Chapter 13 is a continuation of the confrontation that began in chapter 12. Since it’s the same “story”, it continues to be symbolic while conveying the truth of events.
Let’s define the symbols.
The Beast– this is the Antichrist
The “other” beast– the False Prophet that leads people to worship the Antichrist
Together it could be said that Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet make something of a satanic trinity.
Here’s a breakdown of the events.
The “beast” comes out of the sea (waters in Scripture often refer to the whole of the people of the earth) — this “beast” arises as a leader from out of the people of the Earth. He is the Antichrist, having great power and authority from Satan, “the dragon”. He has ten horns (horns in Scripture usually symbolize authority)– this speaks of a ten-nation federation that the Antichrist will have under his demonic control. He will receive a fatal head wound, but come back to life.
Because of his great power and authority, and the “miraculous” resurrection, the world will be amazed and will follow his leadership. They will also worship satan as a result of the Antichrist, and will also worship the Antichrist himself. People will be enamored with his power and authority. His demonic anointing will have great sway over the people of the, and particularly those who do not know God. He will be in power for 42 months, and will blaspheme God and will make war against the people of God. During his reign his will have power over people all over the globe, except those who do not belong to Christ.
Verses 9-10 are staggering in two ways. Let me put them here for clear reference:
9 He who has an ear, let him hear.
10 If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword he will be killed.
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
John sounds a clear warning here for the Church (note the similar language as used in the messages to the churches, “he who has an ear…”). The news is this: There will be those of God’s people who will be captured and killed.
But, we are those who do not fear death! Death has no sting! Actually, it seems that there’s a special place in the heart of God, and special reward for those who die as martyrs! and, it is our DESTINY to “love not our lives, even unto death”, it is our calling to “hold fast to the word of our testimony”, that we will remain faithful even in inmprisonment and death, we will not turn away. Even the last part “this calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” alludes to a promise, we will endure, we will make it through! This is not our end, it is our greatest hour, to stand in the midst of great adversity as the people of God, resisting the sway of satanic power on the earth.
The False Prophet comes on the scene, speaks with the words of Satan (deception), and uses demonic miracles to cause the people of the earth to worship the Antichrist. He will set up an idol of the Antichrist and give it supernatural power to speak. Those who refuse to worship the image of the Antichrist will be killed.
It is also the False Prophet who impliments the system where people will be required to take “the mark of the beast” in order to buy or sell anything.
So, what do you do with this information?
Well, as they say, “knowledge is power”. If you know what is going to happen, before it happens, you can better prepare for it, right? Well, WHAT A GIFT this book is! We have detailed account of what the Antichrist kingdom will do, years beforehand! We can (and should) begin to prepare now! And, what a powerful tool this book will be in the day when these things actually occur! Think of it, you could warn your neighbor about the Antichrist kingdom and even tell them what he will do next — talk about a tool for evangelism! Once you’ve told them one thing and then it happens, they’ll coming running to get salvation!
Here are some practical thoughts I have for us today:
1. Make study of Revelation a regular part of your study of the Word (i.e. not just once every 10 years). Believing that we are living in end-times, this information is about to get VERY relevant, and the Lord needs a people equipped to “stand” and “endure”, as we have read. So, if you like to study the Epistles for their practical life application to everyday life, study Revelation as is is the script for the near future (you or your children will be alive, most likely), and you don’t want to be caught unaware when the events begin to unfold.
2. Learn to “deny yourself”. Jesus said “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” and “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.(Matthew 16:24-25). True life is found in laying our life down for the sake of Jesus. This means giving up what we want for what He wants and seeking to serve others, considering them better than us (Philippians 2:3). If we are to be those who “loved not our lives, even unto death”, it starts now in abandoning all at the feet of Jesus, and humbling serving those around us. This will not be a final exam that you cram for at the last minute :). The cross was a place where people went to die. It’s what Jesus did for us, and we are called to do the same for Him (figuratively, and perhaps someday, literally).
3. Embrace the adversities of life. John said “this calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints”. As mentioned in chapter 9, God uses every difficult situation of life to produce something good in us (primarily, more of the character of Jesus!).
As a reminder:
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 …our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Thank You, Lord that life is not easy! Thank You that you are forming eternal glory in me through the trials of life! Thank You that you are using these situations to develop perserverance in me TODAY, so that in that Day I will stand, I will endure, and “keep the Word of Your testimony”! Thank You for loving me enough to not let me stay soft and weak and immature! I want to grow into the mature image of Jesus!