Revelation 13:1-181 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.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. 3 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 astonished and followed the beast.4 Men 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 make war against him?”5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.9 He who has an ear, let him hear.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.11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns Ike a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.
When we last left our study, we saw God bringing comfort to his people. We saw the birth of Jesus Christ and the wrath of satan, trying to get at Jesus, and there is war, and satan is cast out. He pursues the woman and her child, but God cares for them and satan is cast to earth and persecutes the church.Today, we see how the dragon makes war on the church. This is the most evil chapter of the book, when we read it, it seems as if there is no comfort, but as we look closely we find comfort. Here is a chapter that shows the character of satan and the way he works, how he makes a mockery of everything, and his power is tremendous.We are also introduced to the most famous number in the world — 666. If you get that number on your license plate or on your credit card it sends shivers of fear down your spine! There are people who have had that as their house number and petitioned the city to change the number. 666 has become a sinister number in the eyes of many, Movies have been based upon the powerful mystery connected with it. Today we will learn the secret of that strange number and of the beasts that are identified with it.
The church, God’s people, are a paradox, seemingly so weak and yet the crown of the universe. The church, God’s people is used by God to bring the Messiah into the world and shares in the victory and conquest of Jesus. At the same time it is a bundle of humanity fleeing from the dragon, a dragon that warps all that is holy and makes an evil imitation of the good. Here in this chapter we have what I call the satanic trinity, the dragon corresponding to the Father, the first beast corresponding to the Son, and the second beast playing the role of the Holy Spirit, satan’s imitation of the true God.
First there is the Unholy Father, the dragon. satan is often pictured as a dragon, a great serpent. The first time we run into the serpent is in Genesis 3, the serpent who causes the Fall. In Revelation 12:9 he is called the great dragon, the ancient serpent, satan who leads the whole world astray. In chapter 12 we read of his war with God, because of his desire to be God, more clearly pictured in Isaiah 14:12-14.He has been cast out of heaven. (See Luke 10:17-20)All this does not sit well with satan, for his desire is to be the Father. Direct conflict does not work, so he hatches an evil plan. He sets up his own kingdom, one that imitates and ridicules the Kingdom of God. He has seen how God works and he uses an evil imitation of God’s Kingdom. His kingdom is one that catches man’s eye, it has all the stuff that people love to have and see, power, miracles, glitz, but it is one that leads to hell. He sets himself up as the unholy father, wanting the same thing that God wants, that is, he wants people to worship him and makes a mockery of true worship. Worshiping the unholy father, they do things like saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards.
Then there is the Unholy Son, the first beast, rises out of the sea, the sea which stands for humanity. The last time we saw that out of the people of God, the Messiah was born. Here we see that out of the sea of humanity, satan brings forth his son. All we can say is that this is a beast, he looks like a leopard, lion, bear and monster. In the Old Testament, in Daniel 7, you will find the same description of four beasts who are described as those who are against the Kingdom of God. However, here they are all gathered into one beast, and ugly monster: LION: full of pride, exerts a mighty power in the world to rule; BEAR: paws that grab and destroy and an appetite that is never satisfied; LEOPARD: swift and cunning, can move fast to kill and destroy those who oppose him. Like a cat, playing with victims; MONSTER: one with horns, that denotes authority.The combination is one of great evil, is the anti-Christ, the highest opposition to God and his Kingdom. As we look through his description we see many of the things are imitation of Christ:Fatal wound: he is given a fatal wound, but does not die. He is healed and the world is astonished and stands in awe. You cannot kill this monster, it must be God. This shows the power of satan, not something to fool around with. Something so powered by satan, cannot die. The world of man sees that whatever this evil is, it cannot be killed off.Don’t we know that, stamp out evil one place and it rises again. Time and again satan raises someone to stand as his candidate and we wonder if evil will ever be stamped out. Even in your own life, we try and try, till we often get to the point we give in because we think we cannot stop itAuthority: the beast is given authority, like Christ is given authority by the Father. Such is his power and authority that the cry is raised, who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? And even this is an evil imitation of the words of praise given to God. (See Exodus 15:11 and Psalm 35:10)The beast is given authority over every tribe and nation and it is given the power satan would have given Jesus in the temptations. Jesus was offered the nations by satan if he would only have bowed down and worshiped, Jesus refused. satan finally finds someone for his plan and he is given power to war against the church and to conquer. If your name is not written in the book of life, you eventually will worship the beast, an evil imitation to an evil imitation.
Finally there is the Unholy Spirit, another beast. He does not rise from humanity but from the earth. This beast looks so peaceful, evilness covered by sweetness, looks like a lamb, a pet for children. Does this sound like the mother nature, mother earth we hear so much about, the mother nature that we see in commercials: “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature”. That commercial is so true, for when this beast speaks, it is with the voice of the dragon, a picture of what Paul portrays in 2 Corinthians 11:14.Here is the highest of evil, the unholy trinity is complete. Here is one who goes out among men, to point people to the anti-Christ, who plays the same role as the Holy Spirit, who points to Jesus Christ. He points to the anti-Christ and persuades, and deceives mankind. Look at what he does, he performs signs and miracles like the Holy Spirit, he even calls down fire from heaven, does that remind you of Pentecost. He is given power to breath life into a statue, what a wonder, no wonder mankind is deceived. He serves the interest of the first beast. In these two beasts is a deadly combination.First beast: the political power of the dragon portrayed. Here we see the rule of the dragon. Government is good when God controls it, but when the dragon rules, then it become beastly; Second beast: No political power can stand by might alone. It needs more, it needs a prophet, to preach its philosophy and to lead to worship. When someone takes over a country, they try to get the people on their side by getting the church on their side. The second beast makes up the slogans and forms the ideas and makes up the hymns of the beastly kingdom.
Is there comfort in all of this, for is not Revelation written to bring comfort? Iit is in this, satan does not have one candidate, for his people keep dying off. Each age, he has to raise another one, another beast. Some of those in history have been Nero, Caligula, the mad emperor, Adolf Hitler And he has to bring in new propagandists, and new prophets, the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are always here.I was reading on the Internet a few days ago, some comment on this and this person was talking about the anti-christ and anti-god. The person made a little typo, that points out reality, in the word anti left of the i, so it became ant-god and ant-christ and that is the reality of it, they are just ants compared to God.
Our survey of the evil kingdom is not over, for not only does this kingdom have a messiah, a prophet, signs and wonders, and pushes a new order, it has one more thing. There is a baptism, a mark to show you belong, the famous number 666. The mark is satan’s imitation of God’s seal on his own people.In Chapter 7 we learned that 144,000 or the great multitude were sealed on their foreheads by God, that indicates they are owned by God, they belong to him. Every believer in Christ is sealed by the Holy Spirit and the sign of that is baptism. The mark that is mentioned is said to be either the name of the beast or the number of his name, his name is unknown, but the number is given: 666.The most foolish thing you can do is to try to identify a person today by using number 666. Ancient languages used letters for numbers, the letters have numerical value and many feel that when you add up the numerical value of certain names if it comes out to 666 that person must be the Antichrist. However, the problem is you are using English letters. Another thing that has been done is to see 666 in all sorts of things, like Social Security numbers, computers and the fact that they use numbers, in Zip Codes, you name it. No one has come up with any explanation that makes sense using these methods.What does this mean then? The scripture tells us that it is the number of a man, or man’s number. In the Bible, the number 7 is used to mean perfection and stand for God and his perfection, 6 is the number of man, a number that never reaches 7. All human endeavor can only add up to 6 or 66 or 666 or 6666, always short of God’s number 7.After the beast does its work, people are amazed and say, Who is like the beast? His work may come close to perfection, but not good enough. It is always One Fry Short Of A Happy Meal; two sandwiches short of a picnic; a few chapters short of a book; one taco short of a combo plate; one brick shy of a full load; six cents short of a dollar, it can never be enough.Eugene Peterson says, “This religion has nothing to do with God. Get its number: it is a human number. This is not divine mystery, but a confidence man’s patter; it is religion that makes a show, religion that vaunts itself, religion that takes our eyes off of the poor and suffering and holy Christ. In the language of numbers, 666 is a triple failure to be a 777, the three-times perfect, whole, divine number.”666 means his work is failure upon failure upon failure and this mark of failure is placed on all who worship the beast. Those who don’t have this mark are considered a threat to mankind, they will be boycotted, for all the works of the beast will have his mark and ours will not. The comfort is that satan’s work will never match the work of God.I want to leave you with two thoughts:First there is the evilness of satan, how he warps, twists, imitates the good of God, how he tries to cut off the people of God. For unless you live as a worshiper of the beast and unholy trinity you will suffer.Second is comfort and this has to do with the mark of the beast. The beast can never reach the perfection of God, he can never really ultimately deceive. There is comfort in the perfection of 7, of Jesus Christ. There is hope for tomorrow, Jesus will come again and make all things new and perfect.John says this calls for insight, for wisdom, count it up, add up the number of man and the beast, it always falls short. As evil as the world seems, as overpowering as the beast and his prophet seem, as powerful as the dragon seems and acts, there is one more powerful. Although the beast cannot be slain by man, but the lamb, Ah the lamb. In the words of Genesis 3, he crushes the head of the serpent, and throws him into the eternal lake of fire. What a comfort to know that satan can never attain God’s perfection.