Revelation 13 starts with some very detailed symbolism. Whether verses 1 and 2 describe a person, a world government, a nation, or anything else…..I don’t know. Most of us have heard the various speculations, the most popular being the Left Behind Series; however, I have no idea what the true meaning of this symbolism is…but I do know, whatever “it” is….:it" is given its power by Satan:
Revelation 13:1-2 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.
There are a few HUGE things to consider here. First, signs and wonders WILL BE DONE and Jesus warns us not to be deceived:
Matthew 24:23-25 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
Revelation 13:13-15 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth—by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
The elect will not be deceived, but those that prefer unrighteousness will prefer to believe the lie and God will send them delusion because they take such pleasure in their life of sin:
2Thessalonains 2:7-12 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The thing that is made clear throughout God’s Word is also made clear here: some are saved and some are condemned….whichever side of the Cross you are on, the end of the story has been told…Jesus wins….it is not even a fight….the brightness of His appearing will destroy Satan and all lovers and workers of darkness.
Those that are on earth for His coming will experience anguish like no other time in history…these people will not only deny Christ and worship the beast, but they will foolishly and boldly say that no one can make war with the beast:
Revelation 13:4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
It is interesting that in the big picture of eternity that Satan is only allowed…yes he is allowed, by God….he is still God’s devil on a chain….he is only allowed his position of authority for 42 months. Although there will be most that bow down and worship Satan, not all will…and Satan will be allowed to make war and defeat the saints:
Revelation 13:7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
To recap: Satan will be allowed to give power to the beast (whatever or whoever that is)…the beast will perform signs and wonders….he will also demand the worship of everyone or they will be killed….people will be forced to take the mark of the beast or they will not be able to buy or sell.
Revelation 13:16-17 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
So that leads to the obvious question….which line will you be in? The line that refuses to worship the beast unto death. The line that refuses to take his mark which will also, probably, lead to death…but will definitely lead to eternal condemnation?
Some reading that might say…”Come on, you don’t really believe all that stuff do you?” To them I would ask another question….Has God ever lied? He gave us His prophetic Word to show His authority and Divinity…are you going to doubt Him now because all this sounds strange to you? Peter talks about preparing our mind for action…you need to prepare your mind for how you will respond to these circumstances should you find yourself forced to decide between life unto death; or death unto life?