Revelation: The Beast Makes War

June 19, 2011

Rev 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Rev 13:1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.
Rev 13:2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.

The dragon, intent on making war against the church, brought forth a beast from the sea, gave the beast power to make war against the saints and to conquer them (vs 7). The beast was given authority over ever tribe, people, language, and nation. He would be worshipped by the entire world except for those belonging to the Lamb, the Christians. This beast could be none other than the Roman Empire.
The church would be severely tested by the beast:

Rev 13:10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

The dragon brought forth a second beast from the earth. This beast worked in support of the first beast, making people worship the first beast, and executing those who refused. Only those who worshipped the first beast could obtain a mark designating them as loyal subjects of Rome, entitling them safely to perform such public activities as buying and selling in the marketplace.   This second beast was also empowered to perform miracles to deceive the people.  In all likelihood the second beast is the false prophet of Rev 16:13-14 and Rev 19:20.

The revelation given to John identifies this second beast by the number 666.  Undoubtedly this clue was understood by the original recipients of the book.  But despite the many attempts to decipher it today, there is no definitive answer to its interpretation.  What we can reasonably assume is that it was sufficiently clear to identify the second beast to those who, at the hand of this beast, would face the choice of either abandoning Christ or being executed for their faithfulness.

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