A beast rise up out of the sea.
The domain of antichrist
I. It has a manifold development. In the commerce of the world, in the government of the world, in the campaigns of the world, in the literature of the world, in the religions of the world, antichrist appears in aspects as hideous, and in a spirit as savage and blasphemous as the monsters depicted in this vision.
II. It has one master-spirit.
1. He is endowed with tremendous power.
2. His grand pursuit is moral mischief. He promotes--
(3) Destruction. He has no fight with fiends, but with saints.
3. His sphere is co-extensive with the world. Wherever falsehood, dishonesty, impurity, revenge are, there he is. And where are they not?
4. However great his influence, he is under a restraining law.
5. His mission will ultimately prove self-ruinous. In every act the devil performs, he is forming a link in that adamantine chain that shall bind him, not merely for a thousand years, but for ever. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
The two wild beasts; or, the world and its wisdom
I. The antichristian world answers to the first of the wild beasts of which we here read. See the resemblance. Rome and Nero’s were not more exact.
1. It has assumed successive forms. “Seven heads” we read of, and they denote the multiplication and succession of hostile powers arrayed against the Church of God.
2. And it has ever had immense strength. “Ten horns,” and these encircled with diadems, telling how the world spirit has ever made use of the princes and potentates of earth to work his will.
3. And it has ever raged against the Church as a wild beast. Under all its forms it has hated the people of God. From Pharaoh even to the last of the persecutors it has been the Same.
4. And its deadly wounds heal (Revelation 13:3). If its dominion be overthrown in a given locality, or in your heart, do we not know how the evil spirit, who has left for a while, comes back?
5. It is popular. “All the world wondered after,” and “worshipped.”
6. And it blasphemes still, It claims Divine power.
7. And it wages war and wins (Revelation 13:7). Let families, Churches, congregations, tell how this war has been waged in their midst, and how some, often many, of their most hopeful members have fallen.
8. And none but those who are really Christ’s withstand (Revelation 13:6). Yes, we are sent forth as sheep amid wolves.
II. The wisdom of this world answers to the second “beast.” St. James tells us that “this wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” This monster (verse 11) is seen to ascend from “the earth,” as St. James tells. In Revelation 19:20 it is called the “false prophet.”
1. It is said to have “deceived.” It deceives--
(1) By its innocent appearance, its lamb-like look. True, it had ten horns, but they meant nothing, so small, so slight, so incapable of injury. So this wisdom. No one would ever suspect it of being a fierce beast. It is known as modern thought, science, philosophy, liberal culture--lamb-like words whom none would suspect to harbour ill.
(2) By its words, so subtle and serpentine. “He spake as a dragon,” that is, as a serpent, as did the “old serpent.” So this wisdom of the world is plausible, popular, prevalent. But it further deceives--
(3) By its “lying wonders” (Revelation 19:14). The juggleries and tricks of heathenism, its magic and sorcery, explain St. John’s words. Have not most eminent names, most wonderful discoveries, most famous reputations, been amongst the rewards it has given?
2. Its falsity may be detected. See, then--
(1) It is an alliance with the God-defying world (cf. verses 12-15). Mere brute force could not get on without the tricks and frauds which this lamb-like, lying thing concocts and displays. The first beast would be powerless without the cunning of the second. And here is a test for us. Do we find that any set of opinions, any new beliefs and maxims we may have adopted, are such as the godless and antichristian world choose and cherish as of great advantage to them? Can they claim them as on their side? If so, that is a very suspicious fact.
(2) It transforms you into the world’s likeness (see verse 16). On the forehead or on the right hand the mark of this beast was to be. (S. Conway, B. A.)
His deadly wound was healed.--
His deadly wound was healed
Who would have suspected this inference from these premises? But is not this the lively emblem of my natural corruption? Sometimes I conceive that, by God’s grace, I have conquered and killed, subdued and slain, maimed and mortified the deeds of the flesh: never more shall I be molested or buffeted with such a bosom sin: when, alas! by the next return the news is, it is revived and recovered. Thus tenches, though grievously gashed, presently plaster themselves whole by that slimy and unctuous humour they have in them; and thus the inherent balsam of badness quickly cures my corruption--not a scar to be seen. I perceive I shall never finally kill it, till first I be dead myself. (Thomas Fuller, D. D.)
All the world wondered after the beast.--
Admiration of the beast
Can you not hear the words coming across all these centuries from the lips of two Roman youths, talking with each other, as they lounge together in the Forum? They had noble thoughts once; they had heard of the deeds of their fathers; they had dreamed that there might be some possible good for their age. But they had become sottish, licentious, gamblers. And one more gigantically sottish, licentious, gambling than themselves has become their ideal of what is desirable and possible. Who is like to him? Who can make war with him? These two youths fairly represent the age on which they have fallen. There is no originality in them. They think what every one else thinks., Their private opinion is the public opinion of the city and of the world. (F. D. Maurice, M. A.)