Image above is in the Public Domain “The Devil whispers to the Antichrist; detail from Sermons and Deeds of the Antichrist, Luca Signorelli,” 1501, Orvieto Cathedral
I. Satan uses his allies to lead people away from God.
vs. 11: Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth (or land). It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. [ESV]
I have used the above image several times. It pictures a Roman triumph, but illustrates the relationship between The Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Land. The Roman governor would pay his annual visit to the area he governed. The seven churches of Asia would have seen the governor land from a ship. Soldiers would have lined the route to the Praetorium — the place of his residence. All along the way, people would have small altars where as he passed they would burn incense. It was a part of the Emperor Cult, but incense also masked the vile odors of the city.
My wife and I have walked the route in Ephesus from the upper city down toward the artificial harbor (long since silted up) along the ancient colonnaded street descending from the theater. It is a steady decline to the harbor which today is silted up and swampy. To the first century citizens, it looked like the Roman Governor came up from the Sea. There were headless statues of Emperors all along that inclined wide street. (The bodies were all Augustus-like in pose and clothing; the heads were replaced depending who was the Emperor at the time.)
Image above Ephesus and the Aegean Sea in the past. Image from http://art-now-and-then.blogspot.com/2017/09/ephesus.html
The Theater of Ephesus with harbor street today. Due to ancient and subsequent deforestation, overgrazing (mostly by goat herds), erosion and soil degradation the Turkey coastline is now 2 miles away from the ancient Greek site with sediments filling the plain and the Mediterranean Sea. In the background: muddy remains of the former harbor, bare hill ridges without rich soils and woods. Image above from By Jordan Klein from San Francisco, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0.
The Emperor cult was not forced on Asia Minor. Dead Emperors were declared divine by the Roman Senate and worshiped. This was a given in John’s Day. Asia Minor built temples and worshiped living Emperors. The sane Emperors declined to endorse this practice unless it was also primarily dedicated to Augustus. On the land we see false religion allied with a wicked state.
II. Godless government wedded to perverted religion is a tool to deceive people in and out of the Church.
“Another beast” — John uses the word Greek word for “another” (allos) meaning “another of the same kind.” This beast is similar to the first, wild beast. In Rev. 19:20 this beast is personified as the “False Prophet.” This beast arose from the land or the ground (gēs). The former Beast was “the evil, world system.” This other beast seems to represent false religion allied to evil government. (It is not all false religions, but it is just those which are allied to evil governments.) We see this in N. Korea, where a religion built around the Kim family works to brainwash people into worshiping the supreme leader instead of God.
A modern example of false religion wedded to the State
“North Korea’s indoctrination of its children—ensuring the worship of the ruling Kim family—is one of the first steps the state takes to control 25.7 million people living in the country that has been No. 1 on Open Doors’ World Watch list for the last 19 years. Now, recent changes are tightening even further the country’s grip on its youngest citizens.
“Timothy Cho (substituted picture for safety), a refugee living in Europe, remembers growing up in North Korea and the “brainwashing” he and all young children went through. “Even in nursery school, we had to bow to the pictures of the first leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung and his son, Kim Jong-Il,” he says. As a child, he heard stories of Kim II-Sung having magic powers. “I learned that Kim Il-Sung was able to catch a double rainbow with one hand because of his “majestic powers.”
“Everything in North Korea revolves around the Kim family, Timothy shares. North Korean children are brainwashed so that they will honor the leader of their day. In preschool, the teachers prayed to the leaders at lunchtime. We had to give thanks to the dictators for our “daily bread,” Now, I realize they stole this from the Lord’s Prayer. There’s even a (Santa Claus-inspired) story of Kim Il-Sung bringing gifts if you follow him.” (See Open Doors USA below.)
Stealing the Lord’s Prayer from Christianity and twisting it to fit the Kim family is the the Satanic Trifecta at work in the Twentieth-first Century.
III. Satan’s Beasts (his “tools”) imitate Christ and lead people into active rebellion against God.
“Two horns like those of a lamb” — This beast, like the first, is marked by its imitation of Christianity. The two horns are “lamb-like.” Yet, the mouth betrays the character — it is “dragon-like.” Like in Daniel’s day, that which is out of conformity to God’s Word is idolarty.
“John’s vision is not so much protesting against some isolated aberration in the first century A.D. as [he is] staking out the limits of good citizenship [for believers of all ages].”
“As long as the state is simply the state, an institution created by God (as it was for Paul in Rom 13:1-7) or at least tolerated by God (as it was for Peter in 1 Pet 2:13-17), it is possible for a Christian to be a good and loyal citizen.”
“But when the state oversteps its bounds so as to become God, good citizenship is no longer an option. The battle lines are drawn, even though the Christian’s role in the battle is a passive one governed by the counsel of verse 10: ‘if anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go,’ and ‘if anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.'” (see Michaels, emphasis and bracketed words are mine, below.)
Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (Christian heroes
and martyrs, 1895) WikiMedia commons.
The role of the Christian in an evil state is to follow Christ and His Word, and if necessary, suffer the consequences. This is not an inspiring picture in Revelation 13, but this is the reality most Christians experience daily in the Far East and Africa today. Now we are seeing it brought home to us in the West. It’s just a matter of time. It always costs to be a Christian, and John is making this clear to the First century and the Twentieth-first century Church!
Next time Beast from the Sea, Part 2.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Michaels, J. R. (1997). The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Revelation. Accessed 29 October 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/Beast-Earth
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
NIV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Open Doors USA. (2020). Accessed 10 October 2020 from https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/preschool-with-a-side-of-atheism-north-korea-intensifies-early-brainwashing-efforts/
WikiMedia Commons for Images
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