Thirteen has always been my favorite number. Not only is it my birth date, but I enjoy going against the flow of negativity some folks have about the number 13. I've even wished at times I'd been born on Friday the 13th, 'cuz there's just nothing truly special about Wednesday the 13th. Oh well.
But I have to say that Chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation is definitely not lucky! In fact, I think it describes one of the most unlucky events in the history of the world! In this chapter we are introduced to two beasts.
John sees a beast coming out of the sea right after he watches Satan stand on the shore of the sea. This beast is a horrible looking thing, with ten horns, a leopard-like appearance, bear-like feet and the mouth of a lion. NOT something you'd want to meet in the dark and gloomy woods!
But the real creepy thing about this beast is that it is basically the dragon's--Satan's--pet! In verse 2 the dragon gives the beast his power and authority. Folks, that is no small thing to overlook!
Because back in Luke 4:5-6, we find Satan having a conversation with Jesus. This is what it says:
The devil led him [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to."
God gave Satan authority over the world. Why? I honestly can't say. That is one of those things I have questioned the Lord about time and time again. But He did for a reason. The fact that Satan is now giving the beast his power and his authority is a huge, hairy deal! It means that this "beast" will basically be Satan in human form on earth.
Even scarier is that people are going to worship this beast! And they're going to be led in this worship by another beast, found in 13:11. John sees this other beast coming out of the earth. He is the first beast's right-hand-go-to-guy. This beast will have power to do all kinds of miraculous signs, all in the name of the first beast, and people will follow him like sheep being led to the slaughter. He'll put up a huge image of the first beast and make it come to life. Anyone who refuses to worship it will be killed.
This second beast is also the one who will instigate the "mark" that everyone will have to wear in order to do business in the world. The mark, of course, is the number of the first beast: 666. I am no mathematician, so I can safely say I will never figure out who the beast is according to his number. But apparently someone does have that ability, because John says in 13:18, "If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast."
Here's the deal, plain and simple.
Don't follow either beast! Don't follow the dragon! Follow the Lord Jesus Christ! It is only through Him that we are saved!