SYNOPSIS: The Beast from the earth mimics the Lamb but is the mouthpiece of the Dragon and the Beast from the sea – Revelation 13:11-15.
Earlier, John “heard a great voice in heaven” proclaim victory because of the blood of the Lamb – Salvation and the reign of the Messiah had arrived, and the Dragon was “cast out of heaven.” The voice called on the “heavens and they who tabernacle in them” to rejoice. But the Dragon was not finished, for the voice also declared – “Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil is come down to you having great wrath” – (Revelation 12:9-12).
In Chapter 13, we read a description of what John saw. What he sees interprets what he first hears. The warning to “the sea” is explained when John sees a beast ascend from it. John now sees a “beast ascending from the earth,” thus, the warning by the voice to the earth and the sea.
(Revelation 13:11-15) – “And I saw another wild-beast, coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like unto a lamb, and began speaking as a dragon. And all the authority of the first wild-beast he useth before him; and causeth the earth and them who therein are dwelling, that they shall do homage unto the first wild-beast, whose stroke of death was healed. And he doeth great signs, so that even fire he causeth to be coming down unto the earth before men; and he deceiveth them who are dwelling upon the earth, by reason of the signs which it was given him to do before the wild-beast — saying unto them who are dwelling upon the earth, that they should make an image unto the wild-beast who hath the stroke of the sword, and yet did live. And it was given unto it to give spirit unto the image of the wild-beast, in order that the image of the wild-beast should both speak and should cause that as many as should not do homage unto the image of the wild-beast should be slain” – (The Emphasized Bible).
Unlike the beast from the sea, this one speaks, though with the voice of Satan (“He spoke as a dragon”). He speaks with all the authority of the first beast; his authority is not his own. He is the mouthpiece of the “beast from the sea” that calls men to give allegiance to it (“There was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies… and there was given it authority to continue forty and two months”).
This mouth opens to speak “blasphemies against God and his tabernacle, them that dwell in the heaven,” and thus, “makes war with the saints.” This description corresponds to the “little horn speaking great things” in Daniel’s visions of four beasts from the sea and of the Ram and the Goat:
- (Daniel 7:87) – “There came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.”
- (Daniel 7:20-21) – “He shall be diverse from the former, and he shall put down three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time. The same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them.”
- (Daniel 8:23) – “When the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences shall stand up; and his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.”
The description, the “Beast from the earth,” uses language from two passages from the book of Daniel, the first is from the story of the great golden idol erected by Nebuchadnezzar, the second is from an exhortation at the conclusion of Daniel.
- (Daniel 3:1-7) – “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty and its breadth six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather the satraps, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set-up. Then the herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and tongues, that at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, that you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set-up; and whosoever does not fall down and render homage will the same hour be cast into the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the cornet…all the peoples, nations, and tongues fell down and rendered homage to the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set-up.”
- (Daniel 12:9-10) – “Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but they that are wise shall understand.”
The Aramaic verb rendered “set-up” in Daniel is repeated seven times in the passage from Daniel 3:1-7. The repetition stresses the part played by Nebuchadnezzar in this idolatrous affair. He was responsible for setting up the great golden image and coercing the population to render homage to it.
The book of Revelation compares the beast from the earth to a lamb with two horns – The picture is symbolic, not literal. This beast has two horns like a lamb. That is, on some level, it mimics the true Lamb, Jesus Christ.
The role of Nebuchadnezzar in erecting the great image on the “plain of Dura” corresponds to the role of the “beast from the earth.” He sets up the image of the “Beast from the sea,” compels all levels of society to render homage to it, and he metes out economic deprivation and death to all who refuse to do so.
(Daniel 3:13-15) – “Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said unto them, Is it of purpose, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, that ye serve not my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
In the story from the third chapter of Daniel, it is stated seven times that Nebuchadnezzar “set-up” his great image. Likewise, in the book of Revelation, seven times the Beast from the earth is said to “make” (poieō) the “inhabitants of the earth” erect an image of the Beast.
The “Beast from the earth” has “two horns like a lamb” but speaks with the voice of a dragon. This identifies him with the Dragon – He is the satanic counterpart to Jesus, the true Lamb. Unlike this Beast, Jesus has seven horns, a full set, and speaks with a “great voice like a trumpet” – (Revelation 1:10, 5:6).
The two horns of this beast correspond to the Two Witnesses. The Beast from the earth is the satanic counterpart to the Two Witnesses. The latter conducted their prophetic ministry for “twelve hundred and sixty days.” This period parallels the remaining time in which the Dragon is authorized to wreak havoc on the earth, the “little while,” the “forty-two months” allotted to the mouthpiece of the beast – (Revelation 11:3-12).
The Two Witnesses were empowered to call fire from heaven to destroy their enemies. Likewise, the “beast from the earth” calls “fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth” to deceive the “inhabitants of the earth.” The Two Witnesses “stand 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 its sight (enopion).” Each serves its respective master – (Revelation 11:4-6).
The Two Witnesses inflicted punishments on their opponents, much like the plagues unleashed by Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh. They had authority “over the waters to turn them into blood and to smite the earth with every plague.” Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and turned it into a serpent. Pharaoh’s sorcerers were able to imitate this “sign” – “They cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents.” Thus, also, the “beast from the earth” performs “signs” just like those released by the Two Witnesses – (Exodus 7:9-12, Revelation 11:6).
“As many as should not render homage to the image of the beast should be killed.” This statement echoes the action of Nebuchadnezzar when he threatened to case all who refused to bow his image into the “burning fiery furnace.” The same verse from the third chapter of Daniel is the literary source for the “Lake of Fire,” although in a paradoxical way. Just as the men who threw the three Jewish exiles into Babylon’s fiery furnace were burned by its super-heated flames, so the Beast and the False Prophet that attempted to destroy the saints are “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” – (Daniel 3:1-6, Revelation 19:20).
The “beast from the earth” causes the “inhabitants of the earth, every tribe and people and tongue, and nation,” to give allegiance to the “Beast from the sea.” If the first beast represents political power, then portrayed here is state idolatry; the giving of total allegiance to the state. The political aspect should not be downplayed.