We are anticipating the return of our King – the Lord Jesus Christ. The King promised that He is coming again (Jn. 14:1-3). Jesus connected His return directly to the appearance of one called the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Matt. 24:15). We shot back to the book of Daniel tracing the identity and appearance of this abomination. We began with God’s prediction that five nations will rule over the earth (Dan. 2:39). Babylon, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and a fifth empire yet to come – all named hundreds of years in advance (Isa. 46:9-10).
After Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, we jump to the dream of Belshazzer (Dan. 7:2-3) The dream is much the same with added details. The king saw four great beasts coming out of the sea (of nations): a lion (again Babylon), a lopsided bear (Medo-Persia), a leopard (Greece), and a dreadful beast with no name. This beast is Rome. The beast with no name is the Roman empire, spreading into the worship of paganism and the spread of the Muslims (the worship of Allah). That possibility ought to get the reader’s attention. Rome, with the strength of iron, was different from all the other nations. How? Its difference was not its strength, though its army crushed any nation that stood in its way. It was different in that for the first time in recorded history it had a republican government (SPQR), the people and senate of Rome. The Caesar’s were their presidents and Rome practiced imperialism.
When Babylon, the Medes and Persians, and the Greeks conquered nations, they would allow the conquered people to rule themselves. Sometimes, they would mix in some of their own people with those conquered in order to cause conflict. The people would fight amongst themselves and keep the nations from plotting rebellions. All the conquering nations wanted was tribute – taxes, gold, riches. When Rome conquered nations, it put its own rulers in charge. It literally took over militarily, politically, and economically. This is imperialism.
Rome had its foot on the neck of Israel when Jesus came. Recall one Herod the Great? Jesus provided the great hope that at last the people would be free from this Roman government. Revelation 13 speaks of a beast coming out of the sea (of nations) like a leopard, a bear, and a lion (sound familiar?). I ask the reader to carefully read through this chapter. The dragon (Satan) gives power, a throne, and great authority to the beast (Rev. 13:1-2). The beast is killed and is miraculously raised from the dead, or so it will appear (Rev. 13:3-4). God gives this beast authority to rule for forty-two months or three and a half years. He speaks great things and blasphemes the God of heaven (Rev. 13:5-6). This one will make war with the saints and all will worship him whose names are not written in the book of life (Rev. 13:7-8). This is terrifying!
It is at this point that God says, “If anyone has an ear let him hear” (Rev. 13:9-10). This means that not everyone believes this. Another beast comes out of the earth. This second beast is the first beast’s press agent. He has horns like a lamb. He will give the appearance of being gentle, loving, and kind, but he will speak like a dragon (Rev. 13: 11). He convinces the world to worship the first beast (Rev. 13:12). This false prophet will at first draw world-wide attention to himself by performing amazing signs, even calling down fire from heaven (Rev. 13:13). His masterpiece will be to appear to raise the beast from the dead (Rev. 13:12). Having secured a great following, he commands that the world worship the beast (Rev. 13:13-17). This will be done in the Holy Place of a rebuilt Jewish temple.
Now we are jettisoned back to recall the words of Jesus. When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy Place. Amazing! His number is the famous 666 (Rev. 13:18). Remember his claims to deity and his many attempts to convince the world that He is the Messiah. The Jews have a coded numbering system. Three is the number of perfection, and six is the number of a man. Though this beast claims to be god, he is a man, he is a man, he is a man – not only that, but he is perfectly human – he is not God. More on this later. And, oh by the way, John tells us not to worship him (the beast) and do not take his number in your forehead or on your hand (Rev. 14:9). Stay safe and stay tuned.