Image above is “The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea” by William Blake 1805. Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.
We see in Revelation 13, the alliance between Satan (Dragon), State (Beast from the Sea), and false religion (Beast from the Land) to oppose God and persecute His people.
vs. 12 [The Beast from the Land] exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. [ESV]
Compare Genesis 3:15 to see the meaning of the wounding of Satan’s head.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise* your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (ESV, emphasis mine.
*Bruise (Shooph in Hebrew) means figuratively, to overwhelm — break, bruise, cover. The serpent’s poison is lodged in its head; and a bruise on that part is fatal. Thus, fatal shall be the stroke which Satan shall receive from Christ [on the cross]. (see Bible Hub, below.)
“Verse 15 is known as the proto-evangelium — the first Gospel. It proclaims that God’s people will finally triumph over the serpent. The “seed of the woman” is a collective noun, indicating corporate victory. However, if left to ourselves, we cannot win this war. No, it took Jesus, Eve’s seed par excellence, to deliver the crushing blow (Col. 2:15), and if we are in Him, we share in and extend His victory (Matt. 28:19; Rev. 20:4).” (see Proto-evangelium, below).
I. The godless state seeks to mold people into conformity with Satan’s purpose and plans.
To review, the Beast from the Sea is an apocalyptic symbol for a government that opposes God and persecutes His people.
“…The vision is fulfilled in every generation whenever the state, with the help of religious institutions, tries to make itself the object of worship or to claim for itself allegiance that belongs to God alone.” (see Michaels, emphasis mine, below).
The Beast from the Land is an apocalyptic image of false religion which assists the godless state and pressures God’s people to conform to the will and wishes of Satan. Our modern false religion is “secular humanism” where each man is his own god. See Genesis 3:4-5 —
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (see ESV, emphasis mine, below)
“Men who believe they are gods who have the right to determine all things will act in terms of that self-image. A divinized man is sure to be full of himself. Sometimes this results in ego-centrism, selfishness, or a lawless anarchy. Often, too, it results in men pooling their energies to control others.” See Liberty Under God and Its Alternative, emphasis mine, below.)
The so-called “New World Order” in our day is a prime of example of globalists attempting to subdue all people under one worldwide identity. It reminds me of the Tower of Babel — Gen. 11:4 “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”[ESV]
Image from wikipedia in public domain; Illustration of the Tower of Babel, published in Turris Babel by Athanasius Kircher, 1679.
II. False religion aids the State to mold people into conformity with Satan’s purpose and plans.
This literally reads in the Greek—”he does all the authority of the first beast in his presence.” It is evident that the idea is that the second beast has the authority of the Beast from the Sea and that it performs wonders in the presence of it with its approval. The trifecta work together to achieve the same ends.
Daniel 3:4-6 4 “And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Image from Pinterest, saved by Julie Lassetter.
“[the Beast from the Land] makes the earth. . .worship the first beast [from the sea]” — The task of false religion is to bolster up the state. It forces men into conformity to the state. It often uses national tragedy and common national experiences to forge the people into a godless homogeneous society. This society is indicated by the term “the inhabitants of the earth.”
Those of us familiar with Daniel in the Old Testament understand the desire of the state to make people conform to its wishes. The alternative in Daniel is the fiery furnace or the lion’s den.
Image from ARPA Canada at https://arpacanada.ca/news/2019/05/22/ontariobenchers/shadrach-meshach-abednego-2/
Most likely today, people will not be executed for non-conformity. Western countries like taxpayers too much. But if Christians are tortured or executed, remember the fourth man in the fire!
A member of the Church of Almighty God (Christian group in China) has suffered persecution by drugs. She was arrested in 2013, and the police tortured her cruelly, trying to extort a confession from her. The woman developed severe pain in her head, and officers used the pretext of “treating her headache” to deceive her into taking psychotropic substances.
“A few days after taking the drugs, I felt a lot of pain in my stomach and heart, my hands and feet trembled, and I had muscle cramps all over my body. I also vomited from being nauseous and experienced blurred vision,” the woman recalled. Sometime later, a prison doctor advised her to stop taking medication, but the guards continued forcing her to take drugs for ten more months.
“Although it has been two years since she was released from prison, she continues to develop headaches whenever recalling the past. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by vomiting. Besides, her responsiveness rate has dropped a lot, and she has become very forgetful. (see Bitter Winter, below)
III. Deception of people lies at the heart of Satan’s plans to pervert God’s program for mankind.
vs. 13 And [the Beast from the Land] performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. [NIV]
“And he makes great signs, so that fire comes down out of heaven in the presence of men.” This is an obvious parody of the two witnesses’ ministry in Rev. 11. False religion “apes” the true testimony of the Church in order to win men over to its false system. The word for “sign” (sēmeia) is the standard word for “miracle” in the Gospels. These are false miracles.
vs 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. [NIV]
“the earth-dwellers make an image of the beast” — The task of the Beast from the land is to create idolaters out of the earth-dwellers. Image Greek = eikōn, icon) is not just a copy, but is something that partakes of the essential character of the original. Compare I Corinthians 10:18-22 —
18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? [ESV; emphasis mine]
False religion in league with evil government is idolatry. [cf. II Thess. 2:1-12 on this passage.]
Continued next week…the mark of the beast 666!
(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.
Bible Hub. (2020). Accessed 7 November 2020 from https://biblehub.com/hebrew/7779.htm
Bitter Winter. (2019). “Devastated by Drugs: Nightmare of Detained Believers” Accessed 7 November 2020 from https://bitterwinter.org/devastated-by-drugs-nightmare-of-detained-believers/
Death of an Age. (2013). Faith for all of Life May issue. Accessed 5 November 2020 from https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/the-death-of-an-age-and-its-faith
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.
Liberty Under God and Its Alternative. (2005). Accessed 5 November from https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/liberty-under-god-and-its-alternative
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
Proto-evangelium. (n.d.). Tabletalk Magazine. Accessed 6 November 2020 from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/proto-evangelium/
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