You have now been shown two characters in Revelation, namely, the harlot and the beast who came up out of the sea (Revelation 13:1, 2, 11). But John also saw another animal who came up from the earth, it had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. There are actually two animals we are dealing with in Revelation. So lets look at this another animal from land.
Before we start with the second animal, I will just bring one important thing that deals with both of these animals, and it is the dragon as I only will mention once in awhile. The dragon is closely related to both of this animals, and it is quite interesting to see the parody of the Trinity where the second animal is adapted to the dragon and the beast from the sea (the first beast, Rev. 13:2, 11; cf. 16:13). The dragon comes from heaven (Revelation 12:4), the first beast from the sea (Rev. 13:1) and the second beast from the land (Rev. 13:11). The beast from the sea and the beast from the land are linked to the dragon who is Satan, as we can see in Rev. 13:2, 11.
The fact that the beast from the land emerges after the beast means that it is subordinate to the sea-beast and have less power. We also see this in that it has only two horns, unlike the sea-beast who have 10 horns. (read about the horns and power). The second beast will “exercise all the power of the first beast” had, and gets all “to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Roman Empire and the Emperor). (Rev. 13:12).
The other animal do not have more power than the first beast gives it, but who is this this “ther beast” that comes up from the land / earth, and that almost serves the first beast and is in a ministry of Satan? John actually puts us on the track already in Rev. 1:7, where he associates “the earth” (the land) with the tribes of Israel, ie Israel. (read Revelation Part 1). Let me try to explain the “land-beast”.
The historical significance of the Temple and Israel’s leadership can be recognized by the clergy was a central and dominant political-economic institutions. Torah served as a constitution and a law-code of the temple state, centered in Jerusalem. The scribes and Pharisees again, served as a mediating political-economic-religious feature of this Judaean temple state.
There were two key positions that had control of Israel, one was that which belongs to the city (Jerusalem) and the other was what belonged to the temple, as offerings. If you got control of these two you would had the power, which the Pharisees and the scribes had, for no Jew would give up their offerings. They had control over who could offer, sale of offerings, etc. In other words, the temple was important for the reason that it was God’s house and that was where they sacrificed to him. Jerusalem was the holy city of God which the temple stood, thus these two was inseparable and was the center of the nation Israel. Josephus gives us a picture of these two positions for the control of Israel:
“she endeavored to get possession of the fortified places that were about the city, which were two, the one belonging to the city itself, the other belonging to the temple; and those that could get them into their hands had the whole nation under their power, for without the command of them it was not possible to offer their sacrifices; and to think of leaving on those sacrifices is to every Jew plainly impossible, who are still more ready to lose their lives than to leave off that Divine worship which they have been wont to pay unto God.” (Ant. 15:7:8).
As I mentioned above, there came a time when an elite group took over and ruled it with their own power. This governmental power was dominated and made up exclusively of high-priests, other prominent and leading Pharisees who were entrusted with a dominion over the nation, as Josephus writes: “… the Government was an aristocracy, and the high priests were entrusted with dominion over the nation. “(Ant 20:10:1).
What John does in Rev. 13:11-18 is to expose the evil nature of the land-beast, which was apostate in his service and administration. This is a backdrop in which Christ tries the Jewish leaders in the Gospels, and the persecution of the Christians in the synagogues and the temple in Acts. It is a moral link between the dragon (Satan), sea-beast (Rome) and land-beast (Israel’s highest-priestly aristocracy). Satan and Israel’s leaders are already linked together in Rev. 2:9 and 3:9, and he calls them the “synagogue of Satan.” (see also Jn. 8:44, Rev. 2:10).
But how does this mean that the beast exercised all the power that the first beast had? It’s probably not all the authority that a kingdom have we are talking about here, as to suspend taxes, to insert ombudsman, build roads or provide an army, etc. It is rather talk about power of Satan, from his place in heaven, which overcoming God’s salvation purpose by secure the death of Christ (Rev. 12:4) and accuse the brethren (Rev. 12:10) to their death (Rev. 12:11) by means of persecution (Rev. 1:13 p.m., 17 ). the Land-beast reflects the first beast’s authority that was given to him by the dragon (Satan) to go to war against the saints (Rev. 13:7). This is the authority which was given and what we talk about.
The land-beast does not exercise power independent of the sea-beast, but in the presence of him. (Rev. 13:12). In Rev. 19:20, we see that the land-beast is the false prophet and the land-beast mimics the true prophets who operating before the God of the earth (Rev. 11:4). Lord’s prophets does not possess full power independent of Him. The same way does not Israel possess Rome’s authority independent of Rome. Israel is subordinate to Rome.
Although the Pharisees falsely accused the Christians for crime (John 19:7, Acts. 23:29, 25:24) and confronted Jesus if He accepted the Mosaic penalties for offenses (John 8:3-5), they could little do when Rome had herself reserved the authority to exercise a fatal punishment. Josephus is again helpful with information on how this relationship was then Judea was reduced to a province.
“AND now, Archelaus’s part of Judea, was reduced into a province, and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, was sent as a procurator, having the power of [life and] death put into his hands by Caesar.” (War. 2:8:1).
Rome had power throughout the province and also in the midst of Jerusalem, which is clearly revealed when Pontus Pilate explains to Jesus: “knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” (John. 19:10-11). When Rome had this power, the Jewish leaders had to request the Roman authorities to handle their case against Jesus. (John 18:31).
When you now already are in John 19, you can always read from verses 1-16 and see the land-beast manipulates the sea-beast to carry the dragon will. It was the dragon who gave sea-beast authority and we see the land-beast reflects this by urging the sea-beast to exercise punishment. This is the legal drama is about in Rev. 1:7, and another character that we find in the midst of this drama is “the slaughtered lamb” (Rev. 5:6, 12; 13:8 cf. 5:8).
Bible verses are taken from the KJV.
War = War of the Jews, Flavius Josephus.
Ant.= Antiquities, Flavius Josephus.