Ascent of the Beast

The subject of the “Antichrist” raises many questions. Who is he? When will he appear? How will we recognize him? What is his “mark”? In popular preaching, he is a global political leader who uses military might to subjugate other nations and attack Israel. But if Satan is truly clever and cunning, why would he do the very things that we expect?

Over the centuries, the church has heard a multitude of predictions and theories about the “Antichrist.” He has been identified with the Roman emperor, the Pope, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and numerous other political figures. And in many cases, excellent arguments were made to support the proposition. Nonetheless, not one of these candidates ever became the world-dominating “Beast from the Sea.”

Complicating the matter are the several terms used for this figure in the New Testament. They include the ‘Antichrist’, the ‘Man of Lawlessness’, and the ‘Beast’. And do they all refer to the same individual or thing?

The term “Antichrist” only appears in two of John’s letters, and nowhere in the book of Revelation. Is it even the correct label for this coming global leader, biblically speaking? Are we certain John has the same figure in mind that Revelation labels the “Beast from the sea” or Paul calls the “Lawless one”?


The language used by the New Testament to portray this figure is drawn from the Hebrew Bible, especially the book of Daniel with its vision of the “little horn that was speaking great things.”

But Paul and John do not simply quote passages from the Old Testament. They interpret and reapply them in the light of what God has done in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and very often IN UNEXPECTED WAYS.

In Revelation, for example, the promise that the Messiah will “rule the nations” with his “iron rod” is modified so that now he “shepherds” the kings and nations of the earth. The call for the ancient nation of Israel to become a “kingdom of priests” is reapplied to the men from “every nation” who are “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb” – (Exodus 19:5, Revelation 1:4-6, 5:6-12, 12:5).

The task of identifying the “Beast” is complicated, and if there is any hope of acquiring the correct understanding, we must seek it in Scripture. We will not gain insight into him or it from news headlines or dime novels.

This subject becomes more relevant with each passing day. If we fail to heed what Jesus and the apostles said about the matter, we may find ourselves deceived by the Antichrist, the “Man of Lawlessness,” or the “Beast” when he does appear.

Even now, according to Revelation, the “Beast is ASCENDING from the sea.” When John describes this creature’s arrival, he uses a participle in the Greek present tense, signifying an ongoing action. Thus, it is in the process of “ascending” from the Abyss/Sea.

The book of Revelation interprets the Beast’s “seven heads” as “seven mountains,” which, in turn, represent seven kingdoms. But they are successive, NOT concurrent realms. Already, by the first century, five had “fallen,” one existed, and the final or “seventh” empire is “not yet come” - (Revelation 17:8-11).

In chapter 13, John uses the characteristics of Daniel’s “four beasts ascending from the sea” to describe what for him is ONE ENTITY. In the book of Daniel, the “four beasts” represent four successive kingdoms. But John saw only one “Beast” that incorporated the animal characteristics of Daniel’s four beasts, and he lists them in reverse order from Daniel as if he was looking back over the history of world empires.


For that matter, the prophet Daniel links the World Empire of his day to the “land of Shinar,” the ancient kingdom of the Sumerians where Babylon originated, and the first attempt to unite all peoples under one government occurred - (Genesis 11:1-9, Daniel 1:2).

Thus, this is an ancient story. What the Bible pictures is not a one-time event that will occur just prior to the end of the age. The satanic conspiracy to install a global empire is a transhistorical agenda that has been underway since the beginning of civilization.

Prophecy teachers who previously identified this beastly system with the Roman Empire or the government of Nazi Germany were not entirely wrong. Past efforts to install regional and global empires are part of this centuries-long process.

So, how do we identify the Empire’s final incarnation, the “seventh kingdom”? We must first remember Christ’s repeated warning that “no one knows the day or hour of the coming of the Son of Man.” As he told his disciples - “It is NOT for you to know times and seasons, which the Father has left in his own authority.”

But we are not completely in the dark. Whether Jesus, Paul, or John has the same figure in view, there are certain characteristics common to their several descriptions.


To begin with, all three men link this figure to deception and apostasy. Jesus warns of coming “deceivers” who will propagate false information about the “end,” thereby “troubling” many. And these deceptions will cause many to apostatize – “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.”

Likewise, Paul instructs the Thessalonians not to be “troubled” by disinformation about the “day of the Lord.” It will not come until the “apostasy” occurs and the “revealing of the man of lawlessness.”

Similarly, John identifies the false teachers that were active in his churches as “antichrists,” forerunners of the final “Antichrist” who will come in the “last days” - (Matthew 24:4-8, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, 1 John 2:18-22).

And according to Jesus, false prophets will use “great signs and wonders” to deceive “even the elect.” Likewise, the “Man of Lawlessness” will employ “great power and lying signs and wonders” to deceive many. And in the book of Revelation, the “false prophet” uses “great wonders” to cause many to “pay homage to the Beast” - (Revelation 13:11-15).

And Jesus warned further that because of the spread of “lawlessness, the love of the many will grow cold.” In Thessalonica, Paul warned not only of the future “Man of Lawlessness,” but declared that the “mystery of lawlessness” was already at work in the world even in his time.

Moreover, John attributed the rise of the “many antichrists” in his congregations to the “spirit of antichrist” that was (and is) active in the world.


When Jesus warned that the “love of many will grow cold” due to “lawlessness,” he was not speaking about humanity in general, but specifically TO HIS DISCIPLES. “False prophets” are intent on deceiving “the elect.”

Similarly, the “Man of Lawlessness” will appear in the “sanctuary of God,” a phrase Paul applies consistently in his letters to the church. Likewise, John’s concern was about the “many antichrists” that were operating in the church.

And in Revelation, the “Dragon” wages war against the “saints,” “those who have the testimony of Jesus,” and NOT against other nation-states or modern Israel.


Neither Jesus, Paul nor John states that the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist, or the Beast from the sea will be a global political leader who wages military campaigns against other nation-states. Whether he will do so is not their concern. The focus is on how future events will affect the church.

Consistently, the picture in the New Testament is of a figure who deceives and CAUSES BELIEVERS TO APOSTATIZE. In Revelation, for example, the Beast “wages war” against the church, the “saints,” the men “who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.”

But there are differences. For example, neither John in his letters nor Paul in his assigns any geographic location or limitations to this figure, other than to state that he is in the “world.” But in his initial warnings to his disciples, Jesus focused on what they would see in Judea and Jerusalem.

Yet Revelation makes clear that Satan’s effort to destroy the “saints” is global. Thus, for example, he will gather the nations “from the corners of the earth,” and they will “ascend over the breadth of the earth” to attack the “camp of the saints.” And the “mark” and “number” of the “Beast” are mentioned only in Revelation.


In addition to the “mark of the Beast,” one element that is unique to Revelation is the use of economic pressure against those who refuse to “pay homage” to the “Beast” - “No one could buy or sell except those who had the mark of the Beast.”

What this economic war will look like is hinted at in the seven letters to the “churches of Asia,” especially the one to Smyrna. That congregation refused to compromise with the surrounding society, causing it to suffer “tribulation and poverty.”

So, where does all this leave us? First, because the rise of the “Beast” is a transhistorical process and an ever-present danger, we must always be on guard. Even more so because we do not know how close we are to the end. The threat is real and constant.

Second, we must always be on guard for deceptions that originate within the church, for THAT is where the “Antichrist” and the “Man of Lawlessness” will appear.

Third, since the agents of Satan can employ “signs and wonders” to accomplish their nefarious purposes, the manifestation of supernatural miracles is NO guarantee that any individual, church, or ministry is from God.

Fourth, however small it may begin, the Antichrist program will become global in scope, especially as it targets Christians wherever they are found.

And we must remember that the “whole world order is lying” in the hands of Satan, the “god of this world” who has “blinded the minds of unbelievers” so they may not heed the gospel message. Outside of the true apostolic faith, humanity is already blind and deceived.

But, ultimately, the “Dragon” is not sending his “Beast” to deceive an already deceived world, but to misdirect, mislead, and cause the followers of Jesus to abandon the “faith of Jesus Christ.” His target is the church. Only by destroying it does he have any hope of defeating the “Lamb.”


Second Trumpet

Redemption of the Nations