Description
This chapter describes the beast out of the sea (Antichrist and his end-time empire) and the beast out of the earth (the False Prophet). The Antichrist's ten horns point to his greater authority, compared to the False Prophet's two horns. The False Prophet forces everyone to worship the first beast or be killed.
Commentary
The Beast Out Of The Sea (v1-10)
In verses 1 to 2 John says, "Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule".

This beast out of the sea is what Isaiah 27:1 calls Leviathan. Revelation 12 and 13 follow a similar pattern to Isaiah 26 and 27. Like Revelation 12, Isaiah 26 reveals Israel in labour and God coming to her as Messiah. Like Revelation 13, Isaiah 27 reveals Leviathan the sea monster, whom Messiah will kill before he restores the kingdom to Israel and Judah. Notice how similar the beast out of the sea and the dragon appear, and yet they are clearly distinct. A dragon is a mythical flying monster and represents Satan, whom Paul calls 'the ruler of the kingdom of the air' (Ephesians 2:2). The beast out of the sea represents his earthly kingdom or empire. Like the 'waters' in Revelation 17:15, the sea represents 'peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages'. In Daniel 7, four beasts arise out of the sea, representing four empires that would arise out of the peoples and nations. This beast that John sees here in Revelation 13 is the same as the fourth and most terrifying beast-empire of Daniel 7. Both are identified as having ten horns, representing ten kings or rulers. But the fourth empire is also a composite of the first three empires. John says it was like a leopard (the 3rd empire of Daniel 7:6 - which represented Greece). Its feet were like those of a bear (the 2nd empire of Daniel 7:5 - Representing Medo-Persia). Its mouth was like that of a lion (the 1st empire of Daniel 7:4 - representing Babylon).

Arguably in Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the same four empires in Daniel 2, the fourth empire in its revived form is also a composite of the first three. For when the feet of iron and clay are destroyed by the rock (Jesus the Messiah), the gold, the silver, the bronze and the iron are all destroyed at the same time (literally 'as one') and replaced by Christ's eternal kingdom (Daniel 2:35-45). In an end-time context, 'Babylon' is Arabia (Isaiah 21), also called 'Mystery Babylon' (Revelation 17-18). 'Persia' is Iran. And 'Greece' (Hebrew: 'Javan') is Turkey. In Ancient times, Turkey was part of the 'Greek World' known collectively as Javan. I expect the end-time Islamic empire to be restored initially by Saudi Arabia (Mystery Babylon) as a coalition of ten rulers (Daniel 7:24). Antichrist will then arise out of Turkey (Ezekiel 38:2) and take over the coalition, humiliating three of its ten rulers (Daniel 7:24). He will then deceive and betray Saudi Arabia, making an alliance with Iran, Saudi's arch-enemy (Ezekiel 38:5, Isaiah 21:2). Iran will launch a devastating attack on Saudi, possibly using nuclear weapons, and she will be burned with fire (Isaiah 21:2, Revelation 17:16, 18:2). Jesus will then come back, finish off the remains of Mystery Babylon with the seventh bowl judgment (Isaiah 21:16, Revelation 16:18-19), defeat the rest of Antichrist's empire at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21), and establish his eternal kingdom (Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 7:14).

On each of the beast's heads is a blasphemous name. The seven heads represent the seven empires by which Satan has manifested his earthly kingdom throughout biblical history. Each blasphemous name is likely the name of that empire's false god, by which Satan disguised himself as God during that stage of history. For example, the Babylonian head may have the name 'Bel'. The Greek head may have the name 'Zeus', and the Islamic head may have the name 'Allah'.

The beast out of the sea is primarily Satan's end-time empire on earth. But it also represents the Antichrist. In Nebuchadnezzar's vision of these same four empires, Daniel identified the head of gold as representing King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:38). But Nebuchadnezzar in turn represented the Babylonian empire. So the head of gold was both Nebuchadnezzar and his empire which he personified. Here in Revelation 13, the beast out of the sea is Satan's earthly kingdom empire, and also its human king, the Antichrist who personifies it.

Verse 2b says, "The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule". In my commentary of Revelation 2:12-17, I explain why in the first century AD Jesus identified Pergamum as the city where Satan lived, and the Pergamum Altar of Zeus as Satan's throne. At that time, Zeus was Satan's main guise by which he masqueraded as God. Today, and especially in the end times, Satan's main guise is as Allah. Today, Satan's main home is the Kaaba in Mecca, and it is reasonable to suppose that the black stone is his throne. So my expectation is that Antichrist will be given the black stone of Mecca and will erect it in God's temple in Jerusalem. In 168 BC Antiochus Epiphanes sacked Jerusalem, erected an image of Zeus before the temple altar, and took his seat in the temple claiming to be Zeus-incarnate. Similarly, in the end times, Antichrist will sack Jerusalem (Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 14:2, Luke 21:20), set up his abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, Revelation 13:14-15), and present himself as God in the Jerusalem temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4). I believe he will present himself as the earthly embodiment not of Zeus, but of Allah. In giving Antichrist his throne, verse 2 says that Satan will also give Antichrist power and great authority.

Verse 3 says, "One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement". In Daniel's vision of Alexander the Great's Greek empire, it was like a leopard with four heads. The four heads represented the four kingdoms which emerged from the Greek empire. When Alexander died, his empire was divided between his four generals who then ruled over four kingdoms or sub-empires. The meaning of the seven heads of Revelation's beast out of the sea is given in Revelation 17.

Revelation 17:8-11 says, " The beast you saw was, and is not, but is about to come up from the abyss and then go to destruction. The inhabitants of the earth – all those whose names have not been written in the book of life since the foundation of the world – will be astounded when they see that the beast was, and is not, but is to come. 9 (This requires a mind that has wisdom.) The seven heads are seven mountains the woman sits on. They are also seven kings: 10 five have fallen; one is, and the other has not yet come, but whenever he does come, he must remain for only a brief time. 11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself an eighth king and yet is one of the seven, and is going to destruction.

In other words, this beast out of the sea represents Satan's earthly kingdom throughout biblical history. The seven heads represent seven mountains or kings. Mountains and kings both represent kingdoms. The seven heads represent seven earthly empires through which Satan has attempted to destroy Israel. From John's perspective in the 1st century AD, five of these had fallen, one was (the Roman Empire), and another was yet to come (the Islamic Empire). He also envisaged an eighth king, or kingdom, which would be a restoration of the seventh. These kingdoms are as follows:
1st head - Egyptian Empire - fallen
2nd head - Assyrian Empire - fallen
3rd head - Babylonian Empire - fallen
4th head - Medo-Persian Empire / Achaemenid Empire - fallen
5th head - Greek Empire - fallen
6th head - Roman Empire - still present when John wrote Revelation
7th head - Islamic Empire before head-wound / Antichrist's empire after healing of head-wound
-still a future head from John's perspective
8th king - Antichrist - ruler of the seventh kingdom in its revived end-time state
Returning to Revelation 13:3, we see that one of the heads appeared to have been killed, but then the lethal wound is healed. This represents the fall of the seventh empire, which I believe equates with fall of the Ottoman Empire and Islamic Caliphate in 1923 after its defeat in World War I, and the Turkish War of Independence that followed. The healing of the lethal wound represents the restoration of the seventh empire, which I believe will be a restored Islamic Caliphate. Its ruler is the end-time Antichrist who is described as its eighth king.

From my perspective, the beast out of the sea primarily represents Satan's end-time empire, just as the beasts of Daniel 7 represent empires. Secondarily it represents the Antichrist, who personifies it. Many prophecy scholars expect the Antichrist to also receive a literal head-wound from which he is subsequently healed, in a sort of counterfeit resurrection. While I admit this is a possibility, it may be sufficient to understand the head wound only figuratively, in terms of the fall and resurrection of the empire. The heads of the beast are not literal heads, but figuratively represent empires, which in turn are personified in their kings.

Verses 3 to 4 say, " …And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?”

I believe this means that the world is amazed at the surprise restoration of the Islamic Caliphate. But what is it that is so amazing? If you interpret the head-wound literally, it could mean the world is amazed at Antichrist's assassination and apparent resurrection. But the text suggests that what the world is really amazed by is the authority and power of this restored empire and its ruler. Verse 2 tells us that the dragon (Satan) gives the beast his throne and great authority to rule. 'Authority' is the Greek word 'exousia' which also means 'power'. Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, "The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing". So whether or not Antichrist pulls off a pseudo-resurrection, scripture tells us he will perform multiple signs and false wonders with which to awe the world. As a result of these, the world is persuaded to worship Allah, Antichrist's false god, who is really the dragon (Satan) masquerading as God.

Why does the world ask, "Who is able to make war against him?" I believe the reason is that most of the Muslim world will unite behind the Antichrist. As he sweeps through countries as a conqueror bent on conquest (Daniel 11:40, Revelation 6:2), his empire will seem like an unstoppable military machine. To resist him means to resist the whole of Islam with its 1.6 billion followers. Even the United States and NATO combined are too small to take on the whole Muslim World.

In verses 1 to 4, I see the beast as primarily referring to Satan's end-time empire, personified as a beast, and secondarily to the Antichrist as its king and human representative. Verse 5 says, "The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months". Here the primary focus seems to have switched to the Antichrist who is the human mouthpiece of the end-time beast-empire. He is allowed to rule for 42 months. This is the length of the Great Tribulation which is described as 'time, times and half a time' (Daniel 7:25, 12:7, Revelation 12:14); as '42 months' (Revelation 11:2, 13:5), and as '1260 days' (Revelation 11:3, 12:6). All of these are equivalent if a Jewish year is taken as 360 days.

Verse 6 says, "So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God – to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven". Antichrist is also portrayed as a proud blasphemer in Daniel 7:8 and 11:36-37, and in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 where Paul tells us he 'takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God'.

Verses 7 to 8 say, "The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed". Just as Adolf Hitler persecuted and murdered Jews within the nations he ruled and conquered, it is clear that Antichrist will persecute and murder both Jews and Christians wherever he can (Daniel 7:25, 12:7, Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:9-13, Luke 21:12-18, 2 Timothy 3:12, Revelation 6:9-11, 7:9, 12:17, 13:7-8).

Personally, I do not believe that the Antichrist will conquer every nation of the world militarily or politically. His political empire will mainly be limited to Islamic nations. Several scriptures point to nations that resist him (e.g. Daniel 11:39-44, Micah 5:5). But he will have Muslim followers who swear their allegiance to him from every nation on earth. Through his global network of followers, he will have a global reach over the whole world. In 2014, ISIS established an Islamic State that was limited geographically to parts of Iraq and Syria. And yet it had global reach through its network of supporters who were prepared to commit acts of terrorism in its name. I expect Antichrist's end-time empire to be like ISIS on steroids. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was only recognised as the new Caliph by a small percentage of the Muslim World. But it is likely that the Antichrist will be recognised as Mahdi and Caliph by most Muslims.

It is currently too early to definitely identify any current world leader as the Antichrist. However, it is clear from Ezekiel 38:2 that he starts out as a ruler of Turkey (see my commentary on Ezekiel 38). Consequently, of all the current world leaders, President Erdogan is certainly the most likely candidate. Erdogan is already recognised as the new Caliph of Islam by some Turkish Islamists. See the article 'Caliphate is Erdogan's' on Ahval News, 4 March 2019.

Verse 7 makes the ominous statement that the beast will conquer Christians around the world (see also Daniel 12:7). This is why we see such an enormous crowd of martyrs in Revelation 7:9. And yet from God's topsy-turvy kingdom perspective, Christians who are conquered and martyred are the real conquerors (Revelation 2:10-11). They are the overcomers who will receive a crown, and who will rule with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 2:10, 20:4-6). But clearly, not all Christians will be killed. A remnant will survive to the end of the Great Tribulation when they will be raptured at the last trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Verse 8 also implies that many people around the world (or even most) will be persuaded by Antichrist's deceptions, and will convert to Islam, or at least to Antichrist's interpretation of it (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). To worship the beast is to worship the 'god' behind the beast. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 tells us the Antichrist will set himself up in God's temple and claim to be God. I understand this to mean that Antichrist will claim to be Allah-incarnate, just as in 168 BC the Antichrist prototype, Antiochus Epiphanes, claimed to be the earthly incarnation of Zeus. Worship of the beast implies worship of Satan, who masquerades as God in the guise of Allah. Because Antichrist will exercise power and influence over every tribe, people, language and nation, it is necessary that the Gospel first be preached to every ethnic group before the end comes (Matthew 24:14). That way, all people will be in a position to choose between Jesus and the Antichrist, between God and Allah.

Verse 9 says, "If anyone has an ear, he had better listen!" Jesus often said this at the end of his parables. It is like saying, "You have two ears and a brain between them. Use it to think about what I have said, and make sure you understand it".

Verse 10 says, "If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints". This sounds rather fatalistic, as though there is not much we can do to change it. Instead, we had better get used to the idea so that if martyrdom does come our way, we are ready to die rather than renounce our faith in Christ. As long as we remain alive, we must endure and have faith.


The Beast Out of the Earth (v11-18)
Verses 11 to 12 say, "Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed".

It is only in Revelation that a distinction is made between the Antichrist and the False Prophet. This suggests two possible interpretations:

1) The beast out of the sea is simply the end-time empire personified. The beast out of the Earth is its human ruler, the Antichrist, who is the eleventh horn of Daniel 7. In that case, the Antichrist and the False Prophet are one and the same. To worship the first beast means to worship its god, Allah. When the beast and the False Prophet are captured and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19 and 20), the beast represents the people of the end-time empire, and the False Prophet is their leader, the Antichrist.

or:

2) The beast out of the sea represents both the end-time empire, and the Antichrist as its king and mouthpiece, even though John makes no mention of the eleventh horn. The beast out of the earth is a second individual, also known as the False Prophet (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10).

Most prophecy scholars see two separate human beings here, in accordance with interpretation 2. So let's assume interpretation 2 is correct, and reject interpretation 1.

The beast out of the sea has ten horns, whereas the beast out of the earth has only two. The ten horns represent the ten rulers who unite to restore the Islamic Empire (Daniel 7:24). They also represent the great power and authority of Antichrist's empire. This comes from Satan, who gives the Antichrist his throne (v2). The beast out of the earth has only two horns, representing a lesser degree of authority compared to that of the Antichrist. The beast out of the earth looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon (v11).

Joel Richardson, author of 'The Islamic Antichrist', expects that the Antichrist will be recognised by the Muslim World as the Mahdi, Islam's awaited Messiah. According to Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi will conquer the world for Islam, and make Jerusalem its capital. Joel also expects that the False Prophet will claim to be Isa al-Masih (the Muslim Jesus). According to Islamic eschatology, Isa will come back as a radical muslim, and will lead Muslim armies to wage war against the Jews and Christians and to kill those who do not convert to Islam. He will put an end to Christianity, and to tolerance of any religion other than Islam. The appearance of the False Prophet as a two-horned lamb who speaks like a dragon may be understood as a counterfeit of the true Jesus. When John sees Jesus in Revelation 5:5-6, the elders call him the lion of the tribe of Judah, but he appears as a lamb with seven horns. Jesus' seven horns represent his divine power and authority. According to Islamic expectations, Isa will be subordinate to the Mahdi, and will serve him.

In referencing Islamic expectations, Joel Richardson does not attribute any divine inspiration to Islamic texts. His argument is that Satan studied biblical eschatology before he came up with Islam as a counterfeit of God's truth. Consequently, he expects that Satan will attempt to fulfil his own Islamic end-time prophecies in such a way that Muslims will interpret end-time events as fulfillments of Islamic prophecies, not of biblical prophecies. So when the Antichrist rises to power, Muslims will recognise him as their Mahdi. When the False Prophet appears, Muslims will recognise him as Isa al-Masih (the Muslim Jesus). And when Jesus returns to deliver the Jews, Muslims will recognise his as the Dajjal (the Antichrist of Islamic eschatology).

As well as describing the 'beast out of the sea' and the 'beast out of the earth', John also describes the 'beast out of the Abyss' in Revelation 11:7 and 17:8. The Abyss (Greek 'abussos') is another word for Tartarus, the deepest part of Hades according to Greek mythology, in which dangerous gods or demons could be imprisoned. The King James Version translates 'abussos' as 'the deep'. It could refer to either the depths of the sea, or the depths of the earth. So the 'beast out of the abyss' could refer to the 'beast out of the sea' or to the 'beast out of the earth'. In Revelation 17:8 is it clearly the 'beast out of the sea' (the Antichrist and his empire). In Revelation 11:7 it is less clear which of the two it refers to.

In Ezekiel 38-39, the Antichrist is called Gog after Gyges. Gyges was a 7th century king of Lydia in western Turkey. But further back in Greek mythology, Gyges was one of the three hecatoncheires whom Zeus released from the Abyss to help him defeat the Titans. I believe that Antichrist is called Gog for both of these reasons. He will arise as a ruler of Turkey (Ezekiel 38:3). But figuratively, he is Satan's man from the Abyss, through whom Satan hopes to overthrow God.

Verse 12 says of the beast out of the earth (the False Prophet), "He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed". Like the Antichrist, the false prophet is also endued with Satanic power and authority, to assist him. What does it mean that he makes the earth worship the first beast whose lethal wound has been healed? We know that the Antichrist take his seat in the temple, displaying himself as God-incarnate (2 Thessalonians 2:4). When people worship the Antichrist, they will worship him as Allah-incarnate, the god behind his Islamic empire. Again, it is possible that Antichrist will be healed from a literal head wound. But it is also possible that the healed head wound should just be understood figuratively as the restoration of the Islamic Empire.

Verses 13 to 15 say, "He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people 14 and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. 15 The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed". Jesus is known by Muslims for miracles of healing and for raising the dead. By these satanically empowered miracles, the False Prophet will likely convince Muslims that he really is Isa al-Masih.

What is this image? It seems likely that it is the 'abomination that causes desolation' (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, Matthew 24:15). In that case, 'causing desolation' means it 'causes those who do not worship it to be killed'. Although it seems unlikely that Saudi Arabia would part with it, one possibility is that Antichrist will take the black stone from the Kaaba in Mecca to the temple in Jerusalem. Once the Muslim world has confirmed him as their Mahdi, it might be difficult for Saudi Arabia to deny him the black stone. Muslims have an expectation that the black stone will gain the power of speech in the end times, according to a hadith which says, "It was narrated that Ibn 'Abbas said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said concerning the Stone: "By Allah, Allah will bring it forth on the Day of Resurrection, and it will have two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak, and it will testify in favour of those who touched it in sincerity"" (Al-Tirmidhi 961; Ibn Maajah 2944). John says the False Prophet will tell those on earth to make the image. But it is possible they will use the black stone to make the head of the image. Joel Richardson, in his book 'Mystery Babylon', p.214, quotes John of Damascus, a seventh century Syrian monk who says of the black stone, "This stone that they talk about is a head of that Aphrodite whom they used to worship and whom they called Khabar. Even to the present day, traces of the carving are visible on it to careful observers". How the False Prophet gives the image its ability to speak is left to speculation, but it is clearly a satanically empowered false miracle.


The Mark of the Beast (v16-18)
Verses 16 to 18 say, "He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave ) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. 17 Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number. 18 This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666".

The mark of the beast is revealed in the Greek text as three Greek letters, Chi-Xi-Stigma, interpreted as 666 in English translations. But John tells us this mark needs to be understood in two different ways, not just as a number. It also reveals something about the name of the beast.

Let's first deal with the number '666'. Today we use letters for words and numerals for numbers. However, before the adoption of Arabic numerals in the Middle Ages, it was common for the letters of an alphabet to be assigned numerical values and also be used as numerals. This led to the mystical practice of gematria, which is a type of isopsephy. Gematria means to add up the numerical values of the letters in a word to form a single number, and to then look for associations between words that add up to the same number. This was a common practice among Jewish mystics, and translations of Chi-Xi-Stigma as 666 assume gematria to be implied. The numerical value of Chi was 600, Xi was 60, and Stigma was 6. Adding these together, you get 666. It is then argued that the number 6 represents man ('for it is man's number') and also sin, since man was created on the 6th day, and 6 falls one short of 7. Seven is a number that is repeatedly associated with God, and occurs a staggering fifty-five times in the book of Revelation. For example, Revelation 5:6 says of Jesus, "Then I saw … a Lamb that appeared to have been killed. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth". This triple repetition of the number seven is like Christ having the number 777 and points to him as one who is utterly perfect and divine. By contrast, the triple repetition of 6 in 666 points to the False Prophet as a man who is utterly sinful and satanic. He is the pure embodiment of evil.

Let's now consider how Chi-Xi-Stigma reveals a name. In the Codex Vaticanus, considered to be the oldest complete manuscript of the Greek Bible and dated approximately 350 AD, Chi-Xi-Stigma in Revelation 13:18 looks like this:
Stacks Image 4523
Walid Shoebat is a former Palestinian terrorist who became a Christian in 1993. In his book 'God's War on Terror', page 370, he points out the similarity between the above image and the Islamic Bismillah and crossed swords of Islam:
Stacks Image 4525
Reading from right-to-left as in Arabic, Stigma reads as 'Bism' meaning 'In the name of'. Xi reads as 'Allah' oriented vertically, rather than horizontally as in the second image. In Arabic calligraphy, it is not uncommon for Allah to be oriented vertically, so this difference is not significant. 'Bism Allah' together is pronounced 'Bismillah' and means 'In the name of Allah'. And Chi matches the crossed swords that appear as a symbol of Islam on many Islamic flags. So to an Arab Muslim, the Greek letters Chi-Xi-Stigma are legible as Arabic script that says 'In the name of Allah' followed by a symbol of Islam. 'In the name of Allah' is a Muslim credal expression. Most chapters of the Quran begin with 'Bismillah'. Muslims say it at the beginning of every meal, or when beginning anything important. Its longer form is 'Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim' meaning 'In the name of Allah, the merciful, the beneficent one', but it is often said in its shortened form, as here in Revelation 13:18.

John tells us that the False Prophet will require everyone to obtain this mark (Greek: 'charagma') on their forehead or right hand (Greek: 'dexios'). Charagma referred to a branding or badge given to slaves to mark who they belonged to. The Greek word 'dexios' meant a person's right hand or arm. Today, in rallies and demonstrations, it is common for Islamic jihadists to wear a badge on their forehead or right arm like the child soldier in this picture:
Stacks Image 4531
As in this photo, this badge usually contains the full Muslim profession of faith, 'There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah'. In Islam, conversion to Islam is demonstrated by confession of this creed. It is not difficult to understand the implication here. 'Bismillah' is a very concise and concentrated expression of the Muslim creed, but it points also to the fuller expression of Islamic faith. The False Prophet will force everyone to convert to Islam and to wear a badge that identifies them as a Muslim. Those who refuse to convert and to wear the badge will then be subject to harassment and persecution. As part of that persecution, no-one without the badge will be allowed to buy and sell. Effectively they will be locked out of their bank accounts and have their assets frozen. As Revelation 20:4 indicates, many of them will also be beheaded and martyred. Beheading is the primary method of execution prescribed in the Quran (Sura 47:4). It was practiced by Mohammed himself when he beheaded six hundred Jewish prisoners from the Qurayza Tribe, as recorded in the seventh century biography of Mohammed by Ibn Ishaq, paragraph 464.

Whether or not we will have a totally cashless society in the end times remains to be seen. But even today there are signs of the mark of the beast being applied. On 2 January 2019, Breitbart News published an article entitled, 'The Terrifying Rise of Financial Blacklisting'. It reveals cases of digital payment providers like Mastercard and Paypal blacklisting critics of Islam, like Robert Spencer. These are America-based payment providers, supposedly honouring free speech as guaranteed in the Constitution. Yet they bow to Muslim pressure groups who label critics of Islam as Islamophobes, hate preachers and right-wing terrorists. This may only affect the more vocal critics of Islam right now. But during the Great Tribulation, expect this kind of problem to affect anyone who refuses to convert to Islam. Today, Muslim pressure groups use the accusation of islamophobia to intimidate free institutions in free countries like America. Imagine what that intimidation might look like one day when Antichrist is ruler of an empire. The mark of the beast is applied through intimidation. Muslims do not need a totally cashless society to intimidate in this way. Neither do they need to own the financial institutions and payment platforms. Even today, imagine how restrictive it must be for someone like Robert Spencer who is denied digital payment options. The more we move towards a cashless society, the more painful such a blacklisting will become.
Tags
Places: Saudi Arabia, Mystery Babylon, Turkey, Greece, Javan, Persia, Iran
Symbols: Beast out of the sea, Beast out of the earth, Beast out of the Abyss, Beasts as empires, Horns, Lion, Bear, Leopard, Dragon, Heads as kings or kingdoms, Head wound, Lamb, Six, Seven, 666, Throne of Satan, Throne of the beast
Tags: End-time empire, Antichrist as a proud blasphemer, Persecution of Christians, Martyrdom, Deception, Conversions to Islam, Abyss, Hell, Antichrist as Gog, Gyges, Greek mythology, False signs and wonders, Image of the beast, Abomination that causes desolation, Mark of the beast, Gematria, Islam, Islamic creed, Financial blacklisting, Cashless society, Islamophobia
The Beast Out Of The Sea
13 Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name.
2 Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule.
3 One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement;
4 they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?”
5 The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months.
6 So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God – to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
7 The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation,
8 and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed.
9 If anyone has an ear, he had better listen!
10 If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints.

The Beast Out Of The Earth
11
Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon.
12 He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed.
13 He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people
14 and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived.
15 The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
16 He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave ) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead.
17 Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number.
18 This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666.
(NET)