We are introduced to the major “beast” that Satan will use to do his bidding. The description is complex because it will be too.
Remember how I’ve told you that I am NOT an expert in bible prophecy and end times study? Well, that remains true even now. I feel SO under qualified to do this study today. But I’m not the one in charge of making sure everyone understands God’s word. HE is. So I’m leaving it in His hands to get whatever HE wants across to us today.
Today we deal with “the beast” who will rule for Satan. It’s description looks a lot like that of the “dragon” we saw in the previous chapter. The difference I can see is the crowns’ placements. But there IS a difference. The dragon is Satan while the beast is his emissary on earth.
I believe this person will be a political figure whom the world allows to rule over them as a whole. I noticed that this person is not referred to by gender in the scriptures so I’m not ruling out any distinctions either. It has ten horns and seven heads. Each horn has a crown on it. But the heads rise out of the one being. They are dependent on the beast for their power.
The beast’s description brings to mind a few characteristics on its own, at least to my mind. It has the body of a leopard, meaning it is built for speed but not for a long distance chase. The description of feet like a bear reminds me of how deadly a bear can be with just its paws. One swipe can disable and/or kill a person. A lion’s roar can stop any animal in its tracks. It carries a great distance and reminds the hearer of the deadly force that lies within the jaws of its owner. On the human scale, this beast is Trouble!
On the spiritual side, this beast is also trouble. It is given all authority of Satan. I had a pastor once who said the Devil was “like a mouse with a megaphone” in the corner trying to convince you of how powerful he was. I beg to differ. Evil is real. Satan was given dominion over this earth and he has real servants that do his bidding. He has power. BUT his power is limited. He has no eternal power beyond the deceiving of people into choosing to follow him into eternal death. He doesn’t have eternal power over life or death. Only God does. His greatest weapon is lies. His number two in that arsenal is fear. And he has given this beast all his power and authority. That includes command of his demons.
Satan DOES NOT have power over those who are part of God’s family. He will have the ability to harm their bodies but he cannot touch their spirit. I firmly believe God will protect many from physical harm at times too but that is not a guarantee; otherwise there wouldn’t be any of God’s children being killed during the tribulation.
Something that surprised me is the time span the beast is given to rule. I always thought, and the Left Behind series portrayed, the beast “assumed” power at the beginning of the tribulation and held that power until the return of Jesus. John tells us that “it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months” (verse 5b). This is only half of the tribulation period.
I have no way of knowing for sure from these verses but I think this timeframe will cover the last half of the great tribulation. My reasoning is this; there will be some time for it to rise in power, but once established it carries the world on its wave of pseudo victory until the final battle. When it meets Jesus it is TOTALLY defeated. I have a feeling its final push to power will come from “it” silencing the two witnesses. Wrong on that count too! That is another of Satan’s lies.
John tells us that the beast has “blasphemous names on its heads” (verse 1b). Our world today is so quick to condemn anyone who speaks out against any of the “protected” groups. SO MANY sins are being played off as “normal behavior” and anyone speaking out against those practices are “bigots”, “narrow minded”, or “haters.” I would not be surprised in the least to learn that some of the “names” written on this beast are the very sins facing our world today. Apparently this beast isn’t hiding its sins but proudly displaying them to the world. As true believers will be absent during this time, those sins will be an even greater rallying point and acceptable in the leaders of the time. I believe this is exactly what Jesus spoke of when He said they will call good evil and evil good.
This will be a time of great testing of those who choose to follow God in that time. The beast will deceive ALL whose names are not written in the Book of Life. The fact that the name was “written before the foundation of the world” (verse 8b) does NOT mean that you have nothing to do with your salvation. It simply means that God is outside of time and therefore knows beginning AND end, but WE have to make the choice. God knows what it will be only because from His vantage point we have each already made the choice to follow Him. DON’T EVER think your name gets there on its own or that God would exclude you for some reason. He won’t force ANYONE to choose Him. It is your decision!
“If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (verse 10). Yes, many will be taken prisoner for trusting in Jesus’ name. Yes, many will die for believing in Jesus. But it is ALL worth it. Who knows how many will be moved or witnessed to by the conduct of those trusting in Jesus. And in the final reckoning, it was only the physical body Satan was able to exercise authority over. The eternal self is all that endures. Once set free from this world, Satan has no more hold on those who love Jesus.
Father God, thank You for KNOWING my name before I knew Yours. I pray for those who will be living in the great tribulation. My struggles cannot even hold a candle to what they will face! Thank You for giving me Your salvation and for the daily blessings You send my way. I pray I can impact at least one person for You so they will know the joy of following You too. So they too may be spared living through what is to come. I’m certain the time is approaching quickly. Help me hold out Your hope and Your truth to those who are still searching.
I wonder if this blog will survive into that time and offer hope to the searching. Only You know the answer to that too. For now, I will be content to just enjoy our time together and let You determine where it goes from here.