“Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.” (Revelation 13:1).
In Revelation 10:11 the apostle John was instructed to “prophesy again” a second time regarding the seven-year Tribulation with an emphasis on specific characters on the stage of the drama. We have already been introduced to the Two Witnesses during the first half of the Tribulation (11:1-12); the Woman, representing Israel (12:1-2, 13, 17); the red Dragon, representing Satan (12:3-4, 9); the male Child, representing Jesus Christ (12:5-6); and the archangel, Michael (12:7-12).
In Revelation 13 John will introduce two more characters to complete what is known as the unholy Trinity (see above diagram). In contrast to the unholy Trinity are the three members of the true holy Trinity: God the Father (Revelation 1:6; cf. Ephesians 1:2), God the Son (Revelation 2:18; cf. I John 5:20), and God the Holy Spirit (Revelation 4:5; 22:17; cf. Acts 5:3-4). The three members of the unholy or false Trinity include: Satan, pictured as the dragon (Revelation 12:3-17); the World Ruler or Antichrist pictured as the beast from the sea (Revelation 13:1-10); and the False Prophet pictured as the beast from the earth (Revelation 13:11-18). 1
One of the chief ways Satan will express his hatred toward the woman or the nation of Israel during the last half of the Tribulation period is through the second and third persons of the unholy Trinity. Regarding the second person of the unholy Trinity, John writes, “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.” (Revelation 13:1). John now has a different vantage point from which he receives visions concerning the last half of the Tribulation period. He is standing “on the sand of the sea.” The phrase “sand of the sea,” is often used in the Bible with reference to the nation of Israel (cf. Genesis 22:17; 32:12; Isaiah 10:22; Romans 9:27). 2
While standing on the seashore, John sees “a beast” (thērion) or an “animal-like being of a transcendent kind,” a “wicked person, someone with a ‘bestial’ nature.” 3 This monstrous creature we are told came up “out of the sea.” In the book of Revelation, John uses the sea waters to represent Gentile nations (Revelation 17:15)as do other Scripture (cf. Isaiah 60:3-5; Daniel 7:2-4, 17; Matthew 13:47-50). This demonstrates that the second person of the unholy Trinity is a Gentile. 4 More specifically he will be an Assyrian (cf. Micah 5:5-6). 5
During the first half of the Tribulation, this beast will make a covenant of peace with Israel and will be their ally (Daniel 9:27a). But at the midpoint of the Tribulation, he will break this covenant and seek to destroy the Israelites (Daniel 9:27b; cf. Matthew 24:15-22).
Most of Revelation 13 describes the beast in the context of the last half of the Tribulation. This beast will have “seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns” (13:1), representing the Revived Roman Empire, which was also represented by the fourth beast of Daniel, which also had ten horns (cf. Daniel 7:7-8, 24; cf. Revelation 13:3; 17:3, 7). 6 This beast out of the sea will establish a ten-nation confederacy in the future whose boundaries will include the same basic territory as the ancient Roman Empire. When he rises to preeminence, three of the ten leaders will object, so he will have them killed (cf. Daniel 7:8, 23-24). They will be replaced, and the ten kings will submit to the beast’s authority and eventually relinquish their power to him (cf. Revelation 17:12-13), thus consolidating power much like the Roman Empire did in the past. 7
The “blasphemous name” on the “heads” of this beast depicts his opposition to God. 8 He will speak insulting words against the 144,000 Jewish evangelists and their God, even declaring himself to be God (cf. Daniel 7:8, 20, 25; 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Next John describes how the beast will come to have worldwide power during the first half of the Tribulation period. “Now the beast which 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 his power, his throne, and great authority.” (Revelation 13:2). The beast will obtain worldwide authority quickly “like a leopard.” With great force, he will trample his foes decisively “like the feet of a bear.” With “the mouth of a lion” he will speak with great power against God and His people (cf. Daniel 7:8, 20, 25; 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 12:10, 13).
Walvoord states, “In Revelation 13:2 the beast was seen to gather in the symbolism of the three preceding empires – Greece (a leopard, cf. Dan. 7:6), Medo-Persia (a bear, cf. Dan. 7:5), and Babylon (a lion, cf. Dan. 7:4).” 9 This symbolism (see diagram above) implies that this beast of the future Tribulation will embody the sum total of all the Gentile world empires that have opposed God and His people throughout history. 10
“History has known monsters in the persons of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and Mao among others. The reason we classify them this way is that they sought to exterminate people en masse. This is precisely what the Antichrist will seek to do with Israel.” 11
Daniel 11:36-43 tells us more about the character and career of the beast during the first half of the Tribulation period. In Daniel 11:5-35, an angel described a detailed prophecy concerning almost two hundred years of terrible conflict which would take place between the king of the North (the Seleucids) and the king of the South (the Ptolemies) and their successors. The “king of the north” in Daniel 11:21-35 referred to the Seleucid king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes who would persecute the Jews and make life miserable for them from 175 B.C. to 163 B.C. The details of this prophecy were fulfilled exactly as Daniel predicted 350 years earlier. 12
In Daniel 11:36-45 we see another “king of the North” who will make Antiochus IV Epiphanes look like a boy scout. We know that this king cannot be Antiochus IV Epiphanes because the events described in these verses were not fulfilled by him. This particular king of the North is future (11:46a). He is the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation 13:1-10. This world-ruler will arise from the Middle East. This is what Daniel 11:36-45 tells us about him:
1. He acts independently of any authority outside of himself. “Then the king shall do according to his own will.” (Daniel 11:36a; cf. Rev. 13:2).
2. He arrogantly asserts that he is superior to all other gods, including the God of the Bible – “he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods.” (Daniel 11:36b; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
3. The duration of his lawlessness is determined by God – “and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” (Daniel 11:36c). This refers to the last three and a half years of the Tribulation period when God’s wrath will be poured out upon the earth (Revelation 12:1-16:21).
4. He disregards his religious heritage. “He shall regard neither the God of his fathers.” (11:37a). This world-ruler cannot be Jewish because…
a. Daniel 7:8, 24 say that he will be the final ruler out of the revived Roman Empire, so he must be a Gentile.
b. He is from the former territory of the Seleucid kingdom which would include Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq – all countries inhabited mostly by Arabs today. It is far more likely that this king is an Arab who rebels against his Muslim heritage and rejects the Muslim god, Allah.
5. He is either an ascetic who abstains from sexual activity or he is a homosexual – “He shall regard neither the gods of his fathers nor the desire of women.” (Daniel 11:37b). He is so enthralled with Satan’s plan that he has no desire for women.
6. He sets himself up as the sole object of worship – “nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.” (Daniel 11:37c). He will set aside all organized religions and set up a new system of worship.
7. He will worship a new god – a god of strongholds – “But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things.” (Daniel 11:38). This “god of fortresses” is Satan himself (Revelation 13:4) and he will worship Satan by offering costly gems to him. Satan will thoroughly enjoy such costly offerings because his original splendor consisted of such precious stones as these (Ezekiel 28:12b-15).
8. He will conquer many military powers through the strength of Satan and honor those who follow him. “Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.” (Daniel 11:39).
9. After Egypt attacks him, the world-ruler invades Egypt and the Arab States. “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.” (Daniel 11:40-43). Not only is Egypt defeated, but Libya and Sudan are also conquered. It is also possible that other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates are defeated by him as well.
10. Alarming news from the northeast moves the world-ruler to pitch his royal tents near the Temple Mount where he will rule the world. “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain.” (Daniel 11:44-45a). Perhaps he will pitch his royal tents in the upper Kidron Valley to the northeast of the Temple Mount.
Satan will give this man his “power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2b). Just as Satan offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8), he will do the same with this man, the only difference being that Jesus rejected the offer, but the Man of Sin will gladly accept it.
I wonder in what ways do we resemble the beast that will rise up from the sea? Do we use our God-given authority to trample over people to selfishly get our own way? Or do we use the authority God has given us to advance His gospel and help people find peace with the Lord? Do we use our words to speak against God and His people, or do we use them to glorify the Lord and build up His family? May the God of peace use His authority and Word in our lives to crush Satan and his deceitful schemes (Romans 16:20) and advance Jesus’ gospel of grace around the world so more and more people may find peace with God through faith in Christ alone.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the book of Revelation which alerts us to what is going to happen in the future. When we focus on what Your Word says about the future World Ruler or Antichrist, we realize that his character and career will make all evil world leaders of the past look like boy scouts compared to him. As believers in Jesus, we ask You to make us more like Your Son so that the authority You give us will be used to advance Your will and not our own. May the words You give us become instruments of healing and hope instead of hurting and despair. Almighty God, display Your grace and power through us so that the enemy’s deceitful schemes will be defeated, and Your gospel will advance swiftly around the globe. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
1. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Study Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition 2019), pg. 2399.
2. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach, The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1545.
3. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 456.
4. Vacendak, pg. 1545; Evans, pg. 2399; John F. Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), location 5740; J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Zondervan Academic, 2010 Kindle Edition), pg. 329; Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2012 Kindle Edition), pg. 261.
5. Vacendak, pg. 1545.
6. Walvoord, location 5740.
7. Hitchcock, pp. 116, 246-249.
8. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 142.
9. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 248 cites John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody, 1989), pg. 960.
10. Swindoll, pg. 248.
11. Evans, pg. 2399.
12. J. Dwight Pentecost, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Major Prophets, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), location 11,051.