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Revelation 13:11–18

“I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It 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” (vv. 11–12).

Satan’s favorite schemes involve making a counterfeit of what comes from God in order to draw people away from God. Paul says, after all, that the devil disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Satan’s use of the beast from the sea in Revelation 13:1–10 and the beast from the earth in verses 11–18 evidences the devil’s love of counterfeiting holy things. For instance, the beast from the earth puts a mark on those who worship the beast from the sea, indicating that they belong to him (vv. 16–17). This mark counterfeits the seal that God puts on His saints to mark them out as His (7:1–8). Moreover, the beast from the sea appears to have been resurrected (13:3, 14). He is a counterfeit of Christ, who truly rose again from the grave.

Since the beast from the sea is a false messiah, many commentators identify him with the Antichrist, a final leader of God’s enemies who arises just before Christ returns. In light of this text and other passages such as 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4, the appearance of a final Antichrist is certainly possible. Yet, we must not forget that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world (2 John 7). Indeed, many antichrists will attempt to destroy God’s people (1 John 2:18). Every false teacher and persecutor of the church follows the spirit of antichrist.

Today’s passage describes the beast of the earth, who uses false signs and wonders to entice people to worship the beast of the sea (Rev. 13:11–18). His work reminds us of the ancient magicians in Egypt who were able to mimic some of Moses’ signs (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7). In the first-century Roman Empire, there were also many pagan “prophets” who used sleight of hand to fool people into thinking their gods did miracles. Couple this with the fact that emperor worship was led by local leaders across the empire, and we get a picture of the government’s broad use of false religion to serve its purposes and the willingness of false teachers to collaborate with the enemies of God’s people. Sadly, human governments throughout history have used false religions to reinforce their power and get support against Christianity. Even sadder, many professing Christians have collaborated with governments against the true church of Christ.

The beast of the earth compels people to receive the mark of the beast on their right hands and foreheads in order to do business. In the first century, economic success often required participation in the cult of the emperor (Rev. 13:16–17). Sometimes evil men will force believers to choose between Christ and making a living.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Irenaeus of Lyons, an important early church father, comments, “There is in this beast, when he comes, a recapitulation made of all sorts of iniquity and of every deceit.” Those who rise to oppose God’s people will employ all manner of sin and deceit to do so. Knowing this helps us to be wise and to be on the lookout for those who are attempting to lead the church astray.

For Further Study
  • Exodus 8:16–19
  • Deuteronomy 11:1–17
  • 2 Timothy 3:1–9
  • Revelation 16:12–16

The Authority of the Beast

A Song of Victory

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From the November 2020 Issue
Nov 2020 Issue