The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 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. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
“If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
In this chapter, John introduces us to two more characters in this end-times drama. We are introduced to the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth. The beast from the sea is both a political power and a person. Most scholars believe the beast from the sea is the Antichrist, the ruler over the restored Roman Empire. The beast from the earth is a religious leader. He will work on behalf of the Antichrist. Most scholars believe this is the false prophet who reveals himself during the Great Tribulation. According to the text, he will perform great signs, deceiving many who had rejected the truth of God. He will have killed those who refuse to worship the Antichrist.
In his commentary on the book of Revelation, J.V. McGee writes, “Here is revealed to us the great warfare that is going on between light and darkness, between God and Satan. It is manifested now as we draw to the end of the age during the Great Tribulation period.” The Antichrist is seen as an agent of Satan. It is the Antichrist, who is the counterfeit of Christ. He appears with the signs and symbols of kingship. He is characterized by attractiveness, for the whole earth wonders after him. “It is the ultimate blasphemy of the counterfeiting of God’s anointed King by Satan” (G. Campbell Morgan). In 2 Thessalonians, Paul writes, “He (Antichrist) will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Yet, another leader is revealed in this text. Through this false prophet, the deception is carried forward even further. The methods he employs are a counterfeiting of those which mark the activity of the Holy Spirit. His purpose is to point to the Antichrist and promote the worship of this counterfeit Messiah. These two agents of Satan will work in tandem to deceive those who are perishing. “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10b). Throughout history, there have been many counterfeit Messiahs and false prophets. These will be different because they are empowered by Satan and his realm of evil. The world, therefore, will be deceived by misrepresentation.
Questions to Ponder
Do you believe it is possible for the unbelieving world to fall for a counterfeit Messiah and/or false prophet? How would you recognize a counterfeit Messiah or false prophet?
- Thank the Lord for your own salvation.
- Praise Him for being your Redeemer, Savior, and Ancient of days.
- Pray for yourself and His church, that we will grow in our personal and corporate walk with the Lord. Pray we will be wise and discerning.
- Invite the Lord to search your heart and life and see if there is anything that you are “worshipping” other than Him (for example: work, money, etc.).
God of all comfort, I ask that You would comfort me and your church as we go through the book of Revelation, knowing that we overcome because of You. Grant comfort, but simultaneously I ask that You would stir our hearts with an urgency regarding sharing You, Lord, with those who don’t know You yet. Grant wisdom, oh God, as we go about out day. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.