Exegetical look into Revelation 13:11-18

 

  • Another beast. As a word, it means a ravenous animal; as a symbol, an opposing power. In association with earth, it represents religious powers or people serving secular authorities. He is acting as a counterfeiter of good, turning it into evil; as a “propagandist” (dispensing deceptive misinformation) for evil, it is the first beast and Dragon—Satan. He seeks to bring glory to himself and that of evil, whereas in contrast, the Holy Spirit brings glory to Christ. This beast is also called the “False Prophet” in Rev. 16:13; 19:20 and 20:10.
  • Coming out of the earth. This may refer to a locality or regional persecution whereas the beast from the sea is more universal. Romans had local enforcers; various cults also had their representatives, such as the emperor cults and various personalities who waged their ways and evils upon the population (Dan. 7:3, 17; Acts 19:30-31). 
  • Two horns like a lamb/horned lamb. This is a parody and distortion of Christ, perhaps referring to the power of evil governments such as Persia in Daniel. This may mean he starts off as gentle, and then manipulates behind the scenes until he rises to power. Whatever the form may take in the future, this beast seeks to manipulate and deceive people with seemingly miraculous signs and wonders, counterfeiting the work and purpose of the Holy Spirit. This will be very evident prior to the return of Christ (Dan. 8:6; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 5:6).
  • Spoke like a dragon. His true colors come out, such as Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:15 concerning wolves in sheep’s clothing. When this happens, there should be no doubt who he is and what he is up to.
  • Exercised all the authority. This means under the authority of Satan or working on his behalf. It can be in the form of evil secular authority, corrupt religious figures, or the compromise and apostasy of the Church. Some see this as an evil trinity of Satan/dragon, the antichrist/beast and the false prophet mimicking God’s Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Great and miraculous signs. Wonderworkers were common in this time although most did not have real powers. Like today’s magicians, they tricked people. The danger to us today is relativism, as Christian values diminish and are replaced by faulty logic and thinking (Duet 13:1-3; Ex. 7:11; Matt. 24:24; 1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev 19:20).
  • Fire to come is a parody of Elijah and of God’s marvels and powers, as well as how false prophets worked in the Old Testament. Satan seeks to deceive us while he discredits God (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7,18; 2 Kings 18: 24-39; Rev. 11:5).
  • Image… it could speak. It was a common magician trick used by priests to cause their idols to speak in this time, today we call it “ventriloquism.” Such deception was used for propaganda as well as evil personal gain (Deut. 13:1-11; 2 Thess. 2:4).
  • Refused to worship. The issue was perhaps not worship in the sense of religion, but rather loyalty pledges. This is a clear warning to early Christians to refrain from apostasy, as our loyalty is to Christ and thus, we should never compromise ourselves or His message. This beast can make the pronouncement of apostasy to those who refuse, such as what the faithful faced during the period of the Maccabees 175-134 BC (1 Macc. 1:50-51—Apocrypha; Dan. 3 and 6).
  • Forced everyone. Many Greek and Roman occupiers of Jerusalem forced the Jews to do this, thus, it was not an unexpected enterprise. Such a mark was, in the past, a tattoo, membership in a guild, code words, and/or an imperial stamp, etc. This is why early Americans reacted so negatively to the British Stamp Act of 1765 that was used to control, subvert, manipulate, and steal from the colonists. There was a tax on anything that had the king’s stamp on it. Many Greek people in this time had tattoos for the god and/or guilds to which they bore allegiance.
  • Right hand or on his forehead refers figuratively to a brand on a slave signifying to whom the person belonged. Not necessarily a literal tattoo or mark on the body, this was more a metaphor for allegiances, either to evil systems or to God. Romans who graduated from a class on emperor worship were given certificates that led to many privileges and opportunities (Is. 44:5; Rev. 3:12; 7:3; 14:1; 15:6; 17:5; 19:12; 22:4).
  • No one could buy or sell. Refers to commercial discrimination such as the trade guilds at that time, which had an economic boycott against people of faith. But, it will become more strict and cruel.
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