I am at the chapter of Revelation that I feared most as a youth. With all of the uproar in the 80’s about rock music being evil and back-masking, throw this chapter in there, and I was pretty much terrified of Satan in my early teens. Now, Satan is a frightful enemy, but I was REALLY afraid of him. And God tells us to not be afraid over and over again in the Bible.
Over the years, God has taken away that fear and replaced it with understanding and wisdom. I still have a LOT left to learn, but I have grown to realize that Revelation is not the scary book I thought it was, at least not to us as believers. The events happening upon the earth will be horrific, and the beast, the antichrist, will be unbelievably wicked, powered by the dragon, Satan himself. But I do not have to fear, for I read the end of the story, and God wins. Jesus will return, victory will be His, Satan and the antichrist will be doomed and destroyed.
In chapter 12, the first 5 major “players” of the end times “game” were described for us: Israel, the woman giving birth to Messiah; Satan, the dragon; demons, the stars that the dragon took from heaven with him; Jesus, the male child, Messiah, to whom the woman gives birth; and Michael, the archangel who wages war against Satan in heaven. Here we are given the sixth.
“And he stood on the sand of the seashore. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; and they worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?’ And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.” ~Revelation 13:1-7
The dragon, Satan, is standing on the shore, as this beast comes from the sea. John describes his appearance as best he can, using the comparison words like and as if. Obviously, the antichrist is not going to be a frightening creature, rising from the black lagoon. He will be a charming man who woos the whole world. Remember in Revelation 6:2, this man will be sent out from heaven, conquering the world with promises of peace. God has allowed this man to be where he is, doing what he does. Satan, the dragon, gives this man, the beast, his authority and power. The antichrist will have, and use, Satan’s power.
The book of Daniel is also a book with end times prophecy, and in chapter 7, Daniel writes of four beasts, which represent four different superpower nations in history: “the first was like a lion”, Babylon; the second one “resembling a bear”, Medo-Persia; “another one, like a leopard”, Greece; “a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” ~Daniel 7:7. Rome. The antichrist will somehow come from Rome.
“Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts, and which was larger in appearance than its associates… Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms, and it will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.'” ~Daniel 7: 19-20, 23-26
Daniel sheds some additional light on this beast of Revelation 13. And he also lets us know that the beast will lose his power, “annihilated and destroyed forever”. Amen!