The first appearance of the “beast” is at its ascent from the “Abyss” when it wages “war” on the “two witnesses” – Revelation 11:7.
The “Abyss” was introduced when the “fifth trumpet” sounded and demonic hordes “ascended” from this dark place. It is referred to next after the “two witnesses” completed their “testimony.” On cue, the “beast ascended from the Abyss” to attack and slay both “witnesses,” but it cannot do so until they have finished their prophetic mission.
This pattern repeats in Revelation – satanic forces “ascend” from the “Abyss” to wage war on behalf of the “Dragon” against the “saints,” those who have the “testimony of Jesus.”
- (Revelation 11:4-7) – “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the Lord of the earth. And if any man desires to hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. And if any man desires to hurt them, in this manner he must be killed… And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the abyss will make war with them and overcome them and kill them.”
The “two witnesses” are identified as “two lampstands,” and elsewhere in the book, “lampstands” represent churches. If the book’s symbolism is consistent, they represent churches – (Revelation 1:19-20).
After they finished their “testimony,” John saw the “beast ascending from the Abyss” to wage “war on them, and to slay them.” This clause echoes Daniel’s vision of the “four beasts ascending from the sea” when the malevolent “little horn” of the “fourth beast” persecuted the “saints of the Most-High”:
- (Daniel 7:21) – “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.”
In Revelation, each time something evil “ascends” from a dark place, the term translates the Greek verb anabainô. For example, in chapter 13, John saw the same “beast ascending from the sea.” At the end of the “thousand years,” Satan led the nations to “ascend over the earth” to attack the “camp of the saints.” This verbal link is deliberate – (Revelation 9:1, 11:7, 13:1, 17:8, 20:8-9).
But the “beast” cannot “ascend from the Abyss” to kill the “witnesses” until they have completed their “testimony.” Thus, the “beast” is unable to overcome them until it is authorized to do so by an external power.
This does not mean the “two witnesses” do not suffer persecution, only that they cannot be killed before the appointed time. As the passage states, previous attempts were made by the “inhabitants of the earth” to kill them, but they all failed to do so (“If anyone desires to hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies”).
The “two witnesses” represent churches. This understanding will be confirmed in the next vision when the same “beast” ascends from the “sea” to “wage war and overcome the saints” – “And it was given to it to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and there was given to it authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation,” also using language from the passage from Daniel – (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 13:7).
After the “beast” kills the “two witnesses,” the “peoples and tribes and tongues and nations” refuse to bury their corpses, and the “inhabitants of the earth” rejoice over their deaths. Likewise, after the “beast from the sea” kills the “saints,” it is granted authority over “every tribe and people and tongue and nation,” and all the “inhabitants of the earth” render homage to it – (Revelation 13:8).
Thus, the “Beast from the Abyss” and the “beast from the sea” are one and the same, and the “war” against the “two witnesses” represents the same reality as the “war” by the “beast” against the “saints.” In either case, the “beast” is unable to prosecute its war until authorized to do so (“it was given to it…”).
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