Revelation Thirteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

the sea. Quite possibly, “the sea” in John's understanding would mean the Mediterranean Sea, which surrounded his Isle of Patmos. The ascending “beast,” therefore presumably will come from “the sea of peoples” associated with that particular sea in one way or another.

beast. This beast is not the dragon, but a man (compare Revelation 13:4, 18). However, his appearance is almost identical with that of the dragon (see Revelation 12:3), indicating that he is in a distinct sense related to the dragon. He is called “the son of perdition” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, as well as “the man of sin.” Daniel calls him “the prince that shall come,” Isaiah calls him “the wicked” and Christ calls him “the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 11:4; Matthew 24:15). John simply calls him “the beast.”

ten horns. There is one significant difference between the description of the dragon and that of the beast. The dragon had seven crowns (representing kings) on his seven heads (representing their kingdoms). The beast had ten crowns on the ten horns. This suggests that the seven heads were historical kingdoms, the ten horns future kingdoms, their kings receiving crowns only after the seven historical kings and kingdoms have passed from the scene of power. The probable identity of the past kingdoms would be Sumeria, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Each of these was, successively, the greatest kingdom in the world in its day, and the greatest enemy of God and His people. The ten kingdoms of the last days remain to be identified in the future, but all seventeen are pictured as controlled by the beast and the dragon, rejecting Christ and blaspheming God.

Revelation 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

beast which I saw. This hybrid beast—part lion, part bear, part leopard, part dragon—is a composite of the three beasts of Daniel 7:1-6, being itself the nondescript fourth beast of Daniel 7:7. The latter will have gained supremacy over the other three, which seem to represent respectively the western confederacy, the northern confederacy and the eastern confederacy (see notes on Daniel 7).

Revelation 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

as it were wounded to death. This “beast” (who is actually a Satan-possessed man) is said to have ascended “out of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 11:7). Satan had enabled him to counterfeit a resurrection from death, as it were, the two parallel “resurrections” creating such great admiration in the world as to elicit global submission and worship. For reasons noted later (see notes on Revelation 17), this revived kingdom may well be ancient Babel, restored as the great world capital of the beast. Both the beast and the head of the beast (both the man and the ancient kingdom) will appear to have been mortally wounded, but both will seemingly be miraculously restored.

Revelation 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

worshipped the dragon. By this time, the ungodly men and women still living on the earth will have become fully aware of the cosmic dimensions of the imminent conflict and will have deliberately chosen to cast their lot with Satan and the beast rather than with God. They will all become Satanists, worshipping Satan (or Lucifer, as they may prefer to call him) as god. The current meteoric rise in occultism and even Satanism, as well as the great increase in bitter opposition to Christianity, is an ominous prelude to what is coming. It may well be that the amazing mania for dinosaurs, especially among young people, is an indicator of an innate tendency to dragon-worship.

Revelation 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

forty and two months. This is the same 3½ year period as in Revelation 12:6, 14, and in Daniel 7:25; 12:7, the last half of the tribulation period. The thousand two hundred and threescore days of Revelation 11:3, however, is the first half of the tribulation. The two together comprise Daniel's seventieth week of seven years, (Daniel 9:27), the first half marking the rapid ascendancy of the beast to world power, the second half to his global reign, with all seven years simultaneously being “the great day of [God's] wrath” (Revelation 6:17) on the ungodly world.

Revelation 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

Revelation 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

book of life. See note on Revelation 3:5; note on Revelation 20:15. Also see Revelation 21:27; 22:19.

foundation of the world. On the pre-creation plan of God, see Ephesians 1:4; Acts 15:18; Titus 1:2; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:20; and John 17:5, 24.

Revelation 13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.

let him hear. The interjection of Revelation 13:9-10 in the midst of this account of the triumph of the beast harks back to the messages to the seven churches (Revelation 2:7; etc.). It is a note of exhortation and encouragement to the tribulation “saints” (Revelation 13:7, 10) who will shortly be facing either submission to the beast or martyrdom.

Revelation 13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Revelation 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

another beast. The second beast will be, in effect, the minister of religion in the cabinet of the first beast, consolidating all the religious systems of the world in one syncretistic world religion of occultic pantheistic evolutionary humanism, just as the first beast will consolidate all the governments of the world into a one-world government. The second beast is later called “the false prophet,” and will evidently first come into prominence as a remarkable prophet, able to perform “signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9), doing so, of course, “after the working of Satan” and his evil spirits.

like a lamb. Like the first beast, who will initially seem to have a very charismatic personality and will “come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21), the second beast will first appear like a lamb, gentle and winsome, only later revealing his dragon-like character.

Revelation 13:12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

Revelation 13:13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

fire come down from heaven. This is undoubtedly a “lying wonder,” performed by the help of the powerful spirits who roam the atmosphere and have knowledge of its electrical phenomena and how to control them (note Job 1:16). The two witnesses, like Elijah (1 Kings 18:36-38), will have been able to call down real fire from heaven (Revelation 11:5), and the false prophet will desire to demonstrate to a still-intimidated populace that he has similar powers.

Revelation 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

image to the beast. Apparently, all people will be required to make or buy small household replicas of the great image of the beast. The original image will be set up in the temple at Jerusalem (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:4). Perhaps in some way (no doubt easily achieved in an age of electronically controlled and transmitted information), the loyalty of each household to the beast and his image can be monitored at a central data bank.

Revelation 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

give life. This pseudo-life in the image must also be a lying wonder, since only God can create life. However, if complex audio-animatronix equipment of some kind is designed and constructed within the image, programmed with the capacity to produce word-like sounds, and if a powerful spiritual intelligence in the Satanic hierarchy possesses the image body (as demons have often possessed human bodies and controlled their utterances, making use of the vocal apparatus), then it could certainly be made to appear that the image was alive and speaking intelligently.

Revelation 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

mark. The mark of the beast, which will be universally required for all transactions, will insure loyalty to the beast, but will also assure an eternal destination in hell for all who accept it (Revelation 14:9-11). This will be some kind of indelible marking, easy to see and impossible to remove.

Revelation 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

number of his name. Maybe there will be three different types of marks, to distinguish three different classes of world citizens.

Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

understanding. This information is evidently intended for people living before the beast is openly identified by his seven-year covenant with Israel. Thus, he will probably have become an important and influential political leader even before the rapture of the church, and Christians—as well as others—need to be warned not to be deceived by his charismatic personality.

number of a man. The beast appears to be a man, not a church or other kind of body; he has a name, and that name has a number (Revelation 13:17). In fact, every word in the Greek language (in which John wrote the book of Revelation) has a number, since every letter corresponds also to a number. That is, “alpha” (a) also signifies “1,” “beta” (b) signifies “2,” etc. To “count” the number of a word, one would simply total the numbers of its individual letters. Even though other languages don't follow this system, the New Testament Greek language did, and it should normally be easy enough to transliterate any certain name into its Greek equivalent, and then to add the corresponding numbers (i.e., “Al” in English would become al, or “alpha lambda” in Greek equivalence, with a number value of 31). Although about one in every ten thousand names would add to 666, if any potential world leader's name has this value, one should be extremely cautious about believing or following him.