Then the dragon took his stand on the shore beside the sea.”
Revelation 12:18 NLT
“Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion! And the dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority. I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marvelled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. “Who is as great as the beast?” they exclaimed. “Who is able to fight against him?” Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven.“
Revelation 13:1-6 NLT
We now come to the part in John’s vision where he saw a beast. There has been much conjecture about what John’s description of this fearsome monster represents, with references to the Roman Empire and other governments. Some commentators insist that this beast is the Anti-Christ, as described in Daniel 7 and a verse from 1 John 2:18, “Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come“. But whatever John’s vision represents, the most likely possibility is that this beast represents a world governmental system that is opposed to God. A system that is complicated and convoluted, probably viciously totalitarian, but above all, a system that is violently blasphemous of God and His people. I can think of governments today that partly, if not totally, fit well within the bounds of John’s vision. And there have been others in past history. The major attribute of the “beast rising up out of the sea” is that this government is global. The references to heads and horns probably represent different factional governments, but overall they contribute to a truly evil system of government.
Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 go into great detail about the beast and its implications, and it is quite conceivable that much of Daniel’s and John’s visions has already passed, being represented by nations and governments now in history. But Daniel 7:23 reads, “Then he said to me, “This fourth beast is the fourth world power that will rule the earth. It will be different from all the others. It will devour the whole world, trampling and crushing everything in its path“. In our verses today from Revelation 13, we see a reference to “the whole world”. The references in both Daniel and Revelation perhaps indicate that the world governmental system described as Daniel’s fourth beast, is yet to come. One day we will be able to look back from the security of Heaven and see what the “fatal wound” in Revelation and Daniel’s little horn all mean. We also read in today’s Revelation verses that the nations and peoples in the world worshipped the beast. And we see a global population largely taken in by the blasphemies being uttered by the beast. I am reminded of the tragedy of state-sponsored misinformation being disseminated in many countries today, poisoning minds into worshipping lies.
It would be easy to get caught up with those people whose vivid imaginations and extrapolations lead to theories of what the beast, or beasts, represent. And in the process they try and position their theories on the time line of history, even bringing in the possibility of a visitation of aliens from another place in the universe. But as pilgrims we must keep focused on the real issues. To me these End Times apocalyptic visions generate a sense of urgency because the time is short. What is represented by John’s vision is disturbing, even frightening, but there is little we can do about what is yet to happen. We are, I believe, already a long way along the count down to that glorious moment when the devil and his forces are defeated and dealt with. But we pilgrims have work to do. We cannot afford to sit warming a pew, hoping others will do what God requires. We are in a season of grace, where God’s favour, love and care is available for all to accept. But this season will not last forever. Perhaps the forty-two months are nearly over. Hmmm…
Dear Heavenly Father. We can only praise and worship You, the only true God. Please give us eyes to see the truth, Your truth, in all we think and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.