(9) And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, (10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
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No person alive looks forward with any kind of wonderful anticipation to going through what these verses show.
Its clear from the context of Revelation 13 and 14 that "beast" is being used in the sense of a wild, adversarial animal. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is because of the use of leopard, bear, lion, and dragon. These are not domesticated animals, but rather they are animals that we would make every effort to avoid. We do not want to cross their paths if we find any indication that they are around. We make a great big circle to get out of their way.
Then, of course, there is the contrast with a lamb—a domesticated animal. Cattle, sheep, and goats are beasts, but they hardly qualify as being animals that strike terror in people.
The Beast being described here would cause our hair to stand on end. It exudes malevolence. It is interested in eating us for food or destroying us for crossing its path—it is a beast that is violent and aggressive and simply wants to perpetuate itself.
"Beast" is being used as a symbol, and the context is not really talking about an actual animal. The beast represents a governmental system, the personality of a system, and that system's philosophy of life. The context is showing us that from the system's point of view, people have no value other than for its purpose, and its purpose is simply to maintain and to extend its existence and power through the use of terror, fear—things that any wild animal would naturally exercise. In the "beast's" eyes, we are fodder or chattel.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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