In chapter 13 of Revelation John paints a terrifying picture of life on earth during the final conflict between good and evil, between light and darkness, between Michael and the Beast. His language is almost entirely figurative. Even partly understood, the “feel” of the message is such as to inspire fear and foreboding.
This message has been with us for two thousand years, so why should we choose the present world scene to depict the actual outworking of the dreadful conflict? Without going into details, it is obvious to all thoughtful people that we are immersed in a critical scenario of history, and the need for prayer and personal devotion is paramount. Christians and Jews are being massacred unmercifully across the world, reminding us of the scene in the first century with the Roman persecution.
The purpose of this article to look at the names of Michael and the Beast. The name Michael occurs prominently in Daniel’s prophecies, and we are told that a day will come when he will “stand up” (i.e. assume power and authority), the result of which will be a great tribulation. Daniel chapter 12 gives the details. Michael occurs again in Revelation, also in chapter 12. Here he is seen acting in the authority prophesied by Daniel. So what does his name mean? The Hebrew language strings together parts of speech which in English occur as single words, particularly prepositions. This is true of Michael. The name consists of three parts, namely MI-KA-EL. MI is an interrogative pronoun meaning “Who?”. KA expresses a similarity, “like, resembling”, and EL is the brief form of the word for “God”. Therefore Michael means “Who resembles God?”, or “Who is like God?”, a question requiring an answer. Strange that a name should be formed as a question. The only other angel to be named in Scripture is Gabriel, meaning “Great man of God”. No question there.
Few seem to have recognized the name of the Beast in Revelation 13. It is not hidden to those who know the meaning of Michael’s name. See in the end of verse 4. People are saying, “Who is like the Beast, and who can make war with him?” In a modern Hebrew translation of the New Testament it comes across like this, MI-K’MO-HA-CHAIAH. MI “Who?”, K’MO “is like, resembles,”, HA “the”, and CHAIAH, “Beast”. Therefore Mikamohachaiah is a proper name, the counterfeit of Michael. “Who is able to make war with Mikamohachaiah?” There are only two sorts of people on earth, those who belong to the company of “Michael and his angels”, and those who belong to “the Dragon and his angels”. (12:7)
Those who belong to the Lamb have his name and the name of His Father on their foreheads. (14:1) Those who belong to the Beast have his mark on their foreheads and their right hands. (13:16) In both cases this has to be understood from Deuteronomy 11:18. “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” Jews have persistently practiced this literally with their phylacteries and leather thongs, rather than “in the heart.” We should not be looking for visible marks, but what God sees, namely whether we are those who are “like God”, or “like the Beast”, whether we have on our foreheads our Father’s name (our thoughts directed towards Him) or the Beast’s name, (thoughts directed towards the Dragon, the Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.12:9)
These spiritual lessons are often understood only by having a well-grounded knowledge of both Testaments.