Many people know some Bible facts. For instance, nearly everyone knows that Jesus said, “Judge not” (Matt. 7:1). Many have heard of the Antichrist and know that his number is 666—although they probably didn’t learn this from the Bible but got it from a movie. They might be surprised to learn that the Antichrist appears in the book of Revelation as a beast.
Revelation 13 describes two beasts. The first comes out of the sea with ten horns, seven heads, and ten crowns on its horns. Each of its heads bears a blasphemous name (v. 1). It seems unlikely that this is a literal, physical description. John’s depiction of the beast hearkens back to the vision of Daniel 7:3–8 where this kind of imagery is used to speak of rulers.
If Jesus is the King of kings, the first beast is the enemy of enemies used by Satan in a vain attempt to thwart His final victory. This beast will act as a false Christ. He will attempt to establish his own kingdom and will be worshiped by “all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life” (v. 8). He will even experience a kind of resurrection by bearing the marks of a fatal wound that has been healed (vv. 3, 12).
Another beast comes “out of the earth” (v. 11). The first beast is a false Christ, and this beast is a false lamb. He looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. The second beast will exercise authority on behalf of the first beast, perform miracles, and will set up an image of the first beast to be worshiped. He will demand that all the inhabitants of the earth receive a mark on their forehead or hands.
The pattern of these two beasts reflects Satan’s familiar strategy. He is a counterfeiter by nature. In place of God’s promises, he substitutes lies. In place of God’s blessings, he offers empty boasts (see Gen. 3:4; Matt. 4:9). Follow the example of Jesus and immerse yourself in the truth of God’s Word (see Matt. 4:1–11).