In the 18th century John Wesley said that we do not know who the two-horned beast is but we expect it to arise soon. A beast in Bible prophecy represents a religious or civil power or nation (see Daniel 7:23).
The power described in Revelation 13:11–17 had the following characteristics:
- It was to be arising at the time that the first beast (in verses 1–10) was going into captivity (see context in verses 10 and 11). In other words, it was to be arising in 1798.
- It was to arise out of the earth; that is, in a territory previously unknown or unoccupied by peoples, nations, and languages (see Revelation 17:15).
- It was to have two horns as a lamb when arising, indicating youthfulness (a young nation, thus it could not refer to the nations of Europe or Asia or Africa) and gentleness or peacefulness.
- Since there were no crowns on the horns of this beast, it could not be of a monarchical government.
- This beast would be a government where the power is in the hands of the people (see Revelation 13:14).
- It would have to be a non-Catholic country because it causes the people who occupy its territory to worship the first beast, which denotes Catholicism.
- This power would perform great signs or miracles by which he would deceive the people dwelling on the earth (Revelation 13:13, 14). These great miracles used to deceive the whole earth are ascribed in Revelation 16:13, 14 to the spirits of demons. Spiritualism will become a controlling power in the United States through the use of miracles.
- This beast would exercise all the authority of the first beast (Rome) in his presence (Revelation 13:12). The authority of the first beast was the authority granted him by the dragon (Revelation 13:2) and the authority granted by the Roman Empire through Justinian to the papacy was authority over all churches (“You are the head of all Holy Churches” [letter from Justinian to the pope AD 533]). It is distinctly stated in Revelation 13:12 that this power will cause the peoples of the earth to worship the first beast; so we expect in the future to see the United States attempt to force all peoples to worship the papacy by acknowledging the papal rest day instead of God’s rest day commanded in the ten commandments.