These chapters in Revelation meant something to the original readers. The seven churches read these chapters and were instructed in the moment for their current place as the church bearing the Gospel of the Kingdom and the King.
Remember that prophet texts are not given to satisfy the curious but to instruct the saint.
Many of us have had Revelation taught as a futuristic document having not bearing on today except that I’m intrigued and form some opinions about how the future is going to work out.
I don’t believe that is the primary mission of Revelation.
These texts are intended to instruct now and in the future. That is the nature of apocalyptic literature.
These chapters of Revelation are telling of what is and what will be again.
The identity of nations and rulers is almost irrelevant to the larger identity of the Dragon and who it is the Dragon is fighting and why.
Bible Study 101:
Don’t get caught up in terrible hermeneutics (bible interpretation) by asking questions the text does not answer. “Who is the identity of rulers and nations?” is a stupid question because the text never answers that question. It’s stupid because it will lead people to speculate rather than exegete, and this creates many idols and much to “undo” in one’s decision-making structure. Speculation leads to speculative theology, which can lead to error. Exegesis leads to a systematic theology, which can keep you in the bounds of orthodoxy.
The Dragon is Satan. Satan is fighting the church that bears the Kingdom and the eternal Gospel of the King. Our war is not against flesh and blood.
1. We are at war. We are not at peace Revelation 13-14
Any Christian living life as though there is no war and that the goal is to get something for the kids that we can tolerate is blind and helpless in this struggle and ignorant of the devastation leveled against unsuspecting bystanders.
2. Satan is deceptive and seeking to deceive Revelation 13
A. Satan seeks to imitate the Trinity Revelation 13:1-4; 11-18
The dragon, in his determination to annihilate the church, calls to his aid not one helper but two. The first beast comes out of the sea (1) showing its character as a sea monster like the dragon himself, and therefore demonic. The second beast comes out of the earth (11). This difference corresponds to that between behemoth the land monster (Jb. 40:15–24) and leviathan the sea monster (Jb. 41); in the prophetic and apocalyptic literature these creatures typify God-opposing powers (see e.g. Is. 27:1; 51:9; Ezk. 32). Consonant with this, the dragon, the beast from the sea and the beast from the land form a kind of evil trinity (see 16:13). Satan claims to be God; the antichrist is the christ of Satan; and the beast from the earth performs the function of an unholy spirit. The antichrist persuades the world to worship the devil; he has a fatal wound but lives (3), in a monstrous imitation of the Christ of God. The second beast seeks to persuade the world to worship the antichrist by his witness in word and deed, as the Holy Spirit witnesses to God’s Christ; and through the mark of the beast (itself a parody of the seal of God) he creates a devilish imitation of the church of Christ. So John depicts the world as divided between followers of the Truth and followers of the Lie.
1. Avoid and rebuke inter-faith validity
a. It’s ok to have inter-faith dialogue about common issues
b. It’s not ok to have inter-faith dialogue about equality of faith claims
2. Equating Jesus to other religions is the demeaning of Jesus and his claims
B. Satan often uses the political system to advance his rebellion
1. It appears that Satan’s un-holy Trinity takes the form of political leaders
a. Ask real good questions about political leaders such as theology
questions regarding who is Jesus and why do you call yourself
b. Satan can even influence godly men if they are not careful to
stay in a war-ready state
1. 1 Chronicles 21:1 “Then Satan stood against Israel and
incited David to number Israel.”
2. Satan’s rebellion may take the form of strong-willed folks who just hate
the Gospel and you because you believe the Gospel and are faithful
a. Ever noticed those people who are just opposed to you or those
who come against you out of nowhere?
3. Satan is given leash space to influence nations and harm Christians according to Father’s mission plan. Revelation 13:5-10
A. Get on Father’s mission plan
B. Don’t buy the culture’s lies about the purposes of God
4. Rescue from all difficulty
5. Political deliverance from minority status
C. Don’t run from death for the sake of the Gospel toward the mirage of safety
4. The church is called to trust and persevere Revelation 13:9-10
A. Father’s purposes stand as good but sometimes bitter and sometimes sweet
1. Job 42:5
B. Don’t believe the thought(s) that questions the goodness of Jesus
C. Don’t believe the thought(s) that drive you away from the church
D. Don’t believe the thought(s) that question the Jesus love for you
E. Don’t believe the thought(s) that Jesus’ love for you must not be in the form
 D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 13:1–18.