Revelation 13: 2-4
Revelation 13:2 NASB And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
The beast in this passage is four empires. Three have come and gone; the fourth may be upon us now. Be very clear, in this passage the beast is not an individual unless that individual is a fallen angel.
It would be understandable if the speaker had said the power was given to them. We could then try to rationalize that he is referring to individuals, leaders within those empires. Following that train of thought quickly falls apart because the second empire, the bear, is defined as the Medo-Persian empire – a split empire clearly run by several leaders. If you throw the Alexandrian empire into the mix it does not work either for Alexander dies in his early thirties, leaving others to fight over the rule of the empire. The Alexandrian empire is eventually split four ways and in the end is controlled by the Seleucid and Ptolemaic reigns. No decisive winner here either.
Revelation 13:2 CEV The beast that I saw had the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The dragon handed over its own power and throne and great authority to this beast.
Looking at the verse from other translations may give you a bit more clarity.
The dragon is Satan. (Yes, I am aware that he has a multitude of names.)
Think about this. Satan offered Jesus this same deal. You do not believe that, I can tell.
Matthew 4:8-9 KJV Again, the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; (9) And saith unto him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
Jesus response may have been delivered with an anger that we do not understand (Several translations put his response in all capital letters. In electronic etiquette that would mean he yelled at Satan). Consider: Jesus was God in the flesh and, a role he chose for the sole purpose of rescuing us, the world. To have Satan, a created being and one that he created throw the world he created back in his face would have been an incredible attempt at slapping God in the face. At the same time, to Satan, this was a credible and valid offer.
Jesus responded with:
Matthew 4:10 YLT Then saith Jesus to him, `Go--Adversary, for it hath been written, The Lord thy God thou shalt bow to, and Him only thou shalt serve.'
- The word gave, according to Thayer is: to supply, furnish, necessary things
- Him: αὐτός autos Thayer Definition: 1) himself, herself, themselves, itself 2) he, she, it.
- Notice this word power: dunamis Thayer Definition: 1) strength, power, ability.
Power is also used to describe the Holy Ghost coming upon the new Christians.
Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:... The word power here is the same word dunamis and it means precisely the same thing. Only in this case instead of the dragon distributing powers the Holy Spirit from God is giving out strength, power and ability.
- Throne: thronos Strong's definition: (to sit); a stately seat (“throne”); by implication power or (concretely) a potentate: - seat, throne.
Let's take the concepts driving the words and put them back together in a sentence.
And the dragon supplied this ability, the driving force that makes the beast what it is (the Greek word can mean it.) with his own power and ability. Since Adam had the dominion over the earth his rebellious act allowed Satan/the dragon to acquire the authority to subjugate everything on the earth to his domination.
(BDB Definition:1) to rule, have dominion, dominate, tread down. 1a) (Qal) to have dominion, rule, subjugate
Since the beast initially comprises four empires and John sees them as one, then there must be a commonality between them. What are the possibilities?
- The captivity of Israel.This only seems to work for three of them, at least that is what we can see from history. Of the countries that invade Israel in the last days, and they will take Israel captive, what do those ten have in common?
- Islam under a unified caliphate, that may or may not have to happen,
- and an overwhelming hatred of Israel.
- Another common factor is God's plan.Proverbs 21:1 BBE The king's heart in the hands of the Lord is like the water streams, and by him it is turned in any direction at his pleasure.
The idea then that God moves people around, both good and bad, is a strong possibility and one that alarms us; why? Because we want to be in control and the truth is we are not and God is.
- The last and least defined common trait is the religious theme.Daniel 7:23 tells us this fourth kingdom shall be diverse from the others. Perhaps the religious theme still applies but what is different? There was no Islam during the first three kingdom reigns
A strong clue that helps to define this last empire is Daniel 9:26.
Daniel 9:26 ESV And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
“.. and the people of the prince that shall come,”
This is the Islamic caliphate or at the least coming out of the Muslim nations. History proves it out for both Josephus and Tacitus recorded the details that explained how the Roman army was drawing conscripts from conquered nations and that at the time of the temples destruction the armies may have been entirely from surrounding nations and brought their intense hatred of the Jews with them.
One of my resources (The History of the Christian Church) referred to these people that destroyed Jerusalem and the temple as the Mohammedans. It would make sense that followers of Mohammed would be called this, no differently than followers of Christ obtained the name Christians.
and the dragon gave him his power and his seat and great authority.
We have not established anything other than the fact that the beast of this passage is not a man, and yet we have terminology like this.
Revelation 13:3 BBE And I saw one of his heads as if it had been given a death-wound; and his death-wound was made well: and all the earth was wondering at the beast.
If this beast is not a man and its origin is four empires, then where does this head come into play? Jump back into Revelation.
Revelation 13:1 BBE And he took his place on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads unholy names.
In this passage the beast has seven heads. The heads again represent nations or empires. We need to stay clear here. The beast is clearly defined as three kingdoms on earth and if you are paying attention to details scripture subtly defines the fourth. We have descriptions here in Revelation 13, Daniel 2, and Daniel 7. So the head that sustains what appears to be a fatal wound is one of the empires that make up the beast.
Thayer also describes the word head (kephalē) metaphorically as anything supreme, chief, prominent.
The word used for head is kephalē and shows up 76 times in the New Testament. In Matthew 14:8 it is referring to the head of John the baptist, and yet in Ephesians 1:22 it is demonstrating that Christ is the head over the church; a ruling authority. Since the beast is an oddly built creature used to direct us to look at empires and ruling authorities, then we should perceive it as such.
We know of several heads already: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Alexandrian. None of these ever regained it's life and power so we can rule them out as the rebirth of the fourth beast or head.
Many like to attribute the fourth empire to the revived Roman empire, but it never regained its life once it was killed off, so we should be able to write it off the list of wounded heads. The only empire that was effectively killed off and has regained it's life was the Ottoman empire, an Islamic empire. Which, by the way, seem to cover almost the exact same territory that the Roman empire covered.
Ottoman Empire, empire created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia. One of the most powerful states in the world during the 15th and 16th centuries, it spanned more than 600 years and came to an end only in 1922, when it was replaced by the Turkish Republic and various successor states in southeastern Europe and the Middle East. At its height the empire included most of southeastern Europe to the gates of Vienna, including modern Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Greece, and Ukraine; Iraq, Syria, Israel, and Egypt; North Africa as far west as Algeria; and most of the Arabian Peninsula. (From Britannica.com)
Expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
To the world, they (the Islamic caliphate under the Ottoman empire) were effectively dead until we witnessed what appeared to be the rebirth of the Caliphate in 1979 in association with the Iranian revolution. Since then Islam has progressively become a dominant force in the world.
Ezekiel described these nations of the fourth empire:
Ezekiel 38:1-9 ESV The word of the LORD came to me: (2) "Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him (3) and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. (4) And I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great host, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords. (5) Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; (6) Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes--many peoples are with you. (7) "Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them. (8) After many days you will be mustered. In the latter years you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land whose people were gathered from many peoples upon the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste. Its people were brought out from the peoples and now dwell securely, all of them. (9) You will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you.
You can expect to see the former nations of the Ottoman empire involved in this attempt to destroy Israel. God will not tolerate this one, and though much destruction is done to Israel and a remnant have to flee into a safe place in the desert, God will rain down hail stones, fire and brimstone upon these nations. They will turn upon themselves and you can expect to see only a sixth of the army fleeing for their lives. Everything about this scenario in Ezekiel 39 sounds like a nuclear blast, but clearly God is involved.
And all the world wondered after the beast.
Revelation 13:3 AMP And one of his heads seemed to have a deadly wound. But his death stroke was healed; and the whole earth went after the beast in amazement and admiration.
Again I caution you to stay clear on what we are dealing with, an empire. Hardly anyone understands what the beast, at this point, is. It seems that you almost have to look back into history to see it. Fortunately we have that window of opportunity.
Because we know that not every aspect of the four empire beast comes back to life these people that comprise the whole earth cannot be described as a global awe but a community (The Islamic community). I might be a little narrow minded here for there is not a nation on the earth that does not have an Islamic presence in it. Some are majority Islamic in their populace and therefore enforce Sharia law upon the citizens. That statement in itself almost proves that the scripture could easily be fulfilled based upon Islamic influence alone.
Did the world wonder at what was going on in Iran as the revolutionaries took the American Embassy hostage? I suspect we outsiders all thought it was merely trouble makers flexing their muscle as they shook off the government of the Shah of Iran.
The revolution was unusual for the surprise it created throughout the world: it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution (defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military), produced profound change at great speed, was massively popular, and replaced a westernising monarchy with a theocracy based on Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (or velayat-e faqih). Its outcome—an Islamic Republic "under the guidance of an extraordinary religious scholar from Qom"—was, as one scholar put it, "clearly an occurrence that had to be explained". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Revolution)
The effects of the Iranian revolution did not go away, it spread throughout the globe quietly at times and violently at others. I suspect that some began to grasp the immensity of Islam's potential for violent influence when Ahmedinejad was elected President of Iran. A devout follower of the current Ayatollah, Ahmadinejad has espoused some of the most hateful and violent rhetoric against Israel and the United States, and yet we do not take him serious enough. President Ahmadinejad has stood before the United Nations and told them straight out that he intends to bring about the cataclysmic circumstances that usher in the awaited Mahdi, and still we do not take him serious.
In the meantime Libya and Egypt have fallen, in a sense Iraq has fallen, Syria is on the verge of collapse, and Moscow has surprisingly become friends with the enemies of peace. Syria becomes extremely important seeing as Damascus was prophesied against as being totally destroyed.
Isaiah 17:1 NASB The oracle concerning Damascus. "Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city And will become a fallen ruin.
Jeremiah 49:27 NASB "I will set fire to the wall of Damascus, And it will devour the fortified towers of Ben-hadad."
If there is a world in awe it is the Muslim world, for they now have a strength and bravery fortified by substantial gains all over the world; the rest are merely taken aback by the way they have subtly overrun cities within the US, Britain and Europe in general. They have well developed plans for taken over school systems, PTA boards and city councils. Islam has every intent to run the world under sharia law and the days scantily clad women, homosexuality, and drinking will be gone. It is not just Christians and Jews they are after. They are after anyone that does not comply with the will of Allah.
“...the whole earth went after the beast in amazement and admiration”
Another version put it this way: Revelation 13:3 CJB One of the heads of the beast appeared to have received a fatal wound, but its fatal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed after the beast in amazement.
Do you realize how rapidly the Islamic population is growing? Do you know that if they rape your neighborhood women and all of them have babies from these rapes they consider them Islamic children and count them as such. No, that does not mean necessarily that they get taught the Quran, Jihad, and the associated Jewish hatred but it certainly helps pump up your numbers when Islamics are counting heads.
It is easy to say the whole earth is following the Islamic beast and especially in admiration. They believe with all that is in them that their way is the better way, especially if you are a man. You have to understand that scriptures tells us that the god of this world (Who is that? The Dragon/Satan) has blinded them to the truth.
2 Corinthians 4:4 CJB They do not come to trust because the god of the `olam hazeh has blinded their minds, in order to prevent them from seeing the light shining from the Good News about the glory of the Messiah, who is the image of God.
he gave his authority to the beast
Revelation 13:4 NASB they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?"
The “they”, as I have been saying, is the Islamic world. Do you really believe that they worship the dragon, Satan? Muslims do believe in evil spirits and many report they are haunted by them. In the United States I believe that we have enough kooks that might say something like that, knowing full well it would irritate the Christian community and demonstrate their antagonism for God.
But to be honest, in this passage, it almost feels like the dragon has suddenly shifted characters. Let me attempt to explain. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, come to earth as a man, and he retains that image even today. How is that? They are the same just as a son inherits the characteristics and name of his father. If that father carried some title and clout that could be passed along, like they do in England, then the son too becomes quite powerful without even sitting upon the throne.
Have we not already seen the dragon, much like God gave man dominion, give all his authority and power to “the beast”? What would it take for you to recognize that fact? Signs and wonders? You bet, because even in the Islamic community seeing enhances believing, and this is exactly what the Antichrist and the false prophet do.
“.. and who is able to wage war with him?"
Already we have gone to war because Islamic jihadists have blown up 3000+ people with airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers in Manhattan. I am not sure you can remember all the bombings associated with Islamic terrorism or Jihad as they like to call it. Unfortunately for those outside of Islam Jihad can come in so many forms. Obviously the beast wages a war, and though we struggle against their war, can you honestly say we are winning? Small skirmishes maybe, but like the Russians who waged war against the Taliban we are getting chased out of there as well.
When Christians get together you will get a wide variety of beliefs and opinions about when the rapture will come and associated tribulations. I contend that Jesus statements in Matthew 25 explaining and contrasting his coming for his own with Noah and Lot tell us that he will rescue us (the majority) only moments before all hell breaks loose. If you have read about Noah and Lot then you know that from the time God pulled them out to the time destruction came was either immediate in Noah's case, to possibly hours with Lot. I feel strongly that what I am talking about as I attempt to make the book of Revelation understandable, will have taken place before these things take place.
On this note I strongly urge you to turn your life over Jesus Christ. Ask him to make his home in you and receive you into the kingdom of God when that day comes. Should you choose to remain rebellious and find yourself on the worst side of the tribulation years there is still hope. Ask him into your life. Commit yourself to him and arm yourself with the Holy Spirit of God (He will still be here to guide you.) I truly believe that the two witnesses, sent from God, will be an example for those who choose to follow them as examples of how walk in God's strength. In the second chapter of Acts Peter stood and addressed the crowd, telling them:
Acts 2:16-21 KJV But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; (17) And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (18) And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (19) And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: (20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (21) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.