Section B: Prophets Speak Out
The thirteenth chapter of Revelation brings us face to face with a great religious crisis. In studying the symbols of Bible prophecy, whenever a world power works against the people of God, that power is depicted as a beast. So in Revelation 13 two beasts are described as making war on God’s people. The first is a leopard-like beast; the second is a beast having two horns like a lamb. When we look at each of these beasts, we will see that they work together in the last days.
The First Beast
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name or blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him power, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 13:1, 2
This leopard-like beast had many of the characteristics of the great red dragon of Revelation 12. It also had seven heads and ten horns. Furthermore, it had characteristics from each of the creatures of Daniel 7.
Let’s examine its characteristics and see what they mean:
Characteristic 1 – Rises out of the sea
Meaning: “And he saith unto me, the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. It comes out of areas with heavy population.
Characteristic 2 – Seven Heads
Meaning: The same as Rome in Revelation 12.
Characteristic 3 – Ten Horns
Meaning: The same as Rome in Revelation 12 and as the dreadful beast in Daniel 7, which is also Rome.
Characteristic 4 – Like a leopard, feet as a bear, mouth of a lion.
Meaning: It is a composite of all the beasts of Daniel 7; it continues the spirit and practices of all these powers.
Characteristic 5 – Given power by the dragon
Meaning: Satan is the dragon, as is the organization through which he worked against God’s people- Rome in its seven different governmental forms.
Characteristic 6 – He has a number – 666 (Revelation 13:18)
Meaning: Note from Douay Bible: “The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number.”
“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:3-8.
We noted in Lesson 13 how the seven heads depicted the seven phases of Roman government. The last phase was the papal power. A deadly wound was inflicted upon this head in the year 1798, when the French General Berthier took the ruling pope, Pius IV, prisoner; the pope died in exile 1 1/2 years later. All the world thought this would end the papacy, but God’s word said, “No” – “His deadly wound was healed.” Consider these facts:
1. Full papal sovereignty was restored by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1929. The Lateran Treaty was the official document.
2. There has been a tremendous growth of Catholic influence in many countries, including the United States.
3. The second Vatican Council was held in 1962-1965.
4. The movement among so-called Protestant churches to be united with Rome has grown rapidly. The Scriptures say that “all the world wondered after the beast.”
Most of the additional characteristics mentioned are the same as we studied regarding the little horn of Daniel 7, except the one mentioned in Revelation 13:6 – “to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” The Catholic Church empowers its priests to forgive sins, but the Scriptures say, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. Jesus was accused by the Jews of blasphemy. Why? Because He forgave sins. “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” Mark 2:7. Jesus, being God, could forgive sin. For man – any man – to claim the right to forgive sin is blasphemy.
In place of the ministration of Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary – see Hebrews 7-9 – the Catholic Church has instituted the idolatrous ordinance of the mass. In this way it has blasphemed God’s sanctuary. For all of the above reasons, this first beast of Revelation 13 can be no other power than the Roman Catholic Church, just as was the little horn of Daniel 7.
This power is further identified in that it would “make war with the saints, and…overcome them.” This was done with relentless fury all during its reign. At least 50 million of God’s true children were destroyed by the direction of this power during the Middle Ages. Furthermore, all people worship this power except a small number – those who have their names written in the Book of Life.
The last link in the chain of evidence is its number 666. The leading title of the pope is “Vicar of the Son of God” – in Latin, Vicarius Filii Dei.
V = 5
I = 1
C = 100
A = 0 F = 0
R = 0 I = 1
I = 1 L = 50 D = 500
U = 5 I = 1 E = 0
S = 0 I = 1 I = 1
____ _____ _______
112 + 53 + 501
Revelation 13:9, 10 predicts the final destruction of this power. See also Revelation 18:5-24. God will judge this apostate power and destroy it in the end.
The Second Beast
Our attention is now drawn to another beast. This one is in many respects entirely different from the leopard beast (Roman Catholic Church), and yet in the end it allies itself with and becomes like the leopard beast. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” Revelation 13:11. See also Verse 12-17.
What a strange mixture this represents – looking and acting at first similar to a lamb and then taking on the attributes of a dragon!
Characteristic 1 – Comes out of the earth.
Meaning: As waters denote multitudes, nations, tongues, and people, the earth must depict an area sparse in population.
Characteristic 2 – Two horns like a lamb.
Meaning: It arises peacefully. The two horns are not crowned, so it does not have royalty. These small horns refer to the two basic freedoms which have been this power’s strength.
Characteristic 3 – Speaks like a dragon.
Meaning: The dragon was a persecuting power, so this power will change from its lamb-like character to that of persecutor.
Characteristic 4 – Causes the whole earth to worship the first beast
Meaning: Its transformation will make it draw attention, not to itself, but to the Roman Catholic papacy.
Characteristic 5 – Performs great miracles, even bringing fire down from heaven.
Meaning: Fire came down on Mount Carmel to show who was the true God, and tongues of fire fell on the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. These miracles must depict a false religious revival, with false miracles. The purpose is deception.
Characteristic 6 – Makes an image to the first beast
Meaning: Something which people can worship which gives homage to the first beast, even if they are not directly worshiping the pope.
Characteristic 7 – Arises at approximately the time the papacy receives its deadly wound, 1798
Meaning: Only one power can fit this description – the United States of America.
Characteristic 8 – Decrees that all people who do not worship the image of the beast should be killed
The leopard – like beast received its deadly wound, as already mentioned, in 1798. Just 22 years before, the United States had won its independence and was slowly and peacefully emerging as a world power. Its two great strengths (two horns) were religious and civil liberty, guaranteed in the Constitution.
But this nation, according to the prophecy, will become a persecuting power, a combination of church and state to enforce the dogmas of Roman Catholicism – the “mark of the beast”. To accomplish this, the Constitution will somehow have to be circumvented or altered. All people will be coerced on pain of economic deprivation and finally death to accept this mark. No other world power meets the characteristics of this second beast of Revelation 13 except the U.S.A.
To properly understand what this mark is, we need to look for that teaching which the Catholic Church uses to prove its authority.
“Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?”
“Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” – Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, p. 174.
This point will determine the eternal destiny of each person on earth. Only one of two choices will be possible: Either (1) accepting Sunday, the institution of the Catholic Church, or (2) obeying the fourth commandment of God, which declares that the seventh day is the Sabbath.
According to Revelation 13:16, this mark will be received by individuals in one of two ways – in their right hand or in their forehead. The hand is what people work with, and so some will obey Sunday legislation for economic reasons and as a convenient “day of pause”, as some have called it. Others will accept it in their foreheads – the seat of their convictions, thus for religious reasons. Unless one receives this mark one way or another, his privilege of doing business will be withdrawn. But opposite the mark of the beast is the seal of God, which will be studied in the next lesson.
What a crisis this will be! Think for a moment how you would live if all your money and credit cards were taken away! But God warns what will happen to everyone who obeys the Sunday law: “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” Revelation 14:9, 10. This Correspondence Course is one means God is using to spread this warning.
Dear soul, what will your decision be in the day of decision? Only as we obey God’s commandments today will we be able to stand that last great test. To stand firm in spite of human threats and persecution is to reap rich rewards – to be accounted worthy to live with God for eternity! Revelation 14:1-5 describes this class which is obedient to God. Let us make certain that we are among the group, not which accepts the mark of the beast, but which has the Father’s name written in their fore-heads – a sign of their faithfulness to the principles of heaven.