Revelation 13:11,18 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the
earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
8 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.
John sees a beast coming up out of the earth that has two horns like a lamb, but it speaks as a dragon. Then he gives us the number of the beast, which is six hundred and sixty-six, or 666.
There have been many interpretations of the beast and his number. However, the best way to understand prophetic symbolism is to interpret scripture with scripture. The beast that comes up out of the earth (notice that it does not come out of heaven; it has an earthly origin) and has two horns like a lamb is not an individual, but a beast system. The Scriptures speak of Jesus Christ as being the Lamb of God (John 1:29). He is also called the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and Christians are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). Therefore, a sheep, or a lamb, would represent something of God.
So the beast coming up out of the earth with two horns like a lamb means that it has the outward appearance of being something of the Lord. It appears to be righteous. But although it has two horns like a lamb, it speaks as a dragon. So while it outwardly appears to be of the Lord, it has the nature of the dragon – “that old serpent the devil” (Revelation 20:2). And it has the number of a man, 666, which means that this beast system is a satanic work through men in a religious manner.
II Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves
into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and his ministers are transformed as ministers of righteousness. Now Satan is not completely stupid. He realizes that if he comes on the scene dressed in a red suit with horns, tail and a pitchfork, he is not going to deceive anyone. He would be recognized as Satan immediately. So he transforms himself into an angel of light. In other words, he garbs himself in such a way that he would appear to be of the Lord. Outwardly he wants to appear as an angel of light, and his ministers are transformed into ministers of righteousness.
The ministers of Satan are not going to look like ministers of Satan. They are going to look like ministers of righteousness. They will seem to be of God. In other words, they will have two horns like a lamb, but their inward nature will be of the dragon. Jesus said that there would be many false christs and many false prophets in the last days, that signs and wonders would be so great that even the very elect, if it were possible, would be deceived (Matthew 24:11,24). He was speaking of the great deception that would take place in our day.
Satan, in transforming himself into an angel of light, and his ministers, in transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness, are so adept that many of God’s people will be deceived. This being the case, it becomes very necessary for us to be totally dedicated to the Lord. The ones who are half-hearted and lukewarm are the ones who will be easily deceived. The beast system with two horns like a lamb is very, very deceptive, and those who are not totally submissive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ are going to find themselves in great trouble. Jesus would not have given such a warning concerning this deception if there weren’t a great danger in many of His people being deceived by this beast system.
How can we recognize the beast system? First of all, the key to discernment and revelation is to live in the presence of the Lord. If you know Him and can discern His Spirit, then you will be able to recognize the beast system, because that which is of the devil will be seen most clearly through contrast. So the closer you are to the Lord, the more involved you are with His purity and righteousness, the more obvious will the unobvious be. The deception of the beast system that comes forth from the dragon will not be effective against the ones who are found totally in the Lord.
Jesus confronted the beast system and exposed its workings in Matthew chapter 23. We find that it was not only operative by that time, but it had already deceived many of God’s people. The apostle John confirmed this fact when he said (speaking of Jesus Christ), “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Only a few people accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Even after His ascension, there were only 120 in the upper room waiting for the promise of the Father. Why did they not receive Him? After all, they had been taught about His coming every Sabbath in their synagogues. Yet when He appeared, they would not receive Him. Why? It was because the beast system had already brought deception to their hearts.
Matthew 23:1-7 Then
spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
It would be very hard, if not impossible, to find any place in the Scriptures where Jesus said anything good about the scribes and Pharisees. Instead, He said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” The Pharisees were hypocrites! Yet they were the most religious of that day. In verse 1, Jesus, speaking to His disciples and the multitude, said, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” In other words, the scribes and Pharisees appeared to be righteous. They had two horns like a lamb, but within them was the dragon nature. They were a part of the beast system that was already operating in that day.
Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
The beast system of scribes and Pharisees had shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men. They would not go in, and neither would they let others enter in. How was that done? The scribes and Pharisees were meticulous teachers of the Scriptures. They frequently taught the people concerning the coming of the Messiah and of the Kingdom of God. Moreover their teachings were not false doctrines, for they were relating the promises of God that came through Moses and the Prophets.
However, the Messiah was already there. Jesus Christ was in their midst, and His message was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Notice the contrast, for this is a difference that will expose the beast system. The beast system will teach doctrines that are correct. They will speak of the coming of the Lord, and they will speak of the Kingdom of God. But they will always place them into the future. This is the way the beast system shuts up the Kingdom of heaven. They will not enter in, and neither will they let others enter in.
It is not enough to know that the Kingdom of God will come. It is not enough to know that Jesus Christ will come again. It is necessary that we walk with Him in the present, that we know Him now. The promises of God are potentials that we can experience now by appropriation. We can participate in the Kingdom of God right now in this present time. The true men of God, the true apostles and prophets that are coming forth in this day, will not be ministering something to come, but they will proclaim the same message Jesus did, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The things that God has in store for His people are for right now. They are for the very present moment. God wants us to walk with Him now. He wants us to live in His Kingdom now. He wants that return of Jesus Christ to take place within us right now. He must come forth in us. Paul spoke of this in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. II Thessalonians 1:10. The promises of God should not be placed in the future and left there. That closes up the Kingdom of heaven to men. But when the Kingdom of heaven is opened up for the present, then we can walk in it. What will the beast system do? They will take the truths of God and place them in the future so that you cannot participate in them now. The true ministers of God will open up the things of God that you may participate in them now.
Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Woe unto you beast system! For you make disciples of yourselves, and they become twice the child of hell that you are.” The beast system will not produce disciples of Jesus Christ, because it cannot minister His life. They will preach about Jesus (their own particular brand of Jesus, of course), and say, “If you do not accept Jesus as your Savior, you will go to hell. If you accept Him, you will go to heaven.” So the alternative is given, “Do you want to go to heaven, or do you want to go to hell?” That is not the Gospel of the Kingdom! That is a sales pitch for a particular church organization. Those who respond to that become disciples of a religious system. Those who do not know the Lord use that tactic.
The deception in that kind of ministry is in the fact that it is a mixture of that which is false and that which is true. One who does not know Jesus Christ as his Savior will experience hell. However, a true ministry ministers Christ so that the individual can experience His life.
Matthew 23:16-19 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the
temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he
17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
False ministries will direct the people’s devotion to something other than the Lordship of Jesus Christ. For example, if the gifts of the Spirit are magnified and exalted above the Giver of the gifts, the effectiveness of the gifts are minimized.
The Scriptures tell us to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). However, the beast system of scribes and Pharisees has a very subtle way of creating gods for Christians, and it has worked extremely well. They do not take things that are obviously not of God and present them as deities. Rather, in their cunningness, they take the blessings and good things that God has given us and deifies them. Thus many Protestants, particularly among the Fundamentalists, have become worshipers of the Bible and worshipers of doctrines.
The Pharisees have always used this tactic. Jesus told them, “Ye search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). Many Christians do the same thing today, because they have been taught by the pharisaic spirit. They deify the Bible and their pet doctrines, and consequently they miss the revelation of Jesus Christ that comes through the Scriptures. The Bible is not to be deified! We thank God for it, but it is merely a means by which God has chosen to reveal Himself and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
This is another thing the beast system will do. It will emphasize religious rituals and traditions, but omit the most important thing of all, a relationship with God. The antichrist spirit has so infiltrated Christianity until a large portion of it has substituted religious rituals and traditions for a walk with God. The beast system teaches people to be faithful to pay tithes, to attend church regularly, to pray, to support missions, etc., but they do not teach people how to know the Lord and walk with Him. Religious practices such as these are good only when they come out of a relationship with the Lord. Therefore, Jesus said, “These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus said it this way: Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:7-9,13.
Matthew 23:25-26 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but
within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Another indication of the beast system is that it cleans and dresses up the outside, while it leaves the inside unclean. It will issue a lot of rules and regulations to live by in order to appear righteous and holy. But it is far more important to minister the Word that will clean the inside, for God looks upon the heart. It is man that looks upon the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7). The beast system focuses on the outward appearance, but the true ministers of God focus upon the heart.
Matthew 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward,
but are within full of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
That is the beast system marked 666! It has two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon.
Matthew 23:29-39 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the
sepulchres of the righteous.
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36 Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38 Behold your house is left unto you desolate.
39 For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Every Sabbath the Pharisees were in their synagogues teaching from the Scriptures. They esteemed Moses and the prophets very highly. Yet it was their fathers that had condemned the prophets. It is one thing to honor the prophets of the past, but what about the prophets of the present?
The beast system will honor the prophets of the past, but they will not recognize a prophet in the present. While the Pharisees taught from the words of Moses and the prophets, they rejected the Prophet that was in their midst – the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the one thing that bothered them more than anything else was that Jesus spoke a living Word. He was considered a prophet and a great teacher among the people, but the Pharisees did not want to be faced with a prophet in the present. As long as you don’t have a prophet proclaiming a living Word, you can take the Scriptures and twist them around to fit any kind of doctrine that you want to teach. But when you’ve got a prophet standing in your midst speaking the Word of God, it is quite a different thing. You can’t twist the Word around; rather, you are faced with the reality of God.
The Pharisees honored the prophets of another day, but they would not have a prophet in their midst. That is the way the beast system operates – honor the prophets of the past, but no prophets today.
In verse 34 Jesus said, “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.” He also said, in Matthew 24:11, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Throughout the Scriptures you always find false and true prophets on the scene at the same time; and, usually, the false prophets come forth just ahead of the true prophets. That is Satan’s way of trying to discredit the prophets of God.
So in this day when the beast system has deceived so many, we can expect the true prophets of God to come on the scene. Some of them will be persecuted and martyred. Nevertheless, they will speak a Word that will bring judgment on the beast system and will lead the people of God into the Kingdom of our Lord.
The words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 23 shed a lot of light on the beast system. He exposes it and tells us how to recognize it. Even though He does all this, many people are still deceived by it. It looks so much like the real thing. It has two horns like a lamb, but it speaks as a dragon.
Luke 13:10-14 And He was teaching in one of the synagogues
on the Sabbath.
11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
12 And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
13 And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.
There is the beast system. Whenever you find Christ moving in the present, you will also find the beast system rising up in opposition.
Luke 13:15-17 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou
hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from
the stall, and lead him away to watering?
16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?
17 And when He had said these things, all His adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
This woman had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, but Jesus ministered to her and loosed her. He said that she was a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound. Now you remember, we read in Revelation 13 that the number of the beast system was 666. And here we see that a spirit of infirmity had bound this woman for eighteen years. Eighteen is three sixes, 6+6+6=18.
She was in bondage by a spirit of infirmity. In verse 16 Jesus said, “This woman whom Satan hath bound…” She was in bondage by the beast system. This woman represents the Church. The beast system comes forth in such a subtle way. It comes to put God’s people in bondage, and many are deceived. The Church is crippled by a spirit of infirmity that has been ministered by the beast system. But the ministry of Christ will come forth in power and authority in this last time to loose the woman and set her free. The bondage that has been ministered by the beast system is going to be broken by the ministry of Jesus Christ through His many-membered Body in these last days.
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose