The Revelation of St. John in Chapter 13 portrays three forces of evil that unite to seize the initiative and establish their own kingdom on earth. Represented as the vehicle of the first of these three forces is "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" (11:7) or "a beast rise up out of the sea" (13:1)
. Blasphemy is his salient characteristic. “And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven” 13:6.
"And upon his heads the name of blasphemy" 13:1.
He may be identified with the "vile" king, of whom Daniel speaks: "And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done" Dan. 11:36.
Further St. Paul the Apostle prophesies: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" 2 Thes. 2:3-4.
Maybe he is a representative of one of demoniac civilizations, which were in the ancient days annihilated by Creator?
The Revelation shows that all the forces of evil are concentrated on the first beast.
The "second beast"
or the "beast caming up out of the earth"
, "causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast" (13:12).
Finally the dragon that Michael has thrown down from the heavens, gives to first beast "his power and his seat, and great authority" (13:2).
Although these three forces briefly unite against their common adversary, they are of different origins, which thus makes the picture of world evil more complex. At any rate the now common counterposing of God and Devil (or Satan), as good and evil, appears overly simplified. Evil cannot be of one substance; its vehicles hate one another and they unite only because compelled to do so which makes this unity most unstable.
According to the Revelation of St. John, they differ because of their lairs, with the dragon housed in the heavens, one beast in the see or abyss, and another in the earth. Evidently one must perforce regard this as a crucial indication of the evil of which each is vehicle.
The Holy Bible approximates
sea and abyss with the notions of Hell and the Nether Regions. The first beast emerges from these Nether Regions to which it had been confined as punishment. This is one of the created spirits that had abandoned God yet long before Adam was created.
The pretext to the abandonment could have been due to the hand he had in the evolution of life on earth. Abusing its creative freedom and having gained cognition of the secrets of heredity and the formation of new species, he had imagined himself to be the lord and the master of the earth and caused the evolution of the animal world to go astray. When this transcended all permissible bounds to a point imperilling the entire frame of God's design, the rebel spirit was cast out of God's sight and confined to the Nether Regions. Though he could still act on earth to some extent, this was all seen as forbidden and criminal by everyone having "the law inscribed on their hearts" (Rom.2:15)
, as precisely that law contrives the common notions of good and evil which all mankind shares.
Who will release the beast from the abyss of hell in the apocalyptic epoch?
Could it have been the second beast rising up out of the earth?
This image is usually interpreted as human evil, as false teaching, as magic and the abuse of intelligence for purposes antagonistic to God. Father, most likely, of this evil is Cain who because he slew Abel lost that power over the earth that the first men possessed and first among descendants of Adam founded the urban civilization (Gen. 4). The beast from the earth, styled also a "false prophet" (19:20)
exercises great authority over material nature; thus, "he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men" (13:13).
Then what is the dragon cast down from the heavens?
The Revelation of St. John names the dragon as "that serpent of old, the devil or satan" (20:2)
. "Satan" is the proper name given by God it did not assume its negative meaning at first. Tracing the text of the Holy Scriptures we find that Satan's fall from graces occurred in stages.
The Old Testament mentions Satan as one of "the sons of God" (Job. 1:6)
possibly as Daniel's "prince of the kingdom of Persia" (Dan. 10:13)
. In Hebrew "Satan" means as the Book of Job shows "one who is skeptical, who doubts". In it he is one of the angels who discharges the specific functions his name implies. His skepticism, is disbelief concerns man generally, who because of his flesh is subject to the infernal evil. Apparently, he sees himself as the main enemy of hell and suspicious of the human being takes him to trial starting with Adam and Eve. His actions, his doings are still not inimical to God and are conspicuous exclusively
for reason of their inordinate "ascetic piety", the root source of future envy, hypocrisy and pride.
Conversing with Jesus in the wilderness Satan propounds his plan for redeeming the human race. Though it may be termed spurious, still it cannot be qualified as downright criminal. What dominates here is Satan's claim to priority as regards salvation. He doubtlessly holds that in principle an angel is higher than the human being. No wonder his program rests on the weaknesses and baseness of human nature. However, Jesus rejects his plan and demands, as it is said in the Greek and Slavonic texts: "Get behind me, Satan!" (Mt.4:10).
However, when translating the Scriptures into Latin, St. Jerome changed the meaning in principle to this cause the remark to read: "Begone, Satan!" or “get thee hence, Satan”
(by King James) as he evidently identified Satan with the spawn of hell.
The Gospels explicitly designate the time of Satan's first fall from grace. When His seventy disciples returned from the first sermon Jesus told them: "I beheld Satan as lightning, fall from heaven" (Lk.10:10).
This signifies not a casting out, but rather a voluntary act, that may be compared to the suicide of Judas Iscariot; by no means fortuitously the Evangelists note that ”Satan entered into Judas Iscariot" (Lk. 22:3; John 13:27).
Evidently proudly envious of Jesus' success, Satan plunged down from the heavens where God dwells and "settled" in cosmic space, for which reason the apostle says of him: "The commander of the spiritual powers of the air"
, or: ”The prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).
No wonder either that immediately after Satan's fall, Jesus recites to the devout the "Lord's Prayer", which ends with the entreaty: "Lead
us not into temptation but deliver us from evil" (from “liar” in Greek text) (Mt. 6:13
Here Satan is named "evil" to wit, liar and we implore the Our Father in Heaven not to let him put us to further test. Now he is called "devil" which means "slanderer".
Satan does not abandon his notions of man and continues to implement his plan which he regards as "redeeming". The gist of it is to have man repudiate the pretensions of the Nether Regions, not though out of love of God, but out of pride, as, in the final result the human being is to eschew his body and likened himself to the angels. While man inhabits his body, he is, inevitably, bound to be shaken by the powers of the Nether Regions: it is the main “dogma of Satan.”
In this fashion Satan yields the earth to the forces of evil, reserving to himself the spiritual dimensions of the cosmic Space. That already spells his betrayal of God as Creator of heaven and earth, and demonstrates his partial alliance with the Nether Regions.
The second stage of Satan's fall from grace is described in the Revelation of St. John. Michael, whom he had sought to "devour" when in infancy, vanquishes him and throws him down onto the earth (12:7-9). When that happen, "in great fury" (12:12), he openly embraces union with the spirit of the abyss, against whom he had so implacably warred before; indeed, he confers upon the beast "his powers and rule and great authority" (13:2). Thereby he stands fully revealed and is chastised by confinement to the abyss, or Nether Regions (20:1-3), where the first beast had been held before. Incidentally it is just the same Michael who bound him, as he had long ago overthrown the first beast! “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” 20:1-3.
Such is the third stage of Satan's fall.
The final, fourth stage comes at the close of the thousand-year reign: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
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”. 20:7-10.
So all forces of evil will be annihilated.