We’re in the middle of John’s vision of the earth at the latter half of the tribulation period. The devil and his rebel angels have been kicked out of heaven. Because of God’s intervention, Satan has been unsuccessful in trying to kill Jesus, or the last remnant of Israel, who call Christ their Messiah. So, he turns his wrath towards the Gentiles who came to faith during the tribulations:
Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his head a blasphemous name. Now the beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him power, his throne, and great authority. Rv. 13:1, 2. NKJV
With the ten heads and horns, the beast is a mirror image of Satan. His crowns represent ten nations that the devil will assemble, to build a world empire to rival all that came before. The physical description of the beast is a composite of four beasts the prophet Daniel saw in a vision. (Dan. 7:2 – 8.) Daniel also prophesied about the coming of this future empire. (Dan. Ch. 2)
Biblical scholars see Satan’s beast(s) as symbolizing a world empire, an antichrist, and a false prophet. Many see the dragon, the Antichrist, and the false prophet as a perverse imitation of the Godhead.
I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast and who is able to wage war with him?” Rv. 13:3, 4. NASB
The beast represents a new world system – one that has suffered death and has been resurrected (insinuating something homologous to the resurrection of Christ). All ‘God-rejecters’ who survived the first half of the tribulations will fall under the sway of this satanic world order.
And the beast was given a mouth (the power of speech), uttering great things and arrogant and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom and authority to act and to do as he pleased for forty-two months (three and a half years). And he opened his mouth to speak blasphemies (abusive speech, slander) against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who live in heaven. He was also permitted to wage war against the saints (God’s people) and to overcome them, and authority and power over every tribe and people and language and nation. All the inhabitants of the earth will fall down and worship him, everyone whose name has not been written down since the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who has been slain [as a willing sacrifice]. Rv. 13:5 – 8. AMP
So, the beast gets a ‘mouthpiece’ – the Antichrist. This is also described in another vision of the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9:26, 27.), whereby he describes the Antichrist as a ‘little horn.’ Many interpret the vision of Daniel to mean that the Antichrist will first come as a ‘man of peace’ (after God has destroyed the ‘army of the north,’ that came against Israel), and that he will strike a peace accord with Israel.
However, at the tribulation midpoint, he breaks that accord and wages war against the followers of Christ – even forbidding any worship of God in the new temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, the Antichrist will demand worship for himself, declaring that he is God. Many of the saints are martyred at this time. (Rv. 12:10 – 12.)
However, because of the saints’ steadfast endurance for Christ, their eternal outcome will be one of triumph over Satan and his minions.
Finally, we see that those who do worship the Antichrist, will not find their names in the Lamb’s book of life – meaning that they have no heavenly hope.
John resumes the telling of his vision:
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the whole earth and those who dwell on it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs so that he even makes fire come from heaven on earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Rv. 13:11 – 14. NKJV
Here then is the manifestation of the second beast (the false prophet) – one who appears meek and pious, but his dragon-speech reveals his evil character to those who can discern his true nature. Satan gives power to the false prophet to manifest miracles in the name of the Antichrist, in order to prop up the Antichrist’s claim of divinity. Lastly, the false prophet commands that an idol be made in the image of the Antichrist’s so that the people could worship it. [This was previously foretold by the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:9 – 12.), where we learned that God allowed this deception to take place because of the people’s steadfast rejection of His salvation.]
John elaborates further about the false prophet:
And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both great and small, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast, or the number of the beast, for it is the number of man, and his number is 666. Rv. 13:15 – 18. ESV
Thus, the false prophet animates the statue of the Antichrist. It must be some form of an elaborated illusion, because only God can create life. If one is not convinced by the illusion to worship the idol, that same one will be killed.
We also see the false prophet promote the ‘mark of the beast,’ one required to having indelibly placed upon their person in order to buy or sell anything. Note: no one really knows what ‘666’ means except that it is the number of man. But because ‘sevens’ are the biblical number for ‘completeness,’ it suggests incompleteness.
Ultimately then, what we are seeing is the establishment of the complete satanic world system: the Antichrist is directing the political and economic landscape, and the false prophet is controlling religion; and all of this is being orchestrated by the devil himself. The plot thickens…
Goodnight and God bless.