It is impossible to read Revelation 13 intelligibly without a Biblical knowledge of the book of Daniel. Both books are apocalyptic in style and there are many parallel passages in the two books. Here, we must read John’s account of two beasts (one from the sea and one from the earth) alongside Daniel 7, which describes four beasts. Both descriptions use allegorical language. Daniel’s first beast looks like a lion with the wings of an eagle; his second beast like a bear; the third like a leopard and the fourth is terrifying, frightening and very powerful with iron teeth. (Dan 7:2-7) John’s first beast has seven heads and ten horns and looks like a leopard with the feet of a bear and a mouth like a lion. (Rev 13:1-2) The beast from the earth has two horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. (Rev 13:11) Both these passages speak of evil rule. The seven heads and ten horns indicate that the beast will be a coalition of nations that rises to power to subdue the earth under Satan’s control. Later references to “the beast” in Revelation picture an individual—the man who is the political leader and head of the beastly empire, an Antichrist or man of lawlessness (2 Thess 2:3-4).
Satan is described as being the prince of this world (John 16:11) It is worth remembering that he is a liar, a thief and one who destroys. He is not at all creative; only God can create – all Satan can do is mimic God or pervert what God has made. Despite the wonders that the beasts seem able to do, we should remember that their aims are to control, subjugate and receive worship that is due only to God and therefore we should not be deceived. The world has nothing to offer us which has eternal value. Jesus taught His disciples not to rejoice that demons submitted to them in His name but to rejoice that their names were written in the book of life. Only those people will be able to resist the power of the beasts. (Luke 10:20, Rev 13:8)