The beast from the earth mimics the Lamb. It is the mouthpiece of the Dragon and the propagandist for the first beast.
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.” 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 wickedness “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, which indicates ongoing action rather than a single event – 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.”
WOE TO THE EARTH
The passage demonstrates why this second beast’s arrival means “woe” to the “inhabitants of the earth,” for he deceives them so they render homage to the “beast from the sea,” ensuring that their names will not be “written in the book of life.”
The language for the ascents of the beasts from the “sea” and the “earth” is derived from Daniel’s vision of the four beasts “ascending from the sea”:
- (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” and summons all men to give their allegiance to it.
In fact, the “beast from the earth” is the “mouth speaking great things and slanders” that was given to the first “beast,” and the authority to do so for “forty-two months,” the same period allotted previously 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” allotted to the “Dragon” to wreak havoc on the “earth and the sea” – (Revelation 11:1-3, 12:6-14, 13:5).
MOUTHPIECE AND MIMIC
He speaks with 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,” which means on some level he mimics the “Lamb” – (Daniel 7:8, 8:23).
He “causes the inhabitants of the earth to render homage to the first beast.” This echoes the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s “golden image” that he “erected” in the “province of Babylon” and compelled all “peoples, nations and tongues” to pay it homage – (Daniel 3:1-7).
This “beast” corresponds to the “herald” in the story of Daniel who summoned all the peoples of the Babylonian Empire to render homage to Nebuchadnezzar’s “image.” And as in that story, he threatens death to all who refuse to do so.
Moreover, 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 mouths 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 that “sign” (“they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents”). So, likewise, the “beast from the earth” performs “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 erect the “image”; he convinces the “inhabitants of the earth” to do so, which makes them full participants in the idolatrous endeavor.
But the “beast from the earth” is the one who gives life and purpose to the “image.” He provides the political ideology for giving absolute allegiance to the “beast from the sea” rather than to Jesus (“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 when he threatened to cast all who refused to bow to his image into “the burning fiery furnace.”
“Killed” translates the Greek verb apokteinô, the same term 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 the sword, with the 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 the fiery furnace were burned alive by its super-heated flames. Likewise, the “beast” and “false prophet” that attempt 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” is to cause the “inhabitants of the earth” to give allegiance to the first beast, and thereby to the “Dragon.” If the first “beast” represents political power, the “beast from the earth” is the face of the ideology and religious authority invoked to legitimize the idolatrous allegiance demanded by the “beast from the sea.”
Elsewhere, the “beast from the earth” is called the “false prophet.” Just as the deceitful activity of “that prophetess, Jezebel” corresponds 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.”
Whether the “false prophet” represents an actual person, organization, ideology, or something else remains to be seen. For now, the stress is on his ability to deceive others to give their allegiance to the first beast. – (Revelation 2:14, 2:20, 17:1-4).
But since the exaltation of the messianic “son” in chapter 12, Satan has been banished from heaven. Though enraged, he has only a “short time” remaining to destroy the church; and so, also, his earthly agents. He can only operate when and how far allowed by the “Lamb.”
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 “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” even when doing so means an unjust and violent death.