THE TWO-HORNED BEAST
Once we have seen the history of the ten-horned beast, we are introduced to a second player in this drama. One reason the ten-horned beast recovered from its Reformation wound is that this new player demonstrates that there is yet left some real church- state power — even separate from the original beast. It, in essence, revitalizes the concept of Divine Right and church-state unity– just at the moment when the Reformation might have killed the concept.
VERSE 11 “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.”
AND I SAW: Again we have one of the Revelator’s obvious divisions of his story.
ANOTHER BEAST: Something akin to the first beast, thus called “another” one. This one is also a church-state empire.
COMING UP OUT OF THE EARTH: This beast, unlike the first one, is not born out of chaos in the empire (it does not arise from the “sea”, representative of restless humanity), but, to the contrary, evolves rather smoothly out of existing society (the “earth”) — actually a break-off from the existing Holy Roman Empire.
AND HE HAD TWO HORNS: two supporting powers. This makes identification quite simple since such a beast is only to be found in one place. Even though the Church of England and Ireland was officially so known only for about 70 years during the 19th century, its two-power characteristic is sufficient to identify it. It FUNCTIONED as the church of these two countries for over 300 years. It is important to remember also that this beast IS NOT the Church of England and Ireland, but rather the church-state system of these two countries combined.
LIKE A LAMB: Apparently this description is given as a CONTRAST to the Leopard Beast of Rev 13:1, 2, this would, then, imply a temperate nature to this beast — not at all like the Holy Roman Empire.
AND HE SPOKE AS A DRAGON: In the English Empire, the King is titular head of the church. Therefore, this beast has been (and, no doubt, WILL BE in any future involvements) more noticed for its political than its theological pronouncements. Brethren might well pay special note to this phrase. It seems clearly to say that England’s secular involvements would have more to do with prophetic fulfillment than its religious dogma.
VERSE 12 “And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, who’s deadly wound was healed.”
AND HE EXERCISES ALL AUTHORITY OF THE FIRST BEAST: Recall that the first beast had three kinds of authority. Apparently all of these authorities would apply to the two-horned beast except the 1260-year license. This phrase tells us the tyranny which this new beast was capable of. Virtually everything the Roman beast claimed, the English beast claimed. Only the mouths differed. One had the Pope, the other the King or Queen.
IN THIS PRESENCE: i. e., AT THE SAME TIME. The two beasts were doing the same things except that each did it in his own sphere of influence.
AND HE MAKES THE EARTH AND THOSE WHO DWELL IN IT: Society and those with a stake in it. Society is impersonal, but it had to conform. Those who dwell in it are individuals who are the mainstays of society, that is, people with something to lose if society doesn’t “worship” the beast. This need for CONFORMITY to preserve the status quo is what prompted persecution of dissenters. The English refugees to America during this period were attempting to escape this societal conformity and its requirements.
TO WORSHIP THE FIRST BEAST: By example. England and its church-state arrangements, being virtually no different from the Holy Roman Empire, made criticism of the Roman Beast impossible. The establishment of the English church-state actually HELPED the Holy Roman Empire recover from its grievous wound inflicted by the Reformation. How can you criticize your twin? By its doctrine and structural example, the two-horned beast promoted worship of its European counterpart.
WHOSE FATAL WOULD WAS HEALED: The wound was caused by the Reformation. The healing was AIDED by Henry VIII’s establishment of the English Church. The history of the two-beasts and their successes is inseparable. While they were enemies, they were also comrades. It is well stated of Henry: “…he beheaded ‘traitors’ who recognized Papal headship, and burned ‘heretics’ who denied Papal doctrines.” The only REAL enmity between the two beasts was between their two mouths (King and Pope).
VERSE 13 “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.”
AND HE PERFORMS GREAT SIGNS:
At this point in the narrative, the various brethren who interpret this prophecy divide in their opinions. Some explain Verses 13-17 as part — symbolic of powers exercised by the English beast similar to those having been exercised by the Roman beast. Others do this but EXTEND the application into the future. Yet others feel that these verses are almost certainly yet to be fulfilled. The arguments are sound on all three accounts. We must await the Lord’s interpretation. Because Brother Russell’s viewpoint was the second of these three options, and because his views seem most reasonable to the fact and the context, we will parallel his thoughts in these verses.
The GREAT SIGNS seem to refer to the exercise of power by the English church-state to insure compliance to its doctrine and practices.
SO THAT HE EVEN MAKES FIRE COME DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN: Fire represents judgments (and/or their destructive results.) Heaven is the ecclesiastical world. The judgments of the English system against heretics were severe:
TO THE EARTH IN THE PRESENCE OF MEN: The fire which ecclesiastically judged society was a tool of the church to frighten men into compliance. Punishments were public so that none could escape the warning lessons — hence the phrase IN THE PRESENCE OF MEN (Compare Verse 12 where the same phrase shows how the English church flaunted its authority in front of the Roman beast.) MEN, in Rev 13:13 may be a reference to true Christians. This practice of the English beast to intimidate dissenters was one of the causes of many leaving England for America.
VERSE 14 “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.”
AND HE DECEIVES THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE EARTH: The deception was that he actually had spiritual authority. Note, however, that the only ones really deceived are “those who dwell on the earth” — non-spirit-begotten ones whose primary interests are their temporal affairs.
BECAUSE OF THE SIGNS: The best way to deceive is to tell a big-enough lie. The “signs,” the manifestations of spiritual power, exercised by this new beast gave a message:
TELLING THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE EARTH: Showing them by example
TO MAKE AN IMAGE TO THE BEAST WHO HAD THE WOUND: It is important to remember here that those who get the idea (by example) to make an image are “those who dwell on the earth.” Protestantism in general was a Reformation movement in which, probably, all (or nearly all) of the true saints were involved. It was NOT the idea of the saints to make an image. It was the idea of “those who dwell on the earth” — those who needed another and newer vehicle to expand their worldly roots.
The image, note, is not to the beast who inspired it, but to the 10-horned beast. This is telling. Why would the 2-horned beast say to make an image to the 10-horned beast? The fact is, the 2-horned beast was, in its own way, an image of the other beast, by being so (that is, by example), it told the power people (“those who dwell on the earth”) that they TOO could make ANOTHER image if they find it profitable to do so (And so they have, as there are now hundreds of “images”, i.e. church organizations in existence). In other words, by example, the 2-horned beast was saying: “If I can do it, why can’t others?” The Roman Catholic politico-socio economic world had, in a sense, lost the world of Protestantism for their profit-making ventures. How could they regain this market? They could work toward amalgamating Protestantism into one large, cooperative block – a new sort of beast, but not so strong as, only an image of, a reflection of, the first beast WHO HAD THE WOUND OF THE SWORD (by Protestantism’s Reformation) but who HAS COME TO LIFE in a semi-rejuvenated, new-headed, Holy Roman Empire.
VERSE 15 “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
THERE WAS GIVEN TO HIM: Note this phrase carefully. We encountered it several times in the description of the Leopard Beast. This phrase was consistently followed by a history of what happened once something was “given” to the beast. The same now happens here.
TO GIVE BREATH TO THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST: The image is the Protestant church federation (The various church organizations composing Protestantism, viz. Lutherans, Methodist, Baptist, Adventist, etc., etc.). The English beast has been instrumental in all efforts in this direction. This is clearly shown in history. The British-Empire was an immensely important factor in unifying the post-French-Revolution world — most particularly the non-Roman Catholic world. Remember, this beast speaks “as a dragon” — its civil influences are as important as its ecclesiastical ones. It does not seem far-fetched to claim that the influences of the British Empire were an important factor in contributing to the movement toward the federation of Protestant denominations. England’s maritime economic pursuits unified the Protestant world in the 19th century.
At this point it is wise to note Brother Russell’s hesitancy at predicting now much more MIGHT happen in the future. He clearly leaves open the door to the thought that this MAY HAVE BEEN mostly fulfilled by the Church of England’s cooperation in Protestant federation. IF more is to come, we will see it; IF more is not to come in this regard, we should not make our unfulfilled expectations embitter us.
It is of great value to note the similarity of this image to that found in Daniel 3:1. The beast itself (13:18) is denoted by the number 666. Daniel’s image, almost certainly related to the Rev. 13 image, is 60 cubits by 6 cubits. We are given only TWO DIMENSIONS. This seems to be saying that the Image of the Beast is only two-dimensional — it has no depth. (Perhaps this is saying that it is never a real church-state union.) It is a hollow imitation of its great model. It becomes alive and functioning and, as the continuation of this verse shows, it exercises sufficient influence to be a problem.
THAT THE IMAGE MIGHT EVEN SPEAK: It gains enough power to become another mouth. It gains the ability through pronouncements to change attitudes to alter behaviors, to influence politics (Note that its mouth is never defined –never clearly delineated as are the mouths of the two great beasts.)
AND CAUSES AS MANY AS DO NOT WORSHIP THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST TO BE KILLED: Killing here, as elsewhere, seems to be actual or functional excommunication. The message is, “If you don’t go along with our federated standards, we don’t recognize you as Christians.” Generally any church outside the realm of orthodoxy is considered either a false church or a cult.
Continued with next post.
Excerpts taken from the New Albany Notes on Revelation