Characters and Themes – The Second Beast

19Apr11

Rev. 13:11-12 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. [12] It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.

As we have seen in previous posts the events and characters described in Revelation 13 find their fulfillment in the first century, especially in those events involving the fall of Jerusalem and the persecution of the Church at the hands of the Jews and the Romans.

So, what are we to make of this second beast? Where does this beast come from and what does it or he do?

There are three major options that have postulated by preterist and historians as to the identity of this beast. But first let us consider that this beast, like the other beast may represent a group rather than an individual. The appearance does not appear to be that of a man and we are given no description that it represents a single man, like we did with the individual heads of the other beast. It is quite possible that John had an individual in mind, but that is not necessary.

Here are a few important clues to keep in mind as we discuss the various possibilities.

  • Coming from the “Land” it appears this character is related to Israel in some way
  • While the appearance is that of the lamb, it spoke as a dragon. This would signify a religious aspect to it’s nature or actions
  • It is under the control of the Beast (Rome) and works with that beast to accomplish it’s task

THE EMPEROR CULT

The first popular view is that this beast represents the Emperor Cult in which the given emperor at the time is worshiped under compulsion. Historically we know that this was a common aspect of roman life. All the emperors starting with Julius took on the character of a god and demanded worship from the citizens and those that they ruled over.

A priestly class was created to enforce this mandate. They would set up in various areas under the auspices of the 10 Roman governors at the time. They created rituals and demanded worship of the emperor. They would even build and maintain images of the emperor. Even the image of the emperor commanded worship and one would have to bow down before the image as it was paraded throughout the streets under the penalty of death.

This could be what John had in mind. Though it has a religious activity and is under the control of the Roman rule it does not appear to have a connection to the “Land” which is Israel

JUDEAN GOVERNOR

It is argued that various Judean governors participated in the actions of persecuting the Church at the bidding of the Roman Empire. They demanded the respect and admiration of the Roman rulers and would be in charge of enforcing the rules of the empire, including the Emperor Cult.

This does seem to have the connection with Israel and is under the control of the Roman Empire. And though there is the possibility of the religious implications of the Emperor Cult, the position itself would not “speak like a lamb” as one would expect to find in a more religious position. The character described above assumed to take on the personage of the lamb but was truly a dragon. The Judean governor does not seem to fit this completely, though it should be considered as a strong possibility.

JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS

I believe the strongest argument comes from Gary DeMar, RC Sproul, Dr. Kenneth Gentry and others when they argue this should be seen as representing the religious leaders of the day. Reminding ourselves of Jesus’ own indictment against them would be wise. He used words and descriptions that seem to parallel the description used in this passage.

So, let us consider each portion of this passage to see where it may apply.

Rev. 13:11-12 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. [12] It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.

As we have noted numerous times in previous posts Scripture pictures the Jews as those from or “of” the land. This dates back to the land promises and is even included in Paul letter to Galatians as he compares and contrasts the heavenly and “earthly.” In Paul’s case the earthly were the apostate Jews.

Rev. 13:11-12 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. [12] It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.

This obvious religious expression denotes those that appear to be properly religious while inside they were truly doing the work of the devil. This connection is made several times be Jesus Himself. This includes even the context of Revelation itself.

Rev 2:9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie

Jesus’ words in these passages deal with the Biblical and covenantal understanding of the “true Jew” and the apostate Jewish pretender. Like Paul demonstrates in Galatians, it is those of faith are true Israel, not those who happen to be born of a certain race.

Gal 3:7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

This is a lesson that must be learned by the Dispensationalist. In fact, this lesson learned alone would correct much of what is wrong with the system. Actually, it would cause the system to collapse! But, back to the main point. How does Scripture paint a picture of the Jewish leaders? We have already seen that they are celled the synagogue of Satan. What else?

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.

Matt 21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

Matt 22:29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Matt 32:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.

15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16″Woe to you, blind guides

17  You blind fools!

19You blind men!

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

24You blind guides

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.

33You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.

With this overwhelming indictment against the religious leaders of His time Jesus shows clearly that they qualify as those who appear to be a lamb, but are truly a dragon!

Rev. 13:11-12 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. [12] It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.

In this we show the cooperation of the Jewish leaders and the Roman (first beast) government. This is easily show through two example straight from the Scriptures.

The first shows that they conspired with the Roman government to execute Jesus. They brought the charges and demanded and expected the Roman government to do what they did not have the authority to do. The worked with the Roman government to accomplish their task.

John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters.It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

They also conspired and worked for and with the Roman government to persecute the early Church. This found in great detail in Acts 24 as Paul is brought up on civil charges before the Roman magistrate. This was orchestrated by the Jewish religious leaders.

So, in this way the Jewish leaders joined forces with the beast (Rome) to accomplish it’s task. It did so with the authority provided them by the Roman government. This would even include the stoning of Stephen which the Roman government allowed as well as other similar activities.

Finally we will deal with the concept of the commanding of worship of the beast. This was also discussed previously when we deal;t with the Jewish religious leaders actions toward Christ. Worship entails something different then the mind of the average modern evangelical would normally understand. It is not about gathering together to sing praise songs and pray. Worship involves the placement of a thing or person in an area of authority that is reserved for God. hence why we call things like money, friends, entertainment and such “idols.” They are given a place of authority and reverence which is reserved exclusively for God.

The Jews did this blatantly at the trial of Christ.

John 19:13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

It gets no more obvious than this. They, as covenantal leaders of the the people of the “earth,” lead their people into elevating Caesar and Rome to a place that was reserved exclusively for Christ! This denial of Christ and elevation of Rome by those who appeared to have been a lamb, but were truly a dragon speaks volumes about deciphering who this second beast was.

The reader should take some time to study further as this blog’s intention was make the difficult easier to understand and provide options for interpretation one may not find in the average Christian Bookstore prophecy section. One should investigate the writings of RC Sproul, Gary DeMar and especially the works on Revelation by Dr. Kenneth Gentry for a more complete examination of these views.

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4 Responses to “Characters and Themes – The Second Beast”

  1. 1 Yehoshuamyking

    Hi David

    I have to ask a question… Are you partial,full or hyper? You really do not have to answer that question.

    Just say YES that you absolutely know and believe that the Lord Jesus is LITERALLY coming again…

    • 2 low5point

      Partial…I mention the critique of hyper/full in an early post and denote when I use the term preterist I am referring to the historic, orthodox form of preterism. Yes…literal and physical coming. I am not in the heretic labaling business, but will refer to full preterism as heterodox

  2. 3 Yehoshuamyking

    LITERALLY and PHYSICALLY coming again…

  3. 4 Yehoshuamyking

    YEAH !!!


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