REVELATION CHAPTER 13
THE TWO BEASTS
In Revelation 13, one of the great prophetic chapters in the Bible, we are given astonishing details regarding the two beasts of Daniel’s 70th week: (1) Antichrist, and (2) the False Prophet.
First, John gives us a disturbing vision of Antichrist and his Kingdom. John describes, in much greater detail than he has done in the previous chapters, the rise and reign of Antichrist. Antichrist, energized by Satan, will be Satan's last attempt to overthrow and destroy the Kingdom of God, Israel, and the Church. Antichrist will be the earth's final gentile ruler and will reign over the world during the second 3 1/2 year period of Daniel’s 70th week. Antichrist's power will know no bounds; he will demand the worship of men and inflict martyrdom on those who resist and remain loyal to Jesus. In this Chapter, John describes the key supernatural event that will occur during Antichrist's reign; Antichrist's death and his subsequent resurrection. John also provides us with additional details as to Antichrist's persecution of the Church.
Second, John for the first time discusses the role that the False Prophet will play in Antichrist's empire. Satan will give the False Prophet supernatural powers, which the False Prophet will use to recruit men to Antichrist. The False Prophet represents ultimate deception of false religion. He will direct the final apostasy ¾ when Antichrist is resurrected from the dead a large number of those who claim to be Christians will defect from the Church and follow Antichrist. The False Prophet will be the powerful henchman of Antichrist; he will be responsible for implementing much of Antichrist's plan to destroy the Church (think of the Nazi butcher Adolph Eichmann, who implemented and enforced Hitler’s extermination of more than six million Jews during World War II). John details two key End-Times events in which the False Prophet plays an essential role: (1) the creation of the Speaking Image of the Beast; and (2) the implementation of the ferociously evil religious and economic system known as the Mark of the Beast
THE FIRST BEAST: ANTICHRIST
John first gives us an in-depth description of Antichrist's Kingdom. John explains that Antichrist is the beast that will come from Satan, the Dragon. Antichrist's Kingdom will be composed of ten nation-states, each of which will be ruled by a king who will swear allegiance to Antichrist and his satanic agenda. This ten-nation empire will be the ultimate fulfillment of the seven historical empires that will seek to destroy the Jews and the Church.
1 And the dragon (Satan) stood on the shore of the sea (the Mediterranean Sea ¾ the Roman Lake. Antichrist’s kingdom will arise from the various nations and the many peoples that are located around the Mediterranean Sea, each of which was a part of the former Roman empire). And I saw a beast (Antichrist) coming out of the sea. He had ten horns (representing the ten kings/nations that will constitute Antichrist's End Times Empire. See Dan 7:24) and seven heads (representing the seven Satanic Empires that have existed throughout human history and sought to destroy the Jewish people: Egypt; Assyria; Babylon; Medo-Persia; Greece; Rome; and most likely Nazi Germany. See discussion of Rev 17), with ten crowns on his horns (the crowns represent the ten kings that will give power to the beast and make up the ten nations of Antichrist's End Times Empire. See Rev 17:3.), and on each head a blasphemous name. (Antichrist’s ten-nation confederacy will blaspheme God, Israel and the Church).
The seven heads of the beast represent the two nations that persecuted Israel prior to the time of Daniel (Egypt and Assyria), the four nations of Daniel's vision (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome - see below), and a seventh nation that will attempt to destroy the Jews before Christ returns.
John's reference to the seven heads is important for two reasons.
First, it is a prophecy ¾ Antichrist's Kingdom can only arise after seven different nations have failed in their attempts to destroy the nation Israel. Prior to the time of Daniel, two nations attempted to destroy Israel; Egypt and Assyria. Egypt attempted to destroy Israel (and the Dragon attempted to destroy the Woman) when Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill the Hebrew baby boys. Assyria was responsible for the downfall of the Northern kingdom of Israel and carried the people into captivity. The destruction was so severe, we refer to the “10 lost tribes of Israel.”
In Daniel 2, we are provided with four additional nations that Daniel correctly prophesied would subjugate Israel. In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was given a dream of an enormous statute. The head of the statute was made of gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet of clay. See Daniel 2:31-35. Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream, explaining that the statute represented four nations that would subjugate Israel; Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Therefore, the Bible provides us with six out of the seven nations that will attempt to destroy Israel before Christ returns to set up His eternal kingdom. I believe Nazi Germany was likely the final of these seven nations, and that its Holocaust of the Jews fulfilled this precondition to the occurrence of Daniel's 70th Week.
Second, the seven heads of the Dragon provide us with a vision of the evil of Antichrist's Empire. Specifically, Antichrist's Kingdom will be a composite of these seven nations. The brutal nature of these seven nations is discussed in Daniel Chapter 7. In Daniel 7, Daniel saw four ferocious beasts coming out of the sea, representing four nations that would persecute Israel. Daniel saw Babylon as a raging winged lion; its takeover of Israel would be swift and strong. Medo-Persia was a fierce and devouring bear. Greece was a swift winged leopard. Finally, Rome was a ravenous beast with iron teeth too terrible to describe ¾ think of a devouring Tyrannosaurus Rex. (See Daniel 2:40) These descriptions are repeated below in Revelation 13:2.
2 The beast (Antichrist and his Kingdom) I saw resembled a leopard (Antichrist's Kingdom will have the leopard-like swiftness of Alexander’s Grecian Empire), but had feet like those of a bear (Antichrist's Kingdom will have the bear-like crushing power of Medo-Persia) and a mouth like that of a lion. (Antichrist's Kingdom will have the lion-like ferocity of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. Note that these three kingdoms may represent the first three nations of the 10-nation that Antichrist conquers and subdues. Today, the modern geographic equivalent of these three nations are Iraq, Iran, and Syria, arguably the three greatest modern-day enemies of Israel.) The dragon (Satan) gave the beast (Antichrist) his power and his throne and great authority.
It is important to realize that, while Antichrist’s Kingdom will possess characteristics of all the seven nations that attempted to destroy Israel (it will be a composite Kingdom), it will specifically be an extension of the Roman Empire ¾ it will be the Revived Roman Empire. In Daniel 2, the Roman Empire is described as a Kingdom that is “strong as iron ¾ for iron breaks and smashes everything ¾ and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.” See Daniel 2:40. So too will Antichrist’s final kingdom crush everything in its path like an unstoppable machine of war. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the Roman Empire was represented by the toes on the clay feet on the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Note that these ten toes correspond to the ten kings of Antichrist’s final empire. Antichrist’s composite Kingdom, empowered by Satan, will rise and conquer the Earth more quickly and surely than any other kingdom the world has known. It will be Satan’s final and ultimate effort to destroy the Church, Israel, and the Kingdom of God to come.
ANTICHRIST WILL RISE FROM THE DEAD
3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound (this is the exact same Greek word that is used to describe of our Lord’s “fatal wound” in Rev 5:6), but the fatal wound had been healed. (Antichrist's mortal wound is healed and he will be restored back to life) The whole world (no nation, including the United States, will be exempt from the influence and authority of Antichrist) was astonished and followed the beast. (The whole world will be amazed at Antichrist's supernatural ability to cheat death. We are not told when this wound occurs, but it would seem that it occurs during the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week. This event secures the base of Antichrist’s power and provides a justification for the Abomination of Desolation, when Antichrist proclaims himself God in the rebuilt Temple.)
Here we learn that Antichrist, will receive a deadly head wound and literally die. In this context, it seems like John is not saying that Antichrist himself will die but that “one of the heads of the beast,” i.e., one of the seven kingdoms, will fall. However, John later explains that Antichrist himself will be dealt this fatal wound ¾ John is referring to Antichrist when he references “one of the heads of the beast,” for, as we will later learn, Antichrist emerges to power from one of the seven kingdoms that will later form his End Times Empire. See Rev. 17:8. We also know that this fatal wound will be inflicted with a sword. See Rev 13:12,14.
4 Men worshiped the dragon (Satan) because he had given authority to the beast (Antichrist), and they also worshiped the beast (Antichrist) and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” (The world will be in chaos during Daniel’s 70th Week, and Antichrist's “resurrection” will solidify the perception of Antichrist as an all-powerful savior. Antichrist will be seen as an indestructible, God-like figure , who cannot be defeated, and men will flock to him. He will possess tremendous authority and the world will marvel at his power.)
Following Antichrist's restoration, many people will become willing followers of Antichrist. Antichrist really will be given supernatural authority, but remember that not all that is outside this world comes from God. The Bible tells us that Satan employs counterfeit miracles to turn the hearts of men from God. See 2 Thes 2:9-10.
The Many Names of Antichrist
Antichrist is given several symbolic and descriptive names in the Bible...
· The man of lawlessness and son of destruction, the wicked one (2 Thess 2:3)
· Gog from the land of Magog (Ezek 38:2-3, 39:1,11,12)
· The Little Horn (Dan 7:8, 8:9) who blasphemes (Dan 7:25)
· The King of Fierce Countenance (Dan 8:23)
· The Prince that shall come (Dan 9:26)
· The One who Desolates (Dan 9:27)
· The King of the North (Dan 11:28)
· The extremely powerful and ungodly king (Dan 11:36)
· The King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4)
· The Assyrian (Isaiah 30:30-31)
· The Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15, 2 Thes 2:4)
· The Rider on the White horse (Rev 6:2)
· The First Beast (Rev 13:1).
ANTICHRIST IS THE LITTLE HORN WHO BLASPHEMES
5 The beast (Antichrist) was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies (this prophecy is based directly on the prophecies found in the Book of Daniel. In Daniel, Antichrist is repeatedly referred to as the Little Horn. See Daniel 7:8, 7:25, 8:9. The Little Horn will speak boastfully and will openly revolt against Jesus and terrorize the saints with his arrogant words. See Dan 7:20. The ultimate blasphemy will occur when Antichrist proclaims himself to be God in the Temple. See 2 Thess 2:4) and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. (Antichrist will be given great power and control over the world during for the second 3 1/2 years of Daniel's 70th Week. See Rev 11:2, 12:6, 14. Dan 7:25, 12:7, 12:11.)
John next describes the specific blasphemy of Antichrist:
6 He (Antichrist) opened his mouth to blaspheme God, (Antichrist, a man of open blasphemy, will swear and insult God, and will deify himself) and to slander his name (Antichrist will smear and use Jesus’ holy name for evil purposes) and his dwelling place (Antichrist will abuse and defile God’s holy temple) and those who live in heaven. (Antichrist will curse and malign the Church, whose citizenship is in Heaven. See Phil 3:20.)
WAR WITH THE SAINTS
7 He (Antichrist) was given power to make war against the saints (the Church of the Great Tribulation is not exempted from the persecution of the Antichrist. The saints will be enduring “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.” See Dan 12:1. Antichrist will wage a vindictive and exhaustive war against believers, who will be the focal point of Satan’s final and most intense and spiteful attack. See Dan 7:21, 25-26, Rev 12:17) and to conquer them (Antichrist will wear down the Church during the Great Tribulation and will persecute and martyr untold numbers of believers). And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation (Complete power to prevail and dominate the world is given to Antichrist. It is difficult for us to grasp this concept, because no other leader in the history of the world will be so dominant and absolute ¾ his power is unrestrained and ultimate.)
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast ¾ 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.
John is explaining that, in this great and ultimate spiritual war, there will be only two sides; you are either with Antichrist or with the Lord ¾ there can be no middle ground. Although we are free to choose our own destiny, even now God knows the identities of the spiritual elect during the End Times, those who have their names written in the Book of Life. During Daniel’s 70th Week, there will be those who are initially undecided ¾ those who refuse to ally with Antichrist but do not yet believe in Jesus Christ. The 144,000 are prominent examples of such initial indecision. However, by the end of Daniel’s 70th Week, God will have claimed all of His own.
The Book of Daniel issues the same challenge to believers who encounter the Antichrist during the End Times:
Daniel 11:31-35  His (Antichrist's) armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. (Antichrist, who allowed the temple to be rebuilt, and allowed the re-institution of the daily sacrifices, will break this part of his covenant) Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. (Antichrist will declare himself God in the rebuilt temple and set up an image of himself to be worshiped)
 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, (Antichrist will reward those who set aside their worship of the God of Israel and submit to his false religion) but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. (Perhaps this is a reference to those special times when the Holy Spirit fills us with such power that He give us the words to resist the power of evil. See Matthew 10:19-20 (“But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”)
 Those who are wise (those who understand what is occurring through their knowledge of the prophetic scriptures) will instruct many (believers must warn others of Antichrist's wicked ways, and direct people to faith in Jesus), though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered (Antichrist will persecute and martyr those who are wise in the Church).  When they fall (undergo severe suffering), they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them (Beware of those who falsely join the resistance against Antichrist ¾ like Judas, the End Times Church will contain many who would betray it to Antichrist).  Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. (During this difficult time, Antichrist’s persecution will serve to refine and purify those who cling to their faith in Christ ¾ the martyred will infuse the body of Christ with the strength to endure to the end.)
Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise (those who possess great understanding of the prophetic events that are occurring in the End) will shine like the brightness of the heavens, (these prophetic scholars will emerge as courageous leaders of the resistance to Antichrist ¾ their knowledge will be a light to the Church as they explain and elucidate the confusing events of Daniel’s 70th Week. Remember, this is the ultimate purpose of the Book of Revelation; to prepare the Church for this time of intense persecution) and those who lead many to righteousness, (these teachers will convert many to Jesus because they will be able to make clear Antichrist’s agenda of evil, predict and describe the details of the catastrophic end-times events, and enlighten many that the Second Coming of the Lord is very near) like the stars for ever and ever (this noble and wonderful army of evangelistic soldiers will shine as bright as the stars in heaven on the darkest night).
Daniel 12:10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand (the prophecies ¾ Christians have a distinct advantage over unbelievers as we have the prophecies of God to guide us during this period), but those who are wise will understand (the prophecies – and take action by leading many to Jesus!).
Many of those who are wise will be purified through the cleansing fire of the last days. Remember, like Peter, soldiers of Christ are not without weakness ¾ to be sure, many will falter and stumble when faced with the overwhelming persecution of Antichrist, particularly those members of the Church living in first-world countries who have not previously experienced such religious intolerance (such as America and Europe). Indeed, it is likely that the initial leaders of the rebellion against Antichrist will emerge from parts of the world that have long endured true spiritual warfare (such as southeast Asia, Russia, or parts of Africa) or from ethic groups that understand and are on alert for religious persecution (such as the nation Israel and the Jewish people). However, Revelation teaches us that, as long as we do not betray Christ or take the Mark of the Beast, our weakness will be refined, and like coal under pressure becomes a diamond, we will become fierce End Times warriors for the Lord.
Remember, Antichrist’s rise to power will be astoundingly sudden ¾ in three and a half short years, he will conquer the entire world, establishing his religious and economic New World Order. This is why we must remain vigilant, and we must prepare ourselves in advance to recognize the signs of Antichrist’s rise to power.
A MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH
John steps out of his description of Antichrist in order to offer a word of warning and encouragement to those who are wise in the Church. John's message is that, although Antichrist will be extremely powerful during the Great Tribulation, God is ultimately in control. Therefore, we must be at peace and remember that ultimate victory is ours!
9 He who has an ear, let him hear. (Listen Up! A serious “red alert” warning, the same one John gives to the seven churches when he discusses the trials the saints will endure during Daniel's 70th Week.) 10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go (many Christians will be thrown into prison by Antichrist). If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. (Many who refuse to worship Antichrist will pay for their loyalty to Christ with their lives. But we are promised that if we die with Christ, we will live with Him. See 2 Tim 2:11. Many faithful will be martyred by Antichrist, but it is better to be martyred than to worship the Beast. See Rev 14:9-12). This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
John is encouraging believers to be at peace with their earthly fates. We will suffer many hardships during this time, but we are promised that if we endure, we will reign with Him. See 2 Tim 2:12. Many of God's people will die during the Great Tribulation, but in the end, the martyrs will be victorious! Ultimately, God is in control and we are exhorted to stand firm in our faith in Jesus, even to the point of death. Faithfulness, not safety, should be our primary concern. In the end, martyrdom will result in glorious spiritual victory, not defeat.
Rev. 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer … Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Rev. 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
THE SECOND BEAST: THE FALSE PROPHET
During Daniel's 70th Week, a second beast arises, known as the False Prophet. The False Prophet will be cloaked in religion and will be given supernatural powers, which he will use in the service of Antichrist. The False Prophet will perform great miracles in the name of Antichrist, and will use his demonic powers to deceive men into worshiping Antichrist as God. The False Prophet is also Antichrist's henchman - he will be responsible for the creation of the Speaking Image of the Beast, and will oversee the use of the Mark of the Beast - "666" - as a tool to separate Antichrist's followers from those loyal to Christ.
11Then I saw another beast (this second beast is called the “False Prophet,” indicating that he will come cloaked in religious power. See Revelation 16:3, 19:20 & 20:10), coming out of the earth (no clear nationality is revealed). He had two horns (In the Bible horns are symbolic of authority and power. See Rev 13:1) like a lamb (outwardly the false prophet appears to be a gentle man of God, perhaps even outwardly Christian), but he spoke like a dragon (the False Prophet will speak the words of Satan and he too will blaspheme God.) 12He (the False Prophet) exercised all the authority of the first beast (the Antichrist) on his behalf (the False Prophet will work for Antichrist - he will be Antichrist's right hand man, or more accurately, his henchman), and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast (the False Prophet will attempt to capture the religious loyalties of men and to force all to worship Antichrist), whose fatal wound had been healed. (John reminds us that Antichrist has recovered from a deadly wound. The False Prophet will exploit the supernatural healing to convince people that Antichrist is God.) 13And he (the False Prophet) performed great and miraculous signs (the False Prophet will attempt to authenticate Antichrist as God by performing supernatural feats. See Mt. 24:24, 2 Thes 2:9-10), even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. (Fire could refer to supernatural activity or it could be “fire power,” indicating a strong military program or weapon that awes the world. He is able to duplicate the miracles of the Two Witnesses. See Rev 11:5.)
THE SPEAKING IMAGE OF THE BEAST
14Because of the signs he (the False Prophet) was given power to do on behalf of the first beast (Antichrist), he deceived the inhabitants of the earth (The False Prophet will perform lying wonders that will be so persuasive that they will even cause the elect of God to be deceived. See Mt. 24:24. The False Prophet's ability to deceive with these “miraculous” signs will be incredible; this is raw satanic power!). He (the False Prophet) ordered them (the followers of Antichrist) to set up an image in honor of the beast (After the Antichrist declares himself to be God, the False Prophet will place an image [Greek = “icon”] of the Beast in the rebuilt temple for the world to worship. See 2 Thess 2:2-4. Note the parallels to the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar. See Daniel 3) who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (Again, John underscores the importance of Antichrist's resurrection in establishing Antichrist's Kingdom. Also note that John reveals that a sword will be used to cause the death of Antichrist. Antichrist will miraculously survive this successful assassination attempt. Zech 11:17 tells us that the mortal wound will leave him blinded in his right eye and without the use of his right arm. Regardless, the fact that he survives causes the world to marvel and the healing brings him world-wide glory.)
15 He (the False Prophet) was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast (the statute of Antichrist), so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. (The statue of Antichrist will literally come alive and be able to speak and have life. This speaking image of the beast will command the death of those who do not worship Antichrist. See Revelation 20:4. It is easy to understand how unbelievers could be deceived by such overwhelming supernatural forces. This is the beginning of tremendous supernatural activity and demonic oppression that will occur during Daniel's 70th Week.)
THE MARK OF THE BEAST (666)
The False Prophet will force the world to take the Mark of the Beast, which is the number “666.” The Mark of the Beast serves two purposes. First, it will separate the followers of Antichrist from those who reject his blasphemy. Remember, there will be those who, although they do not believe in Jesus, will see through Antichrist's deception and will refuse to take the Mark of the Beast. Chief among these groups will be the 144,000 Jews. Those without the Mark of the Beast will be easily identified as enemies of Antichrist's Empire and will be persecuted and killed. Second, the Mark of the Beast will be an additional tool in Antichrist's arsenal of persecution. Individuals who do not take the Mark of the Beast will be unable to buy and sell. As a practical matter, this will perform a great hardship on believers, as they will have great difficulty buying food and other necessities, and will likely drive any resistance movements underground. Note the parallels to Hitler's use of the Star of David to mark and persecute the Jews.
16 He (the False Prophet) also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, (the mark will be easily seen) 17so 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. 18This 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. (John literally gives us the Mark of the Beast so that we will not be tricked into taking it.)
John indicates that spiritual wisdom is required to understand how the Mark of the Beast will function. Today, no one knows what this mark is, but there is much speculation. Many feel it may involve an embedded computer chip under the skin. Such a chip could contain all financial, medical and personal data. Regardless, its meaning will be plain when the time comes.
The False Prophet will somehow incorporate the name of Antichrist into the Mark of the Beast. Note that, in a rare instance of total clarity, John provides us with the Mark of the Beast. It is vitally important that we NOT receive this mark, and John does not want us to be deceived into doing so. Late in Daniel’s 70th week, an angel will announce a warning to the world concerning the Mark of the Beast and the reign of Antichrist. The angel will explain that anyone who receives the mark will be eternally damned, and will forfeit any further opportunity for salvation. The angel tells the faithful to persevere, keep God’s commandments and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 16 also reveals that God will visit physical plagues on those who have received the Mark of the Beast.
Revelation 14:9-12  A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand,  he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.  This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Revelation 16:2  The first angel went andpoured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.