He Doeth Great Wonders.
In further predicting the work of the two-horned beast, the prophet says: “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” This language is urged by some to prove that the two-horned beast must be some power which holds the reins of government in the very territory occupied by the first beast; for, otherwise, how could he exercise his power?
If the word “before” denoted precedence in time, and the first beast passed off the stage of action when the two-horned beast came on, just as Babylon gave place to Persia, which then exercised all the power of Babylon before it, there would be some plausibility in the claim. But the word rendered “before” is [Greek: enopion] (enopion) which means, literally, “in the presence of.” And so the language, instead of proving what is claimed, becomes a most positive proof that these beasts are distinct and cotemporary powers.
The first beast is in existence, having all its symbolic vitality, at the very time the two-horned beast is exercising power in his presence. But this could not be, if his dominion had passed into the hands of the two-horned beast; for a beast in prophecy ceases to exist when his dominion is taken away. What caused the change in the symbols from the lion, representing Babylon, to the bear representing Persia? Simply a transfer of dominion from Babylon to Persia. And so the prophecy explains the successive passing away of these beasts, by saying that their lives were prolonged, but their dominion was taken away; that is, the territory of the kingdom was not blotted from the map, nor the lives of the people destroyed ed, but there was a transfer of power from one nationality to another. So the fact that the leopard beast is spoken of as still an existing power, when the two-horned beast works in his presence, is proof that he is, at that time, in possession of all the dominion that was ever necessary to constitute him a symbol in prophecy.
What power then does the two-horned beast exercise? Not the power which belongs to, and is in the hands of, the leopard beast, surely; but he exercises, or essays to exercise, in his presence, power of the same kind and to the same extent. The power which the first beast exercised was a terrible power of oppression against the people of God. And this is a further indication of the character which the two-horned beast is finally to sustain in this respect.
The latter part of the verse, “And causeth the earth and them which dwell therein, to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed,” is still further proof that the two-horned beast is no phase nor feature of the papacy; for the first beast is certainly competent to enforce his own worship in his own country, and from his own subjects. But it is the two-horned beast which causes the earth (the territory out of which it arose and over which it rules) and them which dwell therein, to worship the first beast. This shows that this beast occupies territory over which the first beast has no jurisdiction.