The Identity of the Land Beast (Thirteen 6)

In the past, Adventists have consistently identified the land beast as the United States of America, which rose up as a benevolent power, emphasizing religious liberty, but would in the end-time speak like a dragon. Some suggest this America-centered reading is no longer appropriate when more than 90% of the Adventist Church is outside of North America. Let’s, therefore, review the textual evidence regarding the land beast.

First, the history of the land beast in the text (Rev. 13:11) is much shorter than the history of the sea beast (13:1-7), suggesting a relatively new arrival on the scene of history. 2) Coming out of the earth (13:11) recalls the positive actions of the “earth” in 12:16. Something related to the earth provided shelter to God’s oppressed people during the period of the 1260 days. 3) The land beast appears in the context of the captivity of the sea beast (13:10), which Adventists understand to have occurred in 1798 AD. The USA’s rise to world-power status began in that context, its lamb-like period. 4) Unlike the sea beast, whose pedigree recalls the empires of Daniel 7, the land beast’s pedigree has no ancient roots. There is no earlier prophetic power alluded to in the brief description of Revelation 13:11.

5) The land beast arises from a different part of the world than the sea beast (Eurasian landmass). The sea is often associated with the most civilized and populated parts of the earth. 6) In ancient non-biblical mythology, the land beast (behemoth) lives in an arid, desert space far from people. Certainly the New World was relatively unpopulated and uncivilized in comparison to the Old World. 7) The land beast wears no crowns, suggesting it has no king and no pope. Its government is of a different kind than those well-known in the biblical world. As a result, the United States was a place featuring political and religious liberty.

8) The land beast speaks like a lamb, at first, it wields a gentler, more Christ-like authority at first. But that gentleness does not last. In the end it operates in a similar way as the dragon and the sea beast. 9) The land beast eventually becomes dragon like, tyrannical like the power that attempted to kill the baby Jesus (Rev. 12:5). 10) The land beast is described more in religious terms than political ones (13:13-15). If the United States is in view in this text, it is the religious side of the USA that may be more in focus than the political side. For at least a century now, North America has been the center of gravity of world Christianity, replacing Europe.

While the reference to the United States in this prophecy is not airtight, it is hard to see what other power in history so completely fulfills the specifications of this prophecy.

2 thoughts on “The Identity of the Land Beast (Thirteen 6)

  1. Daniel

    Dear Jon;

    Are these posts on facebook going to be posted as which chapterr on Revelation in your website? I see that a Commentary on Rev 13 is already done, I am confused.
    Please let me know.
    Blessings

    Daniel

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      Thanks for the question. The blog posts are not the commentary, which is much more detailed. It is just an attempt to show the big picture, which can get lost in the details of the commentary. The commentary is a 20-year project, the theology will take only a few months to complete.

      Reply

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