Thursday, 25 March 2021
And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Revelation 13:14
The words here are still referring to the beast out of the earth that had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. This beast:
*Exercises all the authority of the first beast.
*Causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast.
*Performs signs, even making fire come down from heaven.
John continues referring to this beast, saying, “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth.” In verse 13:12, it referred to those who dwell “in” the earth. Here it speaks of those who dwell “on” the earth. The difference may not be important, or it may have significance. As noted in verse 12, the word earth can mean various things, even speaking of those who live in the land of Israel. Here, the word “on” may be used to speak of those who are carnal or worldly-minded. This would provide a reason for the change in preposition. This would then follow logically with Jesus’ words of Matthew 24 (a passage speaking of the tribulation period) –
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.” Matthew 24:23, 24
Jesus didn’t say the elect would be deceived, but only “if possible.” However, those with worldly mindsets (if this is what changing to the preposition meaning “on” is signifying) are said to be deceived by this beast. They are deceived “by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast.”
The signs are the “great signs” referred to in the previous verse and which include causing fire to come down from heaven. Remembering from verse 11 that this second beast is probably a religious organizational structure with two heads (horns). The beast has deceived those who will accept its false religion. The elect of Matthew 24 will see through the deception though. For those whom this second beast deceives, it is “telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image.”
Here, the word translated as “telling” is masculine in Greek, making some determine that this must be speaking of a man. But this does not necessarily follow. The masculine was used in verse 13:8 when referring to the beast there. Thus, it can be simply a means of personification. Or this could be referring to a man who stands as the leader of the beast out of the earth, just as the antichrist stands as the leader of the beast out of the sea.
Again, the preposition “on” is used. This makes it seem probable that it is defining a category of people. As noted, it may refer to the non-elect, or worldly-minded. These people are told to make an image. The word “image” is described by Vincent’s Word Studies –
“Εἰκών is a figure or likeness. Thus Matthew 22:20, of the likeness of Caesar on the coin. Romans 1:24, an image of men, birds, beasts, etc. Colossians 3:10, ‘the image of Him that created him;’ i.e., the moral likeness of renewed men to God. Christ is called the image of God (Colossians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Besides the idea of likeness, the word involves the idea of representation, though not of perfect representation. Thus, man is said to be the image of God (1 Corinthians 11:7). In this it resembles χαρακτήρ image in Hebrews 1:3. Caesar’s image on the coin, the reflection of the sun in the water (Plato, ‘Phaedo,’ 99); and the statue or image of the beast in this passage, are εἰκών.”
With this in mind, this beast out of the earth (maybe the land of Israel, or maybe a religious body, and made up of two leaders who appear to have the best interest of the people in mind) is telling those who dwell on the earth (the worldly-minded) to make an image. If one of the horns of this beast is the high priest in the reestablished temple (as suggested as a possibility in verse 13:11), the use of this word “image” would be especially important. The reason is that the temple service involves the final seven years of Daniel’s “seventy sevens.” It is a seven-year period granted to Israel while still under the Law of Moses. But what does the second of the Ten Commandments, which are the basis for the Law of Moses, say? It is found in Exodus 20:4 –
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;”
The Hebrew signifies an idol or image. Based on the word’s root, the implication is that it is hewn or carved. And so, the meaning of “image” here in Revelation is necessary to determine if this is a violation of the second command or not. The word translated as “image” is found ten times in Revelation. It is seen four times in this chapter and then again in 14:9, 14:11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4.
Again, and again, it is used in connection with the term “beast” and the word “worship.” Therefore, it is a strong indication that whatever the image is, it is an idol. However, what type of idol (carved or otherwise) is not stated. Possibilities will be looked at in verse 13:15. The word translated as “make” in this verse is widely translated. It signifies to make, or to do. Therefore, and regardless of this, the image is made by those who dwell on the earth “to the beast.”
In this, the Greek reads, “make image the beast.” What this means can be debated as well. It can signify “to” the beast, “of” the beast, “for” the beast, “in honor of” the beast, etc. Even the word “image” is given a more specific translation at times, such as “statue.” As you can see, what the translators already believe is how they will make their translation.
The word probably signifies “of” because it seems to fit best with what is coming. It also seems to fit the modern world context. The false prophet has seen the beast have one of its heads receive a mortal wound and yet it recovered. As previously analyzed, it was noted that this was probably a nation within an alliance that will receive a severe wound (militarily, by pestilence, economically, or whatever). It will be so severe that it seemed that nation was dead, but it came back to life. As John says to complete the verse, “who was wounded by the sword and lived.”
The first beast had a head (a nation within its organizational structure) that was wounded so severely it was thought it was a goner, and yet it came back as if from the dead. The second beast out of the earth (Israel? A religious body?) with the two horns like a lamb (seemingly caring rulers) will see this and will deceive the people on the earth (the worldly-minded) and cause them to make an image of that first beast.
Life application: The analyses provided of these future events are almost wholly speculation. The main points of consideration – such as a beast, a head, a horn, and a diadem – can be reasonably interpreted based on past depictions (such as from the book of Daniel). However, there is a point where a particular analysis must become pure speculation. Until the present meets up with the future, these things will remain obscure.
Therefore, to be dogmatic about an interpretation is not smart. Any interpretation is speculative.
The main thought here is that if the head of the first beast could survive as it did, then it is obviously a pattern worth emulating. This then will be a worldwide system based on this pattern – a system which will be able to control not just a coalition of countries, but inclusive of Israel. Jesus’ words to the people of Israel of Matthew 24 were speaking of events in their future, at a time under law. But those who have come to Him will not be under law. They will have entered their rest, as referred to in Hebrews 4.
For those now in the dispensation of grace, the way to be kept from this time of trial coming upon the whole earth is to accept God’s provision as found in the gospel. God sent His Son, he did the work, and God asks us to believe. Let us do so today. Let us put our faith in JESUS.
Lord God, when the events of Revelation come to pass, they will fulfill Your prophecy perfectly. Only after these things occur will it be seen clearly. Until then, help us to be alert and on guard against the wiles of the devil. Give us wisdom in determining Your will for our lives. Thank You for hearing our prayer. Amen.