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Unveiling the Face of Spiritual Warfare

May 21st, 2015

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.

Revelation 13:1

The place apocalyptic literature in the Bible speaks the clearest is in revealing to us the reality of the spirit world, of angels, demons, and even of heaven. These images, some quite bizarre, communicate God’s truth to us. The question that is often asked is whether this was exactly what John saw, or did he see something else and wrote it in apocalyptic language. Either way, it was the Spirit who inspired the book, and it is authoritative for us today.

I take the position that John was in control of his words, and that the vision was described by him in apocalyptic language, but that the Spirit also guided him in this vision in such a way that these words were the only means to convey what he received. In this vision, and these series of visions, we sense very strongly that John was in some points as mystified as we are, or almost so. But for the most part the images employed were used intentionally by John and based upon Old Testament imagery, but wholly guided and inspired by the Spirit.

In this vision, John is contemplating the vision of the dragon pursuing and making war with the offspring of the woman of Revelation 12 – Israel and the Church – when out of the sea rises a “beast,” therion in Greek, meaning a large animal untamed and untameable, whose instinct renders him an enemy to humanity. This is how the dragon shall pursue and persecute Israel and the Church. With such a vision he pulls back the veil on the deceptions of Satan, making his nature and intent clear in our minds.

The Beast of the Sea: The “sea” is used often in the Bible for an image of the political systems of the world, especially the agitated political waters (Jeremiah 46:8; Luke 21:25; Rev. 17:15; Rev. 21:1). In times of chaos and political unrest ruthless men and women have often risen to power. This beast rising from the sea has several distinct characteristics. The first ones noted are power, speed, and strength.

The vision of Daniel 7:2-14 must be considered here. Daniel’s vision was four beasts rising from the sea: Lion-like with eagle wings, Bear-like, Leopard-like with four wings, and the fourth more dreadful and terrible than the others with iron teeth. The lion is symbolic of Babylon – powerful and swift. The bear represented Persia which defeated Babylon – strong and merciless. The Leopard represented Greece, which defeated Persia – powerful and swifter even than Babylon. The dreadful beast represented Rome, whose power does in some way still continue in today’s world. The horns and the heads and the crowns, in varying numbers, all represent earthly powers.

The Beast of the Sea combines these elements – leopard, bear, and lion. “The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2). Remembering that prophecy is often fulfilled in part before it is fulfilled in whole, we can see that many have risen through the centuries with these characteristics. Yet ultimately there will come the complete fulfillment of this prophecy through one individual. His traits are:

  • One of his heads had been mortally wounded but the deadly wound was healed and the world marveled at this, 12:3. This prophecy will be understood by believers when it is revealed in history, but it can take many forms – someone who seemed to have been vanquished and defeated returns to power, someone who was a victim of assassination is revived on the operating table – perhaps both. Adolf Hitler took this form in some way, as a soldier of World War I he was blinded for sometime, and was imprisoned after the attempted rebellion in Munich. Yet he rose to the highest position in the land.
  • The beast of the sea is like a false-Son and the dragon is like a false-Father, “they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast,” in a perverted abuse of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, 12:4
  • The beast seemed invincible and was given power to speak blasphemies for a period, 42 months, or roughly three and a half years – this coincides with Daniel’s “time, times, and half a time” also meaning a three and a half years.
  • He persecutes the Church, blasphemes the name of God, and has worldwide power, 14:6-7
  • He is able to enforce his policies world wide. This echoes the reality of Roman power and Emperor worship, where people were locked out of the system if they did not pay homage to Caesar.

The final outcome of this beast is defeat, as the prophecy says, “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills by the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Rev. 13:10). In the darkest and dreariest of political times, the saints of God have taken comfort in this principle of God’s justice. He has woven it into the universe and no one can escape this reality. Either we experience retribution for our acts of cruelty here on earth, or after this life, or most likely both. And this beast of the sea will be no different.

The words of Psalm 37:7-11 encourage us:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, forsake wrath;
Do not fret – it causes only harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it will be no more.
But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

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