Satan wants what God has. This has been his mode from the beginning. Revelation chapter 13 tells of a time where Satan takes worship to himself. Much of history has been about Satan deflecting credit away from God, about deceiving people, wrecking lives, but being to a certain extent satisfied with the demise of God’s creatures, his creation.
Revelation 12 concluded with Satan’s fury. He was in a twitch. The male child got away and the woman escaped. Those were protected and he could not have his way with them. It was said that he was enraged and went off to make war against those who obey God’s commandments and grasp on to the testimony of Jesus. He knew his time was short and proceeded to his endgame.
Have you ever come to a meal and where some of the food you love and some you hate? It seems this is more a problem children face. Sometimes a child will just gobble up the food they love and try to outlast their parents to the point of skipping the food they hate. Other times they will choke down those “gross” morsels and save the best for last.
I think Satan is a best for last entity. His “best” is to be worshiped as God is worshiped. Probably only once could he concoct that event. That once would come at the end of time. Here in Revelation 13 I think we see this conclusion of conclusions.
Verses 1-4 – Here’ is Satan’s technique 1
1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4–ESV)
Onto this end-times scene arrives a strange, sentient being. Could it be truly a terrifying, oddly shaped beast?2 Could it be a geopolitical entity? Through the ages since John the Apostle recorded what we know as Revelation 13 many have tried to answer that question. A variety of answers have been postulated, some more successfully and others less so.
Some answer must be correct, but as Solomon said it is the glory of God to conceal a matter. Concealed it remains, but we still were given this revelation. There is a purpose to it. While we cannot see with absolute clarity through the murkiness of those uncertainties we can sidestep or flank them. By going around the difficulties we can delve more usefully into what can be considered Satan’s motivations.
Counterfeit is an adjective that can easily be applied. Before we unpack some of Revelation 13’s counterfeits think back to Moses and the Pharaoh. So many times Moses would do a miracle and the sorcerers under Pharaoh’s dominion would copy the miracle. That only went so far, but a collision between the real deity of Israel and the pseudo-deities of Egypt was a common flash point in those days.
It will again be a flash point as the world enters its dwindles. Satan does not bring new things to the table, but just copies of what God the Father and Jesus his son have put into play.
Counterfeit #1 – Unusual arrival
For ages past men have taken to the oceans for travel and trade, to escape or make a name for themselves. Beneath the surface a great variety of things live and have lived. Authors and movie makers have played upon the mysterious deep bringing forth fierce creatures to battle mankind. Sometimes these things are legitimate and other times far from it.
When Satan sets out to conclude his terrible tour with humanity he, too, turns to the inscrutable deep delivering from there something far more ominous than a bunny from a magician’s hat. For the moment don’t let your mind devolve to the shape or constitution of it, but let your mind first rest upon this arrival.
The arrival was unexpected and yet poignant. The whole world saw it as it was being brought forth and developed.
Turn your mind to the manger all those years ago. Jesus arrived as a baby in a manger the arrival of whom was as mysterious as could be. Aside the from virgin birth Jesus arrived in a manner typical for humanity born to parents tasked with his care. Other’s heralded Jesus given the seemingly innocuous and rather helpless manner in which he seemed to come.
Jesus came quietly offering himself to mankind.
In Revelation 13 the terrifying entity shows up and by its own traits announces itself. One arrival is quiet and out of the way while the other boisterously splashes onto the global scene.
Jesus’ brothers told him to go to Jerusalem, announce himself and make a splash, but he would have none of that. His arrival and his manner were by God’s direction and in his timing.
Counterfeit #2 – Dragon gives power
Who gave the power to Jesus? God the Father did. Along comes this world impacting, scary oddness described as a beast. The beast does not come with his own intrinsic power. It comes from outside of himself. The entity known as the Dragon, who really wants all of the power and honor ascribed to himself, makes it evident that the power of this 7 headed beast came from him. Not only was the power from him, but also was the throne and the authority.
Check out these verses:
“…he [God] raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.22 And he put all things under his feet…”3 (Ephesians 2: 20-22–ESV) 4
“27 For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.'” (1 Corinthians 15:27–ESV)
So there is the shape of things as go between God and Jesus which the Dragon tries to lift and put into his own shape.