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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," January, February, May 2009

Revelation Chapter 13 Explained

Our unique slant on the book of Revelation is that it give us "insight" on the nature and course of those major dynamic forces that shape this present age. It is not talking about what presumably happens only during some future seven year great tribulation period after the church age has ended at the secret rapture, as taught by popular Scofield/Darbyism. (Where does the Book of Revelation ever mention, even once, the existence of any "seven year" period of time, anyway? When you find that in the text, please let me know.)

The Jews, or the nation of Israel, are not the subject of this material, either. It is, rather, the true Christian church that is being, for the most part, represented in the parables here. The message is one of encouragement to Christians of all ages.

Revelation chapter thirteen gives us an overview of the age between Christ's first and second advents from a "political" point of view, based on a continuation of Nebuchadnezzar's visions of the four beasts (ancient world empires) in Daniel chapter seven.

The first beast that John sees in Revelation 13:1-10 is the same as the fourth beast of Daniel 7:7ff., which was the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire, we are told, will span the entire age between the Advents. This is shown in the fact that the beast is given power to continue "42 months" (verse 7; cf. with Dan. 7:25; 12:7 and 12). To learn more about the end-time "unsealing" concept of elongation, or time-free extension, of the last half of Daniel's 70th week (Dan 9:27) here see previous articles of this newsletter posted online, and our published books. If this idea is "news" to you, then you are beginning to learn something you did not already know, and that is a good thing. The question is, are you open to any new insights ever coming along, and if not, why not?

The Roman Empire, we note further, would not exactly retain the same form during all this time, for the original pagan Roman Empire that existed in the first Christian centuries would be wounded by a sword, and then revived (Rev. 13:3). This refers to the near conquest of the papan Roman Empire by the sword of the Spirit in the hands of the early church, and pagan empire's subsequent revival in the Holy Roman Empire of the spiritually-degenerate medieval catholic era.

The "seven heads" of the Roman beast represent the compositness and continuation of the preceding ancient world empires (Dan. 7:4-6) that had successively been conqueored and superceded by Rome. The first beast of Daniel seven, the Babylonian Empire, had one head; the second beast, Media-Persia, had two heads; and the third beast, Macedonia, had four heads (Dan 7:6). That equals a total of seven heads (1+2+4=7) derived from the three previous beast empires assimilated by Rome.

The "ten horns" refers to the universal dominion of the old Roman Empire, and to the fact that this empire was later to be assimilated by the ten barbaric tribes of northern and western Europe after 476 A.D.--the Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Lombards, Burgundians, Franks, Vandals, Saxons, Angles, and Jutes: ten tribes in all.

Revelation chapter thirteen gives us a picture of salvation history in the age between the advents, or this present age. The basic paradigm here is Christ or Caesar: in our having upon ourselves the "seal" of the Spirit (Rev 7:3ff.; 14:1ff.), or in our having taken upon ourselves the "mark" of the beast; that is, the visible trappings of pagan empire, whether in its pre, or post-pseudo-christianized forms.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION. Chapter 13 is set in the context of the age-long conflict between Christ and Caesar. The first beast of this chapter (verses 1-10) pictures the emergence of the ancient pagan Roman empire. The second beast, that later morfed out of it, was the papal Roman empire, or what was known for a thousand years during the Middle Ages as the Holy Roman Empire. The mark of the beast described at the end of this chapter, then, refers to a life of paganism, under the influence of Satan, the god of this world, in opposition to the life of holiness enjoined by those who are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Thus, the mark of the beast phenomenon is an age-long reality. Everyone in the world since the first advent of Christ has had one identification or the other. They have either had the seal of the Spirit, or the mark of the beast. In this whole present age it is Christ or Caesar. To whom do you belong?

Why does this chapter need to be explained in a way than makes any less common sense? Remember, it a revelation, or disclosure, and Jesus keeps His message simple!

Related Article Links

The Key To Interpreting The Book Of Revelation
The Key To Unsealing End-time Bible Prophecy
Who Is The Man Of Lawlessness Sitting In The Temple Of God?
Who Is The Beast Of Revelation Chapter 13?