ESV - 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people.
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The beast of Revelation 13 is similar with the dragon in Revelation 12 – also see Daniel 7. They both have 7 heads and 10 horns with crowns – these are world powers that Satan is using to persecute God’s people (Rev 17:10). The dragon is Satan (Rev 12:9; 20:2) working through pagan and religious powers his deceptions and lies. The beast symbolizes Satan using the corrupt religions to persecute God’s faithful followers (Rev 13:7). Most Bible scholars, (including many Protestant Reformers) believe that this beast represents the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). The exact number of Christians murdered for their faith during the Middle Ages is unknown, but most historians agree that at least 50 million were slaughtered and many more were forced to flee for their lives. For over 1200 years the RCC persecuted and killed Christians who would not agree with the RCC traditions and style of worship. William Tyndale in 1536 was charged with heresy and burnt alive. What was his sin? He translated the Bible into English. Like him, many others were tortured, imprisoned and killed (also see Peter Waldo and the Waldensians story). The prophetic “time, times and half a time,” 42 months, and 1260 days are all the same time period written in different forms (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Rev 12:6, 14; 13:5). In Bible prophecy a day equal one year (Ezekiel 4:6; Num 14:34). RCC supremacy started in 538 AD when emperor Justinian gave the pope the title Pontifex Maximus ("Bridge builder between heaven and Earth") and established the papacy as the supreme Christian power. All this abruptly ended in 1798 when Napoleon’s army took Pope Pius VI captive and weeks later died. That is exactly 1260 years. However, the prophecy says that the deadly wound will heal (Rev 13:3) and sure enough in 1929, Mussolini agreed to return the papal seat and power. Since then the Vatican became a political and religious power without precedent. In 1982 the United States sent an ambassador to Vatican and announced full diplomatic relations with the Holy See. In 2015 Pope Francis conducted a US visit where he was warmly received be millions of adoring fans. He spoke before the Joint Session of US Congress – the first time a religious leader was invited to address both chambers of Congress, and then invited to address the UN General Assembly. This is astonishing if we think that the pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom and to escape the RCC persecution. They were looking for a government without a king and a church without a pope.
In my opinion, the deadly wound described in the verse is Christ's triumph through His death and resurrection. Although this wound inflicted by Christ on the beast will ultimately and assuredly prove fatal at the close of the age (when all the forces of evil will be destroyed), those forces are still very active until then, and are capable of deceiving people through their lies and the seemingly miraculous acts that they can perform.
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