Let us just say, I have a strong interest in prophecy, end times, and the study of Revelation, always have, and though some have passed through the church and brought moments of clarity, others followed right behind them and muddied up the waters for me. Personally, I found this very frustrating. One man, Hilton Sutton came to the church and brought some clarity, this was a turning point for me in that I now had an unquenchable desire to understand end times prophecy. Gaining a momentary clarity is fine, but once he left and there was no one there that provoked a pursuit in the understanding of biblical prophecy I found myself floundering. Since what I just described happened in the late 1980’s, can you imagine how disillusioned I might be that I have only in the last few years come to understanding the allusion and imagery we have to deal with when reading Revelation and Daniel. The thing that opened up end time’s prophecy for me was coming across a book called, The Islamic Antichrist, by Joel Richardson. Mr. Richardson followed up his first book with one called The Mideast Beast. In it, he gives you an intense look into scripture, with associated current and historical events, thereby leaving no doubt in your mind.
There was a day in which I saw a post on Facebook where the person making the post referenced Revelation 13:7 and stated, “this is not about post rapture believers, this is about us, the church.” It seems only right that I give you this scripture before we look at it to see if it paints the picture that this person sees. I will also tell you that there is no short rebuttal because the simplest of answers are always met with arguments; most of which are based in assumption, faulty logic, and inappropriate traditions of religion.
Revelation 13:7 KJV And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
In perusing this verse my first question is, who is this “him” that John is being shown? You have to ask, because at face value, depending upon the translation you use, your mindset immediately becomes fixated and therefore tries to find that one person, world leader. As we progress in our reading of the Bible, it is true that someone eventually becomes the mouthpiece for the beast, but even he will have a limited influence and step aside for another more violent. Scripture calls this last person the false prophet.
And there was given unto him(it) a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
(Revelation 13:5 KJV)
The Greek word translated as him is autos, and can just as easily mean it. The Modern King James version correctly translated this by using the word “it” instead of him. However, the vagueness of the word “it” defies our desire to attach an identity to the beast. Religion, operating on the idea that we should be looking for a person to define the beast, have given the title to many people – some deservingly so, but they were still wrong.
Secondly, in focusing on the beast as an “it”, we note that it is given power to make war with: the saints and to overcome them, and all kindreds; tongues, and nations. The MKJV uses the word tribes instead of kindreds.
What kind of understanding do I gain from this information?
Anyone, a minimal amount of knowledge of scripture, knows that the end times are particularly harsh toward followers of Christ; primarily during the last seven-year period designated as the time of God’s wrath upon the earth, even though religion calls this the tribulation. One can easily figure out that almost everyone not following after the beast will be killed during this time, and not by God.
Daniel recounts his vision in Daniel chapter seven. “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them” (Daniel 7:21 KJV) What Daniel describes is a parallel to Revelation 13:7, and the horn he sees is the “it” that John describes in the Revelation, and at minimum, an aspect of one of the beasts.
Since we know, based upon the explanation that the angel brought, that the beasts represent kingdoms or empires, then this “it” has to be an empire too. We also learn that since the kingdoms Daniel saw were destructive, this too is a destructive empire. An aspect of Revelation 13:7 defines that for us: “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.”
Can anyone decisively say that there is one entity whose sole purpose is to wage war with the people of God, and is doing that?
While there are many Christians and tribes, and nations now coming under attack, there is not an overall defeat, and a few governments that are still standing in the face of the enemy. This does not necessarily mean that this is not the beast that is attacking them. However, the world is certainly not seeing this thing in its full fury. It was Jesus that informed us that the onslaught would be so great that the potential to kill everyone outside of the beast’s ideology is possible.
Matthew 24:22 MKJV And unless those days should be shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.
The word translated as beast is the Greek word therion, and means a dangerous animal. Again, there are plenty of people who have been deemed animals, and deserved to be called that, but attributing that designation to a single person does not make it a proper definition. Since this is akin to Daniel’s vision, and the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw, then we know that this is the fourth kingdom, and because of its matching symbolism we also know that this is an extremely dangerous kingdom.
As a stand alone verse, there is nothing that defines this beast adequately, nor is there anything in the passage that gives us a time frame, nor does it demonstrate whether it is a pre or post rapture scenario.
So, is Revelation 13:7 a picture of Pre or Post rapture?
The short answer is pre-rapture, but we need something beside Revelation 13:7 to prove this.
There are inherent problems in understanding and placing this evil empire into a particular period. The difficulty primarily arises out of our attempts at defining the beast using the traditional religious understanding and logic that we commonly apply to end times events.
Our first problem here is that Daniel 7:3 tells us that there were four great beasts.
Each one of these beasts could have presented similar issues and problems, not only the Christian community but also the world in general. One in particular, the fourth beast, gained a particularly frightening identity, and seems to have no purpose aside from destruction. Moreover, this fourth beast is NOT directly identified, as the first three were, and so the common assumption is that this has everything to do with Rome and by extension the Roman Catholic church. You should be able to pick up on the ramifications of that.
“After this I looked in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, frightening and terrifying, and very strong. And it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its feet. And it was different from all the beasts before it; and it had ten horns.” (Daniel 7:7 MKJV)
Our simplest method of gaining clarity is to look at the context surrounding this singular passage in Revelation 13 and try to find out if this statement, “this is not about post rapture believers, this is about us, the church” is a true statement.
Revelation 13:1-10 MKJV (1) And I stood on the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns. And on its horns were ten crowns, and on its heads was the name of blasphemy. (2) And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and its feet like those of a bear, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him its power and its seat and great authority. (3) And I saw one of its heads as having been slain to death, and its deadly wound was healed. And all the earth marveled after the beast. (4) And they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with it? (5) And a mouth speaking great things was given to it, and blasphemies. And authority was given to it to continue forty-two months. (6) And it opened its mouth in blasphemy toward God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those dwelling in Heaven. (7) And it was given to it to war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given to it over every tribe and tongue and nation. (8) And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world. (9) If anyone has an ear, let him hear. (10) He who leads into captivity will go into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed by a sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
The first two verses of Revelation 13: 1-10 are very telling, and we learn where the beast gets its power.
“And I stood on the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns. And on its horns were ten crowns, and on its heads was the name of blasphemy. And the beast, which I saw, was like a leopard, and its feet like those of a bear, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him its power and its seat and great authority.” (Revelation 13:1-2 MKJV)
As John stands “on the sand of the sea”, he is looking at vast numbers of people. Thousands of years of world conflict, and yet this vast number of people have all been affected by the same theme, the beast. There is no way that one man, or animal, could live for this extended period. Therefore, the obvious assumption is that the beast represents a very dangerous empire. This is clear when I read about it Daniel.
“the dragon gave him its power and its seat and great authority”
“The dragon gave him (edōken autōi ho drakōn). First aorist active indicative of didōmi (to give) and dative case autōi (the beast). The dragon works through this beast. The beast is simply Satan’s agent. Satan claimed this power, and offered it to Christ: (Robertson’s Word Pictures)
And he said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will go down on your face and give me worship. (Matthew 4:9 BBE)
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. (Luke 4:6 KJV)
“- and Christ called Satan the prince of this world”: (Robertson’s Word Pictures)
Now is the time for the world to be judged. Now the ruler of this world will be thrown out. (John 12:31 ERV)
“I will not talk with you much longer. The ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me. (John 14:30 ERV)
“and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (John 16:11 LITV)
While it may not help to answer the question of whether this is speaking about the church, references to the beast do not have to represent a man, and can easily fit into the category of a ruling body, and are certainly fulfilled by an encompassing demonic power. Since we know that Revelation 13:7 is another description of the prophecy seen in Daniel, then we know that the beast empires were clearly defined, and three of them are essentially gone from the picture. They are the: Babylonian (Assyrian); Medo/Persian; Grecian. We also know that the Grecian empire sustained a division after the death of Alexander The Great, and was redistributed between four generals. Of those four, only two made a global impact – the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic. The Seleucid Empire effectively comprised the Assyrian people and Islamic nations that we are now dealing with.
Revelation 13:4 tells us that “they” (the nations?) worshipped the beast.
Now what do we do with that? We already understand that the beast represents a deadly empire, but there is no singular, deadly empire ruling yet. However, there are multitudes of deadly entities, wreaking havoc globally, with one common ideology. Do I have to say it? Islam. Islam, no matter whether you are Shiite, Wahabi, or call yourself Boko Haran serves one common god – Allah.
Is it possible then, that Revelation 13:4 is referring to a current and deadly religion as the beast? This opens a complex issue, because the God of Israel had already made it clear to his people, and us, that there are no other gods (This declaration took place long before Mohammed decided that there was a god called Allah). All this of course makes Allah a false god. The goal in apologetics is to show, primarily by scripture, the truth that there is nothing out there but God alone. A few examples might be:
Isaiah 43:10 CEV My people, you are my witnesses and my chosen servant. I want you to know me, to trust me, and understand that I alone am God. I have always been God; there can be no others.
Exodus 34:14 AMP For you shall worship no other god; for the Lord, Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous (impassioned) God,
Exodus 20:23 ISV You are not to make gods of silver alongside me, nor are you to make for yourselves gods of gold.
Deuteronomy 4:27-28 NASB (27) “The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you. (28) “There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
One of the most telling clues about the timing which can applied to Revelation 13:7, is found in Revelation 13:5.
Revelation 13:5 LITV And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given to it. And authority to act forty-two months was given to it.
This is most likely the second half of the seven years of wrath. Many like to call it the great tribulation. Moreover, since this takes us to the midpoint of the seven years of wrath, then taking a chronological approach tells me that Revelation 13:7 has nothing to do with the church.
There is another aspect that seems to throw the casual reader for a loop, and that is the beast making “war with the saints.” There is no denying, that Paul called the early church members saints, but since the church is not destined for wrath we should have been caught up in the snatching away, prior to this widespread slaughter of the saints. Before I try to develop this I need to remind you that Jesus guaranteed you “the modern believer” one thing very specific, “in this world, you will have tribulation!” While it may be great for you, it is no where close to being the great tribulation that comes during the time of God’s wrath.
Jesus, speaking to his religious detractors said, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” You can find this statement, and its context in Luke 3:7.
We are, in majority, saved from the wrath.
“but God commends His love to us in this, that we being yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being justified now by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:8-9 LITV)
And, meant to be delivered from the wrath.
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10 KJV)
If the church is gone, then who are these people called saints that this “beast” is killing?
They are those that did not go in the rapture, and have come to a recognition of Jesus as Lord during the time called the tribulation, and because grace is no longer a benefit, they are paying the greatest price of commitment with their lives. We are surrounded by those that claim a religious Christianity, some do so merely because they live in United States. This means nothing. Look at this passage from Matthew 25
Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps, but took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes! Go out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out. But the wise answered, saying, No, lest there be not enough for us and you. But rather go to those who sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came. And they who were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. Afterwards the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Truly I say to you, I do not know you. Therefore watch, for you do not know either the day or the hour in which the Son of Man comes.
(Matthew 25:1-13 MKJV)
Did you notice that they were all virgins, and they all had the same invitation. However, some did not make it in. Preparation, willingness, and desire seem to be key here, not title. You have no exclusivity because you can label yourself. I will tell that one of people that bullied me in high school came to the forty year reunion and introduced himself as Pastor. I asked him when he became a follower of Christ. He responded with, oh, I was a Christian in high school. To which, I responded, so was I, and I quite vividly remember you and the crowd you hung out with, mocking and torturing me because I had openly admitted my Christianity. We did not talk much after that; that seemed to be his choice.
As Bob Dylan once said, it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you are going to have to serve somebody.
Revelation 13:8 states, “And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world.”
Because we have Daniel 9:27 as part of our forensic evidence, we know that a representative of the beast will make a peace accord with Israel for a seven year period. Half way through that treaty he will break the treaty and thus begins a wanton slaughter of those who refuse to claim allegiance to the beast. This in no way excludes the current and ongoing slaughter of those outside the fellowship of the beast, but this slaughter indicates that the dominance and influence of the beast will be global and sufficiently armed to be able to carry this out.
That was certainly the long way around, but I am optimistic that it paints a picture of the rapture of the church and the coming slaughter of those that refuse to worship the beast. We religious folk like to call the time after the rapture of the church, the great tribulation. The problem with that mentality is that it ignores the ongoing tribulation of the church at present, and we are not even there yet. Jesus spoke of a time, that is coming, in which it would be rare that anyone survives unless God cuts the time short, and he does. This is referred to by Jesus as a time of great tribulation, and therefore probably the basis of why we call it, the great tribulation. What the seven years that follows the snatching away of the church is, is a time of God’s wrath being poured out upon those left upon the earth that have rejected him.
May I suggest that you come to him now, while it is still convenient and comfortable. All it takes is you believing that he died for you, and provides you with the promise of a future with him in glory. You cannot do this on your own, and that is why he came. Ask him to come into your life, turn the life that you cannot handle over to him, and he will come into you and make his home in you.