Contending With Two Ferocious Beasts
Vision 8—Revelation 13:1-18
Subject: The seven-headed wild beast, the two-horned wild beast, and the image of the wild beast
Time of fulfillment: From Nimrod’s day to the great tribulation
1, 2. (a) What does John say about the dragon? (b) How does John, in symbolic language, describe a visible organization used by the dragon?
THE great dragon has been cast down to the earth! Our study of Revelation makes it clear that never again will the Serpent or his demon followers be allowed back into heaven. But we are not yet finished with “the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” The account next identifies in greater detail the means used by Satan to fight against ‘the woman and her seed.’ (Revelation 12:9, 17) John says of that serpentine dragon: “And it stood still upon the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 13:1a) So let us pause to examine the dragon’s means of operation.
2 No longer are the holy heavens afflicted by the presence of Satan and his demons. Those wicked spirits have been ousted from heaven and confined to the vicinity of the earth. This no doubt accounts for the tremendous growth of spiritistic practices in modern times. The wily Serpent still maintains a corrupt spirit organization. But does he also use a visible organization in order to mislead mankind? John tells us: “And I saw a wild beast ascending out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, and upon its horns ten diadems, but upon its heads blasphemous names. Now the wild beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were as those of a bear, and its mouth was as a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.”—Revelation 13:1b, 2.
3. (a) What ferocious beasts did the prophet Daniel see in visions? (b) What did the huge beasts of Daniel 7 represent?
3 What is this freakish beast? The Bible itself gives the answer. Before the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.E., the Jewish prophet Daniel saw visions involving ferocious beasts. At Daniel 7:2-8 he describes four beasts coming out of the sea, the first resembling a lion, the second a bear, the third a leopard, and “see there! a fourth beast, fearsome and terrible and unusually strong . . . and it had ten horns.” This is remarkably similar to the wild beast seen by John about the year 96 C.E. That beast also has the characteristics of a lion, a bear, and a leopard, and it has ten horns. What is the identity of the huge beasts seen by Daniel? He informs us: “These huge beasts . . . are four kings that will stand up from the earth.” (Daniel 7:17) Yes, those beasts represent “kings,” or political powers of the earth.
4. (a) In Daniel 8, what did the ram and the he-goat portray? (b) What was indicated when the great horn of the he-goat was broken and it was succeeded by four horns?
4 In another vision, Daniel sees a two-horned ram that is struck down by a goat with a great horn. The angel Gabriel explains to him what it means: “The ram . . . stands for the kings of Media and Persia. And the hairy he-goat stands for the king of Greece.” Gabriel goes on to prophesy that the great horn of the he-goat would be broken and be succeeded by four horns. This actually happened more than 200 years later when Alexander the Great died and his kingdom was split into four kingdoms ruled over by four of his generals.—Daniel 8:3-8, 20-25.*
5. (a) What connotations does the Greek word for beast convey? (b) What does the wild beast of Revelation 13:1, 2, along with its seven heads, stand for?
5 It is clear, therefore, that the Author of the inspired Bible regards the political powers of the earth as beasts. What kind of beasts? One commentator calls the wild beast of Revelation 13:1, 2 a “brute,” and adds: “We accept all the connotations that θηρίον [the·riʹon, the Greek word for “beast”] conveys, such as that of a cruel, destructive, frightful, ravenous, etc., monster.”* How well that describes the bloodstained political system by which Satan has dominated mankind! The seven heads of this wild beast stand for six major world powers featured in Bible history up to John’s day—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome—and a seventh world power prophesied to appear later.—Compare Revelation 17:9, 10.
6. (a) In what have the seven heads of the wild beast taken the lead? (b) How was Rome used by Jehovah in executing his own judgment on the Jewish system of things, and how did the Christians in Jerusalem fare?
6 True, there have been other world powers in history besides the seven—just as the wild beast John saw was made up of a body as well as of seven heads and ten horns. But the seven heads represent the seven major powers that have, each in its turn, taken the lead in oppressing God’s people. In 33 C.E., while Rome was ascendant, Satan used that head of the wild beast to kill the Son of God. At that time, God abandoned the faithless Jewish system of things and later, in 70 C.E., allowed Rome to execute his judgment on that nation. Happily, the true Israel of God, the congregation of anointed Christians, had been forewarned, and those in Jerusalem and Judaea had fled to safety beyond the Jordan River.—Matthew 24:15, 16; Galatians 6:16.
7. (a) What was due to take place when the conclusion of the system of things arrived and the Lord’s day began? (b) What proved to be the seventh head of the wild beast of Revelation 13:1, 2?
7 By the end of the first century C.E., however, many in this early congregation had fallen away from the truth, and the true Christian wheat, “the sons of the kingdom,” had been largely choked out by weeds, “the sons of the wicked one.” But when the conclusion of the system of things arrived, anointed Christians again appeared as an organized group. During the Lord’s day, the righteous ones were due to “shine as brightly as the sun.” Hence, the Christian congregation was organized for work. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) By then, the Roman Empire was no more. The huge British Empire, along with the powerful United States of America, held the center of the world stage. This dual world power proved to be the seventh head of the wild beast.
8. Why should it not be shocking that the Anglo-American dual world power is likened to a beast?
8 Is it not shocking to identify the ruling political powers with a wild beast? That is what some opposers claimed during World War II, when the status of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as an organization and as individuals, was being challenged in law courts around the earth. But stop and think! Do not the nations themselves adopt beasts or wild creatures as their national symbols? For example, there are the British lion, the American eagle, and the Chinese dragon. So why should anyone object if the divine Author of the Holy Bible also uses beasts to symbolize world powers?
9. (a) Why should one not object to the Bible’s saying that Satan gives the wild beast its great authority? (b) How is Satan described in the Bible, and how does he influence governments?
9 Moreover, why should anyone object to the Bible’s saying that it is Satan who gives the wild beast its great authority? God is the Source of that statement, and before him ‘the nations are as a drop from a bucket and as a film of dust.’ Those nations would do better to court God’s favor than to take offense at the way his prophetic Word describes them. (Isaiah 40:15, 17; Psalm 2:10-12) Satan is no mythical person assigned to tormenting departed souls in a fiery hell. No such place exists. Rather, Satan is described in Scripture as “an angel of light”—a master of deception who exercises powerful influence in general political affairs.—2 Corinthians 11:3, 14, 15; Ephesians 6:11-18.
10. (a) What is denoted by the fact that on each of the ten horns there was a diadem? (b) What do the ten horns and the ten diadems symbolize?
10 The wild beast has ten horns on its seven heads. Perhaps four heads had one horn each and three heads two horns each. Moreover, it had ten diadems on its horns. In the book of Daniel, fearsome beasts are described, and the numbering of their horns is to be interpreted literally. For example, the two horns on a ram represented a world empire made up of two partners, Media and Persia, while the four horns on a goat represented the four coexisting empires that grew out of Alexander the Great’s Greek empire. (Daniel 8:3, 8, 20-22) On the beast that John saw, however, the numbering of the ten horns appears to be symbolic. (Compare Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12.) They represent the completeness of sovereign states making up the entire political organization of Satan. All these horns are violent and aggressive, but as indicated by the seven heads, headship resides in only one world power at a time. Similarly, the ten diadems indicate that all sovereign states would exercise ruling power simultaneously with the dominant state, or world power, of that time.
11. What is indicated by the fact that the wild beast has “upon its heads blasphemous names”?
11 The wild beast has “upon its heads blasphemous names,” making claims for itself that show great disrespect for Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. It has used the names of God and Christ as a sham to achieve its political ends; and it has played along with false religion, even allowing the clergy to take part in its political processes. For example, the House of Lords in England includes the bishops. Catholic cardinals have played prominent political roles in France and Italy, and more recently, priests have taken political office in Latin America. Governments print religious slogans, such as “IN GOD WE TRUST,” on their bank notes, and on their coins they claim divine approval for their rulers, stating, for example, that these are appointed “by the grace of God.” All of this is actually blasphemous, for it attempts to involve God in the sullied nationalistic political arena.
12. (a) What is signified by the wild beast’s coming out of “the sea,” and when did it begin to emerge? (b) What is indicated by the fact that the dragon gives the symbolic beast its great authority?
12 The wild beast comes out of “the sea,” which is a fitting symbol of the turbulent masses from which human government springs. (Isaiah 17:12, 13) This wild beast began to emerge out of the sea of turbulent humanity away back in the days of Nimrod (about the 21st century B.C.E.), when a post-Flood system of things, opposed to Jehovah, first manifested itself. (Genesis 10:8-12; 11:1-9) But only during the Lord’s day has the last one of its seven heads fully manifested itself. Notice, too, it is the dragon that “gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” (Compare Luke 4:6.) The beast is Satan’s political creation among the masses of mankind. Satan is truly “the ruler of this world.”—John 12:31.
The Death Stroke
13. (a) What calamity assails the wild beast early in the Lord’s day? (b) How is it that the entire wild beast suffered when one head received a death stroke?
13 Early in the Lord’s day, calamity strikes the wild beast. John reports: “And I saw one of its heads as though slaughtered to death, but its death-stroke got healed, and all the earth followed the wild beast with admiration.” (Revelation 13:3) This verse says that one head of the wild beast received a death stroke, but verse 12 speaks as though the entire beast suffered. Why is that? Well, the beast’s heads are not all in the ascendancy together. Each in its turn has lorded it over mankind, particularly over God’s people. (Revelation 17:10) Thus, as the Lord’s day begins, there is only one head, the seventh, acting as the dominant world power. A death stroke on that head brings great distress to the entire wild beast.
14. When was the death stroke administered, and how did a military officer describe its effect on Satan’s wild beast?
14 What was the death stroke? Later, it is called a sword stroke, and a sword is a symbol of warfare. This sword stroke, administered early in the Lord’s day, must relate to the first world war, which devastated and drained Satan’s political wild beast. (Revelation 6:4, 8; 13:14) Author Maurice Genevoix, who was a military officer during that war, said of it: “Everyone agrees in recognizing that in the whole history of mankind, few dates have had the importance of August 2, 1914. First Europe and soon after almost all humanity found themselves plunged into a dreadful event. Conventions, agreements, moral laws, all the foundations shook; from one day to the next, everything was called into question. The event was to exceed both instinctive forebodings and reasonable anticipations. Enormous, chaotic, monstrous, it still drags us in its wake.”—Maurice Genevoix, member of the Académie Française, quoted in the book Promise of Greatness (1968).
15. How did the seventh head of the wild beast receive its death stroke?
15 For the dominant seventh head of the wild beast, that war was a major disaster. Along with other European nations, Britain lost its young men in traumatic numbers. In one battle alone, the Battle of the River Somme in 1916, there were 420,000 British casualties along with some 194,000 French and 440,000 German—more than 1,000,000 casualties! Economically, too, Britain—together with the rest of Europe—was shattered. The huge British Empire staggered under the blow and never fully recovered. Indeed, that war, with 28 leading nations participating, sent the entire world reeling as if by a deathblow. On August 4, 1979, just 65 years after the outbreak of World War I, The Economist, of London, England, commented: “In 1914 the world lost a coherence which it has not managed to recapture since.”
16. During the first world war, how did the United States show that it was part of a dual world power?
16 At the same time, the Great War, as it was then called, opened the way for the United States to emerge distinctly as part of the Anglo-American World Power. For the first years of the war, public opinion kept the United States out of the conflict. But as historian Esmé Wingfield-Stratford wrote, “it was all a question of whether, at this hour of supreme crisis, Britain and the United States would sink their differences in the realization of [their] overmastering unity and common trusteeship.” As events turned out, they did. In 1917 the United States contributed her resources and manpower to bolster the war effort of the staggering Allies. Thus, the seventh head, combining Britain and the United States, came out on the winning side.
17. What happened to Satan’s earthly system after the war?
17 The world after the war was vastly different. Satan’s earthly system, although devastated by the death stroke, revived and became more powerful than ever and so won the admiration of humans because of its recuperative power.
18. How can it be said that mankind in general has “followed the wild beast with admiration”?
18 Historian Charles L. Mee, Jr., writes: “The collapse of the old order [caused by the first world war] was a necessary prelude to the spread of self-rule, the liberation of new nations and classes, the release of new freedom and independence.” Leading in the development of this postwar era was the seventh head of the wild beast, now healed, and with the United States of America moving into the dominant role. The dual world power took the lead in advocating both the League of Nations and the United Nations. By the year 2005, U.S. political power had led the more privileged nations in creating a higher standard of living, in fighting disease, and in advancing technology. It had even placed 12 men on the moon. It is no wonder, therefore, that mankind in general has “followed the wild beast with admiration.”
19. (a) How has mankind even gone beyond admiring the wild beast? (b) Who has undisputed authority over all the kingdoms of the earth, and how do we know? (c) How does Satan delegate authority to the wild beast, and with what effect on the majority of people?
19 Mankind has even gone beyond admiring the wild beast, as John next states: “And they worshiped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshiped the wild beast with the words: ‘Who is like the wild beast, and who can do battle with it?’” (Revelation 13:4) While Jesus was here on earth, Satan claimed to have authority over all the kingdoms of the earth. Jesus did not dispute this; in fact, he himself referred to Satan as the ruler of the world and refused to participate in the politics of that day. John later wrote of true Christians: “We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19; Luke 4:5-8; John 6:15; 14:30) Satan delegates authority to the wild beast, and he does this on a nationalistic basis. Thus, instead of being united in bonds of godly love, mankind has become divided by pride of tribe, race, and nation. The great majority of people worship, in effect, that part of the wild beast having authority in the land where they happen to live. Thus the whole beast gains admiration and worship.
20. (a) In what sense do people worship the wild beast? (b) Why do Christians who worship Jehovah God not take part in such worship of the wild beast, and whose example do they follow?
20 Worship in what sense? In the sense of putting love of country ahead of love of God. Most people love the land of their birth. As good citizens, true Christians also respect the rulers and the emblems of the country where they reside, obey the laws, and make a positive contribution to the welfare of their community and their neighbors. (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17) They cannot, however, give blind devotion to one country as against all others. “Our country, right or wrong” is not a Christian teaching. So Christians who worship Jehovah God cannot share in giving prideful patriotic worship to any part of the wild beast, for this would amount to worshipping the dragon—the source of authority of the beast. They cannot ask admiringly: “Who is like the wild beast?” Rather, they follow the example of Michael—his name meaning “Who Is Like God?”—as they uphold Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. At God’s appointed time, this Michael, Christ Jesus, will do battle with the wild beast and conquer it, even as he triumphed in expelling Satan from heaven.—Revelation 12:7-9; 19:11, 19-21.
Waging War Against the Holy Ones
21. How does John describe Satan’s manipulation of the wild beast?
21 The wily Satan had plans for manipulating the wild beast to his own ends. John explains this: “And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given it [the seven-headed beast], and authority to act forty-two months was given it. And it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven. And there was granted it to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all those who dwell on the earth will worship it; the name of not one of them stands written in the scroll of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered, from the founding of the world.”—Revelation 13:5-8.
22. (a) To what time period do the 42 months refer? (b) During the 42 months, how were the anointed Christians ‘conquered’?
22 The 42 months mentioned here appear to be the same as the three and a half years during which the holy ones are harassed by a horn arising from one of the beasts in Daniel’s prophecy. (Daniel 7:23-25; see also Revelation 11:1-4.) Thus, from the end of 1914 on into 1918, while the warring nations were literally tearing at one another like wild beasts, citizens of those nations were pressured to worship the wild beast, to indulge in the religion of nationalism, even to be ready to die for their country. Such pressure led to intense suffering on the part of many of the anointed ones, who felt that their higher obedience belonged to Jehovah God and his Son, Christ Jesus. (Acts 5:29) Their trials came to a climax in June 1918, when they were ‘conquered.’ In the United States, prominent officers and other representatives of the Watch Tower Society were wrongly imprisoned, and the organized preaching by their Christian brothers was greatly hindered. Having authority “over every tribe and people and tongue and nation,” the wild beast clamped down on God’s work worldwide.
23. (a) What is “the scroll of life of the Lamb,” and what has been proceeding to completion since 1918? (b) Why was any apparent victory for Satan’s visible organization over “the holy ones” merely an empty one?
23 This seemed like a victory for Satan and his organization. But it could bring them no long-term benefits, since no one in Satan’s visible organization had his name written in “the scroll of life of the Lamb.” Figuratively, this scroll contains the names of those who will rule with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom. The first names were written in it at Pentecost 33 C.E. And in the years since then, more and more names have been added. Since 1918, the sealing of the remaining ones of the 144,000 Kingdom heirs has been proceeding to completion. Soon, the names of all of them will be written indelibly in the Lamb’s scroll of life. As for the opposers who worship the wild beast, not one of these will have his name written in that scroll. So any apparent victory these may have over “the holy ones” is an empty one, merely temporary.
24. What does John call upon those with discernment to hear, and what do the words heard mean for God’s people?
24 John now calls upon those with discernment to listen very carefully: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” Then he goes on to say: “If anyone is meant for captivity, he goes away into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. Here is where it means the endurance and faith of the holy ones.” (Revelation 13:9, 10) Jeremiah wrote words quite similar to these in the years preceding 607 B.C.E., to show that there was no turning back of Jehovah’s judgments for the unfaithful city of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 15:2; see also Jeremiah 43:11; Zechariah 11:9.) In his time of great trial, Jesus made it plain that his followers must not compromise when he said: “All those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) Similarly, now in the Lord’s day God’s people must hold fast to Bible principles. There will be no final escape for unrepentant ones who worship the wild beast. All of us will need endurance, along with unshakable faith, in order to survive the persecutions and trials that lie ahead.—Hebrews 10:36-39; 11:6.
The Two-Horned Wild Beast
25. (a) How does John describe another symbolic wild beast that comes onto the world scene? (b) What is indicated by the two horns of the new wild beast and by its coming out of the earth?
25 But now another wild beast comes onto the world scene. John reports: “And I saw another wild beast ascending out of the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb, but it began speaking as a dragon. And it exercises all the authority of the first wild beast in its sight. And it makes the earth and those who dwell in it worship the first wild beast, whose death-stroke got healed. And it performs great signs, so that it should even make fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the sight of mankind.” (Revelation 13:11-13) This wild beast has two horns, indicating a partnership of two political powers. And it is described as coming out of the earth, not out of the sea. Thus, it comes out of Satan’s already established earthly system of things. It must be a world power, already existing, that takes on a significant role during the Lord’s day.
26. (a) What is the two-horned wild beast, and how does it relate to the original wild beast? (b) In what sense are the horns of the two-horned beast lamblike, and how is it “as a dragon” when speaking? (c) What are nationalistic people really worshipping, and to what has nationalism been likened? (See footnote.)
26 What can it be? The Anglo-American World Power—the same as the seventh head of the first wild beast but in a special role! Isolating it in the vision as a separate wild beast helps us to see more clearly how it acts independently on the world stage. This figurative two-horned wild beast is made up of two coexisting, independent, but cooperating political powers. Its two horns “like a lamb” suggest that it makes itself out to be mild and inoffensive, with an enlightened form of government to which all the world should turn. But it speaks “as a dragon” in that it uses pressure and threats and even outright violence wherever its version of rulership is not accepted. It has not encouraged submission to God’s Kingdom under the rule of the Lamb of God but, rather, to the interests of Satan, the great dragon. It has promoted nationalistic divisions and hatreds that add up to worshipping the first wild beast.*
27. (a) What attitude of the two-horned wild beast is indicated by the fact that it makes fire come down out of heaven? (b) How do many people view the modern counterpart of the two-horned wild beast?
27 This two-horned wild beast performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven. (Compare Matthew 7:21-23.) This latter sign reminds us of Elijah, the ancient prophet of God who engaged in a contest with the prophets of Baal. When he successfully called down fire from heaven in the name of Jehovah, it proved beyond doubt that he was a true prophet and that the Baal prophets were false. (1 Kings 18:21-40) Like those Baal prophets, the two-horned wild beast feels that it has adequate credentials as a prophet. (Revelation 13:14, 15; 19:20) Why, it claims to have vanquished the forces of evil in two world wars and was victorious over so-called godless Communism! Many, indeed, view the modern counterpart of the two-horned wild beast as a guardian of liberty and a font of material good things.
The Image of the Wild Beast
28. How does John show that the two-horned wild beast is not as innocent as its lamblike horns would indicate?
28 Is this two-horned wild beast as innocent as its lamblike horns would indicate? John goes on to say: “And it misleads those who dwell on the earth, because of the signs that were granted it to perform in the sight of the wild beast, while it tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the wild beast that had the sword-stroke and yet revived. And there was granted it to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who would not in any way worship the image of the wild beast.”—Revelation 13:14, 15.
29. (a) What is the purpose of the image of the wild beast, and when was this image constructed? (b) Why is the image of the wild beast no lifeless statue?
29 What is this “image of the wild beast,” and what is its purpose? The purpose is to promote the worship of the seven-headed wild beast of which it is an image and thus, in effect, to perpetuate the existence of the wild beast. This image is constructed after the seven-headed wild beast revives from its sword stroke, that is, after the end of the first world war. It is no lifeless statue, such as Nebuchadnezzar erected on the plains of Dura. (Daniel 3:1) The two-horned wild beast breathes life into this image so that the image can live and play a role in world history.
30, 31. (a) What do the facts of history identify this image to be? (b) Have any been killed for refusing to worship this image? Explain.
30 The outworking of history identifies this image as the organization proposed, promoted, and supported by Britain and the United States and known initially as the League of Nations. Later, in Revelation chapter 17, it will appear under a different symbol, that of a living, breathing scarlet-colored wild beast having an independent existence. This international body ‘speaks,’ in that it makes boastful claims to be the only one able to bring peace and security to mankind. But in reality it has become a forum for member nations to exchange verbal tirades and insults. It has threatened with ostracism, or a living death, any nation or people that does not bow to its authority. The League of Nations actually expelled nations that failed to abide by its ideologies. At the onset of the great tribulation, militaristic “horns” of this image of the wild beast will fulfill a devastating role.—Revelation 7:14; 17:8, 16.
31 Since World War II, the image of the wild beast—now manifested as the United Nations organization—has already killed in a literal way. For example, in 1950 a UN force took the field in the war between North Korea and South Korea. The UN force, along with the South Koreans, killed an estimated 1,420,000 North Koreans and Chinese. Similarly, from 1960 to 1964, United Nations armies were active in the Congo (Kinshasa). Moreover, world leaders, including popes Paul VI and John Paul II, have continued to affirm that this image is man’s last and best hope for peace. If mankind fails to serve it, they insist, the human race will destroy itself. They thus figuratively cause to be killed all humans who refuse to go along with the image and worship it.—Deuteronomy 5:8, 9.
The Mark of the Wild Beast
32. How does John describe Satan’s maneuvering of the political parts of his visible organization to cause suffering for the remaining ones of the seed of God’s woman?
32 John now sees how Satan maneuvers the political parts of his visible organization to cause the maximum suffering for the remaining ones of the seed of God’s woman. (Genesis 3:15) He returns to describing “the wild beast” itself: “And it puts under compulsion all persons, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give these a mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name. Here is where wisdom comes in: Let the one that has intelligence calculate the number of the wild beast, for it is a man’s number; and its number is six hundred and sixty-six.”—Revelation 13:16-18.
33. (a) What is the name of the wild beast? (b) With what is the number six associated? Explain.
33 The wild beast has a name, and this name is a number: 666. Six, as a number, is associated with Jehovah’s enemies. A Philistine man of the Rephaim was of “extraordinary size,” and his “fingers and toes were in sixes.” (1 Chronicles 20:6) King Nebuchadnezzar erected a golden image 6 cubits in breadth and 60 cubits high, to unify his political officials in one worship. When God’s servants refused to worship the image of gold, the king had them thrown into a fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:1-23) The number six falls short of seven, which stands for completeness from God’s standpoint. Therefore, a triple six represents gross imperfection.
34. (a) What is indicated by the fact that the number of the wild beast “is a man’s number”? (b) Why is 666 a fitting name for Satan’s world political system?
34 A name identifies a person. So how does this number identify the beast? John says that it “is a man’s number,” not that of a spirit person, so the name helps to confirm that the wild beast is earthly, symbolizing human government. Just as six fails to measure up to seven, so 666—six to the third degree—is a fitting name for the world’s gigantic political system that fails so miserably to measure up to God’s standard of perfection. The world’s political wild beast rules supreme under the name-number 666, while big politics, big religion, and big business keep that wild beast functioning as an oppressor of mankind and a persecutor of God’s people.
35. What does it mean to be marked on the forehead or in the right hand with the name of the wild beast?
35 What does it mean to be marked on the forehead or in the right hand with the name of the wild beast? When Jehovah gave Israel the Law, he told them: “You must apply these words of mine to your heart and your soul and bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they must serve as a frontlet band between your eyes.” (Deuteronomy 11:18) This meant that the Israelites had to keep that Law constantly before them, so that it influenced all their actions and thoughts. The 144,000 anointed ones are said to have the Father’s name and that of Jesus written on their foreheads. This identifies them as belonging to Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. (Revelation 14:1) In imitation, Satan uses the demonic mark of the wild beast. Anybody engaged in everyday activities such as buying and selling is pressured to do things the way the wild beast does, as, for example, in celebrating holidays. They are expected to worship the wild beast, letting it rule their lives, so as to receive its mark.
36. Those who refuse to accept the mark of the wild beast have had what problems?
36 Those who refuse to accept the mark of the wild beast have had constant problems. Starting in the 1930’s, for example, they had to fight many court battles and endure violent mobbings and other persecutions. In the totalitarian countries, they were thrown into concentration camps, where many died. Since the second world war, countless young men have suffered lengthy imprisonments, some even being tortured and killed, because of their refusal to compromise their Christian neutrality. In other lands Christians are literally unable to buy or sell; some are unable to own property; others are raped, murdered, or chased from their native land. Why? Because in good conscience they refuse to buy a political party card.*—John 17:16.
37, 38. (a) Why is the world a difficult place for those who refuse to have the mark of the wild beast? (b) Who are keeping integrity, and what are they determined to do?
37 In some areas of the earth, religion is so ingrained in community life that anyone who stands for Bible truth is ostracized by family and former friends. It takes great faith to endure. (Matthew 10:36-38; 17:22) In a world where the majority worship material wealth and where dishonesty is rampant, the true Christian often has to trust implicitly in Jehovah that He will uphold him in pursuing an upright course. (Psalm 11:7; Hebrews 13:18) In a world awash with immorality, it takes great determination to remain clean and pure. Christians who fall sick are often pressured by doctors and nurses to break God’s law on the sanctity of blood; they even have to resist court orders that conflict with their faith. (Acts 15:28, 29; 1 Peter 4:3, 4) And in these days of rising unemployment, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a true Christian to avoid work that would mean compromising his integrity before God.—Micah 4:3, 5.
38 Yes, the world is a difficult place for those who do not have the mark of the wild beast. It is an outstanding demonstration of Jehovah’s power and blessing that the remaining ones of the seed of the woman, as well as more than six million of the great crowd, are keeping integrity despite all the pressures to break God’s laws. (Revelation 7:9) Unitedly, throughout the earth, may all of us continue to magnify Jehovah and his righteous ways, as we refuse to receive the mark of the wild beast.—Psalm 34:1-3.
For further details, please see pages 165-79 of the book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation, by R. C. H. Lenski, pages 390-1.
Commentators have noted that nationalism, in effect, is a religion. Hence, people who are nationalistic are really worshipping that portion of the wild beast represented by the country in which they live. Regarding nationalism in the United States, we read: “Nationalism, viewed as a religion, has much in common with other great religious systems of the past . . . On his own national god the modern religious nationalist is conscious of dependence. Of His powerful help he feels the need. In Him he recognises the source of his own perfection and happiness. To Him, in a strictly religious sense, he subjects himself. . . . The nation is conceived of as eternal, and the deaths of her loyal sons do but add to her undying fame and glory.”—Carlton J. F. Hayes, as quoted on page 359 of the book What Americans Believe and How They Worship, by J. Paul Williams.
[Picture on page 195]
There was granted it to give breath to the image of the wild beast