And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns…
The twelfth chapter, with which the thirteenth is to be connected, closes with an assertion of the wrath of "the dragon" towards "the woman." The Church of God is ever the object of Satanic wrath. In these two chapters the enmity that the Church has to contend with is represented by three beasts. Much ingenuity has been expended already on the exposition of these dark words, and much more will be until in the light of history we see clearly what, in the words of prophecy, is but imperfectly seen. The first beast was distinctly declared to be "the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world." The beast now spoken of, the second, receives "his power, and his throne, and great authority" from the dragon. It is a power animated by the one spirit of evil - the adversary, the devil. It is the many powers so animated. It is an active brute force, and may specially refer to the antichristian pagan power (certainly to this as one of many). It arises from "the sea," the invariable symbol of the many peoples of earth - the restless world, the agitated state of human affairs. We cannot limit the application to any one power, or any seven, or any ten. We are dealing with symbol, not realism.
I. HEREIN WE SEE THE BELIEVING CHURCH OPPOSED AND OPPRESSED BY GREAT EXTERNAL POWERS. We must not interpret these of mere kings of the earth, but of those many forms of worldly power which dominate over the life of man. Special prominence is given in this figure to the speaking of blasphemies against God, his Name, his tabernacle, and them that dwell therein. The utmost blasphemy of the Divine Name is in repudiating and opposing it. Every name by which the creature assumes the place of God is a name of blasphemy... Alas! how many such are around the humble believer! And he who stands in opposition to Christ and his faithful ones, usurping power over them by savage, beast-like persecution, surely he is branded with the name "blasphemy."
II. THE EXTENT OF THE POWERFUL WORKING OF THESE EVILS is
(1) very great: "over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation;" but
(2) it is limited in time: "forty and two months." It is not "forever."
III. SAFETY IS ASSURED TO HIM ONLY WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE OF THE LAMB. The Lord defends his own even here. "What shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Thus is the Church to gather comfort in all times of exposure, temptation, persecution, or suffering from mighty worldly powers. Here is - here must be - the call for "the patience and the faith of the saints." - R. G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.