Revelation thirteen elaborates on the dragon’s side of the war with the remnant that was announced in Rev. 12:17. In chapter thirteen, the dragon gains two allies for the final conflict; a beast that comes up out of the sea (Rev. 13:1-10) and a beast that comes up out of the earth (Rev. 13:11-18). The dragon, sea beast and earth beast together form a counterfeit of the true godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both beasts are described and given a historical introduction (Rev. 13:1-7, 11) before their actions in the end-time are portrayed (Rev. 13:8-10, 12-18).
Careful exegetical study of this chapter introduces the following themes:
1. A Textual Issue in Rev. 13:1. I posted on this in the series of blogs on chapter twelve. A careful look at the manuscript tradition helps to underline the connection of the story of Revelation 13 with 12:17.
2. Grounds for a Historical Reading of Revelation 13. This section explores the relationship of the two beasts in this chapter with the historical timeline of Revelation 12.
3. The Sea Beast as a Counterfeit of Christ.
4. The Symbolic Meaning of “Earth.” “Earth” is an ambiguous symbol in Revelation, sometimes positive and sometimes negative.
5. The Identity of the Land Beast. Evidence that the land beast represents the United States of America in the final conflict.
6. Rev. 13:14-18 and Dan. 3.
The next six blogs will go more deeply into each of these issues.
Studies in this chapter also lead me to reflect on 1) the root issue behind all forms of distorted religion and 2) how believers should relate to those who believe and practice unbiblical forms of religion.