THE BEAST THAT WAS AND IS NOT AND YET IS
And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was and is not and yet is.
There is a mysterious beast that seems to disappear and reappear, fading in and out of time and history. Many people today are familiar with “the beast” as described in the book of Revelation. An unnatural creature with seven heads and ten horns which represents a frightening conglomeration of world powers, this beast is predicted to rise in the last days to a global domination that is wholly given over to dark forces. As all look ahead for the beast to manifest at the end of this age, should we not also take a careful look back for the beast that was and search the present for the beast that is not and yet is?
The more we learn from the beast that was, the more prepared we will be to recognize the coming beast. We mortals tend to see what’s right in front of us and make most of our judgments and decisions based on a very small reference point, “the now.” God Almighty, however, perceives past, present and future simultaneously. He comprehends everything that was, is and shall be, in all that He does. John is given a glimpse into this eternal mindset of God that spans the ages through the vision in Revelation chapter 12.
ENTER THE DRAGON
John writes of seeing two wonders in heaven; first, a woman clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet, and twelve stars for her crown. The woman is travailing in childbirth. She is Israel, ready to bring forth the Christ child. This child is the long-awaited seed whose coming was announced by God in the garden of Eden. The same garden where God cursed the serpent for his deception of the woman Eve, and then promised a coming seed(child) who would bruise the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15).
The next wonder John saw was the horrible great red dragon, who is standing before the woman with his mouth open, viciously ready to devour her child as soon as He is born.
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
Revelation 12: 3-4
The chronological panorama and scope of this vision is just astounding! John was privileged to see the hidden past, revealing God’s perspective on our ancient enemy, the dragon (I Cor 2:10). The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel were also given revelations of the deep past of the this same enemy (Isa. 14 and Ezek. 29), as well as the future punishment God has set for him. Once a cherub perfect in beauty, full of all wisdom, adorned in precious stones, walking in the midst of the stones of fire, emitting the high praises of God through his very being; now, a fallen creature depicted as the hideous great red dragon. This enemy has spanned the heights and depths of God Almighty’s creation: created in the high heights of beauty and purity only to be thrown to the lowest depths of corruption through his own pride and rebellion. Looking upon his beauty, he lost sight of God - just as we are tempted to do if we overly admire the gifts which God has placed in us. The dragon deceived one third of the heavenly angels and drew them into his fall. If he deceived angels, we mere humans had better beware!
Sun Tzu, a Chinese general from 500 BC, and author of the classic work, The Art of War, poignantly states the futility and inevitable failure of going to war without knowing your enemy. Understand it or not, WE ARE IN A WAR WITH THIS CREATURE! The scriptures we will walk through will continue to confirm this fact and perhaps bring clarity to some aspects of your life.
As John continues telling the vision in Rev. 12:9, he reveals something very key to our search for the mystery beast.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
John calls the great dragon, “that old serpent called the devil and satan which deceiveth the whole world.” Don’t let appearances fool you! All four titles belong to one in the same being. In the heavens past, we see him as the dragon who deceived one-third of the heavenly host who were cast out of heaven with him. In the garden, we see him as the serpent who deceived the first woman Eve. He is the very devil and satan. We are also told by the Apostle Paul that he transforms himself into an angel of light (I Cor. 11:14). Though he takes many forms, he is recognizable by his nature.
The Apostle John takes only one chapter to tell the vision, but this epic drama between the woman and the dragon has been playing out on earth over thousands of years. Since the fall of man in the garden, the dragon has lurked about watching and listening for the promised child that would be coming to bruise his head. He was always determined to devour the child first.
The dragon was lurking in the angry heart of Cain when he murdered his righteous brother Abel, but God gave Seth to reopen a Godly bloodline. Only 10 generations after Adam, the dragon had done his work so thoroughly that the hearts of mankind were filled with violence and their minds were set on evil continually. Mankind was so corrupted that God himself sent a flood to destroy them all, except for one son of Seth whose heart remained uncorrupted. God preserved Noah and his house: a small strand of humanity was carried over the flood to continue the bloodline toward the Christ child. As the sons of Noah multiplied and men filled the earth again, God made a covenant with one man named Abraham and blessed and guarded his descendants that would bring forth the Messiah, Savior of the world. As time passed, the children of Abraham were forced into slavery in the land of Egypt and cried out to heaven for a deliverer. As the cries reached God’s ears, the dragon moved upon the heart of the Egyptian pharaoh (who was in fear of a Hebrew uprising), to have all Hebrew baby boys thrown into the river as soon as they were born! But through the bravery of God fearing midwives and Jochebed, his mother, the baby Moses was spared. While Moses was not the Messiah, he brought Israel to the edge of the promised land where the Messiah would one day be born. About a thousand years later, while in captivity, a young Jewish woman rises to be queen of the greatest world empire of her day. This alerts the dragon who swiftly moves through the ambitious and proud Haman to try and exterminate the entire Jewish race altogether. But Haman and his own sons were destroyed instead while the Jews survived to return to their homeland. Nearly 500 years pass when under Roman rule in their homeland, whispers of the Christ child’s birth reach the ears of King Herod. The vain and pompous Herod is an easy inroad for the dragon and the decree goes out that every boy child 3 and under is to be murdered. God sends an angel to warn Joseph (the child’s father) and he, Mary and the baby Jesus escape.
Despite the dragon’s best efforts, the Messiah was born and He completed His heavenly Father’s work by dying on the cross to redeem the world His father so loved (Jn. 3:16). Jesus was then caught up to the throne of God until the time of his return, when he will gather his own and rule all nations with a rod of iron.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
As the vision of Rev. 12 continues, having failed to devour the Messiah the dragon then turns to persecute the woman (Israel), but she is protected from him as well. Now, very angry at the woman, the dragon goes to make war with her children.
And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
ENTER THE BEAST
“I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having 7 heads and 10 horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”
Revelation chapter 12 closes out stating, the dragon angry at the woman, WENT to make war with the remnant of her seed…
Revelation chapter 13 opens with John seeing a beast RISE UP OUT OF THE SEA…
Do you see it? The dragon went and the beast came! In our family Bible study many years ago, my husband taught us to ignore the chapter and verse headings here, (which were not original to the text but added later by translators for referencing), then you can see that the beast rising is the earthly manifestation and vehicle through which the dragon comes to make war with the remnant of her seed, Israel (those who keep the commandments of God) and the church (those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ).
Can’t you see the family resemblance between the great dragon of Rev. 12:3 and the beast of Rev. 13:1? Seven heads and 10 horns are unusual features, indeed, but both creatures have them. I don't know a single soul with seven heads and yet here are two! Not only that, but as we go searching for the mysterious beast in the next article, we will see that he behaves just like his progenitor, the dragon.
Even in the spirit world, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. This is exactly how Jesus recognized whose children the pharisees of His day were. To paraphrase in my very own words, “Why, when you act like that, you look just like your daddy!”
Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye shall do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it.
Jesus summarizes the devil’s character as both a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies. Our brief trek through history bares out his character description to be utterly true, remembering that the devil, the dragon, the serpent and satan are the same being. From deceiving one-third of the heavenly angels, to lying to Eve in the garden, to the murder of righteous Abel as well as all the murders and lies he’s inspired throughout history, the devil’s character is recognizable no matter what form he may take.
(To be continued)
In His Fields,