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Revelation  ◦   Chapter 13

1The dragon stood beside the massive sea of his followers, and while I watched, out of that sea of people arose a beastly power: It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns (symbolizing political powers), and a blasphemous name on each head (symbolizing religious powers). It represented a conglomerate religiopolitical world power comprised of multiple governments and false religions of the world.2This beastly power arose from the vestiges of Greece, Persia and Babylon — symbolized by a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion — and it received its power and authority from the dragon, which means it will use Satan’s methods of deceit, coercion and imposition of law to distort God’s character with pagan concepts.3One of the seven heads received what appeared to be a fatal wound, but then the wound was healed–which symbolized a blow to its power, and then recovery and a resurgence in power. The entire world was in awe and followed the methods, principles and teachings of this beastly power.4By accepting the pagan imposed law constructs as representative of God’s kingdom, people actually worshiped the dragon, as these distortions about God originated from him; and since the beast used the dragon’s lies as the basis for its authority, they also worshiped the beast. They marveled, "Who can compare to the beast? Who can fight against it?"

5The beast had a mouth that boasted and blasphemed–and it exerted its power for forty-two months–which symbolizes the manner in which this beastly system would misrepresent God’s character and methods while claiming to have God’s authority to speak for him on earth.6It blasphemes God and misrepresents his character, and distorts the reality of God’s dwelling place and those who live in heaven.7It wars against the saints with lies and distortions about God’s methods and principles, teaching that God uses power–like an earthly emperor–to impose law, lord over the people, and inflict punishment for disobedience. It conquers the saints and infects the world–every tribe, nation, language, and people–with its lies about God.8All the inhabitants of the earth accept its distortions about God and thus give homage to the beast–all except those whose names have been recorded in the book of life that belongs to Jesus the Lamb who committed himself to be the Remedy to sin before the world was created.

9Those whose minds are open to truth will understand.

10Anyone determined to be captive to sin will into bondage go. And anyone whose character develops upon the kill-or-be-killed principle will in the end be killed. Overcoming the selfish drive to survive requires patient endurance and trust by those who are healed.

11Next I saw a different beast arising out of the earth. It had two horns like lamb's horns but spoke like a dragon — which symbolized a new power, arising in a different part of the earth, that initially promotes lamblike principles of freedom but eventually practices dragonlike methods of coercion.12As the first beast watched, the second beast exercised all the tactics of the first beast and led the world to practice its methods, thus giving honor to the first beast whose fatal wound was healed.13The beast required everyone to choose whom they would worship–symbolized by the miracle of calling fire down from heaven.14Because of the astonishing act of restricting religious freedoms and the economic coercion that it was given power to wield, it duped the entire world. It commanded them to form a coalition of religious and political power to enforce its way, which was modeled after the first beast's ways.15It had the resources and ability to bring this coalition into a living reality–a fitting model honoring the first beast. It even imposed a death penalty for all who refused to practice its methods.16It forced everyone–weak or powerful, rich or poor, free or slave–to make a choice. Some chose to believe that the methods of the beast were godly, and these were marked in their minds to be like the beast. Others chose to go along with the beast for convenience and gain, and they were marked by the work of their hands.17No one could buy or sell except for those who chose the methods of the beast and thus marked themselves as "loyal" by embracing its character and being numbered as its followers.18This calls for wisdom. Anyone with spiritual discernment — let him count the number of the beast: it is a human’s number. The number is 666.