High priestPMW 2022-074 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the second in a two-part study of the heavenly fire by the beast from the earth in Revelation 13. In the previous study I showed that the beast is from the “Land,” and not just the “earth.” That is, he is the beast from Israel. I see the Land beast as picturing the high priestly aristocracy. And in the last article I noted how this fire from heaven reflected several OT episodes in which God himself lit altar fires miraculously. John’s imagery here is echoing those events.

But here John is exposing contemporary temple worship as a lie (remember 2:9; 3:9) whereby the high-priest, the Land Beast, “deceives” those who “dwell in the Land” (13:14a). Thus, instead of acting “before the Lord” (enōpion tou kuriou) (11:4) as a true servant of God, he acts “in the presence of men” (enōpion tōn anthrōpōn) (13:13). As Osborne (Revelation, 514) argues, this beast does so “in full view of men” so that “it is not a religious act but a public-relations performance.”

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But this is not an either/or situation. The Land Beast is acting both religiously and for public relations purposes. He is engaging in (what has by this time become) false religious worship in order to maintain influence among men. This is precisely like the religious leaders during and after Christ’s ministry. Instead of engaging worship to serve God, those who betray the Messiah act religiously but hypocritically, in loudly praying on street corners (Mt 6:5), engaging in showy religious fasts (Mt 6:16), doing various religious works, and wearing extravagant religious attire (Mt 23:5). They do this so as to be “noticed by men” and so that they could receive “honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues” (Mt 23:5).

After Christ’s death and the rending of the temple veil, the temple authorities continue sacrificing at the temple altar. Because of this the Land Beast “deceives those who dwell on the earth” (“in the Land”; 13:14). That is, Israel is (falsely) comforted to think “all is well” with our worship and our temple — just as if miraculous fire were falling from heaven as in the days of Aaron, David and Solomon. Deception is Satan’s work (12:9; 20:3); he blinds the eyes of men (2Co 4:4), and particularly those in Israel (2:9; 3:9; cp. Mt 13:13-16). And remember: this Land Beast “spoke as a dragon” (13:11), i.e., as Satan himself, deceptively (Jn 8:44).

In doing this, Israel’s religious authorities are following their rebellious OT fathers who trusted in ritual and not in God (Isa 1:10-17; Jer 7:1-6, 21-22; Hos 6:5-6; Mic 6:1-8; Mal 1:10). The author of Hebrews repeatedly makes this point (e.g., Heb 3:9-12; 4:1-8; 8:6-9; 12:25). The temple worship is now all for men, and not for God. This is so because God has turned from it to establish a new temple. We see this clearly in the conclusion to John’s drama: “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple” (Rev 21:22).

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The temple system that stood until AD 70 was “obsolete” (pepalaiōken) in John’s day and “ready to disappear” (Heb 8:13). The physical temple and its ritual service have become Israel’s idol. They themselves sold out their temple to Rome when they rejected the true temple, Christ (cf. Mk 14:58//; 15:29//). They declare in Jn 19:15: “We have no king but Caesar.” This declaration “was a clear renunciation of their Messianic hope, a virtual abolition of the Theocracy — a deliberate abandonment of their place and purpose as a nation” (Thomas Whitelaw, Commentary on John, 397). The temple service and religious rituals were deceptions. They no longer functioned under God’s blessing (13:14; cp. Gal 4:10; 5:6, 12; Php 3:2-3; Heb 9-10). The Land Beast’s deceiving activity entails his operating within Israel, for his “imagery and background suggest deception within the covenant community itself” (Beale, Revelation, 708).

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4 thoughts on “THE LAND BEAST & GREAT SIGNS (2)

  1. Fred V. Squillante October 2, 2022 at 11:06 am

    Yes, when they cried out, “We have no king but Caesar,” they completely sold out to Rome. And, from Part 1 where you said John’s context involves the Land Beast’s (Israel’s) submission to the sea beast (Rome), I seem to remember where once in a previous article you gave particulars about things that they did which showed how they were subservient to Rome. Do you have a link to that, perchance?

  2. Kenneth Gentry October 3, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    I probably do, but know WHERE is the problem. I will give a little researching to try to find it.

  3. Fred V. Squillante October 4, 2022 at 6:32 am

    Much appreciated.

  4. Eric Peschell October 29, 2022 at 10:57 pm

    Joining the Convo here- but to answer the above, I came to this sight by searching and first landed on an article on the the land beast from 2019, a comment between you two further down enumerated this question “I seem to remember where once in a previous article you gave particulars about things that they did which showed how they were subservient to Rome. Do you have a link to that, perchance?”.

    It was here:

    And a comment from Gentry at 11:09 AM on Dec 6:

    “in 13:13 it appears that the Land beast’s fire under the authority of the sea beast represents the Jewish high priesthood’s conducting temple sacrifices at God’s heaven-fired altar. In this context involving his submission to the sea beast, John has specifically in view the priestly sacrifices in behalf of the Roman emperor. We know from history that the priestly hierarchy offers “sacrifices twice every day for Caesar, and the Roman people” (J.W. 2:10:4 §197; Philo, Embassy 32 §157, 232; 40 §317; 45 §355). In fact, elsewhere Josephus writes: “we also offer perpetual sacrifices for them; nor do we only offer them every day at the common expenses of all the Jews, but although we offer no other such sacrifices out of our common expenses, no, not for our own children, yet do we this as a peculiar honor to the emperors, and to them alone, while we do the same to no other person whomsoever” (Ap. 2:6 §77-78; cp. J.W. 2:10:4 §197). Thus, “just as Caesar was linked with traditional gods and heroes elsewhere in the East, so in the Jerusalem Temple, the priests ‘offered sacrifice twice daily for Caesar and the Roman people” (Horsley 1995: 122).”

    There was more to the comment if you go to the link provided!

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