Reflections of a Broken Man

A Man is Coming in Thirteen-one by StephenMac
October 29, 2008, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

Since posting the lyrics of Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum), there have been a number of people who like me, have google-searched the meaning of the phrase “A Man is Coming in Thirteen-One”. There are quite a few thoughts out there, and there is one in particular where the person has gone through and referenced nearly every line. There are some thoughts on that interpretation that I am still unsure about, but have a look if you want. I thought I might post some thoughts on this lyric, from a most awesome song.

**NOTE** As an afterthought, this appears to be a long and detailed post. For those who hate details, scroll down to the **IMPORTANT SECTION**

The Context: Here’s the bridge, repeated twice.

A man is coming in thirteen-one
To charm the daughters and the sons
Scared for our lives, I turned to your hand
Hold this tight while we run, if we still can

It’s actually best if you see this in context. On both occasions, “a man” is mentioned in the line before. The first time, the phrase is “A man who was raised up in the sea”, the second being “a man from the seven hills”.

The Reference: Thirteen-One by online consensus seems to be Revelation 13:1. This fits with the general tone of the song, being about the end, and so the assumption for the moment bears out. Revelation 13:1 is this:

Revelation 13:1  And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had 10 horns and seven heads. On his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.

anberlin2_1280x1024 So where is the man? In light of the first use of this stanza, in the context of “a man who was raised up in the sea” we could speculate that Anberlin are drawing the two images together. But that’s just guess work isn’t it? Well, Revelation is what is called an “apocalypse”. The word means a revelation or viewing of some previously unknown information. Revelation is therefore an unveiling of previously unknown things. The content is quite mindblowing though, it’s the end of history, the big Finale. And so that we can understand it a bit better, God reveals the information through imagery. So we could make the case for the beast being an image that represents some reality. We must be wary however of being too allegorical and saying that for every image, there is a corresponding “reality”. This is the limit that keeps our interpretation in check.

Revelation 13 in its wider context is about a series of characters who come to persecute the Church, the Christians who hold Jesus Christ as Lord. They blaspheme or mock/misuse the name of God, they kill people and they “deceive” people (Rev. 13:14). Perhaps from this idea, we can see the second line of the stanza – “To charm the daughters and the sons”. This would probably also fit in with the “fear” aspect: “Scared for our lives, I turned to your hand; Hold this tight while we run, if we still can”

At this point, we look at the second time this stanza is mentioned, in the context of the man from “Seven Hills”. While we could see that because the number seven recurs, the seven hills is the same as the seven heads of the beast, this is not a good enough reason. Seven Hills is another way for referring to Rome, which was founded on seven hills. This is significant, as Revelation can be seen through a political lens. As such, Revelation also could be interpreted as a political treatise against “Babylon”. If you were being persecuted, it’s not wise to draw attention to yourself by attacking the persecutor with a political letter against them. Anti-language is used, and as such, it is common for “Babylon” to be used for “Rome”. Hence, the man from seven hills could be a direct reference to the persecution from Rome. “Coincidentally” there is a passage in Daniel where the image of a beast is again thought of to be “Rome”. Drawing on these thoughts, it is more than possible that the seven-headed beast is Rome.

What does this mean for the man? What does Rome have to do with the man mentioned earlier? Well, Rome is the epitome of evil, everything that God would hate, and which hates God in turn. The two are polar opposites. As such, Rome could be described as an instrument of Satan, the one who fights against God. However, we are not talking about a dualistic eternal struggle between “good” and “bad”. God tells us that this war is won, but not yet over: there are residual conflicts even though the outcome is already decided. Back to topic however, as the man is now the reality behind the image of the beast. He is the one who deceiving people, who is killing people, who putting people to flight. Identity? Perhaps Satan himself, perhaps his agent the Anti-Christ, I’m not sure which. new_surrender_wallpaper copy


“A man is coming in thirteen-one” is a reference to the one who in the end times will persecute and deceive mankind, particularly Christians. Most probably the antichrist. But don’t leave it there. Because whatever Anberlin meant (I give my opinion, but it is by no means certain), they make a clear plea in their chorus.

What disasters may come
Whatever it may be
At the end of the age
It will land you and me
What tragedy may bring
Whatever may fall
The end of the world
You’ll still belong

Yes, the end times will be more than a tragedy, it will be a nightmarish hell. Filled with fear and suffering. Yet there is a hope. Whatever happens, you’ll still belong. Belong to what? The other part of the chorus is this

Look children to the eastern sky
When you hear the voice say your last goodbyes
Look there to the eastern skies
When the ghosts take hold of the men who died
Look children to the eastern sky
When your fathers weep and your mothers cry
Look children to the eastern sky

Children is a term often used by the author of Revelation as a way to refer to the family of believers in Christ. This is their hope: look to the eastern sky (where the sun rises). Look to the dawning of a new day. The day when Christ will return, and finally defeat the man in thirteen one. The day when suffering and horror of this life will end. I now ask you a personal question. Will you belong? Where do you stand on that last day?


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I really like this! I think you did well, with your references. It is quite interesting. I really love that song, the vibe it gives you.

Comment by Johnny M

I just noticed that you have not mentioned the fact that those who believe will be raptured… Why is this so?

Comment by beliefandexquisitebeauty

Heya, sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to your question.

I guess it’s simply because the song makes no reference to it. Unless I’m mistaken (which is entirely possible in such a subjective post), there seems to be no idea of the rapture in the song.

Would love to hear your thoughts, and to continue this conversation.

Comment by StephenMac

Wow! I love how you explained it all..I usually never do much research on songs, but I just really wanted to know what the whole song met. Thanks for your input!

Comment by Leslie Clark

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