The beast from the sea described here may be a description of the Roman empire (from the preterist view). But it also symbolizes the Antichrist. And the beast from the earth, his false prophet with powers not unlike the holy spirit to do miracles and lull people into following the antichrist. This is kind of the unholy trinity: satan (dragon), sea-beast (anti-christ) and earth-beast (false prophet).
This chapter also describes the mark of the beast, which is the counterfeit to the seal of God we read about in earlier chapters. Some have suggested that the number implies the emperor Nero, who symbolized all the evils of the Roman Empire. The Greek letters of Nero’s name reporesent numbers that total 666.
(I wish my books would get here – this is getting exciting and I want to understand better!)
The battle heats up and war is being waged. But, the outcome has been determined already. If anything, this chapter has encouraged me to not waiver in my faith. These are the end times and the faithful will be rewarded, but suffering is likely. There is no place for indecision. We have to be diligent with our study and understanding, and we’ve got to keep our eyes on Jesus. He has promised no spiritual harm will come to those who believe and follow Him.