“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
“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. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Rev. 13:11–15).
We have identified the beast from the sea—a great and threatening beast—with the Roman Empire. Its seven heads are seven hills, and its seven heads are also seven kings—the sixth one, Nero, reigning at the time the Revelation was given.
But we now come to a lesser beast, a beast who arises from the land. This beast does not look terrifying the same way the sea beast does because it looks like a lamb. But it speaks like a dragon, showing that it is just as evil as the sea beast, and like the dragon Satan behind the sea beast.
In order to ascertain the identity of the land beast, we have to piece together a few clues. The first is that John identifies this land beast with the false prophet to come later.
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (Rev. 16:13).
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20).
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).
So the land beast is described as a religious figure (a prophet), but one who gives a blessing to those who would worship the sea beast, Rome. There is obviously a cozy relationship with Rome. This beast also has the power of working signs and wonders. This beast comes up out of the earth—the word for this is ge, which should be best understood here as the land, meaning the land of Israel. Putting all this together, I take the land beast as representing the priesthood of apostate Israel, with the high priest as a likely representative.
We have an example of this in how the religious leaders of the Jews treated Jesus.
“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:47–48).
And Caiaphas, being high priest that year, spoke for them all when he said that Jesus must die for the nation (John 11:49).
But what about the signs and sorcery? We have indications of that kind of behavior among the Jews also.
“But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one” (Acts 8:9).
“And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus” (Acts 13:6).
Some of them even tried to use the name of Jesus as though it were a charm.
“Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth” (Acts 19:13).
The Jewish rebels who finally brought about the destruction of Jerusalem were a very different group from the Jewish quislings who worked hand in glove together with Rome. Satan was behind Rome, and these men were prostate before Rome, making them a synagogue of Satan. They were, as Jesus once put it, of their father the devil (John 8:44). The Jewish leadership at this time was demonic.