"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 13:1,2.
Here is the beast that has the dreaded mark. This mark we definitely don't want! The most awful warning of all time is directed against it (see Rev. 14:9,10). But before we learn what the mark is, we must discover who the beast is. And it won't be hard. In fact, the Bible makes it so clear that I'll simply list the characteristics of it, and you'll be able to tell me who it is! Are you ready?
1) A "beast" in prophecy represents a kingdom, a nation, a power. The prophetic book of Daniel tells us - "Thus he said, the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth." Daniel 7:23.
2) This beast comes up out of the "sea." When a beast arises from the "sea," it always represents a power rising in a highly populated are; amid "peoples, multitudes, and nation, and tongues." Revelation 17:15. It would have to conquer the existing government.
3) This beast has seven heads and ten horns. A head represents the headquarters of a government. The head of a county is called the "county seat" you remember.
A "horn" represents a king, a ruler. "And ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise." Daniel 7:24. The beast is a power with a man at the head of it. You'll find that the Bible explains itself!
4) The beast has "the name of blasphemy" (Rev. 13:1).
What is blasphemy?
Again the Bible gives its own definition. In John 10:32,33, it tells how the Jews were going to stone Jesus. He asked them why they were about to stone Him and they said, "For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."
Amazing! Blasphemy is for a man to claim to be God! Of course Jesus didn't blaspheme because He is God. But for someone less than God - it would be. But there's more.
In Mark 2:5-11 it tells the story of how a paralyzed man wanted to come into a house where Jesus was, but it was just too crowded. He finally persuaded his friends to carry him up on the roof of Peter's house and break it up so they could let the man down into the room where the Saviour was teaching. Down he comes.
Jesus looks into those pleading eyes and knows that the poor man needs to have forgiveness and peace with God even more than physical healing. Jesus says to him, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."
Can you imagine the wonderful peace and joy that flooded his soul? But the religious leaders didn't care a thing about the man's soul. They were just trying to catch some words of Jesus that they could use against Him to have Him put to death. The Bible says that they thought, "Why does this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? The Saviour knew their thoughts and said, "Why reason ye these things in your hearts?" Then He asked them which is easier to say, "thy sins be forgiven," or to say, "rise and walk?" Jesus healed the man before their eyes, and, to the people's utter amazement, he got up and walked out of the house.
Again, Jesus didn't commit blasphemy by forgiving the man's sins because He is a member of the Godhead and had a perfect right to do just that. To whomever He pleased He could say those sweet word of forgiveness, and the very peace of heaven would flood the soul. He could say, "Go and sin no more," and the guilty, the depressed, the sad, the empty, would rise up with peace of mind. They would begin a new and unselfish life of obedience to God - a happy life of peace.
They could slap Him in the face and press a crown of thorns onto that holy brow; they could beat Him until His back was like raw meat, but they couldn't rob Him of His royal right to forgive the chief of sinners. Wonderful Jesus!
But for anyone less than God to claim to forgive sins - it's blasphemy.
Concerning the beast it says, "and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." Revelation 13:1. The very leaders of this power would both claim to be God on the earth, and claim to have power to forgive men's sins!
5) "and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." Revelation 13:2.
It's clear that the beast gets its "seat" and "authority" from the dragon. But who's the dragon?
Here it is. "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." Revelation 20:2. The dragon is Satan. But there's more.
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne." Revelation 12:3-5.
Some years ago, a man in Chicago claimed that he was the man child! Could he have been?
Revelation 19:15,16 shows us that the "Man Child" is Christ. So the "dragon" represents not only Satan, but also a kingdom through whom Satan worked to try to kill baby Jesus as soon as He was born. Now what kingdom was it whose king decreed the destruction of the babies in Bethlehem?
Of course! It was King Herod. He was employed by, and a representative of Rome. So here's another clue. The beast gets its power, seat, and authority from Rome!
It's coming clear. The dragon represents Rome. Rome was the empire used by Satan to try to destroy the Saviour of the world! Now let's take a closer look.
The dragon (Rome) had "ten horns." A horn grows out of the head of an animal. A horn, you remember, is a king. When the Roman empire collapsed, ten divisions resulted. Barbarian tribes hammered at the Roman empire for many years until it fell apart and the ten divisions were ruled by ten kings! They were: the Alemani (Germany), the Franks (France), Burgundians (Switzerland), the Suevi (Portugal), the Anglo-Saxons (Britain), the Visigoths (Spain), the Lombards (Italy), the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heruli. The last three were destroyed by the Pope of Rome because they refused to become "Christian." The armies of Emperor Justinian, in cooperation with the Pope, thrust the Ostrogoths out of the city of Rome. They have become extinct. In 538 A.D. the Pope took possession of the city after the Emperor decreed that he should be the head of all the Christian churches. These ten divisions of Rome are the ten horns on the "dragon." (For more detail see Appendix 1).
Now look at this next amazing point.
6) "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." Revelation 13:8.
This is not only a political power but a religious power as well. It demands worship and gets it.
7) It is a world-wide power. "All the world wondered after the beast." Revelation 13:3.
Maybe you already know who the "beast" is.
Can you think of any world-wide political and religious power with a man at the head of it who claims to be God on earth and to be able to forgive sins? Who received its "seat" and authority from Rome? Of a church government whose leader is "wondered after" by the whole world?
Let me say something now that's very important. You see, the reason why God speaks as strongly against worshiping the "beast" as He does is because He loves the people. He loves all people. Reader, He loves you. He knows that a person can't possibly be happy who follows this power and receives its mark. He knows that "... they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Revelation 14:11. In following this power there's no rest. He loves us so much that He warns us in the strongest language known to man. Listen to this.
"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice; If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation." Revelation 14:9,10. Strong language. Language of love is always strong when it's a question of life and death to the one it loves.
I ask you, what more could He do? God sent His own Son to die a hell death in our place. Not one need experience the awful fate of those who follow the beast and receive its mark. Jesus made a way of escape. He suffered the agony of Gethsemane, and the torture of His mock trial where they beat Him until His back was like raw meat. They bowed down in mockery and hit Him in the head with a stick, driving the thorns into His brow and sending blood running down His face. Watch Him stagger on His way to Calvary. The Son of God falls on His face in the dirt. He endures the horror of our sins while His blood runs drop by drop to the foot of the cross. Look at His quivering lips as He cries "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
There He hangs - like a snake on a pole, writhing in agony, drinking the last drops of the wrath of God against sin. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness," Jesus was lifted up - for you. Do you see? He did it for you. He took what you and I deserve. Do you see why our Heavenly Father is so anxious that we not follow the beast or receive its mark? We need not receive that awful penalty. Jesus paid it all. When they were pounding the spikes through His tender flesh, and Jesus prayed "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" - He was praying for you and me then also. He was praying for you! Will you choose Him now as your personal Saviour and follow Him all the way?
You'll be so happy that you did.
Trusting Him; obeying Him - even unto death; abiding in His love through prayer and Bible study; total surrender and a loving, happy relationship, only then will you be safe from worshiping the beast and receiving his "mark" - only then. Soon you'll see why.
Another thing we must understand is that in identifying the beast, God is not talking about sincere people who are involved with it "ignorantly." Do you know what I mean? When He identifies it He is talking about "the system;" the leaders, who know what they are doing and deliberately disobey and change the word of God. Do you see? Our God is a tender Father. He only holds accountable those who understand what the Bible commands and knowingly disobey, or, those who turn away from hearing His word and are "willingly ignorant."
The beast exists now. Many honest Christians who are now involved with it will soon learn the facts about it. They will hear God's call to come out of it. And they will respond. Don't be fooled by thinking that the "beast" is a computer in Europe somewhere. That is only a smoke screen to get people off the track that the Bible points out. God's word makes it so clear that even an honest child can see it. The next point in identifying the beast is amazing.
8) It has characteristics of the four beasts (nations) which existed before it. Look carefully.
"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." Revelation 13:2.
What nations are these? Again, the Bible tells us. The same four beasts are found in Daniel 7. "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth." Daniel 7:17. These are the four world empires, ruling consecutively from the time of Daniel down to the time of the fall of Rome. They are Babylon (605 - 538 B.C.), Medo-Persia (538 - 331 B.C.), Greece (331 - 168 B.C.), and Rome (168 B.C. - 476 A.D.). Now let's get the full description of these in Daniel 7.
"Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
"The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 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." Daniel 7:2-8.
What a picture. Here they are, beginning with Daniel's day.
The Lion - Babylon. The Bear - Medo-Persia. The Leopard - Greece. The Terrible Beast - Rome.
Since the beast with the mark has similarities with these four, let's take a close look at them.
Babylon, represented by the two-winged lion, ruled the world when Daniel was alive. In the ruins of ancient Babylon, broken statues of lions with two wings can still be seen in modern times.
The lion - a fit symbol of Babylon. It was the greatest of all the ancient kingdoms. The two wings tell us of the swiftness in which the "golden kingdom" conquered the civilized world of that time.
How is the "beast" of Revelation 13 like Babylon?
Ancient Babylon, founded by Nimrod (See Genesis 10) the great-grandson of Noah, more than two thousand years before Christ, was one of the wonders of the world. It was laid out in a perfect square with a great and high wall eighty-seven feet thick. Its two hundred and twenty-five square miles of enclosed surface was laid out in beautiful symmetry and interspersed with luxuriant pleasure grounds and gardens. With its sixty miles of moat, its sixty miles of outer wall, its gates of solid brass, its hanging gardens, its subterranean tunnel under the River Euphrates, its perfect arrangement for beauty and defense - this city, containing in itself many things which were themselves wonders of the world, was itself another and still mightier wonder.
The emperors of Babylon claimed worship as gods. For man to be appreciated is great, but to be worshipped by other humans is blasphemous. The leader of the "beast" does this very thing!
What about the next kingdom?
Medo-Persia took over on that terrible night when King Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, half drunk, threw a party for a thousand of his lords and tossed the sacred vessels from the temple of God about the floor. That was the last straw. His knees knocked together in fear as he watched a bloodless hand trace his doom upon the palace wall. Look at this description of that fearful night.
"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank before the thousand. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another." Daniel 5:1,3,5.
What a scene!
At sight of that bloodless hand, Belshazzar is paralyzed with fear. He calls in all the "astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers," but they're no help. Finally, the queen suggests that Daniel be called in. The corrupt king isn't ignorant of the fact that he had shown himself able to interpret dreams and solve mysteries because the God of heaven was with him. But Belshazzar hates God and doesn't even class Daniel with the wise men.
But now! Now he's scared to death. At the queen's suggestion Daniel is called in. Watch what happens.
"Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?" Daniel 5:13.
After mentioning the failure of his magicians to read the writing on the wall, the king said, "And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom." Daniel 5:16.
Daniel well knew what would happen that night and earthly rewards sank into nothingness. In a few hours most in that court would be dead. He had no heart for rewards.
"Let thy gifts," he said, "be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation." Daniel 5:17.
After reminding the king of his rebellion and pride against God, he told him what the writing meant.
And now came the shocking news.
"And this," Daniel declared, "is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE: God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it, TEKEL: Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES: Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." Daniel 5:25-28.
The king is stunned. Can you imagine the desperation! He didn't have long to be in suspense.
"In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about three score and two years old." Daniel 5:30,31. Crownless and scepterless, Belshazzar lay - a robe of purple round a form of clay.
There we have it. The two-winged lion was dead. The year - 538 B.C. Medo- Persia under Darius had taken over right on schedule! The bear of Daniel's dream had conquered the world.
How is the "beast" of Revelation 13 like Medo-Persia?
It was a rule with the Medo-Persians that once they made a law - it stuck, and could never be reversed. The government was considered infallible.
You'll see shortly that the "beast" power takes this same policy.
Medo-Persia ruled until the empire met up with a young man whose military genius was uncanny - Alexander the Great.
He became a great ruler at the age of 25!
It was October 1, 331 B.C. At the head of his armies Alexander met the Persian forces head on and defeated them in the battle of Arbela. His military genius made Greece to emerge as the third world empire.
The leopard with four heads and four wings of Daniel's vision had replaced the Medo-Persian bear.
But why the four heads?
Alexander had conquered the world. But he hadn't conquered himself. At a drunken debauch he drank the Herculean cup full of alcohol. It was a huge thing. The human stomach can hardly hold more than a quart.
Of all horrors. He drank it twice! And it killed him. Alexander died with a raging fever at the age of 33. The year - 323 B.C.
His will had declared that the kingdom should go "to the strongest." His four generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleuchus and Ptolomy took over the empire and divided it into four parts. These divisions are represented by the four heads of the leopard beast.
What about the four wings? They represent swiftness. Greece had conquered the world in only 13 years. Such a feat has never been equaled.
(For more information on the four divisions of Greece, see Funk and Wagnell's New Encyclopedia on "Alexander III," pg. 390,391).
Before his death, Alexander had ordered the Greek cities to worship him as a god. The "beast" of Revelation 13 is "like unto a leopard" because it took on the Greek culture and also has a leader that claims worship as God.
Who is the fourth "terrible" beast of Daniel 7?
"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 had ten horns." "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth." Daniel 7:7,23.
The fourth kingdom, represented by this terrible beast is Rome. Rome conquered Greece in 168 B.C. and eventually gave its power to the "beast" of Revelation 13.
Out of the fourth "terrible beast" comes a "little horn." Now here's something amazing. The beast of Revelation 13, and the "little horn" of Daniel 7, are one and the same power! God wants to make sure that there's no mistaking who this power is, so He describes it in both prophetic books.
Isn't Bible prophecy fantastic! Look at the description of the "little horn."
"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... and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Daniel 7:8,24,25.
If you compare this description of the "little horn" with the description of the "beast" of Revelation 13, you'll see that they are one and the same power. For the amazing comparison, see Appendix 1A.
One of the most startling things about this power is that it would "think to change times and laws." Daniel 7:25. Here's a man that sets himself up as equal with God and dares tamper with His law - the constitution of the universe! With blasphemous audacity he does his work. But God has said, "All His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever." Psalms 111:7,8.
9) The next clue as to who the beast is, is the time period which God gives for its reign before it receives its "deadly wound." It would reign for 1260 years. Just so there's no mistake on this, He repeats this period seven times in Daniel and Revelation! (For a detailed description of this fantastic time prophecy, see Appendix 2).
Now, just one more clue before I tell you who the beast is.
It's not only the same as the "little horn" of Daniel 7, but it's also the same power as the great whore riding upon the scarlet colored beast of Revelation 17. Let's take a shocking glimpse.
"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgement of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: . . . and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." Revelation 17:1-3.
There are those heads and horns again. We've come to associate them with Rome. The Harlot is controlling Rome riding it around - making her seat on it. Familiar isn't it! Now it gets even clearer.
This "harlot" represents a corrupt church system. And get this: "And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls." Revelation 17:4.
It's a rich church.
A woman in Bible prophecy represents a church. God likens His people to a "comely and delicate woman." Jeremiah 6:2. A virgin is God's pure church. A harlot (whore) is a corrupt church.
She's called "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." Revelation 17:5. It's not only a church, it's a mother church. It's a world power. "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her I wondered with great admiration." Revelation 17:6. Oh yes! It kills the saints!
This is shocking. Why would our heavenly Father Who is so loving and kind talk this way about a church, of all things, and expose it to the world? Why does He Who is so full of pity and love warn anyone who even follows this power and receives its mark that they will end up in the lake of fire?
I believe the answer is - because it's true. Though God is very tender hearted, He always tells the truth.
I know it's shocking, but here's a corrupt church power that Satan has used to deceive the whole world and rob men and women of their eternal life by using deception. Like Nimrod and Alexander the Great, this power has leaders who divert the attention and worship of the people from the true, living God, to themselves. These leaders turn people from heeding the word of God to heeding their word; from obeying the commandments of God, to obeying their commandments. This is why God tells it like it is - because He is love.
And remember, there are many sincere, lovely Christians in this fallen church, named "Babylon," and they will hear God's call and come out.
Look at this! "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Revelation 18:2,4.
Now - who is the "beast?" What power:
1) Received its "seat" and authority from Rome. Revelation 13:4.
2) Rules the world for 1260 years (from 538 A.D. - 1798 A.D.).
3) Then received a "deadly wound" which later heals. Revelation 13:3.
4) Is both a political and a religious power, which is worshipped. Revelation 13:4.
5) Tampered with God's law. Daniel 7:25.
6) Has a leader who claims to be God on the earth and to be able to forgive sins. (which is blasphemy) Revelation 13:1.
7) Is a mother church (daughters have come out of her). Revelation 17:5.
8) Made war with the saints. Revelation 13:7.
9) Is a world power which is wondered at. Revelation 13:3,4.
10) Has "a man" at the head of it with the number of his name being 666. Revelation 13:18.
11) Has a dreaded "mark" which, if received, will cause a person to be cast into the lake of fire and lose eternal life. Revelation 14:9,10.
By now most of the people have guessed that it's the Papacy. They're correct. It's the only power on the face of the earth that fits all of the Bible characteristics for it.
But what about 666?
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