And the Dragon stood on the shore of the sea. I saw a Beast rising from the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads - on each horn a crown, and each head inscribed with a blasphemous name.
The Beast I saw looked like a leopard with bear paws and a lion's mouth. The Dragon turned over its power to it, its throne and great authority.
One of the Beast's heads looked as if it had been struck a deathblow, and then healed. The whole earth was agog, gaping at the Beast.
They worshiped the Dragon who gave the Beast authority, and they worshiped the Beast, exclaiming, "There's never been anything like the Beast! No one would dare go to war with the Beast!"
The Beast had a loud mouth, boastful and blasphemous. It could do anything it wanted for forty-two months.
It yelled blasphemies against God, blasphemed his Name, blasphemed his Church, especially those already dwelling with God in Heaven.
It was permitted to make war on God's holy people and conquer them. It held absolute sway over all tribes and peoples, tongues and races.
Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world's foundation in the slaughtered Lamb's Book of Life will worship the Beast.
Are you listening to this?
They've made their bed; now they must lie in it. Anyone marked for prison goes straight to prison; anyone pulling a sword goes down by the sword. Meanwhile, God's holy people passionately and faithfully stand their ground.
I saw another Beast rising out of the ground. It had two horns like a lamb but sounded like a dragon when it spoke.
It was a puppet of the first Beast, made earth and everyone in it worship the first Beast, which had been healed of its deathblow.
This second Beast worked magical signs, dazzling people by making fire come down from Heaven.
It used the magic it got from the Beast to dupe earth dwellers, getting them to make an image of the Beast that received the deathblow and lived.
It was able to animate the image of the Beast so that it talked, and then arrange that anyone not worshiping the Beast would be killed.
It forced all people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to have a mark on the right hand or forehead.
Without the mark of the name of the Beast or the number of its name, it was impossible to buy or sell anything.
Solve a riddle: Put your heads together and figure out the meaning of the number of the Beast. It's a human number: six hundred sixty-six.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)