It will be helpful to have read Revelation 13 and Daniel 2 & 7-8 in connection with this post. Verse-by-verse commentary on Daniel and Revelation can be found on my website. I am trying to be clear and succinct in presenting the information in this blog series.
If you have been following along with the previous posts in this series, it will make sense to see the Antichrist being shown as a beast at this point in John’s narrative. It is at the mid-point of the tribulation that he reveals his true colors. Remember, he arose on the world stage as a man championing peace.
John now sees a great beast arising from the sea that has seven heads and ten horns wearing ten crowns; the heads are described as displaying blasphemous names. The beast is described as looking like a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. John reveals that this beast is empowered with the authority of the dragon—identified in the previous post as Satan.
This description of the beast is directly connected to Daniel’s vision (described in Daniel 7).
Daniel 7:7–8 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.”
I think it is significant to note that the first three beasts in Daniel’s vision were of a leopard with four wings and four heads, a bear and a lion with eagle’s wings. These beasts are identified as representing four kings. The first three are interpreted in chapters 2&8 of Daniel as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Cyrus of Medo-Persia and Alexander the Great of Greece. The fourth kingdom is a reference to Rome, but the fourth king is in reference to the Antichrist, the most powerful ruler to emerge from that empire (depicted by the legs and feet of the image from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2).
I know—the Roman Empire fell long ago. That is true, but scripture declares that there will be a confederacy of ten kings or rulers (pictured by the ten toes of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream) that will once again come to power from the remains of that fallen empire that will unite under the leadership of the Antichrist to control the world. Daniel seems to indicate that the Antichrist, “another little horn,” will begin to assume more control by usurping three of these kings and taking control of the areas they governed.
I believe that the Antichrist is indwelt by Satan at the time he gains worldwide authority and establishes his throne in the temple at the midpoint of the tribulation. Note that the beast has seven heads. I believe these heads represent the seven major kings/kingdoms that have had direct impact on the nation of Israel—Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome and the final tenfold confederacy of the Antichrist. The fact that they are pictured as heads on the beast controlled by the dragon affirm that they were under Satan’s influence as well.
Why were other great kings/kingdoms of the world (e.g., the Ottomans or Mongols) not included in Daniel’s/John’s visions? Because God is using the scripture to tell His-story as reflected through His dealings with the nation of Israel. After 70 AD that nation no longer existed. After it once again becomes an active nation on the world scene (as of 1948), we can look for the last world kingdom/empire and its interaction with Israel to be used by God to fulfill scripture and fulfill the promises of God to Abraham.
I think it is significant that we are told at this point that one of the heads appeared to have suffered a deadly wound, but was healed. According to verse 12 this seems to reference an apparent resurrection of the first beast, the Antichrist, from the dead.
Revelation 13:12 “It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence; and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, the one whose fatal wound had been healed.”
It is probably this apparent miracle that will convince the world as a whole to invest him with the authority of leading a “new world order.” John tells us that the world will worship the dragon (Satan) and the beast (Antichrist) since he appears to be invincible. John again specifically declares that this beast will be allowed his authority for 42 months, or 3.5 years. Significant point—his time of authority is limited by God in accordance with the fulfillment of His plan.
It seems obvious to me that the Antichrist is trying to mirror Christ in every way possible. He credits his authority as “god” to Satan in the same way that Jesus accredited His authority to His Father in heaven. He works lying wonders to deceive in contrast to the true miracles Jesus worked to inspire faith. He stages an apparent resurrection from the dead in light of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
As Satan always does, he blasphemes God and everything connected to Him. He is even allowed to assert his authority over the saints, those who have placed their faith in the Son of God during the tribulation. Sad note, John tells us that those who choose to worship the beast face eternal damnation because their names are not included in the Lamb’s book of life—that Lamb, Jesus the Son of God, whose death and resurrection for our sin was determined before creation. He declares himself to be “god” just as Jesus declared Himself to be God. The HUGE difference—Satan is a liar with no real authority and Jesus is righteous and true in all He represented Himself to be.
John now records a warning for those who are reading this scripture during the tribulation to pay careful attention to what he is about to read. Many saints will suffer captivity and death during this time. They are to be prepared for this and persevere in their faith; in the end, they will emerge as overcomers.
1 John 5:4 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
Revelation 2:11 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
Revelation 21:7 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
(to be continued…)