Chapter 20

Unmasking the Beast

INTRODUCTION

An understanding of who or what the Beast is, is extremely important to understanding the rest of Revelation. It also provides an important piece of the puzzle in order to identify the Mark of the Beast that God's people are to avoid.

SCRIPTURE

The red dragon

Rev. 12:6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. ...

13When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. 15Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring --those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Rev. 13:1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.

The rise of the beast

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"

5The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast --all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. 9He who has an ear, let him hear.

10If 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.

11Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

18This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.

The 144,000 and the three angels' messages

Rev. 14:6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth --to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."

8A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."

9A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." 12This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

13Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."

"Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."

Rev. 15:2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God

Rev. 16:2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

Rev. 16:10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony

Rev. 16:13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

COMMENTARY

To help us understand and identify the Beast, we need to differentiate between the various beasts and their equivalents in the book of Revelation. As we study further, these will become more apparent, but let me give you a preview:

bulletThe beast = Babylon, the prostitute (that great city that rules over the kings of the earth) = the "seventh king" (as of John's time) has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while = the little horn power of Daniel 7.
bulletThe beast that comes up from the Abyss = the angel of the abyss = the dragon = Satan = the devil = the ancient serpent = the accuser.
bulletThe lamb-like beast =? the false prophet.

Let's look at the characteristics first of the beast in Revelation 13 and compare them to adulterous woman of Revelation 17 and the little horn power of Daniel chapter 7.

The beast

  1. Came out of the sea (came out of many peoples)
  2. Had seven heads and ten horns, sharing the diabolic characteristics of the devil.
  3. Resembled and had parts of a leopard, bear and lion (Greece, Medo-Persia and Babylon). I.e. was composed of parts of each nation and empire.
  4. Derived its power, throne and authority from the dragon (in this setting, from Rome)
  5. Received a "fatal" wound, which later was healed.
  6. The whole world ("most of it" in scripture language) followed or respected the beast.
  7. Was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies.
  8. Remained in power for 42 months (1260 years)
  9. Blasphemed God.
  10. Given power to conquer the saints.
  11. Given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation who will worship the beast.
  12. Has a mark declaring its authority.

Let's look at Babylon, Mystery Religion in Revelation 17.

Rev. 17:1 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."

3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.

5 This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.

7 Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns.

8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast [from the abyss], because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.

9 "This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. 11 The beast [from the abyss] who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

12 "The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast [from the abyss]. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast [from the abyss]. 14 They will make war [Armageddon] against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings --and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."

15 Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast [from the abyss] and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast [from the abyss] their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."

From Revelation 17, we note the following characteristics about the woman: She:

  1. Sits on a seven headed beast with ten horns (i.e. draws its power from Satan)
  2. Sits on waters, which are interpreted as peoples, multitudes, nations and languages
  3. Sits on seven hills, v 9.
  4. Is known as Babylon, v 5.
  5. Is known as the mother of abominable teachings.
  6. Is drunk with the blood of the saints.
  7. Is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth, v 18.
  8. Will eventually be destroyed by Satan, the beast from the abyss, and ten powers (kingdoms, nations) that join him, because God purposes it to be so.

Let's now look at Daniel 7, at the little horn power:

Dan. 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

2 Daniel said: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.

3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. 4 "The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.

5 "And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, `Get up and eat your fill of flesh!'

6 "After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.

7 "After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast --terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

8 "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

9 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.

11 "Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)

13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

15 "I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this.

"So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 `The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever --yes, for ever and ever.'

19 "Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws --the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell --the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

23 "He gave me this explanation: `The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.

26 "`But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.'

28 "This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself."

Let's list the characteristics of the little horn power.

  1. Comes into power after the fourth beast.
  2. Comes into power when the 10 kingdoms are in power.
  3. Uproots (subdues) 3 of the kingdoms
  4. Had eyes like a man and spoke boastfully. Speaks against the most high God
  5. Becomes more imposing than the 10 horns before it.
  6. Wages war successfully against the saints. Oppresses the saints.
  7. Try to change the set times and laws.
  8. Saints will be handed over to him for 3 1/2 symbolic prophetic years or 1260 literal years.
  9. Judgment is handed down and its power is removed.

Note the similarities between the characteristics given in the three locations. I have recapped these in the following table.

There is only one entity in the world that matches all these criteria: The Holy Roman Empire, more commonly known as the papacy, Church of Rome or the Catholic Church.

It should be stated here that we are talking about a system here, not of a particular individual or the systems' members.

The papacy derived its power from the Roman empire as it was being torn apart by the ten barbaric kingdoms. These were the

bulletVISIGOTHS-Spain
bulletANGLO-SAXONS-England
bulletFRANKS-France
bulletALEMANI-Germany
bulletBURGUNDIANS-Switzerland
bulletLOMBARDS-Italy
bulletSUEVI-Portugal
bulletHERULI-rooted up
bulletOSTROGOTHS-rooted up
bulletVANDALS-rooted up

The emperor of Rome turned over the governance of Rome to the bishop of Rome in 476 A.D. as he was moving his capitol to Byzantine.

The bishop of Rome (now known as the Pope) was the man who would speak for this power.

Revelation 13, 14, etc.

Daniel 7

Revelation 17

bulletCame out of the sea (came out of many peoples)
bulletHad seven heads and ten horns, sharing the diabolic characteristics of the devil.
bulletResembled and had parts of a leopard, bear and lion (Greece, Medo-Persia and Babylon). I.e. was composed of parts of each nation and empire.
bulletDerived its power, throne and authority from the dragon (in this setting, from Rome)
bulletReceived a "fatal" wound, which later was healed.
bulletThe whole world ("most of it" in scripture language) followed or respected the beast.
bulletWas given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies.
bulletRemained in power for 42 months (1260 years)
bulletBlasphemed God.
bulletGiven power to conquer the saints.
bulletGiven authority over every tribe, people, language and nation who will worship the beast.
bulletHas a mark declaring its authority.
bulletComes into power after the fourth beast.
bulletComes into power when the 10 kingdoms are in power.
bulletUproots (subdues) 3 of the kingdoms
bulletHad eyes like a man and spoke boastfully. Speaks against the most high God
bulletBecomes more imposing than the 10 horns before it.
bulletWages war successfully against the saints. Oppresses the saints.
bulletTry to change the set times and laws.
bulletSaints will be handed over to him for 3 1/2 symbolic prophetic years or 1260 literal years.
bulletJudgment is handed down and its power is removed.
bulletSits on a seven headed beast with ten horns (i.e. draws its power from Satan)
bulletSits on waters, which are interpreted as peoples, multitudes, nations and languages
bulletSits on seven hills, v 9.
bulletIs known as Babylon, v 5.
bulletIs known as the mother of abominable teachings.
bulletIs drunk with the blood of the saints.
bulletIs the great city that rules over the kings of the earth, v 18.
bulletWill eventually be destroyed by Satan, the beast from the abyss, and ten powers (kingdoms, nations) that join him, because God purposes it to be so.

Through the catholic emperors Zeno (474-491 A.D.) and Justinian (527-565 A.D.), the three kingdoms practicing the doctrine of Arianism were uprooted and exterminated. This conquest was completed in 538 A.D.

The papacy certainly became more imposing than the other kingdoms from which it sprang.

The papacy is headquartered in Rome (the great city that rules over the kingdoms of the world -in John's time) which sits on the seven hills of Rome.

Seeing as Church of Rome is the embodiment of false religion, and abominable teachings, it cannot tolerate pure truth. Thus it had to make war or persecutes the saints. History is plain, that during the years of papal supremacy, millions of people were killed over religious convictions. Even conservative estimates place this number at no less than 50 million.

"That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history." W.E.H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, Vol. 2 p. 40.

In the History of the Inquisition in Spain, D. Ivan Antonio Llorente provides these figures from the Spanish Inquisition alone:

bullet31,912 persons were condemned and perished in the flames.
bullet241,450 persons were condemned to severe penalties.

God's people would be given over to the Church of Rome for 1260 years. This is also stated in the woman of Revelation 12 fleeing into the desolate places that we discussed in the prior chapter.

Indeed, in 1798, Napoleon's general Berthier marched his soldiers into Rome and took the Pope captive, thus breaking the power of the Church of Rome and giving it what seemed to be a "fatal" wound.

It is interesting and I don't believe coincidental that each of these three dates, 476, 538 and 1798, fall on Sabbatical years!

Certainly, while the Church of Rome was in power, the whole world worshipped it. We should recognize that to worship something doesn't necessarily mean to bow down to it. It can also mean to give allegiance to it, to pay respect or homage to it, and to obey its commands when those commands are based solely upon tradition rather than any moral code.

Regarding the blasphemy that the Church of Rome spoke against God, let's first define blasphemy. There are two meanings to the concept:

  1. Claiming to forgive sins (Luke 5:21)
  2. Claiming to be God (John 10:33)

Both of these fit the papacy. Let's look at some eye-opening quotes from Catholic authors:

"Does the Priest truly remit [forgive] the sins, or does he only declare that they are remitted? The Priest does really and truly remit the sins in virtue of the power given to him by Christ." Joseph Deharbe, S.J., A Complete Catechism of the Catholic Religion, p. 275.

The papacy further undermines Jesus by setting up a system of confession to an earthly priest, thus bypassing Jesus, our High Priest (Heb. 3:1; 8:1,2) and only Mediator (1 Tim 2:5).

Consider the evidence for the papacy claiming to be God: "We [the pope] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty." "The Reunion of Christendom" (dated June 20, 1894) in the Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, p. 304. "The pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh." Catholic National, July 1895

The Bible says the papacy would think to change times and laws. Of course, no one can really change God's laws. Jesus stated that not one dot of an "i" or cross of a "t" would disappear from the law.

In its catechisms, the papacy has omitted the second commandment against the veneration of images and has shortened the fourth commandment from 94 words to eight and divided the tenth commandment into two commandments. (You may compare this for yourself against Exodus 20:3-17).

What is fascinating, is that Revelation prophesies that the papacy will be to a degree restored to its power. And all the world will wonder after it.

However, when we study Revelation 17 in a later chapter, this return to power will not be all roses. For Babylon will come back to power only to find itself destroyed by ten nations who will give their power to the beast from the abyss (Satan) for just a short while, just to accomplish God's purpose. We will look a this fascinating aspect later.

It's no surprise that all the Reformers, without exception, identified the little horn power of Daniel 7 as the papacy, and spoke out against it.

Now that we have conclusively identified the beast, we are in a better position to identify the mark of the beast, the mark of the papacy's authority.

 

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