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The Identification of the Second Beast

There are two beasts mentioned in the 13th chapter of Revelation, The first is introduced in verse 1 with the second one coming on the scene in verse 11. Having established that Satan is the dragon who is the enabler of the first beast who is the Imperial Roman Empire, there follows the rise of a second beast who will further set its destructive sights on the Remnant of the Radiant Woman's seed who are the faithful and keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ; Christians.

The future is indeed looking bleak for the Christians.  Imperial Rome wants them gone.  Their religion is in direct conflict with the Romans because they refuse to worship the emperors. The Romans blame every calamity on the Christians thinking their own gods are angry with them because of the Christians.  Just when it looks like it can't get any worse, we see the rise of yet another ally of the dragon.  When one considers the plight of the Christians, one cannot help but consider the trials of Job.  Satan is indeed a formidable enemy who is willing and able to use whatever means at his disposal to bring about the destruction of Christians.   This knowledge should give any thoughtful person pause to consider just how wicked and powerful our enemy really is.  And he is just as much our enemy today and he was to the Christians of the first century.  Nothing would give Satan more pleasure than to see all of mankind brought to a point of suffering comparable or worse than was handed out to the early Christians. 

We as Christians today must never forget that it was upon the blood of the first century martyrs that our faith today was handed down.  Christianity is a faith passed on from generation to generation and every time we read of the trials and persecutions endured by the faithful, we need to be mindful that were it not for their steadfast faith, ours would have never existed.  It was their dedication and sacrifice that brought Christianity to all of us today.  May we be as brave as they, if ever it is our lot to do so, for the faith of others many generations from us would likewise depend on our steadfastness to preserve the faith alive for them.  With those thoughts in mind, let's take a look at the second beast of Revelation 13.

Revelation 13:11-18
11 And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like unto a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the authority of the first beast in his sight. And he maketh the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose death-stroke was healed.
13 And he doeth great signs, that he should even make fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth in the sight of men.
14 And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs which it was given him to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast who hath the stroke of the sword and lived.
15 And it was given (unto him) to give breath to it, (even) to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as should not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16 And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead;
17 and that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark, (even) the name of the beast or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six.


In verse eleven we see the second beast coming up out of the earth as opposed to the first beast which came out of the sea.  The imagery here could be that the dragon had the first beast at his right hand and the second beast at his left, directing the actions of both.  The earth beast has two horns like unto a lamb and spoke like a dragon.  The horns are symbolic of power and authority, so the earth beast having only two horns like a lamb, is obviously inferior to the sea beast which has seven horns befitting the awesome power of a dragon.  With the horns of the sea beast representing the emperors of Rome, it would be consistent to view the two horns of the earth beast to be representing literal figures.  The usage of the word "lamb" instantly paints the imagery of the pure and holy.  So it would be entirely possible, even likely that the allusion to a lamb would be representative of a religious order in the minds of the Christians.  This earth beast may have had horns like a lamb but don't be deceived by appearances; he spoke as a dragon.  It is exceedingly important to pay heed to the fact that the text described the horns as being "like" unto a lamb, and not "the" lamb. 

The earth beast exerciseth all the authority of the first beast in his sight.  This malignant force is operating under the direct authority and has the total approval of the first beast.  Whatever authority the sea beast has, the earth beast has the power to exercise or enforce it in his presence.  The earth beast has the power to enforce the worship of the sea beast upon all mankind.  The first beast was the administrator and the second beast was the enforcer.

It was given to the earth beast to do great signs in the sight of men, even to the point of making fire come down out of heaven upon the earth.  The immediate question that arises is; were these signs actual miracles, or were they deceptions?  Miracles were always given to confirm the word of God.  There have always been imitators and false teachers.  Moses and Aaron faced the imitators when Aaron threw his staff to the ground and it became a snake.  The imitators did likewise and the snake from Aaron's staff overcame the fakes and consumed them, (Exodus 7:10-12).  The forces of evil have often had the ability to deceive, but the real always overcame the deception.  Verse 14 gives us the answer to the question of whether these signs were miracles or not.  "And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs which it was given him to do in the sight of the beast."  They were deceptions, albeit good ones, but deceptions nonetheless.  Revelation 13 is not the only scripture that alludes to deceiving signs and lying wonders as being within the abilities of the wicked, (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Timothy 3:13). 

The earth beast mandated idols be built to the sea beast whose head had been severely injured but survived.  Domitian both paid for the rebuilding of Rome after the great fire in July of 64 AD,  and also paid an annual tribute for about 10 years to Decebalus of Darcia after being defeated in battle against him.  Domitian demanded he be worshipped as Lord and God on earth.  We see now in verse 15 that the land beast could give breath to the idols of Domitian and cause them to speak.  We don't know if this language is literal or figurative, however either can be explained.  In the worship of Domitian, a priest might stand behind a lectern and using ventriloquism, speak as if it were Domitian himself speaking.  Those who were present, hearing this deception could then believe it really was Domitian and bow and worship him all the more.  On the figurative end of the scale, it could be explained that those in charge, by speaking directly for Domitian, were bringing life to Caesar worship with all the associated attributes.  Either way, because of the authority of the land beast, the citizens had two options before them.  Either worship Domitian and live, or refuse and die. 

Now we come to the infamous mark of the beast.  If anyone refused this mark, they were not allowed to buy or sell goods.  This means clothing, food, essentials for living.  Under the rule of Domitian, those who worshipped the emperor were required to request and receive a certificate in order to buy and sell, obtain licenses for regulated activities such as marriages and to participate in certain programs within the Roman empire as if they were Roman citizens.  This request was worded thusly:

To those who have been appointed to preside over the sacrifices, from *name of the petitioner*, from the village of *petitioner's village or place of residence*, together with his children, *names of all children and where they reside*.  We have always sacrificed to the gods and now in your presence and according to the regulations, we have sacrificed and offered libations, and tasted the sacred things, and we ask that you give us a certification that states we have done so.  May you fare well, *followed by the name of the petitioner.

The certificate they received read: 

"We, the representatives of the emperor have seen you sacrificing." 

This certificate was then authenticated with the seal or signature of the representative of Domitian. Without this certificate, no one could receive the stamp of the emperor. No one, without that stamp, was allowed to buy food, sell goods or participate in any government programs whatsoever.

When we study the history that is contemporary to Domitian, we find an organization who acted as the enforcer for Domitian's religious policies. This was the Commune' or better
known as the Roman Concilia. The Concilia, also known as the "Imperial Cult" was a so called religious organization formed during the early Principate of Augustus, and was rapidly established throughout the Empire and its provinces.  A principate was a form of rule in the early Roman Empire in which some republican forms were retained in the government. 

The Augustan principate transformed the long-standing Republican system of government to a monarchy couched in the traditional Roman practices and forms. These monarchs were originally called princeps but later became known as emperors.  They were expected to represent and balance the interests of the Roman military, the senate and the people.  They were to maintain peace, security and prosperity throughout an ethnically diverse empire.

The imperial cult functioned by officially acknowledging an emperors' office and rule as divinely approved and constitutional.   A deceased Emperor held worthy of the honour could be voted a state divinity (divus, plural divi) by the Senate thus elevating the emperor to the status of a God.  This act is referred to as 'apotheosis'.  The granting of apotheosis or godhood was intended to impart religious, political and moral judgment on Imperial rulers in the perception of the Roman citizenry.  It was an act of treason to neglect the policies of the imperial cult. 

Christians properly regarded the Imperial Cult of the Emperor as a particularly offensive instrument of "pagan" impiety and persecution.  The Cult later became a focus of theological and political contention during the ascendancy of Christianity under Constantine I.  Christianity and the policies of the Imperial Cult were severely opposed to each other making it impossible for the two to co-exist without compromise and neither side of the opposition retained their original structure.  A deviant form of Christianity was arising and the policies and practices of the Imperial Cult were on the decline.

The emperor Julian failed to reverse the waning support for Rome's official religious practices.  Theodosius I adopted Christianity as Rome's State religion which resulted in Rome's traditional gods and "Imperial cult" being officially abandoned.  However, many of the rites, practices and status distinctions that characterized the cult to emperors were perpetuated in the theology and politics of the Christianized Empire.

The Roman Imperial cult, sometimes referred to as the Concilia, or the Commune was a state organized and sanctioned entity which served as an Imperial propaganda machine with the intention of elevating the popularity of the emperors.  When the Imperial Cult was officially abandoned, many of its rituals, organizational and ideological were transferred to later religious institutions, especially those of Western monarchies, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

To a Christian, worshipping the emperor as a God was forbidden regardless of the circumstances or hazard to personal lives. Christians were boycotted in the market places for failure to bear the stamp of the emperor. Marriages, wills, real estate transactions were all illegal without the stamp of the Imperial Cult.  Emperor Domitian, eager to legitimize his office used the Imperial Cult to promote himself as a God while he was still alive. 

The Concilia was given the legal authority to see that anybody who refused to bow down and worship Domitian would receive no legal status for conducting business in the Imperial Roman Empire. Thus, the Christians who refused to worship the emperor were declined the official stamp thereby making any transaction with them illegal. When the Concilia spoke, they spoke as priests in the name of Roman state religion. The Concilia had the authority to incarcerate offenders and haul them before the Roman officials. The act of refusing to worship the Emperor as a God was considered an act of treason against the Roman Empire and the penalty for such resulted in severe persecution and often times led to execution.

Several commentators and Bible scholars believe that the land beast was the apostate Christian church of Rome in its infancy. The apostate church of Rome in any capacity never had or assumed the authority to persecute or execute anybody for refusing to worship any emperor.  By the time the apostate church of Rome rose to power, the Concilia had been officially discarded.  The Roman Concilia had the authority which fits perfectly with verse 15, "and cause that as many as should not worship the image of the beast should be killed."

It should be noted that several well qualified Bible scholars hold to the belief that the land beast is the Roman church in its infancy.  Due to the fact that the influences of the Imperial Cult found their way into the apostate church, this belief is not entirely wrong.  This certainly explains the similarity between the apostate church and the land beast in John's vision.   It should be noted here that both entities used religious practices to influence and control the people and that the declining Imperial Cult heavily influenced the apostate church as it rose to power.   

Scholarship is divided over whether the land beast is the Imperial Cult or the apostate Roman church.  It would make for a well rounded study for everybody to consider all viewpoints in an effort to ascertain the truth. That being said, it is my conviction, given the evidence from both Biblical and historical texts, that the Dragon in Revelation 12 is Satan. The sea beast is the Imperial Roman Empire with Domitian as one of the chief leaders, and the land beast was the Roman Concilia, or Imperial Cult, who acted as the enforcer of state religious policy for the Roman Empire and later influenced the apostate church of Rome.

Revelation 13:18
"Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six".

The infamous 666 is here mentioned.  Much religious error and speculation surrounds this apocalyptic number.  Well meaning scholars have gone to extensive lengths to associate this number with a man because of the text "for it is the number of a man".  This text has long been the subject of much controversy in that many people take the position that it references a single individual.  This is not the case.  When inspiration says it is the "number of a man", it simply means the number represents something that is "of man" as opposed to being "of God".  The beast is in no way or under any circumstances a product of Divine authority.  On the contrary, the beast is entirely a product of man following after Satan's evil influence. 

There are three distinct characters mentioned in this vision who represent the evil forces which are in opposition to the Christians of the first century.  We have Satan who is represented as the dragon.  We have the first beast which was illustrated as rising from the sea and then the land beast who was subordinate to the sea beast.  There are three evil characters and three sixes in the imagery which portrays them.  The number seven represented perfection to the 1st century Christians.  The number six falls short of the number seven so therefore represents something less than perfection.  Each character in the evil forces gets their own designation of evil.  With each of them receiving this designation, all three of them are thus represented as evil.  And the fact that the number is said to be "of a man", is symbolic in that man is the active instrument in the execution of the grand plan of the Dragon.  

Church of Christ Lessons on the Revelation of Jesus Christ

1.  Understanding Revelation
2.  Symbolic Objects in Revelation
3.  Understanding the Numerical Symbolism in Revelation
4.  Identifying the Opposition Characters in Revelation
John's Introduction to the Churches of Asia

6.  John's Vision of Jesus Christ
7. The Church who Left Her First Love, Ephesus
8.  Smyrna, the Suffering Church
9.  Pergamum, the church in Hell's Headquarter
10.  Thyatira, the church that Condoned Sin
11. Sardis (The Dead Church)
12. Philadelphia (The Church With Opportunity)
13.  Laodicea (The Lukewarm Church)

14.  Letter to Your Church
15.  John's Throne Vision (chapter 4)
16.  God the Redeemer Revealed  (chapter 5)
17.  God the Avenger of His Children (Chapter 6)
18.  Who Will Be Able To Stand  (Chapter 7)
19.  The First Four Trumpets
(Chapter 8)
20.  The Fifth Trumpet (Chapter 9:1-12)
21.  The Sixth Trumpet Announcement (Chapter 9:13-21)
22. The Little Book and the Unutterable Thunders (Rev 10)
23.  The Seventh Trumpet Announcement (Rev 11)
24. The Conflict (Revelation 12)
25.  Revelation 13 (Identification of the First Beast)

26.  Revelation 13 (Identification of the Second Beast)

27.  Chapter 14 (The Victorious Lamb and the Redeemed)
28.  Revelation 14 (The Turning Point)
29.  Revelation 14 (The Sickle and the Winepress)
30.  Chapter 15 (Comfort for the Saints)
31.  Chapter 16 (Bowls of Wrath)
32.  Chapter 16 (The Battle of Armageddon)
33.  Chapter 17 (The Scarlet Woman)
34.  Chapter 18 (Fallen  is Babylon)

35.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Chapter 19)
36.  The Fall of Satan  (Chapter 20)
37.  Heaven, the Home of the Soul  (Chapter 21)
38.  The Spirit and the Bride Say Come  (Chapter 22)
39.  The Dating of the Revelation

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Revelation 21:5-7

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.