The Book of Revelation describes an unholy trinity that exercises great power in the Earth –The Dragon [Rev.12] and two Beasts, the second one later called ‘The False Prophet.’ [Rev.13]
The Dragon is described as:
“..a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.” Revelation 12; 3
His identity is clearly stated:
“That serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world;…”
Deceit began back in Eden when satan deceived our first parents into handing to him their God-given dominion. The result was that death, decay and chaos came upon the Earth. In the temptation of Christ, satan boasted that all the kingdoms of the world had been delivered to him. [Luke 4:5,6]. He is called the god of this age [2 Corinthians 4:4] and the whole world lies under his sway [1 John 5: 19], shrouded in spiritual blindness. The temptation to which Man yielded was to be his own god, knowing and deciding good and evil for himself. Thus instead of being God- centred he became self -centred. The Spirit of God departed and he was left to live with the consequences of his decision, an easy prey to the deceit of the devil. God, in His mercy and grace made a way for Man to meet with Him – an altar with a blood sacrifice and promised that the time would come when the Seed of the woman would destroy the oppressor.
The 1st Beast
“Then[ he] [the dragon] stood on the sand of the sea [NU version] Revelation 13:1
The dragon stands on the sea shore and out of the sea rises the 1st beast, apparently called up by the dragon. The ‘sea’ in Scripture refers to people. This beast is almost a mirror image of the dragon except that the crowns are on his horns. It is given power, a throne and great authority from the dragon. This is satan’s instrument to keep the world in spiritual blindness and under his dominion. We see the result in the world around us – God’s perfect creation spoiled by the inroads of hell with Man struggling to find answers.
So, who or what is this beast? The description of the beast as having seven heads and ten horns is an unlikely description of a man. However many see the beast as the Antichrist – a man who will rise up on the socio-political scene and head up a world government. The False Prophet directs worship to the Beast and its image and causes all who do so to be marked with the Beast’s number. Without this number no one can buy or sell. That it is a man is given weight by Revelation 13:18 –
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast,For it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”
For many years Christians have scanned the political horizon looking for the rise of the beast or, as they see it, the Antichrist, and have endeavoured to calculate his name. Since Greek letters have numerical value, many suggestions of titles and names whose numerical value add up to 666, have been put forward as possible Antichrists, including the Pope.
Is the beast ‘a man’ as verse 18 seems to indicate? Other translations render this phrase as ‘it is the number of man.’ The exclusion of the ‘a’ makes a great difference. According to this translation the beast is not ‘a man’ but ‘Man.’ It is suggested that the phrase should read ‘it is a human number.’ In Biblical numerics, the number ‘6’ is the number of Man under sin falling short of the glory of God whose number is ‘7’.The beast is a human system which falls short of God’s standard. It doesn’t act according to God’s ways but to Man’s, its philosophy is according to human thinking not God’s.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD,
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9
While we have been looking for a man, have we missed identifying the beast system that has grown in the Earth - a system rising out of Man’s thinking and Man’s ways apart from and in opposition to God? What system can we identify with these characteristics? May I suggest “Humanism.” Though it has developed into an association or society, humanistic thinking has been around since Eden and has infiltrated every area of our society. It is all that is not of the Kingdom of God, Man -centred not God- centred, and has at times developed into empires whose rulers sought domination over the world. The heads of the beast are those empires and the horns are the rulers of those kingdoms.
At the time of the end, the beast system will give rise to an Antichrist who will personify the system. However the beast itself is not the Antichrist but the system out of which he rises. I believe that Humanism embodies that system.
Humanism describes itself as “an ethical, scientific and philosophical outlook that has changed the world….humanist ideas and values express a renewed confidence in the power of human beings to solve their own problems and conquer uncharted frontiers.”It claims that its heritage traces back to the philosophers and poets of ancient Greece and Rome, Confucian China and the Charvaka movement in classical India.
Though at first stating that it was ‘a new religion – a movement to transcend and replace previous religions based on allegations of supernatural revelation;’ it moved before long to total secularism. Though it denies the existence of God, it is registered legally as a religion presumably for tax purposes. Humanism claims to be “Good without God.”One of its better known statements is “No deity will save us, we must save ourselves.”
The Humanist world view is the direct opposite of the Biblical world view. They regard the world as self existing not created, while Man is a part of nature and has emerged as the result of evolutionary change. Humanists assert that Science and reason provide the best basis for understanding the world around us and ethical values are derived from human need and interest not from a spiritual or moral code. They state that traditional religions inhibit humans from reaching their full potentialities.
In Humanism Man is central. Man in his pride denies his need of God and becomes his own god, deciding good and evil for himself. Some of the stated aspirations of Humanism appear to be good. They aim to eliminate wars, poverty, famine, violence and disease, distribute wealth equitably and protect the environment. They oppose racism and weapons of mass destruction. These are objectives which most Christians would endorse. The problem is that Humanists believe they can do it without God. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God; it is all that is good and beautiful and is far beyond anything man can attain. God is at the centre and He alone is worshipped. The Kingdom of God is personified in God’s chosen King, Jesus.
On the morning of the crucifixion as Jesus faced the crowd they shouted “We will not have this Man rule over us.”
Jesus said as He walked out of the Temple, “You will not see me again until you say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” In rejecting Jesus, they rejected the Kingdom.
Humanism has a global agenda. Humanist manifesto 2 states, “We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward the building of a world community in which all sectors of the human family can participate” To achieve its aims the Humanist Manifesto 2,000 declared the need for a World Parliament and a world court with powers of enforcement. This latter has since been implemented. It declared optimistically that “Planetary humanism holds forth great promises for humankind.” and advocates the need for a Planetary Bill of Human Rights and Responsibilities that applies to all members of the human species. Again, while many of the Human Rights advocated are good, some of the ‘human rights’ are an endorsement of human wrongs’ e.g. the right to abortion on demand. Same sex ‘marriage’ is being declared by some of its proponents to be a human right.
Since Humanists believe that ‘ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience’ many ungodly values will be espoused by the Humanist movement. The ungodly passions and desires of fallen Man “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” [1 John 2:16] will influence Humanist policy as they have driven Man in the past.
Satan’s attack has always been on the Word of God and increasingly we will see persecution against Jews and Christians – the Covenant people of God. Satan hates the Covenant people of God. He knows that ultimately they will cause his demise. The world over which he wields such power and authority belongs to them and he works frantically to stave off that Day. Any values system or beliefs that stand against Humanism will be under pressure to conform or be eradicated; and this Humanists intend to do. Humanist Manifesto 2 states, ‘Some humanists believe we should reinterpret traditional religions and reinvest them with meanings appropriate to the current situation…..We need, instead, radically new human purposes and goals….Alienating forces should be modified or eradicated…People are more important than decalogues, rules, proscriptions, or regulations…We urge that parochial loyalties and inflexible moral and religious ideologies be transcended.’
Humanists believe that they can be ‘Good without God’ but what is “good.’ How do we define it? Jesus stated that “There is “none is good, save one, that is God.” [Luke 18:18]
God is the measure of goodness; Man is quite capable of calling evil “good,” and good “evil.” [Isaiah 5:20]. Any system that rejects God is bound to fail and fall into corruption. Humanist philosophy will be the ideology behind the proposed World Government and the Antichrist who will head it up. If the Beast is Humanism, then the Beast System is here! It has subtly but surely grown in the earth and is entrenched in human thinking. It has blinded Man to the truth. Humanism looks good and sounds reasonable to anyone looking for answers outside of God. It comes initially in the guise of ‘equality for all’ but it is satan’s instrument to build his kingdom in the Earth.
The 2nd Beast
The 2nd Beast is called The False Prophet [Revelation 19:20]. This I believe is the religious face of Humanism. This Beast directs worship to the 1st Beast. The socio-political and the religious systems combine to promote the worship of Man. Though he may proudly boast “I am the Master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” Man is never his own master. The ‘default’ condition of fallen Man is to be subject to the devil though he doesn’t know it. Without the Holy Spirit to bring enlightenment, Man’s thinking is under the influence of the one who “deceives the whole world.”
“…you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:2.
False religion comes in many forms which appeal to unregenerate man. While Humanism claims to be good without God, New Age seeks spiritual experiences without the Holy Spirit. Religious systems outside of Christianity seek salvation without a Saviour -acceptance with God through self effort. Even within Christendom, some liberal churches are putting aside the Word of God to accommodate Man e.g. open endorsement of homosexuality. Many within the Church give more credence to the wisdom of the world than the wisdom of the Word.
The Number of the Beast. The number of the Beast is 666. A tripled number denotes the ultimate state of that which the number represents, e.g. 8 is the number of resurrection and new life. The name “Jesus” in Greek adds up to 888. 666 is the ultimate state of Man’s rebellion against God.
When God cut the Covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15, He told him that his descendants would not possess Canaan till the fourth generation of those who would go down to Egypt. “For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” [Genesis15:16] When the inhabitants of the Land reached the depths of depravity, God moved against them. Israel was God’s instrument of judgement. God in His mercy gave time for repentance. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 1 Peter 3:9
The Beast system has not yet come to its ultimate expression. When it does there will be a clash of kingdoms. We war, not against people, but against the powers of darkness that hold them in bondage and blindness. This is a war which must and shall be won.
Is the mark of the Beast a literal number? Will people actually have the number 666 placed on their hands and foreheads. Probably it has more to do with the way people think and act. In Revelation 22:4 and 14:1, God’s servants bear His Name on their foreheads. It is called a seal in Revelation 7:3, and 9:4. In Ezekiel 9:4,6, God instructs that those who mourn the sad state of the temple in Jerusalem be marked. “The Lord knows those who are His.”[2 Timothy 2:19]. Increasingly there will be a ‘marked’ difference between those who think and act according to God or according to Humanistic thinking.
"this calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666" Revelation 13:18 NIV
Humanism is the outcome of the decision Man made to go it alone. It provides the perfect philosophy for the devil’s ambitions.
“I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north,
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:13,14
“And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4,5
The result of Man’s decision has to be played out on the stage of history. God won’t force anyone to acknowledge Him; He waits patiently.
Is the Beast here? I’ll leave you to answer that. I think that it is Humanism. Does it tick all the boxes? Most of them; but I’m still looking for more light on some aspects, so I’m staying open on the subject. One thing of which I am certain is that, with seven heads and ten horns, it is not ‘a man.’