“Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”
Keep in mind as you read through Revelation, John is seeing the events on earth from a heavenly vantage point. Instead of the glamour of wealth and power, John sees what God sees, a hideous beast filled with blaspheme, violence and hatred. It seems as though the entire world is enamored with this ruler. Like Haman of old, in the book of Esther, the world has found a common scapegoat in the believers, and their hatred streams forth in persecution. As a means of both coercion and identification, the beast requires a mark to be given to every person. Without this mark, survival will be difficult, and persecution guaranteed. This mark is later identified as being a series of numbers.
Revelation 13:18 “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”
In light of Biblical prophecy, we are living in very interesting times. This is particularly true as it relates to this identification mark that will be used for commerce. Up until recent times, all trade was done either through bartering goods for services, the use of coinage or currency backed by the nation, or in certain cases, a credit system based upon personal recognition and collateral. We have, in recent times, moved into an entirely new way of commerce; it is a credit system based on a series of numbers that identify the individual. I have found, over the years, as I travel, I have become more and more comfortable with this system, I rarely ever have cash. I have even traveled outside of the country without cash, relying entirely on the credit system.
That being said, I want to be clear, the current numbering system we use, is in no way the mark of the beast. I would even go so far as to say, an imbedded chip, under current conditions, would not be the fulfillment of this prophetic picture. This is pointing to a time during the tribulation, when the Antichrist has come to power and demands, in addition to whatever else is worshipped, he be worshipped as god. Those who will bow to him (like the Romans of ancient times bowed to worship Caesar) will be given a mark that allows them to buy and sell. Any who refuse will be persecuted and martyred.
After the last hundred years of human history, with all its violence, persecution, inhumanity and leader-worship, it is not hard to imagine a time when a ruler will come to power with such charisma he will be able to woo the hearts of mankind to bow before him as more than a man, but a human savior. While these things are fascinating to examine, they are really written as a means of warning, so we might escape these events. The secret to avoiding such a hellish calamity is to put trust in Christ, and be delivered from the tribulation that will be poured out upon the earth.
If you have not yet trusted Christ for salvation, do so now. Pray in faith,”Lord Jesus I ask you to forgive my sin, enter into my life and help me to follow after you.” If we can be of any help contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions for Revelation 13
Revelation is a book rich in symbolism. For the most part, interpreting these symbols is made clear for us by clues either within Revelation or elsewhere in the Bible. Still, there are parts that are difficult to understand. Peter even said that there were parts of the Bible that were hard to understand (2Peter 3:16). This is okay. There is plenty that we can draw from the text even if we are not certain of the meaning of every detail. This is one of those chapters!
1. In verses 1-2 we read of a Beast. This beast is similar to the dragon of chapter 12, but not the same. How is he different from the Dragon? How is he the same? Note that the dragon gives him his power.
2. In verse 1 what do we learn about the beast’s name? In verse 2, what animals is the beast likened to? What do these things tell us about the character of the beast?
3. In verse 3-4 we read that the beast is wounded in a way that appears deadly, overcomes it, and the world marvels. Similarly, Jesus was wounded unto death at the cross and rose again. Read Matthew 24:22-27. This is an indicator that the beast is what the Bible refers to as the Antichrist (1John 2:18, 2Thessalonians 2:13)), a false prophet who stands in Jesus place.
4. In verses 5-9 we read of his influence over men. The antichrist is not someone who is simply opposite of Jesus, but one who people accept instead of Jesus. Note in particular his smooth speech in verse 5 (although it is clearly against God). What is the extent of his influence over men (verses 7-8)?
5. When does verse 8 tell us that Jesus was slain? This is a mystery to us, but speaks to us of God’s plan for salvation and His knowledge of all things from the beginning.
6. In verses 11-14 we are introduced to another beast. He is not the same as the first, nor is he the dragon, but he is like the dragon. Just as there is a holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is an unholy Trinity of Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet. Notice that the work of the false prophet is to draw attention and worship to the antichrist. What is the work of the Spirit according to John 15:26?
7. Look at verse 15. What does the false prophet cause to happen to those who will not worship the beast?
8. Much has been made in popular culture of the mark of the beast in verses 16-17. This may be an actual mark, or a symbolic one. But either way our head represents our inner thoughts, and our hand represents our outer actions. These are to be given to God, not anyone else. Read Colossians 3:17. Do you seek to do this?