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Beasts, Dragons, and More: What Does Revelation 12 and 13 Mean?

Dear Roger,
As I study the book of Revelation, I feel that I have a good handle on understanding the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Seals, the Trumpets and the Bowls of God’s wrath. But I’m struggling to understand chapters 12 and 13 with beasts and dragons and pregnant women and a “male child.” It’s obvious to me that there is much symbolism here; but I am having trouble sorting it all out. Can you help me?
Sincerely, Luther

Dear Luther,

I think I can help.

In Revelation 12-13 we meet the major characters who now play out the rest of the Book of Revelation.

Pregnant woman – 12:1-2

Dragon – 12:3

Male child – 12:5

Michael – 12:7

The rest of the woman’s offspring – 12:17

The Beast coming out of the sea – 13:1

The Beast coming out of the earth – 13:11

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Aphelleon 

Highlights of Satan, the Pregnant Woman, and the Male Child in Chapter 12

The pregnant woman is Israel! The male child is Jesus.

Satan crouches between the woman’s legs ready to devour the Male Child at the moment of His birth. Satan knows Scripture and therefore knows that the Messiah will come through Israel’s seed. If Satan can destroy the Male Child, there will be no Christianity. However, the woman gives birth to the Male Child, who survives the unfulfilled Satanic attack. Satan is furious and instigates waves of anti-Semitism that encircle the globe. God takes Israel to safety and protects her during the last three and a half years of the Great Tribulation.

The Male Child is caught up to the throne of God.

“The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who 'will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.' And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne." Revelation 12:4-5 NIV

This “catching up” may refer to Christ’s resurrection and ascension. It may also refer to the “rapture.”

“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17 NIV

After the rapture, there will be no Christians on earth. However, many will come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. These are they who will be intensely persecuted.

Where will Israel go?

Petra and Jordan are likely candidates. The Antichrist invades the Middle East. But Edom (southwestern Jordan), Moab (west-central Jordan), and Ammon (east of the Jordan River) will be secure (Daniel 11: 41).

“He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.” Daniel 11:41 NIV

But these areas are surely too small to house the number of Jews who are seeking refuge from the Antichrist. Perhaps, these are representatives of a remnant known as the “10 lost tribes of Israel.” Most Jews are now scattered all over the globe.

“The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.” Revelation 12:14 NIV

Since the symbol of the United States is an eagle, some have suggested that the United States will come to Israel’s rescue during the last half of the tribulation.

God preserves Israel supernaturally. Since Genesis 3:15, in the Garden, Satan has attempted to kill Jesus and thus stymie God’s plan for salvation. Satan does not know when the Antichrist will arrive. Therefore, he always has an Antichrist-type person for him to indwell.

Here is a list of some of the attempts by the Red Dragon to incapacitate God’s plan:

  • Murders Abel (Genesis 4:8)
  • Kills the baby boys in Egypt (Exodus 1:22)
  • Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah, sets out to destroy every living descendant in the royal line of David. She killed all but one. A man named Joseph survived (2 Kings 11:1-3).
  • Haaman’s decree to kill Jews in the time of Queen Esther (Esther 3:6)

Satan was only one death away from wiping out Jesus before He was even born.

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:21-23 NIV

Finally, Satan got his wish when Jesus was crucified. However, the joke was on him. Through his death on the cross, Jesus opened the door of salvation for multiplied millions.

Highlights of Satan, the First Beast, and the Second Beast in Chapter 13

Highlights of Satan, the First Beast, and the Second Beast in Chapter 13

The Dragon is Satan who accomplishes most of his work through the human antichrist.

The Antichrist (Satan, The Red Dragon) subdues 10 nations and uses them as the foundational base from which to launch his war against Israel. These nations occupy the territory which was commandeered by Rome in the first century.

This confederation of nations is the agency through which the dragon-inspired Antichrist will work during the time of the Great Tribulation.

In the middle of the great tribulation, an intense war commences between Satan and the Archangel Michael. Satan is not strong enough to win. Jesus threw him out of heaven. Simultaneously, the Antichrist is indwelt by Satan and begins his dastardly work.

(By the way, except for Judas, this is the only time in Scripture that Satan is ever said to inhabit the body of anyone).

As he falls, he sweeps one-third of his demons down to earth to wreak havoc upon mankind. The work of these demons is seen throughout the Great Tribulation.

The Revelation Interlude” now occurs. In the midst of all the horrible terrors come words of glory and praise!

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God . . .
“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been cast down.”

They triumphed over him . . . 
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much love and in the
as to shrink from death.

Therefore, rejoice you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
He is filled with fury and because he knows that his time is short” (Revelation 12:10-12). NIV

Verse eleven describes how our Tribulation brothers and sisters will defeat Satan – and how we can daily defeat him as he torments us.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 

Highlights of the Career of the Dragon – the Antichrist

He is a Gentile who comes up from the sea.

He achieves full political and military authority over a ten-nation confederacy situated in the territories of Western Europe (Daniel 7:7-8). Ultimately, he will have control over the entire world!

The 10 Horns refers to the 10 nations of a revived Roman Empire! This is not the old Roman Empire revived. This refers to the nations occupying that area (Revelation 17:12). During the height of its power the Roman Empire stretched from England to France, Spain, Italy, Austria, and finally Germany. While these countries are identifiable today, they may not be in existence when the Second Coming finally arrives, it will be that territory that will be significant.

This confederation of nations is the agency through which the dragon-inspired Antichrist will work during the time of the Great Tribulation.

He comes with great fury against Israel.

He will have the authority to wage war against the followers of Jesus and to conquer them.

He will be a human monster as represented by a leopard, a bear, and a lion. Read Daniel chapters 7 and 8 to get better insight into these animals. You will see prophecies of an unidentifiable creature- -an animal with multiple heads and horns that attack the Confederacy. We have seen antichrist-type rulers commit genocide by murdering millions of their own people. Think about evil rulers like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, and others. This list only contains wicked despots from the last hundred years. The destruction caused by the Dragon will be exponentially more devastating.

His authority and power will come directly from Satan.

He receives a fatal wound but lives. This is a false resurrection. By the way, the Greek word for “wound” describes someone whose throat is slit.

The entire world is amazed and begins to worship the Antichrist-devil. The Devil finally achieves his goal of being worshiped. One of the onslaughts engineered by Satan against Jesus was to tempt Jesus into worshiping Satan as the king of the world (Isaiah 14; Matthew 4; Luke 4).

He is given authority to open his mouth and blaspheme heaven, Almighty God, and the name of Jesus!

Highlights of the Career of the Second Beast – the False Prophet

Highlights of the Career of the Second Beast – the False Prophet

The second beast comes out of the earth. The earth is a reference to the Promised Land. He will be Jewish.

He will have a gentle side like a lamb; but will speak the words of Satan like a dragon.

His job is to glorify both Satan as well as the first beast, the Antichrist.

He compels those who live on the earth to worship the first beast.

He will heal the mortal wound of the Antichrist thus counterfeiting the Holy Spirit’s work of raising Christ from the dead.

He will be a miracle worker who deceives many because of his miracles.

He pours power into the inanimate statute of the Antichrist that is sitting in the temple in Jerusalem. The statue now comes alive and speaks blasphemous things against Christians and against Jesus Christ.

He forces everyone to receive a mark on his right hand on the forehead to signify his or her allegiance to the Antichrist. Those who refuse to take the mark will be forbidden to buy or sell anything, which of course, will lead to certain death. (For example, Christians can’t buy food).

The mark will be the number “666”. It could possibly be a chip, tattoo, or some other marker the likes of which we have yet to see. In the Bible, the 6 represents the number of man, so the three sixes may refer to the unholy Trinity of the Devil, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

Perhaps the number refers to the ancient practice of gematria. Every Greek letter has a numerical value. Add up the Greek letter values in a name and you will get a number. For example, the letters in the name Nero add up to a value of 666. Add up the number of the letters in the name Jesus. They add up to 888. Seven is the perfect number in the Bible. Man is consistently falling short of perfection. Jesus is consistently better than perfection.

Only by the grace of God will Christians be able to navigate successfully during these difficult waters of persecution.

Well, Luther, I hope this helps. Love, Roger

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/sqback 

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