We explained a little bit of this mysterious “Antichrist” in the previous post. Somehow he is one with Satan, but is not Satan, nor Satan incarnate. Notice the similarity between Revelation 13:2 and the temptation of Jesus. Jesus was promised all of the kingdoms of the earth, but He rejected that promise. Why? Satan demanded Jesus’ worship as a trade. Here we find the exact same promise enacted through this man. Thus, he will gain the whole world and lose his own soul. We left off in verse 4:
And they worshiped the dragon who had given his authority to the beast, and the worshiped the beast saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to make war against him?” And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemy was given to it, and authority to act 42 months was given to it. And it opened its mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme the His name, the His tabernacle, and those dwelling in heaven. And it was given to it to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and was given authority over every tribe and people and nation. And all dwelling upon the earth will worship it, of whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life having been slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone with the sword will kill, it behooves him by the sword to be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints.
The worship in verse 4 is an intentional parody of certain praises in the Old Testament: Exodus 15:11, Psalm 135:10, 71:19, 89:6, 113:5, Isaiah 40:25, 46:5, Micah 7:18. We find the parallel in Daniel 11:38-39.
In verse 5 notice the similarity between this mouth that utters blasphemies and Daniel 7:8 and 20 concerning the ‘little horn’. Also note Psalm 12:3. This goes back to verse 1. See also Daniel 8:11, 25, and 11:36 in regard to this king that will ‘exalt himself’. Notice the timeframe in verse 5. 42 months was mentioned in Rev 11:2, which means that this beast out of the sea is one and the same as the beast from the abyss in 11:7. This man is the one who will kill the two witnesses. The same time that Satan is cast down, and there is therefore time, times and half a time, this man “rises up”.
There is similarity in verse 6 with Psalm 73:9. However, Daniel 8:10-12 is more likely in the mind of John. Also see 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Leviticus 24:11. Back in Revelation 12:12 we saw that they in heaven rejoice. Here the beast blasphemes they who dwell in heaven. What good is it to blaspheme them, though? Does it affect the saints? Nay, but I assume it gives a false sense of supremacy to the beast nonetheless.
In verse 7 we have the nub of this section. This is where the message truly lies. Compare the first line with Rev 11:7 and Daniel 7:21, 25. Overcoming in Revelation is about fully submitting unto a certain kingdom. Either we overcome by self-sacrifice, or we will be overcome by self-gratification/preservation. Jump ahead to verse 10 briefly. Notice that it says anyone who kills with the sword shall be killed by the sword. There is an entire wisdom based around self-preservation – which encapsulated self-defense – and another wisdom based upon denying self for the Gospel’s sake. This is where the rubber meets the road. It isn’t simply about denying self because we have to. This is an honor. There is something intrinsic to the true believer that it makes sense.
We are dealing with flesh and blood reality here. These things aren’t just written for our enjoyment to mete on. This isn’t so that we can write best selling fiction books and make movies based on them. These events are real events. Anything that strips us from that understanding robs us of the very blessing that we are to receive from reading this text. How can we read and thus live accordingly if this is nothing more than a story to fascinate our minds? This needs to be living reality to us; otherwise we will end up taking lightly the very call that God has placed upon us.
In verse 8 we find the future tense. All inhabitants of the earth “will worship” the beast. See Rev 17:8. This tells us that this is not in the past. Notice that many of the commentaries hold to this beast being Nero. Whether John is writing during the Neronic era or the reign of Domitian, this cannot be fulfilled in Nero. John is writing in the future tense. Not to mention the number doesn’t add up to 666 when you use the fancy numerology. You must not only use his name, but also his title – Caesar – which goes beyond the text of verse 18. John is writing in AD 95, and is looking forward to a future fulfillment.
Compare the last part of verse 8 with Matthew 25:34, Luke 10:20, Daniel 12:1, 1 Peter 1:19-20, and Ephesians 1:4. Verse 9 reminds the reader what it means to overcome, and indeed is urging the reader to overcome. Verse 10 comes from Jeremiah 15:11 and 43:11. It goes with verses 7-9.