Friday, 12 March 2021
Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Revelation 13:1
There is a variation between manuscripts to start Chapter 13. Some say, “Then he stood.” That would be speaking of the dragon (Satan) of verse 12:17. Others say, “Then I stood.” That would be referring to John as he continues with the visions he is witnessing. Regardless of which is correct, the narrative continues without any damage to the surrounding verses.
What is of note is that the vision that opens Chapter 14 has the Lamb standing on Mt. Zion. That is certainly a sure foundation which is to be distinguished from the sand of the sea which changes with the tides. With that thought in mind, John says, “And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea.”
This is similar to a vision seen by Daniel –
“I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.” Daniel 7:2
The sea is representative of the nations of the world. In their stirring up, it reflects the changing nature of the empires of the world. In particular, it is dealing with those empires that have an impact on Israel. Countless other empires have come and gone, but they didn’t have any relevant effect on Israel. Because of this, they are left out of the biblical narrative.
In these words, Revelation 13 corresponds to the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. The thirteenth letter, mem, pictures water, and it signifies “water,” “chaos,” “mighty,” and “blood.” In this chapter is found the beast rising out of the sea, the waters of chaos.
From this sea of peoples forming new alliances and governments out of the people of the world, John says the one rising up is “having seven heads and ten horns.”
The symbolism is the same as that of the dragon in Revelation 12. There are heads, probably representing individual nations. There are horns, probably representing powerful leaders. Next, John notes that on his horns ten crowns. As seen in Chapter 12, diadems probably reflect kingdoms or nations under a single leader’s rule. The actual interpretation of the heads, horns, and crowns will be evident when the time comes. For now, these meanings are simply best guesses. John finishes the description with, “and on his heads a blasphemous name.”
In this, there are now several differences from the fiery red dragon of Revelation 12 –
In Chapter 12, the beast is seen as a sign in heaven rather than a beast rising out of the sea. The color in Chapter 12 is defined as a fiery red dragon. This is unstated in Chapter 13. In Chapter 12, the dragon has seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems. The beast of Chapter 13 has seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns (Greek: diadéma– the same word as in Chapter 12). Now in Chapter 13, a final variation is that on the heads are a blasphemous name.
With these words, there is another variation in manuscripts. Some say, “a blasphemous name.” Others say, “blasphemous names.” The difference is important, but until the beast is revealed, it is unknown which is correct. Either each head has a different blasphemous name on it, or all of the heads have one blasphemous name on them.
Concerning the similarities and differences to the fourth beast in Daniel 7, the final empire of Daniel’s vision is identified as the Roman Empire. This was an early fulfillment of the prophecy at the time of the destruction of Israel in AD70. However, what appears to be the case is that this same beast will be revived in the end times to become the dominant power in the world.
This has actually been coming to fulfillment in modern times as the EU has risen and is going through its process of solidification. Numerous events have occurred in Greece, Spain, the UK, and elsewhere in this alliance (as a great sea being stirred up). These events are molding it to become the revived empire which finds its roots in the Roman empire that existed so long ago. It is this beast that will usher in the anti-Christ as is noted in Daniel 9:27.
As far as the name (or names) of blasphemy, the word indicates something that occurs against God. And so, whatever this name is, which John hasn’t disclosed, it is something that indicates this beast is supposedly the spiritual banner of the earth. As such, it is taking the place of God. This beast will be located in Rome where the Vatican now stands. This political/religious system will be centered on this area (as will be clearly noted in verses to come).
Life application: The events described here are future, and they are vague enough to keep us from seeing exactly what is coming, but they are precise enough so that when they do come about, there will be no doubt as to what is being referred to. What is certain is that the beasts being described in Scripture are always those that have an impact on Israel. This alone is an indication that God still has plans for the people and the nation. He has not forsaken His promises, and their lack of faithfulness in no way negates His faithfulness.
The word is written, the Lord has spoken, and Israel will again be the central focus of the biblical narrative. For that to happen, the church will first be taken out of the picture. This is the great hope of believers. Someday the Lord will come for His church. Someday, hopefully soon, we shall be with JESUS!
Lord, after the rapture, it is evident that the world will be lined up exactly as Your word says. It will be in a way that is opposed to You and Your gospel message, and yet it will be what the world thinks is correct. Such is the way of false religion, hiding the truth behind blasphemous falsities. Help us to get the word out now about this coming apostasy so that people will know the truth. Amen.