One-World Power: the Anti-Christian Beast
The following is adapted from "Behold He Cometh: the Power of the Antichrist" and
"Behold He Cometh: the Beast Out of the Earth"
by Herman Hoeksema (1886 - 1965), ©1969 Reformed Free Publishing Association.
REVELATION CHAPTER 13And 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 of 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 his power, and his seat, and great authority. 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? (Revelation 13:1-4)
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. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:5-10)
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. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. (Revelation 13:11-14)
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:15-18)
A COMPLETE PICTURE OF THE ANTI-CHRISTIAN POWER (THE ONE WORLD POWER)The devil’s attempts to frustrate God’s plan in establishing His kingdom have failed:
- Firstly, the devil attempted to oppose the plan of God by preventing the birth of Christ, and he failed.
- Secondly, contemporaneously with the first war on earth, the devil also carried on a war with the angels in heaven for the possession of the saints of the old dispensation, and he was defeated.
- Thirdly, the devil attempted to amalgamate the power of the Church and the power of the world, and again he failed, at least in the respect that he cannot destroy the Church.
In short, in the devil’s last attempt to oppose God’s plan, he simply will realize his own kingdom, or he will attempt to realize it, and boldly set it up. The first attempts were rather negative in nature, always aiming at the destruction of God’s kingdom first of all. This last attempt really consists in this: the devil now will ignore all that has been done by God Almighty: he will ignore that Christ has come and is King; he will ignore that the Church exists and that there is already, in principle, a kingdom of Christ established in the world. He simply will proceed to realize and establish his own kingdom before Christ has an opportunity (speaking from the devil’s point of view, of course) to do so.
In the thirteenth chapter of Revelation, we have a complete picture of this anti-Christian power and kingdom to come. There is, as far as I know, no controversy about this truth. Therefore, we proceed from the assumption that this may be regarded as an established fact: Revelation chapter 13 gives us a picture of antichrist. It is deemed of greatest importance that we should understand the picture, and this is clearly proved by the solemn conclusion of the text: "If any man have an ear, let him hear." If we have no ear, it is, of course, quite a different question. However, if by the grace of God our ears have been opened and we have a spiritual understanding of what God has revealed to us, then let us hear so that we may be instructed from the Word of our God. And let us derive light and strength from the Word of our God so that we shall stand in the evil day.
THE FIRST BEAST: THE BEAST OUT OF THE SEA (THE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT)Let us call your attention, in the first place, to the description of this beast as it is given in the text. John beholds how out of the sea arises a frightful monster. Very naturally it is described in the text just as John must have beheld it in his vision. What he saw first he describes first. Naturally the horns appeared first of all, and John tells us that it was a beast with ten horns. Naturally also the heads followed, and John continues to inform us that the monster had seven heads. He further notices (as details in the description) that the ten horns had ten crowns (royal diadems) and that on the heads there were names of blasphemy written. And finally, he is able to give a general description of this dreadful monster, and he informs us that its general appearance was like that of a leopard, while its feet were like those of a bear, and its mouth a lion’s mouth. And as a detail, which at first he probably did not notice but which he observed upon closer examination, he remarks that one of the heads appears to have been smitten in the past with a death stroke, but that the stroke was healed.
Let us investigate the meaning of this highly symbolic picture: the fact that here again we have symbolism needs no further argument; the text itself indicates this more than plainly. The sea is the birthplace, the source, the origin, of this beast. In this case, there is little doubt that it must be taken in the sense of peoples and nations and tongues as they live on earth under the power and principle of sin. We read of the sea in this sense more than once in Scripture. Isaiah says in Chapter 57, verse 20: "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." In Daniel 7:2-3 we read: "Behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another."
The entire context shows very plainly that nothing else can be meant by this symbolism: the troubled sea represents the nations. Indeed, it is a very fit symbol. The peoples and nations of the earth as they are under the power and principle of sin, and as they develop according to this principle, are indeed like unto the troubled sea: war-swept, revolution-swept, plague-swept, and famine-swept.
Revelation 17:15 clearly proves that this same sea of nations and peoples is meant in the words of our text: the same beast together with the harlot is described once more, but now with a view to its final destruction. And the angel tells us:
"The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."Therefore, we arrive at this conclusion: the beast finds its origin, its source, its birthplace from among the peoples and nations and tongues of the earth as they develop under the principle and power of sin.
The picture is that this sea of nations is swept and in uproar, and it rages and foams till finally this beast comes up as a result. Looking at the beast proper, let us notice that it is a beast, and that too, a wild beast, a monster, just as the dragon was a monster. We may be more or less familiar with this figure; in this case, the Word of God gives us the unmistakable key to its interpretation. In Daniel we also read of beasts, especially of four. And in Daniel the interpretation is given by the guiding angel who directs the prophet: this angel interprets the figure of the beast as referring both to kingdoms and kings. In Daniel 7:17 we read:
"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth." And in verse 23 of the same chapter: "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth."
The figure of the beast represents a great political world power with its government as its head. There has been a great controversy all throughout the ages of the new dispensation about whether this beast, or the antichrist, is a person or a power or a system or a kingdom, but it seems to me that this controversy is not necessary. Daniel tells us that the beast is both the kingdom and the king. Or to speak just a little more generally, the beast represents both the world power and its government.
I would say that this beast neither represents merely a person (who by personal power and personal strength—without any aid—conquers, subdues and controls the whole world and all that it contains) or only a kingdom or dominion without its head and government. Instead, it represents both. And not only do we find it so in Daniel, but it stands to reason and lies in the very nature of the case.
A king is powerless without his kingdom, and a kingdom without a king is inconceivable: the two are inseparable. Therefore, we come to the conclusion that this beast is the symbol of a political government as we know it. I care not whether you are thinking now of a kingdom, empire, republic, or a worldly dominion as it naturally culminates and is represented by its head. Again, I care not whether you conceive of this head as a king, emperor, president, or even as a group or body of persons.
Firstly, let us call your attention, further, to the fact that this world power as described in our passage is a consummation and culmination of all that has gone before and of all separate kingdoms that might possibly exist or have existed. It is well that we have our attention called to this feature for it is one of the main features of our text.
This power as it is here pictured does not merely consist of one nation and one people, but it combines within itself all the kingdoms and empires and republics of the world. And, at the same time, it constitutes a combination and accumulation of all the power of all the kingdoms and empires and republics of the past.
This is plain, in the first place, from the various beasts that are represented in this one beast. First of all, we may notice that they are all wild beasts and, therefore, destructive in their nature. In ordinary circumstances they would not form a unity, but rather exist to their mutual destruction. In the second place, it cannot escape our attention that in this wild beast we have a combination of the beasts pictured to us in Daniel chapter 7. There also we read of the beast like a lion, bear and leopard, and of a fourth beast, not accurately described, but terrible. And there these beasts constitute four separate kingdoms, the fourth of which finally blends into the vision of antichrist in the little horn rising from among the ten. Here, then, we have a combination of all these.
Secondly, the kingdoms of the world, ordinarily like wild animals existing to their mutual destruction, have succeeded in forming a unity. And even as the spirit of the one beast is in all the beasts, so also is the world kingdom, which is represented by this beast, one. It combines in itself all the power, glory, ambitions and spirit of all the kingdoms that have aimed at world power in the past and that do aim at it at the present time. This is also more or less symbolized in the ten horns and seven heads. Although we do not interpret these ten horns as representing ten different kingdoms, or the seven heads as seven different kings, yet the general idea is expressed that this beast represents a combination of all the kingdoms of the world.
The First Beast, the Incarnation of the DevilWith the first beast, we have the resemblance of the dragon: the first beast is the incarnation of the dragon, which possesses all the kingdoms of the world. The dragon has ten horns and seven heads, and so has this beast. The idea clearly is that the devil, to whom the kingdoms of the world belong, now has succeeded in combining all his kingdoms under one head and inspiring them all with the same principle. The only difference is that he does not succeed in giving to his kingdom the complete and perfect aspect of the kingdom of God.
Ten is the number of the world kingdom; seven is the number of the kingdom of God. For a long time the dragon wore his seven crowns on his seven heads, but now his authority and strength are both represented by the number ten. And though it is true that he still has seven heads, no one can mistake them for heads of the kingdom of Christ for names of blasphemy are written upon them.
This is a world power that includes all the existing powers of the whole earth, and the head of this power has authority over all peoples, nations, tribes and tongues (verse 7). Therefore, we come to this conclusion thus far: the beast represents a consummation of all the world powers that have been in the past. It combines within itself all the power of these dominions, all the glory of them, all the ambitions of them, and all their aspirations and aims and accomplishments. Furthermore, it is itself a combination, a confederation, of all nations, peoples, tongues and tribes which may exist at that time under one head and under one government.
If we understand this, we shall also be able to comprehend the significant detail of the scar that this beast has in one of its heads. We read:
"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed."This does not refer to the fall of the Roman, Grecian, Babylonian or Egyptian Empire, or, in fact, to the fall of any particular empire or to all of them combined.
It is true that many attempts have been made to realize this great world power in the past: Babylon, Persia and Greece were filled with the same aspirations, and Rome advanced a good way to its establishment. It is also true that all failed and that they were smitten unto death.
There are two things that lead us to the consideration that the fall of any or of all these empires together cannot be meant by this death stroke. In the first place, the death stroke meant here was healed, but the death stroke of these empires was final. And, in the second place, these empires in the past consisted of the domination of one nation over all the rest of the world and not of a combination of them all, as is indicated in this beast.
Hence, there is but one thing in past history that can be indicated by this scar on one of the heads of the beast: it is the attempt in the days of mighty Nimrod, and the building of the tower of Babel, to establish a universal world power: it was to be a combination rather than the dominion of one individual or group. They planned to form a mighty federation, a mighty league, with a common center in the city and tower and with common aims and purposes. However, it received the death stroke for a time. That death stroke consisted in the confusion of tongues and the consequential separation into nations (with their national differences and aspirations), and the resulting wars and strife.
In the text, that death stroke is now healed. After many an individual power have made the attempt to gain the world power and to obtain control of the whole earth, the nations have finally come to the conclusion that the way of combination is the only way. National differences will be overcome and national aspirations will be combined into the aspiration of all.
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape (1 Thessalonians 5:3).We will have no more world wars and no more strife and competition; instead, we will have a great worldwide empire, including all nations and comprehending them all under one head. The death stroke shall be healed and what was prevented in the days of Nimrod now shall be accomplished.
The Power of the First BeastThe power of the first beast originates in the dragon, the old serpent, the devil: "the dragon gave him his power and his seat and great authority." In regard to this, we may remark, in the first place, that the dragon’s power and authority itself is limited: he bears the number ten and his kingdom bears that same number, and that number refers to God’s own sovereign decree. It is well that we bear this in mind, for it is to our comfort: it assures us from the outset that the power and authority of this kingdom of the beast, however great, is not unlimited and that Christ, who has all power, is mightier than antichrist.
However, the fact remains that the dragon is permitted to give his power and authority and throne to the beast. In the text, he has now realized what he failed to establish when he tempted Christ. As we know, Satan made Christ the offer,
"Fall down and worship me, and I will give Thee all the kingdoms of the world."You see, the devil is a spirit and, as such, he cannot establish an earthly throne in person: he must have some human agent or agents who will take the position. He wants to establish a world kingdom, but he cannot rule over that world in person; he must have human beings, or a human being, to be his vice regent. This is why he offered the position to Christ.
The devil tried to tempt Christ while He dwelt on earth by offering Him a kingdom. He thought that Jesus was powerful and able, capable of filling the position; however, there was one condition to be fulfilled: this great vice regent of the devil had to worship and fall down before him, otherwise the devil would lose the very dominion he sought. The devil himself must remain lord, and this condition Christ refused to fulfill for the simple reason that He was the anointed Vice Regent, not of the devil, but of God. However, according to the text, now the devil has found someone.
I think we must conceive of this in such a manner that, in general, the power of the devil is vested in the entire dominion of the beast. The authority and power is given to the beast as a whole; however, we must also maintain that this power and authority will be concentrated in the governing head of this world power. It makes no difference now whether this governing head is a person or a group of persons, a sort of central committee that rules the whole world: at this stage of history, this is difficult to say.
Therefore, this world power in general, and this governing head in particular, we may fitly describe as the very incarnation of the devil.
The text tells us that this antichrist, this central government, in combination with its kingdom, will do great things. Do not make a mistake here: you must not imagine that the whole world will groan under the yoke of antichrist and long to be delivered from it. This is perhaps what the devil tries to tell us so that we should not recognize the power of antichrist when it is established, but it will be just the opposite.
This antichrist will be attractive and inspiring. The whole world will be fond of his regime. The whole world will live in the conviction that this is just the thing. There will be a splendid time for the world. It will be a time of peace, all nations having been combined into one great whole. There will be no more rising of nation against nation. And it will be a time of wonderful accomplishments. This central person or government will have all things under its control. It will control the powers of nature. It will control science and philosophy. It will control religion and worship. It will control commerce and industry. It will control all that this world possesses in hidden talents and powers. And the promise given to man in the beginning, that he would have dominion over all things, will be realized.
I imagine that in this kingdom or world power to come you will be able to scan the heavens since the air shall have been conquered. Perhaps we shall even be able to visit other planets in the universe, as is already attempted in this present time. In this world kingdom to come, you will be able to fathom the depths of the sea. In this kingdom you will be able to speak with its remotest inhabitant, and there shall be no poor and no miserable from a worldly point of view. All the powers of creation shall come to full development under the direction and under the control of the central head, and all shall be at our command. In a word, it will be a splendid kingdom, and all that the world desires will be realized there.
The kingdom of antichrist will not be a heavy yoke on groaning subjects; rather, it will be a most beautiful kingdom with peace and splendor, riches and plenty, and harmony and great developments. And the whole earth will wonder after the beast. All the inhabitants will admire that state of things, and they will say, "Who is like unto this great government, and who is able now to war with us?" And in pure gratitude they will worship him and, thereby, they will worship the devil.
That this must be so follows from the fact that this kingdom is universal in its scope. In the first place, it is universal because there shall be no nations that are outside and, therefore, there shall be no nations to make war: "and there was given him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation." All nations freely and willingly obey the one government. This one government will have its own laws, which hold for all the nations of the world. It will have its own police force and its own representatives who have authority over every nation. And perhaps it will succeed even in establishing one language. At any rate, all the nations will be one nation with no more competition and no more difference and war. It will be a peaceful kingdom.
This kingdom will be universal because all things will be under the control of its central government. If I may just run ahead for a moment, the rest of the chapter tells us that this central government has the power over buying and selling. Under this central government, you cannot buy the necessities of life or do business and live along in society unless you are allowed to do so by the beast. It must be a government, therefore, which not only has complete control over all the inhabitants of the historic world, but also controls all things connected with their life and existence in this kingdom.
Commerce and industry will be completely in the power of the central government. Natural resources, railroads, air roads, waterways and other roads; coal, iron, grain and vegetables; telegraph, telephone, radio and television; and all things will be in the power of this central government. Schools, universities and churches will be under its jurisdiction. It will tell you what to believe and how to worship since it will want one science and one religion and one worship.
This one-world government will have power to command you to worship the beast and its image. And therefore, once more we come to this conclusion, based on the words of this passage and also on other parts of Scripture: the one final manifestation of antichrist will be that of a great and universal world power, which will include all nations. This universal kingdom will have a central government that will have authority over all nations and over all things.
The Spiritual Character of the First BeastThis central government will control all things in the world, and it will be admired and worshipped by all the inhabitants of the whole earth except the one class of people who will refuse to put their trust in this great power and who will refuse to worship the beast. And this class of people is especially described as those whose names have been written in the Lamb's book of life. In short, the people of God will still be on earth: the elect of the Most High, the covenant people, will be on earth, and they will refuse to worship the beast.
And this brings us to our third question: "What is the spiritual character of this great and splendid world power?" The answer to this question is that it is anti-God and anti-Christ. It is anti-saints and anti-kingdom of God. That this is so might be surmised from the fact that this world power receives its power from the dragon, the old serpent. As we have said before, he has but one principle and by that principle he lives: it is the principle of opposition against God. He has but one aim and that is to thrust the Almighty from His throne, deprive Him of His sovereignty, and to be God instead of Him. He, therefore, is the author and accomplisher of this power; and since he gives this kingdom his power and throne and authority, it would be sufficient to conclude that this kingdom and dominion is anti-God and anti-Christ in character. This is also plain from other portions of the text.
This beast has names of blasphemy inscribed upon his seven heads, and he receives a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. He actually opens his mouth to blaspheme the name of God and of His tabernacle, namely, those that dwell in heaven. To blaspheme the name of God is to deny His name, His sovereignty, His power, and all His virtues. (Nebuchadnezzar was blaspheming when he said in the pride of his heart that he himself was the author of mighty Babylon.) And so this kingdom and its head will blaspheme the name of the Most High. It will deny that God and His Christ have anything to do with this world kingdom, and it will maintain that all in the world is the result of the power of man and the manifestation of his glory.
In a word, it will try to expel the very name and authority of the Almighty from His own works. And it will do the same with the saints who have already gone into glory. It will deny that there is such a thing as glory in the hereafter. It will refuse to speak of it, and it will not tolerate to have it mentioned. It will banish the very remembrance of the saints. It will not tolerate all that is connected with God and His name and His worship.
This power is its own god and its followers worship the beast: "all that dwell on the earth shall worship him." In general, all the inhabitants of the earth shall worship the existing state of things and, centrally, also the government, which is at the head. They will put all their trust in the anti-Christian beast. They will expect the very necessities of life from him. They will turn to him in trouble. They shall worship and admire him, and they will give divine honor and praise to him in gratitude of heart. They shall worship the beast and its image, and through it all they shall worship "the great dragon, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan."
Must I prove that this is the realization of all that has been pictured to us in the Scriptures concerning antichrist? If so, let me first call your attention to still another feature: they shall make war with the saints.
In this time to come, there are still saints on earth, and they shall be witnesses. They shall refuse to submit to the power of antichrist. It is not that they shall fight with the sword and rise in political rebellion—no, not that; but they shall refuse to worship the beast, and they shall uphold the sovereignty of the Almighty and of His Christ in those days. They shall refuse to change their religion and their worship and their testimony.
The Witnesses of Christ on EarthThe witnesses of Christ on earth in those days shall maintain that Christ and not antichrist is King; therefore, they shall be hated, and then shall be fully realized what Christ said, "Ye shall be hated of all nations." Antichrist shall make war with them and overcome them. They shall be hard days, days so hard that the elect would not hold out if the days were not shortened. Days of persecution shall they be. We shall learn more about them in future discussions. Let it now be sufficient to prove that this world power is anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-kingdom and anti-saints.
Thus antichrist in his final consummation is pictured to us everywhere in the Word of God. In Daniel 4:25 we read of him: "And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."
And in Daniel 8:23-25:
"In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace he shall destroy many; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand."And in Daniel 11:36 we read:
"And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that is determined shall be done."Turn to the New Testament and read what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."And again, in verse 9 of the same chapter:
"Even Him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish."Surely, there is no doubt about the fact that all these passages wonderfully harmonize with all that we learned about the beast that shall come up out of the sea, and that this beast is the anti-Christian power in its final and full consummation. It will consist of a wicked and universal world power with a central government doing wonderful things, but rising against the Most High and against Christ and His people.
The Identity of the First BeastAccording to all Scripture, the power of antichrist is in the world already and has been in the world all throughout this dispensation: the mystery of iniquity is already working, as Paul warns us in 2 Thessalonians 2:7. And John, writing to the Christians of his time, says:
"Everyone that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world" (1 John 4:3).The time period for the power represented in the beast is symbolized as 42 months in the text: it includes all the attempts in the entire period of the present dispensation that have been made to establish this world power in opposition to Christ and His kingdom. It may very well be that this 42 months (which we read of more than once in the form of 1260 days and also as 3 ½ years or times) will in the future also have another meaning, which we cannot now determine. However, it is certain that it first of all points to this entire dispensation since, in this entire dispensation, the power of iniquity and the spirit of antichrist are already in the world.
In this entire dispensation or period, the two witnesses give their prophecy. In this entire dispensation, the Church is in the wilderness of her separation. In this entire dispensation, the beast that rises up out of the abyss — and which culminates in the beast pictured to us in Revelation chapter 13 — is present. Therefore, let no man beguile you, for the devil is in the world already: he works in the world; he has made many bold attempts already to reach his culmination; and his final manifestation will be the consummation of a long process of development.
On the other hand, let me also warn you not to make the mistake of fording him already in his full manifestation and power. Never yet has there been a power such as is pictured here. Never yet was there a universal world power that had free sway over every nation and people and tribe and tongue. Never yet has there been a nation that all the peoples worshipped. Never yet was there a kingdom or dominion that had power over all the forces and resources of creation so that no one could even buy or sell in any part of the world except by the grace of this anti-Christian power. And this also applies to the present day.
Let no one beguile you. This anti-Christian power is not yet in its full reality: no single nation represents it. The world power will not be realized by sword or cannon so that there would be a tyrannical government lording over a groaning lot of subjects. Instead, it will be a kingdom or government established by common consent and agreement in which all admire and worship the beast. And again, the war this government or dominion will wage is not against any world kingdom, but against the saints of the Most High who refuse to worship the beast.
Such a power does not yet exist, but let me warn you that the time is at hand. We know not how soon, but soon it will be. All the signs of the times point to such a tremendous power, to such a league of the nations that has control over all things, to such a unity of all religion in which man is exalted and the Christ of the Scriptures is blasphemed, His blood trampled under foot. Therefore, I would say that the time is at hand! Watch therefore! Let no one beguile you, but watch!
Finally, if you ask why this complete picture of the antichrist is given us in the book of Revelation, my answer is this: so that we might clearly recognize it when it is revealed. And what then must we do when we see it is come? Must we oppose it. You may ask, "Must we fight it with the sword?" That, of course, is completely impossible. It will come. It must come. And to oppose its coming is entirely vain. Its coming is irresistible. And the battle is not one of the sword.
As the text has it, he that is for captivity, into captivity he goes; and if any man shall kill with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. We cannot oppose the power of antichrist by main force. When that world power comes and reigns supreme, we shall be submissive to the last as far as God and our conscience permit. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints, that in all these times they remain faithful and refuse to deny the Christ and that they wait for the day of His coming. May God give us grace to be found faithful at all times and to be found watching and praying so that no one may take our crowns.
Recap of the First BeastSo far in our discussion of chapter 13, we have discussed the first beast, which comes up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads and combining within itself the appearance of a leopard, bear and lion. We have come to the conclusion, in the first place, that this beast is the symbol of a great political world power, as is evident from the passages in the book of Daniel that refer to similar beasts:
- We found that it is not merely a king, emperor or government that is here pictured, but that the beast represents the entire power, the government and its dominion, and that they belong together inseparably.
- We also found that this world power is universal in its sway: it has dominion over all nations and tongues and tribes; and that, not by main force, but by free alliance of all the nations together. All wonder after the beast, think him great, admire him, and subject themselves to him willingly, offering him even their worship.
- We saw also that this kingdom is universal: it has absolute sway over all things in its kingdom, over industry and commerce, over science and art, over religion and philosophy, and over all the powers and talents of creation.
Thus the kingdom of man under Satan is complete: it is a kingdom which has sway over all the universe, over all men, over all the powers of creation; it is a kingdom in which man worships his own work and in which the devil is lord supreme.
In the first place, we pointed out that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world and that it is in the making all during the history of the present dispensation, revealing itself more or less boldly at different stages of history. In the second place, as we warned, you must not imagine that it already has reached its full manifestation, and you must not imagine that Revelation chapter 13 already has been fully realized. In the third place, we also pointed out that for him who has understanding and who can at all read the signs of the times, it is plain that the time is at hand and that all things develop very fast in the direction of this fascinating world kingdom.
THE SECOND BEAST: THE BEAST FROM THE EARTH (THE ONE WORLD RELIGION)In order to prevent any misunderstanding at all, let me say from the outset that there is a definite relation between the first and the second beast. We must not have the impression that, in the first part of the chapter, antichrist was pictured in its full manifestation and that now, in the second part, we have the representation of something quite different. Rather, we must maintain that in the entire thirteenth chapter of Revelation we have the picture of antichrist.
The two beasts depicted together form the picture of the full and complete anti-Christian power (one world power):
- The first beast pictures the anti-Christian kingdom in its political aspect (one world government);
- The second beast deals with the kingdom’s religious, moral and scientific forces (one world religion).
It is clear from a glance at the text that the symbolism of the first part is simply continued. In the preceding part of the chapter, we find the picture of a beast rising up out of the sea, with seven heads and ten horns, and appearing like a leopard, bear and lion, all in one. In that first part of the chapter, we find things that were really unintelligible without the second; therefore, to complete the picture, we must insert the picture of the second beast into that of the first.
The full symbolism is as follows. The first beast is followed by a second, who rises up out of the earth. He is less formidable in appearance than the first beast: his origin is not of the stormy sea, but from the more quiet and more stable earth. He looks like a lamb, it seems, for he has horns as of a lamb, but when he speaks, he does not speak the truth. He stands in a very definite relation to the first beast: repeatedly this is indicated in the text. He exercises all his authority in the sight of, in the presence of, in behalf of, and as servant of the first beast. All that he does, he does in the presence of the first beast.
The purpose of this second beast, therefore, lies in the service of the first. And this soon becomes apparent, for the second beast causes the inhabitants of the world to wonder after the first beast and to admire and worship him. This second beast makes man build an image of the first beast in order to worship the beast through his image. This second beast causes all the worshippers of the first beast to receive a sign, which distinguishes them from those who refuse to worship the first beast. Those who refuse to worship the beast will not receive the sign: they are not given the sign in order that they may be killed.
This second beast is, therefore, as it were, the actual power of the first; in other words, the first beast works and exercises his power through the second. The first beast could not exist, could not exercise his authority, and would not be worshipped without the work of the second beast. And the second beast would have no reason to exist and to work were it not for the fact that this first beast must reach its full power.
It is plain from what we have said that the second beast cannot represent a second kingdom. In Daniel, as we have said, the beasts are symbols of kings together with their kingdoms. Let me call your attention to the fact that this second beast makes a radically different impression from the first beast and from the beasts that are pictured in Daniel chapter 7.
In the book of Daniel, we have the wild animal: a leopard, bear and lion all combined into one. However, here in the book of Revelation, we have an entirely different picture. This beast evidently makes one think of a lamb. First of all, he has horns like those of a lamb, though he speaks like the dragon. In the second place, let me call your attention to the fact that evidently his power is quite different from that of a king. A king commands and makes laws and thus he exercises authority; however, this beast, although it exercises authority even the same as that of the first beast, does not exercise his power by commands but rather by persuasion.
This second beast speaks: what this implies may become plain from the repeated indications in the text concerning the manner of his work. We read that he makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, he deceives man by the great signs and wonders which he performs, and he says to them who dwell on the earth that they should make an image of the first beast. And he causes all that worship the first beast to receive a sign.
Hence, we receive the clear impression that the beast mentioned here does not work like the first beast, but that he is of a different character. He comes by speaking and by doing great signs and wonders. Therefore, the second beast comes with the persuasion of a prophet: he does not force, but convince; he does not command and issue laws, but he wins the hearts of men.
Adding to this, we read repeatedly that this second beast works in the sight of and in the presence of the first beast, and that he does all he can for the power and maintenance of the first beast. Therefore, it is plain that this second beast represents some power in the kingdom, some tremendous influence in that great universal kingdom, which we have pictured to you according to the first part of the chapter.
The Power of the Second Beast, the False ProphetThe second beast works through the hearts and minds of men to influence, bewitch and charm them so that they worship the first beast and so that they admire him and submit themselves gladly to him.
What power, then, does this second beast represent? We will find no difficulty in identifying him. Scripture itself tells us: in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, we find a reference to this same beast. In Revelation 19:20 we read:
"And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire that burneth with brimstone."And in Revelation 20:10 we find mention of him once more:
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are."The beast that is mentioned in these passages is evidently the first beast, and the false prophet is none other than this second beast, with the two lamb’s horns, who speaks as the dragon. Therefore, we come to the conclusion that this second beast is called the false prophet.
What is a prophet? We must banish from our minds the popular conception that a prophet is chiefly a man who foretells the future. True, a prophet also foretells the future, but that is not his only work. We find from Scripture that a prophet is characteristically a person who speaks for someone else. Aaron is called the prophet of Moses when they together go to Pharaoh and Aaron expressing the message instead of and for Moses. We see this also with the prophets of God among Israel. The prophets are men who speak for God and bring His message; they appeal to the minds and hearts of men; they speak to Israel in behalf of Jehovah and His covenant and cause.
God’s prophets teach and speak and reveal the will of God, and they try to persuade men so that they may embrace His cause. Now this second beast is also a prophet in that he speaks for someone else and he tries to influence the minds of men, to persuade them, to gain them for the cause of him in whose interest he speaks. However, he is a false prophet in that he does not preach the truth; rather, he speaks the lie. He persuades men and teaches them, and by doing so he deceives them so that they believe the lie. And if we compare this with what we find in the words of the passage that we are now discussing, we shall find that this is actually his character.
His very appearance is deceiving. He looks like a lamb: one would receive the impression, therefore, that he is in some way affiliated with Christ, the great Prophet, and that the words he speaks are the words of Christ. However, he speaks like the dragon: he derives the contents of his prophecy and teaching not from Christ, but from the devil, from hell itself.
He is a prophet so he speaks for someone else, but the one for whom he speaks is the first beast, who receives and exercises all the authority of the devil. In the devil's presence and in behalf of him, he speaks and exercises his authority. In the devil's sight and in his behalf, he does his great signs and wonders. He persuades men to establish an entire worship and erect an image, and he causes all who refuse the image to be killed.
This second beast, the false prophet, is the exact opposite of what Elijah was among Israel. Elijah stood before Jehovah, but this false prophet stands for the opponent of Jehovah. Elijah spoke the truth of God, but this false prophet speaks the lie of the dragon. Elijah persuaded men to break down the image of Baal and serve and worship the true God, but this false prophet persuades men to forsake Jehovah and make an image for the first beast and the dragon. Elijah persuaded men to kill the priests of Baal, but this false prophet persuades men to kill the saints of the Most High.
We found in explanation of the first beast that it did not simply refer to an individual king or emperor or governor, but just as much to the kingdom or world power under the sway of that government. And the same must be borne in mind here. I do not think it impossible that in the future some great philosopher will arise who will dominate almost any intellectual movement of his time so that all others follow him.
This second beast does not represent a single individual, but rather all the power of false science, philosophy and religion combined. In the future, all science, philosophy and religion shall be united into one science and one philosophy and one religion. There shall be no more difference of opinion. Just as politically the world shall be one, so it shall be one intellectually and religiously. They shall all have the same ideas about things. They shall all admire the same science. They shall all have the same religion.
There will be a new religion: already we hear of it in our own time. And this new religion shall embrace all things: it shall be universal. All creeds, denominations and sects shall be blended and united into one so that there shall be no more strife and ecclesiastical contention. It shall have a universal creed, laying down the precepts and principles for every sphere of life.
This new religion shall lay down rules for our individual life, just as the Christian religion does. It shall lay down the principles for our home life, just as the Christian religion does. It shall reveal principles for the life of society and for the life of nations.
This one world power shall lay down the rules for religious life in particular: it shall tell all men how they must worship and what they must worship. It shall be a new system of thought and religion, with a new creed, universal in its scope and, at the same time, with a new god. That new god will be the beast, the great world power, whom all shall admire and worship and for whom all shall erect an image in order that they may worship the same. Thus it is also clear that the first beast has need of the second.
The Activity of the Second Beast
- The universal world power, being based upon the unity and voluntary submission of all, has need of the power of false prophecy and has need of this universal science and religion.
- The second beast must serve the first: it is indispensable to the first. The world power has need of false science, philosophy and religion to maintain the devil's authority and the integrity and unity of his kingdom.
- If we understand this, it is not very difficult to comprehend the action of the second beast. We read in the text that he does great things with signs and wonders, and it is exactly through these signs and wonders that he succeeds in gaining men for his cause and deceiving them.
Naturally a prophet must do signs and wonders: these must establish his prophetic authority and the truth of the things he speaks. Thus it was with Moses before Pharaoh and at the same time with the magi of the king: they performed signs and wonders to impress the authority with which they appeared. Thus it was with Elijah on Carmel, with Christ as a prophet, and with the appearance of the apostles in the midst of the heathen world: they all performed signs and wonders in order that these might corroborate the truth of their message. Thus it is also in the anti-Christian world power to come: this second beast shall perform signs and wonders (and this was foretold already by Daniel the prophet).As was prophesied by Christ Himself, the antichrist shall perform marvelous things: "For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24). It was also foretold by the apostle Paul, who predicted that the man of sin should manifest himself in great signs and wonders. And thus we find it in the words of our text.
The second beast, the false prophet, who is the power of this false science and philosophy and religion, shall do things which will astonish the world and which will cause all men to flock to him, to listen to his prophecy, and to worship the beast.
What shall this power do? There are interpreters who take it all in the literal sense of the word and who claim that this second beast represents a person who will actually perform miracles. We are not inclined that way: all that is necessary is to assume that this great power will do things that will corroborate his teachings and thus establish the universal kingdom. He will not only talk, but he will show that he can do things in harmony with the message he brings.
The second beast will apply his false science and philosophy and religion, and he will show that man is extremely powerful. He will bring fire from heaven. Why not? Through the power of electricity man has already done great things. In the future, man actually may be able to extract the fire from the clouds of heaven and bring it down in the sight of all men. The second beast will provide men with all the commodities, conveniences and pleasures modern science can invent so that they can fly through the air without danger, speak with their fellow men in the remotest corner of this great kingdom without trouble, enter into the bowels of the earth, and plow through the depth of the sea.
This false philosophy will discover all the powers of creation and bring them into use so that all men shall wonder at the great things it does. And wondering at its action, they shall follow him and believe his message and obey his command. This is evidently the sole, ultimate purpose of these signs and wonders, that men may believe and follow the beast: for we read in the words of our text that by these signs and wonders, the devil deceives men so that they make an image of the beast.
THE MARK OF THE BEAST: THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE FOLLOWERS OF THE BEAST AND THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRISTNotice that this false prophet does not make the image through which the world power is to be worshipped, but that under his influence, as he speaks for the beast and performs signs and wonders in his name, men make such an image. This image, of course, is a representation of the beast itself so whosoever worships the image, worships the beast, and he who worships the beast, worships the dragon.
Exactly of what this image shall consist, we do not know at present. The idea of an image through which the world power is worshipped is nothing strange. The emperors of the Roman Empire made such images, which they worshipped as gods. In the French Revolution, the images of the great leaders of that revolution were made and worshipped: men paid religious worship to the images of liberty, equality, and fraternity that were made. And in the Notre Dame of Paris, the goddess of reason was actually worshipped by the great of France.
Therefore, there would be nothing strange if, in these latter days, there would be once more such idol worship in the literal sense of the word. At all events, some sign, some ensign, or some device representing this universal world power will be conceived of and made and distributed all throughout the dominion of antichrist so that they may pay divine honor to it and worship the beast.
It is before this emblem of the universal world power that all men shall bow down. And this false prophet will be allowed to perform still greater things. He will give to that image a spirit, a breath of life. How this universal idol shall speak, I know not, but this is of minor importance since we know the purpose of it all. The text tells us that this image is given a breath of life in order that it may speak and that those who do not worship the image may be killed.
At this time to come, there are still saints of the Most High on earth: the remnant of the seed of the woman is still there; they are not yet taken to heaven. And, of course, they refuse to go along with all this beautiful and worldwide movement. They refuse to adopt the philosophy of the second beast. They refuse to wonder at its great signs. They refuse to adopt its religion. They refuse to worship the beast and the dragon.
The Church shall refuse to worship the beast; therefore, the saints cannot be tolerated, and they must be discovered so that this great universal kingdom may be rid of them. And so an image must be made, some universal ensign, and this universal ensign must be displayed everywhere. Wherever you turn, you can see it in this kingdom of the antichrist, and all shall humbly bow down before it or in some way pay it divine honor, except for the saints of the Most High, who shall refuse to worship the idol.
Those who do not worship the beast will not receive this universal insignia, and thus it becomes evident that they be killed. Through this universal insignia, distinction and separation is made between the worshippers of the beast and the followers of Christ, the seed of the woman. And this universal mark or sign or insignia must serve as the means through which the distinction is realized.
In close connection with this idea is the idea of the sign. By means of the image, distinction is made between the followers of the beast and those who refuse to worship him. The faithful followers of the beast receive a sign. It is of little importance for us at present to determine exactly of what this sign shall consist. It may be that the kingdom shall literally provide for some brand or badge that the beast’s faithful followers shall be allowed to wear and with which they shall be allowed to appear in modern society. However, it also may be that this is all symbolism to denote that there shall be a visible difference in the manifestation of the followers of the beast and the followers of Christ.
It is certain that the difference between the followers of the beast and the followers of Christ shall be there and this difference shall be very plain. The false prophet, the power of false science and philosophy and religion, shall see to it that the distinction is very public and evident to all so that only his followers may share in the blessings of this great kingdom.
Just as only the followers of Christ (baptized in His name and confessing Him faithfully) shall share in the blessings of the kingdom of God, so also the followers of the beast only shall reap the benefits of this universal world kingdom. The rest, who do not have the mark of the beast, shall be excluded and boycotted in every respect.
All things shall be under the control of the first beast, of this great and universal world power: the very necessities of life shall be in his power. He can surely allow or prevent buying and selling according to his good pleasure. The saints of Christ who do not worship the image, and who refuse to receive the mark of the beast, shall not be able to do business; they shall not be able to buy or to sell. They shall not be able to live along with that great society. They shall not be able to buy the necessities of life. They shall be outcasts, mocked at, held in derision, thrust aside, ousted from society, and killed.
Those shall be terrible days. They shall be more terrible than any form of persecution that the children of God have ever experienced. There shall be no place for them on earth. They shall be left without a helper on earth. So terrible shall those days be that many shall fall who appeared to be children of the Most High, and the very elect would not be able to resist were it not for the fact that the days shall be shortened.
The Name and Number of the BeastWe must discuss the name of this great beast, which all its worshippers bear on their foreheads or in their right hand. We read:
"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six."Many and varied are the interpretations given of this number: we shall not tire your attention by enumerating them all. A very favorite interpretation is that which is given by an old church father, Irenaeus, and accepted by many of our own time. The interpretation is as follows. The letters of the Greek alphabet were used as numbers. If this is taken as the basis of the interpretation, we find that the letters in the word Lateinos, or Latin, together give us the number 666. Therefore, the name of the beast as spelled by this number is "Latin," and it denotes the kingdom of the Latins or of the Roman Empire.
However, even this interpretation we cannot possibly accept as true. For, in the first place, however ingenious it may be, it is nevertheless more or less arbitrary. On this basis, I can also construe other names, which are just as suitable and also amount to the number 666, but which simply are formed by a different arrangement of the same letters. In the second place, notice that our text does not say, "Here is a riddle; let him that is bright solve it;" rather, it plainly states: "Here is wisdom; let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast." And therefore we must have something different. Finally, in the third place, we should not lose sight of the fact that the numbers in Revelation have symbolical significance: they stand also in this case for a higher spiritual reality.
Let us then notice that the mark of the beast, the number of his name, the number of the beast, and the name of the beast all denote identically the same thing. The beast has a name, and the name in Scripture always denotes character and being. The name of this beast has been impressed upon his followers so that also they may be distinguished as his subjects. And that name is the same as is expressed in the number 666.
Now what is the meaning of this number? Six is the number of the creature in all its fulness: in six days God created the world and in six days creation was completed; the fulness of creation has come to realization in six days. However, the full week is not expressed in the six, but in the number seven. The seventh day is the day of consecration and adoration of God; it is the day on which the creature was to lift himself from the sphere of the mundane and consecrate himself to the Creator. On the seventh day, man was to bring the glory of all God’s work to Him. The seventh day was hallowed.
Six is one less than seven; therefore, the number six speaks of the fulness of creation and all the powers of creation but without God and without the service and glory of God. The symbolism of the number six is the world under the influence of sin: it is the world with all its fulness and powers, but without God. Ten is the number that denotes a complete measure of anything according to the decree of God, whether it be a measure of time, power, development, or anything else.
Notice 666 + (10 x 6) + (10 x 10 x 6): 10 x 6 would denote the world and all its fulness without God, developed according to the measure of God’s plan; and 10 x 10 x 6 denotes that same development in the highest degree, coming to its fullest consummation. The idea, therefore, is not so difficult. God created a world that should glorify Him and be consecrated to Him, but that world tore itself loose from Him and refused to glorify Him. Man has developed the kingdom of the world without God, and God allows this kingdom of the world to develop to its full extent.
Although man has fallen away from Him, God nevertheless allows man to exercise dominion over the earthly creation and to bring to light all the hidden powers and talents of creation to their fullest degree. In the final manifestation of this anti-Christian kingdom to come we have the 'beasts' of the book of Revelation: these beasts represent the highest development of the sovereignty of man apart from God, and under the devil they develop all the powers of creation without God.
This anti-Christian to come is the climax of the development of the man of sin: it is the kingdom of man, of the creature, without God, without the seven. And therefore his number is 666, the number of man indeed. Such, I feel persuaded, is the meaning of this chapter.
If we have spiritual understanding, we must count the number of the beast. You may see him rise before your very eyes in the world of today. Hence, we must watch and pray that we may not fall into temptation. We must be faithful unto the end.
It is not our calling to resist the anti-Christian kingdom to come: for that is impossible. We cannot prevent its coming; however, we must watch and be prepared. Here is the patience of the saints; here is wisdom. We must know how this kingdom of antichrist will come so that we may recognize its coming and be faithful even unto the end.
God grant that we may be found watching in that day so that we may not be allured by all the beauty and fascination and by the Christian appearance, strength and stability of this world kingdom to come. Let us not be allured by the signs and wonders of the false prophet, but let us remain faithful even unto the very end so that no one may take our crowns.
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