Revelation 13: 11-18: ‘All that glitters…’

“11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honour of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.” NIV

There are two beasts described in Revelation 13. It is one of the best known chapters in the book (possibly the best known). Even non-Christians have regularly dipped into it – notably writers of horror material for novels and films.

More generally, this second beast represents, I believe, religious power in the service of the secular state. This is always a formidable, deceptive and dangerous reality. Notice he attempts to appear gentle and harmless, but remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:15. There are nice, kind, loving false teachers around. We must not be duped by their niceness. That may be just a short step away from being devoured by their doctrine.

But specifically, many believe this has ultimate reference to a ‘false prophet’ who will endorse and apparently authenticate the antichrist by the false miracles he performs. As you look at verse 13, you may find it helpful to also have a look at Deuteronomy 13:1-3; Matthew 24:24 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9. Not everyone who works miracles is a genuine believer. ‘All that glitters is not gold.’ Christians can be so gullible, so easily taken in, with their desire for the spectacular. There are counterfeit miracles. (This looks like a counterfeit of 1 Kings 18:24-39).

So, in the dragon and the two beasts in Revelation 13, we see a false trinity of Satan, secular power and religious compromise (and, ultimately, Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet) joining together against the cause of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

But the dragon can’t win! Never forget it. On Good Friday, we remember how he did his worst, when he had Jesus crucified. But death could not hold our Lord, and three days later He was back.

Whenever it’s ‘Friday’, remember ‘Sunday’s comin’!