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The Beast, Pt. 1

Scripture: Revelation 14:9-10, Revelation 13:1-3, Revelation 17:15
In all the pages of the Bible there is no more terrible promise of punishment than that found in Revelation 14:9, 10. Our souls shrink from the awful nature of the doom which shall overtake those who shall follow the beast and receive his mark. It is a matter of life or death for us, friends. One who refuses to heed the warning is surely committing suicide.
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In all the pages of the Bible there is no more terrible promise of punishment than that found in Revelation 14:9, 10. Listen, “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. Yes, this is such a serious matter that the judgment of God will be unmingled with mercy. Our souls shrink from the awful nature of the doom which shall overtake those who shall follow the beast and receive his mark. It is a matter of life or death for us, friends. One who refuses to heed the warning is surely committing suicide.

God faces us with the issue in language which cannot be mistaken, yet what does the average Christian know about the beast and the mark of the beast? He has probable never even heard of it and never heart it mentioned in a sermon. I’ve heard preachers and theologians try to comfort the fears of men and women over this text because they themselves refuse to accept the plain teaching of the Bible about the beast. What a fearful account will be required of watchmen who do not warn the flock when danger approaches.

Here is a danger unparalleled in the pages of God’s Word, yet the leaders are heard to say, “Well, don’t worry about the beast and the mark of the beast. Those things can’t be understood. That book is all sealed up. Just love the Lord and everything will be all right.” Listen, my friends, is God going to tell us how deadly this beast is-that we’ll be cast into the lake of fire if we have its mark-and then turn around and tell us that it’s impossible to know what it is? That’s not like God. We can know, and we’ll be spending some time on our broadcasts investigating this tremendous prophecy.

Now let’s look at Revelation 13:1-3. This is the Bible description of the beast. “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, have seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I say one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” What a strange creature is pictured in these verses. Many people have guessed at the identity of this mysterious prophetic symbol. During World War 1 some evangelist called it the Kaiser; during World War 11 it was applied to Hitler; and more recently before his death, it was interpreted as Stalin. Today we are not going to guess-we can know from the Scriptures exactly who is symbolized by this beast of Revelation 13.

Second Peter 1:20 tells us that no prophecy is of any private interpretation. That means that we must allow the Scripture to be its own divine commentary, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Remember this one thing about the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation-they often speak in symbolic language. The objects pictured usually stand for something else, but the Scriptures also give the key by which we can interpret those symbols. In Revelation 13 the beast has seven heads and ten horns, and it is a composite animal made up of parts of other animals. Later we’ll find this beast has a name, a number, and a mark, and those who receive the mark will be cast into hell fire.

God has not left us in darkness concerning this, great issue friends. This beast is not a literal animal, of course. It represents something. Let’s find the keys now to open up the meaning of this strange prophecy. Let’s study the beast more carefully. Why does it arise out of the sea? Is the water symbolic in prophecy? Yes, and the key is found in Revelation 17:15. “The waters which thou sawest, are people, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Now isn’t that clear and simple friends? It’s not our own interpretation at all. It’s not any church’s interpretation. It is the Bible way of teaching truth. The beast, then, is something that would arise among an established civilization and nation. But why is this beast like a lion, a leopard, and a bear?

To get the answer to this question we must go back to the book of Daniel, which actually is a companion book to Revelation, for the two books explain each other. In Daniel 7:2 we read these words of the prophet: “I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” Here Daniel sees the same sea that John did in Revelation, but he saw four animals coming up instead of only one. He also made mention of the winds blowing on the sea. Wind in prophecy represents warfare (see Jeremiah 51:1).

Now water is symbolic of people, and the wind blowing on the water represents warfare or unrest among those nations or peoples.

Now what about the beast which arose among those troubled peoples? Look at verse 17 for God’s interpretation. “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.” There it is. God uses beasts to represent nations and powers.

In the same way today, we have the Russian bear, the American eagle, and similar representations of modern nations. But which are the four nations symbolized by the animals of Daniel 7? Read verse 23. “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth.” Now, if the fourth beast shall be the fourth world kingdom, then the first three beasts must represent the first three kingdoms. The fact is that there have been only four world empires in all history, and these beasts symbolize them- Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The first beast is described as a lion with eagle’s wings. Here is the first world empire of Babylon, fittingly symbolized by the king of beasts-the lion. In Daniel 2 he same power is represented by a head of fine gold. Babylon was indeed the wealthiest, grandest nation that ever existed. The wings of the eagle represent the speed by which Babylon rose to power. You’ll find that key in Jeremiah 50:44. But after ruling from 606 to 538 BC, a change was to take place with Babylon. Daniel saw the second beast like to a bear, and it raised itself up on one side. Here we have the rise of Media-Persia in 538 BC. The bear is raised up on one side because the Persians were stronger than the Medes, and all these details are noted in the prophecy itself.

But is 331 BC the third beast arose, and the Scriptures say that “dominion was given to it.” It was like a leopard “which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl.” The beast had also four heads. Now friends, this is the third kingdom of history. So Greece, led by Alexander the Great, conquered the world in a very short time. The four wings, by the way, denote the exceeding swiftness by which Alexander subdues the nations.

He conquered the world in just eight years, but he couldn’t conquer himself. He died a young man of 33 after drinking eight pints of wine, according to tradition. The four heads of the beast symbolized the division of his kingdom among his four leading generals-Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy-who took over the territory of that kingdom. This brings us to the year 168 BC, and every detail of the prophecy has been fulfilled to this point.

Now notice the rise of the fourth kingdom upon the earth. It says in verse 23 “and” he “shall devour the whole earth.” The description is given in the 7th verse, “After this I saw in the night vision, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and break in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it had ten horns.” Now friends, this symbolizes the fourth world empire which was the iron monarchy of Rome.

But this powerful nation was also to be divided, because verse 24 says, “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.” Rome ruled from 168 BC down to 476 AD after Christ. Jesus was born right in the midst of the rule of this Roman Kingdom. But what happened in 476? According to the prophecy, ten others were to come up and take over the territory; and sure enough, it did happen. Those northern tribes came sweeping down over Western Europe and divided it into exactly ten parts.

And these ten horns correspond to the ten toes of the great image of Daniel 2. What were those ten? The Anglo-Saxons, Huns, Heruli, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Suevi, Lombards, Burgundians and Franks. You’ve studied about them in ancient history no doubt. Even school children know about these tribes that took over after the Roman Empire fell. Seven of those tribes took root and developed into modern nations which survive to this day. Yes, friends, seven of the ten are still over there.

The Anglo-Saxons became England; Huns became Germany; Visigoths, Spain; Suevi, Portugal; Lombards, Italy; Bungundians, Switzerland; Franks, France. But something happened to three of the ten. They were completely uprooted and destroyed before they could develop into kingdoms or nations. In out next broadcast we are going to learn what happened to those three and how they were destroyed-the Heruli, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths are not to be found on the map of Europe in any form whatsoever. They were destroyed. We are going to consider the little horn which came up among the ten and see what it accomplished. We’ll also identify this strange little-horn power as we continue this subject in our next broadcast.

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