Before we continue with the rest of the description of the beast of the sea found in Revelation 13:5-10, let’s skip ahead a little bit to the beast of the land. This is because the beast of the land plays a significant part in the events involving the beast of the sea, and if we can identify it, then it will help us in deciphering the rest of the description of the beast of the sea.
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth—by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. Revelation 13:11-15
This beast from the land, first, we know is an empire, or world- dominating authority of some kind, because it is described as a beast. He looked like a lamb but spoke like a dragon. Well, a dragon has already appeared in Revelation, and has been identified for us. The dragon is the Devil and Satan. So this passage is telling us that the beast from the land will speak the words of the Devil. But what of the lamb? The lamb has already appeared in Revelation as well:
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:11-12
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:13-14
“They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:16-17
Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. Revelation 14:1
“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” Revelation 17:14
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Revelation 21:14
And so on throughout Revelation. There can be no doubt who He is, who was slain from the foundation of the world, who is worshiped in heaven, who is full of the Spirit of God, by whose blood the robes of the saints have been washed white, who is the shepherd of the ekklesia, who leads His flock to living water, who will return in glory to Mount Zion, whose Father is God, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, who is betrothed to His wife, the New Jerusalem, on whose foundations are etched the names of His twelve apostles. The Lamb is Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah!
The beast from the land is not this Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ; the prophecy makes that clear. However, this beast just has the appearance of the Lamb, although when it opens its mouth it speaks the words of the Devil. This beast looks like Jesus to the world, but talks like Satan. It exercises the authority of the first beast, that is, it exercises the authority granted to the kingdoms of this world: temporal and political power. So, it exercises authority to make laws, to enforce those laws through threat of punishment, to collect taxes for its support, to rule the lives of men, to command armies and to wage war.
Let me suggest that this beast represents the office of the papacy. It is not any one individual man; we saw that beasts are world- dominating empires. But this beast exercises the authority of the world- dominating Roman empire, in its incarnation of the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. The papal office has the appearance of Jesus to this world; the papal office calls itself, in fact, the Vicar of Christ. According to Webster’s, the most general meaning of the word “vicar” is “one serving as a substitute for.” Now we are beginning to see the blasphemy spoken of in Revelation 13:5-6. The holder of the papal office is also called, “The Holy Father.” This is in spite of the fact that Jesus said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”
In fact, the identification of the beast of the land with the papal office has been the understanding of the Protestant theologians since the Reformation. There is quite a bit of descriptive information in Revelation 13 as to the character and work of this beast; if it is correct that it is represented by the papal office, then history will bear us out in every instance that the holders of the papal office fulfilled its description.
To be continued …
Update: continued in: Revelation 13: the beast from the land, part two