Nothing was to be judged on the basis of one witness, which also applied to the prophetic.
“On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.” (Deuteronomy 17:6 NASB)
When someone operating in the role of a prophet declares something, all we can do is hold it in the back of our minds. Of course, all changes if the impact should be immediately seen. Later on, another prophecy comes and validates not only the first prophet but the word itself. (There are parameters upon which to judge a prophecy, the biggest is – it is trying to lead us away from God to serve other gods.) The Jewish mind understood all of this. They are not impressed with the waving of hands and fancy words, and the Apostle John knew this as well. That is why in almost every case (some are harder to find than others), these are words that have been spoken over the Jews on a previous occasion.
Focusing on Revelation 13:11-18.
“Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also, it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” (Revelation 13:11-18 ESV)
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth.
Since our first beast rose out of the sea, and we know that the sea represents people, we can learn that the first beast comes out of an environment that is more widespread. This second beast, rising out of the earth, demonstrates that he is from a more localized area, but where?
The easy answer as to where this localized area is is Israel.
It had two horns like a lamb.
If you are not a farmer, then you may not know that sheep have horns, but for economic reasons, they cut them off. At the time of this writing, we had recently gone to the local county fair. (It is hard
to believe that the area I live in was once orange groves and farmers.) That particular year they had several sheep with horns, and the horns were massive.
To the Jewish attendees in the early church, their perception that this meant deception was immediate.
The fact that it is like a lamb establishes that it is representing itself, to some degree, as Jesus did, at first gentle and caring, but then at the three-and-a-half-year mark of the seven-year period – watch out.
If we were Jewish converts, what would be our immediate association when John introduces an image of a lamb?
Perhaps Genesis 22:8, where Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb ..” The idea of the slain lamb as a way of removing sin was scattered throughout the Torah and a common practice for the Jews. However, the impact of the slain lamb – in tradition – was a good thing, and we already recognize that there is a horrendous deception coming. We all also have the imagery, seen earlier in Revelation, of the lamb as though it had been slain, and that was Jesus, the Messiah, standing there.
“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Revelation 5:6 ESV
This may not be hitting you in the same manner, it is impacting me, but if the Jewish religious council, with their eyes closed, as they are today, get pulled into this deception, they will pull many into the deceit along with them. Think of this scenario as a sinkhole.