1. Two world powers are symbolized in Revelation chapter 13. What is the first power?
Answer: The beast with seven heads (Revelation 13:1-10) is none other than the Roman papacy.
(See Study Guide 15 for a complete study on this topic.) Remember that beasts in Bible prophecy symbolize nations or world powers (Daniel 7:17, 23).
2. In what year was the papacy predicted to lose its world influence and power?
“Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” Revelation 13:5.
Answer: The Bible predicted that the papacy would lose its world influence and power at the end of the 42 months. This prophecy was fulfilled in 1798, when Napoleon’s General Berthier took the pope captive and the papal power received its deadly wound. (For the full details, see Study Guide 15.)
3. Which nation was predicted to arise around the same time the papacy was receiving its deadly wound?
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” Revelation 13:11.
Answer: The papal captivity mentioned in verse 10 took place in 1798, and the new power (verse 11) was seen emerging at that time. The United States declared its independence in 1776, voted the Constitution in 1787, adopted the Bill of Rights in 1791, and was clearly recognized as a world power by 1798. The timing obviously fits America. No other power could possibly qualify.
4. What is the significance of the beast “coming up out of the earth?”
Answer: This nation arises “out of the earth” instead of out of the water as did the other nations mentioned in Daniel and Revelation. We know from Revelation that water symbolizes areas of the world that have a large population. “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. Therefore, the earth represents the opposite. It means that this new nation would arise in an area of the world that had been virtually unpopulated before the late 1700s. It could not arise among the crowded and struggling nations of the Old World. It had to come up in a sparsely populated continent.
5. What is symbolized by its two lamb-like horns and absence of crowns?
Answer: Horns represent kings and kingdoms, or governments (Daniel 7:24 8:21). In this case, they represent America’s two governing principles: civil and religious liberty. These two governing principles have also been labeled “republicanism” (a government without a king) and “Protestantism” (a church without a pope). Other nations since ancient times had taxed people to support a state religion. Most had also oppressed religious dissidents. But America established something entirely new: Freedom to worship as you wish without government interference or control and with government protection. Absence of crowns signifies a republican form of government, rather than a monarchy. Lamb-like horns denote an innocent, young, non-oppressive, peace-loving, and spiritual nation. Jesus is referred to as a lamb 28 times in Revelation. So this new government was trying to uphold His principles. No other power on earth could possibly fit the characteristics and time slot of the lamb-horned beast, except America.
Special Note: How we wish we could stop right here in Jesus’ description of America but we can’t, because He didn’t. What comes next is jolting and disquieting. America is truly a great country with its freedom of conscience, press, speech, and enterprise the protection it provides its golden opportunities its sense of fair play its sympathy for the underdog and its strong Christian orientation. It is not perfect, but even still a host of people from other countries hasten to become American citizens every year. If America’s doors were opened wide, a vast portion of the people of the world would move to the United States at once to “heaven on earth” as they perceive it. Sadly, this richly blessed country will change drastically in the days just ahead, precipitating unparalleled heartache and woe for God’s people. We report it with reticence and deep concern.
6. What does it mean when the prophecy in Revelation 13:11 says America will speak “as a dragon”?
Answer: As we learned in Study Guide 20, the dragon is Satan, who works through various governments of the earth to establish his evil kingdom and crush God’s church by persecuting and destroying His people. Satan’s aim always has been to usurp God’s power and throne and to force people to worship and obey him. (See Study Guide 2 for details.) So “speaking as a dragon” means that the United States (under the influence of Satan) will, in the end time, force people to worship contrary to conscience or be punished.
7. What specifically will America do that will cause it to speak as a dragon?
Answer: Notice the four crucial points:
A. “Exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him.” Revelation 13:12. America will become a persecuting power that will force people to go against their conscience, as did papal Rome which is portrayed in the first half of Revelation chapter 13.
B. “Causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Revelation 13:12. The United States will lead the nations of the world in forcing worship of, and allegiance to, the papal Antichrist. The issue is always worship. Who will you worship and obey? Will it be Christ your Creator and Redeemer, or Antichrist? Every soul on earth will finally worship one or the other. The entire approach will appear to be deeply spiritual. Incredible miracles will be wrought (Revelation 13:14, 15) which will deceive billions (Revelation 13:3). Those who refuse to join this movement will be considered godless radicals. Jesus labels Protestant America of the end time a “false prophet” (Revelation 19:20 20:10), because it will appear spiritual and trustworthy but instead will be satanic in its conduct.
All this may seem impossible, but Jesus’ words are always totally reliable and true (Titus 1:2). He foretold the rise and fall of the four world empires and the Antichrist (Daniel chapters 2 and 7) at a time when such predictions seemed outlandish and incredible. But all came to pass precisely as predicted. His warning to us today regarding prophecy is, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” John 14:29.
C. “Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” Revelation 13:14. The United States will make an image to the beast by legislating religious practice. It will pass laws requiring worship and force people to either obey them or face death. This action is a copy or image of the church-state combination that the papacy utilized at the height of her power during the Middle Ages, when millions were slain for their faith. America will combine civil government and apostate Protestantism in a “marriage” that will support the papacy. It will then influence all the nations of the world to follow her example. Thus, the papacy will gain worldwide support.
D. “And cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Revelation 13:15. The United States, as head of this international movement, will next influence the nations of the world to impose a universal death sentence upon all who refuse to worship the beast or his image. Another name for this worldwide coalition is “Babylon the Great.” (Study Guide 22 will provide more information.) This worldwide alliance will, in the name of Christ, substitute the policeman’s power for the Holy Spirit’s persuasion and will force worship.
“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:15-17.
Answer: The final points of contention will be worshiping and obeying the beast and receiving his mark–Sunday as a holy day–versus worshiping and obeying Christ and receiving His mark–His holy seventh-day Sabbath. (For details, see Study Guide 20.) When the issues become clear and people are forced either to worship on Sunday and break the Sabbath or be killed, those who then choose Sunday rather than Sabbath will be, in essence, worshiping the beast. They will have chosen to obey the word of a creature, a man, instead of the word of their Creator, Jesus Christ. Here is the papacy’s own statement: “The church changed Sabbath to Sunday and all the world bows down and worships upon that day in silent obedience to the mandates of the Catholic Church.” Hartford Weekly Call, February 22, 1884.
9. Could a government really control buying and selling?
Answer: During World War II, buying was controlled for some items (such as sugar, tires, and auto fuel) by requiring ration stamps. Without stamps, money was worthless. In this highly computerized age, a system based on your Social Security number could easily be set up. Unless you agreed to cooperate with the worldwide coalition, your number, when punched in before a purchase, could show you disqualified. We do not know precisely how all this will come about. But we can be positive it will happen because in Revelation 13:16, 17, God says it will.
Two Emerging Powers
Revelation chapter 13 is clear. Two superpowers will emerge in the end time: the United States of America and the papacy. The United States of America will support the papacy by leading a drive to force the people of the world to worship the beast (papacy) and receive his mark or else face death. The next two questions will evaluate the strengths of these two superpowers.
10. How strong and influential is the papacy today?
Answer: She is by far the strongest religio-political power in the world. Virtually every leading country of the world has an official ambassador or state representative at the Vatican. Notice the following facts:
A. The papacy is so influential and powerful that nearly every major country consults her before making major policy moves. Her “large diplomatic corps maintains relations with more than 100 nations.” U.S. News and World Report, October 30, 1978, p. 24.
B. She takes the credit for the demise of communism, saying that Mary, Jesus’ mother, guided the pope’s strategy that brought down communism. “Handmaid or Feminist,” Time, December 30, 1991, pp. 64, 65.
C. The aim of the pope is to unify the Christian world under the leadership of the papacy by the end of this century. He has made more than 40 world trips to lay the ground work for this goal. Gene H. Hogberg, The Plain Truth, November/December 1989, pp. 24, 25.
D. The worldwide response has been almost overwhelming. During the Iraqi crisis, the pope and America’s president sometimes discussed world affairs weekly by phone. U.S. News and World Report, August 13, 1990, p. 18.
E. On June 7, 1982, former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II met for 50 minutes at the Vatican and structured a plan to eliminate communism. The United States shipped tons of modern communication equipment to Poland (the starting place) to help spread necessary information to the masses. “The Holy Alliance,” Time, February 1992, pp. 28, 31, 35.
F. Gorbachev said, “Everything which took place in Eastern Europe in recent years would have been impossible without the Pope’s efforts and the enormous role, including the political role, which he played in the world arena.” Mikhail Gorbachev, Toronto Star, March 9, 1992.
The papacy, which formerly referred to Protestants as “heretics,” is now calling them “separated brethren” and graciously suggesting that all work and pray together for peace and God’s presence. Millions of Protestants are deeply impressed. In fact, several Protestant denominations have had official dialog with the papacy to try to settle the differences that caused the Reformation.
11. How strong and influential is the United States today?
Answer: The United States is regarded as the world’s number one military power and center of influence. Note the following:
A. “[America is] the planet’s sole remaining superpower.” “The U.N. Obsession,” Time, May 9, 1994, p. 86.
B. “There is no prospect in the immediate future of any power to rival the United States.” Charles Krauthammer, “The Lonely Superpower”, The New Republic, July 29, 1992, p. 23.
C. Yassir Arafat labeled America “the new Rome” because, as old Rome was the undisputed superpower of its age, America is now number one. Newsweek, August 12, 1991, p. 33.
D. “America’s power will now determine all major global events.” Jim Hoagland, “Of Heroes …”, The Washington Post, August 21, 1991, p. A-23.
When a Marxist group overthrew the government of Ethiopia, America was asked to negotiate. When Boris Yeltsin took office as president of the newly independent Russia, he visited America first. Former U.S.S.R. President Mikhail Gorbachev turned to America in his crisis. When Kuwait was invaded, its government called on America. The U.S.-led war against Iraq rallied the support of almost the entire world. A National Public Radio correspondent called the American president the “president of the world.” We now have “a highly unusual world structure with a single power, the United States, at the apex of the international system.” Krauthammer, The New Republic, p. 23.
12. It is clear that the influence and power of both the United States and the papacy are escalating with rapidity. What other factors could possibly help set the stage for a worldwide law to execute those who refuse to violate conscience?
Answer: We cannot name them with certainty, but a few looming possibilities are as follows:
A. The activity of terrorists.
B. Riots and escalating crime and evil.
C. Drug wars.
D. A major economic crash.
E. AIDS and other epidemics.
F. Nuclear threats from radical nations.
G. Political corruption.
H. Gross miscarriage of justice by the courts.
I. Welfare abuse.
J. Increasing taxes.
K. Pornography and sickening immorality.
L. Appalling global disasters.
M. Radical “special interest” groups.
N. The abortion crisis.
A backlash against corruption, lawlessness, immorality, permissiveness, injustice, poverty, weak and ineffective political leaders, and many similar woes could easily precipitate a demand for strong, specific laws to be rigidly enforced.
13. As world conditions worsen, what will Satan do to deceive the masses?
“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” Revelation 13:13, 14.
Answer: America will experience a counterfeit, worldwide revival and will insist that religious laws be passed to force every person to participate. (This is represented by “an image to the beast” in Revelation 13:14.) People will be forced to disregard God’s holy, seventh-day Sabbath and worship instead on the beast’s “holy” day–Sunday. Some will also comply simply for social or economic reasons. World conditions will become so intolerable that a worldwide “back to God and prayer” movement, with all joining in worship and prayer on Sunday, will seem to be the only solution. Satan will deceive the world into believing that they must compromise Bible truth and keep Sunday holy. But in reality, obedience to and worship of the beast will shut people out of God’s kingdom. No wonder Jesus makes such an issue in Revelation over worshiping the beast and receiving his mark!
14. While interest in the counterfeit revival heightens, what will be happening to the genuine worldwide revival sponsored by God’s end-time people?
Answer: The Bible says the entire world will be “lightened” with its glory (Revelation 18:1). Every person on earth will be reached (Mark 16:15) with God’s end-time, three-point message of Revelation 14:6-14. God’s last-day church will grow with amazing speed as millions join God’s people and accept His offer of salvation by free grace and faith in Jesus, which transforms them into His obedient servants. Many people and leaders from all countries of the world will refuse to worship the beast and embrace his false teachings. Instead, they will worship and obey Jesus only. They will then receive His holy Sabbath sign, or mark, in their foreheads (Revelation 7:2, 3), thus sealing them for eternity.
Spiraling Growth Infuriates Counterfeit Movement
This spiraling growth among God’s people will infuriate the counterfeit movement. Its leaders will become fully convinced that those who refuse to cooperate with the worldwide counterfeit revival are the cause of all the world’s woes (Daniel 11:44). They will disqualify them from buying and selling (Revelation 13:16, 17), but God will feed His people (Isaiah 33:16) and protect them (Psalms 34:7).
15. In desperation, the U.S.-led coalition will next decide to impose the death sentence on its enemies (Revelation 13:15). What does Revelation 13:13, 14 say its leaders will do to convince people that God is with them?
Answer: They will work miracles so convincing that everyone except God’s faithful end-time people will be persuaded (Matthew 24:24). Utilizing the spirits (or fallen angels) of Satan (Revelation 16:13, 14), they will impersonate dead loved ones of the people through sorcery (Revelation 18:23) and probably even pose as Bible prophets and apostles. These lying (John 8:44), demonic spirits will doubtless claim that God has sent them to urge all to cooperate.
Satan Appears as Christ His Angels Pose as Christian Ministers
Satan’s angels will also appear as godly clergymen, and Satan will appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). As his crowning miracle, Satan will claim to be Jesus (Matthew 24:23, 24). Satan, while impersonating Christ, could easily claim that he changed Sabbath to Sunday and urge his followers to proceed with their worldwide revival and uphold his “holy” day, Sunday.
Billions Are Deceived
Billions, believing that Satan is Jesus, will bow at his feet and join the counterfeit movement. “The whole world went after the beast in wondering admiration.” Revelation 13:3, NEB.* The deception will be overwhelmingly effective. But God’s end-time people will not be deceived, because they test everything by the Bible (Isaiah 8:19, 20 2 Timothy 2:15). The Bible says God’s law cannot be changed (Matthew 5:18). It also says that when Jesus returns, every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7) and He will not touch the earth but will remain in the cloud and call His people to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
*The New English Bible, (C) 1961, 1970 by the Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.