XXXIII - 6(95) Excerpt


what of the night?”

"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!" Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)


The Beast and the False Prophet

(Part 2)

In the Twelfth Chapter of Revelation, John heard a "Woe" pronounced on "the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea." In the Thirteenth Chapter, two "beasts" are seen, one rising "up out of the sea," and the other "coming up out of the earth." (vs. 1, 11) These two beasts are related in the text to the dragon. One receives "his power, and his seat, and great authority" directly from the dragon (v. 2). The other, "spake as a dragon" and exercised "all the authority of the first beast," which authority had been given it by the dragon. (vs. 11-12).

The commonality between the first beast and the dragon is further heightened in the imagery. Both have seven heads and ten horns (12:3; 13:1) However, there is a movement of one item in the symbols; the crowns are placed on the "horns" of the first beast, rather than remaining on the "heads." It must also be kept in mind that the book of Revelation presents a third beast with seven heads and ten horns. (17:3) No crowns are seen on this symbolism either on the "heads" or the "horns."

What is this telling us? If a "crown" is symbolic of reigning, then the "dragon" is portrayed as functioning through its seven heads from the time of the first gospel promise to the time of, and including the war with the "remnant of her seed." The first beast of Revelation 13 would then be operating at the time of the reigning of "the ten horns."

To further identify this beast, the description is closely associated with the vision given to Daniel (Chap. 7). The lion, the bear, and the leopard are followed by a nondescript beast. In Revelation 13, the nondescript beast is a composite, "like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion" (v. 2). This is the exact order as found in Daniel 7, only reversed. In the vision to Daniel, he saw that the dominion of the three beasts was "taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time." (7:12). The symbolic representation in Revelation 13, tells us that the lives of the three beasts of Daniel 7 lived on in the first beast.

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We must next turn our attention to the seven heads. What do they represent? The span of Revelation 12 covers the time from the first gospel promise made in Eden till the war against the "remnant of her seed." Genesis gives the beginning of the first nation or peoples through whom this promised "seed" would be realized. (Gen. 12:3; 21:12) They were to go into bondage. (Gen. 15:13-15) This defiant power - Egypt - was the first power to seek to "devour" the people of God. Pharaoh was the "son of Ra," one of the sun gods of Egypt. The symbolisms of Egypt used to represent their sun gods, as noted in the previous study of Revelation 12, was the "serpent of fire" around a sun disc. (See WWN - 5(95), pp. 3-4)

From the first attempt to destroy the people of God through whom the Promised Seed would come, there were five powers to John's day - Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Grecia. The power of John's day was Rome, another was yet to come. (Rev. 17:10) At this point, we need to determine how we are to understand prophecy. Do we place the count, "five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come," as beginning in our day, or do we understand it to be in the time frame of John to whom the statement was made?

There is another problem however; the seventh head was "to continue a short space." If the sixth head is pagan Rome, and the seventh, papal Rome, we have the seventh head continuing for a longer period than any of the previous six heads which the wording of the definitive statement will not permit.

The book of Daniel in the visions as recorded in Chapters 7 & 8, present both pagan and papal Rome as one continuous power. The "little horn" of Daniel 7, ever remains in and is nourished by the nondescript beast (7:8). Further this beast is pictured as continuing "till ... slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame." (7:11) The problem then is to interrelate all of this data to the first beast of Revelation 13, for it is this beast along with the second which are consigned to "the burning flame" (Rev. 19:20).

There is another textual relating between symbols which must be considered. The first beast of Revelation 13 is "to act, or work" (Gr. - poiesai) his will "forty and two months." (13:5) The only other place where this same time period of prophecy is indicated is Chapter 11:2. There the "holy city" is to be "tread under foot forty and two months."

The next verse (11:3) speaks of the "two witnesses" prophesying in sackcloth 1260 days. As noted in exegeting Chapter 12, this time period is identical in terminology with the time period that the woman was to be in the wilderness. It can be shown that all of these time periods - Daniel 7:25, Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; and 13:5 - are equal and apply to the same period. Why then this differentiation? Is it for interpretive purposes so that we can put together the various symbolisms? Is it saying that the first beast of Revelation 13 is the power involved with the work described in Rev. 11:2; and the woman of Revelation 12 has a connection with "the two witnesses"? If this be so, then there is some "knitting" back and forth between the last section of Revelation and Chapter 11, which must be considered.

Before pursuing further the "beasts" of Revelation 13, let us ask ourselves, what is Rev. 11:2 saying? The verse is couched in symbolism. The "court" of the temple was the place of the Altar of Burnt Offering. Here the sacrifices which were symbolic of the one great Sacrifice for sin, were offered. That Sacrifice was offered on earth. The ministry of the sanctuary typified a Heavenly ministration. How do we understand then, the symbolism of "the holy city"? It cannot be the Holy City which comes down at the close of the Millennium, for the "holy city" noted in Rev. 11:2 is already on earth. However, in the chapters which follow, the Harlot is described not only as a woman, but also a city. (Rev. 17:18) Is the symbol of the "holy city" in Rev. 11:2 then to be equated with the "woman" of Rev. 12? All of this places the time frame for the first beast of Revelation as the instrument through which the dragon sought to destroy the woman who fled into the wilderness.

The section of the prophecy of Revelation 13 which describes the first beast, can be divided in two parts: 1) A symbolic description of the beast itself and a brief overview of its history (vs. 1-4); and 2) What it was to do in the time period allotted (vs. 5-7). A question arises at this point, do we consider the verses as consecutive, thus placing the 42 months after the healing of the "deadly wound," or is one section a prophetic amplification of the other? What is interesting is the parallel between the 42 months, if understood literally, and the 3 1/2 days of Rev. 11:9, if considered prophetically. Both would equal exactly 3 1/2 years. However, the connection between the "first beast" and Revelation 11 is with "the holy city," while "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" is connected with the 3 1/2 days (11:7-9; See also 17:8). It is

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evident that much more study and prayer needs to be given to Revelation before hard and fast interpretations are formulated.

As the description and comment on the first beast is concluded, there is found a clause that will be repeated several times in the ensuing revelation - them "that dwell on the earth." (13:8, 12, 14-2x; 14:6; 17:2) Since the warning in Chapter 12, was to the "inhabiters" (v. 12) of the earth, and since the second beast comes "up out of the earth" (13:11), is this phraseology to be restricted to the area prophetically designated the earth? Or is to be given the concept which we give to earth - the whole planet? The answer to this question will even affect the understanding of Revelation 14:6.

Should the text read as in the KJV - "unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." Or, should the conjunctive, kai, be given its alternate meaning with the text reading, "unto them that dwell on the earth, also to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." In other words, was "the everlasting gospel" to be first proclaimed to the dwellers of the prophetic "earth" and then to every nation worldwide. This is historically what happened. Does this fact, therefore, help us to read aright as prophetic language - "them that dwell on the earth."

In the Greek New Testament text of the United Bible Societies different Greek words are used in the various verses in Revelation 12, 13, 14, and 17 for the word, "dwell" in the clause, "that dwell on the earth." Only in Chapter 13, is the Greek word the same for "dwell" in verses 8 and 14. However, in the Received Text (Textus Receptus), the same word for "dwell" (katoikeo) is used consistently in Rev. 12:12; 13:8, 14; 14:6; and 17:2. If this is then to be interpreted prophetically, it adds a different dimension to the understanding of where the final events will be focused. Those "that dwell on the earth" will "worship him (the beast)" (13:8). They will be deceived into making an image to the beast (13:14). They will become intoxicated with the wine of the harlot (17:2).

It would also appear when the "whole" earth is meant rather than its use as a prophetic symbol, the word, "dwell" is not used, but rather holos, meaning entire, is associated with the word, "earth." See 13:3.

In the connecting verses between the two "beasts" of Revelation 13, there is both warning and admonition. "All that dwell on the earth shall worship the first beast" with but one exception, those whose names are "written in the book of life of the Lamb" do not do so (13:8). Recognizing that the first beast represents the Papacy, then one criterion which determines where our names are placed is our attitude toward Roman Catholicism. This includes much more than mere Sunday observance. The doctrine of the Trinity - basic in Romanism, the Eucharist, and other issues enter the picture. Little wonder then that the admonition follows - "If any man have an ear, let him hear." (13:9)

In Rev. 13:10 an unique comment is made - "Here is the patience and faith of the saints." It is found again in Revelation 14:12, and only in these two texts in Revelation. Do these serve as "brackets" for the revelation that is given between? If so, then this call to observe the steadfastness of "the saints" is associated with the activities of the second beast of chapter 13 and the giving of the Three Angels' Messages.

The second beast came "up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon." (13:11) Two things of importance need to be noted. The prophetic symbolism does not connect this beast with the other beasts - there is no common denominator, the multiple heads or horns which mark the other beast symbols are missing. Only two horns are noted. No prophetic or literal time factors are associated with this second beast. He doesn't speak as "the dragon," but simply "as a dragon."" His two horns are like the horns of a lamb." The symbolism combines the two representations which in Chapter 12 are pictured as in deadly conflict, the dragon and the Lamb.

This beast "exerciseth all the power (authority - exousia) of the first beast." Is this saying that its authority is derived from the same source as the first beast, or is it stating that its controlling influence is as extensive as was that of the first beast, or both? The evident time of prophetic emphasis for the second beast is after the deadly wound of the first beast "was healed." (v. 12) Is it then, that we are to consider the exercise of, and source for its authority? If so, the activities of this beast, as described in Chapter 13, would not find fulfillment until after 1929, when the deadly wound began to be healed. But when was it "healed"?

One of the wonders which this beast performs is to make "fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." (v. 13) This beast is defined as "the false prophet." (19:20) The allusion to fire coming down from heaven, being done by a prophet, calls to mind, Elijah who is

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to come before "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." (Mal. 4:5) This is telling us two things: 1) In the final confrontation, there will be a reversal of evidence. The false and deceptive will produce what will appear to be genuine evidence of Divine manifestation. And 2) This second beast is a religious power seeking to fulfill the role of Elijah.

In determining the identity of this "beast power," we have given it two identifications, the United States and Apostate Protestantism. In the transitional verses from the first beast to the second, is found the dictum - "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity." This is interpreted as having been fulfilled in taking the Pope captive, and by declaring the government of the Papacy at an end in 1798, thus concluding the 1260 prophetic days. It was at this time, as the Papacy ceased its domination over "the kings of the earth," that the United States came into existence as a nation - "coming up out of the earth." However, to so interpret, excludes the identification as Protestantism, because Protestantism arose in the area prophetically identified as "the sea," and over two hundreds years before the downfall of the Pope. We can respond that it is Apostate Protestantism that is being identified since the symbol is termed, "the false prophet." If this be so, then one must ask, "When did Protestantism become apostate?" To this, we have responded that this state resulted from the rejection of the First Angel's Message. And textually the First Angel's Message is placed in the setting of this prophetic revelation to John, with the Second Angel proclaiming the fall of Babylon, of which the "false prophet" is one part. (Rev. 16:13, 19)

In recognizing this "beast" as a religious power we must also recognize two other factors of prophecy. 1) As noted above, the prophetic emphasis in Revelation 13 is on the activities of the "false prophet" after the "deadly wound was healed." This extends the time element for the main thrust of "apostate" Protestantism well over 100 years from the above date (1844) set for its inception. 2) This religious force causes the "image" to be formed. (13:14) The "image" to the first beast would be religio-political even as the Papacy was and is. It must also be understood, that this "religious" power says to those "that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast." This clearly indicates that the political power through which the "image" will be formed is democratic, the electorate is asked to grant the authority. But the "life" of this image is given to it by the "false prophet." (13:15)

Penalties for failure to come into line are twofold: 1) The "false prophet" initiates economic sanctions (13:16-17). 2) The created "image" of the union of church and state - issues the death decree (13:15).

The final verse of Revelation 13 - verse 18 - demands careful exegesis. It can be noted as both a literal fact, and it can convey spiritual import. Use of this verse has been made by Adventist evangelists by identifying the Pope with title - VICARIVS FILI DEI - which in the Latin equals - 666. A publication recently came to this desk which claimed that this title "has long been a forgery of Adventist publishing and is thoroughly fraudulent." Documentation was given for this charge from a work by Gilbert M. Valentine, The Shaping of Adventism, published by Andrews University. Evidently someone has not done their homework, and this would include George R. Knight, who chaired Valentine's original research. It is the Catholic Church itself which admits that "the title of the Pope of Rome is Vicarious Filii Dei. This is inscribed on his mitre; and if you take the letters of his title which represent Latin numerals (printed large) and add them together they come to 666."

A spiritual truth is also hidden in this number and "wisdom." The Greek text reads - "For a number of man, it is" - no article, and the word for man is anthropos. Six is one shy of seven, which is a Biblical perfect number, but it is a combination of three sixes, three being another perfect number. Thus the number 666 could be interpreted as perfected imperfection. This even carries overtones of "six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work." Man in the worship of the works of his hands - Cain worship - and self glorification, cannot "Fear God and give glory to Him ... and worship Him who made ..." providing for man, the seventh day of rest, which is the essence of the First Angel's Message. (14:6-7) The Third Angel's Message also addresses this issue. "If any man worship the beast," but the "beast" is man in the height of his imperfection and rebellion against God.

This full picture justifies Thayer's definition of "the Wicked" one, "the man of sin," as "he in whom all iniquity has as it were fixed its abode" (II Thess. 2:8.) (See Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 48, art. anomos) This is the one which the "false prophet" leads those who dwell on the earth to worship.

In contrast to this, comes the next vision given to John.

(To Be Continued)