Chapter Thirteen is best begun by reading the last verse of Chapter 12. Revelation 12:17 tells us,
“Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.”
Understanding the dragon, Satan to be standing on the sea shore, makes us understand the context of the beasts described in this chapter. Verse 1 describes the first beast.
“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.”
Satan is the one raising the beast up and it is Satan who gives it his power (verse 2). The beast who we call the antichrist is the son of the Satan in the deceiver’s twisted attempts to be like God. Jesus Christ is God’s manifested will carry out His plan to completion. The beast from the sea is Satan’s feeble copy trying to bring his plans to fruition. Look at its description and compare it to the description of the dragon in Revelation 12:3, “behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.” Note the family resemblance. The beast from the sea and the dragon both have 10 horns. The dragon has seven heads and seven crowns while the beast has ten crowns on his seven heads.
Each of his heads has a blasphemous name written on it. Everything about his character is profane and an offense to the One True Living God.
Verse 2 reads,
“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”
What does this unusual description, a leopard with feel like a bear and a mouth like a lion tell us about the beast? In Daniel 7:1-8 Daniel describes a vision of four beasts rising out of the sea. Let’s look at their descriptions. “The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings” (Daniel 7:2). The “a second one, like a bear” (Daniel 7:5). The third is like a leopard (Daniel 7:6). This beast is reminiscent of these beasts but in reverse order. The beasts Daniel saw were prophesies great world emperors and empires. The first three, Greece, Medo-Persia, and Babylon have already been fulfilled. Daniel dreamt of the fourth beast at night. The fourth beast is described in Daniel 7:7-8.
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 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.”
The fourth beast empire has and has not happened yet. It represents Imperial Rome and yet represents future Babylon. The ten horns, ten world powers will yield a small horn a new world power, a man with a gift for speaking. This little horn will utterly destroy three of the ten horns, take their place and lead the remaining horns.
That little horn is dangerous. One might miss it, it might not even seem as important as the other horns but three of the crowns will be on one charismatic horn. People will not even realize the power they have given him until it is too late.
The beast from the sea will be greater and more powerful than any of the great empires that came before and shaped history. And his empire will not just be great it will be over the whole world. And he will destroy and devour everything. He will encompass the traits of the kingdom’s Daniel foresaw. The command and dominion of Greece, the leopard, the persecuting power of Medo-Persia, the bear, and haughtiness and blasphemy of Babylon, are all encompassed and magnified in the beast John described.
Verses 3-4 continues the description of the beast.
“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?”
When we first see the beast, one of his heads seems to have a mortal wound, but the wound was healed. This implies that the beast died or seemed to die, but was healed and brought back. It is his ‘resurrection’ which causes the whole earth to recognize his authority, follow him, and worship him. Once again Satan’s antichrist is a perversion of our Savior Jesus Christ. Even the praise the beast receives is a parody of the praise only God deserves. “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” Exodus 15:11 says,
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”
Proverbs 21:30 says,
“No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
can avail against the Lord.”
Satan may know scripture, but apparently he doesn’t believe it.
Verses 5-8 bring back to mind the powerful mouth of the little horn and the blasphemous character of the beast as he uses this power to lead the lost to hell and conquer the saints.
“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.”
For seven years the beast will be allowed to rule. Although Satan gave him his power, it is Sovereign God who allows him to rule, and even to make war on the saints and conquer them. God will make it possible for every person whose name is not written in the book of life of the Lamb to believe the little deceiver. They’ll gladly give him their worship, power and freedom. They don’t know that glory, majesty, dominion, and authority all belong to Jesus Christ (Jude 1:25). In truth he and the lost will think he has conquered us, but it is the lost who are voluntarily conquered. We look forward to the real glory of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:18-21 reads,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
The beast may conquer, but we will resurrect with Christ. We are more than conquerors. Romans 8:33-39 remind us,
“Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The seven years is not going to be a good time. We need to remember who we are, who we belong to, and who our present and future are with. And the Word of God tells us what is going to happen, none of it should surprise us. As the old G.I. Joe PSAs used to tell us, “Knowing is half the battle.” We will be in a war. Yet we can persevere. We can travail. Death is not frightening to us because we know what the future holds. Verse 9-10 tell us to take note, remember, and trust God in order to persist through the terrible time we will face.
“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.”
Believer, the scriptures give us a clear picture of the antichrist and what he will do with Satan’s authority. We have nothing to fear. We have the armor of Christ, we have the ability to preach the Gospel and snatch people from Satan’s hands before his offspring rises from the sea to devour and destroy them. We have the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ. We can endure through any tribulation in our lives.