Saturday, 04 November 2017 16:00

88. The beast that comes out of the sea: received its power from the dragon * Revelation 13:2 - PART 3

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2 And the beast that I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet 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.




*** Background ***: The connection between Revelation 13 and the book of Daniel is undeniable. More specifically, chapters 7 and 8 of Daniel provide many details that help us understand the identity of the sea beast from Revelation 13. In order to get the overall picture, we must go back even further, to Daniel 2. In that chapter, we read that the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about the ruling powers of the world, extending from Babylon until the divided governments that emerged after the fall of the Roman Empire. The dream ended with the divine kingdom that “the God of heaven will set up” (Daniel 2:44). In the dream, there was a statue, and each segment of the statue was made of a different material. Each segment represented a different kingdom. The head of gold was Babylon (Daniel 2:36-38). The chest and arms of silver represent the kingdom that caused the fall of Babylon (Daniel 2:39, first part), and that kingdom was Medo-Persia. The hips and thighs of bronze represent the kingdom that came next, and that was Greece (Daniel 2:39, last part). The last and fourth kingdom is represented by the legs of iron. It was a kingdom that would “crush and break all [things] in pieces” (Daniel 2:40). History tells us that the Roman Empire is the kingdom that overthrew Greece. After the Roman Empire came to power, no other kingdom came and took over them with their same strength and unified front, like it had happened in the previous kingdoms. In a way, the Roman Empire disintegrated and gave way to divided nations. Smaller empires came along but were never conquering as a government of global influence, like the four kingdoms mentioned in the dream. Fragmented governing rulers replaced the Roman domain. Nonetheless, Roman influence was still prevalent, and this was represented in the dream as the feet of the statue, which were iron mixed with clay. To summarize many centuries of history, we have in this dream the outline of the global governing powers, starting with Babylon, followed by Medo-Persia, then Greece, and finally Rome. After that, we see the rise of divided nations, which are still divided today.

Daniel 7 and 8 give more details about the historical events concerning the rise and fall of powerful political regimes. In both chapters, they follow the same order laid out in Daniel 2. In Daniel 7, the prophet saw 4 beasts instead of a statue. But the same kingdoms were still represented. Daniel saw a lion, bear, leopard, and a fourth beast. John, on the other hand, saw only one beast, but it had elements from the four creatures mentioned in Daniel 7. The description in Revelation 13:2 comes in the reverse order: a beast that resembled a leopard, a bear, and a lion. Daniel had the vision while living at the time of the lion, and he looked into the future, describing the kingdoms that were to come. John, however, was living at the time of the fourth beast, and he looked into the past to describe the nature of the beast that comes out of the sea. Imagine there is a line between Daniel and John. They both are looking at the line. This line represents how history unfolds. When Daniel sees the line, he sees the kingdoms as they would rise and fall, in historical order: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. When John looks at this timeline, he looks towards the past, and he sees history from where he is to what came immediately before, and so forth, so he sees Rome, Greece, Medo-Persia, and Babylon.

The timeline of worldly kingdoms is also represented in Daniel 8, but in that vision, they are portrayed as different animals. At the time of the vision, Babylon had already fallen, so there was no more need to include it in the scenario. In Daniel 8 we see 3 important elements: a ram, a goat, and a little horn that grew. Daniel described those three pieces as symbols for three powers that were going to emerge.

The beast that comes out of the water is not a repetition of all four of the beasts in Daniel. Note that Revelation 13:2 says that the sea beast “was like”. From Johns perspective, he was already living at the time of the fourth beast of Daniel 7. In describing the sea beast with characteristics from the beasts that came before the Roman Empire, John is saying that the sea beast has incorporated elements from those three previous kingdoms.

*** Like a leopard ***: Daniel 7:6 described the third beast “like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it”. Greece came to power very quickly, conquering a vast portion of the known world at speeds never seen before up to that point. Daniel 8:5 tell us that “a male goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.” According to Daniel chapter 8:21, “the male goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king”. After Greece conquered Medo-Persia (the goat victory against the ram), “the male goat grew very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and instead of it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.” (Daniel 8:8). The similarities between the leopard and the goat are very strong. When we compare these verses to the historical accounts of the rise of the Greek Empire, we can understand the symbology perfectly. Alexander the great was the king of Greece who ran through the world, conquering new territories so fast as if the had wings. Alexander had four generals, who worked under his leadership, Cassander, Ptolemy, Antigonus, and Seleucus. At the apex of his power, Alexander died (the great horn was broken), and the four generals took over, dividing the kingdom under each of their domains (the four heads of the leopard and the four notable horns of the goat). One thing that both the leopard beast and the sea beast have in common is that they both received dominion from an external source (Daniel 7:6, Revelation 13:2).

*** Feet like feet of a bear ***: Daniel 7:5 described the second beast “like a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” The uneven look the second beast had (one side was higher than the other) is also described in Daniel 8:3-4, when he described the ram that was standing near the water: “there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.” The kingdom that won over Babylon was, in fact, the combined powers of the Medes and the Persians. Starting out, the Medes were the stronger of the two but in time the Persians became the dominant part (referenced as the beast being raised up on one side, and as one horn being taller than the other). The three ribs in the bear’s teeth parallel the three directions that the ram was pushing as it went on establishing its territory. Daniel’s prophecy was not the first one about how the Medes would overtake Babylon. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied about the fall of Babylon. “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them [Babylon], who shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.” (Isaiah 13:17). “Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, their captains, and all their rulers, and all the land of their dominion. And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant.” (Jeremiah 51:28-29). These prophecies were made many years before Babylon fell to the combined powers of the Medes and the Persians. The bear beast of Daniel 7:5 was called to stand up and “devour much flesh”. The ram was described as a very strong force, so much so that “no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand” (Daniel 8:4). This reminds us of how Revelation tells us the world would worship the sea beast, as they would say: “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:4). The appearance of the sea beast was so imposing that it gave people of the world the impression that it was invincible. It could stand up and devour anything in front of him. Just like the bear beast, who had three ribs in its mouth, the sea beast (as the little horn power of Daniel 7:8) destroyed three horns when it came up and assumed its power. In 538 AD, three of the ten kingdoms that rose after the fall of the Roman Empire were destroyed. These kingdoms were the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths. History tells us that a religious power which had been strengthened politically at that time was responsible for the destruction of these kingdoms, exactly how Daniel had prophesied.

*** Overview ***: The sea beast is a political-religious power that emerged from the Roman Empire (fourth beast) and that has characteristics from the kingdoms preceding it. The sea beast received power from the dragon, similarly to how the leopard beast in Daniel 7:6 received its power from an external source. With its bear-like feet, the sea beast is ready to stand up and exercise the power it received from the dragon, much like the bear beast in Daniel 7:5, who, upon standing, was called to conquer the territories on its path. This political-religious power demonstrates, through their actions, that it is willing to dominate and devour anyone who tries to interfere with their plans. The sea beast believes that no one can get rid of its domain. However, the Bible is clear about the end that this beast will face. It is not invincible. When Jesus returns, He will make it clear that the teachings presented by the false Trinity do not come from God. Thus, God will put an end to the beast'’ deceits. We can read how John described the details of his vision as to how the end will come to the sea beast and the false prophet: "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." (Revelation 19:20).These false religious and political systems will be destroyed forever. The return of Jesus unmasks all the falsehoods that Satan's agents spread across the planet. The only way to protect ourselves against Satan's attacks through the sea beast and the false prophet is to remain in God's truth. The beast looks to change times and the law of God. But the Bible describes believers as those who keep the commandments of God, just as God gave them.

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