Sunday, 14 March 2021
And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. Revelation 13:3
John continues with the symbolism of the beast rising out of the sea mentioned in verse 1. Of it, he now says, “And I saw one of his heads.” In verse 1, the beast was described as “having seven heads and ten horns, and on its horns, ten crowns.”
In Revelation 12:3, the beast was described as “a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.” At that time, the analysis of its meaning was –
A great, fiery red dragon – An entity filled with satanic influence, bent on war.
Having seven heads – Comprised of seven distinct nations.
And ten horns – Under the authority of ten powerful rulers.
And seven diadems on his heads – Seven of the entities are kingdoms or nations under a single leader rule.
If the symbolism is consistent in this verse, the “head” now being mentioned in Chapter 13 is not a person at all. Rather, it is a nation. The horns are kings or powerful rulers (see Revelation 17:12, for example). Of this head John is now describing, he says it is “as if it had been mortally wounded.”
The head receives a blow, thought to be fatal. The same word used here was used of the Lamb that was slain in verse 5:6. The head that is slain here is obviously being set in contrast, and yet in comparison to, the Lamb. The Lamb was as if slain and yet He lives. The head of this beast is as if slain, and yet, “his deadly wound was healed.”
The Greek of these words says, “the wound of death of it was healed.” What is being conveyed is that the head of this beast suffered such a catastrophic blow that it appeared it was finished, and yet it miraculously came back to life. So great is the event that John says, “And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”
When the word “all” is used, it is normally stated as a superlative. For example, at the announcement of the birth of Christ, it says in Matthew 2:3, “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” This does not mean that every single person in Jerusalem heard the news and was troubled. It means that the attitude was pervasive.
With this understanding, the likely analysis is that there is a coalition of nations rising out of the “great sea” of humanity that will have the form and structure described in Revelation. One of the nations will have a seemingly terminal blow to it. However, that nation will resurrect and become a wonder for the world to follow after.
The general analysis of most scholars is that this will be a person who is mortally struck and comes back to life in a manner similar to Christ. Another, and more likely, possibility is that this is referring to a nation or governmental body that comes back from a seemingly mortal wound.
Life application: As noted, the general thought concerning this verse is that this “head” is speaking of an actual leader of the beast rather than a leading body. In other words, it is generally taught that this is a type of “false resurrection” of an individual who is mortally hurt.
However, the seemingly mortal wound (in a figurative sense) to one of the leading bodies, instead of a single leader, seems more plausible. To give an example, if the EU were this beast (speculation!), what is being stated here could be logically described as an alliance of nations. It has and it continues to go through great financial troubles. If one of its “heads,” meaning a nation within the EU, were to receive a mortal wound – a financial disaster so bad that it would seem impossible to overcome – and yet it was to be “healed” to a financially secure position, the world would marvel at the ability of the beast (the EU) to cure its wound, and would follow it in its financial dealings.
The same logic could be used militarily. If a nation within a corporate body of nations was facing complete defeat, and yet it overcame the defeat, the world would marvel at what occurred and follow after the beast. This second type of calamity, of certain defeat being turned into victory during conflict, is a likely scenario because of what is said in the verses ahead.
A person receiving a life-threatening (and even mortal) wound to the head, which is then miraculously healed, may be sensational and exciting, but it certainly wouldn’t cause the world to follow after him. Modern medicine is to the point where this type of thing is common. Although people are always impressed with a person’s ability to overcome such a trial, no one follows after such an occurrence as if they were indestructible.
A great modern-day equivalent is when US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot. She certainly fits the description, but other than being proud of her stamina, no one hailed her as a great and powerful warrior worthy of following. Therefore, the reasonable analysis of this verse is not speaking of an individual, but a corporate body that overcomes certain financial or military defeat to become a force to be reckoned with once again.
In the end, we can only look forward and do our best to try to determine what is being said. But the main point of the analysis is to see what is coming and to know that God already knows the end. Because of this, we would be wise to call out now for His offer of peace and reconciliation. In the terrible times ahead, difficult choices will have to be made. For us now, let us make the right choice. Let us secure our eternal destiny by calling out to JESUS.
Lord God, it is great to look into Your word and draw out from it what You intend for us to see. At times, such as in future prophecy, we can’t be certain about what is being said, but when the event does occur, we are left with no doubt. Thank You for allowing us to analyze these things this way in order to find the true meaning and then wait on its fulfillment. In the end, Your word will be proven true. Amen.