Revelation 13:1-18 Part 8

12:18:  And it was positioned upon the sand of the sea.

1)    Then I saw a beast having ten horns and seven heads arising out of the sea; and upon its horns there were ten diadems, and a blasphemous name on its heads.

2)    The beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet as a bear, and its mouth the mouth of a lion and the dragon did give it its power and its dominion and great authority;

3)    and one of its heads as having been fatally wounded and its stroke of death healed, the whole land was caused to marvel after the beast.

4)    And they adored the dragon that gave the authority to the beast and adored the beast, saying ‘who is like the beast’ and ‘who is enabled to wage war with it?’

5)    And a mouth speaking great, blasphemous things was given it, and authority to act forty two months was given it;

6)    and it opened its mouth in blasphemies toward God, to blaspheme His Name and those tabernacling in His tabernacle in the heaven.

7)    And there was given it to make war with the holy people and to overcome them.  And authority over every tribe and tongue and people was given it.

8)    And all who dwell on the land whose names have not been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the cosmos shall bow before it.

9)    If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

10) If anyone is for captivity, into captivity he goes; if anyone is for killing by the sword, he is to be killed by the sword.  Here is the determination and the faith of the holy people!

11) Then I saw another beast arise from the land, and it had two horns like unto a young lamb; but it spoke as dragon!

12) It exercises all the authority of the first beast before it and confirms for the land and those dwelling in it that they must adore the first beast, the one whose death-stroke was healed.

13) And it would perform great signs, so that it may make fire to come down from the heaven into the land before the men,

14) and deceiving those who dwell upon the land by the signs given to it to perform before the beast, telling those who dwell upon the land to make an image to the beast that had the death-stroke by the sword and did live.

15) And it was given to it to give life to the image of the beast that the image of the beast might speak, and (it was given to it to) cause even the least of those who would not adore the image of the beast that they be killed;

16) and it causes all, the menial and the great, the rich and the poor, the freemen and the servants, that they be provided a mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead

17) so that no one be able to buy or to sell without having the mark: either the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18) The wisdom is herein.  Let one having a mind calculate the number of the beast; for that number is man, and his number is six hundred and sixty six.


As the apostle John continues to see and hear the sign of the woman and the sign of the dragon, the revelation of this second beast (the one that arose from the land) confirms what we’ve heard from Moses and Samuel and Elijah and Elisha and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Daniel – (confirms) what they all prophesied and encountered earlier all through Israel’s history.  We’re actually seeing now, through John, what Yahveh spoke through His prophets of old!

It is also the fullness of our Lord’s instruction to His disciples in Matthew chapter twenty-four.  Many pseudoprophets would arise!  And Israel would “hear” them rather than God’s prophets; and they would even persecute those who God did send.

The “gods” of all religious cults are described in God’s Word as having eyes, but they can’t see; ears, but they can’t hear; mouths but they can’t speak.  Judaism is one of those cults.  The idols are called “ba’alim” in the older Scripture.  And their “prophets” are those who did not stand in Yahveh’s Presence to receive His instructions; He did not speak to them, and He didn’t send them. 

Many of them (the false prophets) were “given” to do signs and wonders before the people in order to shut their eyes that they not see, and in order to close their ears that they not hear; and they are given that they speak lies that their hearers prefer to hear!

Our Lord Jesus was perfectly clear that judaism denies The Christ of God precisely because it denies God’s prophet Moses.  Moses, the prophet who stood in the Presence of God in His tabernacle, brought down two tablets of stone on which the Commandments of God were written.

And Moses also wrote five books of history and instruction that he heard directly from the mouth of Yahveh when he was in the cloud of glory on the mountain of Sinai.  Included in those five books of instruction was Yahveh’s command that false prophets were to be put to the sword… along with all those who preferred to hear them!!

And even though Israel saw all of these things, and even though they heard the Word of God from Moses, they never believed him (having immediately fallen into idolatry); nor did they obey Yahveh’s Commandments. 

Rather (from the beginning), they conceived their own preferred religion; and they heard their own prophets while persecuting every prophet sent to them thereafter by Yahveh.

And because of the false prophets (pseudoprophets) all through Israel’s history, and because of Israel’s preference for the false prophets and the persecution of the ones that were sent directly from the mouth of God, they would suffer captivity, pestilence and the sword.

And our Lord, as we quoted earlier, told His followers: beware the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but are really ravaging beasts.  And He told them that there would be “many” of them.

The “land beast” is the false prophets of Israel (having proliferated during the last forty years as Jesus prophesied).  They have the benign appearance of being members of the “holy people”; but they ravage the nation.  They are the “land beast” in covenant clothing.  They may be pharisees or scribal lawyers or members of the Sanhedrin or synagogue leaders.  Or they may just be self-proclaimed prophets from among the people. But they have never stood in the Presence of God (as all of God’s prophets did); they were not sent by God; they do not speak God’s Words, for He did not speak to them; and therefore they are worthy only of death by the sword… as are all of those who prefer to hear them (as Moses wrote – Deuteronomy thirteen)!

They didn’t believe Moses and Samuel and Elijah and Elisha and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Daniel; and so they didn’t believe the Christ of God when He came.  Israel persecuted all of the prophets who were sent directly from the Presence of Yahveh; and then they even persecuted the ones kept by our Lord for Himself from the twelve tribes of Jacob – those for whom He had shed His blood!

The text from John says (verse eleven) that this beast looks like a young lamb; but it speaks “as dracon”.  John doesn’t say that this second beast speaks “like” the dragon… he says it speaks “as” dragon!  That’s what the text says.

How does the dragon speak?  Of course, it’s a liar.  It was a liar from the beginning.  It speaks exactly the opposite of that which Yahveh has spoken.

God spoke to the two in the garden who were created in His Own image.  And He said to them that should they disobey Him (preferring their own way) they would die.  And what did the serpent say to them?  That they would not die!

The serpent of old (the dragon here in the sign) speaks lies.  And the beast from the land speaks “as dragon”.  It speaks lies.  The pseudoprophets of Israel speak lies to the holy people… right to the very end – the very end of the captivity, the very end of the plagues and pestilences, and at the very end – of the sword.

But we learned from the first eight verses of this chapter that Yahveh has kept His promise to Israel by keeping some for Himself throughout His history (the seed of the woman)… seven thousand of all of Israel belonged to him (He told Elijah nine hundred and fifty years before the birth of the Christ).  Twelve thousand from each tribe of Jacob (He revealed here to John).  There was always a “remnant” of Jacob that God preserved for Himself – even in the midst of such gross infidelity.

It is all under His authority and His providence.  It’s His history; and His justice and His mercy and His faithfulness are made apparent throughout that history.


Now that we know the identity of this “land beast”, which is identified in the text of Scripture itself as the false prophets of Israel, we can complete through verse seventeen this morning.  My intent was to go ahead and finish the chapter; but after looking further into verse eighteen, I decided that it deserved more time (actually required more time).

I’m coming to a greater and greater appreciation of the perfections exhibited in God’s Word.  And I’m so happy that the decision was made to preach through The Revelation after all the years spent in the Gospel of Matthew.  So much is to be lacking without it.  But what is so striking is the integrity and excellencies and precision of God’s Revelation of His history!

I suppose, considering the perfections of His nature and character, one should expect no less; but as we see more and more of His creation, and the history of His creation, and the authority by which He presides over that history, even the numbers are of an impeccable nature!

And that’s what I want to explore with you to some extent next Lord’s Day as we approach verse eighteen.

As we go along now, I intend to give you some facts about the “man-written” history (that which is relevant to the text)… at least the history of what we know about the last days of God’s covenant people (the last days being, of course, forty years).

We’ll do a little of that today (more next Sunday) and probably do even more as we go along (given the nature of John’s Revelation).  But we’ll see if what has been written in the history books (the names, dates and places) fits accurately with God’s history of Himself and His covenanted “holy people” at the end of the age.  The “validity” of man-written history is determined by whether it “squares”, or “fits”, with God’s inspired and infallible Word.

Now.  Verse twelve says that the “land beast” exercises all the authority of the first beast - before it.  And as the first beast (the one from the sea) is the agent of the dragon, so the second beast (the one from the “land”) is the agent of the first beast.   Having exercised “all the authority” (as John writes) of the first beast makes the land beast the complete agent of the first beast!  In other words the false prophet (of which there were “many”) is the agent of, and is subservient to, the Roman empire (which is the fourth beast from the sea in Daniel’s prophecy).

Judaism became completely subservient to the self-proclaimed “man-god” of the Roman state.  The “false prophet” exercised that beast’s authority “before it”, or “in its presence”.

This is in contrast to what we’ve already said about God’s prophets, isn’t it?  The true prophets of God actually stood “before” (or, in the presence of) Almighty God, under His authority, and were given to speak the Words which He required them to speak. 

But, on the other hand, the false prophet stands before (or in the presence of) the beast, whose interpreter and servant it is!

The pseudoprophets (those who Jesus said would be “many”) led the holy people to “adore” this beast (the Roman state and its self-proclaimed god-emperor) – a beast that was said to have had a fatal wound that was healed!  It is the “resurrection” of the beast that is given here (and in verse fourteen) as the reason for the adoration (or worship).  Just as Christian worship is ultimately founded on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the land beast (the false prophet) looked to a counterfeit (imitation) resurrection of the Roman state.

As you can readily see, the “determination and faith” of the holy people was not in the covenanted promises of Yahveh, but in the Roman state and its “caesar-gods” (verse ten).

In verses thirteen and fourteen, the land beast (the false prophets) performed signs and wonders in the service of the empire and its “caesar” (whoever the caesar was at any given time).  Remember that Jesus had warned His disciples that “false christs and false prophets would arise and show signs and wonders”, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect of the twelve tribes of Jacob! 

And remember that it took nearly forty years to get all of the ones God had kept for Himself out of Israel; so the elect of God (those for whom the Christ had shed His blood) were subject to diabolical persecution and pursuit of men committed to the Roman empire!  Remember… Jesus, at His trial, was told by the priests of Israel: “we have no king but caesar”!

And for that entire forty years the nation was under the dominion of Rome’s emperor (that’s “captivity”); and it suffered all the plagues and famines and pestilences that Egypt had suffered at the first Exodus (we learned of these from the loosing of the seven seals); and then at the last day, it suffered the prophetic sword.

And our Lord Jesus Christ was redeeming and delivering all who belonged to Him – all through that forty years!  And the signs and wonders were such that, if possible, even these elect would be misled!  However, under the complete authority of the Christ, not even one was lost to this land-beast and its false signs and wonders.

Why were the signs and wonders (ones given to the false prophet) (why were they) such that even the Lord’s Own sheep might be misled?  Because the signs were imitations of the real signs and wonders of the prophets of Yahveh that were recorded in Scripture!

It was given to the false prophet (the one exercising the authority of the sea beast) to impersonate the prophets of God, and to counterfeit their signs and wonders given from Yahveh.  Why?  In order that all Israel would adore (worship) the beast and the dragon!

The dragon is a liar, remember.  The land beast/prophet was an impersonator/liar; the words it spoke and the signs it performed were imitations of God’s words and signs; the false prophet uttered counterfeit words and signs… lying words and signs after the nature of the dragon.  And all those who prefer to hear the imitation prophet and the counterfeit signs are to be put to the sword (Moses’ recorded words in Deuteronomy chapter thirteen).

Now, there are several occasions in the older Scripture in which fire descended from beneath the altar of God in His tabernacle.  And there is one shown to John here in the Revelation (chapter eleven).

Having already read extensively of Elijah’s confrontation with Israel’s prophets of the ba’alim (1 Kings chapter 18), I’ll just read the last few verses to remind you:


36) And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O Yahveh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob), let it be known this day in Israel that you are God, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word

37) Answer me, O Yahveh, answer me that this people may know that you, O Yahveh, are God, and that you shall turn their hearts back."

38) Then the fire of Yahveh fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

39) And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "Yahveh, he is God; Yahveh, he is God."

40) And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of ba’al; let not one of them escape." And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.


Now, this event of fire from heaven (and the other occasions in the older Scripture) was what was given this land-beast to perform in order to cause all Israel to adore the sea beast and the dragon.

And we mustn’t forget the Leviticus chapter ten account of the “strange fire” of Nadab and Abihu, which resulted in their immediate deaths.  The “fire from heaven” performed by the land beast was, indeed, “strange”!

Then, in verse fourteen, the land-beast (the false prophet) tells all Israel to make an image of the sea-beast (by which they might worship it better).  And remember, the beast from the sea is the “spitting image” of the dragon – the serpent of old.

Having now seen the (imitation) sign of the prophet (fire from heaven), causing all Israel to adore the beast, the people of Israel are now led by the false prophet (land-beast) to make an image depicting the sea-beast which, itself, is the very image of the dragon!

And our attention is immediately drawn to the golden calf made by Israel by which they might worship Yahveh better!

The commandment from God was that His holy people must not make any images by which they might worship Him; and the first thing Israel does is make an image!!!  They made an image of a creature, an animal, a beast to help them worship their Creator!

But even though our minds jump immediately to the golden calf in the Sinai, that’s not the primary event that the land-beast in Yahveh’s sign intends to imitate with its “image”.  Remember what this sign of the dragon says; that the beast from the sea (the Roman empire and its god-emperor) is in the image of the dragon, which is the serpent of old!

So, what was the “image” that the land-beast told the people to make?  Listen to what Moses wrote in chapter twenty-one in his fourth book – Numbers:


4)    From Mount Hor (Sinai) they set out by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way.


And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food (manna)."


6)    Then Yahveh sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many of Israel died.

7)    And the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against Yahveh and against you. Pray to Yahveh, that he take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people.


And Yahveh said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live."

So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he could look at the bronze serpent and live.


Now, we shouldn’t be surprised at all that cultic practices and false prophesies have arisen from this passage.  It’s one from which some folks can make up a lot of stuff.  A good example of that can be found in 2nd Kings chapter eighteen, where false prophets in Israel presented incense offering to the brazen serpent!  They were probably some of the four hundred and fifty prophets of ba’al that Elijah killed!

But this is undoubtedly the image of the serpent/beast that the false prophets of Israel foisted upon the people in the last days.  And they probably raised it high above the people, offering them salvation should they look upon it and adore it.  It was the image of the fourth beast which, in turn, was the exact image of the serpent/dragon of old.

So the passage there in Numbers twenty-one is prophetic of the last days of Israel’s existence, as recorded here in the sign of the dragon.  As well, the passage here in Revelation thirteen hearkens back to Moses in the book of Numbers.  And both of them are founded on Yahveh’s curse of the serpent in the garden in Genesis chapter three!

In Moses’ account in his book of Numbers, Yahveh required him to put a completely inert and incapable serpent/dragon up high for all to see, in order that all might know that the serpent of old  is completely under the authority of Yahveh; it has no power whatever over those who adore and worship Yahveh according to His Word.

All who wish to be “saved” from the serpent’s bite need only look upon the cursed serpent’s powerless impotence up there on the pole, and acknowledge Yahveh’s theocratic sovereignty over His creation and His history!  The adoration of Yahveh, Creator and Savior of the world, and obedience to His Word alone, is the answer to a murmuring, discontent and disobedient people.

However, in chapter thirteen of our text, it was the image of the serpent/dragon that was to be adored (exactly the opposite of the purpose for it back in Numbers!  In the last days, the land-beast (the false prophet) raised the image of the serpent and the beast, and caused all the people to adore it (to worship it) as their authority!


And then the false prophets put words in its mouth so that it might even speak!  That’s what false prophets do, isn’t it?  The people don’t ever hear it; the false prophet reports what the image (allegedly) said.  And if you don’t believe the image and adore the image, you’re going to die (verse fifteen).

Can’t help but think of mohammed here; nobody but him ever has heard this “moon-god” say anything.  Nevertheless, if you don’t worship it you’re an infidel, and we’re going to kill you, he said.

But this land-beast (the false prophets of Israel) made an image of the fourth beast (which is, itself, an image of the serpent-dragon); and the image has eyes, but it can’t see; it has ears, but it can’t hear; and it has a mouth, but it can’t speak.  And it is given all authority over the people of the nation to the point that they will die should they not adore it.

They were not (as Israel was to do in the Sinai) to look at it and understand its total impotence under God’s authority; but they were to look at it as their salvation!   The beast and the dragon were to be their saviors, and the image spoke through the false prophets!  They put words in its mouth.

We are informed in the history books (confirmed by the text of the Revelation) that it was the judaist synagogues that enforced submission to the Roman emperor during the forty years after The Lord’s crucifixion.  Their leaders were the priests in the temple in Jerusalem.  And their leader’s charge against Jesus Himself (at His trial) was that He was a rival to the all-embracing authority of caesar (John chapter 19). 

And the synagogue leaders organized economic boycotts against anyone who refused to submit to caesar as king and lord, forbidding all dealings with them… even to the extent of having them put to death!

And during the intense famines and plagues and pestilences brought upon Israel during those years, it became increasingly difficult to buy and sell precious commodities such as food and wine.  And anyone known to refuse submission to caesar was excluded from that very critical process!  They were forbidden participation in commerce!

Verses sixteen and seventeen of John’s text here tells the tale of the chaotic conditions in Israel as the public process completely breaks down and nears its end:


16) and it causes all, the menial and the great, the rich and the poor, the freemen and the servants, that they be provided a mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead

17) so that no one be able to buy or to sell without having the mark: either the name of the beast or the number of its name.


God’s perception here, in the sign of the dragon, is that six categories of citizens (six being the number of man all through the Revelation) six categories are listed here; and they include all inhabitants of the land.

The synagogues (called “synagogues of satan” by the apostles of Jesus Christ) prophetically required that the number, or name, of the beast (the Roman emperor-god) was the identification required for every person in order to buy or sell the basic necessities for life!

The letters of the apostles and Luke’s Acts of the Apostles are studded with organized judaist persecution of our Lord’s elect from the twelve tribes as they’re found and relocated out of Israel, for they would not submit to the image of the beast nor its “sign”.

The “mark of the beast” or “the name of the beast” was its sign of absolute authority over the land and the “holy people”.  The sign is, of course the opposite of the sign and seal of the Lord’s elect who were “marked out” for deliverance.

Listen to it again from chapter seven:


2)    And I saw another messenger going up from dayspring having the Living God’s seal.  And he did cry out in a great voice to the four messengers to whom it was given to injure the earth and the sea, saying

3)    ‘you may not injure the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.

4)    And I did hear the number of the ones who have been sealed, one hundred and forty four thousand have been sealed from all the tribes  of the sons of Israel:


The satanic parody of the mark upon their foreheads or hands is an attempt at vengeful humiliation toward the God of heaven and earth; for His mark on His elect people is the mark of wholehearted obedience to Him and His Law-word (Deuteronomy 6); it is the mark of blessing from Almighty God (Ezekiel 28); it is the sign that one is “Holy (separated out) To The Lord” (Exodus 28).  And it is the mark of Holy Spirit having been poured out over the whole body of the High Priest of His Church.

But Israel’s pseudoprophets and synagogue leaders were fully committed to marking all Israel with the seal of Rome’s authority.  The nation had given its wholehearted obedience, not to Yahveh and His Law-word, but to caesar – the emperor-god of Rome.  It was the fourth beast – the one with the sword!  And Israel capitulated, obeyed, and adored it!

The appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ as Archangel Michael to “mark out” and “seal” all who belonged to Him (as promised in the entire corpus of Scripture) was accomplished by His apostles, as they found, baptized and relocated every last one of them into the Churches among the nations of the Roman empire.

All those remaining were marked with the mark of the beast.

All marked and sealed with the mark of the Christ were delivered from the wrath to come in an exodus out of Israel.  But all who were marked with the mark of the beast were remanded to suffer that wrath.

The Word of God made flesh.  He is the “wisdom”.  He is the Word of God; and the wisdom is herein… here in the Word.  And if one has His mind, it’s easy to calculate the number.  For all of God’s revealed history is precise.