Chapter 13 introduces us to the picture of the anti-Christian power and its anti-christian kingdom with its anti-christian king in our world ! These are important words. Hear the exhortation from Jesus through John : " If anyone has an ear , let him hear" ! ( v.9) The Holy Spirit says that it is of greatest importance , therefore let us hear so that we may understand and receive strength to stand in the evil day.
A Word of Clarification:
I have just used the word “anti-christ”. But John in this Revelation never actually uses the term "anti-Christ". He only uses this term in his epistles (1 Jn. 2:18,22; 4:3 ; 2 Jn. 7). "Anti" actually means not so much ‘against‘ as "in the place of (Christ)", thus introducing the element of deception.  Why are we then making reference to the anti-christ?
In Chapter 13 we are introduced to two beasts. The first beast (13: 1 - 10) is said to come out of the sea, and the second beast (13:11- 18) is said to come out of the earth.
It is to that first beast that I now want to draw your attention, for that beast closely resembles what the prophet Daniel speaks about in Daniel 7 - the 4th beast – “terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong”(Dan 7:7) who “shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High… and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time.” (Dan 7:25). This beast also resembles what the apostle Paul speaks about in 2 Thess. 2:3 when he speaks about the "man of lawlessness, the son of destruction , who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God" . This same one is also what the apostle John refers to in His letters when he speaks about the anti-Christ, as indicated earlier.
That first beast out of the sea bears the marks of the anti-christ, and that is why I am using this term here.
THE BEAST OUT OF THE SEA : A DESCRIPTION
What does this picture of the beast tell us ? I remind you once again that this is highly symbolic language.
a. The sea is said to be the source out of which the beast arises. What does this mean?
This refers to the sea of people and of nations as they live on the earth and under the power and principle of sin. The sea is symbolic of restlessness . We read of the sea in that sense more than once in scripture:
i. Isa. 57:20 : “But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt.”
ii. Dan. 7:2,3 : “Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.” The entire context here shows us that the troubled sea of nations is meant here.
iii. Rev. 17:15,16 gives us perhaps the clearest clear picture of this fact : “And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the 10 horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute…” .
These texts help us to see that this beast finds its origin, source, birthplace among the peoples, the nations and languages of this world - all which are under the principle and power of sin.
b. A description of the beast : This grotesque creature bears a close resemblance to its father - the dragon (the devil) who is described in 12:3 . The beast, like his father the devil, has 10 horns and seven heads - and seven diadems on each head. Each head has a blasphemous name. The general appearance is like a leopard. The feet resemble that of a bear and the mouth that of a lion. ( Note: it combines a all the features of the 4 beasts in Daniel 7:1-8) . The beast is said to have received “his (the dragon’s) power and his throne and great authority” (12:2)."
There is another interesting detail : “one of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed.” (13:3). As we look at this beast with similar features to the dragon, we might therefore say that this "anti-christ" is the 'devil - incarnate’ – the son of the devil! The devil is an evil imitator of all that our God is and does. He tries to stand in the place of Christ!
What about these symbolic details? Once again we must depend on the rest of Scripture to help us:
1. Take note once again of Daniel 7 and the four beasts. What is the meaning of the beasts there? The angel who reveals this prophecy to Daniel also gives him the key. He interprets the beasts as both, kings and kingdoms (cf. Dan 7:15ff). "The 4 great beasts are four kings /kingdoms… v.17". In v.19 Daniel desired to know the truth about the 4th beast which was different from all the rest (v.23). It is evident that this 4th beast represents a great political world power , headed by a great leader. There has always been a controversy as to whether the anti-Christ is a person or a political system. It is obviously both!
2. Take note that the 10 horns are, as always in Scripture, symbols of power - finite power - only 10 - man's number. The 7 heads (7 - number of perfection) must not fool us. They are Satan's imitations. The names of blasphemy are written upon them. This beast will be the culmination of Satanic beastliness and control when compared to other historical world powers, kings and kingdoms. This time, it is clear that this anti -christian king and his kingdom are not limited to one nation as was the case in Daniel's time, where the 4 kingdoms would have referred to the Babylonians, Medo- Persians , the Greek and Roman empires. Rev 13:7 indicates that the beast was “allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation…". This beast is the sum-total of all incarnate evil powers and has a world wide influence!
3. We note that one of the heads had been mortally wounded - but is now healed (13:3) . What does this mean? One of the most obvious connections is Genesis 3:15, where the Lord God says to Satan as he has tempted the man towards sin and disobedience: “He (Messiah) shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel”. There is however in the immediate context an immediate application . This head must be one of the kingdoms that had suffered a fatal blow , but from which it had miraculously recovered. Some commentators say that this refers to the Roman empire. If so, this would have made particular sense to John's readers . In AD 68 , the cruel Roman emperor Nero, a noted persecutor of the Christians had committed suicide . It was then rumoured that Nero had actually revived - but there is no proven substance to this. Others say, that although Nero's death was a deep blow to the Roman empire (for their Caesars were treated and considered as gods) , the next emperor Domitian continued to persecute Christians as vehemently as did Nero. It almost seemed as if the Roman empire and their ‘heads’ were invincible. Rome seemed invincible until 476 AD when the barbarian king Odoacer overthrew the city of Rome .
We might also observe that in the time of the anti-christ (that is for 42 months (v.5) - the gospel/ church age) he has received numerous death blows through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Think of it this way : the gospel plunders and wounds the kingdom of the anti-Christ. All over the world the gospel is flourishing among the nations, and people from every tribe, tongue and nations are being redeemed , plundered from Satan's kingdom by the power of the gospel, and they will find their names written in the Lamb's book of life. However, we also read (and have read in Ch. 11:1-10 ), that there will be a time, when the gospel witness will be virtually non - existent, because the 2 witnesses (i.e. true preachers of the gospel and the true church) will lie slain in the street. Verse 7 affirms this again . It will seem as if the head fatally wounded would be healed. It seems as if anti-christ appears to be whole , flourishing and advancing !
THE POWER OF THE BEAST:
His power is derived from Satan. "and to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.” (13:2); "He is given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies" (13:5). "It was allowed to make war against the saints, and to conquer them (note there will be Christians on earth at this time of tribulation !). He was given authority over every tribe, people , language and nation." (13:7).
Why does the dragon do this? You see, the devil is also a spirit. He cannot establish an earthly throne in person. He needs a human agent. At one time he tried to get the Lord Jesus Christ to become his spokesman , by offering Him to have dominion over all the kingdoms of this world , if only He would bow down to Satan. But the Lord Jesus rebuked Satan (Matt 4:9-11). Now as we consider chapter 13: 1, the incarnation of this evil son of Satan arrives – probably in the form of a very powerful political systems and rulers. One's imagination may be tempted to run away at this time. I am simply asking as we consider this in our own time , which is a part of the end times? What is that organisation , or political power at this time that would most fulfil the criterion of being a global power? And isn't globalisation a key word today? "New world order?" The Human rights movement is fast becoming a world- wide cover - up for evil minority groups to spread their anti-Christian bias , as seen is a number of current hot potatoes such as homosexuality , feminism and abortion and euthanasia etc. . What about the new age religions which are an attempt to make all religions one ?
The one thing which is very clear about this beast is this : it is anti-God (v. 6) and anti-saints (v.7)
Furthermore , it is quite clear that the beast enjoys tremendous popularity! (vv. 3b, 4,8). It seems as if the whole world will be going after this anti-Christ.
THE RESPONSE OF THE SAINTS
Almost all will worship the beast! All , except those whose name has been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain ! (v.8) What a wonderful text with which to come to the Communion table this morning .
It seems that the time of the anti-christ is unbearably hard for Christians . Many of us would be asking: “ How then can I stand in my faith?” The answer is simple and plain : “ you will stand!” Why can we be so sure of this ? Because of what the Scriptures says here:
Your name is in that book of Life ( which is not an afterthought , but a forethought of God - see also Eph. 1:4!). God foreknows all His elect people. And from the creation of the world , God has known you and has written your name in that wonderful book of life, and in time He sealed it through the precious blood of the Lamb shed on the cross . It is recorded there and sealed with the blood of the lamb. And so we read Romans 8:35 - 39 to confirm this !
What then is left for us to consider?
Just these closing words : vv. 9,10 ,11 !
Yes, these times in which we are living, in which Satan has been thrown down to the earth ( Rev. 12) are difficult. Some will go into captivity. The restlessness of the world has caused untold millions of people to become displaced ; many have been killed in that process . But we must not be unsettled . Patient endurance and faithfulness are called for. All this must be. But so is the coming day of our Lord Jesus. Look to Him !
 Note : In so doing the anti-Christ portrays the nature of the devil , who is a deceiver and a murderer.