The two beasts that are described in this chapter represent the two human and at the same time monstrous instruments, which will be used by satan in the end time. The first beast will come up out of the sea, the well-known image of the nations (Rev 17:1515And he *said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.; Isa 17:1212Alas, the uproar of many peoples
Who roar like the roaring of the seas,
And the rumbling of nations
Who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters!
; cf. Dan 7:2-32Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.3And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.). This beast is therefore also a pagan ruler over a pagan kingdom. The second beast comes up out of the earth. The earth represents Israel. The second beast is the antichrist who will reign over the apostate Israel. In these two beasts both characteristics of satan – violence and lie – are exposed (Jn 8:4444You are of [your] father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [nature], for he is a liar and the father of lies.). The first beast is more characterized by violence, the second by lies.
V11And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns [were] ten diadems, and on his heads [were] blasphemous names.. Because of his plan to make war against the rest of her offspring, the dragon stands on the sand of the sea. Then “a beast coming up out of the sea” is described. Before the eyes of John – and through his description before your eyes too – it rises up from the sea. He sees a ruler rising up, right from the middle of the turbulent and unmanageable nations, out of that great mass of people. It is the same person like the person that rose up from the bottomless pit (Rev 11:77When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.; 17:88“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.). His rising up from the bottomless pit indicates his demonic origin. This is no one else than the dictator of the restored Roman empire, the United Western Europe.
That it is him we are talking about, will become clear from what you see further. ‘Horns’ are a picture of power. The form of that power is to be derived from the ‘crowns’ that he wears on his horns. That indicates that this beast has authority over royal rulers. In relation to the horns and crowns the number ‘ten’ is mentioned. By that you know that it is about ten kings (Rev 17:1212The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.; Dan 7:2424As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.). They are subjected to the government of the beast.
John also mentions that this monster has “seven heads”. Of these heads it is said in chapter 17: “The seven heads are seven mountains” (Rev 17:99Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits,). The question now is what the mountains represent. It is a historical fact that in the ancient days the city of Rome was known as ‘the city with the seven hills’. This makes clear that Rome is the political center of this monstrous ruler.
The seven heads, however, are not only an indication of the location where the power is seated. They also represent seven kings (Rev 17:1010and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.). That is an indication of seven forms of government by which the Roman empire has been ruled consecutively. Verse 33[I saw] one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed [and followed] after the beast; expands further on that. What John also sees, is that this political power is against God and resists Him. He sees “a blasphemous name” on his heads. The beast adorns himself with blasphemous names, probably names that are only to be ascribed to God.
V22And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like [those] of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.. The description of the beast is not yet finished. John has more to tell. In this beast he recognizes characteristics of three different animals. He mentions “a leopard”, “a bear” and “a lion”. If you put Daniel 7:4-6 (Dan 7:4-64The first [was] like a lion and had [the] wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.5And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs [were] in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’6After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.) next to it for a moment, then you read that Daniel sees the same animals. Only, he sees them in reverse order. Daniel sees a lion first, then a bear and thirdly he sees a panther or leopard. That’s because Daniel looks ahead, while John looks back.
These animals represent empires. Daniel lived in the time of the Babylonian empire, represented by a lion. That empire was destroyed because the Medes and the Persians conquered the empire. Due to the brutality with which they operated, that empire is represented by a bear. But also their government came to an end. Greece, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, conquered the empire of the Medes and Persians with a stunning speed. Therefore the leopard is a suitable symbol for it.
Daniel also speaks about a fourth beast. He says of it that it is a “dreadful and terrible and extremely strong” beast (Dan 7:7-87After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.8While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great [boasts].). Historically this beast represents the Roman empire that conquered the empire of the Greeks. Prophetically we see this empire back in the beast that John is seeing here. The beast is both the restored Roman empire and the head of that empire. This empire and this head possess all cruel characteristics of the fourth animal, in which John sees all cruel characteristics of the three animals mentioned.
Can you imagine? The beast rises up from the sea, which means that the dictator floats to the surface. The ten kings, the rulers of different countries that together form the Western Roman empire, are inseparably connected to him. This dictator has power over them, which he exercises from Rome as his center of power. He manifests himself blasphemously and with a cruelty that is represented metaphorically by the three tearing animals, which are described.
And who is hiding behind this, who makes sure that he becomes that mighty? The dragon, which is the devil (Rev 12:99And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.). Here the devil grants direct authority to someone who indeed takes this out of his hand. Of course these things can only happen, because God allows them to. And He allows them to happen because they fit into His plan. But the point is that the dragon is the inspirer of the beast. The beast has power, he reigns and has great authority because the devil has given this to him.
Here you see a huge contrast between the beast and the Lord Jesus. Once satan offered the Lord Jesus all kingdoms to take them out of his hand (Mt 4:8-98Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”). But the Lord refused it. He did not want to run ahead of God’s time to become King. He wanted to receive the kingdom and the power out of God’s hand (Dan 7:13-1413“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14“And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.; Psa 2:88‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the [very] ends of the earth as Your possession.
). That implied for Him humiliation and the death on the cross. It is important for you too not to seek any favor in the world. Satan loves to give that to you. In that way you can escape suffering. When satan approaches you with such seductions, you are to respond like the Lord Jesus did (Mt 4:1010Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”).
V33[I saw] one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed [and followed] after the beast;. Then John sees that one of the heads of the beast was as it had been slain. This is to indicate that the Roman empire has perished and disappeared. From history we know that in the year 476 the Western Roman empire at that time was inflicted with a fatal blow. Rome was then conquered by the Teutons. What John saw at the moment he was watching (he saw it around the end of the first century) was still to come to pass. It was going to happen after some centuries.
But to God the future has no secrets. He informs us about things happening in the future as far as He considers them to be important for us to know. He does not do that to satisfy our curiosity, but that we may live accordingly (2Pet 3:11-1211Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,12looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!). Therefore God shows to John (and to you) what more is going to happen.
Then John sees that the fatal wound was healed. To John that did not lie in the nearby future, but in the far future. It’s what we see to be happening in our days! To us that is the nearby future. A restoration of the Western Roman empire is taking place before our eyes. But watch carefully: this happens by the power of satan! This restoration does not happen through a new conquest with violence, but through diabolic inspiration and deliberation. John sees how this restoration stirs up admiration and adoration from the world.
V44they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”. The people will be very aware that the dragon, which is satan, has given his power to this empire. They hate God that much, they have been alienated from Him in such a way that they worship the dragon as their god in an open, general and limitless admiration. They will also worship the beast. They provoke and blaspheme God by crying out statements about the beast that apply to God alone (cf. Exo 15:1111“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in praises, working wonders?
; Mic 7:1818Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
). To them the beast is not to be compared to anyone else and nobody can compete with him to defeat him. That will be the result when Europe becomes one whole.
In case you may be excited about that one Europe, then I hope, due to what God’s Word is saying here, that will turn into a shivering going down your spine. You will now be very well aware that satan is the origin of it and that it ends up in worshiping satan! That with the referendum about the European constitution on 1 June 2005 many Christians in the Netherlands have voted ‘against’, does not necessarily reflect their opinion of Europe. The argument that mattered most to vote ‘against’ was that in that constitution no reference to God and the Jewish Christian roots of the European Union had been written down. In case that had happened, then the Christians probably would have plainly voted ‘for’! That is staggering.
Now read Revelation 13:1-4 again.
Reflection: What is astonishing about the beast?