Previously we got to the end of Revelation 12 with Satan, the dragon, making war against the church.

Now a beast emerges. We have encountered this beast before in chapter 11.
In chapter 12 we were introduced to the limitations of Satan's power.

Revelation 13

Contains some of the most well known images of the book of Revelation - beast, dragon, 666.

Two Questions to consider...
1. Why does the church in some places prosper while it suffers persecution in the midst of material hardship?
2. Why does the church elsewhere (Europe, North America) decline with spiritual apathy in midst of material abundance?

In chapter 13 we get more information about the beast.
1. It is ferociously hideous (v1).
2. It is a conglomeration of a variety of predatoury animals (lion, leapard, bear) (v2).
3. It is boastfully blasphemous (v6).
4. It is murderously tyrannical (v7).
5. It's grave is victorious (v3).
6. It receives power and authority from Satan (v2).

But there is a greater power over both the beast and the dragon.
"It was given (allowed) ..." v7.
Given / allowed by who? - He who sits on the throne.
There are limitations to what the beast is allowed to do - reference to 42 months (v5).
The 42 months symbolises the period of time between Jesus' ascension and his second coming.
God's people paradoxically both persecuted and protected at the same time.

Who is the beast in this chapter?
The beast symbolises the state - the empires, kingdoms, political powers of this earth.
The beast is an inference to the imagery of Daniel 7.

Daniel identifies the four beasts as four kingdoms - Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans.
In Daniel 7 the 4th beast is so ferocious it is not compared to any animal.
John and his 1st century readers will be thinking of Rome - but this beast represents more than Rome.

This beast represents all, before and after, who stand opposed to God and his people.
Before Rome this beast was represented in empires like the Egyptian, Assyrians, Philistines.
More recently it is seen in communism, totalitarianism, Leninism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism.
This beast is also present in 'more free & democratic' states (North America, Europe).

Some refer to this beast as being 'the anti-Christ'. This title does not appear in the book of Revelation.
This title only appears 5 times in the Bible - 1 John and 2 John. Same author as Revelation!
In 1 John 2:18 he affirms what he writes in Revelation.
John was in the last hour - we are also in the last hour.
The presence of the anti-Christ is what marks the last hour.
There is a final anti-Christ to come (last one), but anti-Christ is already here (marks the hour).

Paul uses the term 'lawless one' or 'man of lawlessness' to describe the anit-Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1–12).
The mystery of lawlessness is already at work 2 Thess 2:7).
At times Satan goes after God's people directly, he also use political powers who seek to replace God with themselves.
See Revelation 2:12-17 where Jesus addresses the church in Pergamum (where Satan has is throne).
Pergamum was a politcal centre the centre of Caesar worship (Caesar - Satan's pawn).
We either worship Jesus or we worship the beast.

The beast comes in many different names.
As soon as you think an empire is dead and gone it comes back again - replaced with another!
20th century saw plenty of examples!
What does Jesus say about all this? Matthew 24:6-8 "Look, but don't be afraid."
Timescale unknown - but Jesus' return marked by wars, rumours, famines, earthquakes.
In these things we see his coming, in them we are called to perserver.
We are to focus on Jesus on the throne and not those who promise much and deliver little.

How does the beast wage war against the church?
Sometimes ferociously - martyrs (Revelation 13:8-10).
Followers of Jesus are not save from persecution & martydom, but saved through them (Revelation 2:8-11).

Sometimes by demanding allegiance - Hail Caesar! Heil Hitler!
Building statues.
Having us pin our hopes on our leaders - very prevalent today.
Politicians promise what only God can deliver.

Sometimes by subducing the Saints to buy into the culture where man is preemminent.
This is how the beast waged war against Laodicea (Revelation 2:14-22).

Smyrna - imprisonment and death.
Pergamum - bow to Ceasar.
Laodicea - you have need of nothing, your are rich.
The same power behind all three.

We can have the esteem of self as a parental charge.
You must esteem yourself - self identity as an assumed right.
The good of the community is trumped by the felt needs of the individual.
A definition of tolerance which treats all values and religions as the same.
Culture of counselling which is only therapeutic in nature.
We tell people they can do anything they set their mind to.
Cultures where a legacy on earth more important than treasure in Heaven.

Can you hear the dragon breathing, feel the heat of his breath.

R - recognize the enemy is at work here as well as there.
Discern - the beast is behind...
R - render appropriately Mark 12:13-17
Taxes & prayers to Caesar. Worship, trust, faith, hope, allegiance to God.

The unholy trinity
Dragon and 2 beasts. There is an aping / mimicking of the Trinity here.
Beast which dies and comes back to life (sounds like Jesus, appears as a lamb).
Beast which glorifies the first beast (sounds like Holy Spirit).
The first beast acts like the dragon, the second beast speaks like the dragon.
The authority and power of both beasts comes from the dragon.

Who is the second beast?
The second beast is false teaching - religions, heresies, blasphemy.
See Revelation 16:13-14, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:10.
Also 1 John 4:1-3.

It is an advocate of the first beast - causing people to worship the first beast.
It causes people to be marked by the beast on hand or forehand.

In Jesus' address to Philadelphia we have a synagogue representing false teaching (Revelation 3:7-13).
We have a throne (state) and a synagogue (teaching) who are allies and both controlled by Satan.
What we see in Revelation 13 we also see in Revelation 2 and 3, 2 Thess, 1 John, 2 John.
We don't discover anything new in Revelation- just packaged differently.

In Revelation 2 and 3 where do the biggest threats to the churches come from?
Political power (the state) without, false teaching (and subduction of culture) within.
We see similar in trial of Jesus - the religious leadership bowed to Caesar (John 19:15).
The throne and synagogue united in opposition.

The second beast can be very bold, speaks like a dragon.
Often it is very subtle, speaks like a lamb - wolf in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15).
Sometimes making God too hard, or defining his love as something it is not.
Maybe its a teaching which empties hell, add works to grace, promises health & wealth.

2 Cor 4:3-4 Satan's aim is that we do not see the glory of God.
The glory of God is his character - He is good. See Exodus 33:18.

How do we battle against these beasts?
He has given us a weapon - the sword of the Spirit.
He has given us the Bible, he has given us his word.
Read it, do it, read it again, do it again, ...
We submit to the word.
Did God really say? - YES HE DID.

The power of the enemy has to submit to the power of God.
We proclaim the gospel - we make Jesus known, we keep sharing the message.

The make of the beast
Revelation 12:16-18 What is this? It calls for wisdom.

Gematria code - assigning numeric values to letters.
Transliterating the Greek word beast of Revelation into Hebrew results in 666.
A similar exercise for 'Nero Caesar' also results in 666 - which would catch eye of 1st century readers.
Danger - these exercises can result in a lot of massaging of the letters to get the desired result!

In v18 some English translations write 'it is the number of a man'.
A better rendering would be 'number of man' or 'number of humanity'.
Takes us back to day 6 of Genesis 1 - when man was created.

Creation completed on day 7.
Six is number of man, can also represent incompleteness (i.e. before 7).
Seen three numbers together before 10x10x10 and 12,000x12,000x12,000.
God is Holy, Holy, Holy. God is triunion in nature.
Three sixes together speaks of being perfectly incomplete, falls short of completion.
Its a number which represents failure, upon failure, upon failure.
What better way to represent all things false in the world than the number 666?
The beast does not measure up to what is ours in Christ Jesus.
666 is not a code to be cracked,  but a symbol to be given.

What's the number for Jesus in the Greek? - 888 !!

In Revelation 14:1 there is a contrast between those who take the mark of the beast and those who take a different mark. As we have seen before 144,000 represents the church. Here the mark is a name. A name speaks of a person's character, all that that person is. Hands and foreheads speak of what a person does and thinks. The forehead speaks of idealogical commitment, the head speaks of the practical outworking of that commitment. See Jesus' comments in Matthew 5:30.

What's marking my (your) life.
Is Jesus' character evidenced in my (your) life?
Are the things of this world growing dimmer or brighter to me (you)?

I (you) may not live in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) but Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) is just as dangerous and controlled by the dragon.

Same answer to both of the original two questions (above) - we are engaged in spiritual warfare, locked in mortal combat, with an intimidating enemy. Remember our enemy has been defeated, he is limited, his time is short. Defeated by the one who came in weakness, the son of a woman.

Further Reading

Daniel 7:1-8
Romans 5:1-5