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
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
This is not war in the military sense, but it does indicate hostility toward. God is giving this system permission to be hostile toward His people.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast
In the phrase, "all who dwell on the earth," the Greek word translated as "earth," ge (Strong's #1093), is just like the Aramaic and Hebrew words for "earth." It, too, is used for a whole range of geographic areas, thus it is variously translated as "world," "country," "ground," or "land." In some places, it describes the whole globe, but elsewhere it refers to something as small as the land of Judah or the land of Zebulon—not a very big area at all. While it is certainly not wrong for translators to render this as "all who dwell on the earth," it is just as correct to render it as "all who dwell in the land," indicating a specific land—like the Promised Land or perhaps a particular region.
Verse 7 says that the Beast is given authority "over every tribe, tongue, and nation," which would seem to indicate that it will have global authority. However, the Babylonian Empire is described in exactly the same terms:
O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. (Daniel 5:18-19)
In describing Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, Daniel writes that all peoples (meaning kindreds or tribes), all nations, and all languages trembled and feared before him. These are the same three groupings given in Revelation 13:7: "every tribe, tongue, and nation." Yet, as with Alexander's realm, Nebuchadnezzar's did not extend to all ethnic groups, languages, and nations that then existed on earth. The world that he ruled, which trembled before him, was a limited one, yet it included the Promised Land.
David C. Grabbe
The Whole Earth
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
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Revelation 13:7: