There are two beasts in chapter 13; the first beast that came up out of the sea represents the political regime. The soldiers from the Roman army often came ashore from the Mediterranean Sea, evil regimes all came from the sea. The second beast came up out of the earth which represents the religious regime. Usually the religious regime is low-key. In the hearts of the people, even though the political power is stronger than religious power, in actuality, the religious power is of greater influence.
The two beasts from this chapter plus the great red dragon from the spiritual realm in chapter 12 united as one form an extremely powerful evil trinity. Regarding these passages, many people interpret them out of content and therefore, a lot of confusion arises. We should follow the principles of Biblical interpretation in order to see the whole picture clearly. Let us take a look at the characteristics of this beast.
THE BEAST OF THE RELIGIOUS REGIME
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.
The second beast was like a lamb, it had a religious appearance. That is why, chapter 16, chapter 19 and chapter 20, all those chapters call it “false prophet”. We do call the pagan prophets “prophets” because they are just workers who represent inferior demonic idols. They can be called shamans, witch doctors or spiritists . “Prophet” means “God’s spokesman”. A “false prophet” uses God’s name to speak words from devil. That is why “he spoke as a dragon ”. Nominally representing God, but actually he represents the devil. Therefore, this religious group identifies itself as worshipers of one God. This beast has two horns which represent two great religious leaders. Even thou they had a religious cover-up of sheep’s clothing , they spoke as a dragon.
A RELIGIOUS GROUP WITH IMPERIAL AUTHORITY
12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
Although the second beast is a religious group, it possesses imperial powers and great authority like that of a political leader; as in ancient times when there was no separation between Church and State. Their authority was recognized by the Emperor, and its authority was exercised in the presence of the first beast.
Why did the first beast, the empire formed of ten nations, allow the religious leaders to have such great authority? Because those religious leaders made the people to follow the empire, they were the power behind the empire. They actively promoted the importance of obeying that empire, falsely borrowing God’s name to praise that empire. They were the mastermind behind it.
The two horns on this second beast had no crowns, not like the ten horns of the first beast that had ten crowns. Therefore, these two horns are not kings; they are two religious spiritual leaders but they had the authority of a king.
THEY HAD SATAN ‘ S POWER
13 又行大奇事，甚至在人面前，叫火從天降在地上。14 牠因賜給牠權柄在獸面前能行奇事，就迷惑住在地上的人。
13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast.
They performed great signs, real miraculous signs. The word “signs” that was used is the same word that described Jesus’ miracles. It was not a magic illusion or a trick. That is why many people followed them and trusted them. They could deceive the people’s hearts. The whole world believed that they had special powers that ordinary people did not possess.
They made “fire come down out of heaven”. That was an act of God in the Old Testament to show that the sacrifice offered by the people was acceptable to God. This means that they were able to do things to prove that God was with them and they had the seal of God. Take note what Satan emphasizes is “power”. The first beast, the political beast made people marvel at his power, he could do things that other politicians were not able to do, no one could resist the political beast. “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” People admired their tactics, schemes, abilities.
As to whether they lived an abundant life with profound meaning, or whether they had the ability to live a morally sound life, or whether they were able to change people’s lives that had been ruined, and live respectably, there was never any mention of those things at all. It also comes to mind that there are certain churches that also emphasize power and great signs, they emphasize being “stricken by the spirit” and miracles of healing people who are crippled, but they are indifferent to whether or not lives are transformed or breaking away from the influence of sin. Beware; these could be tactics that Satan is using to deceive people in the last days.
Everything he does is for the sole purpose of deceiving the people to follow and endorse the new empire which is made out of an alliance of ten nations, because the phrase, “in the presence of” means “acting on behalf of”. Everything he does is on behalf of the first beast. His power comes from Satan, “because of the signs it was given power to perform”, the power to perform the signs was given to him by Satan.
HAS ADVANCED TECHNOLOGICAL ADVERTISING SKILLS
14 牠因賜給他權柄在獸面前能行奇事，就迷惑住在地上的人說：要給那受刀傷還活著的獸作個像。｢｣15 又有權柄賜給他叫獸像有生氣，並且能說話。
14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak.
｢作個像｣的｢作｣字，英譯作setup ，不是在製造一個大的銅像、雕塑像或立體像，是弄一個image 出來。｢像｣字英文翻作image ，是｢畫像｣。耶穌在世上的時候，曾有人試探祂，問祂納稅給該撒，可以不可以？耶穌說：｢拿一個錢幣來，上面的像是誰的？｣｢是該撒的。｣｢那麽該撒的物當歸給該撒，神的物當歸給神。｣所以這｢像｣指的是畫像。
To “set up” an image is not to build a big bronze statue, to carve a sculpture or to make a tri-dimensional figure; is to set up an image like a “picture”. When Jesus was on the earth, some people wanted to put Him to a test by asking Him if it they should pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus said: “Let me see one of the coins used for paying taxes.” And he asked: “Whose picture and name are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they answered. Then Jesus told them: “Give to Caesar what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.” Therefore, this “image” is a picture.
But here is said that the image was given breath and could speak. It is obvious that it refers to modern animation, like television, a motion picture, or a video. In the old times people might have thought of these things as surreal. There is no way that Satan could make an inanimate image become alive. Now we know those religious leaders will use motion pictures to make advertisements for the empire to deceive people, so people will obey and follow; this is the way people advertise nowadays, using modern technology to promote the mystical empire.
During the end times, people will use recorded media to make publicity; Christian organizations will do the same. In the Old Testament times, God told the people to use certain ways and procedures to worship; to use collective worship to witness for Him and to show His glory. The Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples to use their lives to witness to others by loving one another and caring for each other and in this way people would know about the Kingdom of Heaven. At the end times, people will also use motion pictures and sounds as an advertising instrument. There is nothing bad with that, many people could feel moved by it. But even though these things may seem to have life, there is no real life in them. A religion that is dead may even use those tactics.
A DOMINATING STRATEGY
15 又叫所有不拜獸像的都被殺害，16 又叫眾人，無論大小、貧富、主奴，都在右手上或在額上受一個印記。17 除了那受印記，有了獸名，或有獸名數目的，都不得作買賣。
15 And cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
“And cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” This clearly indicates that it is a war. Revelation 15:2 said that the Christians who were triumphant were “those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name.” If they had not fought against the beast and its image and over the number of its name, how could they have been “victorious”? Therefore we know that the evil religious leader used the image of the beast and the number of the beast as a weapon to attack those who belong to God.
( 一) 不聽從這帝國命令，乃是死路一條。不拜獸像的被殺害。
(1) Those that did not follow the orders of that empire and did not worship the image of the beast would be killed.
( 二) 沒有印記，沒有獸的身份證明，不知道獸的行事方式，連生活下去都會有困難。不能跟他們作生意。
(2) Those that did not have the mark, an identification card of the beast and did not know the ways of the beast would have trouble surviving. They wouldn’t be able to do any business at all.
At that time, only those who follow their policies and their system will be able to survive. The ones who will benefit from it are “all people” in verse 16, the unbelievers, those who do not belong to God.
These people who belong to them have different ranks and levels:
( 一) 額上、右手上有印記的人：表示受過他們訓練，有證件、有文書認可的人。像古代的君王蓋上了玉璽，或有官方的印，證明他們有特別身份。｢這印是在額上與右手上｣，他們的｢智慧｣( 額上) 與｢才能｣( 右手上) ，顯明他們是這帝國中的精英份子。
(1) They have a mark on their foreheads and on their right hands: which represents those who had been trained by them; they have credentials and a document of approval. Like the ancient kings that used a jade seal or an official seal to prove that they had special status. They had “a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads.” Their “wisdom” (foreheads) and their “abilities” (right hands); this shows that they are the elite of the empire.
( 二) 有獸名，表示是該帝國的公民，是宣誓效忠於這個帝國的人。他們的生活方式與生活習慣與這國的公民是一致的。
(2) They have the name of the beast, which means that they are citizens of the empire; they have sworn allegiance to the empire. Their lifestyle and habits are consistent with the citizens of that country.
( 叁) 有獸名的號碼，表示是帝國的會員，從這帝國得到一個號碼。雖然不是該國的公民，但也可以參與他們的生意與投資作業系統。正如美國醫生都有一個號碼，沒有這號碼，就不能開藥方。這撒但的爪牙，也用這辦法作為他們的武器，使神的子民沒有生計。
(3) They have the number of the beast, which means that they are members of the empire. They have obtained a number from the empire. Although they are not citizens of the empire, they can have a part in their business and investment system . Just like the doctors in the US, they all have a number and without that number they cannot write up a prescription. These agents of Satan also use these means as their weapon so that the people of God will not be able to make a living .
Some people criticize Christianity for rejecting their religion. They say that Christians should learn from the Buddhists and the different teachings from many of their religious sects. They should emphasize monastic discipline, cause-and-effect ethics, moments of enlightenment, and the illusory nature of the world; they should emphasize incantations and chanting as a way to enter the spirit world; to keep calling on the Buddha of the Western Paradise to be saved. Even though the points of view are different, they should accept each other’s opinions. They feel that we, Christians, should not attack other people’s beliefs.
是的，各種宗教教義都有好的地方，我們不需要攻擊別人。但要知道，得救的路，只有一條，不是很多條。好的教義不能指引人得永生。我們也要看見，基督教不會殺害異議分子，你不相信，沒有人會強迫你信。但這裡告訴我們，你如果不聽這獸的話，可能是死路一條。比較之下，基督教是不是更為寬大？Yes, the various religions contain some good teachings, we should not attack them. But you must know that there is only one way to be saved, not many ways. Good teachings cannot give people eternal life. Furthermore, Christians will not murder groups of people because they disagree with them. If you don’t want to believe in Jesus, nobody is going to force you to do it. But here it tells us that if you do not obey the commands of the beast, you will have to face death. Compared to them, isn’t Christianity much more lenient?
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
The beast mentioned here is not the second beast that came out of the earth but the first beast. The only time that the second beast was referred to was in the beginning when it said that it came out of the earth, all the other comments are about the first beast. This religious beast that hides behind the first beast; though inconspicuous, has very strong influential powers. It encouraged the people to follow the first beast.
Many people waste time trying to figure out who is the number 666. According to what it says here, during the end times, there will be some people who will know which empire is the beast. We shouldn’t bother to calculate who it is, because:
( 一) 計算它沒有意義。它只是告訴我們人間最大的力量。6 是人之數。666 是人中的極品數。正如7 是神的計劃與行動的完全數。70 x 7 是神最完全的計劃行動。又如12 ，是全民的數目，12 x 12 x 1000 是全民的完整數、精英數。666 也只表示是人間最大力量、最精明的組合。
(1) Calculating who it is is meaningless. It is just telling us about a great power among the people. 6 is the number of man . 666 is the number that represents the elite among the people. Like 7 is the number that represents God’s plan of action; 70 x 7 is the complete plan of action of God. The number 12 represents the entire population, 12 x 12 x 1000 is the number that signifies the completeness of the whole entire population, the number of the elite. Thus, the number 666 only represents the strongest power among men, an elite assembly.
( 二) 計算名字數目要用古代的文字纔正確。在希伯來文、希臘文、拉丁文時代，還沒有阿拉伯數字出現，所以數字都用字母代替。現在卻沒有人用字母來算數。用英、法、德文來計算它，都不會得到正確的數目，因為這些文字的字母，並沒有數目的含意。
(2) Calculating names with numbers requires it to be done with ancient characters in order for it to be accurate. During the times when the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages were used, there were no Arabic numbers yet; therefore the numbers used were all letters from the alphabet. Nowadays, no one uses letters of the alphabet to compute. Using English, French or German alphabet to calculate the number would not be accurate at all, because the letters of the alphabet of those languages do not contain any numerical meanings .
( 叁) 這是一個｢帝國｣，不是一個人物。所以說它代表希特拉、尼錄等，都不正確。因為這獸不是指某人，不應該花時間去計算是誰。經文也沒有告訴我們要用字母來算他們的數目。在希伯來文中，｢彌賽亞｣是358 ，｢蛇｣也是358 。這樣的數字有意義嗎？
(3) This is an “empire”, it is not a person. Therefore, saying that it represents Hitler or Nero is incorrect; because the beast does not refer to a specific person. People should not waste their time trying to compute who that person is. Besides, the scriptures do not tell us to use letters of the alphabet to calculate their numbers. In Hebrew, “Messiah” is number 358; “snake” is also number 358. Do those numbers make any sense?
WHICH RELIGION IS IT?
馬丁路德、加爾文等都認為，獸是指天主教，現在還有人這樣想。這種解釋不準確，因為十七章｢大淫婦｣就是天主教，因為他們拜偶像。大淫婦騎在獸之上( 得羅馬帝國的支持) ，所以她就不是獸。啟示錄中每一個角色都清楚分別，不應該混為一談。
Martin Luther and Calvin believed the beast was the Catholic Church. There are still people who think that way. That explanation is inaccurate because “the great prostitute” in chapter 17 is the Catholic Church due to the fact that they worship idols. The great prostitute was sitting on the beast (It had the support of the Roman Empire); therefore, the Catholic Church is not the beast. The different characters in the book of Revelation are clearly stated; they should not be mixed up.
The religious beast is Islam, because the god “Allah” from the Koran is similar to the word God in the Hebrew language. The content of the Koran are in some instances similar to the Bible. Therefore, in sharing the Gospel with Muslims, the best way is not to be against the Koran but to quote from the Koran. Just as knowing how to quote from the Old Testament when sharing the Gospel with the Jews. The Gospel content in the Koran is clearer than the Old Testament Hebrew Bible, because it not only contains data from the Old Testament but also from the New Testament. In the Koran there is mention of the Virgin Mary who gave birth to a child, of Jesus as the Messiah, the Word became flesh, who never sinned, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and did not have a worldly father, etc. Therefore, the best way to evangelize to the Muslims is using the Koran.
Most Muslims value their traditions; they are very concerned about the rituals that they have to perform every day, every week and every year, like the Pharisees in the old days. Their problem is not their doctrine but their people; is not that their teachings were evil, but that their false prophets were wicked. They seemed to be preaching God’s Word but actually they were speaking the words of the dragon, Satan.
When the Taliban collapsed, people were able to see what kind of life their leader Omar had led. His residence was extremely extravagant, it had crystal ceilings and walls made out of marble. The people who lived outside his mansion were poverty stricken Afghans. He demanded the people to live simple lives, and used their religious fervor to cruelly oppress them. That is what false prophets do.
有智慧聰明。似乎是鼓勵人去計算，像要人認出他們。其實這裡表示，辨認敵神的王國，還是有困難的，會受矇騙。是要有聰明智慧纔能認出他們。我們要記得，不是以能力或言語來分辨，是以生命來分辨。“This calls for wisdom.”
Apparently, it seems to be encouraging the people to calculate the number in order to recognize who they are. Actually, here it indicates that it is going to be difficult to recognize the empire that is against God, it could be deceiving. Wisdom and intelligence are needed to recognize them. We have to remember that in order to distinguish them we will need to look at their lives, not at their abilities or at their speech.