OVERVIEW – The beast from the earth mimics the Lamb. It is the mouthpiece of the Dragon, and the propagandist for the first beast – Revelation 13:11-15.
In chapter 12, the “great voice in heaven” pronounced “woe” on the “inhabitants of the earth and of the sea, because the Devil descended to you, having great wrath, knowing he has but a short time.” He then launched his war against the “seed of the woman” by summoning his own “seed”; the “beast from the sea,” and now, the “beast from the earth.”
The description continues the theme of something wicked “ascending” from a dark place; first, from the “sea,” which corresponds to the “Abyss” from which the “beast” first ascended. And second, from the “earth,” the very place associated with the human opponents of the “Lamb,” the “inhabitants of the earth.” In both cases, the Greek participle rendered “ascending” is in the present tense, indicating ongoing action rather than a single event; that is, a process of ascending.
- (Revelation 13:11-15) – “And I saw another beast ascending from the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and began speaking as a dragon. And all the authority of the first beast he uses before him; and causes the inhabitants of the earth to render homage to the first beast, whose stroke of death was healed. And he does great signs, so that even fire he causes to descend to the earth before men; and he deceives the inhabitants of the earth by the signs which it was given him to do before the beast, saying to the inhabitants of the earth that they should make an image for the beast who had the stroke of the sword, and yet lived. And it was given to it to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and should cause that as many as should not do homage to the image of the beast should be slain.”
The passage demonstrates why the arrival of this “beast” meant “woe” to the “inhabitants of the earth,” for this creature deceives them so that they render homage to the “beast from the sea,” ensuring that their names will not be “written in the book of life.”
The descriptive language for the ascents of beasts from the “sea” and the “earth” is derived from Daniel’s vision of the four beasts “ascending from the sea.” As with the previous paragraph, the present passage employs language largely from Daniel:
- (Daniel 7:2-3) – “I was looking, in my vision which came with the night, when, behold, the four winds of the heavens, bursting forth upon the great sea; and four large beasts ascending from the sea.”
- (Daniel 7:17) – “These great beasts are four kings who will ascend from the earth.”
The “beast from the earth” speaks with the voice of Satan and the authority of the first “beast” – (“he spoke as a dragon”). He is the mouthpiece of the “beast from the sea” that summons all men to give it their allegiance.
In fact, the “beast from the earth” is the “mouth speaking great things and slanders” that was given to the first “beast,” and with the authority to operate over “forty-two months,” the same period allotted for the “trampling of the sanctuary by the nations,” the ministry of the “two witnesses,” the “nourishment” of the woman for “a thousand, twelve hundred and sixty days,” and the “short season” for the “Dragon” to wreak havoc on the “earth and the sea” – (Revelation 11:1-3, 12:6-14, 13:5).
He speaks by another’s authority. His “voice” echoes the characteristics of the “little horn” from Daniel that was “speaking great things.” And, though his “power was mighty,” it was “not by his own power.” He has “two horns like a lamb”; that is, on some level he mimics Jesus, the “slain Lamb” – (Daniel 7:8, 8:23).
He “causes the inhabitants of the earth to render homage to the first beast.” This alludes to the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s “golden image” that he “erected” and compelled all “peoples, nations and tongues” to render homage to it:
- (Daniel 3:1-7) – “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold…in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon… Then the herald cried aloud: To you, it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and tongues… that you render homage to the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has erected… And all the peoples, nations, and tongues fell down and rendered homage to the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had erected.”
The “beast from the earth” corresponds to the “herald” who summoned all peoples to render homage to the Babylonian “image.” Moreover, as in the story from Daniel, he threatens death to all who refuse to do so – “Whosoever shall not fall down and render homage shall be cast in the same hour into the burning furnace of fire.”
Additionally, the “beast from the earth” has “two” horns and the authority to “cause fire to descend from heaven to the earth” to deceive its “inhabitants.” This means he also imitates the “two witnesses,” from whose mouth fire “consumed their enemies.” The “two witnesses stood in the sight of (enopion) the Lord of the earth”; likewise, the “beast from the earth” exercises all the authority of the first beast “in the sight (enopion) of it.” Each serves its respective master – (Revelation 11:4-6).
The “two witnesses” inflicted punishment on their opponents, much like the plagues inflicted on Egypt by Moses, and the “sign” Aaron performed before Pharaoh when he cast his rod before Pharaoh and turned it into a serpent, but the Egyptian sorcerers were able to imitate the same “sign” – (“they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents”). So, also, the “beast from the earth” performed “signs” like those of the “two witnesses” – (Exodus 7:9-12, Revelation 11:6).“
Saying to the inhabitants of the earth that they should make an image for the beast.” The “beast” does not himself erect the “image”; rather, he convinces the “inhabitants of the earth” to do so, making them full participants in the idolatrous endeavor.
But the “beast from the earth” is the one who gives life, purpose, and justification to the “image.” He provides the rationale and ideology for giving absolute allegiance to the “beast from the sea,” rather than to the “Lamb” – (“It was given to it to give breath to the image of the beast”).
“As many as should not render homage to the image should be killed.” The statement echoes the action of Nebuchadnezzar, who threatened to cast all who refused to bow to his image into “the burning fiery furnace.”
“Killed” translates the Greek verb apokteinô, the same one used when the “beast from the Abyss” killed the “two witnesses,” and to describe the “perseverance of the saints” – “If anyone is to be killed with sword, with sword he must be killed.” Implicit is that faithful “saints” are the ones who are “killed” for refusing to give allegiance to the “beast” – (Revelation 11:7-13, 13:10).
The source for the “lake of fire” in Revelation is the action by Nebuchadnezzar against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, when they refused to render homage to his “golden image,” though it is employed paradoxically in Revelation. In Daniel, the men who cast the Jewish exiles into Babylon’s fiery furnace were burned alive by its super-heated flames. Likewise, the “beast” and “false prophet” that attempted to destroy the “saints” are themselves “cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” – (Daniel 3:1-6, Revelation 19:20).
The task of the “beast from the earth” is to cause the “inhabitants of the earth” to give allegiance to the “beast from the sea.” If the first “beast” represents political power, the “beast from the earth” represents the ideology and religious authority invoked to legitimize the authority and idolatrous allegiance demanded by the “beast from the sea.”
Elsewhere, the “beast from the earth” is called the “false prophet.” Just as the deceitful activities of “that prophetess, Jezebel” correspond to the “Great Harlot, Babylon, who made the inhabitants of the earth drunk with her fornication,” so, also, the efforts of the “false prophet” to deceive humanity parallel the proponents of the “doctrines of Balaam” and the “Nicolaitans” at Pergamos, who taught saints to “fornicate and eat meat offered to idols.” Thus, the deceptions of the “beast from the earth” are found within the church, as well as among the “inhabitants of the earth” – (Revelation 2:14, 2:20, 17:1-4).
Whether the “false prophet” represents an actual person, an organization or movement, an ideology, or something else, remains to be seen. For now, the stress is on his ability to deceive others to “render homage,” their total allegiance, to the “beast from the sea,” the earthly representative of the “Dragon,” that “ancient serpent” called ‘Satan’ and ‘Devil’ who “slandered the brethren” before the Throne of God “day and night.”
However, since the exaltation of the messianic “son,” he has been banished from heaven. Though enraged, Satan has only a “short time” remaining to destroy the church; so, also, his earthly agents. He can only operate when and how far allowed by the “Lamb.” In the end, his assault against the “saints” will only hammer more “nails in his coffin,” including the death of every martyr slain by his vassals, his “seed.” Though momentarily horrific for his victims, the attacks by the enraged “Dragon” will constitute his final death throes.
In chapter 13, the political and religious aspects of this satanic effort are prominent, especially the mixture of the two. In the end, the decision of each man and woman is between giving allegiance to the “beast,” or to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” even when doing so means an unjust and violent death.