SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Thursday August 22, 1996

The Dragon's voice in the Last Days

(Rev. 13:11-18).

What is meant by the lamblike beast arising "out of the earth" (Rev. 13:11, RSV)? Rev. 12:16.

The first beast rose out of the "sea" (Rev. 13:1). The sea represents the mass of humanity out of which the nations have emerged. (See Rev. 17:15; compare Dan. 7:2, 3.) The earth represents a region relatively free from human population. In the Middle Ages and the early modern period, the "woman," Christ's faithful believers, fled to previously uninhabited territories to escape persecution (Rev. 12:14, 16). Thus the early American colonies were established.

"It had two horns like a lamb" (Rev. 13:11, RSV). The Lamb represents Christ (Rev. 5:6, 9). Because of their adherence to the gospel, the early American colonists to some extent reflected the purity of Christ. Roger Williams' "little state, Rhode Island, became the asylum of the oppressed, and it increased and prospered until its foundation principles--civil and religious liberty--became the cornerstones of the American Republic."--The Great Controversy, p. 295.

In what anti-Christian work will this second beast ultimately engage? Rev. 13:11-18.

The prophecy predicts that the United States will ultimately emulate and cooperate with the first beast power (Rev. 13:1) in establishing a church-state union and in enforcing the kind of worship that characterized the medieval church of Western Europe. The last phrase of Revelation 13:12 ("whose mortal wound was healed," RSV) establishes that this second beast functions after 1798 when the first beast received its deadly wound. The healing of the wound occurs when papal religion is restored and the church-state union is again set up. We can expect that this second beast will perform its prophetic role at that time. In speaking "like a dragon" (Rev. 13:11, RSV), the once lamblike beast enforces apostate worship, performing deceptive miracles to persuade everyone to support and "worship the image of the beast" (verse 15). Apostate churches will persuade the government to pass laws supporting an unbiblical kind of worship. "Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism." The Great Controversy, p. 588. The second beast power of Revelation 13 is the "false prophet" (Rev. 16:13; Rev. 19:20; Rev. 20:10)- it represents the perversion of true Protestantism.