In the last letter of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, God sends a last message of warning to a dying planet – Revelation 14:6-12. This message is given by three angels to “those who dwell on the earth;” people who hate God and hate those who love God. It’s a serious message – the consequences are life and death – but it’s a message given in great love because God is willing to go to the uttermost to reach even his most aggressive enemies. I apologize in advance for this being a longer than normal post.
Revelation 14:9-10a proclaims: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God… The last part of this warning message reveals the terrible consequences that come from worshipping the beast so it makes sense to consider who or what this beast is.
The clearest picture we have of the beast is in Revelation 13:1-10. I encourage you to read it but for now, here’s a summary. Remember this is saturated with symbolic imagery.
The beast is called up by the dragon who gives the beast power, a throne, and great authority. (The dragon is symbolic for Satan – see Revelation 12:9.)
Comes up from the sea.
Has seven heads and ten horns.
On his horns are ten crowns and on his heads a blasphemous name.
Looks like a leopard with bear feet and a lion mouth.
It receives a mortal wound but that wound is healed.
When someone worships the beast they are actually worshipping the dragon.
Speaks great things and blasphemies – against God, God’s name (character), his tabernacle, those who dwell in heaven.
Dominates the world as they understood it for forty-two months (3.5 years or 1260 days – a symbolic time period).
Makes war with the saints (saints is the Bible’s way of talking about those who love God).
Those who are not in an intimate relationship with Jesus the lamb will worship the beast – it’s an unavoidable consequence.
Even though the beast seems unstoppable, the proverb at the end in verse 10 tells us to have hope – this power will come to an end.
A few key things you need to know. Revelation 12-13 reveal a anti*-trinity – dragon, sea beast aka the beast, land beast aka false prophet. Each symbolic creature seeks to counterfeit the work of one of the Godhead family. The dragon takes on the role of the Father, the false prophet takes the role of the Holy Spirit and the beast… the Son. When you put all the pieces together, the shocking surprise, is that the beast a power that looks, talks, and acts Christ-like or Christian but is really a creation of and leads people back to the dragon.
*anti means “instead of.”