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For New King James text and comment, click here.
Revelation 13-16 Listen
Note: The chronology of the Book of Revelation was interrupted beginning with chapter 10. Chapters 10-14 cover personalities and events that fit into various places in this seven-year tribulation period. The chronology of events resumes in chapter 15. However, there is a brief, five-verse introduction to these events in Revelation 11:15-19.
The first of two beasts (Revelation 13:1-10)
1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
These two beasts of Revelation 13 are men; on that much virtually everyone agrees. The first 10 verses of this chapter describe the beast many commonly refer to as the "antichrist." Notice that the description of this beast is similar to that of Daniel 7:7-8 (see notes) with regard to the head/horn configuration. What we know for sure about this man from this chapter is that he will be an incarnation of Satan himself (II Thessalonians 2, see notes) and rule during the 42 months that mark the last half of the tribulation. Daniel calls this anti-God act of II Thessalonians 2 (see notes) the abomination of desolation in Daniel 9:27 (see notes), to which Jesus makes direct reference in Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14 (see notes). He'll make war against those who serve God during this period of time. One of the most well-respected men in the study of prophecy is J. Dwight Pentecost. See the article entitled "Who is the Beast" located to the right of the screen in the information box, or you may click here to read it in a separate window.
Many view “the sea” in verse 1 as symbolic of Gentile origin. The “seven heads and ten horns” is viewed by most as a federation of ten nations headed by the “beast” where the “heads” are leaders and the “horns” are nations. The “blasphemy” indicates his animosity for God.
In verse 2, the description of the beast mirrors 3 of 4 beasts in Daniel 7 (see notes):
This merging into one beast must have some relevance here, although it is not certain what. The “dragon” aka Satan empowers him.
In verse 3, one of the seven heads is seen as having had a mortal wound which was healed. If the “heads” in verse 1 are leaders, then one of the nations in the federation was resurrected after apparent destruction OR one of the leaders was perceived to have been resurrected. We clearly see a worship of Satan by the world in verse 4 as he ("the dragon") empowers the beast. Paul refers to this phenomenon in II Thessalonians 2:3-4 (see notes) when he says, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." The beast will be regarded as invincible.
Notice the extent of the beast's blasphemy in verses 5-6. He will blaspheme what we know about God to be true. These 42 months here encompass the last half of the tribulation.
Notice the extent of his blasphemy in verse 6. He will blaspheme against God, God's name, God's tabernacle and all them that dwell in Heaven. No question, he's a bad man who is motivated by Satan himself. In verse 7, we see that the beast will make war against the people who have been saved during the tribulation. His influence will be worldwide, yet not without resistance, as seen in Revelation 16 (see below).
We are told in verse 8 that all of those who are unregenerate ("whose names are not written in the book of life") will worship this beast. However, we are assured in verses 9-10 that the wicked, including the beast, will come to their just end.
The second of two beasts (Revelation 13:11-18)
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power 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, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
We find in verses 11-18 the assistant beast we commonly call the "false prophet." As a matter of fact, he is referred to as such in Revelation 16:13 (see below) and Revelation 19:20 (see notes). If the “sea” in verse 1 (see above) means the first beast (aka antichrist) is a Gentile, then perhaps the “earth” of verse 11 means the false prophet here is “Jewish.” He's the religious leader and public relations guy who makes the people worship the first beast (aka antichrist). He is described as a lamb who speaks as a dragon. Satan is described as the "dragon" in verses 1-10 (see above). He's powerful like the first beast and is successful in deceiving the unbelieving world because he exercises some supernatural powers (from Satan) in support of the first beast; he also has an image of the first beast erected for worship purposes and makes it appear alive. He is to the first beast (aka antichrist) what John the Baptist was to Christ, and even brings fire down from Heaven as Elijah did (verse 13). That's particularly significant in view of the fact that Jews were and are still looking for a forerunner to the Messiah according to their understanding of Malachi 3:1 (see notes) and Malachi 4:5-6 (see notes). To fully understand this discussion, read the article entitled, "Was John the Baptist Elijah?" by clicking here. In fact, I'm convinced that one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 (see notes) comes in that spirit of Elijah as the forerunner to the second coming of Jesus Christ In Revelation 19:11-21 (see notes).
So, let's get the big picture on this false prophet from verses 14-18. He deceives the world through supernatural powers and institutes worship of the “beast” and his image. He is even able to give life-like qualities to the image. Those who refuse to worship the first beast (aka antichrist) will be killed. Hmmm...he does sound like a diabolical Elijah, doesn't he? This false prophet controls commerce by marking people who will worship the first beast on their hand or forehead. Without the mark, tribulation inhabitants won't be able to do business. Here's that infamous "666" we hear so much about.
Incidentally, the state of electronic commerce in the world today facilitates the commerce scenario summarized in verses 16-18. In 2011, we are very near being a cashless society with regard to business transactions already. With the insistence of government that all receive a unique identifying number in their first year of life, it is not difficult to imagine that everyone may be buying and selling based upon that identifying number in the near future. Moreover, who doesn't believe that it is just a matter of time before scanning that number somewhere on or under our skin is not the way purchases will be made within a few years. At that point, commerce will be very easy to control, as is the scenario in verses 16-18.
Some facts about the 144,000 witnesses (Revelation
1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
No question - Jesus is the "Lamb" on the literal Mount Sion (Zion) in verse 1. A new song of redemption is heard, and only the 144,000 could “learn” the song. Remember the 144,000 witnesses (chapter 7) who got saved after the rapture of the church to preach to the world during the tribulation? (Click here to review the notes on Revelation 7 regarding the 144,000.) Well, here we find out more about these people. They are unmarried men (verse 4); they were only the first ones to be saved during the tribulation, not all the saved (verse 4), and they live blameless lives (verse 5).
Three angels with messages
6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
The first angel comes with an appeal to the earth to turn to God (verses 6-7). The second angel appears in verse 8 to project the fall of the wicked seat of the first beast (aka antichrist), Babylon, which isn't introduced again until Revelation 16:19 (see below). We'll see this in greater detail in Revelation 17-18 (see notes). Babylon's "fornication" refers to her spiritual wickedness. The third angel proclaims the consequences of aligning with the antichrist during the tribulation. Those people who accept the mark of the beast are in for a tough ride! Just look particularly at verses 9-12 to see what's in store for them. "Better dead than red!" is the message here. Okay, okay! I made that up, but on good authority. Remember Revelation 12:3 (see notes)? What color is the dragon who is incarnate in the this first beast (aka antichrist)? So I'll say it again, "Better dead than red!"
A wine metaphor is used in verse 10 which actually extends throughout the remainder of this chapter. The harvest of wine here is a harvest of the lost. The lost go to a fiery judgment. These are the ones who will adopt the mark of the beast (verse 9 and 11). The contrast is seen in verses 12-13 as we see those who "die in the Lord" during this period.
The great harvest (Revelation 14:14-20)
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Verse 14 introduces the second coming of Jesus Christ. Let's have a glimpse of the end with the assistance of three more angels (verses 15, 17, 18). We'll see the Battle of Armageddon in some detail in Revelation 19:11-21 (see notes), but here's a preview. The "Son of man, having on his head a golden crown" is Jesus at the second coming (end of the tribulation). The "sharp sickle" is undoubtedly an instrument of judgment. The phrase "her grapes are fully ripe" is probably referring to the wickedness of the beast's (aka antichrist's) people in keeping with the wine metaphor of verses 9-12. The description of the "blood" in verse 20 surely refers to the judgment of Christ on the wicked at the end of the tribulation. Whoa - better be on God's side! Let me emphasize again, I'm convinced that today's Believers will be long gone from the earth when all of this takes place. My position, the pre-tribulation-rapture position, dictates that the rapture takes place prior to this seven-year period.
Seven angels and seven plagues (Revelation 15)
1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
This short chapter introduces the last few days of the tribulation. The seven angels are given the vial judgments. As stated in the summary on Revelation 11:15-19 (see notes), it would appear that the seventh trumpet judgment shown there contains the seven vial judgments that are introduced here. You'll see from the description of these judgments in following chapters that the world is very close to the end of the tribulation at this point; the earth simply cannot survive the consequences of these judgments for an extended period of time. That's why we see in verse 1 that after these, the "wrath of God" is "filled up." These seven vial judgments finish out the judgments of the tribulation.
In verse 2, we see a "sea of glass mingled with fire." We first saw this sea of glass in Revelation 4:6 (see notes). We are told that this event takes place in Heaven. Just a few days remain in the tribulation. These "who had gotten the victory over the beast" have been martyred, thus, the "sea of glass mingled with fire."
In verses 3-4 these martyred saints sing a couple of songs - "the song of the Lamb" and "the song of Moses." Moses actually wrote two songs - one in Exodus 15 (see notes) regarding victory over Egyptians and his farewell song in Deuteronomy 32 (see notes). This “song of Moses” is probably the one in Exodus 15.
In verse 5, it is worth noting here that the tabernacle and temple on earth were representations of that which is in Heaven. Hebrews 9:24 (see notes) says, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Likewise, the “eternal” priesthood is that of Melchisedec; Aaron's priesthood was earthly and temporary. In verse 6-8, these angels are the ones who deliver the last 7 judgments of the tribulation, the vial judgments. As you can see, these judgments come straight out of the temple in Heaven. Notice the "smoke" in verse 8. This smoke represents the Shekinah Glory first seen in Exodus 13:21-22 (see notes). God's glory, in the form of smoke, filled the tabernacle in Exodus 40:34-38 (see notes). It again filled Solomon's temple in I Kings 8/II Chronicles 5 (see notes).
What are the last few days of the tribulation
going to be like? (Revelation 16)
1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
Tough - really, really tough!
This chapter contains the last judgments of the tribulation, the seven vial judgments from the seven
angels. Here they are:
You will notice in verses 17-21 that a major transformation of the earth takes place. Ezekiel's temple (Ezekiel 40-48, see notes) won't actually fit on the real estate as it now sits in Jerusalem. This supernatural earth-moving plague is necessary to make room for the millennial temple.
This chapter takes us to the end of the tribulation, but Revelation 17-19 (see notes) will give us more detail regarding these events.