The Beastly Religion

John saw the “Beast ascending from the Earth” intent on deceiving the “Inhabitants of the Earth.” The “Beast from the Sea” is characterized by its political power. In contrast, the “Beast from the Earth,” the “False Prophet,” uses religious performance and propaganda to deceive men, and economic sanctions to suppress all those who do not submit to its demands.

The beastly World Empire intermixes politics, religion, and commerce to advance its imperial agenda. The group known as the “Inhabitants of the Earth” gives allegiance to the “Beast from the Sea,” and by proxy, to the “Great Red Dragon,” namely, Satan. The Second Beast promotes the worship of and allegiance to the First Beast by encouraging men to erect an “image” to the First Beast - (Revelation 13:4-8).

Church in Winter - Photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash
[Photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash]

The First Beast has “
Ten Heads” and “Seven Horns.” One of its “Seven Heads” appeared to have been “slain,” but its “death stroke was healed.” The description “as having been slain” was applied previously to the “Lamb.” Just as the Son of Man “died and lived,” so the “Beast” was wounded “and lived - (ezésen - Revelation 1:18-20, 2:8, 5:6, 13:3-4).

The “resurrection” of the wounded “head” mimicked the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and the restoration of the “Beast” struck the “Inhabitants of the Earth” with awe. The First Beast counterfeits the Lamb - (Revelation 13:3-6).

Likewise, the “False Prophet,” the Second Beast, has two “horns like a lamb.” It imitates the “Lamb” by speaking with what sounds like his voice. While the “Lamb” has “Seven Horns,” the Second Beast has only “two.” It is a pale imitation of the true “Lamb.”

The “False Prophet” has the power to summon fire from heaven, making it the satanic counterpart to the “Two Witnesses.” Like them, the Second Beast is a “prophet,” which is why he is called the “False Prophet.” He masquerades as a prophet of God and claims to speak for the “Beast from the Sea” though he does so with the voice of the “Dragon.”

This Second Beast employs religious devices to direct the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to erect an image of the First Beast, and it uses economic pressure to punish all who resist, especially the “saints” who, like the three Jewish exiles in Babylon, refuse to venerate the beastly “image” - (Daniel 3:13-14).

His attempt to deceive the “saints” was anticipated in the letters to the Seven Assemblies with their warnings against “false apostles,” the “Nicolaitans,” the “Prophetess Jezebel,” and the “teachings of Balaam.” The “False Prophet” was active in the seven churches, attacking them through deceivers and economic deprivation - (Revelation 2:2-6, 2:14-15, 16:13, 19:20).

The stress is on the use of religious deception to seduce humanity, but when coercion is necessary, the Second Beast’s tool of choice is the economic sanction.

BEASTLY NUMBER


The terms “Number of the Beast” and “image” use language from the story of the great “golden image erected” by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, and his demand for his subjects to venerate it. That incident resulted in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego being cast into the “burning fiery furnace”:

  • (Daniel 3:1-7) – “Nebuchadnezzar made an image… the height thereof SIXTY CUBITS, its breadth SIX CUBITS… And the king ordered all peoples, races, and tongues to fall down and RENDER HOMAGE TO THE IMAGE. Whoever did not render homage to it was slain.”
  • (Revelation 13:14-18) – “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand or upon their forehead… six hundred and SIXTY AND SIX.”

That story is the source for the “Number of the Beast,” six hundred and sixty-six, and this links the beastly “Number” to state idolatry. The idolatrous religion and political power are inextricably linked in the beastly World Empire.

The height of Nebuchadnezzar’s image was “sixty” cubits, and its width was “six cubits.” The Greek Septuagint version reads hexékonta and hex cubits, the same form of the second two numbers added to “six hundred” in Revelation, and it divides the original number into three components based on the number ‘6’ (600 + 60 + 6).

Humanity is divided into two groups: Those who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” and those who take the “Mark of the Beast.” Total allegiance and worship are given to one or the other.

The Second Beast thus employs a counterfeit of the Apostolic Faith to seduce men, causing them to render homage to the “Dragon” and the “Beast from the Sea.” However, its true goal is to destroy the Church through deception, apostasy, economic pressure, and persecution.

Once deceived, the “Inhabitants of the Earth” become willing supporters of the “Dragon” in his quest to annihilate the “Seed of the Woman,” namely, the men who have the “Testimony of Jesus” - (“And the Inhabitants of the Earth rejoiced over them… because the two prophets tormented them”).

Apotheosis of Washington - Photo by Vishwas Katti on Unsplash
[Apotheosis of Washington - Photo by Vishwas Katti on Unsplash]

The marginalized congregations of Asia would have recognized the arrogant pretensions of Rome in John’s visions, especially the demand for the veneration of Caesar. Local magistrates pressured residents of the Empire to participate in the imperial cult, which would have included economic sanctions against anyone who refused to comply.

If there is a lesson for us today, it is that the “Beast” and its vassals will imitate the true Apostolic Faith to deceive, if possible, the very “elect.” This counterfeit will look and feel familiar, and very likely, it will direct us to give the allegiance that belongs to Jesus alone to someone or something else.

The Book of Revelation calls this figure the “False Prophet” and portrays him as the satanic counterfeit of the true prophets and apostles of God. The name reflects Christ’s warning that “false anointed ones” and “false prophets” would appear and deceive many before his coming “on the clouds of heaven.” His followers must count the cost and give their full allegiance to Jesus now in anticipation of what is coming.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Beast from the Sea - (The Dragon began his attack against the Seed of the Woman by summoning his seed, the Beast from the Sea – Revelation 13:1-5)
  • War Against the Saints - (The Beast from the sea is authorized to wage war on the SAINTS for its overlord, the Ancient Serpent, the Dragon – Revelation 13:6-10)
  • Beast from the Earth - (The Beast from the Earth imitates the Lamb. It is the mouthpiece of the Dragon and the propagandist of the Beast from the Sea)

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