The Book of Revelation Chapter 13:11-18

Revelation 13:11‑18  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 10
EV 13:11-18{In this section of our book we have no less a personage than the antichrist introduced. Again and again his appearance on the scene is predicted, both by prophets of the Old Testament and by apostles of the New; and now, at last, we are permitted to see him emerge into view, and to read the character of his power and kingdom as delineated by the Spirit of God through His servant John. In a few brief words this diabolical instrument is described: "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns Wee a lamb, and he spake as a dragon." (v. 11)
Unlike the first beast of this chapter, who rose up out of the sea, out of the masses of the people in a state of lawless confusion, antichrist comes up out of the earth. The earth is a symbol of organized and ordered government, and we learn, therefore, that he gets his place in a regular governmental or political manner-obtains his sway after a legal form; and consequently his position will be in accord with the civil and political arrangements of the period.
Before proceeding to consider the account here given, it may be well to answer two or three questions to enable the reader to pursue the subject more intelligently. First, then, it may be inquired, Have we any information as to who the antichrist will be? From a passage in Daniel it appears that he will be a Jew, an apostate Jew. Speaking of " the king," who undoubtedly is the antichrist (compare Dan. 11:3636And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. (Daniel 11:36) with 2 Thess. 2:44Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4)), he says, "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers" (11: 37), that is, Jehovah as revealed to Israel. Our Lord's words point to the same conclusion. He said, speaking to the Jews, " I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." (John 5:4343I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (John 5:43)) The very contrast drawn with Himself shows that our Lord had antichrist in view; and it is thus sufficiently plain, without adducing other scriptures bearing on the point, that this false usurper will spring out of the Jewish nation.
This conclusion, together with many indications in the Apocalypse, enables us with certainty to determine the next point as to the place and seat of his power. It will be Jerusalem; for at that time the Jews will have returned in unbelief, and will have built their temple (see chapter 11), and, as a consequence, will be morally ready to receive a false Christ. (See Matt. 24) The apostle Paul declares plainly that this " man of sin," " the son of perdition," will sit " in the temple of God, showing himself that he is god " (2 Thess. 2:44Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4)); and we know the temple will be at Jerusalem. Lastly, we may again answer the question as to the period indicated. It has been already explained, more than once, that these events take place after the rapture of the Church, and before the appearing of Christ.
This is entirely corroborated by the apostle's statement in 2 Thess. 2 He says, " And now ye know what withholdeth that he [the man of sin] might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restraineth] will let [restrain], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." (vv. 6-8) The Spirit of God in the Church, though the mystery of iniquity already works, restrains, and will restrain the manifestation of the evil in the person of the " son of perdition " until He departs with the Church. Then room is made for the revelation of this incarnation of evil, and he will continue until destroyed by the Lord Himself at His appearing. It is clear, therefore, beyond all question, that the interval between the Lord's coming for His saints and His appearing in glory is the period of antichrist's rise and power.
Returning now to our chapter, two things are specially noted. First, this beast had two horns like a lamb. Claiming to be the expected Messiah, he imitates, assumes the appearance of, the true Christ. He was like a lamb in the vision; and, moreover, he had two horns; he had, that is, two of the forms of power which Christ as the Messiah will exercise. These are here the forms of prophetic and kingly power. Satan could not now give the third form, that of the priest; for he had lost his anti-priestly place when he was cast down out of heaven. (See chapter 12:9, 10) The other two he bestows upon his blind tool that he might lure therewith the Jewish nation to destruction. As ever, he will resort to imitation in order to deceive the unwary, and to accomplish their eternal ruin. (Compare 2 Cor. 11:13-1513For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13‑15); 2 Tim. 3:88Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2 Timothy 3:8)) Assume, however, whatever appearance he may, he cannot morally change his nature; for he spake as a dragon. The dragon is Satan (chapter 12.; also verses 2, 3), and hence, if lamblike in form, his speech betrays him, Those taught of God, therefore, spite of his pretensions, will discern his true character; for the sheep know the voice of the good Shepherd, and they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10) So too, as we read in John's epistle, the babes in the family of God, warned against the many antichrists already in the world, shadows and forerunners of the antichrist, are reminded that they have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things. No saint of God, therefore, need be led astray, however specious the deception presented.
We have next the twofold form of his power-what may be termed civil or governmental and religious power. "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth, the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed." (v. 12) We gather from the first part of this description that antichrist will be a kind of deputy, or vicegerent of the imperial head of the Roman empire; and consequently that he will be sustained in his position by all the forces of the empire. There may be a special reason for this. It is evident from other scriptures that antichrist, during his sway, will be exposed to attacks from the " king of the north," or the Assyrian (see Dan. 11:40-4540And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. 41He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. 42He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. 44But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. 45And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:40‑45)); and it would seem from another prophecy, that antichrist will enter into a league with the Roman power to make common cause against his adversary. (See Isa. 28:14-2214Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. 15Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. 19From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. 20For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. 21For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. 22Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth. (Isaiah 28:14‑22)) This may account for the fact here stated that he exercises all the power of the first beast before it. In return for the Roman support he assumes the office of prophet to the imperial head, and compels men to worship the first beast. It was a common thing for Roman emperors in the past to demand divine honors; and once more, as we here learn, the same thing will be witnessed in the world's history. The almost miraculous resuscitation of the imperial governmental form of power, when the "deadly wound" is healed (v. 3), will make the world wonder after the beast, and will, at the same time, prepare the way for its deification. The poor world, with all its vaunted wisdom and enlightenment, will be unable to distinguish between divine and Satanic power. And the culmination of its progress and civilization will be seen in the worship of the image of a man. Men will readily fall into the snare under the blinding influences of the strong delusion which God, in judgment, will send upon them, " that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned [judged] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:11,1211And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11‑12))
Moreover, he will sustain his claims by miraculous displays of power. Like Elijah, he will cause fire to "come clown from heaven on the earth in the sight of men;" and even as the Lord Himself, he will work miracles to accredit his mission (compare 2 Thess. 2:99Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (2 Thessalonians 2:9)), and to prove the first boast's title to divine homage. Thereby he will deceive "them that dwell on the earth," and induce them to "make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live." (v. 14)
He is permitted to go still further under the inspiration of Satan; for he will have "power to give life [not life, but breath] unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." (v. 15) Nebuchadnezzar went far, when he erected his image of gold in the plain of Dura, and issued a decree that all men should worship it, with the penalty of the burning fiery furnace if they refused. Antichrist will go still further; for his image, instinct with its diabolical breath, and the mouthpiece of Satan in its utterances, will fill the minds of its worshippers with fear and dread, so that all, save the elect of God (v. 8), will be constrained to obey the behest of antichrist, and to offer their homage to this creature of hell. They would not have God, and now they must worship Satan. Alas for man when he falls under the unhindered power of the devil! Antichrist proceeds to regulate even commerce. He will cause "all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." (vv. 16, 17) He will thus form a vast organization, composed of all save those whose names were written, from the foundation of the world, in the slain Lamb's book of life, outside of which it will not be lawful to buy or sell. Every member of it must bear the mark of allegiance to the beast in order to possess the liberty to trade. Under the mask of the welfare of the empire, all will be subjected to this awful tyranny under the pains and penalties of the deprivation of the commonest liberty of the individual. Foreshadowings of this frightful abuse of authority are frequently seen even in this tolerant age, affording a sufficient warning to those whose eyes are opened, that the most absolute despotism may often be cloaked under a profession of the most liberal ideas, and giving also an indication of the ultimate goal of modern politics under the concealed guidance and inspiration of Satan.
The chapter concludes with the number of the beast, which is six hundred and sixty-six. And " here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man." (v. 18) Many have been the attempts to unravel this mystery; but all have been in vain. And we conclude, from the analogy of Scripture, that it will be impossible to discover the secret before the beast' s appearance. When at length he shall come upon the scene, those who have the wisdom of God will be able to identify him by the number given; and they will thus be divinely forewarned. The indication here afforded is consequently for those who will be in the circumstances described.
It may be helpful to some if we add, that in order to obtain a complete view of the antichrist the various scriptures on the subject must be combined. Here, as before said, we have his actings in Jerusalem, and his relation to the imperial head of the Roman empire; in Daniel we see him menaced by the king of the north, or the Assyrian; in 2 Thess. 2 he is presented in relation to Judaism, which he seeks to set aside and supersede by claiming divine homage for himself; whereas in John's epistle he is seen as the denier of the Father and the Son; that is, of Christianity as so revealed. (1 John 2:2222Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22); see also 2 John 77For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. (2 John 7)) What a contrast between the Christ of God and the antichrist of Satan! And let it not be forgotten that the mystery of lawlessness is already working, that many antichrists are abroad at this moment in the world, who, by their specious and subtle reasonings upon the word of God, are fast preparing the minds of men for the total rejection of all revealed truth, and thus to accept the guidance of Satan in the place of that of the Holy Spirit of God. E. D.