Later in the Book of Revelation, this second beast is called the ‘false prophet’ (for example, Revelation 19:20). That title explains what he does. A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God; a false prophet speaks on behalf of a false god. This particular false prophet will speak on behalf of the antichrist (the great world ruler who leads the world to oppose Christ).
Revelation chapter 13 calls the antichrist ‘the beast from the sea’ (verse 1), and the false prophet ‘the beast from the earth’ (verse 11). Those are descriptions to show their real character. Beasts are large animals, especially fierce and dangerous wild animals. The antichrist and the false prophet will be men, not animals - but they will be fierce and dangerous, like the worst animals.
The terrible character of the antichrist will be immediately clear to everyone who must deal with him. He will be like the huge wild animals in the sea; no sensible person would ever consider himself able to control such a man. He will be a powerful person of proud words and cruel actions.
The false prophet will be just as bad, but he will seem to behave very differently. He comes from the earth, as the first man did (Genesis 2:7). So he will seem very much like a man, unlike the antichrist who will declare himself to be god (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The false prophet will seem to be a very gentle person, like a very young sheep, a little lamb.
For that reason, people will not realise that the false prophet is dangerous. They will learn to trust him - however, there is great danger in his words. He speaks like a dragon. People used the word ‘dragon’ to mean the worst and most dangerous wild animal that they could imagine. The Book of Revelation uses the word ‘dragon’ to mean the devil himself (12:9).
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© 2016, Keith Simons.