The Image to the Beast

(Wm. H. Grotheer June 2001)

[Excerpt from WWN6(01)]

The call to those "that dwell on the earth" to make an image to the beast" (Revelation 13:14) is preceded by much prophetic symbolism. This symbolism must be noted if a correct Biblical understanding of the "Image" formed is to be achieved. This symbolism begins with the 12th chapter. In fact, Revelation 12:12-17 is the outline which is enlarged in Chapters 13 and 14. While chapter 12:1-11 is devoted to the victory of the "Seed" of the woman over the dragon, the balance of the chapter covers briefly the conflict between the dragon and the woman till the revelation of the remnant of her "seed which keep the commandments of God" (ver. 17). This "seed" is again interjected into the prophecy (Rev. 14:12), where they are called "holy ones."

Upon the victory of the "Man-child" (12:5), the dragon came down in "great wrath" for his time had been circumscribed. John recorded a voice in heaven speaking with finality. This voice directed its message to three different groups (12:12). To the "heavens, and ye that dwell in them." They were to rejoice. Why? Because the dragon prevailed not; "neither was there place found anymore in heaven" for him (12:8). But to the "inhabiters" of "the earth and of the sea" a woe was given. This division of the "inhabiters" is significant. It is symbolic and has a bearing on what follows in the unfolding of the prophetic outline. The first beast of Revelation 13 "rises up out of the sea" (13:1), while the second beast comes "up out of the earth" (13:11).

The non-descript beast coming out of the sea combines the symbolism of Daniel 7 in the reverse order as it was given to Daniel - leopard, bear, and lion (13:2; cmp. with Dan. 7:12). It is related to the dragon before it, having "seven heads and ten horns" (12:3; 13:1). This is papal Rome, and the "sea" is the "Old World" or Europe in which it arose. (A more restrictive interpretation could be that "the sea" represents

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the Mediterranean Sea, known as "The Great Sea" in Bible times. Rome in both of its phases, Pagan and Papal, arose in the Mediterranean World.) One of the heads of this beast was to be "slain" (13:3, Gr. margin), and yet it would be resurrected. This becomes a key factor in the interpretation of the "image to the beast." The worship of, and the image of, was of the beast after its resurrection. (13:12,14)

The second beast comes up out of the earth as the first beast goes into captivity and is slain. (13:10) The date for the captivity of the Papacy is easily determined -1798 - when Berthier, under orders from Napoleon took the Pope a captive from Rome to France where he died in exile. The Papacy was extinct. (See Facts of Faith, pp.57-60 for documentation) The nation that was arising away from the turbulence of the European "sea" was the United States in a "New World," symbolized as "the earth."

The description of the beast is of import. It was to be "lamb-like" with "two" distinct and separate horns of power. In Daniel, the Papal phase of Rome was a single horn exercising both religious and political dominion. Further, this second beast is designated as a "false prophet" (Rev. 19:20), which deceives by the "miracles" he performs. A descriptive miracle is borrowed from the Old Testament - the fire which consumed the sacrifice in answer to Elijah's prayer (13:13). In other words, this is a false Elijah, and not the one predicted in Malachi 4:5-6, but will have overtones of the first with a special agenda, restoration of family values.

Often this "false prophet" is interpreted as "apostate Protestantism." However, we need to keep in mind that the mainline bodies of Protestantism began in the area of "sea" - Europe, and not the United States. Coming from the "earth" it must represent a new form of Protestantism. It is this "false prophet" that urges those "that dwell on the earth" to make an "image to the beast" that was resurrected. (13:14). This suggestion is removed in time from the events in Europe that brought about the "deadly wound." Further, it is given as a democratic suggestion. The populace are to make an image. The way the populace speaks is by its voting power. The United States did not begin as a democracy, but as a republic. It became truly a democracy with the implementation of the one man, one vote rule.

The healing of the "deadly wound" from a political point of view began in 1929 when Mussolini signed with the Papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Gasparri, the historic Roman Pact. The pope once more became a civil ruler. This was followed by the attempt of the appointment of an American Ambassador to the Vatican by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which ended with a personal representative, Myron C. Taylor, being sent. Under Carter, the Pope was welcomed to the White House; and under Reagan, there was an exchange of Ambassadors facilitated in part by Billy Graham. Then came the revelation of a secret working between the American government and the Papacy toward the demise of the Communistic government of Russia. Under John Paul II, the wound of 1798, has been completely healed. We can therefore look for the formation of the image of the resurrected "head."

During this same period of time when secret workings were transpiring between the US government and the Vatican, a new form of Protestantism was making its presence felt. It is covered by the term, "The Religious Right." The names, FaIwell, Robertson, and Kennedy, through their TV ministries, loom large. It was Robertson who "reached across the gulf to grasp the hand" of the late Cardinal O'Connor of New York. Two other TV Ministries, either now defunct, or greatly limited, due to moral indiscretions, represented a group who now have a representative in government in the person of the Attorney General of the United States. Couple with this Dr. Dobson's Focus on the Family and his ability to marshal thousands of voters to bring pressure on either the executive, or legislative branch of the American government, and you have a volatile mix.

Regardless of what political persuasion one may be, this last election in the United States saw the forces of the Religious Right say to those that dwell on the symbolic "earth" to elect a certain candidate as President of the United States. Among the first executive orders issued, Bush set up a Religious Office in the White House, which President Jimmy Carter told Pope John Paul II upon his visit there, was the "symbolic home" of all the American people (RNS, Oct. 8, 1979). The establishment of such an office is a first in American history of Church and State.

Some may wish to question the meaning of the term, "earth" in Rev. 13:14, and broaden its application to include the whole world. It is true that the Greek word for earth, gh, does have that meaning, the literal physical earth. However, if John had wished to change the symbolic use to a literal word, meaning all the peoples of the inhabited earth, he would have used the word, oikoumenh. But he didn't, thus it is best to hold to the symbolic meaning in this text.