The Revelation of John: Chapter 13 – The Beast

13 Aug

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet, Twelve I, Twelve II

Chapter 13: 1-10

The Beast

Verses 1-7

Here John describes a great beast that he sees rise up from the sea. Before we look at what he says of the beast let us remember that such images represent evil and degenerate kingdoms. Joseph Smith taught that “When God made use of the figure of a beast…He did it to represent those kingdoms which had degenerated and become…beast-like in their dispositions…” (History of the Church, 5:341).

Also note the changes that Joseph Smith made to the first verse.

And I saw another sign, in the likeness of the kingdoms of the earth; a beast rise up out of the sea, and he stood upon the sand of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

So we know the beast here represents all the kingdoms of the earth that are corrupt and degenerate.

Note the physical description of the beast.

It “was like unto a leopard” with “feet…as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion” (verse 2). It had seven heads and ten horns, and ten crowns (verse 1). This is all very reminiscent of Daniel chapter 7. Daniel saw four separate beasts: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a fourth beast with ten horns. I discuss the meaning of these beasts here, but right now I simply want to show the comparison. While Daniel saw beasts that represented specific kingdoms, John saw one beast to represent all kingdoms.

The description continues beyond the physical appearance.

  1. power over many nations (verse 7)

  2. opposed God and blasphemed (verses 5-6)

  3. Satan gave it power; (verses 2,4)

  4. the world worshiped or followed the beast; (verse 4)

  5. was able to overpower many, including the Saints; (verse 7)

So, the worldly kingdoms will make open war against all people, including the saints, and will have a certain level of victory against all of them. Most of this war is described as speaking, which to me means that it is a war of philosophies in which even the saints will be deceived into accepting and believing the blasphemies and false doctrines that the beast will speak.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “Satan is waging war against the members of the Church who have testimonies and are trying to keep the commandments. And while many of our members are remaining faithful and strong, some are wavering. Some are falling. Some are fulfilling John’s prophecy that in the war with Satan, some Saints would be overcome.” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 79).

We are seeing this today as even the saints are beginning to join with those who support same-sex marriage and the restricting of religious liberty (not just in the United States, but throughout the world). We see it also in those who follow the internal dissension caused by movements such as Ordain Women.

Two final notes regarding the beast. The world worships the beast and these wars of words are engaged after one of the heads of the beast is wounded to death, and yet is healed (verse 3). What this means is not explained in anything that I have read. My theories on this point are simple. One of the kingdoms will fall for a time, and then will be restored in a miraculous manner, leading people to follow and worship the evil doctrines of Satan.

I once thought this referred to communism, with the wound being the fall of the Soviet Union, and the healing being the growth of communism in China. I am not so sure anymore. It may refer to the socialists who thrived in the 1920′ and 30’s, and yet almost disappeared in the 50’s, only to come back with such strength in the 70’s that the entire world has embraced their doctrine and follow after their philosophies. It may mean both of these, or neither.

In verse eight is says that only those whose name are in the Book of Life will refrain from worshiping the beast. Now, I will discuss it in greater detail in chapter 21. Right now it is sufficient to say that this is book in which the angels keep a record of our covenants and our righteousness.

Verses 9-10

If any man have an ear, let him hear.

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.

Here we are told that eventually all those that do evil will receive their just punishment. The interesting thing is the patience and faith of the saints. President Uchtdorf taught that “Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!…Patience is a godly attribute that can heal souls, unlock treasures of knowledge and understanding, and transform ordinary men and women into saints and angels. Patience is truly a fruit of the Spirit.” (“Continue in Patience” Ensign, May 2010)

The saints must patiently wait the second coming as they endure well these last days of tribulation.

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