies frozen as soon as they die in special cryogenic solutions in the hopes that science will someday discover a way to revive them and then heal them of their deadly diseases.
Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"
Satan has always desired to be worshipped (Isaiah 14:12-14 and Matthew 4:8-11). Antichrist, who is energized by Satan will also crave worship. This becomes even more clear later in this passage
5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.
6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.
7 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.
These descriptions of Antichrist are strikingly similar to those given in Daniel 7, as noted above. In that passage he is described as speaking boastfully (Daniel 7:8), and waging war against the Saints (Daniel 7:21). In addition, it is said that, "He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time." (Daniel 7:25). "A time, times, and half a time" could be interpreted as 31/2 "times" or years, which is exactly the same as the forty-two months of Revelation 13:5!
8 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.
9 He who has an ear, let him hear.
10 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.
During the second half of The Tribulation, also known as The Great Tribulation, anyone who wants to survive will be forced to worship the beast. The sign of this worship is given below. It is the Mark of The Beast. True Christians during the period will not worship him, nor will they accept the mark. Because of this, believers will be driven underground, and if they are found they will be captured and put to death. These believers' names are written in the Book of Life. Those who will worship Antichrist do not have their names written in this book.
11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a Lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.
12 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.
13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.
This third person of the unholy trinity, is symbolized by horns of a lamb, showing his religious affiliation, and a voice like a dragon, indicating his Satanic empowerment. He is often referred to as the False Prophet, because of his apparent religiosity and ability to perform miraculous signs like the prophets of old. His role is to convince people to worship the first beast, Antichrist. He may well be the personal head of the apostate one-world religion of that future time.
14 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.
15 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.
This image of Antichrist corresponds directly to the Abomination of Desolation (Daniel 9:27) when Antichrist breaks the seven year covenant with Israel and sets up an image in the Temple. This, of course is also in complete agreement with the timing mentioned above, leaving exactly the three and one half years of the Great Tribulation. Jesus also mentioned this event in His description of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:15 ff). A speaking image could be the product of animation technologies, holography, genetic engineering, virtual reality, or a supernatural phenomenon.
This False Prophet has supernatural powers, obviously granted to him by Satan, like Pharaoh's magicians in the days of Moses who were able to mimic some of Moses' miracles (Exodus 7:11) and the first two of the Ten Plagues (Exodus 7:22; 8:7; 8:18). He uses this power to make this horrific image breathe and talk. None of his powers should be construed to actually give life, which only God can do, but to deceive people into thinking that he could do so -- first by raising ('healing") Antichrist's wound, and then by making the image appear to be alive. This trick may be more than our modern technologies of animation and holography, but it is a deception just the same.
16 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,
17 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.
18 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. (NIV)
This is the heart of Antichrist's plan for economic dictatorship. The technologies are in widespread use now which will enable him to institute a cashless society and literally control the privilege of buying and selling world-wide.
We can not know who Antichrist is until he is revealed, after the Restrainer (The Holy Spirit) is no longer holding back sin (2 Thessalonians 2:1-11). But those who are alive during this period should be able to recognize him in a number of ways. Certainly by the time he sets up the Abomination of Desolation, everyone who knows the Bible will know who he is. But before that, while he appears to offer a wonderful solution to the world's problems, various numbering systems will be in use, and by one of these, Antichrist's own number should be 666. Using various numbering systems, several interesting possibilities can already be identified.
Notice that the number is to be placed on the right hand or on the forehead. This is an obvious, external symbol of compliance - even of worship - of Antichrist. It is not an invisible tattoo or an implanted transponders chip implants, even though these things might also be employed to make all of this possible.
It is also interesting that the number is not the number of each subject who receives it, but Antichrist's own number, or, optionally, his very name! Surely each subject will also have his own number, whether that is on a card, a tattoo, or an implanted device, but this actual Mark of The Beast is his name or number, a proof that the subject has agreed to worship him!