Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation
Revelation Chapter 13: The Beast's Image, Mark & Number
by I Gordon
Welcome! I mentioned in the last message about the coming ruler who will control and captivate the entire world. We saw in Revelation chapter 13 that he is given the lovely name of 'the beast'. Well, if you are thinking that one beast is one too many, I've got bad news for you... there is another one. In the second half of Revelation 13, which we will focus on today, we are introduced to a second beast and these two will work together to deceive and control all the nations of the world. So if good old Batman and Robin are known as 'the dynamic duo', and rightfully so, the two before us today should be called 'the diabolical duo'. Or 'the dark duo'... 'the dastardly duo'... 'the demonic duo'. I think you get the picture! And while two doesn't exactly sound like we have a 'a beast outbreak' on our hands, we shall soon see that their image and influence will be global. So as I said in the previous study, most have probably heard something about this beast, or more to the point, his number 666, and his mark. So we'll talk about this today. Specifically we'll look at:
- The accomplice of the beast - what are his characteristics and differences from the previous beast?
- The image of the beast - what is this and what influence does it have over the people on the earth?
- The mark of the beast - why is this the perfect control system and do we see the setup of this coming?
- The number of the beast - how do you 'calculate' the number of his name? And why 666?
- The impact and importance for today - have we been given a small preview of what is to come and what is the silver lining in all of this?
The Accomplice of the Beast
Rev 13:11-12 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. (12) He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.
Our passage starts with 'another' beast. The Greek word here is 'allos' meaning another of the same kind. This second beast looks different. He looks like a lamb instead of the first beast which had characteristics of the leopard, the bear and the lion. Yet any thought that this one is different in nature and purpose is removed when he opens his mouth... for he speaks like a dragon. That he looks like a lamb shows that he will come as a religious figure in some way trying again to mimic the true Lamb, the Lord Jesus. Yet this one is a counterfeit lamb. This is seen further in the verses to come when we will see how he acts. So if you want to talk about wolves in sheep's clothing, this coming 2nd beast will surpass them all. But despite how he looks and the image he tries to portray, he is but 'another' beast of the same kind.
"The second beast comes up out of the earth or land. If the land of Israel is in view, then this leader is almost surely a Jew. He is the False Prophet (see Rev 16:13; Rev 19:20; Rev 20:10). He has two horns like a lamb, giving the appearance of gentleness and harmlessness, but also suggesting that He impersonates the Lamb of God. He speaks like a dragon, indicating that he is directly inspired and empowered by Satan."
William MacDonald, The Believers Bible Commentary
We see that his mission is to make all the world worship the first beast whose fatal wound has healed. So in these first two verses we see a Satanic trinity working together in a perfect unholy alliance. I said last time that Satan and the Beast try to mimic the Lord Jesus with a counterfeit resurrection - he will rise from a fatal wound. And we see this mimicry again in this satanic trinity. The first beast, the Antichrist, comes to do the will of the dragon just as the Son came to do the will of the Father. The 2nd beast comes to bring worship and glory to the first beast just as the Holy Spirit comes to glorify Christ1. Even the use of miraculous signs is mimicking the real thing.
Bring on the miraculous
Rev 13:13-14 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. (14) Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth...
Now you might ask, how will he be able to deceive so many people? Well, how about through amazing miraculous signs?2 Do you remember what Jesus said of the last days?
Mat 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
If the miraculous signs coming in the last days could even deceive the elect, if God didn't stop it, then they are seriously full-on signs and wonders. And there is no greater false Christ and no greater false prophet than the two beasts before us in Revelation 13. Thus the signs that these beasts will perform will be on a whole different level to what we currently see. Do you remember what Paul wrote about the coming of the Antichrist in connection with signs and wonders?
2Th 2:9-10 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, (10) and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
The 2nd beast, whom we'll call the false prophet from now on, is even able to call down fire from heaven. That is interesting... who do you think the Jews might mistake him for? Consider the following...
- The false prophet is quite likely Jewish (seeing he comes up out of 'the earth' instead of the sea).
- He is known as a prophet (albeit a false one!)
- He can and will call down fire from heaven (like another from the past).
So who will Israel think this is? Most likely, the return of Elijah. On the basis of both scripture and tradition, they expect Elijah to come as both a precursor and partner to the Messiah. At every Passover meal the Jews pour out wine into an extra cup, called the cup of Elijah, and open the door in expectation of his return. So this so-called 'prophet' who looks religious, can perform miraculous signs and even call down fire from heaven (as Elijah did) will likely be seen as a fulfilment of scripture and one they have longed for. And this false prophet will get all to worship and follow the Antichrist. As John the Baptist was for Jesus, so the false prophet will be for the Antichrist. And much of Israel, as well as the world, will be deceived. As Jesus said:
Joh 5:43 I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.
Love the truth!
Right about now is a good time for a reminder. Believer, we must love the truth. That means that we need to be familiar with God's word, love His word and test all things by it. We see from these recent verses that in the last days the supernatural will not be so super... it will be common. But that doesn't make it right, good or God-given. We see from 2 Thes 2:10 that those who follow the beast are deceived 'because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.' What God says should be first and foremost in our minds. I read recently about a board meeting where it was said: "So the vote is as follows: Larry, Ruth, Dan, Sid, and Marcia are for the proposal. God and I are against." : ) That made me laugh... but it has an important point for the latter is definitely the majority! It doesn't matter how many people say something is true... what does God say? What does His word say? Be a Berean and test all things by His word... which is truth.
The Image of the Beast
Rev 13:14-15 ...He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (15) He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
As we read through Revelation we should always look for the parallels in the Old Testament and the thought of an image getting set up requiring worship takes us back to the day when this was all seen before. You know where right? This scene played out in the days of the first 'beast' kingdom in the book of Daniel. That is, in the days of the Babylonian kingdom under their leader Nebuchadnezzar. And it even included some prominent numbers so we don't miss the implications.
Dan 3:1-7 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. (2) Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up... Then the herald loudly proclaimed: "To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, (5) that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. (6) "But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire." (7) Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
So here is the scenario - you have a wicked King who has absolute power and control, setting up an image, a golden statue, that must be worshipped. If you disobey you lose your life. A global decree goes out that 'All peoples, nations, men of every language have to bow down!' It seems that Nebuchadnezzar is uniting the religions of the nations under the worship of this statue that is made in his own image and glory! Note also that this new image is 60 cubits by 6 cubits! This is a pointer obviously to what is to come as we see here in Revelation. This coming Antichrist will unite worship unto himself and force everyone to worship this image. It will be a 'one world religion' once again, yet it will be worship of the beast and his image. And the consequences of non-compliance is, well, as it was in the days of Nebuchadnezzar - death!
Now there are mysteries around the image of the beast that won't be clear until the day arrives but note three interesting aspects from our text.
- 'Telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast' - Firstly note who makes the image. Several Bible teachers believe that the Antichrist sets up an image in the rebuilt temple and this is part of the abomination of desolation. But the Bible doesn't specifically state this and we should note that it is not the Antichrist or the False Prophet that makes the image. It is all who dwell on the earth who are instructed to do so. So is there one image or are all instructed to make an image? It is possible that everyone has a personal image of the beast.
- 'He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak' - The image, whom the inhabitants of the earth make, will be given 'breath' and life so that it can speak. From this people have wondered if this is a satanic miracle similar to Egypt's magicians throwing down their staffs and having them turn into serpents (Exo 7:12). Or could it be an A.I empowered hologram that is given the ability to watch and speak? We do not know at this stage. But it leads to the even spookier third point...
- 'So that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed' - This satanically empowered image can kill anyone that won't worship it. This is one of the reasons, along with the fact that it is made by the inhabitants of the world, that each family may have an image of the beast. And note that this image can watch and see... and even kill! It can somehow take note of who is worshiping and who isn't. Is this death through demonic spirits who watch or could there be some type of kill-switch built into the mark of the beast? Again, we do not know how this will all play out but imagine if each home had an empowered image watching what you were doing, listening to what you were saying, and noting whether you were falling down and worshiping this image or not. All freedom, even within your own home, would be gone, with fatal consequences for not complying. It is a scary thought.
One thing that's clear is that the image of the beast will play a huge role in the tribulation. The image of the beast is mentioned another 6 times after Revelation chapter 13 and every time it links the worship of the beast with the worship of his image. And the Bible also says that anyone that is 'victorious' over the beast is also victorious over his image. (See Rev 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, 20:4) So whatever this image is, it will have a profound impact and influence on each person on this earth.
The Mark of the Beast
Rev 13:16-17 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, (17) so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark...
This next verse doesn't get any lighter. Everyone, small and great, will be forced to take a mark, without which you cannot buy or sell. It seems that Satan again tries to imitate God who places His own mark upon His servants' foreheads (Rev 7:3-4). But while God works through free-will, Satan works through forced coercion. So note the word 'forced' here. The False Prophet will force everyone to take this mark. There is no choice. and no one will be able to escape the coming system. Free and slave, rich and poor... even the elites will be caught in this system. Now people love to speculate what type of mark this is. Is it an RFID chip, a digital tattoo, a neurological link to a computer system or some new technology? Yep, that's right, we don't yet know and to be fair it doesn't matter. What matters are the implications of the level of control that is coming. People that oppose this coming global leader, his system and do not take his mark will likely be on the run. Try to imagine a world where you are not allowed to buy and sell. Even in our day we see the stage being set for this global control. Many politicians, world leaders and financial experts are speaking of a coming great reset of the entire financial system as most countries wallow in unresolvable levels of debt. What they need to do this is just the right war or similar scale crisis.
One aspect to keep an eye on is the move to CBDC's3 - Central Bank Digital Currencies. A recent quote4 from reuters.com said "A total of 130 countries representing 98% of the global economy are now exploring digital versions of their currencies, with almost half in advanced development, pilot or launch stages, a closely-followed study shows."
Russia has the digital Ruble, Europe is working on the digital Euro. These digital currencies will eventually eliminate cash altogether5 and with it goes human privacy. Under CBDC's, everything that is bought will be logged and scanned by AI systems. Combined with a global digital ID for every citizen, it is the perfect totalitarian system for these digital currencies that will also be 'programmable'. That is, the powers that be will not only see what is bought but also be able to control what you are allowed to buy, and even 'if' you are allowed to buy. This will be according to your purchase activity and current social credit score. It is the perfect system of control for it you truly want to control someone simply control their ability to feed themselves and their family. China already has a social credit score for its 1 billion plus citizens, and its companies, ranking them on a number of criteria. A high score brings benefits while a low score brings various punishments. potentially affecting their ability to travel, seek employment, access finance and enter into other contracts and agreements.
Even today we are starting to hear of Christian organizations being 'de-banked'. That is, their bank accounts are closed, often with little notice, because their bank doesn't like their stand on whatever the latest social woke agenda is. Well, in the tribulation the ultimate world wide control grid under the ultimate world wide dictator will be set up. And again, no one will escape. It doesn't matter if you are part of the super rich elite or a poor homeless man begging on the street. Everyone will have to take this mark if you want to buy and sell. It will be the ultimate dystopian nightmare.
No one can take the mark today, or take it accidently without knowing it
Now some believers get scared thinking that the mark of the beast is here now and that they might accidently take it without really knowing it. So let's be clear:
The mark of the beast first requires the beast to be present and he hasn't been revealed yet. So no... it is not a vaccine or current microchip that some have implanted. The mark of the beast won't be in operation until the Beast is in full control in the second half of the Tribulation.
No one will ever take the mark of the beast 'accidently'. We read in Revelation 14 that even an angel in heaven will be proclaiming the solemn consequences if someone takes the mark. Taking the mark is ultimately about declaring worship and allegiance to Satan over God and thus God makes it very clear on that day that the judgment of taking this mark is eternal. Isa 42:8 "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.'
- Let me remind all true believers that we, the Church, are given promises that we will not see this time (Luke 21:36, 1 Thes 1:10, Rev 3:10). Our hope and expectation is in the coming of the Lord Jesus for His bride. We look for Christ, not the Antichrist. But as we see the signs of Revelation 13 rising we know even more that the days of Jesus' return are at hand!
The Number of the Beast
Rev 13:17-18 ...no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. (18) This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.
The Bible tells us that this mark will either be in the name of the beast or his number. So it's not just a microchip - it is specifically the Beast's name or number. This has caused people to go a little crazy over the centuries trying to find out who has a name related to '666'. But it is pretty clear isn't it? It's Ronald Wilson Reagan. The astute among you will notice each of his three names has 6 letters. Ooooh! And did you know that he and his wife Nancy lived at 666 St. Cloud Road, which they conveniently got renumbered to 668? Hmmm... Something to hide have we President Reagan? I think so! So there you have it... an exact match and we've got our man!
Alright... I'm being naughty... again. What I just said about Reagan is true apart from the fact that, no, he certainly wasn't the Antichrist! But it is an example of what people have done with various individuals in the past. Now the Bible does tell believers to 'calculate' his number, so clearly it will be possible to do that, but I don't believe it is viable until he is revealed. So how can his name be calculated? Well we have another name in scripture that, when 'calculated' reveals something important about their character. And who is this? It is none other than Jesus! You probably know that every letter in both Hebrew and Greek, the two languages used to write the Bible. have a numeric value. This means that every word and name in both Hebrew and Greek also have a numeric value. So what happens when we look at the names 'Jesus' and 'Jesus Christ' in Greek? Well something VERY cool happens. Jesus, in Greek, is 'Iesous' which has the amazing numeric value of '888'. In the Bible, 8 is the number for new life and resurrection so this is telling us that there is perfect resurrection and new life in Jesus! But it doesn't stop there.
Consider the following how every part of Jesus' name (even the vowels and consonants), speak of resurrection and new life when examining the numeric value!6
- Jesus = 888 or 37 x 8 x 3
- Christ = 1480 or 37 x 8 x 5
- Jesus Christ = 2368 or 37 x 8 x 8
- Vowels in Jesus Christ = 568 or 8 x 71
- Consonants in Jesus Christ = 1800 or 8 x 225
- Vowels in Jesus = 488 or 8 x 61
- Consonants in Jesus = 400 or 8 x 50
- Vowels in Christ = 80 or 8 x 10
- Consonants in Christ = 1400 or 8 x 175
And note that the '3', '5' and '8' in the multiples of 'Jesus', 'Christ' and 'Jesus Christ'. 3 speaks of the trinity or God-head, 5 speaks of grace and 8 is new life/resurrection. All amazing pointers to our amazing Lord!
So just as Jesus' name totals 888, so the name of the Antichrist will total 6667. 6 is the number of man as he was created on the 6th day and always falls short of God's complete number 7. We've seen pictures of the coming Antichrist in the Old Testament which are associated with '6'. Goliath, you might remember, was 6 cubits and a span tall (1 Sam 17:4). And as mentioned, King Nebuchadnezzar's image that he set up to be worshipped was 60 cubits high and 6 cubits across (Dan 3:1). So yes, people will be able to 'calculate' the number of the beast. But again, this is for those that find themselves living when he is revealed. And he is not truly revealed until the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, along with the Church that He works through, are taken out of the way (2 Thes 2:7-8).
It is worth just pausing to say that we live in amazing times. Maybe you've been watching for the Lord's return for a long time. I started when I became a Christian in 1990. Not long after I was saved, the Gulf War broke out and Saddam Hussein was soon firing scud missiles at Israel. I remember watching as a young Christian thinking 'oooh I know the last days will involve attacks on Israel... I wonder if anything will come of this and whether this is prophetic?' Then through the 1990s many of us watched the so-called Peace deals between Israel and the PLO terrorist, Yasser Arafat. We knew that the pressure upon Israel would increase and that Israel's land would be divided and a 7-year covenant would eventually be made. So we watched... waited and wondered. We've probably all watched many different events over the years. This last weekend's terrorist massacre was the worst Israel had experienced for the last 50 years. And it is only just beginning! But there is a different recent world wide event that gives a pointer to what is coming in Revelation 13.
You may see this differently, but in my Christian life the biggest world wide event giving a prophetic glimpse into what is coming, as seen in Revelation 13, was the world's response to Covid19. There we saw a global approach where the nations were suddenly singing from the same sheet and all implementing the same laws. Even when those laws didn't always make much sense. Society, at least in the West, was divided into those with and without the jab and the pressure to conform was intense. I remember a reporter asking the then Prime Minister of my country about the creation of two classes of citizens, the vaccinated and unvaccinated, to which she said with a smile "That is what it is. Yep." The coordinated messaging was full swing. Countries that fought to be free were suddenly against free-speech and thought. Again our Prime Minister at the time, like someone straight out of 1984's 'Ministry of Truth', actually said "We will continue to be your single source of truth… Unless you hear it from us it is not the truth." Um, actually no, only God can say that. I'm not sure what it was like for you, but in my country we were told not to go out, don't talk to your neighbors and even inform on those that were breaking these rules. Coercion was in, 'informed consent' was out. Mandates and lockdowns were in, free choice was out. It was 'safe and effective', until it wasn't. People lost their jobs and in some cases their homes and businesses... all because they believed there was a bigger agenda at work or simply because they didn't want their bodies to be guinea pigs for a new experimental injection with no long term safety data. Friendships and even families were forced apart, backed by the constant daily message of fear.
That was, you could say, but a small glimpse of what is coming in days of Revelation 13, where the propaganda, the pressure, the dictates, the loss of liberty, the 'ratting' on fellow citizens and the consequences of not going along with the coming global leader will be far, far, far more intense and life-threatening. But it was still a glimpse into the type of global control that many desire, are actively working on today and will ultimately achieve under the Antichrist tomorrow.
So as we conclude you may ask 'why concentrate on the beast if he won't be revealed until the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, and the Church, is taken out of the way?' It is a fair question. Consider the following:
- While true members of the Church won't see this coming Antichrist, we do already see the spirit of antichrist working and increasing in the world right now. And we see 'antichrists' with a lowercase 'a' acting and deceiving in that spirit. So the need to be alert and watchful is important right here, right now.
- The setup for what is coming is already affecting believers today. As mentioned we are already seeing the groundwork today with lockdowns, removal of rights, CBDC's and social credit scores. They are laying a platform and rehearsing now for the main event.
- Studying what is to come helps explain why the world is currently in the state it's in. So we are not surprised or unprepared when we see things moving in a darker direction in the world. As we explore where things end up, we can more clearly see where we currently sit in the plan of God. And as we can see various technologies, attitudes and players moving into position these all point to the season of His return. And that is the good news!
Speaking of good news, let me say one last thing that I am beginning to notice recently...
The Silver Lining
People are 'waking up' to the truth. While many in our generation have gone 'woke', others are waking up! I've read and heard of numerous people with a renewed interest in the Lord recently and many of them came through seeing and sensing a darkness coming over the earth. They are, in their own words, seeing that evil exists and coming to the realization that if the darkness is real, then so is the light... if evil exists, then so must God. And many are turning back to God and His word. I'll mention next time a prominent example in my own country where a former leader of a political party has just become a Christian, and is openly speaking about his journey in coming to know the Lord on secular radio. And it has been the events of the last few years that have opened his eyes and increased his search for truth... and that truth was found in Christ! It is so good and so encouraging. Silver in the Bible speaks of 'redemption' and 'salvation' and this is the silver lining to the days in which we live. People are waking up and it is truly awesome to see what God is doing. And we see this again with the recent atrocities that Hamas committed in Israel. Out of even the horrific, good can come.
So God is always at work but it's even more evident when the enemy comes in like a flood. God will always use dark days for His good! You've probably heard leaders in the world say 'never let a crisis go to waste'. They normally mean it for their own selfish plans and purposes. But God is the ultimate One who never lets a crisis go to waste. So always be encouraged about what God is, and will do, during the time we have left.
And that sounds like a good note to end on!