Tuesday in the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Revelation 13:1-4

The Rising of the Beast

Chapter thirteen continues Revelation’s “Third Interlude,” and a very important chapter it is.  In this chapter, we meet two “beasts” who derive their authority from the dragon (Satan) who now pursues the children of the woman (believers).  But who are these beasts?  What do they represent?

Today, we take the first beast.  He rises out of the sea which in ancient times (and Jewish thought in particular) represented chaos and evil.  The beast has seven heads with ten horns and a diadem on each horn.  There is some correlation with Daniel’s vision (7:1-8) of four different beasts.  This beast seems to combine Daniel’s four into one.  We mustn’t press the beast as if to picture it; after all, how does one divide ten horns on seven heads, or one mouth for all seven (NICNT, 250n6)?  The horns represent power and the diadems authority.  So what we see is a beast of immense power and authority, undoubtedly a political entity.  In John’s day, this would obviously be the Roman Empire and her emperors’ claims to divinity; however, in another time, this beast would take another form: Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, for instance.  All governments are subject to corruption, some more than others, but whenever a nation’s leaders demand unyielding loyalty to the nation itself and obedience to all laws no matter how immoral and persecute those who serve Christ, that nation has taken on the form of the “beast” of this chapter, and those who head such nations are “antichrists.”  Many such nations have littered the world over history, but one will come at the end of time whose power and dominion even surpasses that of ancient Rome.  That is what we see here.

One matter we should note in this passage is how the devil is ever aping our Lord Jesus Christ—he being so lacking in creativity, bland, insipid, and tasteless, himself.  Both Christ and the beast have swords, have followers sealed on their foreheads, have horns, are slain and rise again, have authority over all the earth and receive worship (NIGTC, 691).  Let us consider how each is slain and rise again.  We understand how this applies to our Lord, but note that one of the heads of the beast received a mortal wound from which it recovered.  Scholars have tried to correlate this with a certain Roman emperor, but none really answers the vision.  I agree with those who see this as another aping of the devil; perhaps something will happen in which a worldly power seems done for but makes a dramatic comeback such that all the unsaved peoples follow it awestruck wondering, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”  And please notice how those who do not know Christ follow the beast not for its goodness or morality, but for its great power.

This beast was Rome in John’s time and any kingdom claiming such authority and exercising such power over people’s lives in other times.  Only our Lord may claim such authority over our lives, and any other thing or person that does so cannot but be antichrist.  That Revelation and other passages of the New Testament (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 John 2:18) prophesy that such a government and person shall arise just before our Lord returns is undisputed.  Matters will only get worse for believers before the end.  Let us prepare for the time ahead through discipleship and service while growing in godliness and virtue clinging to Christ.  It is the only way we shall endure to the end.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: