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 95

The Unholy Trinity

(Revelation 13)

     This is another key chapter of the Revelation, describing the rise of two ungodly men who will play two extremely important roles in the climactic events of the end-times, epitomizing all the cleverness and wickedness of the long succession of tyrannical leaders before them, from Nimrod to Nero to Mao Tse-tung.  They are both called “beasts” in this chapter, though later the second is also called “the false prophet.”  Both receive their brilliance and power from Satan, the old dragon.  Many writers have noted the parallel between this unholy trio and the divine Trinity.  The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet seem almost intentionally to be counterfeiting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, respectively.  In any case, these three willfully and maliciously pull out all stops in their last-ditch efforts to dethrone God and destroy His saints.

The Man of Sin

     The first of these wicked men has, of course, already been mentioned in Revelation.  God’s two witnesses had been slain by the beast (Revelation 11:7), leading to his assumption of full power for the last forty-two months of the tribulation (Revelation 11:2; 13:5).  He is mentioned often in earlier prophetic passages also.  Daniel calls him “the prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26), Isaiah calls him “the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4), and Christ called him “the abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:16).  The Apostle Paul designated him as “the man of sin, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), perhaps the most definitive of all his titles.

Revelation 13:1.     And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy.

     John’s gaze had been fixed, as it were, on the two great signs in the heavens, the sign of the woman and the sign of he dragon, watching the agelong conflict between them.  Now, however, it seems as though he were standing on the sands of the seashore, observing a third great sign, this time on the sea.  Even though the word “sign” is not used on this occasion, the whole context makes it evident that the scene is symbolic.  The continuity with the sign of the dragon is evident by comparison of the description of the dragon “having seven heads and ten crowns and seven horns” (Revelation 12:3), with the description of the beast here in Revelation 13:1.

     The beast rising out of the sea is not the same as the dragon, however, even though their appearances are similar.  The dragon is Satan (Revelation 12:9), whereas the beast is a man (Revelation 13:8).  Nevertheless the similarity is very significant, evidently stressing the similar character and purposes and activities of the beast and the dragon.  In fact, the former is specifically said to have received his power and throne and authority from the latter (verse 2).

     If the beast from the sea is symbolic, then the sea also must be symbolic.  Usually the sea in Scripture, if not more specifically identified, is the great sea west of Israel, that is, the Mediterranean Sea.  John sees what appears to be a great monster of the sea, like a hydra-headed plesiosaur, arising out of the depths of this great sea near the shore on which he stands.

     Perhaps at first the similarity of the beast to the dragon would make John think of Isaiah’s prophecy, where the Scripture speaks of “leviathan, the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent . . . the dragon that is in the sea” (Isaiah 27:1).  But then, as he looks more closely, he sees that the beast is not a reptile at all, but rather what appears to be a strange hybrid land mammal of some kind.  A land mammal ascending from the Mediterranean Sea could only speak of some powerful personage emerging from the peoples of the Mediterranean lands, with the hybrid characteristics of the beast suggesting that he is somehow a product of all of them.

     The obvious similarity of this frightful beast to the beasts in Daniel’s vision is sufficient confirmation that the “sea” here represents the peoples of the lands around the sea (compare Daniel 7:3 and 7:7).  Although the seven heads and ten horns clearly relate the beast to the dragon, the hybrid animal body just as surely identifies him with the four beasts of Daniel 7.

     Daniel’s vision consisted of four beasts representing four great nations striving for supremacy.   The first was like a lion, the second a bear, the third a leopard, the fourth an unnamed animal, but very strong.  It is the last animal (Daniel 7:7) that seems to be the same as the beast of Revelation 13:1, the key point of identification being its ten horns.

     Both the four nations of Daniel 7 and the seven heads and ten horns of Revelation 13 seem obviously to entail a complex of nations and leaders under the domination of the great blasphemer Satan.  On each head, therefore, is emblazoned an unnamed name, designed solely to exalt man as a god, thereby blaspheming the true God.

Revelation 13:2.     And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

    John would remind us again that he was actually witnessing this important sign as it developed.  Thought he does not mention it, it does become more obvious that the beast he sees is, at least in part, a composite of the beasts Daniel saw.  With a leopard’s body, a bear’s feet, and a lion’s mouth, this beast clearly partakes of the natures of Daniel’s beasts.  Thus, to understand the one, we must first understand the others.

     It is usual to interpret the four beasts of Daniel 7 as the historical empires of Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, in order.  This corresponds precisely to the meaning of the four parts of the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, in Daniel 2.  Practically all Bible scholars agree on this, and the contextual chapters in Daniel confirm it at least as far as the first three empires are concerned, and as far as Nebuchadnezzar’s image is concerned.

     However, there are difficulties in applying the same interpretation to the beasts of Daniel 7.  Although they do appear in order, the four beasts seem to be contemporaneous rather than sequential.  The four appear first in correspondence to the parallel statement: “Behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea” (Daniel 7:2).  Furthermore, all four beasts continue to strive with each other to the end; in fact, the lives of the first three beasts “were prolonged for a season and a time” after the fourth beast had “his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame” (Daniel 7:11, 12).  Finally all four beasts were still future at the time of Daniel’s writing (Daniel 7:17), even though at that time Babylonia had already fallen and Medo-Persia had come into dominance.

     Thus it seems probable that the four beasts of Daniel 7 represent four great kingdoms (or, possibly, confederations), one each from the north, south, east, and west, like the four winds striving over the sea.  The beast of the west (the lion with eagles’ wings) might, for example, represent the British lion and the American eagle, or the western alliance in general.  The second is a great devouring bear, which could well be the Russian colossus and her communist satellites.  The third is a four-headed, four-winged leopard, possibly symbolizing a future eastern alliance (Revelation 16:12 prophesies the coming of “the kings of the east” and Daniel 11:44 speaks of troublesome “tidings out of the east”).  The leopard is the most wide ranging of the great carnivores and is yellow with black spots.  The fourth beast, evidently unidentifiable in terms of animals known to Daniel, was “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly,” eventually dominating the other three beasts.  It would then, presumably, as the “south wind,” represent the Mediterranean nations themselves, occupying roughly the territory of the old Roman empire, both north and south of the Mediterranean Sea.  It was “diverse from all the beasts that were before it [literally, ‘confronting it’]” and soon would conquer and assimilate the others, at least to a degree.

     It is apparently this last beast that John sees emerging from the sea.  By this time (the middle of the tribulation) this beast – the beast – had sufficiently subjugated the others that his body appears as a hybrid of all of them.  He is part lion, part bear, part leopard, but also part dragon.

     It was not by his own strength or his own strategy that the beast has come into such a position of world eminence.  It is none other than Satan himself who has given him his great might and his throne and preeminent rulership over the other nations. How he will acquire such authority, humanly speaking, is only intimated in Scripture.  Probably, he will seize the advantage of the leadership void left by the catastrophic defeat of Russia in Israel and the insipid response of the western nations to the Russian invasion (see discussion in Chapter 6).  In any case, it is his dark league with Satan that really opens the way for him, the Devil making him appear so attractive as a world leader that the other kings and presidents willingly submit to his authority in the stressful times just before and during the first half of the tribulation period.

     The beast, as did the dragon who empowered him, was seen by John to have seven heads and ten horns.  However the dragon had seven crowns upon his seven heads (Revelation 12:3) whereas the beast had ten crowns upon his seven heads (Revelation 13:1).  During the long centuries corresponding to the sign of the dragon, there had been seven great kings, but the kings represented by the ten horns were still future and still uncrowned.  In the time of the beast, the ten kings were now ruling, whereas the seven ancient kings survived only in their evil heritage.

     That these seven heads represent seven historical kingdoms is indicated also in Revelation 17:9-11, where the beast again appears.  The identity of these kingdoms is not specified, but it seems reasonable that they should be seven great world powers of past history.  It is also probable that they represent the seven great powers that came into particular opposition to the plan of God as it was unfolding throughout history, as recorded in Scripture.  Since the symbol assures their connection with the dragon, and since that old serpent has been perpetually attempting to thwart the divine program, we would expect to find these histories at least referenced in the Bible.

     With these considerations in mind, the most likely identification of these seven historical kingdoms is as follows:

  1.     Sumeria.  Under Nimrod, Babel in the land of Shinar became the first post- 

       diluvian center of human rebellion. 

  2.     Egypt.  This ancient nation was Israel’s first oppressor, leading to God’s super-

   natural deliverance under the hand of Moses.

  3.     Assyria.  The invading armies of Pul, Tiglath-Pileser, Shalmanezer, and

   Sennacherib devastated the land of Israel and carried the people of the northern

   kingdom into captivity.

  4.     Babylonia.  Under Nebuchadnezzar, the later Babylonians revived Nimrod’s

   empire and destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, carrying the people of Judah into

   captivity.  Throughout Scripture, therefore, “Babylon” is synonymous with enmity

   to God, and Satan himself is adumbrated under the title “king of Babylon” (Isaiah


  5.     Medo-Persia.  As prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 2:39; 5:28), the Medo-Persian

   empire succeeded Babylonia in world dominance, and was the nation under which

   the Jews would have been exterminated by Haman, except for providential

   intervention through Queen Esther.  It was also the nation which allowed them to

   return from their captivity.

  6.     Greece.  Daniel also prophesied (Daniel 2:39; 8:21; 11:2, 3) that Greece would

   supersede the Persians, and this occurred under Alexander the Great.  The Greek

   language became the language of the New Testament and Greek philosophy has

   dominated the Judaeo-Christian world ever since.

  7.     Rome.  The greatest of the seven empires politically was Rome, which ruled at the

   time of Christ, and which destroyed the temple in A.D. 70, sending the Jews into  

   their age-long dispersion.  The Roman emperors, especially Nero, also severely 

   persecuted the early Christians.

     The above suggested identifications are not intended dogmatically, as there have been other great nations or groups of nations in history that have opposed either Israel or Christianity or both (Syria and Tyre before Christ, the Islamic Nations, Nazi Germany, Russia, and other Communist nations after Christ).  In terms of their biblical emphasis, however, the seven mentioned above seem most probably the ones symbolized by the seven heads of the dragon and the seven heads of the beast, “crowned” in the first instance, “uncrowned” in the second.  Further discussion on this subject is provided in Chapter 17, in connection with the parallel description of the “seven heads” in Revelation 17:3, 9-11.

Revelation 13:3.     And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

     If the interpretation of the seven heads and seven kingdoms suggested above is correct, then one of them is apparently going to be revived in the last days.  It is this revived head, no doubt, on which is based the ten horns and ten crown, since they also refer to the last days.  It is probably this head which speaks with the mouth of a lion (verse 2), though perhaps the others do also.

     Which of the heads is revived is not stated, although many expositors consider this to be a reference to the revival of the old Roman empire.

     It is interesting, as a matter of fact, that most of these ancient nations are today experiencing something of a revival.  Egypt has attempted to become spokesman for the Islamic world and has been the first Arab nation to attempt rapprochement with Israel.  Persia, which is modern Iran, has likewise captured world attention because of its oil resources and militant Moslem fundamentalism.  Modern Iraq corresponds to ancient Babylonia and Assyria (the ruins of Babylon are near its capital city Baghdad) and it has become probably the strongest Arab nation militarily.  Greece is still an important Mediterranean nation, as is Italy, and their religious cultures permeate the nations of the north and west through the various Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively.

     None of these “revivals,” however, are sufficiently striking to make all the world “wonder after the beast.”  It will take something more than that, something almost miraculous.  The NATO Alliance and the European Common Market have also been suggested as potential revivals of the Roman empire, but again neither of these is a really spectacular development.  They may possibly be precursors of the “ten horns” which will give their power to the beast (Revelation 17:12, 13), but they are not the “revived head” and they are certainly not the beast.

     The beast, of course, is a man, though he will become so identified with the empire he heads that the two are almost synonymous.  It has been noted already (Revelation 11:7) that he “ascends out of the abyss,” and that his ascent is marked by such satanically-imparted powers that he is able finally to put an end to the three-and-a-half year influence of God’s two witnesses.  All of this will so enthrall the nations that he will quickly gain worldwide preeminence over them all.  His experience with Satan “in the abyss,” as he will claim, will be some kind of occult supernatural phenomenon whereby his body seemed to be dead (actually in suspended animation) while his spirit is taken by the devil for the impartation of the knowledge and powers he would need to fulfill his dark mission in the world.

     Although he himself is not the wounded head of the beast (since he is the beast), his own recovery from the deadly wound (a wound not unto death but “as it were” unto death) will bear such striking analogy to the revival of the ancient nation represented by the head as to make a profound and stirring impression on every nation.  He is also called “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Revelation 17:8) and then also said to be one of the “seven kings” (Revelation 17:10, 11).

     The head that will be revived will certainly be also the kingdom that will best epitomize the nature and purposes of the dragon who empowers the beast.  It will serve as the center of his rule over all nations – his capital, as it were.

     It would seem that this could not be Rome, since Rome does not need “resurrecting.”  Rome had been one of the world’s greatest cities ever since the Caesars.  After the fall of the old Roman empire, the “Holy Roman Empire” succeeded it, and it has been the central capital of the quasi-political religious institution of the Roman Catholic Church ever since.

     It will be noted that the middle head on the beast is Babylon which, from the point of view of symmetry at least, would most appropriately be the chief head on the beast.  Babylon was defeated by the Persians over two-and-a-half millennia ago, but continued at least as an inhabited city for many centuries.  Eventually it seemed to die completely, although various poor communities continued to exist in or near its environs.  The ruins of its ancient glory are a top tourist attraction today.

     The possibility of reconstructing Babylon has been seriously considered in recent years, both by the Iraqi government and by various internationalist organizations. It is ideally situated, being very near the geographical center of the earth’s land masses, to serve as a world capital.  Although we cannot be sure that this will happen, there are good reasons for believing that the beast may select this site as his world capital.  Rapid construction, using the most advanced technologies, could almost overnight raise ancient Babylon back to life again.  Not only could Babylon serve as the political center of the world, but also as its commercial, cultural, and religious center.  Since the religious philosophy of Nimrod and the first Babylonians (that is, evolutionary humanistic pantheism) permeated every great empire from Sumer to Rome, such a renaissance would in effect be a restoration of all the heads of the beast.  And since the beast himself would have also experienced a remarkable personal (pseudo) death and resurrection, all the world would indeed marvel at the great power of the beast and the magnificence of his capital city, together with the establishment of his great cultural and trade center.  This would not merely be a revived Roman empire, which so many Bible teachers have postulated, but a revived Babylonian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, and Greek empire, all comprising a mighty revival of ancient evolutionary paganism, humanism, and (ultimately) Satanism.

Revelation 13:4.     And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

     For many years prior to the rapture, a revival of various forms of ancient occultism (spiritism, astrology, witchcraft, eastern mysticism, and even Satan worship) will have been developing.  This movement will be tremendously accelerated with the departure of the multitudes of true Christians when Christ returns to meet them in the air just prior to the tribulation period.  During the first three-and-a-half years of the tribulation, the preaching of Christ’s two witnesses (along with that of 144,000 sealed Israelites and many others), combined with the great judgments of the seals and trumpets, will finally eliminate every vestige of the scientific skepticism that has dominated the intellectual world for two centuries or more.

     Men and women will have seen and heard mighty angels flying through the skies.  They will have seen and heard the miracles and the preaching of Christ’s witnesses.  Quite possibly such preaching, along with the testimony of the rapture itself, will have stimulated many to read the Bible and other Christian literature left behind.  They will have had many other evidences which will finally convince even the most skeptical of the reality of both God and Satan.  They will come to understand something of the true nature of the cosmic conflict of the ages, between the dragon and the woman.

     But then they will choose Satan.  They will elect to cast their lot with him, believing that his agelong rebellion against God will ultimately triumph.  If Satan can resurrect the great prince, wounded to death as he had been, and impart to him such remarkable powers as to enable him to destroy God’s two hitherto invincible witnesses, then he can also be trusted to give them eternal life and mighty power.  Amazing and incredible as it seems, men will in great multitudes decide to worship the dragon.  They will acknowledge him as the rightful king of the cosmos, and will consciously encourage and help him in his battle against God.

     Furthermore, they will acknowledge that the dragon had indeed granted universal earthly authority to his human counterpart, the beast, and so will worship the latter as well.  After all, if he can destroy the two mighty witnesses from heaven, then who else on the earth could possibly mount a successful battle against him?

     For three-and-a-half years he had been striving for supremacy with other nations (west and north and east of his own domain) as well as with the two witnesses and their converts.  Probably he had also been attempting to develop his great center and capital at Babylon.  He had been hindered not only by these struggles but also by the devastating plagues from heaven.  But now, finally, he is triumphant, and the whole world comes to look to him for its guidance and deliverance, trusting in his own master, Satan, for all needed power and wisdom.  The three-and-a-half year drought has been relieved, the plagues have stopped, the witnesses are gone; the beast is in charge, and the dragon and his angels have come to the earth.

Revelation 13:5.     And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies: And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

     The mouth of the beast, like the roaring of a lion (verse 2), began to roar out great things.  The dragon, who gave him his authority, also now gives him great pronouncements to make to the world.  Counterfeiting God’s divinely inspired prophets of old, he makes satanically-inspired proclamations and predictions, filled with blasphemies against the true God and His Christ, foretelling their imminent destruction and the freedom of mankind from all restraints of righteousness and fear of judgment.

     Men will believe him, sad to say.  With minds deceived and blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9), further confused by drug addiction (Revelation 9:21) and benumbed by sins of every description, they will believe his blasphemies.  They will believe “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).  Actually, the definite article is present in the Greek – “they will believe the lie.”

     His authority was to endure for only forty-two months.  Satan knew this was all the time he had left before the climactic battle (Revelation 12:12).  This is obviously the same forty-two months during which the Gentiles would defile Jerusalem and the temple (Revelation 11:2).

     It is also the same period in which God will specially protect His people in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6, 14) from the fangs of the serpent, in particular by destroying the army sent after them by the beast.

Revelation 13:6.     And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

     Not content merely to rail against God, the dragon-inspired beast must utter diatribes and obscenities against all He stand for (His name), defaming His holiness, His love, His law, His grace.  He curses the heavens (the dragon has recently been expelled from heaven) where God dwells.  Those who dwell with God in heaven, including not only the holy angels but also all the raptured saints, share in his vilifications.  This continual barrage of slander must now take place on earth, since the Devil no longer has access to heaven where he used to accuse the brethren.

     Daniel also prophesied of his vile mouth: “In this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things . . . a mouth that spake very great things . . . And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:8, 20, 25).  And again Daniel says: “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods” (Daniel 11:36).

     No doubt, one of the purposes of this campaign of vituperation will be to intimidate any on earth who might be followers or potential followers of the true God.  The dragon can ill afford any other defections from his ranks.

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