I am coming to the end of this study and it is interesting how long it has taken. I started this series on another blog on August 11th 2009. It has been an on again and off again project but it has without a doubt been most interesting to me because of where I started off in my beliefs about this book of the Bible and where I stand now. I have come a long way but there is still one issue to clear up. It is the issue of the Bad Guy Symbolism of the book.
For years I was taught that the Dragon was Satan and that the two beasts were certain characters in the future namely the Anti Christ and the Beast of the Earth was the False Prophet. I am going to tell you that I think the one the got right was the Dragon is Satan but that is an easy one to get because the Book of Revelation tells you that flat-out. The other two are not truly identified but what they do sets them off. I however no longer see these as individual people that take on a role in the ends times scenario but forces that were working at the time of the writing of Revelation and are still at work today.
The Beast of the Sea clearly represents an evil force that supports certain political entities. In the Case of the book of Revelation this beast is what the Whore of Babylon (Rome) rides on. The question I have is this the only person who has sat on the beast or could there have been and continue to be other riders? Does this Beast represent more of a continuing demonic force the supports and empowers any government entity that seeks to destroy the faith? Paul seemed to think the spirit of Anti-Christ was already working in his own lifetime. It is very interesting to me because it means this symbol may be a representation of the demonic forces that back human political forces that oppose Christ. Much is made though of this idea of a single person who is the son of perdition but I wonder if this is not a more general statement about any one who is a political leader who embraces the ideas of opposing Christ. Is this focus on an individual Anti-Christ or is it on any leader who gains their support from the demonic ideas of opposing Christianity? I am sill not sure but I can tell you this I uphold the possibility because to me the other Beast demonstrates this more clearly.
The Beast of the Earth is a symbol of false prophecy to be sure. It is the symbol of the power false prophecy can have and the influence it can create. The Beast of the Earth points people to the Beast of the Sea and upholds its power. In large part this is the largest problem with religious forces backing political ones but the idea of false prophets and the nature of false prophecy was not unknown to John as he warned against them. It was not also unknown to Jesus, Peter or many of the other apostles who warned the church of their coming. Even the book of Revelation itself opens by chiding one of the churches for following a false prophetess. My point is even in the first century the idea of false prophecy was already there and alive and well. The question then becomes does the Beast of the Earth simply represent the whole of the forces of false prophets to deceive many and lead people to a false Christ? Perhaps.
The point I am trying to make with all of this is that the bad guy symbolism could mean a lot more than modern interpreters of our day have limited it to be. The one thing I have found in this study is that I am very willing to say “I don’t know” and be comfortable with that while others who write all these books seem to be less comfortable with that idea. I much prefer to take the lesson of watching in my current time for elements of the spirit of Anti-Christ that are at work and have been at work for almost 2000 years and seeing the false prophets of my own time for who they are than trying to figure out who these two men are as future historical figures. To me this is more pragmatic and applicable that spending my time looking to see if this person or that person is the Anti-Christ.