25. The Image of the Beast
READ: Rev. 13:11-18 Before continuing lesson.
1. HOW DO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS BEAST’S ARRIVAL DIFFER WITH THAT OF THE OTHER BEASTS?
1IM Rev. 13:11 All of the other beasts rose up out of the sea. Rev. 17:15 interprets the symbol of water as referring to organized nations, languages, and peoples. But this beast rises up out of the land. By inference then, this beast would rise up in an area where there has not previously been organized nations.* The only nation that arose in a previously unorganized area, at the time when the beast was receiving its deadly wound, would be the United States. Actually, in 1798, the year that France gave the Papacy its deadly wound, France was the first nation to recognize the United States as an independent nation.
So the two-horned, lamb-like beast is the United States.
*There were over 500 nations of native Americans in North America at the time the U.S. took root as a nation. But these were disconnected with each other, and often at war. There was no common government or religion among them. For these reasons, and many more, the area where the United States took root was considered more or less virgin territory.
2. How does John describe this beast—the United States?
2IM Rev. 13:11 The beast would have two horns like a lamb, and yet would speak like a dragon.
Bible scholars interpret this text to describe the fact that the U.S. would come into being as a peaceful nation, perhaps because of its freedoms, especially of speech and religion (the very things that were missing in Europe). The two horns are thought to represent the two houses of congress, although they could also refer to the two parts of its nature—a lamb which eventually speaks like a dragon.
The dragon part of this beast has not yet fully appeared, but the fact that the United States claims to be the only superpower, that it is beginning to restrict both personal and religious freedoms, etc., seem to point in that direction.
3. HOW DOES THIS LAMB-LIKE BEAST RELATE TO THE FIRST BEAST OF VERSES 1-10?
3IM Rev 13:12 In some way the U.S. will link up with the Papacy in such a way that it will use similar methods to increase it’s power. With this power, it will force everyone on Earth to worship the first beast—the Papacy. John goes on to show how the U.S. will accomplish this.
4. WHAT DOES THE TWO-HORNED BEAST DO IN ORDER TO WIN CONVERTS FOR THE PAPACY?
4IM Rev 13:13 He performed miracles in order to lead people to accept the Papacy. One of the miracles will be the causing of fire to come down on Earth in the sight of its citizens. (Compare 2 Thess. 2:9, 10)
5. AFTER THE UNITED STATES DECEIVES THE WORLD INTO FOLLOWING THE PAPACY, WHAT DOES THE U.S. HAVE THEM DO?
5IM Rev. 13:14 The Papacy has gained its power through the centuries by way of intimidating governments and peoples to obey it and to carry out its decrees. These decrees often caused the elimination of those who disagreed with the doctrines or policies of the Papacy. Actually millions of people died because they refused to follow Papal dogmas.
To set up an image to the beast, it can be deduced that the United States will bring religious liberty to an end and follow the model of the Papacy in enforcing its policies.
6. WHAT REFLEX EFFECT WILL TAKE PLACE WHEN THE UNITED STATES ERECTS THE IMAGE TO THE BEAST.
6IM Rev. 13:15 Somewhere along the way the image principle takes on a life of its own, and the United States begins to carry out policies that are similar to the Papal edicts of the dark ages.
The issue of the government controlling the religion of the people becomes crucial, and eventually, by its laws, it will become a capitol offence to refuse to worship the image. (Compare the golden image and the experience of the three Hebrews. Dan 3)
Truly, it is at this time that the lamb-like beast speaks like a dragon. Rev. 12:7-9 reveals that the dragon is Satan. To force God’s people to go against their consciences is precisely the character of Satan. So, in keeping with the Papal code and the rage of the dragon (Rev 12:17), God’s people will be judged guilty, and the time set for them to be rounded up for execution.
7. HOW DOES THE UNITED STATES FIGURE IN PLACING THE MARK OF THE BEAST UPON EVERYONE ON EARTH?
7IM Rev. 13:16 The lamb-like beast—now turned dragon—has great power on Earth. Otherwise he would be unable to force everyone on Earth to receive the mark of the beast (we shall have more to say about the mark of the beast in our next lesson).
One of the interesting things about this mark, is that it can be placed on the forehead or upon the hand. As we learned in the study of the seal of God, when the seal is placed on the forehead it indicates that the recipient believes in God and has received His grace by faith in Jesus.
So, we would expect that the mark placed in the forehead of a person would indicate that he/she is a believer in the Papacy and its image. By contrast, it would seem that the mark in the hand would point out that the person may not believe the doctrines of the Papacy or its image, but will do the things that they require—presumably because it’s more convenient, or out of fear for the penalties that are being enforced.
8. WHAT WAY DOES THE UNITED STATES AND THE PAPACY USE TO "SMOKE OUT" THOSE WHO WILL NOT ACCEPT THE MARK?
8IM Rev 13:17 Those who refuse to accept the mark will be boycotted so that they cannot purchase the things they need—food, fuel, housing, etc. The idea seems to be that sometime or other, God’s people will need to buy provisions. At that time they will be apprehended and either forced to receive the mark, or placed in prison to await the date of execution.
9. BIBLE STUDENTS MIGHT HAVE DIFFICULTY UNDERSTANDING THIS PROPHECY, WERE IT NOT FOR THE MANY CLUES THAT JOHN WROTE BY INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. HOW DOES THE NUMBER 666 FIT INTO THESE SYMBOLS?
9 IM Rev. 13:18 As shown in the former lesson on the Antichrist, the number 666 is one of the symbols that helps to identify the Antichrist. Now we’ve discovered that the term "Antichrist" can be broadened to include the United States as well, for by now it is fully a part of that system. But what does 666 mean. We counted the number 666 in our last lesson, but there is a point we did not discuss.
In the days of John, it was considered "cool" to reduce your name to its numerical value by counting the letters that represent Roman numerals. Then when you signed a document you could merely sign the number, instead of having the write out the entire name. This must have been helpful to such people as Markus Aralias.
This seems to be the case here as well, for John says
The United States already shows signs of beginning to speak like a dragon. In several acts passed by Congress since the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001 (9/11), personal liberties have eroded. In addition, many evangelical churches have become much more vocal in seeking the support of the government for their own doctrines and policies. We will have to wait to see how this will play out, but it will be interesting at its best, and lethal at its worst. The times ahead will try men’s souls and see whether or not we’ve truly been God’s people, or have merely been following the crowd.
The only way we can be sure that we won’t be pressured into receiving the mark of the beast rather than the seal of God, is to spend much time in the study of the Bible and in prayer. This is the only way that we will have our minds filled with truth, and be completely plugged into God.
There’s no time to waste. Get ready now, and stay ready. This is not as difficult as it may seem. If we will confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, then God will forgive us. If we will surrender our own wills, and follow the commandments and other instructions that God has given, God will give us strength.
We need only ask Jesus to come into our lives and give us wisdom to live as He desires, and He will do it. When Jesus comes in—and stays—we will be ready. And daily Bible study and prayer will keep us ready. As we stay ready, we will be receiving the seal of God, and when the time comes for the seal to be placed upon God’s people, we will have it—and be saved!