Beast Men of the Bible
There have been many men and women who have given themselves to sin and to slavery to the flesh, who have been extraordinarily marked by the beast nature. The Scriptures contain histories of many who have failed to subdue and rule over that which God commanded them. In this chapter I would like to look at a few men who stand out as being clear expressions of those who had hearts of beasts, for in looking at their lives we can gain understanding of this lower nature that all saints have been called to rule over.
In the previous chapter we read about the number 666 being the mark of the beast, and it was specifically mentioned that because Adam and Eve bowed down to the beast and became subject to the earthly nature, that all of their offspring have been marked by this same fallen and corrupt nature. Some of their offspring have waged war against the sin that was present in their members and have looked forward to the redemption that has now been revealed in Christ Yahshua, and these have obtained a good testimony that they are righteous before God (Hebrews 11:4). Yet others have not fought a good fight, and they have allowed sin to have the mastery over them.
It is not surprising that the very first son of Adam and Eve was one of those who stand out as “beast men,” for the tragic consequences of sin could not remain hidden long. This first son is a picture of all those who are born of the flesh and who do not walk as overcomers through the blood of Christ, the word of their testimony, and by not loving their fleshly and soulish lives. The first son of Adam and Eve was Cain, and we read the following about him.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have gotten a manchild from Yahweh.”
Mankind has witnessed billions of births since this first one, but consider for a moment how special it was to witness the birth of the very first offspring of a man and a woman. It must have been a great mystery, and an awesome marvel, as Adam and Eve witnessed Eve’s womb beginning to swell and as they felt the first movement of life within her. What a miraculous thing it had to have been to understand that through their union another being would come forth after their own image. When the child was born they must have examined it closely and observed how perfectly it was a miniature expression of man. Eve certainly spoke with amazement and wonder when she proclaimed “I have gotten a manchild from Yahweh.”
In the last book of the Bible we read of a manchild that is birthed, one who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron. This manchild will be fashioned after the image of God, bearing His likeness. Perhaps Adam and Eve had such high hopes for Cain. After all, the serpent had said that if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would be like God. They may have hoped that their son would also be like God. Yet this was not to be, for Cain too submitted to the beast nature, rather than subduing and ruling over it.
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to Yahweh of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And Yahweh had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
The beast nature is essentially selfish, and seeks its own welfare while considering little about the welfare of others. Cain was jealous of his brother Abel, for Yahweh showed more consideration to his offering than Cain’s. The beast nature within was manifesting. Something that did not look like God was present within Cain’s being. An evil that did not originate in God was dwelling in Cain’s flesh, and Yahweh warned Cain that He must master it.
The language that Yahweh used in speaking to Cain alludes to the beast nature. Yahweh declared, “sin is crouching at the door,” and the image here is that of a wild beast that is prepared to spring upon its victim. The words would be fitting of a lion that lies crouching as it awaits its prey, and truly there was something bestial that was seeking an opportunity to overcome Cain.
Yahweh also spoke to Cain and said, “You must master it.” This command is a mirror of the words He had spoken to Cain’s parents before they sinned.
Replenish the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
To master the sin that sought to have dominion over him, Cain would have to subdue it and rule over it. Like his parents, however, Cain failed to heed the command of God and he too listened to the voice of the beast. This time, however, the beast was not external to man, for the poison of the serpent had entered mankind’s flesh and it now performed its deadly work from inside his being.
And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Having failed to subdue and rule over the beast within, Cain acted in a manner that was contrary to the divine nature. Far from laying down his life for his brother, Cain rose up and slew him. The very words used here are once more a picture of what occurs within sinful man when he does not subdue and rule over the beast. We are told that “Cain rose up.” Cain’s flesh rose up and gained dominion over him. What a contrast this is to the Son of God who “laid down” His life for others.
Yahweh once more approached Cain to confront him with his wickedness.
Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to Yahweh, “My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” So Yahweh said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And Yahweh set upon Cain a mark, so that no one finding him would slay him.
Is there not a great parallel between what is revealed here in this son of Adam and Eve giving himself to the rule of the beast nature and receiving a mark by God, and in that which we read in Revelation?
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand he will also drink of the wrath of God.”
Yahweh proclaimed judgment upon Cain for his sin. Yahweh’s wrath was poured out because Cain bowed down to his bestial impulses. God then set a mark upon him. Many students of Scripture have theorized about the form of this mark that was placed upon Cain, yet in one sense it most certainly points to the mark that all are said to receive who worship the beast. Once more, from Genesis to Revelation we see a continued theme of man’s struggle against the beast nature. To receive the mark of the beast is to come under the judgment and wrath of God.
Tragically, the entire earth soon became filled with men and women who were given over to the beast nature. Mankind gave themselves continually to such evil that God poured forth His wrath and destroyed the entire earth with a flood. Yahweh found only one man in the earth who was righteous, and this was Noah. The rest were given over to the same violence that rose up in Cain.
Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.”
The earth today is also filled with violence, and because of this we know that the day of God’s wrath is not far off. Those who would be delivered from the wrath to come must put off all violence, all wickedness, all unrighteousness, and clothe themselves with the Lord Yahshua the Messiah.
Let us look now at another man who also struggled with his brother and who bore the unmistakable imprint of the beast.
Genesis 25:21, 24-26
Isaac prayed to Yahweh on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and Yahweh answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived… When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.
Esau must have been an incredible sight to behold. Nearly all babies come forth with very smooth skin, lacking any abundance of hair. Yet of Esau we are told that his entire body was covered as with a hairy garment. We have a further description of the hairiness of Esau in Scripture. When Jacob was encouraged by his mother to deceive Isaac and thereby receive the blessing of the firstborn, Jacob knew that, although his father was nearly blind, he might feel of his skin and be able to tell that he was not Esau.
Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, “Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing….” Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.
Esau’s hair was so thick that it was akin to the hair of a young goat. Even on his hands and on his neck he was covered with thick, coarse hair. There appears to be some symbolism here, for in the gospels we read of Yahshua comparing the righteous and the wicked, and He depicts the wicked as goats. Goats are certainly very bestial creatures. There is nothing that stinks quite as bad as a billy goat, and they are also known for their great sexual appetite, hence the expression “randy as a billy goat.” Throughout history man has associated goats with excessive appetites of a low and base nature, and they are known to eat virtually anything without discrimination. Therefore we see Pan, the part man and part goat god of revelry, being attended by sensuous women and an abundance of wine. Further confirming this same type of spirit being present in Esau, we read of his wives and how displeasing they were to his parents.
When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
So displeasing were these wives of Esau that Rebekah spoke the following:
Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
It is evident that Esau did not choose his wives wisely. He did not look at their character, but must have chosen them for their external beauty. In one instance after another Esau demonstrated that he was a slave to his natural appetites. Nowhere is his bondage to the flesh more apparent than when he sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. This was such a low and detestable act that Esau is used by the apostles as an example of one who embodies all that is evil.
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God…, that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
Pictured in the life of Esau are all those of the race of mankind who live for temporary pleasure while despising the true riches of God. Esau represents men and women whose eyes are on things of the earth, and whose god is their belly. Interestingly, Esau is even described as smelling of the earth (Genesis 27:27). In the same way, those who mind earthly things, and who live to enjoy the pleasures of the earth, take upon them the scent of the world that they love so much. The saints of God are admonished to have a much different focus.
I John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Both Cain and Esau responded with murderous hatred when they observed their brothers obtaining favor and a blessing while they did not. Esau swore to kill Jacob after their father had died. Yet the favor of God, the blessing and the birthright, cannot be obtained through such bestial actions. Only by subduing and ruling over the beast nature can man find favor with God and receive the birthright and the blessing that belong to the sons of God. Those who live as children of the devil will receive wrath and judgment along with him.
Let us look now at one final man who was clearly given in Scripture as a type of those who have hearts of beasts. This is the great king Nebuchadnezzar who ruled over the Babylonian Empire from 604 BC until 561 BC. He is spoken of in Scripture more than any other pagan king, and he ruled over the empire whose name has become synonymous with confusion and mixture and the works of man. In the book of Revelation we find Babylon being spoken of as representing all that is evil, bestial and worldly, and the voice of God is crying out for His people to come out of Babylon lest they participate in her sins and partake of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).
Ancient Babylon is noted for her splendor. She was located in what is now Iraq, and there was once an inland sea that came close to her location, but now it is all barren desert. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world was the hanging gardens of Babylon. Babylon was an exceedingly rich and luxurious place, filled with all of the wealth and splendor of the world. Over this empire King Nebuchadnezzar ruled for 43 years. It was this same King who laid siege to Jerusalem and who burned the city with fire and carried off the treasure of the Temple.
Babylon’s triumph over the people of God is a symbol of the many men and women who have been called of God, but who have been taken captive by the allure of the world. These have been removed from a place of worship to Yahweh to be taken as slaves to a far away place that is focused upon trafficking in the goods of the world. Some who have found themselves as slaves in Babylon have mourned over the destruction of the Temple, which is a symbol of mankind who was created to be a temple of God, and they have grieved over the slavery and bondage of the people of God. Yet many more have become comfortable in Babylon, and even when they have been given the opportunity to leave, they have chosen to remain.
Babylon is a picture of all things that appeal to the natural man, and we should not be surprised that her greatest ruler was a beast man. God gave a dream to Nebuchadnezzar revealing that he was going to be given over fully to the beast nature because he would not honor and glorify God, but chose instead to glory in self. We read of the fulfillment of this dream in the book of Daniel.
Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.
King Nebuchadnezzar manifested one of the most pronounced attributes of the beast nature, which is pride. Instead of walking humbly before God and acknowledging Yahweh’s role in granting him sovereignty and bestowing upon him majesty and splendor, King Nebuchadnezzar brazenly attributed all of these things to his own power.
There are few men or women who have ever possessed authority and splendor to the extent of King Nebuchadnezzar, but even in lesser things there is a great temptation to manifest a similar attitude. Many men have boasted of being “self-made men.” Many business leaders have boasted of their prowess in building a successful company, or of rescuing a faltering company and making it profitable. Many artisans boast of their skill in crafting some masterpiece, of writing a best seller, or authoring some work that is a critical success. An actor may be proud of his attainments on the stage or on film. In every venue of life those who attain some measure of success are tempted to credit themselves.
The saints may admit the error of such conceit, but even in the church this boasting is present. Churches vie with one another to build the biggest, or most ornate, sanctuaries. They strive to demonstrate the most growth as they count nickels and noses. Some boast of having the oldest church in the area, or having the most illustrious ministers to preach in their pulpits. Others seek to top their building with the highest steeple in town. The ministers and attendants then walk around and boast of that which they have built through their own power and might.
Is it any wonder that so many of those who have once stood as proud examples of spiritual attainment have suddenly been brought low by some unrestrained lust for sex or money? God still abases the proud and is determined to have all men walk in humility and meekness before Him.
In each of the three men we have looked at we have seen a different manifestation of the beast nature prove to be the occasion for their downfall. In Cain it was his envy and jealousy. In Esau it was his unbridled appetites. In Nebuchadnezzar it was his pride. In each instance the flesh rose up, resulting in God bringing them low. It is no coincidence that we see Nebuchadnezzar on the roof of his palace when he is speaking such prideful thoughts. Esau and his descendants also settled in high places, even in Mount Seir, which is in some places called “the mount of Esau” (Obadiah 21).
The beast nature crouches within every man awaiting an opportunity to rise up and take control. Yet those who allow it to do so are brought low, even as this once mighty king began to go on all fours and to eat grass like the cattle. God is able to make men into kings, yet when they do not submit to Him or walk humbly before Him, He will give them over to the heart of a beast.
As we look at the society around us, we see many men who have been given over to the heart of a beast. When we capture a wild animal we often place them in a cage to keep them from injuring people. Likewise men place those men and women who act beastly in cells with iron bars. The prisons of the world are filled with rapists and murderers and thieves and embezzlers and extortioners and kidnapers and pedophiles and liars and all manner of violent and lustful and covetous men and women. Yet, the simple fact of living outside of these prisons is no proof that men and women are subduing and ruling over the beast within.
Perhaps in Nebuchadnezzar more than any other man we see the end of those who fail to subdue and rule over the beasts within. God has revealed through him an incredible picture of a man going from kingly glory to beastly depravity. Even the highest can be brought low, and all who do not humble themselves before God will be abased.
As those who are called of God, we should all recognize that within us are the seeds of our own destruction. It is by the grace of God that we are not overcome by the raging appetites of the fallen flesh, and the sin that dwells in our members. Let no man think more highly of himself than he ought, for we are all prone to temptation, and we have laid upon us the necessity of exercising dominion over our fleshly passions. Let us encourage one another in these things. Let us not condemn others for their failures, but rather let us seek to restore them to a reflection of God.
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]. For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself. But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.
The nature of God is humble and it seeks the welfare of others. Observe how Christ left His place of honor and glory and condescended to rescue man from his slavery to the beast nature, and to lift him up that he might bear the image of God. Even so, we should seek to lift up men and women and to direct them to their high calling in Christ to bear the image and likeness of God. Should we find a brother or sister acting as a beast, let us remind them that they were called to bear the image of the divine.
At the same time we must be discerning of those who willingly give themselves to sensuality while refusing to acknowledge the debauched nature of their behavior. Our Lord cautioned His disciples to not cast their pearls of truth before swine, for the swine would only turn and rend them.
Once the Lord has opened one’s eyes to see the great struggle between the beast nature and the divine nature, it is amazing to learn of the symbols of this conflict that are present everywhere throughout the pages of Scripture. From the opening chapter, to the closing book, we find in the Bible types and shadows, and even plain speech, all revealing God’s design for man to bear His image, and the adversary’s plan for man to be imprinted with his own likeness.
These three men, Cain, Esau and Nebuchadnezzar, stand as illustrations of the peril that threatens all who will not avail themselves of the great grace that is available through Yahshua the Messiah. The distance between God’s image and that of a beast is great, and great has been the fall of mankind. Yet God, in His mercy, would lift us up to heights previously unknown. He would have all men to be partakers of His own divine nature.
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