In this chapter, as the signs in heaven continue, John sees the Antichrist and the False Prophet arise from the earth in the form of two hideous beasts. These are two men that together strive in unison to accomplish the will of Satan during the tribulation.
v.1 Then he stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.
This image is a continuation from the last chapter, therefore, it’s Satan whom John sees standing on the sand of the sea, and as we’ll discover, the Antichrist who is the beast emerging from the sea. Moreover, both idioms “sand” and “sea” are symbolic to mean multitudes of people on this earth (Gen.32:12; Rev.17:15). So the image can be stated this way:
“As the fallen angelic spirit Satan stands upon the people in dominion over them, the Antichrist will be a man he raises up from amongst the people”
Okay, let’s look at the Antichrist. Clearly, this beastly characterization of the global leader appears much more deviant to John here at the second half of the Tribulation then what was shown to him earlier at the beginning of the Tribulation (Rev.6:2). In other words, Antichrist, the man John was shown riding upon a white horse has now become a beast emerging from the sea.
I’m going to suggest that this current less human characterization of the Antichrist might be due to the fact that he has become possessed by the devil and thereby becomes the personification of the beast.
Allow me to summarize (details follow in our notes below).
At the start of Tribulation, Antichrist, the man, will possess extraordinary political and militarily skills and personal charisma that will soar his popularity with the ungodly. Moreover, because he is more sinister than most, full of blasphemies and lies and flattering words, it gains him leadership over the New World Order, and with cunning and force, he will subdue kingdoms.
During the middle of the tribulation, however, he will be assassinated. And for some amount of time, at least to the world, he will appear to be dead then shortly afterward will appear to resurrect back to life; thus setting the stage for Satan to deceive the world on a scale as never before.
I believe, given Satan is cast out of heaven knowing little time remains (Rev.12:9), that he seizes the assassination of Antichrist as an opportunity to cut a deal with him, to possess and empower him, and in turn to “miraculously” raise him as the incarnation of himself on earth (more to follow in the notes below).
The heads, and horns, and crowns of the beast are identical to the dragon (Rev.12:3) because of the similar character and purposes and activities of the beast and the dragon. The unknown “blasphemous names” on his heads denotes exaltation of man as a god, thereby blaspheming the true God.
v.2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.
The form and shape of the beast are interpreted for us by Daniel as four kings and kingdoms.
“And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other…The first was like a lion…And suddenly another beast, a second like a bear…After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard…After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns” (Dan.7:3-7)
“Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth” (Da.7:17)