ON REVELATION - LESSON 15
Bruce Kelley and
Leslie Matlock were putting up hay in a barn near the eastern Oregon
town of Heppner on the hot, sticky afternoon of Sunday, June 14, 1903
when they noticed two ominous cloud formations moving toward each other.
The dark clouds collided and began dumping a tremendous load of hail
was about to happen, the two farmers unhitched their horses and rode
rapidly down the gorge and into the town crying, "Flee to the hills!
A flood is coming!" Most of Heppner's residents were busy getting
ready for an afternoon meeting at the church. Only a few took the
warning seriously and fled to safety.
a giant wave of debris-filled water rolled through the little town,
sweeping over houses, livestock, and people. The flood left only
splintered ruins behind. When it was over, the raging waters had
taken the lives of 225 people.
So many people
were lost because they failed to heed the message of the two heroic
horsemenlost because they wouldn't take notice of the great
danger threatening them.
Genesis 3, the Bible tells us about someone else who failed to heed
a warning. Her name was Eve. As this woman walked alone in the Garden
of Eden, near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she wasn't
aware of the great danger lurking nearby. God had told her not to eat
fruit from that particular tree (see Genesis 2:17). She just didn't
take the warning seriously enough. She was blind to the consequences.
Disobeying God in this matter didn't seem very earthshaking. But it
forever shaped the destiny of mankind. Satan told lies about God when
he persuaded Eve to taste that forbidden fruit. And that warm, sunny
day in the garden set the stage for all his later deceptions.
The entire Bible
lays out an epic struggle between Satan and God. The book of Revelation
pictures the highlights of the conflict down through the ages. This
battle between good and evil has been called "The Great Controversy." Each
side struggles for the allegiance of mankind and control of the earthbut
for vastly different purposes. Jesus wants to bring human beings
back to their original perfection and happiness. Satan wants to impose
his rule in order to continue to strengthen his rebellion against
This is the issue
Revelation 13 spotlights: To whom will you belong? Whom will you
follow and worship?
an amazing sight! He is standing on the beach watching the waves
roll in on the shore, when out of the ocean a hideous, fearsome animal
The beast that John saw coming up out of the sea had: (Revelation 13:1.)
ten heads and seven horns.
seven heads and ten horns.
seven heads and seven horns.
What did the beast have on each of its horns? (Revelation 13:1.)
What did the beast have on its heads? (Revelation 13:1.)
A blasphemous name.
What did John say the beast looked like? (Revelation 13:2.)
Like a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion.
Like a dragon with the wings of an eagle.
Like a wolf with a lion's head.
vision! Let's list the key facts.
#1The beast is like a leopard, has the claws of a bear and
fangs like a lion. It displays seven heads and ten horns as it arises,
dripping with the brine of the windswept sea (vss. 1, 2).
beast has the name "blasphemy" written on its head (vss. 1, 5, 6).
The dictionary defines "blasphemy" as: "the act of claiming the attributes
of God." In addition, John 10:33 and Mark 2:7 tell us plainly that
a human being who claims to be God commits "blasphemy."
beast dominates the scene for forty-two months (vs. 5). Other verses
define the period as three-and-a-half years or "time, times and half
a time" (Revelation 12:14), or 1,260 days (Revelation 12:6). In symbolic
prophecy this translates to 1,260 years. We studied this same time
period in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7.
is the beast power?
- It is a religious
power (vs. 8 says the beast receives worship from the world).
- It represents
a political power (vss. 1, 2 state the beast has thrones and crowns).
- After ruling
for 1,260 years, this power is wounded and almost destroyed (vs.
- The wound heals,
and the beast power reasserts its global dominance (vs. 3).
- The power makes
war on God's people (vs. 7).
THE BEAST IS A WORLD POWER WHICH COMBINES RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL
Satan has always
deceived people just as he deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. But
he will intensify his deceptions just before Jesus returns to this
earth. He will use this religious/political power to try to coerce
everyone into turning from the true God and joining his alliance.
The vision of the beast shows us Satan's last major attempt to get
people to follow him. Let's consider some facts carefully.
marks of the little horn of Daniel 7 actually parallel the identifying
marks of the first beast of Revelation 13. We learned previously
that the little horn ruled from A.D. 538-1798 (1,260 years). During
this period, the medieval Christian church, under the leadership
of Rome, was the dominating religious/political power in the world.
Thus the beast power is the Roman papal church system of the Middle
Ages combined with the civil powers of the Roman Empire.
What did John see happen to one of the heads of this beast? (Revelation
It lost its crown and withered away.
It became greater than the other heads and took control of the beast.
It was mortally wounded.
In 1797 leaders
of the French revolutionary government grew concerned that the Church
of Rome would continually oppose its policies and plans. In response,
Napoleon sent General Alexander Berthier to Rome. On February 15,
1798, he arrested Pope Pius VI in the Sistine Chapel and proclaimed
that the rule and authority of the popes had ended. Pious VI died
in prison in the French fortress city of Valence on August 29, 1799.
What was the reaction of the world when people saw that the mortal wound
(Revelation 13:3, 4.)
world marveled and followed the beast, worshiping it.
world turned on the beast and destroyed it.
world waited to see if the recovery of the beast would be permanent.
The prophecy in
Revelation 13:3 states that the beast's mortal wound would be healed.
Shortly after Napoleon inflicted a "wound" on the Church of Rome,
other political powers began to rally to its aid and give it support.
This support increased until, in 1929, Benito Mussolini signed a
document giving the pope full authority over Vatican City as an independent
state. Once again the pope was a civil ruler as well as a priest.
The deadly wound was well on its way to being healed.
Verses 6-10 indicate
that the religious error and persecution of the Dark Ages will reappear
during the time of the end. In other words, the world will again
witness the rise of this beast power using political power to gain
the worship of "all who dwell on the earth," everyone, that is, "whose
names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain
from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).
The beast power
and its allies will make this happen. Let's look at exactly what
the beast continues to do.
Against whom does the beast open its mouth in blasphemy? (Revelation
The angels of heaven.
Against whom does the beast make war? (Revelation 13:7.)
The angels of heaven.
In verses 8-10,
those who live through this stressful time in the last days of Earth's
history without worshiping the beast are described as people of patience
and faith. These "saints" will be preserved under Christ's watchful
eye and remain in His protective hand. Suffering, persecution, and
even death are possible, but eternal life is their abiding assurance
as they trust in an all-powerful and all-knowing God.
you're going through a pretty stressful time right now. Maybe you're
glad to know God will watch over you during the last days, but you feel
the need of God's care right now. Guess what? You can know God as your
present Companion right now. He is the one who cares about you so much
that He even numbers the hairs on your head.
When he was a young
boy attending his father's evangelistic meeting, Norman Vincent Peale
saw Dave, the foul-mouthed town drunk, wife beater, and all-around
sinner, accept Jesus as his Savior. No one figured this conversion
would last. How could this hopeless alcoholic really change? But
young Norman couldn't forget how Dave looked as he knelt at the altar"I
was awed by the look on his face, a look of wonder and inexpressible
joy." And as a matter of fact, the conversion did takeit lasted
a lifetime. During his remaining years, Dave became a positive influence
on every life he touched.
The same God who
turned Dave's life around can do the same for you. If He could take
on this hopeless case, He can take on your problems.
Lamb-like Beast Aids the Leopard Beast
As John continues
watching prophetic scenes unfold, he sees another beast emerge from
the earth having two horns like a lamb and speaking like a dragon.
The description of this new beast tells us something about its relationship
to the beast power already pictured.
There is an interesting
contrast between this new beast of Revelation 13:11 and the beasts
of Revelation 13:1 and Daniel 7 which represent historical world
empires. The beasts of Revelation 13:1 and Daniel 7 rose out of the
water. This beast of Revelation 13:11 rises out of dry land. So we
have sea beasts and land beasts. Since water, as a prophetic symbol,
represents people (see Revelation 17:15), then dry land must represent
an area lacking a large number of people. When John first sees it,
this new power has the characteristics of a lamb. It rules in a mild,
gentle manner. But later it speaks like a dragon, like Satan. This
power ends up deceiving and oppressing, just like the Roman power
that appeared before it.
together from verses we've studied, we can conclude that this new
power arises out of a relatively uninhabited area at the end of the
1,260-year period described in Revelation 13:1-10, or around 1798.
What nation arose in this time period in a relatively uninhabited
area? The signs point clearly to the United States of America.
The United States,
as a champion of democracy and individual rights, began its rule
as a lamb. The two horns symbolize two notable features of the United
States' system of governmentcivil and religious liberty. But
something happens to this lamb-like power. Verses 12-18 tell us that
it takes on very different characteristics just prior to Christ's
second coming. And it makes an alliance with the beast. Let's see
how this happens.
The beast that
arises out of the earth:
John saw a second beast rising out of the earth. This beast: (Revelation
exercises all the authority of the first beast.
fights against the first beast and overcomes it.
fights against the first beast and is destroyed by it.
This second beast tries to make everyone on earth: (Revelation
join with it in its fight against the first beast.
worship the first beast.
acknowledge that it is superior to the first beast.
How does this second beast show its power? (Revelation
By performing great signs, even making fire come down from heaven.
By overcoming the first beast and destroying it.
By leading everyone on earth to worship God.
How does the world react after seeing the wonderful things this beast
is able to do?
The people of the world are frightened of the beast and turn against it.
The people of the world are turned off by the beast and ignore it.
The people of the world are deceived by the beast into following it.
What does this beast tell the world to do? (Revelation 13:14.)
God and disobey Him.
an image to the first beast.
the God of heaven no matter what the first beast says.
What does this second beast have power to do to those who do not worship
the image of
the first beast? (Revelation
Put them to death.
Put them in prison, but not kill them.
Impose heavy fines on them, but nothing more.
What does this beast cause the people of the world to receive? (Revelation
A test to determine how well they understand the religious beliefs of
Electronic messages outlining the requirements of the beast in every area of their
A mark in their right hand or in their forehead; without this mark no
one can buy or sell.
In summary, verse
18 states that the beast power from the sea, supported by the lamb-like
beast, has the number of a man.
16. What is the number of the beast? (Revelation 13:18.)
These verses contain
amazing information! Remember, they are describing what happens just
Let's discuss a
few specific points in Revelation 13:12-18. Remember we are discussing
a systeman alliancethat will be formed. These verses
do not describe God's sincere people currently worshiping Him within
Protestant or Catholic churches. It refers to those who in the future
choose to align themselves with the beast power and its image.
An image is something
that looks like something else. A boy who looks like his dad is said
to be the "spitting image" of his father. So an image to the beast
would be a replica or copy of the beast. As we have seen, the beast
power of the past was a persecuting union of church and state, a
religious system allied with national governments in order to enforce "orthodoxy" and
combat those it considered heretics.
that the lamb power is going to establish the image of the beast.
That means that in the future, the lamb power (the United States
of America) will join with the beast power (the Roman Papal system)
and enforce its decrees as described in Revelation 13. The medieval
Roman Church thought it was doing God's will by persecuting "heretics." In
the same way, the lamb power will consider its persecution of God's
people necessary for the good of society.
and the Beast Power
Have you noticed
that the issue of worship is a key element in the descriptions of
the beast and lamb powers? In fact, worship seems to be their ultimate
goal. They want the people of the world to bow before them, instead
of to the God of heaven.
17 tells us that the sign of those who worship the beast is a mark
in the head and hand. Revelation 7:3 tells us that God's people receive
His seal. The mark of the beast vs. the seal of Godthis is
yet another of the many contrasts in the book of Revelation. Satan
is always trying to counterfeit God's truth in order to deceive.
The mark of the beast symbolizes counterfeit worship. It is the opposite
of true worship. What does worship of God involve? True worship centers
around allegiance and relationship to the Creator, demonstrated by
hatred of sin, love of God, Christ-like character, obedience, and
The issue of worship
first appears in the Genesis account of the creation story. Genesis
says that God created the world in six days and then rested on the
seventh day. He made this particular seventh day special. "Thus the
heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And
on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested
on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God
blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested
from all His work which God had created and made" (Genesis 2:1-3).
Later, God anchored
the importance of the Sabbath in the fourth of the Ten Commandments:
the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all
your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.
In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor
your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger
who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens
and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh
day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus
Years later Jesus
demonstrated the importance of the Sabbath during His earthly ministry.
always kept the Sabbath Himself. It was His weekly practice. "So
he came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His
custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and
stood up to read" (Luke 4:16).
- The Sabbath
is such a special day that Jesus identifies Himself as Lord
of the Sabbath. "And He said to them, "The Sabbath
was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the
Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27, 28).
- Jesus honored
the Sabbath even in death.
"This man [Joseph from the town of Arimathea] went to Pilate and asked
for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen,
and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one
had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation [Friday], and the
Sabbath [Saturday] drew near.... And they rested on the Sabbath according
to the commandment. Now on the first day of the week [Sunday], very
early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came
to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they
found the stone rolled away from the tomb" (Luke 23:52-54, 56 and
The three days
mentioned are recognized by the entire Christian world on Easter
weekend. Today we call these three days, Good Friday (the day Jesus
died on the cross), Holy Saturday (the day Jesus remained in the
tomb), and Easter Sunday (the day Jesus rose from the dead).
that the Sabbath is an important day to God. It is a sign, a symbol,
an identifying seal that He is Creator and that He should be worshiped.
The Sabbath is the seal of GodHis special mark. For this very
reason Revelation 14:7 states that men and women should "worship
Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."
according to His direction is not "legalism" or "works." It is people
choosing freely to spend time with Someone they love. It is people
accepting God's invitation to join Him on His special day.
Scriptures identify the Sabbath as the seventh day of the week. Most
Christians, however, observe Sunday, the first day of the week, as their
Sabbath. Why? In 1998 Pope John Paul II answered that question in an
apostolic letter. In this letter the pope called the Catholic Church
and the Christian world in general back to Sabbath worship. (But the
Sabbath He spoke about was not the seventh day, Saturday, but Sunday,
the first day of the week.)
Pope John Paul
II began by quoting Pope Innocent I at the beginning of the fifth
century. Pope Innocent had stated that, "We celebrate Sunday because
of the venerable resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Apostolic
Letter, Dies Domini of the Holy Father John Paul II to the Bishops,
Clergy and Faithful of the Catholic Church on Keeping the Lord's
Pope John Paul
II went on to declare the key reason that Sunday is celebrated is
as a means of showing honor for Christ's resurrection. The Church
made Sunday a holy day in honor of the resurrection. In fact the Catholic
Record, September 1, 1923, states that Sunday is "our mark of
authority." The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine,
"Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?"
"A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church...
transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday." (1957 edition),
Peter Geirmann, p 50).
fourth commandment) states that the seventh day is God's Sabbath
day of rest and worship. At creation, God gave the Sabbath to the
entire human race (Genesis, chapters 1 and 2). Concerning the Sabbath,
God said to Israel, "It is a sign between Me and the Children of
Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the
earth, and on the seventh-day He rested and was refreshed" (Exodus
mentions the "mark of the beast." The mark of the beast will become
an issue in the future involving loyalty to God and following His
Word, the Bible, including the Sabbath of the fourth commandmentas
opposed to a man-made Sabbath. No one has the mark of the beast today.
When it is a future issue, everyone will be forced to choose to follow
God's Word completely or receive the mark of the beast.
How did this change
from the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday come about? Roman Emperor
Constantine issued the first Roman law commanding Sunday observance
on March 7, A.D. 321. His edict began, "On the venerable day of the
Sun, let magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let
all workshops be closed." (Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit.
12, 3 trans. By Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church,
vol. 3, p. 380, note 1.)
This man-made change
of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first was predicted by
the prophet Daniel. We studied about it in Lesson 4. We read that
the beast power and the subsequent "little horn" of Daniel 7:7,8
representing the combination of church (papal Rome) and state (civil
Rome), would "intend" or "think to change times and laws" (Daniel
7:25). As you can see this is exactly what happened! Notice one can
only "think" to change God's law. God's law is eternal; it never
facts about church worship are reflected in Revelation 13 in dramatic
detail. How we worship does matter. God is simply revealing truth.
He wants us to accept and follow the truth He reveals and to be prepared
for events that will precede Christ's return to Earth. God is saying, "Be
ready. Be informed. The Son of Man is coming to deliver you."
Laura lost her
father to cancer at an early age and missed him keenly in the months
after the funeral. He'd been such a loving man. At her next birthday
however, she was astounded to find a letter from Dad addressed to
her bearing the current date. It offered her encouragement and counsel
about the challenges she'd face at this stage in her life.
her next birthday, there was another letter from Dad, talking to her
about this particular time in her life. And so it went, through every
birthday as Laura grew into a mature young woman.
Her father, knowing
he was dying, had composed a series of letters to her addressing
each special year in her life. It was his way of saying how much
he cared about her and her future.
That's why God
has given us these wonderful prophecies in the Bible. How does it
make you feel to know that God loves you so much that He has revealed
details about the future?
me to understand the prophecies I am studying. As I study, show
me how to apply what I am learning to my daily life. Thank You,
in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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