Revelation 13 (see also Revelation 17)
As it is my purpose in this exposition of Revelation 13 to quickly show the fate of the USA, I will run through quickly the first beast described there in verses 1-10. It is certainly Heaven's intention that Bible students unpack the symbolism of lion, leopard, and bear in this first beast. This vision was given by God to Gabriel to John to us and it is meant to be understood.
The lion is the Papacy, the world's chief primate, speaking all around the globe with the mouth of the lion. The leopard, an animal native to India, Asia, and Africa, represents the Third World, the bulk of the world's population. The bear represents the communist countries. These three powers, the Papacy, the Third World, and the communist powers, represent most of the world, except for the USA. The second beast described in Revelation 13 is the United States of America.
Thus Revelation 13 is giving us a picture of the entire world's power structure at the end of time.
It is to the second beast that we turn our attention.
Whereas the first beast was represented as coming up "out of the sea" (Rev 13:1), the second beast is represented as "coming up out of the earth." (Rev. 13:11) Details like this are not added in prophetic passages just to fill up space like an auctioneer's chatter.
Since "waters" can represent "peoples" according to Rev. 17:15, then "earth" could represent "absence of people." The lion-leopard-bear nations of modern times have their origins in populated regions. But America arose quickly in an area that was largely unpopulated. The scattered nomadic Indian tribes, with their respect for the natural order, kept this land in a near-virgin condition. Thus America fits the description of the second beast as "coming up out of the earth." The next part of the description of the second beast is that "he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon." (Rev. 13:11) Now for anyone not a student of Bible prophecy, who does not take God's word seriously, this would seem like a silly, at best poetic meandering of a deluded prophet. But the eyes of faith can see a very laconic, powerful definition of the United States. "Lamb" is a symbol of Christ. John the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Plainly the lamb is a symbol of Christ and thus this second beast being "like a lamb" would be a country professing Christianity.
Christians should try to be like their Savior. The Savior is represented as a Lamb. (See, for instance, John 1:29) The description "like a lamb" would fit few countries in the history of this world. The U.S. has been the strongest professing Christian country in history. We talk about "manifest destiny" here, the strong Christianity of the Founders, the influence of Christianity on our laws and values, and the fact that from here more missionaries have and are being sent out than from any other nation. Plainly the U.S. has been a "Christian country." But the prophecy also says that this nation would "speak as a dragon." The dragon is a scriptural symbol of Satan. (See Rev. 12:9) A nation "speaks" through its actions. The lamblike horns and dragon voice of this symbolic beast point to a striking contradiction between its professions and practice. In contrast to America's record of helping the oppressed is an often shameful record of abuse, for example the enslavement of blacks and hypocritical persecution and treaty-breaking with the native Indians. But the prophecy is meant especially for our time. (A look at the history of religious liberty in previous American centuries is a good background for this study.)
The current antiChristian practices of the present administration are perhaps the beginning of an increasingly satanic policy mindset. If the religious right should gain power in reaction to the current leftist drift of the country's highest office, it will likely follow the pattern of all other fundamentalist regimes in history, whether Cromwellian, American Puritan, Catholic, or Islamic--it will develop a spirit of intolerance and persecution. This would be directly contrary to the principles of American government, the genius of its free institutions and the grand protections of the US Constitution. To show the fate of America--the purpose of this short article--a verse by verse commentary on the last half of Revelation 13 follows:
The US will be equal in power to the Papal-Third World-Communist conglomerate. The US will somehow be involved in an effort to "worship" the Papal beast, whose deadly wound--whether it be the shooting of John Paul II or the loss of power and prestige at the tim of the French Revolution--is now plainly healed, with the Pope the world's leading moral figure by the admission of American, Communist and Third World leaders.
The US dropped fire out of the sky on Hiroshima and Nagasaki almost 50 years ago, and a new era of war and diplomacy was begun. The "fire" power of atomic weaponry was exhibited "in the sight of men" all around the earth. Laser weapons--not yet demonstrated but sure to be used soon against Syria, Iraq, Iran, North Korea or other terrorist centers--will also do "great wonders."
It is a deception to think that because someone has more power than you--in this case the US with its atomic arsenal--that you should follow them. Yet this verse reveals to us that America will lead the way in erecting a governmental structure that will practically--in its ultimate effect--bring homage to the Papacy, the beast wounded and healed. Perhaps we are seeing the first steps of America's departure from its long history as a Protestant power, formed to be free of the ecclesiastical evils characterizing the Papacy's intrusions into European history, in the recent union between the religious right and leading Catholics. Prophecy predicts it, here, in verse 14.
The US will have the power to help the "image of the beast"--this governmental apparatus which in some as yet unidentified way gives homage to the Papacy--to have what political scientists call 'legitimacy"--it will "speak" and be followed, respected and obeyed, and it will provide that all who do not honor it will be killed, the ultimate coercion, the ultimate tool of Satan--"Do things my way or die." I would suggest that the reason that the US is here pictured as urging people to worship a government other than itself--probably the UN or a body that might replace the UN--is because it has at this point, after its "fire" power has been displayed as related in the last verse, been economically humbled as related in my exposition of Daniel 8. While the US will still be existing as a nation at this point, it will be operating on a momentum, as every great power that eventually decayed away, that will gradually reveal its vacuous power. In such a situation submission to a world government would be much more psychologically likely than at the present when we are still "number one."
Here the "he", still the U.S., will be responsible for bringing in the government that will demand a mark to be placed on all inhabitants of planet earth. The Greek word from which our English word "mark" is derived means "sharpened to a point." This is interesting since the latest technology designed to help governments monitor their citizens is a lithium-based computer chip which can be injected into humans with a hypodermic needle. The chip can store volumes of information and can be programmed, unlike the former laser-tatoo technology.
Here is a solemn warning for any serious Bible student. The day will come when remaining true to God will mean going underground from the superstructure's commercial system. Buying and selling in the economic system of the coming one-world government will be treason to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Bible says that whoever takes the mark will be separated from God. Read it in Revelation 14:9-10:
With a warning like this we do well to try to become intelligent in regards to the beast and his mark. Here is the last verse of Revelation 13: