Revelation 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

It may appear in this passage as if Ďthe rest of her offspringí are people distinct from the woman but it is nothing more than the same body of believers who obey Godís commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.Some say that this passage ties in with Jesusí other sheep mentioned in the gospel of John (10:16) and the comment that Jesus would die not for the Jewish nation only, but that He might also gather together into one all of Godís scattered children.They propose that the woman represents the remnant of Israel and her offspring the Gentile Christians.There is no reference in Scripture that the remnant of Israel would be any different from the rest of Christís body and definitely not that the Gentile Christians would be the offspring of the remnant of Israel.All of the elect are children of God and heirs of the inheritance procured by the merit and sacrifice of Christ.All are Godís offspring through the Seed of the woman.There is no room in the gospel for a secondary, proxy-generation of offspring other than those who became children of the Father through the sacrifice of Christ.

Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

I John 3:1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

In Johnís visions, distinct symbols often point not to different referents but to differing perspectives on the same referent.The seven lamps before the throne and the seven eyes of the Lamb provide complementary perspectives on the one Spirit of God (Rev 4:5; 5:6) and the measured sanctuary and the unmeasured courtyard show us the eternal security and the external vulnerability of the same church.The protection of the mother promises that Ďthe church shall never perish,í and the dragonís war against her offspring reminds us that God shields the churchís members not from physical violence but from spiritual destruction.

Satanís failure to destroy Godís work thus far heightened his frustration and rage and not only would he employ deceit and lies against her, but he will release physical violence against those who obey Godís commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.They would be removed from positions of power; they would be ridiculed and shamed, tortured and killed.

Acts 7:57 Ė 60; 8:1-4 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. 8:1And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.3But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.4Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

The saints that were scattered by this outbreak of violence against them continued to preach the word wherever they went.The violence was approved by Saul who later had to confess that he was the one least worthy of grace having been the persecutor of Jesusí church but snatched from the claws of Satan.

Ephesians 3:8 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.

This scattering of the faithful had benefited the gospel setting its spreading across the world in motion.

Acts 11:19 Ė 21; 22:20 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.21The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.22:20And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.

Philippians 1:12Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.

Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Revelation 13:1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.

The sea spoken of here represents all the nations from which a dragon will come forth.Other passages in Scripture that confirms this understanding are:

Psalm 65:7 [God] stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.

Isaiah 17:12 Oh, the raging of many nations--they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples--they roar like the roaring of great waters.

And the slaying of the dragon from the sea:

Isaiah 27:1In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.

The image of injustice:

Isaiah 57:20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.

Pride against God:

Psalm 89:9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.

Job 38:11 When I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt.'

Violence:

Psalm 93:3, 4 The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. 4Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea--the LORD on high is mighty.

The dragon proceeds out of this background.Since it is clear that the dragon will come forth from the world, we must see its mission and work as the conquering of the rulers of this world, the secular world.

The dragon takes his stand on the sand of the seashore, because the dragon will come up from the sea, have great power and wage war against the church.The sand of the seashore is an established biblical metaphor for a countless multitude, as we see in Godís promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:17 that his offspring will be like the sand of the sea, and others.The dragonís stand on the seaís sand, like the harlotís seat on the seaís waters in a later vision, shows his sway over peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

The sea is the chaotic region from which threat and rebellion arise, an apt portrait of the abyss, the proper home of all uncleanness and hostility toward God.When that legion of unclean spirits who tormented the demoniac of Gerasa met their match in Jesus, they pled for a delay of their banishment to the abyss, asking instead to be sent into swine.

Luke 8:30 - 33 Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him.31And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. 32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission.33When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

The beast that now comes up from the sea is the same beast that, in Johnís earlier vision, came up from the abyss to wage war on Jesusí witnesses, as we read in chapter 11:7.The beast reflects the dragon who invests it with malevolent power.As the previous dragon had seven heads and ten horns, this beast is its mirror image.Although the dragon of chapter 12:3 is not an exact replication of the beast coming from the sea here, in that the dragon has seven diadems on its seven heads while the beastís ten horns bear ten diadems, it is clear that they are representing the same evil attack on the seed of the woman.Later in our study in chapter 13:11 we will deal with the beast coming from the earth.

Each of his seven heads has a blasphemous name on it to indicate foremost that there is nothing in this beast or his mind that is aimed at honoring God.Wherever this beast goes or whatever it does will be to oppose the gospel, whether it proclaims the best of intentions or appears to be neutral to Christ.It is not.It is wholly opposed to Christ and his church and determines only to destroy it.These blasphemous names not only proclaim opposition to Christ but they proclaim to be God to mislead the elect if it were possible.Some passages from both the Old and New Testament that expose this trickery and deceit are...

II Thessalonians 2:3, 4 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Isaiah 14:13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain."

Ezekiel 28:2, 9 "Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'In the pride of your heart you say, "I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a God.9Will you then say, "I am a god," in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a man, not a god, in the hands of those who slay you.

Daniel 7:25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.

Daniel 8:11, 12 It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low.12ecause of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it.It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.

Revelation 13:2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.

The images of a leopard and a bear as part of the beast demonstrate his viciousness and the beast reminds us of the four beasts seen by Daniel in chapter 7:2-8.Daniel saw in his four visions a lion, then a bear, then a leopard and finally a ferocious beast that had iron teeth and ten horns.Johnís vision of the beast that came up from the sea appears to represent all four beasts that Daniel saw: leopard, bear, lion and the ferocious one in the whole beastís appearance.

The leopard is unchangeable in his cunning and ability to stalk his prey just as the reprobate is unable to change his ways and suddenly become a Christian.

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.

These animals represented in the beast are all bloodthirsty and cold-blooded killers, swift in their attack devouring their prey as a matter of routine.

It is interesting to note that the dragon empowers the beast: Ďthe dragon gave the beast his power.íThe rising secular powers aligned against the church receive their power directly from Satan.They cannot plead neutrality nor can they plead ignorance.The beast comes up out of the sea and ascends onto the throne he received from Satan and he receives great authority.The whole procession is a mockery and a satanic masquerade of the ascension of Christ onto his throne.The beastís throne, power, and his Ďwisdomí will soon be put to its full use to effect the flood of deceit and misleading that Satan spews forth at the church.

Even though one might cringe at the spectacle of all this and the threat that it holds for the church and the elect, one must always bear in mind that Satan is unable to do anything without the permissive will of God.God allows Satan to raise up the beasts from the sea and the earth so that the elect might be refined like fire as Isaiah prophesied in

Isaiah 48:9 Ė 11 For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off.10See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.11For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.

When the reprobate willingly follow the beast into the abyss they will have no excuse for their abandonment of the gospel when the court of Christ indicts them all.

Revelation 13:3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.

Although most translations speak of a fatal wound, it is the same phrase used to describe the Lamb that was slain.There is no mystery in this wound of the beast; it is nothing but a mockery of Christís fatal wounds and intent on misleading those who marvel at the beastís power.This so-called fatal wound is then also healed as expected because the beast needs to show that Christís wounds were not lethal and that there is no merit in it for the believers.He attempts to convince the world that Christís wounds did not account for the sins of the world because before their very eyes he was also inflicted with a fatal wound and he healed himself.When the people of the world saw what the beast had done, they were astonished and followed him willingly; astonished at his power and that he was able to recreate the death and resurrection of Christ Ė something that the world wants to believe.

Since he is the anti-Christ, he is intent on deceiving the elect, if that were possible.If he can ridicule the believers, he might sufficiently shame some of them in the eyes of the world that they turn away from Christ.That is what Satan wants; and he has many wiling henchmen.

But the elect love the truth; they hear the gospel and they recognize the voice of the Shepherd; they follow him as He leads them away from those who refuse to love the truth but rather delight in wickedness.

II Thessalonians 2:9 Ė 12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Revelation 13:4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"

Here, too, Satan masquerades as if he is God by misleading the unbelievers in believing that he should be worshiped.The unbelievers did not disappoint him.They worshiped the dragon and the beast, just as believers worship God.They are in awe at the power of Satan, just as the believers are in awe at the love of God.Johnís vision exposes how Satan mimics the relationship between the Father and Christ in which the dragon gives authority to the beast.In Matthew 9 we read that Jesus healed the paralytic man and when the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.The performance of great things and awe are followed by worship.Satan mimics the order of these things.He heals himself of a fatal wound, which causes awe and then worship.

This masquerade is a treat for those who hate God, since they would want nothing more than to see God, his Son and the elect ridiculed.

In the last words of this passage, there is already the sign of bondage that comes with worshiping evil: ďWho is like the beast? Who can make war against him?ĒThat exclamation is the fruit of their unbelief because if they had known God, they would have known what the gospel teaches and, as those whom God redeemed know, they would have known that Satan is deceiving them.

Exodus 15:9 Ė 13 "The enemy boasted, 'I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.' 10But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.11"Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you--majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? 12You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them.13"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling."

Revelation 13:5The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.

The image of receiving a mouth is an indication that God purposed that each nation received authority and opportunity to spew forth their evil, so that there can be separation between true believers and the henchmen of Satan.Without this refining fire the believers and unbelievers, ordinarily, do not appear that different but as soon as Satan is allowed to spew forth his evil, are the believers separated from the unbelievers.Unbelievers would have no excuse in the court of Christ.Christians everywhere visibly go up to worship in churches; unbelievers encounter believers who profess faith in Christ; unbelievers have evidence everywhere that their actions are vastly different from those who profess Christ.In spite of all the testimony they still pursue their evil work and exercise the authority given to them to utter proud words and blasphemies.

II Thessalonians 2:4, 9, 10 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Revelation 13:6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.

In his ongoing attack against Godís church, the beast now opens his mouth against God personally revealing his goal from the beginning.It is not the church or the elect but God himself that Satan opposes.He will mislead people to join him in blaspheming God and his tabernacle, and the elect.The phrase ďthose who live in heavenĒ includes all of the elect, whether still in this world, not yet born, or those who have already departed to the Lord.

Philippians 3:20, 21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Ephesians 2:19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household.

II Thessalonians 2:13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

II Timothy 1:9 Who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

Titus 1:2 A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.

Revelation 13:7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

Once again, we have evidence that Satan does not have ultimate power and everything he does is by the providence of God.This is both terrifying and comforting.Terrifying because Satan is allowed to unleash his power and comforting because we know God is in control.The comfort that comes from knowing God escapes unbelievers because they oppose God and hate everything about him; what is supposed to be comforting is nothing less than further terror and horror for the unbeliever.

What does this mean?Does it mean that God ordains blasphemy and evil?No, of course not.

In understanding this phenomenon, we have to recognize five basic truths:

  1. There are two major forces pitted against each other: good and evil.The superior force, good, is able to overtake and drive evil out.Evil can only exist where good has been abandoned.Evil can never overcome good, which makes it a force by default.So, if good is abandoned it is immediately replaced with evil; there can never be a state of neutrality.
  2. The ultimate good is God himself exercised in the world by his Holy Spirit.The ultimate evil is Satan exercised in this world by his many henchmen, such as demons and our old natures.That is why we have to flee from evil and fight evil with good, so that our old natures would wither and die and our new natures in Christ prosper.The good stored up in us by the Holy Spirit should come forth and not the evil that our old natures spews forth.
  3. The Holy Spirit can be present in two different ways, namely, effectually or by virtue of his Divinity, which is his omnipresence.In terms of his omnipresence, the Holy Spirit was, is and always will be present everywhere and at all times.In terms of his effectual presence, the Holy Spirit chooses to be effectually present or absent, depending on the will of the Father who determines the circumstances and means to fulfill his will.
  4. Wherever the Holy Spirit is effectually present, there can be no evil.Wherever the Holy Spirit is effectually absent, there can only be evil.Therefore, evil is a force by default while good is a pro-active force.The Holy Spirit is completely effectually present in Jesus Christ and completely effectually absent in Satan.
  5. God works through his Son, Jesus Christ, who works through the Holy Spirit immediately, which means the Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of men, influencing them, steering them, condemning them.To bring evil (affliction, sickness, etc.) onto someone, the effectual presence of the Holy Spirit retracts.To bring comfort, healing, blessing, and prosperity the Holy Spirit effectually comes closer.

Considering these basic truths, we can now explain how the beast can utter blaspheming things by the providence of God.It occurs when the Holy Spirit effectually retracts from the evil realm and Satan immediately fills the void by what he can say and do.When he needs to be restrained, the Holy Spirit effectually moves closer Ė here in the book of Revelation it is shown to us as hosts of angel warriors Ė and Satanís evil is constrained.

One may see the Holy Spiritís effectual presence as a tide of comforting, rebuking, admonishing, and handing over to affliction to teach and cause repentance.This tide of the Holy Spiritís effectual presence ebbs and flows in the lives of all people, elect and otherwise.Believers recognize that they have grieved the Holy Spirit when they sin and are quick to repent.Unbelievers do not recognize the presence (or absence) of the Holy Spirit in their lives and see no reason to repent.

Although we will address this matter again later, here is a collection of some passages from Scripture in this regard.

Matthew 5:45 That you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Ezekiel 31:15"'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day it was brought down to the grave I covered the deep springs with mourning for it; I held back its streams, and its abundant waters were restrained. Because of it I clothed Lebanon with gloom, and all the trees of the field withered away.

Genesis 6:5The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

I Samuel 24:13 As the old saying goes, 'From evildoers come evil deeds,' so my hand will not touch you.'

Job 34:10 "So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong."

Job 36:21 Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.

Psalm 5:4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.

Psalm 7:14 He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment.

Psalm 10:7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

Psalm 12:2 Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception.

Psalm 34:21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.

Psalm 36:4 Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong.

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.

Psalm 51:11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

John 3:19, 20 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

James 1:13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

I Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

II Peter 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

I John 5:18We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

Jude 1:16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

Matthew 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels

II Kings 6:17And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

II Thessalonians 1:7 And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaksí

Jeremiah 9:3 "They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me," declares the LORD.

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

Romans 3:13, 14 "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips. 14Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."

Isaiah 63:11 Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people--where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them.

Mark 13:11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Luke 10:21At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."