This title is fairly close to what one of the guys said, as he ranted on how no one can understand the book of Revelation.
This particular guy acts like a baby and I am quite certain he would have to be spoon fed to get him through most the Revelation. The oddity is that he was a gunnery sergeant in the military. He of all people knows that there are rules to making and keeping things working, like a mortar. Those things have to be cleaned or they blow up in your face. Where did you learn that skill set? You either read it, or listened intently because you wanted to go home that night.
Why do we not apply this level learning to the word of God?
As you read Revelation 13:1 you get the sense that John is in mid-thought, and it may help us gain clarity and context if we back up a step.
Revelation 12:17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
The dragon/Satan, standing on the sand of the sea, is doing what, looking for more victims? That seems to be his one purpose and goal - killing off those that represent God's kingdom.
Revelation 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.
Satan/the dragon standing on the sand of the sea and now John sees a beast rising up out of the sea.
What John saw, chronologically, places the dragon in the second half of the seven-years of God's wrath being poured out on the earth. Satan is merely a tool to carry out that end. What you do not get a sense for is any precise timing, everything seems to fall within the last of days on earth.
The beast, rising out of the sea, takes us back in time to Daniel, and yet it has an impact on us today. This is not mythical, neither is this a mystery, but deadly real, and this last ruler is alive today.
John was a Jew, and if he failed the memorization aspect of Torah school as a kid, locking him into a job as a deckhand on a fishing boat, that was not the case anymore. Therefore John wrote with an understanding of scripture and prophecy.
I get it, many of you balk at the mere concept of prophecy, but this was God's way of communicating ideas to those who belong to Him, and it is still valid today. John wrote as the Holy Spirit inspired him and it corresponded with words spoken through the hearts of men, inspired by that same Holy Spirit, hundreds of years earlier, such as the prophet Daniel.
To the Jewish mind prophecy is repeatable patterns, so what patterns do we find?
- a beast rising up out of the sea
- with ten horns
- like a leopard
- like a bear
- like a lion
Where else do we find anything like this? The prophecies of Daniel.
Daniel 7:3-7 (3) And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. (4) The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. (5) And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, 'Arise, devour much flesh.' (6) After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. (7) After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
The first beast, like a lion, is explained in Daniel 4:34. It is also the head of gold on the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream and Daniel told him that it was him. This first beast then is the Babylonian empire represented by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity, eventually regaining it when he acknowledged God as supreme.
So, in terms of prophecy, what Daniel describes in chapter four, correlates with Daniel chapter seven. “and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.”
Daniel 4:34 AMP And at the end of the days [seven years], I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding and the right use of my mind returned to me; and I blessed the Most High [God] and I praised and honored and glorified Him Who lives forever, Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion; and His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
Daniel had one more beast than we see in Revelation 13:1-2, but it is not assigned an animal form, however this thing is extremely dangerous, and does have its correlating identity.
"and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns."
We find the iron, in the form of the fourth kingdom, in Daniel chapter two:
And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, (Daniel 2:40-44 )
The ten horns are an aspect of what we saw in Daniel 7:3-7. If you do a search for the "ten horns" you only find it Daniel and the Revelation.
Daniel 7:20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
Daniel 7:23-25 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. (24) And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. (25) And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Revelation 17:7 And the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.
The last aspect of Revelation 13:1 that I want to discuss is:
"and blasphemous titles (names) on his heads."
Seven heads (I suppose this is because you tend to need a head to hold a crown) and each head has a blasphemous name on it.
What does that mean?
I have heard this stated as both a question and a spiritual position "that someone had blasphemed God and committed the unpardonable sin", all my life. However it was Jesus himself that defined what blasphemy was, and he directed his comments at the religious leaders - the pharisees.
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that not with me abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:24-32 )
What did the pharisees do? They attributed the works that Jesus did, the works of “the Holy Spirit” to the devil. Did you notice in the passage that horrible things get said against the Son as well, but those things are forgiven. I am not so sure I see the blasphemy written upon these heads as being forgiven. It does however seem to play a role in their identity.
If each of these heads has blasphemy written upon it, then what is that telling us? It is telling us that these ruling authorities are in opposition to God, and by Jesus definition attributing the work of God to the devil. Is the attribution direct, perhaps not. Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (3) Let not anyone deceive you by any means. For that Day shall not come unless there first comes a falling away, and the man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition, (4) who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself forth, that he is God.
These people or empires are opposing and exalting themselves above all that is called God. What does it mean to oppose all that is called God?
- Because we are in Christ and a part of his body, is it possible that in the spiritual realm we are called God?
- Jesus told everyone that would listen that he was the physical presentation of God. Doesn't that make him God as well?
- Is the Word of God a part of who He is? Jesus was and is the Word, and therefore God.
Who does that, opposing and exalting themselves above God? Many, but one stands out in my mind and it is Islam. A “religion” where converts are demanded to acknowledge that there is only one god, Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger. So coming against even one of God's creation is in effect blaspheming God/the Holy Spirit. (Let that settle in, you will get it.)
While all this can be overwhelming, the key for the believer is to hold to hope. However we have a problem as most of us have no idea what we are hoping in. Hope was the central message preached by Paul and it was based in our knowledge of all Jesus did and our being caught up to be with God. Thinking you are excluded from deadly tribulation just because you are a believer is wrong on so many levels. Jesus guaranteed you tribulation. He even said they will hate you because of your relationship with Him. Nonetheless, as a believer, you are excluded from the wrath that is to come. This wrath is God's wrath being poured out on the earth and its inhabitants, unfortunately people will still be coming to the Lord, and both this beast and the one to come will be actively hunting and killing Christians.