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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 13


Chapter 13

1.  And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.
2.  And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.
3.  One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.
4.  And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5.  And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.
6.  It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
7.  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
8.  and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
9.  If anyone has an ear, let him hear:
10. 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.

The end-time beast

Here we can see that the events of Revelation do not appear strictly in chronological order. Already in chapter 11 we have been introduced to the beast, who is now described to us in this chapter, as he rises out of the ‘sea’. It is essential to study Daniel’s prophecies before attempting to interpret the book of Revelation, especially as they relate to the beast and his kingdom. King Nebuchadnezzar saw this same prophecy in a dream, but in the form of a great image. The final kingdom is seen as the ten toes on the image.  

Daniel saw that “four great beasts came up out of the sea” (Dn.7:3). The fourth beast “was different 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 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” (Dn.7:7,8). Compare Daniel’s account to verse 1, 5 and 6. Daniel questions a heavenly being standing by and he answered, “These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth” (Dn.7:17).

He also questioned about the horn on the head of the fourth beast, which replaced three previous horns. This horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them (v.7 above). Concerning the 10 horns, Daniel learned, “Out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them… The great things that this horn will speak will be “words against the Most High… (He) 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 (3 ½ years)(Dn.7:24,25). It refers to the last half of Daniel’s 70th Week, which was revealed to him at the end of chapter 9. Daniel writes again of this king in chapter 11:36-45.

Daniel presents the trans-historic development of world government, beginning with Egypt and continuing to the last days. We look carefully at verse one above and see this beast arising from the sea. ‘The sea’ in Scripture represents the populace of the world, the troubled waves of people, multitudes, nations and tongues. God reveals to John a more detailed description, which combines the beastly symbols of the three first beasts in Daniel’s vision. The beast is like a leopard (Greece-Alexander the Great) with feet like a bear (Persia) and a mouth like a lion (Babylonia).

Notice that the ten horns and seven heads are like those on the dragon in chapter 12:3. (We will learn more of these symbols later.) They are the design and scheme of the dragon, which he gives over to the beast. There is no reverence for God in the dragon or the beast and their plot is blasphemous. The dragon concentrates his evil purpose in this man, personally possessing him, as he did the prince of Tyre and the emperor of Babylon (Ez.28:1-19; Is.14:4-23). The dragon gave to him the same as he offered to Christ in the temptation in the wilderness… his power, his throne and great authority (v.2).

Perhaps the mortal wound on the head of the beast is literal, as a human being who will be killed by a sword and resurrected. In this passage, I considered the head wound on Eden’s serpent, administered by the Seed of the woman, the incarnate Christ on the cross, but I must reject that idea, because the enemy cannot recover from that wound. We are assured of his ultimate and sure defeat, in spite of this final display of deceptive power.  Perhaps the wound is political, the wound of the fallen Roman Empire, which revives in the last days (v.3).

Since the Garden of Eden the devil has craved worship and, referring again to the wilderness temptation, he said to Christ, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Mt.4:7). Because of his personality, which is portrayed in the beast, the dragon is worshiped by the whole earth. He is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph.2:2). He has finally brought the world into subjection, because “he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way” (2 Th.2:7), and then he will receive unhindered worship. All the world emperors sought this worship under the influence of Satan. This final world dictator is no exception (v.4), having gained popular admiration through a united world under his deception.

Join verse 5 to Daniel 7:25 and see the unity and single authorship of Scripture. As all prophecy that pertained to events in the past, particularly seen in over 300 details of the life of the Messiah, so this will certainly take place. The Bible is the Word of God! After the revelation of the man of sin, the personal antichrist, through the Abomination of Desolation, his government will rule the world for 3 ½ years. Should we fear the events of the last days, let us remember that we have been redeemed and are under the care of the Author of Scripture, who sovereignly foretells us, of what will take place. He rules over all the affairs of the end times.

The antichrist hates God and His Christ, who assured His disciples that they would likewise be hated in this world: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn.15:20). The beast even speaks against the resurrected and raptured saints (v.6, see 12:12). The wars in the physical world have always been influenced by the spiritual world. The spiritual influence is clearly seen in the Tribulation period and through the 3 ½ year-reign of the antichrist, he is particularly successful against the saints, Jew and Gentile (v.7).

He will be universally worshiped by all, with the exception of those, who have been converted during the Tribulation (v.8). Notice that the Book of Life was written by the Lamb and mankind is saved through the Lamb that was slain. He alone has authority to give life to as many as are His – from the beginning of time until now. Many believe, quite reasonably, that all mankind had their names written in the Book before time, and that the names were erased one by one through unbelief (Rv.3:5). Others see that only the saved had their names in the Book always. In any case, in the end the only names that will appear in the Book of Life have been there since the foundation of the world.

John echoes the command of Jesus, when He appealed to those among the multitude, who heard His parables. It was given by Him seven times to the churches, “If anyone has an ear, let him hear” (v.9). The word goes out again to the seven churches, and the seven-fold church throughout this age. It is a word of comfort, by which anyone at any time can gain endurance and faith. It is spiritual principle: “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” (v.10). Rest assured, no matter how formidable the opposition, if the Lord has pronounced sentence, that sentence will be carried out. Persecution and tribulation is only for a while; the blessing and glory of the Lord are forever!
11. Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.
12. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.
13. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people,
14. and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceived those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
15. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
16. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
17. so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

 Two horns like a lamb; a voice like a dragon

We learn that the personal antichrist has an ally, a personal false prophet. He is the end-time leader over world religion. He is lamb-like in his leadership, he is a miracle-worker, and he leads the world into an idolatrous religion (v.11). He is a devil-inspired preacher and his preaching centers on the antichrist mentality. He dominates the media and exalts the humanistic and diabolical worldview.

Basically, I already hear the lamb/dragon message proclaimed today. Give your loyalty and adoration over to the wonderful man, who is finally bringing peace to the world; to the great leader in Rome, who is teaching us to worship with Hindus and Muslims. The ‘Christian’ must not be intolerant of other religions; after all, we are all searching for God, as best we can. You Christians must learn tolerance towards your fellow man, loving everyone and excusing and covering his sin. The poor would-be mother must be lovingly given her rights over the embryo in her womb. If it is an inconvenience to her, so that she wants to abort, we should all be supportive of her decision.

The homosexual should enjoy the same rights, which were given to the black race, when they were freed from slavery, and receive the equality that woman were given in society. He should feel comfortable and loved among us; after all, if two men or two women want to marry, do we think we are better than they are, because we prefer the opposite sex. We need to give murderers and rapists in prison their equal suffrage allowing them to vote into office the kind of people they prefer. The only real problem among us are the Bible-thumping, homo-phobic, racists, who are hindering society from experiencing its utopia and disturbing peace on earth. We need to harass them wherever and whenever they appear in society.

We are well down the road towards the acceptance of the international man of peace and his all-inclusive sidekick. One has a diabolical political authority and the other an anti-biblical spiritual authority (v.12). We should be thoroughly convinced that there is no biblical authority allotted to either of the two and we must stand upon the Scriptures, as the ultimate authority. It is our only protection against error.

We must also understand that the working of miracles is not a sure sign of heavenly support. Do not follow preachers because of supernatural signs. This religious leader does great signs and even duplicates Elijah in bringing fire from heaven (v.13). The power of the idolatry of the last days is in another category than that which was known on the earth previously… more than the idolatry towards Baal. This idol speaks; the idols of history were dumb. The supernatural healing of the mortal wound on the head of the beast is not a proof of heavenly support. I stand fast on the need for the church to function spiritually, heavenly, and supernaturally in these times, but I warn you that not all that is miraculous comes from God. The world will be deceived by the false prophet, working on behalf of the antichrist (v.14).

Emperor Nebuchadnezzar received a dream from God, which he twisted and turned into a new religion. He built an image, a statue, duplicating the one of his dream, and demanded that the whole world pledge allegiance to it. This is how fallen man attempts to take the things of God and form his own way of worship. There will be an image raised during the Great Tribulation, as well, and this image will breathe and speak. It will persuade mankind to bring death to those, who refuse to worship it (v.15). Persecution has always come from the religious realm, and this fanatical, world religion will be the worst ever to come into existence.

As owners brand their property, the false prophet will put a mark of submission on all the subjects of the beast (v.16). They will not be able to function in society without the mark. It will be a marketing technique and buying and selling without it will be impossible (v.17). There are many theories about how this might come about, including the involvement of computer chips under the skin, and I think, they are not far from the truth… perhaps they are spot-on!

The basis of this last-day system will be the name and the number of the antichrist. The number is 666. I have heard many theories that have attempted to turn the number into letters of the alphabet, but I am not confident that anyone has solved the riddle. I don’t plan on being on the earth, when the puzzle is resolved. I believe, wisdom and understanding concerning it will be supplied, when the danger is imminent (v.18).

What we can know, biblically, is that this concerns the man of sin. The number is a three-digit multiplication of six, which is the biblical symbol of manpower. It is one short of seven, the number of perfection… the number of divinity. Man, with his best efforts, always comes short of perfection. His technologically highest power is six or multiples of six. At the peak of his achievements, he is at his worst religiously and governmentally, and is empowered by Satan.

Paul writes of him in 2 Thessalonians and gives warning about the deception that antichrist will bring. I believe, God’s people must be aware and taught concerning this important passage. This man of sin and son of destruction will surely be revealed before the gathering together of the church unto Christ. “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him… That day will not come, unless… the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (2 Th.2:1,3).

Let me continue to quote the apostle: “Who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Th.2:4). This is the Abomination of Desolation and also concurs with what we have just studied in Revelation 13. The restraining force that prevents his domination will be removed, that is, the Holy Spirit, working through the church (2 Th.2:7).

I continue to quote: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Th.2:9-10). There is nothing so far in the doctrine of Paul that we haven’t already learned from our chapter in Revelation. However, what follows should alarm us: “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Th.2:11-12). God Himself will order a damning deception upon those, who do not love the truth.

God loves the truth more than He loves people! Jesus said, “I am the truth!” (Jn.14:6). He taught that no one comes to gospel light, unless he loves truth and that person has been led by God: “Whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (Jn.3:21). Jesus said to Pilate: “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (Jn.18:37). We must be lovers of the truth and capable of presenting truth to deceived sinners. That is our duty in evangelism! Look for people, who are searching for truth, because those are the ones, whom God is drawing to Christ (Jn.6:44).   


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