Beast from the Sea

The Dragon begins his war on the seed of the woman by summoning his seed, the beast from the sea – Revelation 13:1-5. 

Storm Tossed Sea - Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
In chapter 12, the “
Dragon” is poised to attack the “seed of the woman” as he stands on the seashore while summoning his “seed”; first, the “beast from the sea,” then, the “beast from the earth.” Having failed to destroy the “son” and the “woman,” he sets out to annihilate her “seed,” the men and women who have the “testimony of Jesus” - [Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash].

The “Dragon” implements his war against the “seed of the woman” through the two beasts he now summons. This is how the “war” between the “seed of the Woman” and the “seed” of the “Ancient Serpent” will play out on the earth - (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:11-18).

Chapter 13 opens with John’s vision of the “Beast ascending from the sea,” a monstrous creature with “seven heads and ten horns.” The image draws heavily from Daniel’s vision of four “beasts ascending from the sea” (Daniel 7:2-8):
  • (Revelation 13:1-2) – “And I saw out of the sea a beast ascending; having ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his head, names of slander. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet as of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority.”

ASCENT FROM THE SEA


And he stood on the SAND OF THE SEA” (estathė epi tėn ammon tės thalassė). This clause is a verbal link to the later conflict in chapter 20 at the end of the “thousand years” when “Satan gathers the nations to the war, the number of whom is as the SAND OF THE SEA” (hė ammos tės thalassė) - (Revelation 20:7-9).

And I saw a Beast ascending out of the sea.” This next clause employs language from Daniel’s vision of the “four beasts ascending from the sea.” And here, “ascending” translates a Greek participle in the present tense (anabainon) to describe an action n progress, an ongoing process, and NOT a single incident.

Previously, the “Beast” was seen ascending “from the Abyss” in the vision of the “two witnesses.” In the description of that vision, the same participle is used for “ascend.” Thus, the “sea” is the equivalent of the “Abyss,” the place from which the Devil’s “seed” rises to wage war on the saints. And the theme of evil “ascending” from a dark place occurs several times in the book (Revelation 11:7, 13:11, 15:2, 17:8, 21:1-2).

THE BEAST


The Greek noun rendered “beast” (thérion) originally referred to “wild beasts,” not to domesticated animals. And in Greek, thérion is the diminutive form of “beast” or  thėr.

Likewise, in Revelation, the term “lamb” represents the diminutive form of the common Greek noun for “lamb” or arnion. The GRAMMATICAL PARALLEL IS DELIBERATE because the “Beast from the sea” imitates the “Lamb.” However, the agent of the “Dragon” is a wild animal, not a domesticated lamb despite all appearances to the contrary.

Daniel saw four “beasts” symbolizing four kingdoms that were “diverse one from another.” In contrast, John now sees a single beast with the characteristics of all four of Daniel’s beasts, the lion, bear, leopard, and the unnatural creature with “ten horns.”

In Revelation, the features are listed in reverse order from Daniel. Thus, this single beast is an amalgam of all four of the beasts from Daniel. It is related to them but also is something different, and probably far worse.

The “Beast” had “seven heads and ten horns,” and a crown on each horn. The figure of “seven heads” is derived from the individual heads of the four beasts in Daniel - The lion, the bear, the fourth beast, and the four “heads” of the leopard.

The “Dragon” also has “seven heads and ten horns,” but it has “seven diadems” on its heads, whereas the “Beast from the sea” has ten diadems on its horns. This demonstrates the familial link between the “Dragon” and the “Beast.” The latter is the offspring or “seed” of the former. The “diadems” demonstrate the authority of the “Dragon” - He rules through his earthly minions - (Daniel 12:3).

SEVEN HEADS


The number "seven" represents completeness, and here, it points to the complete political authority of the "Beast" (“There was given to it authority over every tribe, tongue and nation”). And the seven “heads” demonstrate it is more than an individual human ruler. Later, its “ten horns” are linked to “ten kings” or kingdoms - (Revelation 13:7, 17:7-12).

The “seven diadems” represent the claim by the “Beast” to political sovereignty over the earth. But its claim is “blasphemous.” The “Lamb” is the true “ruler of the kings of the earth,” and he is the “king of kings” - (Revelation 1:4-5, 5:6-14, 17:14).

The arrogant claim of the “Beast” counterfeits the authority of the “Lamb.” Its political authority is derived from the “Dragon.” However, previously, Satan was defeated by the messianic “son.” He may be loose on the earth, but his opportunity to wreak havoc is limited - only for “a short time.” Moreover, his ability to act is subject to the authority of the “Lamb” - (Revelation 12:7-12).

Dragon Heads - Photo by Vlad Zaytsev on Unsplash
[Photo by Vlad Zaytsev on Unsplash]


The “Beast” is a trans-historical entity, a political reality that has existed for thousands of years. It has appeared periodically in history in various forms. But the “Beast” will have one final incarnation as part of Satan’s final assault on the “saints.”
  • (Revelation 13:3-5) – “And I saw one of its heads, showing that it had been slain unto death, and the stroke of its death was healed. And the whole earth marveled after the beast, and did homage to the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they did homage to the beast, saying: Who is like the beast, and who can make war with it? And there was given it a mouth speaking great things and slanders, and it was given it to act forty-two months.”

COUNTERFEITING THE LAMB


The slaying of one of the creature’s seven “heads” echoes the messianic prophecy from Genesis - “I will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel” - (Genesis 3:15).

The verb rendered “slain” is sphazō, which means “to slay, slaughter.” It is commonly used in the Greek scriptures for the slaying of sacrificial animals, and the same clause was applied to the “Lamb” that John saw standing before the Throne - “as having been slain” - (Revelation 5:6).

There is a conceptual link between the death of the “Lamb” and the slaying of the Beast’s “head.” The restoration to life of the “slain head” mimics the death and resurrection of the “Lamb.”

This last understanding is confirmed by the description - “the stroke of the sword and lived [ezésen].” The same form of the verb is applied to Jesus in the letter to the church at Smyrna where he is described as the one “who became dead and lived [ezésen]” - (Revelation 2:8).

The “head” is slain by a “plague of death” (plégé). How this is administered is not stated. Plégé can mean “strike," but in Revelation, it means “plague.” This suggests that God causes its “death.” In the description of the “Beast from the earth,” the blow is described as the “stroke of a sword” - (Revelation 13:14).

The death of the creature’s “head” parallels the defeat and expulsion of the “Dragon” in chapter 12. After his defeat, he still retained the ability to deceive the “inhabitants of the earth,” but he was authorized to deceive them only for a “short season.”

The ability of the “Dragon” to cause harm was extended in chapter 12, but only for a limited period, the “short season.” Likewise, his “seed,” the “Beast from the sea,” is authorized to persecute the “saints” but only for the period of “forty-two months.”

WHO IS LIKE THE BEAST?


Moreover, the image of the restoration of the slain “head” is based on another passage from the vision of Daniel:
  • (Daniel 7:11-12) - “The beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire. And as for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, YET THEIR LIVES WERE PROLONGED FOR A SEASON AND A TIME.”

Only one of the “seven heads” is slain. Elsewhere, the “seven heads” represent seven kingdoms. Thus, the death of the “head” does not portray the death of an individual, but the fall of a kingdom - (Revelation 17:10).

The “whole earth marveled after the Beast” because it lived again; that is, the “inhabitants of the earth.” Anyone who gives allegiance to the “Beast” gives homage to the Dragon, the power behind the throne. The Greek term translated as “render homage” signifies an act of obeisance and submission to someone of higher rank.

Who is like the Beast.” This question is a parody of the biblical declaration about God (“Who is like you, O Yahweh, among the gods?”). The “inhabitants of the earth” ascribed to the “Beast” honors that belonged only to God.

Who can make war with the Beast?” is a rather ironic question. Previously, the “Dragon” was defeated by Michael and “his army.” The “inhabitants of the earth” do not understand that they serve a defeated master. Awed by the “Beast,” they offer it their total allegiance despite the defeat of its master by the “Lamb” - (Revelation 13:8).

The “Beast from the sea” is given authority to operate for “forty-two months,” the same period during which the “holy city was tread underfoot” in chapter 11. Likewise, in Daniel, the fourth beast “trampled the remnant with its feet” for the designated period of the “time, times, and part of a time” - (Daniel 7:19-25, 8:10, Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5).

The “forty-two months” during which the “Beast” makes accusations against the “saints” is the same period of forty-two months when “the holy city is given to the nations to be trampled underfoot.”

The “forty-two months” is also identical to the “twelve hundred and sixty days” during which the “Two Witnesses” give their “testimony” and are then slain by the “Beast from the Abyss.” In each case, the same reality is intended, though with different aspects in view.



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