20 July 2021

Beast from the Sea


The Dragon began his war on the “seed of the woman” by summoning his “seed,” the beast from the seaRevelation 13:1-5

Stormy Sea - Photo by NIKOLAOS AXELIS on Unsplash
At the end of chapter 12, the “
Dragon” was poised to attack the “seed of the woman” as he stood on the seashore summoning his own “seed.” Having failed to destroy the “son” and the “woman,” he set out to annihilate the “seed of the woman,” the men and women who have the “testimony of Jesus.” - [Photo by NIKOLAOS AXELIS on Unsplash].

Chapter 13 opens with the “beast ascending from the sea,” a monstrous creature with “seven heads and ten horns.” The image draws heavily from the vision of Daniel about four “beasts ascending from the sea” (Daniel 7:2-8):
  • (Revelation 13:1-2) – “And I saw out of the sea a beast ascending; having ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his head, names of slander. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet as of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority.”
The “Dragon” began to implement his plan to destroy the “seed of the woman” by summoning his own “seed” to ascend, the beasts from the sea and the earth. This is how the “war” between the “seed of the Woman” and the “seed” of the “Ancient Serpent” plays out on the earth - (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:11-18).

And he stood on the sand of the sea” (estathė epi tėn ammon tės thalassė). The clause forms a verbal link to the conflict at the end of the “thousand years” when “Satan gathered the nations to the war, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea” (hė ammos tės thalassė) - (Revelation 20:7-9).

And I saw a beast ascending out of the sea.” This clause uses language from Daniel’s vision of “four beasts ascending from the sea,” and “ascending” translates a Greek participle in the present tense (anabainon) - That is to say, progressive action. It describes an ongoing process, NOT a single incident.

Previously, the “beast” was seen ascending in the vision of the “two witnesses,” only there, it “ascended from the Abyss,” and the same participle is used in both passages Thus, the “sea” is the equivalent of the “Abyss.” The theme of evil “ascending” from a dark place occurs several times in the book (Revelation 11:7, 13:11, 15:2, 17:8, 21:1-2).

The Greek noun rendered “beast” (thérion) refers to a “wild beast,” and not to any domesticated animal. In ancient Greek, it was the diminutive form of “beast” (thėr). Likewise, in Revelation, “lamb” translates the diminutive form of the common Greek noun for “lamb” (arnion). The grammatical parallel is deliberate. The “beast” imitates the “Lamb.” However, the chief agent of the “Dragon” is a wild animal, not a domesticated lamb, despite appearances to the contrary.

Daniel saw four “beasts” symbolizing four kingdoms “diverse one from another.” In contrast, John saw a single beast with the characteristics of all four of Daniel’s beasts, the features of a lion, bear, leopard, and the unnatural creature with “ten horns.” In Revelation, the features are listed in reverse order from Daniel. Thus, this single beast is an amalgam of all four of the beasts from Daniel. It is related to them but also is something far worse.

The “beast” had “seven heads and ten horns,” and a crown on each horn. The figure of “seven heads” is derived from the individual heads of the four beasts in Daniel - The lion, the bear, the fourth beast, and the four “heads” of the leopard.

The “Dragon” also had “seven heads and ten horns,” but it had “seven diadems” on its heads, whereas the “beast from the sea” had ten diadems on its horns. This demonstrates the familial link between the “Dragon” and the “beast.” The latter is the offspring or “seed” of the former. The “diadems” demonstrate the authority of the “Dragon” - He rules through his earthly minions - (Daniel 12:3).

The number "seven" represents completeness, and here, the complete political authority of the "beast" (“There was given to it authority over every tribe, tongue and nation”). The seven “heads” demonstrate it is more than an individual human ruler. Later, its “ten horns” will be linked to “ten kings” - (Revelation 13:7, 17:7-12).

The “seven diadems” represent the claim by the “beast” to political sovereignty over the earth. But its claim is “blasphemous.” The “Lamb” is the true “ruler of the kings of the earth,” and he is the “king of kings” - (Revelation 1:4-5, 5:6-14, 17:14).

The arrogant claim of the “beast” counterfeits the authority of the “Lamb.” Its political authority is derived from the “Dragon.” However, previously Satan was defeated by the messianic “son.” He may be loose on the earth, but his opportunity to wreak havoc is limited - only for “a short time.” Moreover, his ability to act is subject to the authority of the “Lamb” - (Revelation 12:7-12).

The “beast” is a trans-historical entity, a political reality that has existed for thousands of years. It has appeared periodically in history in various forms. But the “beast” will have one final incarnation as part of Satan’s final assault on the “saints.”
  • (Revelation 13:3-5) – “And I saw one of its heads, showing that it had been slain unto death, and the stroke of its death was healed. And the whole earth marveled after the beast, and did homage to the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they did homage to the beast, saying: Who is like the beast, and who can make war with it? And there was given it a mouth speaking great things and slanders, and it was given it to act forty-two months.”
The slaying of one of the “heads” echoes the messianic prophecy from Genesis - “I will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel” - (Genesis 3:15).

The verb rendered “slain” is sphazō, meaning “slay, slaughter.” It was commonly used for the slaying of sacrificial animals. The same clause was applied to the “Lamb” that was standing before the Throne “as having been slain” - (Revelation 5:6).

There is a conceptual link between the death of the “Lamb” and the slaying of the “head of the beast.” The death of the latter with its subsequent restoration mimics the death and resurrection of the “Lamb.” This understanding is confirmed by the description, the “stroke of the sword and lived [ezésen].” The same form of the verb was applied to Jesus as the one “who became dead and lived [ezésen]” - (Revelation 2:8).

The “head” was slain by a “plague of death” (plégé). How this was administered is not stated. Plégé can mean “strike," but in Revelation, it elsewhere means “plague.” This suggests that God was the cause of his “death.” The next vision refers to the blow as the “stroke of a sword” - (Revelation 13:14).

The death of the “beast” parallels the defeat and expulsion of the “Dragon.” After his defeat, he retained the ability to deceive the “inhabitants of the earth,” but he was authorized to deceive them only for a “short season.” Unlike the resurrection of the “Lamb,” the life of the “Dragon” is extended but only for a limited period. The image of the restoration of the slain “head” is based on another passage from the vision of Daniel:
  • (Daniel 7:11-12) - “The beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire. And as for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.”
Only one of the “seven heads” was slain. Elsewhere, the “seven heads” represent seven kingdoms. Thus, the death of the “head” does not portray the death of an individual, but the fall of a kingdom - (Revelation 17:10).

Sea Monster - Photo by Jonas Friese on Unsplash
[Photo by Jonas Friese on Unsplash]

The “
whole earth marveled after the beast” because it lived again; that is, the “inhabitants of the earth.” Anyone who gives allegiance to the “beastgives homage to the Dragon, the power behind the throne. “Render homage” signifies an act of obeisance to someone of higher rank.

Who is like the Beast.” This parodies the biblical declaration about God (“Who is like you, O Yahweh, among the gods?”). The “inhabitants of the earth” ascribed to the “beast” honors that belonged only to God.

Who can make war with the Beast?” The declaration is ironic. Previously, the “Dragon” was defeated by Michael and “his army.” The “inhabitants of the earth” do not understand that they serve a defeated master. Awed by the “beast,” they offer it their total allegiance - (Revelation 13:8).

The “beast from the sea” was given authority to operate for “forty-two months,” the same period during which the “holy city was tread underfoot.” Likewise, in Daniel, the fourth beast “trampled the remnant with its feet” for the designated period of the “time, times, and part of a time” - (Daniel 7:19-25, 8:10, Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5).

The “forty-two months” during which the “beast” makes accusations against the “saints” is connected to the forty-two months when “the holy city was given to the nations and trampled underfoot forty and two months,” and the twelve hundred and sixty days during which the “two witnesses” gave their “testimony,” after which they were slain by the “Beast from the Abyss.” In each case, the same reality is in view, though from different aspects.



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