Welcome to the Revelation of Jesus. In this video we begin our study of Revelation 13, getting to the heart of the Cosmic Conflict and looking deeper into the blasphemy of the little horn.
We begin where we left off in chapter 12, where Satan the dragon directs the persecution of faithful believers. In chapter 13 we learn the identity and tactics of the earthly powers Satan uses: “Then [John] stood on the sand of the sea. And [he] saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name” (Revelation 13:1).
In describing the beast from the sea, John gives the most details of any of the prophetic symbols in the Bible, so we can be sure of its identity.
First of all, this beast is not some obscure entity appearing out of nowhere. Both the sand of the sea and the sea itself are symbols of the densely populated “tribes, tongues, and nations” that gave rise to this fearsome power.
The beast itself looks a lot like Satan the dragon of chapter 12. Like the dragon, it has seven heads and ten horns. The most notable difference is that the dragon has crowns on its head and the beast has crowns on its horns.
This word for crowns (Greek diadimata) is only found in three places in the Bible, all in the Book of Revelation:
- In chapter 19 Jesus, returning to this earth as “King of kings and Lord of lords” has many crowns on His head (Revelation 19:11-16).
- In chapter 12 Satan the dragon, who would like to be King of kings but is in fact only the temporary “prince of this world,” has a crown on each of his heads.
- And in chapter 13 the beast from the sea has a crown on each of his horns. Horns in the Bible often symbolize the military might of kings. For example, the ten horns of a nearly identical beast in Revelation 17 are ten kings that give their power and authority to the antichrist beast in order to make war with the Lamb. Thus the crowns on the horns of the beast from the sea suggest that he is the dragon’s earthly enforcer, using his power to carry out the diabolical plans that Satan devises.
The blasphemous name on its heads indicates that the beast is not simply some powerful military force; it also operates in the religious sphere, spewing out lies and insulting propaganda about God.
“The beast which [John] saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). If you have been following this channel you will immediately recognize these wild animals as being straight out of Daniel 7. The prophet saw these same animals rising one after another out of the sea.
You may want to review video 3 where we saw that these animals symbolize the succession of empires that oppressed God’s chosen representatives through the ages. The lion symbolizes Babylon, the bear, Medo-Persia, the four-headed leopard, the Greek Hellenic kingdoms, the fearsome monster, Pagan Rome, and the horns symbolize the union of Papal Rome and the nation-states of Europe. The wild animals of Daniel 7 had a total of 7 heads and 10 horns, just like the beast from the sea.
The empires symbolized by the wild animals in Daniel 7 emerged successively over the course of about 2000 years but appear together in the beast from the sea. This suggests that the beast is like a combination of these oppressive empires and that each of the seven heads symbolizes a major characteristic of the beast.
Notice that “the beast… was like a leopard”, in other words, it most resembled the Greek-Hellenic empire. This is not surprising as Greek philosophy, culture and worldview formed the foundation of Roman and European culture, even having a major influence on the theology of the Christian church.
“[The beast’s] feet were like the feet of a bear”, suggesting that the beast handles its affairs like the ancient Persians. We learn in the books of Esther and Daniel 6 that the Persians used infallible, unchangeable laws and a highly organized administration to wage political warfare.
The beast had “a mouth like the mouth of a lion.” The lion symbolized Babylon, and the “mouth” of Babylon was the Chaldean priesthood with their mysterious rituals and liturgies. Finally, the ten horns were like those that appeared on the Roman monster, the most formidable force for coercion and oppression that the world has ever known. I will include a link in the description to an article that outlines the fascinating correlation of the beast from the sea with the characteristics of the wild animal empires of Daniel 7.
Although the beast shares the characteristics of these great earthly empires, its power is more than human. “The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). In the previous video we saw that Satan, the great red dragon, is the real power behind the scenes. He uses earthly organizations that may believe that they are serving God when they fight against those they consider to be heretics.
“[The beast] was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months… to make war with the saints and to overcome them” (Revelation 13:5-7). In the previous video we looked at this verse and saw that forty-two months is identical to “1,260 days” and “a time, times and half a time”. This time period is used in many prophecies to identify the union of church and state that persecuted God’s faithful followers during the dark ages.
I suggested in video 43 that Bible prophecy seems to have an obsessive focus on this time period, first of all, because coercion and persecution, the antithesis of God’s character of love and freedom, was carried out in the name of Jesus. This is the most offensive form of blasphemy, and Revelation 13 pulls no punches in pinning this on the beast from the sea: “He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemy… for forty-two months; He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:5,6).
It is gross blasphemy to carry out imprisonment, torture, brutal religious wars, and murder, and then to claim that these were done according to the will and direction of God. But that is what the medieval union of church and state did.
The second reason for such a persistent focus on the medieval church/state union is that it is a prototype for the final persecution. The antichrist powers that appear in the final crisis are modeled after the persecuting union of church and state that ruled Europe during the dark ages. For this reason, I want to spend a little more time nailing down the identity and the characteristics of the beast from the sea. In order to do that let’s look again at Daniel 7.
In video 3 we saw that the wild animals of Daniel chapter 7 symbolized the succession of oppressive empires, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Pagan Rome, and finally Christian Europe which was symbolized by 10 horns. The European nations began as barbarian tribes within the territory of the Western Roman Empire.
But as Daniel watched a little horn came up among them and grew until it dominated the others. You may want to review video 34 where I showed that the wicked horn symbolized the Roman Catholic papacy, which slowly gained political power over the western European nations. The papacy of the dark ages not only manipulated the nation-states of Europe but used its political influence over them to persecute people who refused to submit to its doctrines and practices.
The key text describing this persecution is Daniel 7:25. “[The wicked horn] shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25).
A simple comparison with Revelation 13 shows that the wicked horn of Daniel 7 is the same entity as the beast from the sea.
The wicked horn had “a mouth speaking… pompous words against the Most High” (Daniel 7:8,25). Likewise, the beast from the sea “was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies… against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:6).
This description fits the medieval papacy, which has a long history of blasphemous claims, such as that of pope Leo XIII who asserted that “we [the popes] hold on this earth the place of God Almighty”.
The wicked horn is “making war against the saints and prevailing against them” (Daniel 7:21, 25). Likewise, the beast from the sea proceeds “to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” (Revelation 13:7). Again the papacy of the Middle Ages fits the specifications, having directed the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the persecution and execution of reformers such as John Huss, as well as a series of vicious wars against so-called heretics such as the Waldenses, the Huguenots, and the Reformed churches of northern Europe.
The wicked horn would prevail “for a time, times, and half a time” (Daniel 7:25). The beast from the sea also “was given authority to continue for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5). In video 43 we saw that the 1,260 days, the time, times and half a time, and the 42 months all refer to the same period: the more than 1000 years of papal political dominance in western Europe.
These close parallels between the wicked horn of Daniel 7 and the beast from the sea in Revelation 13 leave no question as to its identity: The beast from the sea symbolizes the papal Roman Catholic Church in union with the nations of western Europe, during the Middle Ages.
This identification is not intended to be an excuse for bashing the Roman Catholic Church. It was a brutal era and there were no innocent parties. But by identifying the beast of Revelation 13 with the wicked horn of Daniel 7 we can learn the agenda of the beast: it “shall intend to change times and law [in order to] persecute the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25). This is important as we consider that the “brains” behind the beast from the sea is Satan, the great red dragon; ultimately he is the one who wants to “change times and law” and “persecute the saints”.
In video 43 we saw that Satan, “the lawless one,” hates the law of God because it condemns his aspirations and means of accomplishing his plans. But at the same time, one of his favorite strategies is to use God’s law to separate His children from Him. God has never intended that His law would be burdensome or coercive. He introduced the law within the context of a rich covenant relationship: “I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me… You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 19:4-6, 20:2,3).
He then continues with the Ten Commandments. God’s law is more like a package of covenant promises than a list of rules. He promises that if we remain connected to Him, He will rescue us from the slavery of false gods and idols.
Our worship of God will not be in vain. He will provide for us to such an extent that we will be able to put aside our work every week to spend quality time with Him. Our lives will be an honor to our parents. He will fill us with love and respect for all people so that we will not want to do anything to harm them. He will bless our marital relationships so that we will not want to harm those closest to us. He will transform us into people of integrity who will deal honestly and truthfully, and He will not only provide the things that we need, but will take away jealousy and give us contentment and peace in our hearts.
1,500 years later Jesus reiterated, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). His law is a part of the new covenant and is written upon the new hearts that He gives us when we believe in Him: “I will make a new covenant… I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be My people… All shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Hebrews 8:7-12).
Ironically, Satan “the lawless one” also promotes the law of God, but in a radically different way. He portrays the law as a list of rules that must be kept in order to avoid punishment. He presents God as some kind of creepy celestial Santa Claus who “knows if you’ve been bad or good,” ready to reward, withhold, or punish based on your performance. He takes the simple, intuitive principles of the law that everyone can agree with, and multiplies them into innumerable arbitrary and unreasonable requirements. And most of all, he uses his perverted claims about the law to distort and malign God’s character, and to bring accusations against His followers.
Jesus experienced this when He was on this earth. For example, “Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So [the religious leaders] watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Step forward.’ Then He said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent… He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him” (Mark 3:1-6).
Jesus performed a miracle of grace to ease the suffering of a disabled man. But instead of marveling at God’s goodness and grace, the religious leaders used a distortion of the Sabbath commandment to bring accusations against Jesus.
This paradigm, using distortions of God’s law to bring accusations and punishment, was perfected by the beast from the sea. During the darkest part of the dark ages, the Roman Catholic Church developed the inquisition to investigate people accused of heresy. You can read about it in Wikipedia or any history of the Medieval period.
It was a difficult time and a lot of things were going wrong, with wars, invasions, epidemics, and weather-related disasters. In those superstitious times, so-called heretics made convenient scapegoats. As I describe the main features of the inquisition, keep in mind first of all that Satan’s agenda for the church was “to change times and law [in order to] persecute the saints of the Most High”, and secondly, that this is what we will see in the final crisis.
First of all, the medieval Roman Catholic Church developed hundreds of canon laws that essentially became the law of the land. Many of these had to do with church administration, but there were also laws against heretics that led to the persecution of Jews, Muslims, and so-called heretical sects such as the Cathari, Waldensians, and Protestants.
In order to find out who was committing heresy the citizenry was incentivized to make accusations. One of the common punishments was the confiscation of property, and the accusers got to share in the proceeds; this resulted in many false accusations. In 1,252 torture was explicitly authorized in the interrogation of heresy; this resulted in many false confessions.
Finally, the state acted as enforcer for the church, inflicting punishment on those found guilty. “Convictions of unrepentant heresy were handed over to the secular courts, which generally resulted in the execution or life imprisonment”, “Punishment did not take place primarily for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others might become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit” (Wikipedia article Inquisition).
Thank God this horrible monstrosity, carried out in the name of Jesus, did not continue indefinitely. “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have been mortally wounded” (Revelation 13:3). The beast from the sea suffered a mortal wound to its political and military head that severely limited its power over the state. Video 34 gives details about how the mortal wound played out in history.
The Protestant Reformation stripped away the Papacy’s religious monopoly and its ability to control political events in Western Europe. France had been among the strongest supporters of the papacy, but during the French revolution the armies of Napoleon arrested Pope Pius VI in AD 1798 and forcibly took him to France where he died in exile. And in 1870, during the Italian revolution, the papal states were confiscated and the pope became “a prisoner of the Vatican”.
All of these events, along with the international influence of the United States Constitution, greatly expanded religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
However, “the mortal wound was healed” (Revelation 13:3). In the next couple of videos we will see that the beast slowly regains its power, and teams up with another beast “from the earth”. The new beast creates an image or likeness of the beast from the sea, in other words, a modern version of the medieval church/state union, which will again attempt “to change times and law [in order to] persecute the saints of the Most High.”
Many of the developments that we are seeing in our society today are paving the way for the modern version of the beast from the sea. It is alarming to think that we could be on the verge of a high-tech version of the Dark Ages.
To be honest, I find Revelation 13 to be horrifying, and whenever I read it I have to keep two crucial factors in mind. First of all, Revelation 13 reveals Satan’s master plan, and as clever as the devil is, he is a defeated foe; he was kicked out of heaven, he was defeated at the Cross, and his plans are doomed to failure.
Secondly, it was the Dark Ages that gave rise to the Protestant Reformation, the greatest flood of Divine light since the time of the apostles; and the Reformation pales in comparison to what God has in mind during the final events. The gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, great multitudes of people will be saved, and the end of sin and Satan will come. There is a good ending to this story.
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