The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 80

The Victory of the Beast

     To such a question we can have no answer at this time except that a miracle may be involved.  There may, of course, be some type of anti-gravitational energy implicit in nature (as Peter’s walking on the water and Philip’s being “caught away” from the Ethiopian eunuch by the Lord) which is simply undiscovered as yet by modern science. Whether this is the case or whether such events are purely miraculous, it is obvious that they are well within the capabilities of God.  The one who created all natural laws is able to utilize them or modify them according to His own will.

Revelation 11:7.     And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them and kill them.

     Their testimony and the judgments which they inflict have been ordained by God to last for three-and-a half years.  During that time, despite all manner of opposition by the ungodly hosts of the nations, especially of the great leader who has organized the nations of the west in a great confederation, they have proved invulnerable.  In fact, all the police and military forces sent to arrest them have themselves been destroyed.  Assassins dispatched to execute them have fallen by the same means they were preparing to use.  They seem indestructible, and the terrible plagues unleashed by them have raged through the world without restraint.  Furthermore, multitudes have been converted to Christ by believing their testimony, along with that of the 144,000 sealed Israelites who also receive miraculous protection.

     But now, for the first time in Revelation, we meet an amazing character known as “the beast.”  Much additional information is provided concerning him, notably the fact that he is a man, not a demon, even though he has ascended out of the great abyss and is Satan-controlled (Revelation 13:2, 18).

     He is introduced at this point in the narrative without any word of explanation, as though John already knew of him.  Indeed, even though this is the first mention of this beast of Revelation, John did know of him through the prophet Daniel.  Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7) involved four great empires symbolized by wild beasts, the fourth of which was the same as this one.  In particular, the final king that would acquire control over this fourth kingdom of Daniel’s prophecy is the one whom John now recognizes as the beast here in the Apocalypse.

     Furthermore, this is the same as Daniel’s “prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26), the one who had made the seven-year covenant with Israel permitting the reconstruction of their temple.  During this first half of the tribulation period, he has been involved in consolidating his own worldwide political power, well aware that it is the great dragon, Satan himself, who is enabling him to gain such power (Revelation 13:2).  However, he has been hindered and thwarted again and again by the two witnesses and their followers, both by their condemnatory preaching and by the devastating plagues which they bring on the world.

     Finally, he will decide to mount an all-out war against them.  He must be rid of them at all costs, regardless how many of his own followers perish in the process.  This is also the time of the plague of the sixth trumpet, when the hordes of demonic “horsemen” are slaying the third of the world’s population.  They are desperate days calling for desperate measures and the beast dispatches great armies both to fight the horsemen and, more importantly, to kill the two prophets.

     And, finally, he is successful.  Somehow, his forces manage to penetrate the hitherto invincible wall of fire about the witnesses and to slay them.  At the same time, the last of the demonic horsemen are destroyed, and suddenly the people of the world think that all their troubles are over.  Satan’s man has conquered God’s men, and now the people of the world are finally free to live as they please, without fear of retribution from a suddenly-impotent Christ.  They “repented not” (Revelation 9:20), but rather rejoiced in the great victory of the beast.  Little will they understand the fact that the two witnesses have merely “finished their testimony.”  The 1260 days are completed; otherwise, not even the armies of the beast would have been able to touch them.

     But who is the beast?  John merely says at this point that he had ascended out of the abyss.  Daniel 9:26 says that his “people” were the ones who would destroy Jerusalem, which suggests that his nationality will be Roman, or at least from one of the nations that came out of the old Roman empire.

     Because of these factors, many ancient and modern commentators have suggested that the beast would be the emperor Nero returned from the dead.  Some in modern times have proposed Mussolini as a candidate for such a resuscitation.  Others have suggested Nimrod or Judas.  All such suggestions overlook the fact, however, that Satan is not the Creator and would therefore be unable to create “resurrected” bodies in which the departed spirit of some great Antichrist leader of the past could return.

     On the other hand, Satan is extremely powerful and capable of manipulating natural processes in many marvelous ways, short of actual creation.  Many cases have been reported from eastern and other occult religions, for example, of mystics who have apparently “died,” and have remained in a state of suspended animation for a time before reviving.  In various such cases, as well as in certain remarkable tales of those who testify of UFO encounters, the “dead” person has returned to tell of amazing journeys on which he had been taken while in such a condition.

     In the case of the beast, it may be that John recognized him as one who had recently been “slain,” but had returned to his body after a brief interval and had been telling the remarkable story of a trip to the great abyss, where he had received great power from Satan, including a commission to rule all nations.

     Such and experience would be an impressive counterfeit of the resurrection of Christ, and will persuade multitudes (already impressed with his political abilities) to follow him.  He is not a false Christ, however, but AntiChrist!  He will not pretend to be Christ, but will openly blaspheme and oppose Christ, boasting that he has received his authority from Satan and that he and his master will soon depose God and His Christ.

     By studying the relevant Scriptures (note especially Revelation 13:1-6), it seems that his pseudoresurrection may have occurred near the end of the first half of the tribulation.  When he returns boasting of his encounter with Satan, and then demonstrates his great power by suddenly putting an end to the career of the two witnesses, the whole world will marvel and gladly submit to his authority.

Revelation 11:8.     And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

     The Lord Jesus said one time, in sad irony: “I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33).  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee… Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:37, 38).

     Jerusalem, the holy city, the city of peace and the temple of God, is also the city where God’s prophets die and their Lord is crucified!  These two greatest prophets must also die in Jerusalem, their testimony refused even by God’s chosen people.  It is there the armies of the beast finally will apprehend and slay them and leave their bodies unburied in the street for all their enemies to see.

     An indication of the moral degeneracy of Jerusalem at this time is indicated by its “spiritual” name, Sodom and Egypt.  The same word (pneumatikos) is used elsewhere only in 1 Corinthians 2:14, where the things of God’s Spirit are said to be “spiritually” discerned.  The holy city Jerusalem, even with its rebuilt temple and renewed worship, has become so wicked that it is called by the Holy Spirit and all spiritually-minded believers by the name associated with its terrible behavior – “Sodom and Egypt,”  Sodom, whose very name has been identified for 4,000 years with sexual perversion, and Egypt, associated ever since Moses with the persecution of God’s people, indicate pungently the wicked character which the city of Jerusalem had taken on, even in the brief period since its great deliverance from the armies of Gog.

     The city had also probably become an international center by this time, filled with commercial speculators and political adventurers of every stripe, together with a deluge of tourists and tourist-oriented entertainment complexes, with all their associated evils.  All of this may well have vexed the souls of the religious Jews in the city, even as with Lot in the days of the original Sodom (2 Peter 2:7, 8), but they no doubt enjoyed the resulting prosperity and managed to rationalize it.  With all their rejoicing over God’s deliverance and the renewal of the ancient religious system, they still had not repented of their rejection of Christ.  And now, in the same streets through which Christ had long ago walked to His crucifixion, the bodies of His two faithful witnesses lay dead.

Revelation 11:9.     And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 

     Although the two prophets, like Christ, had returned to Jerusalem to die, their preaching and the plagues they invoked had affected all nations everywhere.  They had been regarded for three-and-a-half years as the greatest enemies of the entire human race and had been feared and hated like none else before them.  The news of their conquest and execution spread immediately throughout the world, carried by satellite to television screens in homes and public places everywhere.  Believers who tried to give the bodies a proper burial were driven away.

     The gloating of the happy spectators knew no bounds.  “Free at last!” they thought, and the beast who had rid them of their tormentors quickly became an international hero.  Day after day they kept the bodies in the street, blaspheming their God and defying His vengeance.  His most powerful prophets were dead, and their plagues at an end.

Revelation 11:10.     And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

     It is like Christmas.  Worldwide merrymaking is in order and a great holiday celebration gets under way.  Sales boom again and gifts are exchanged freely.  Joy to the world, the Lord is dead!  Men once celebrated the birth of Christ in such a manner; now they will rejoice in His death.  No more will they have to hide in caves of the earth from the wrath of the Lamb.  Nevermore will angels fly across the sky, warning those who dwell on the earth of great woes about to fall.  The stinging scorpion-locusts and the frightful horse-demons are a bad memory that will never torment them again.

     The great prince has conquered Christ, and no one can make war with him anymore (Revelation 13:4).  Henceforth his power is invincible, and he will rule, in Satan’s name, forever.  He has even been to hell and back, and death itself has been vanquished by him.  His greatest human enemies, the two tormenting prophets, lie still in the streets of Jerusalem, and all the peoples of the world are rejoicing in his victory.  His triumph is complete.

Revelation 11:11.     And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

     The television cameras continue their daily vigil at the scene of triumph, beaming the spectacle onto every picture tube in the world, at the daily news hour.  Men and women continue in an orgy of revelry, their frenzy increasing every time they view the dead prophets in Jerusalem.

     But as Christ was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth so will His prophets rest three days and three nights on a street in Jerusalem.  As the testimony of their grim prophecies was heard for three-and-a-half years, so will the testimony of their silent bodies be seen for three-and-a-half days.

     Then, as the drunken revelers watch in horror, the bodies will begin to stir.  Slowly the old prophets rise to their feet and the Jerusalem mob shrinks back in astonishment.  The cameras zoom in on their glowing faces, and four piercing eyes glare out of 100 million television screens.

     Rejoicing quickly is transformed into shock.  “Great fear” the Scripture calls it, and it could just as well be translated “exceeding terror.”  Revelry becomes hysteria and once again will “men’s hearts [fail] them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). Probably many will die of heart failure and stroke, and perhaps many others in the ensuing panic and mob hysteria that no doubt will follow.

Revelation 11:12.     And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.  And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

     But not only did the viewers see the spirits of the prophets return from God into their bodies.  They also heard a thunderous voice roar from heaven, speaking to the risen saints.  Having finally died, Christ’s two witnesses are now alive forevermore, like He is.  Their service on earth is done, and they now can return to His presence.

     “Come up hither,” the voice cried.  This is the same message John himself had heard (Revelation 4:1), adding still further to the evidence that the latter is nothing less than the great resurrection call (John 5:28, 29), and that John’s experience was indeed that of actual participation in the rapture of the Church when Christ returns, as he was miraculously translated forward in time to that great day.

     Now the rapture is repeated, at least for the two witnesses.  Like Christ at the ascension (Acts 1:9), and like believers at the rapture, they will ascend in a cloud (1 Thessalonians 4:9) to meet their Lord in the air.  This time, however, it will not be done in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52); instead, every eye will watch them as they rise – first to their feet, then to the skies.

     And all their enemies, all those who had rejected their word and rejoiced when they died, especially the beast who had hunted them to death, all these will gaze transfixed as they watch them ascend far up into the heavens and into the presence of their Lord.  The word for “beheld” (Greek theoreo) is a strong word, implying a transfixed stare.  The sight will be enough to strike terror into the hearts of the most arrogantly rebellious of their enemies.  A moment before, such men were rejoicing in supreme confidence that Christ was finally defeated and Satan’s man was on the victor’s throne.  But now Christ had triumphed again.  The ascent of the prophets into heaven was a dire prediction that even greater judgments were about to descend from heaven.  The three-and-a-half day festivities were about to be followed by another three-and-a-half years of judgments more severe than ever. 

Revelation 11:13.     And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

     So there could be no question as to cause-and-effect; while the people were still staring into the heavens in awe, the earth began to quake terribly, just as it had at the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 28:2).  No one could doubt that the One whose voice had come from heaven a few moments before had also sent the earthquake.  This could be none other than the very God of heaven – the one whose defeat they had been proclaiming with great revelry the past three days, but who now was demonstrating again His power.

     The two witnesses had stood by “the God of the earth” (Revelation 11:4).  Now “the God of heaven” had stood by them.  The unbelieving multitudes had been forced to give glory to the God of heaven, though they had put to death His servants.  Unfortunately, their sudden “conversion” would be short-lived.  In a little while they would again start to “blaspheme the God of heaven” (Revelation 16:11) as they again experience His fearful judgments.

     As a token of what is to come, the earthquake will cause 7,000 fatalities in Jerusalem alone, with a tenth of the city falling.  If the 7,000 are men only, as the text implies, this suggests a population in the city of about 300,000 at that time.  Actually the word “fell” could as well be translated (and often is) “fell down,” indicating a direct physical plunge to the ground, thus suggesting that the earthquake caused 10 percent of the city’s buildings to collapse.  It was in any case sufficient to cause great fear among those who were left as they realized that they were about to see even greater judgments coming on the earth. 

Revelation 11:14.     The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

     This announcement probably marks the midpoint of the seven-year tribulation period.  The ministry of the two witnesses, which had endured for three-and-a-half years (verse 11:3), is now at an end, and the full reign of the beast will occupy the last three-and-a-half years (Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5).

     It is doubtful that this announcement was made for John’s benefit only.  More likely, it was made from heaven by the same angel who had first pronounced the coming of the “three woes” to “the inhabiters of the earth,” calling it out with a loud voice, “flying through the midst of heaven” (Revelation 8:13).  The first woe had been the plague of demonic scorpion locusts (Revelation 9:12).  The second had occupied over thirteen months, including the scourge of the 200 million devil-horsemen as well as the continuing judgments of the two witnesses and, finally, the great earthquake that had fallen on Jerusalem.

     And now the last woe is about to come.  It will be worse than any previous judgment, since it is the same as the judgment of the seventh trumpet, which will include all seven of the “vial judgments” (Revelation 16), spanning the entire last half of the tribulation, climaxing in the destruction of all wicked men, and the complete purging and renewal of the earth itself.

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