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Bible verses about Beast, The
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Job 41:1-34

Are we reading here of something that could come awfully close to a fire-breathing dragon? Could this be a description possibly of Tyrannosaurus Rex? Is God describing something that Job was familiar with? Yes, He was describing something that Job was familiar with—whatever it is. If Job was not familiar with it, it would have made absolutely no sense to him.

This beast—the real king of beasts—does not fear anybody. We are looking at a description, probably figurative, of Satan the Devil in the form of a dragon, a Tyrannosaurus Rex-like symbol of Satan. The dragon is the real source of power for the Beast—a king of pride, a powerful beast beyond human control, ferocious, dangerous, repulsive, unmitigated power—the quintessential carnivore, seeking to devour.

No wonder Revelation 13:4 says, "Who can make war against the beast?" It gives every appearance of invincibility. A nasty fellow, if ever one was described. It is this beast that places its mark upon human beings. What is "the mark of the beast" in a spiritual sense? What kind of spirit emanates from this wild, ferocious, voracious system being described?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Daniel 7:1-7

This is a further explanation of the world-ruling empires, showing national characteristics, but this time designed into animals of the same four kingdoms that appear in Daniel 2. Instead of being metals—gold, silver, brass, iron—now we have animals, indicating national characteristics of those four kingdoms, symbolized by the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the beast that was diverse from all the others.

The important thing to note here is that this illustration in Daniel 7 is a parallel of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. This illustration in Daniel 7 confirms that the legs of iron of the Daniel 2 image and the fourth beast of Daniel 7 both exist at Christ's return, fight against Him, and are defeated. So even as the feet and toes of the Daniel 2 image will be at the time of the end, so will this diverse beast. They are one and the same.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)


 

Daniel 7:4

In this prophecy, which many believe parallels Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Daniel 2:31-35, the prophet saw four beasts, the first of which represents Babylon. The symbolism of the beasts matches that of the image. The lion is the king of the beasts, but it is a vicious and formidable beast. With wings, it is also very swift. This imagery describes the early years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, marked by war, captivity of defeated nations, and destruction.

The lion imagery does not end with Babylon, however. When the apostle John "saw a beast rising up out of the sea," it possessed a "mouth like the mouth of a lion" (Revelation 13:1-2). Like the empires that followed, qualities of Babylon will be found in the end-time Beast power. All of the empires symbolized in this image spring from one common way of life that is thoroughly contrary to the way of God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part One): 'Head of Gold'


 

Daniel 7:7-8

This prophecy expands and fills in details of the image in Daniel 2. The "huge iron teeth" and the beast's actions link it inextricably to the legs and feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Whereas the legs, feet, and toes suggest a continuous progression and dominance on the world scene, Daniel 7 shows that Rome would rise and fall in successive kingdoms and empires, represented by the horns, until the last days.

Of course, the little horn introduces a new entity to this empire. Suffice it to say that it represents the false church guiding and controlling this brutal beast (cf. Revelation 13:11-18). The Bible shows this false church, among other things, speaking against God, persecuting the saints, being given power "for a time and times and half a time" and being destroyed forever by the power of God.

"The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom," writes Daniel (7:24), or as Herbert W. Armstrong said, they are ten successive resurrections of the Roman Empire. The little horn, the false church, supplants the first three of these, the Vandals, the Heruli and the Ostrogoths, Germanic invaders who successfully overthrew Rome and established their own short-lived empires between AD 429 and 554.

The final seven horns (called "seven mountains," in reference to kingdoms, and "seven heads," in reference to kings, in Revelation 17:9-10) are controlled by the false Roman church. In AD 554 Emperor Justinian, ruling the eastern half of the empire from Constantinople, restored the Empire in the west and recognized the supremacy of the Pope. Justinian fulfills the fourth horn and the first of the seven heads of the beast upon which "the Mother of Harlots" rides (verses 3-5). Later, Charlemagne, king of the Franks (800); Otto the Great (962); Charles V of the Hapsburg dynasty (1520) and Napoleon (1805) were all crowned emperors of Rome by the Pope, and fulfill the fifth through eighth horns and second through fifth heads. Garibaldi and Mussolini, dictators of Italy between 1870 and 1945, received papal approval to re-establish the Roman Empire, and were later joined by Adolf Hitler in this pursuit. They combine to represent the ninth horn and sixth head.

The last horn, the last head and the ten toes are yet future, the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, the terrifying and brutal Beast power soon to arise upon the earth. Some of the details of this final revival are found in Revelation 17.

1) It will be brief (Revelation 17:10, 12), not much longer than the three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:2; 12:14).

2) This last revival is made up of another ten horns, or ten kings, who give their power to a dictator known as the Beast (Revelation 17:12-13).

3) The ten kings and the Beast use the Woman as long as she is necessary to their plans, then they destroy her in their brutal hate (Revelation 17:16).

4) One of their main purposes is to "make war with the Lamb [Christ]," but they will be destroyed in His wrath at His Second Coming (Revelation 17:14; 19:11-21).

As the colossal image of Daniel 2 had two legs and two feet, the Roman Empire had two divisions, whether they were Rome and her provinces in its earlier period or a Western Empire with its capital in Rome and an Eastern Empire governed from Constantinople. The final resurrection, we assume, will have its ten toes split between the latter division, west and east. We do not know, however, if these are ten presently recognizable nations, or if they are ten major ethnic groups that cross national boundaries yet will have some autonomy.

Nevertheless, it is most likely that the ten nations will inhabit the areas formerly ruled by the Roman Empire and its subsequent revivals. It is a vast region. At its height Rome ruled from England and Spain in the west to northern Mesopotamia in the east to North Africa in the south. However, because of Daniel's prophecies regarding the King of the North, the "last gasp" of Rome will probably be centered in Europe, the bastion of Roman culture, law, and heritage.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay


 

Daniel 7:7-8

Horns and Heads

Horn
(Daniel 7:7-8)

Head
(Revelation 17:9-10)

Historical
Fulfillment

1st Horn "Plucked out by the roots" by the Little Horn, the False Church Vandals (AD 429-533)
2nd Horn Heruli (AD 476-493)
3rd Horn Ostrogoths (AD 493-554)
4th Horn 1st Head Justinian (AD 554)
5th Horn 2nd Head Charlemagne (AD 800)
6th Horn 3rd Head Otto the Great (AD 962)
7th Horn 4th Head Charles V (AD 1520)
8th Horn 5th Head Napoleon (AD 1805)
9th Horn 6th Head Garibaldi/Mussolini/
(AD 1870-1945)
10th Horn 7th Head Final Beast Power (AD ????)

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay


 

Daniel 8:23-25

To the end, the Beast is a fighter and a dogged, cunning strategist, who believes that he can win on any battlefield. He is a proud man who thrives on military victories and the adulation and riches those victories bring, and who delights in utterly destroying his enemies and imposing his will upon the conquered.

These scriptures suggest that the Beast is not necessarily a politician (though he will be adept at political manipulation), but a man who loves war. In this age of do-nothing diplomacy, he will be one whom many will accuse of being rash and too quick on the trigger, but his victories will put down any dissent from that quarter. He will urge swiftness, decisiveness, and overwhelming force. Like many of the past types of the Beast, he will enforce his own terms—probably terribly harsh ones, if history is any guide—on those he subdues.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Beast's Militarism


 

Daniel 9:24-27

The Seventy Weeks Prophecy is perhaps best known for its descriptions of the future Beast. However, because of the poetic, non-linear style in which it is written, many are erroneously waiting for the Antichrist to make a peace treaty with the Jews for seven years. This misunderstanding results from the fact that the descriptions of the Messiah and the Beast are interwoven in verses 26-27. The Messiah is described in the first halves of verses 26 and 27, while "the prince who is to come" (the figure commonly known as "the Beast," "vile person," and "little horn") is described in the latter parts of the same verses (see "Seventy Weeks Are Determined . . ." Forerunner, December 1994.)

But in the first half of verse 27, it is the Messiah who is prophesied to "confirm a covenant with many for one week." Recall that Jesus told His disciples, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many," and Hebrews 9:28 confirms this connection: "Christ was offered . . . to bear the sins of many." So, even though it is not specifically called the new, eternal, or perpetual covenant in Daniel 9:27, as it is in other places, this is the covenant that is being described. This covenant radically alters the lives of those making it, for under its terms sin is forgiven, the Holy Spirit is given, God's laws are internalized, eternal life is granted (because it gives us personal, experiential knowledge of the Father and the Son; see John 17:3), and there are more instances of divine grace than can be counted.

A large controversy in the early church dealt with the fact that Jews and Gentiles were on equal terms under the New Covenant, since it made salvation available to anyone who is called and responds in faith. In fact, when the Messiah began confirming this covenant, Israelites in general did not want to have anything to do with Him. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him (John 1:11-12).

After the leaders within Israel rejected Christ, the apostles began to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Then, on the road to Damascus, Saul, renamed Paul, was appointed as the apostle to the Gentiles. Clearly, the prophecies regarding salvation for the Gentiles were coming to pass, showing that they were included in the New Covenant.

This is where we in the church are now. It matters not whether we are Israelite or Gentile—we are the firstfruits of God's spiritual harvest and already beneficiaries of a superior covenant with extraordinary promises.

David C. Grabbe
Finishing the Week


 

Daniel 11:21

This verse is speaking about a conspiracy. The Beast will not take over the kingdoms of this world, at least in the beginning, by war. He will come into his power through flatteries.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories


 

Daniel 11:22-23

Force [arms, KJV] of a flood indicates large numbers of people.

The prince of the covenant at that time would have been the high priest

A league is made with him suggests coming into power through treaties.

God is giving us clues that this end-time conspiracy will not require a huge army to be put into effect. All it will take is strategically placed people—people who are in positions to wield a great deal of authority and who will exercise that authority at just the right time and place. Malachi Martin and others have said that John Dewey almost singlehandedly corrupted the American educational system, along with others like B.F. Skinner, Edward Thorndike, and John Watson. All it took was a few people at the right time and in the right places where they could wield influence over others.

Similarly, the end-time conspiracy will be done legally, and its basic systems are already in operation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories


 

Daniel 11:32

Historical evidence identifies the man referred to as "he" as Antiochus Epiphanes. Because the record of his activities against the Jews parallels many of the activities prophesied about the end-time Beast of Revelation, many believe he is a symbolic forerunner of that one to come. This verse prophesies three things of the coming Beast:

First, we normally and correctly associate the Beast with great, though evil, power. However, among other things he will also be a flatterer. He will not only be a person of great political wisdom, but he will be personally persuasive and charming. Proverbs 31:30 warns us, "Charm is deceitful"—all too frequently, it is nothing more than a social and public relations skill used for personal gain. It can be nothing more than a dishonest puffery displayed to get another's cooperation to achieve an ulterior motive. Practically, it can easily become manipulation and control by a skilled person using honeyed words. David's experience with a charming betrayer is recorded in Psalm 55:21: "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords." Politically, this activity is defined as treachery.

Second, this verse also tells us he will corrupt or seduce some of those who have made the covenant with God. At first, we might think that these are the unconverted, but that is not so. This refers to the last phrase of verse 30, where the Beast "shows regard for those who forsake the holy covenant." These are people who apostatize. A person cannot forsake an agreement he has never made. Some of the converted will be seduced by manipulative flatteries and corrupted into cooperation. At the end time, that means some of us! Reader's Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary lists some of the definitions of corrupt: "to pervert the fidelity or integrity of as by bribing; to destroy morally; pervert, ruin, change from the original, debase, contaminate."

Putting these two factors together, we ought to imagine God waving a yellow caution flag before us, revealing an area of danger that we should mark well. It is highly unlikely that any of us will move in the same political, social, and military circles as the Beast. Thus, his personal charm or flatteries will not be used to deceive us in an intimate, personal circumstance. Therefore, his political wisdom and flatteries will be exhibited in his public policies. We must never forget that this man will be of the world and as unconverted as a man can be.

Therefore the political strategies he will use will essentially be appeals to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17). He will appeal to us to abandon our faith and give our cooperation, trust, and loyalty to him by submitting to political programs and public policies that offer us physical well-being, peace, and safety under his umbrella. It will seem advantageous for us, at least on a short-term basis, to support his programs. He will make glowing promises of preferment, reward, and peace. But never forget, when seduction and subversion through flatteries fail, the reign of terror by persecution begins.

Third and finally, the verse prophesies that those who know their God shall be strong, or stand firm, and do exploits. God inserts this to show us how not to be deceived by flatteries. Jesus says in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Knowing God is the key to seeing through and rejecting the seductive flatteries of the Beast because it is the foundation of faith. We know God gives truths that are eternal.

The Beast will deceive through a combination of outright lies, partial truths, and temporary truths. The people who see through his devious words will do so because they know and believe God and His truth. They will therefore be strong in giving glory to Him. These people will prefer to risk their lives rather than betray God's honor. By believing God, they will be prepared for the Beast's onslaught, and this will give them strength because it produces firm resolve and sense of purpose. Though these prophecies are not yet fulfilled, evidence is accumulating that they are just over the horizon, and thus something we may soon face.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Three


 

Daniel 11:32-39

What the Beast is doing now (and he must be alive and climbing the political ladder today) is working his subtlety wherever he happens to be, using people to create loyalty to himself and to his cause. At the same time, he is gradually undermining—introducing leaven, as it were—to the present governments, causing disloyalty to them, while simultaneously stirring up social trouble through political, justice, educational, religious, and social systems.

There is nothing new about any of this. This is what Adolph Hitler did to subvert Germany to his cause. It is what Lenin and his cabal in Russia did to subvert the Czar and his government in Russia. This is what happened in the Cold War, as nation after nation fell to communism: infiltration through fifth column efforts, which took advantage of internal conditions, bitterness, and dissatisfaction with whoever was in power.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories


 

Daniel 11:32

We would do well to notice the context of this verse. This prophecy is made of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, whom just about every commentator mentions is a type of the end-time Beast. The Beast appears to be rising in our time, so we should pay attention because we may be implied here.

This verse's final fulfillment will be in "the time of Jacob's trouble," a time that Jeremiah 30:7 says will be unlike any other that has ever been on earth. Nevertheless, "the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits." Note that those who know their God will do these things. Despite what they can plainly see happening, these people know by faith that the unseen and almighty sovereign God is still on His throne, overseeing everything that is going on, and knowing that His will will be done, regardless of what those living by sight think.

How do they know that His will will be done? Because they know Him intimately as a result of their relationship with Him. For a good part of their lives, they have walked with Him and talked with Him, and He has talked with them through His Word. By faith, they "see" God. They have submitted to Him, and He has reciprocated their attentions by blessing them in ways they know were from Him because, by faith, they were thinking spiritually.

Ephesians 1:11 reminds us, ". . . in Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will." God does not work a few things or even many things but all things according to His will. This "all things" must be qualified, since at least one thing is always excluded from it: God never ordains any of His children to sin. We are always to choose life, not death through sin (Deuteronomy 30:19). When we sin, it is our fault; we should know better. God has already evaluated the situation (I Corinthians 10:13). Do we have any doubt about His power to know what is going on and to make judgments?

God's purpose will stand, and nothing will stop Him from doing His pleasure. He is no distant spectator. Yes, He has given power to Satan, as well as to mankind, but God is all-powerful while Satan and man are but creatures. The Creator is greater than the sum total of all that He has made through Jesus Christ. Yes, God has created what we consider to be natural laws, and much of the material world is to some degree regulated by them, but He "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3).

Life is difficult, and few seem to make it through the entirety of life without becoming shell-shocked. Most muddle their way through, but we would be well-advised to take to heart what the apostle Peter writes in II Peter 1:19: "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." The prophetic word has been confirmed to us. What are we to take heed of specifically? That God's counsel shall stand! He will do all His pleasure, and His pleasure is written in His Book, that is, what He has prophesied will happen.

Therefore, instead of looking at all the problems on planet earth and then turning to God, we must begin our thinking with God because the Word, which is now ours too, came from Him, and He has the will and the power to carry out what He has said He will do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and God's Sovereignty


 

Daniel 11:36-39

Obviously, this is a man who regards the military and warfare as a kind of religion, conquering, ruling, and pillaging in the name of his "god of fortresses." The remainder of the chapter narrates what he does: attack, overwhelm, overthrow, plunder, destroy, and annihilate. The Beast is obsessed with war.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Beast's Militarism


 

2 Thessalonians 2:3-10

Paul wrote II Thessalonians to correct a false impression held by the members of the church in Thessalonica. He did this by telling them what Christ had revealed to him regarding the "gathering together with Christ" of those dead in Christ and those remaining alive when He returned. He opens by foretelling, first of all, that Christ's return will be preceded by a period of apostasy that could include anything from a falling away, a departure from doctrine or teaching, all the way to and including an outright political rebellion.

The second sign would be the appearance of the man of sin. This person has four different names or titles, but all of them are described similarly: the man of sin (II Thessalonians 2:3-10), the little horn (Daniel 7:8), the two-horned lamb who spoke like a dragon (Revelation 13:11-18), and the false prophet (Revelation 19:20). The description in each location is not exactly alike, but each adds to what the other gives. Consider this summary of comparisons.

In each case, the person described appears at the time of the end. This is the one piece of information that every one of them has in common.

In three of the four, his end—his destruction or annihilation—comes at the return of Jesus Christ (Daniel 7:8-9; II Thessalonians 2:3; Revelation 19:20).

In three of the four, it directly states or strongly implies the person speaks with great pompous words (Daniel 7:8-9; II Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:11-14).

In three of the four, it directly states the person does miraculous, supernatural signs (II Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:13-15; Revelation 19:20).

In two of them, the signs are done in the presence of the Beast, showing they are not the same figure (Revelation 13:13-15; 19:20).

In two of them, he deceives and leads people into idolatry (II Thessalonians 2:4,9-10; Revelation 13:12,14).

In two of them, he either makes war against the saints or causes those who would not worship the beast to be put to death (Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:15).

In two of them, he either thinks to change times and law—suggesting the law of God—or he sets himself in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. The implication is that he has the authority to do these things (Daniel 7:25; II Thessalonians 2:4).

In two of them, his period of greatest influence is three and a half years (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5).

All of these scriptures are describing the same person. The Bible shows that this person—the man of sin—has a direct connection to a large political power and has a religious influence. It should be understood that we are dealing with a personage and with prophecies of global significance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 4)


 

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

Every day information concerning politics, economics, social issues, psychology, religion, conspiracy theories, foreign affairs, entertainment and education issues inundates us. How much of it is actually true? How much do we truly need to pay attention to?

The man of sin opposes Christ. He will even claim to be God, and Satan will enable him to work miracles. Just before Christ's return, he will lead evil's greatest challenge ever against all that is good. The focus of the attack will be the destruction of truth. Only those who "receive the love of the truth" will be spared. If one does not have it, he will be deceived, believe the lie, and be condemned. In this context, the lie is probably that this man is God or His main representative on earth, and that they should worship the beast and receive his mark at his word (Revelation 13:11-18).

Before the man of sin appears, Satan must lay some groundwork to prepare for his acceptance. What better way than to throw the world into quarreling and divisive and wearying confusion? People then yearn for some strong and seemingly wise hands to set things straight, so the nations can "catch their breath" and have a span of peaceful calm. In its wake, confusion creates directionless people, with little desire to change the status quo, whose minds are turned in upon themselves in an attempt to keep what they have.

Right now, humanity is being bombarded by religious disinformation ranging from bizarre, do-gooding New Age cults to the militant homosexual, lesbian and feminist attacks aimed at changing old-line Protestant and Catholic groups. Mainly within Protestant circles, the New World Order and other conspiracy theories abound, sometimes tenuously mixed with true prophecies of the Bible. Everywhere there are cries for tolerance of beliefs of every stripe, and in some sectors there are attempts to merge all religions into one.

Within God's church, we have seen a multitude of doctrinal changes alter one large group to the point that it is barely recognizable except by name. Other, smaller groups are badgered by peripheral issues like the calendar, sacred names and conspiracy theories. What we are witnessing are people subtly persuaded into an excessive concern for themselves. This distracts them from the focus God clearly states in Jesus' end-time message: Get ready for the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

Every message to every church group in Revelation 2 and 3 concludes with "To him who overcomes." Christ's intent is clear. Our judgment is based upon growth in overcoming flaws involving character defects, evil self-centered attitudes and relationship problems with fellow man.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 

Revelation 12:3-4

The dragon of verse 3 is identified as Satan in verse 9. This identification provides the lead-in to the introduction of the end-time beast in Revelation 13:1.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)


 

Revelation 12:3

The similarity between Revelation 13:1 and Revelation 12:3, 9, show a direct relationship between the dragon, viewed in heaven in Revelation 12, and the beast rising on earth. This relationship between these two is further confirmed in Revelation 13:4: "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast," showing that the beast on earth receives its power from the dragon.

There is another commonality: both the dragon in heaven and the beast on earth have seven heads and ten horns. But there are two differences. One is in the number of crowns—seven on the dragon, ten on the beast. The second is that the crowns on the dragon are on the heads, while the crowns on the beast are on the horns.

It is unclear what these differences mean, but they may reveal a relationship between the beast of Revelation 13 and the beast of Daniel 7. The beast in Revelation 13 is a further illustration of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, with its ten horns—the ten horns representing ten kings who will be part of the Beast and present at Christ's return.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)


 

Revelation 12:7-8

By these verses, time in the prophecy has leapt forward to the end time. The red dragon being cast down did not happen anciently. That is an end-time event. So just that quickly, in the space of one or two verses, time moved from BC to AD almost two thousand years.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 13:1-18

Chapter 13 begins with a very colorful, almost overpowering, vision showing an overview of the political system that Satan works through.

There is just enough given here to connect this with the Daniel 2 and 7. What arises in Revelation 13 actually has its beginnings long before Jesus Christ, all the way back to Nimrod, showing a definite time progression. This is the system that rears its head at the end time, but the vision is given so that we will understand that this is the system that Satan has always worked through.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

Revelation 13:1

Revelation is largely written in symbols. When used as a metaphor in the Bible, water can represent good or bad realities. Especially in large amounts, it can represent masses of people. Thus in this verse, the Beast is understood to be rising either from a heavily populated area or from the majority of all dwelling on earth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 

Revelation 13:1-10

For many years, we have maintained that a great power, which the Bible calls "the Beast," will rise out of Europe as the last reincarnation of the Roman Empire (Revelation 13:1-10; 17:1-13). As described in Daniel 2:40-43, it has ten "toes," composed of iron and clay and divided on two "feet" - Eastern and Western Europe, we have interpreted - as the Roman Empire was similarly divided. This Beast power would dominate the world politically and militarily (Daniel 11:36-39), bringing on the "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time" (Daniel 12:1).

Present-day Europe, however, appears particularly unqualified for such a role, which opens up a few possibilities:

1. The Beast is not European. Our long-held understanding is hard to toss aside because the biblical clues seem to fit the Europe-based Roman and Holy Roman Empires so squarely. If Europe or the EU is not the Beast power, then it must surely have a European component.

2. Christ's return is farther off than we think. Europe is so weak - militarily, in particular - that it could take years for its war machine to grow to world domination. In particular, Europe is in no shape to defeat the U.S., a present necessity for world hegemony.

3. Something other than Europe will destroy the U.S., and the Beast will fill the power vacuum. A few nuclear bombs or other weapons of mass destruction - possibly terrorist-related - might cut America down to size (Ezekiel 7:1-9). Europe could then appropriate NATO assets abroad and become a superpower overnight.

4. The U.S., originally colonized and founded by Europeans, will become a part of the Beast power, supplying its military might. Many have wondered if any Israelite country would join with the Beast, especially since the prophecies seem to suggest it is a Gentile empire, like Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. However, the nations of Israel today believe they are Gentiles and function as Gentiles in many respects, meaning it is not beyond the realm of possibility biblically (see Romans 9-11).

Other possibilities surely exist, and in this time of uncertainty, there is no way to determine whether any of these are real. Such is the character of prophecy. We are assured, however, that, "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Growing Divide


 

Revelation 13:4

This is a system that puts people in fear. It manipulates and controls to its own advantage—not to the good of the governed, but its own. It has an attitude that hates people and likes destruction. It is adversarial.

Now contrast that with sheep, and especially with a lamb. They must be the most docile of all animals. Biblically, a lamb symbolizes gentleness, innocence, sometimes a childlike vulnerability. It is not aggressive. It is easily led and controlled by a shepherd.

Christ symbolically is the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). "Lamb" is used in reference to Jesus Christ twenty-seven times in the book of Revelation. The Beast is an adversary of Christ, and exudes not gentleness, not goodness, not kindness, not innocence, but all of the opposites of those traits.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Revelation 13:4-7

Revelation 13 covers similar ground to what appears in Daniel 11. The Beast is not given this authority carte blanche, but will earn a great deal of it with his own abilities and the force of his personality, as well as with the energy and aid that the Dragon, Satan (Revelation 12:9), gives him. Of course, God makes all of this possible to bring about the end—so that all will work out according to His plan (see Revelation 17:17).

Nevertheless, the Beast is so formidable in battle that the whole world is convinced that he is invincible—"Who is able to make war with him?" Humanly, they are correct: No country or confederation can match him, and he ends up dominating "every tribe, tongue, and nation." What power! He will be able to hold that power only by military means.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Beast's Militarism


 

Revelation 13:11-15

This male (not female) religious personage actively promotes worship of the Beast and does miracles in the context of religion to deceive people. Nothing in Revelation 17 and 18 shows the Woman doing miracles of any kind. In fact, these chapters contain no religious context at all, with the exception that she is revealed to be responsible for killing the saints.

In Revelation 17, the Woman is controlling the Beast, not bringing about its worship. She and the Beast are, in fact, antagonists competing against each other. Furthermore, she is heavily involved in politics (influencing kings), manufacturing, shipping, craftsmanship, and merchandising. There is no mention of anything similar in reference to the two-horned lamb.

The Woman indeed has a relationship with the Beast, but she is not part of the politics, economics, religion, or military of the Beast. She and the Beast are separate entities, even though both are part of the overall Babylonish system. The Catholic Church has always been part of the Beast, influencing it from within. Conversely, the Woman is portrayed as an external influence, competing with, riding, and at some point exercising control of the Beast.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Five): The Great Harlot


 

Revelation 13:11

The book of Revelation foretells that at the time of the end, in the last few years of Satan's dominion over the earth, a religious personality will arise and deceive the whole world by means of miraculous signs. This individual is referred to as "another beast" (Revelation 13:11), as well as "the false prophet" (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The False Prophet is given supernatural power to do things like calling fire down from heaven (Revelation 13:13), and the signs he performs, combined with the demonic words he speaks (Revelation 16:13-14), will cause people to give their allegiance to - and even worship - the Beast (Revelation 13:14). This man will wield tremendous religious influence, and inspired by the Dragon, he will successfully convince most of the world to commit idolatry (Revelation 13:12).

The Bible does not reveal the False Prophet's name or even the number of his name, as it does for the Beast. Instead, we will have to recognize him by his fruits - by what he says and does (Matthew 7:15-20). Yet, even this is a tricky proposition. For instance, the False Prophet will be able to call down fire from heaven, and yet Elijah, a true prophet of God, did the same (I Kings 18:36-38). If we see a man calling fire down from heaven, how do we know whether he is true or false?

The end time is prophesied to be full of deceptions (Matthew 24:11), and the elect will not be totally immune to having the wool pulled over their eyes (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). It will take careful evaluation to see through the façade and to recognize Satan's servants for what they are, rather than what they appear to be (II Corinthians 11:14-15).

The details given about the False Prophet are few. However, if we understand the patterns and motivations that the Bible reveals about the class of people called "false prophets," we will be better equipped to recognize the general mold that the end-time False Prophet will fit.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

Revelation 13:16-17

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:16-20 to look for fruit as a way of testing what kind of a spirit would emanate from a beast like this. Biblically, spirit is used to indicate "that which motivates." Spirit is invisible. It is immaterial, but what it produces is not, because it shows up on the outside of the person in behavior and sometimes in the spirit that radiates out from them.

In a spiritual sense, "the mark of the beast" is Satan's attitude. He is the great red Dragon, who gives power to the beast, and a great deal of power over mankind resides in the spirit that radiates from him.

It was Satan who created the original bad attitude, and he sustains it in humans when we permit these things to enter into our conduct and manipulate others to gain advantage and to achieve our self-centered objectives. Spirit is something that inclines the mind and, in this case, in a hostile anti-God, anti-law direction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Revelation 14:9-11

No person alive looks forward with any kind of wonderful anticipation to going through what these verses show.

Its clear from the context of Revelation 13 and 14 that "beast" is being used in the sense of a wild, adversarial animal. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is because of the use of leopard, bear, lion, and dragon. These are not domesticated animals, but rather they are animals that we would make every effort to avoid. We do not want to cross their paths if we find any indication that they are around. We make a great big circle to get out of their way.

Then, of course, there is the contrast with a lamb—a domesticated animal. Cattle, sheep, and goats are beasts, but they hardly qualify as being animals that strike terror in people.

The Beast being described here would cause our hair to stand on end. It exudes malevolence. It is interested in eating us for food or destroying us for crossing its path—it is a beast that is violent and aggressive and simply wants to perpetuate itself.

"Beast" is being used as a symbol, and the context is not really talking about an actual animal. The beast represents a governmental system, the personality of a system, and that system's philosophy of life. The context is showing us that from the system's point of view, people have no value other than for its purpose, and its purpose is simply to maintain and to extend its existence and power through the use of terror, fear—things that any wild animal would naturally exercise. In the "beast's" eyes, we are fodder or chattel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Revelation 17:1-7

For her to be riding the Beast, there must be some relationship between the two. In fact, each, the Woman and the Beast, are part of the same general system, the Babylonish system. However, right up front - because one is depicted as a woman and the other as a beast - God is indicating two distinctly different sets of characteristics, personalities, or approaches within the system.

As depicted in Revelation 13:2, the Beast consists of the strongest parts of a leopard, bear, and lion. Unarguably, these three animals are vicious, wild beasts, and each is a very powerful animal that a woman on her own would ordinarily be no match for.

Obviously, a human woman would approach life and its events differently than an animal. Yet, the Woman is riding the seemingly super-powerful Beast. She, at this juncture in the prophecy, is the one in the position of strength and therefore is superior, greater, more powerful, and more influential than the Beast.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Three): Who Is the Woman?


 

Revelation 17:1-15

These verses show the Woman, the harlot, sitting upon many waters, the Beast, and seven mountains (a mountain is a biblical symbol of a nation), and in verse 15 the waters of which the Beast consists are defined as peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. In such a context, sitting is the Bible's symbol of authority, having power over. It is as though she gives orders and is served.

This description conveys two characteristics: First, the scope of her influence is wide-ranging, over many nations. Second, the Beast consists of peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. The Woman, however, is not described in that manner; she is depicted as one unit. Therefore, a distinct possibility is that God sees the Woman in this end-time prophecy as one powerful and influential people, as contrasted to the Beast, which consists of many diverse peoples who, at first, cannot combine and coordinate their strengths to counterbalance and perhaps overcome the more united Woman.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Five): The Great Harlot


 

Revelation 17:6

When people read this verse, their thoughts immediately turn to the Roman Universal Church of the Dark Ages. Indeed, that organization's record is a sorry one, but Israel's record against the people of God is not any better.

Jesus cries in Luke 13:34, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!" The Bible is replete with examples of the persecutions of God's people.

It is easy to read the histories of modern Israel over the last two hundred years or so and conclude that today's Israelites would never do such a thing. Since they are nominally Christian, one would like to think that they would never stoop to that. However, human nature never changes. All it takes is the right set of circumstances, and persecution will happen again in Israel, even as the book of Acts witnesses threats and murders occurring among Israelites in the first century!

One may perhaps think that persecution occurred then, but it stopped with the end of the first century. Not so! Many are familiar with Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which focuses on numerous persecutions, including martyrdom, that raged against Evangelical groups. Another book, Martyrs Mirror, as large as Strong's Concordance, contains a comprehensive history of 1,600 years of the persecutions, including martyrdom, perpetrated against Anabaptist groups.

"Anabaptist" is a name attached by the world at large to any professing Christian group that opposes infant- and child-baptism because the biblical requirements for baptism are repentance and faith, which no infant or child can meet. One must be an adult of considerable living experience to consider baptism seriously. The most prominent Anabaptist groups in the Western world are the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. Many of these and other, smaller groups were quite active even up to the beginning of the twentieth century.

The terms "Evangelical" and "Anabaptist" can and did include the Baptists and, most importantly for us, the church of God. Martyrs Mirror begins with the martyrdoms of the apostles because they were, by definition, Anabaptists. Religious persecutions periodically raged in Holland, France, and England, all Israelitish countries, during the Middle Ages. It waned only after the Protestant Reformation had been underway for a century or two, and the Catholic Counter-Reformation joined it.

Anybody who has read American history should know that many of the original settlers to this country came to escape religious persecution in northwest Europe. The Puritans and Pilgrims are prime examples. They fled England for Holland and then left Holland for America.

To think that the Israelitish people are somehow above perpetrating religious persecution is not historically accurate. The Bible clearly shows it happened before and will happen again. Just eleven years ago, the entire nation witnessed the Branch Davidian massacre in Waco, Texas. This is remarkable to us because the Branch Davidians kept the Sabbath.

Jeremiah 30:7 warns us that a horrific time of trouble lies just around the corner: "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." This period of trouble is greater than any before it. Persecutions of true Christians will happen again. Revelation 13:15?in this end-time book?confirms that persecutions are just beyond the horizon: "He [the Beast from the earth] 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." This persecution is instigated by a religious figure, the False Prophet, who will arise and promote his competing religion so vigorously as to kill those who do not submit to his idolatrous, pagan brand.

Revelation 6:9-11 verifies that this persecution will be aimed directly at the true church:

When he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

The blood of the saints is already staining Israel's histories, and more will be added afresh to her descendants' despicable and hypocritical anti-God record.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Eight): God, Israel, and the Bible


 

Revelation 17:16-17

These verses contain an astonishing statement of God's unseen influence in earthly events and how personally involved He is in what is planned for these end times. God motivates both the destruction of the harlot by her fellow conspirators and the very drives for the union of nations into the Beast. He is working this very moment as men conspire to bring this to pass!

How could it be otherwise? If God makes prophecies about what He will do, He had better have the power to bring them to pass. He does this by influencing the thinking of those He has put into positions to fulfill them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility: Part Eleven


 

Revelation 17:16-17

Within the practical realities of international political, economic, and military affairs, the Beast may be resentful and unwilling to do as the Woman directs. As a wild animal would, it will undoubtedly buck and resist, but until God is ready, it ends up most of the time doing what the Woman wants. The Beast submits to the Woman because she possesses power greater in certain areas than the Beast, a power the Beast resents, envies, and plots to have for itself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Eight): God, Israel, and the Bible


 

Revelation 19:19-20

The Beast reigns but a short time, but in that brief period, he gathers tremendous military power—provided by the ten rulers who use him as a front man for their predatory purposes. He uses this power to conquer everything in his path. He even thinks that he is powerful enough—with the combined armies of all mankind at his back—to take on Jesus Christ when He returns to earth!

What arrogance! And as it turns out, what folly! This is the mind of a man who places all his bets on his abilities as a military genius.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Beast's Militarism


 

Revelation 20:10

This verse seems to describe the Lake of Fire as a place where God torments people forever. This raises a few questions: 1) If the Beast and False Prophet are mortal men, why are they still alive after the Millennium when Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire? 2) If they are mortals, how can they "be tormented day and night forever and ever" in an inferno that would soon consume them? 3) What kind of God would devise such a "cruel and unusual" punishment?

Before we answer these questions, we must briefly consider whether man has an immortal soul. Our understanding of the Scriptures compels us to maintain that he does not for several reasons:

» Job recognized that man has a spirit (Job 32:8), which Paul shows in I Corinthians 2:11 endows humanity with intellect. This spirit in man comes from God (Zechariah 12:1) and returns to Him when we die (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59). It records our experiences, character, and personality, which God stores until the resurrection of the dead. However, the Bible never describes this spirit as immortal or eternal; in fact, I Corinthians 2:6-16 explains that man needs yet another Spirit, God's, to be complete and discern godly things.

» The Bible flatly asserts that all people die: "It is appointed for men to die once" (Hebrews 9:27). Ezekiel says clearly that souls die: "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; see Romans 6:23). Jesus warns in Matthew 10:28 that God can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

» In death, life and consciousness are gone. "The dead know nothing," says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5, and he later adds, "There is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (verse 10). In Psalm 146:4, the psalmist writes about a man's death, "His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish" (see Genesis 3:19).

» Scripture also confutes the idea that people go to heaven or hell after death. Peter says to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. . . . For David did not ascend into the heavens" (Acts 2:29, 34). Our Savior confirms this in John 3:13: "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." The biblical usage of Sheol and Hades simply means "the grave."

» Men cannot have immortality unless God gives it to them. Paul writes, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). In I Corinthians 15:53 he tells the saints, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." At the first resurrection God will give "eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (Romans 2:7). If we already had immortality, why should we put it on or seek it?

» Only God has immortality. He is, Paul writes to Timothy, ". . . the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality" (I Timothy 6:15-16). John says of the Word, "In Him was life" (John 1:4), meaning as Creator of all things (verse 3), He had life inherent. Jesus affirms this in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Men must go through Him to receive eternal life.

With such overwhelming proof, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul proves false. Man is not immortal, nor does he possess any "spark of God" unless God has given it to him through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). A Christian's hope of life after death rests in the resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:12-23). Conversely, the wicked only await eternal death as recompense for their evil lives, not eternal life in torment.

To understand Revelation 20:10 correctly, we must put it into its proper chronological context. Once we know when it occurs, much of the confusion about this verse clears up.

Though only twelve verses separate Revelation 19:20 from 20:10, one thousand years pass between their respective events. The Beast and the False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire when Christ returns (Revelation 19:11-21). Soon thereafter, an angel imprisons Satan in the bottomless pit for the thousand years of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3). When the thousand years pass, Satan is released, and he gathers Gog and Magog to fight against the saints (verses 7-9). After God defeats this futile attempt, He casts Satan into the Lake of Fire (verse 10).

Obviously, the flames of the Lake of Fire totally consume the Beast and False Prophet. In no way could they survive a thousand years of burning! The laws of nature simply will not allow it.

The translators of the King James and New King James versions render the final clause of the first sentence as "where the beast and the false prophet are." The present-tense verb "are" is not in the Greek; it is an understood verb. In English grammar, such silent verbs take the same tense as the verb in the main clause of the sentence. The translators ignored this rule, however. The primary verb of the sentence, "was cast" (an aorist verb usually translated as simple past tense), demands that the silent verb should be "were cast" (past tense) to agree with the plural subject, "the beast and the false prophet."

Deceived by the false doctrine of the immortal soul, the translators had to deny nature and break the rules to make this verse fit their understanding! On the other hand, we can confidently assert that our teaching agrees with Scripture, nature, and grammar!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Eternal Torment?


 

 




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