What is the Beast of Revelation? Is it a symbol, a fable, or an imminent reality? This article will answer this insightful question.
What is the Beast?
As mentioned in previous articles, the Book of Revelation is prophetic and highly symbolic. Therefore, a number of items mentioned represent something other than what we usually know them to be.
In prophecy, beasts represent religious or political powers. The Book of Daniel mentioned the beast of Revelation long before the Apostle John penned Revelation.
Scripture confirms itself, and the Book of Daniel is key to comprehending the Book of Revelation.
Daniel had a vision in Chapter 7 of his book. Let’s look at this vision in Dan 7:2-8
2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Let’s now look at John’s vision in Rev 13:1-3
1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
In Daniel’s vision, he saw four distinct creatures: a lion, a bear, a four-headed leopard, and a fourth dreadful creature with ten horns rise up out of a dark and stormy sea (vss. 1-7). These creatures in Daniel’s vision are clearly representative of the sequence of empires from Nebucadnezzar’s Babylon to the Roman Empire.
Secular history confirms that these empires not only came into existence but in the exact order as Daniel’s vision depicted. It is from the fourth creature, which represents The Roman Empire, that the “ten horns”
The two visions (Daniel’s and John’s in Revelation) are very similar. In each incident, there are seven heads. In Revelation 13, John saw one creature, not four distinct ones. Still, the characteristics were the same—seven heads and ten horns were portrayed. In each account, the prophets visioned the symbolism of a lion, a bear, and a leopard.
However, there were differences. In Daniel’s case, it was fundamentally all imminent when he saw his vision. Babylon, symbolized by a lion, was present on the scene, and the remaining ones were yet to come.
When John saw his vision more than 600 years later, Babylon, Persia, and Greece were history. John focused not on the different beasts to arise but on the details concerning the one beast whose history he recorded in advance. Prophecy is history in advance; history is prophecy fulfilled.
Whereas Daniel concentrated on four empires, John’s vision centered on the one system that sprung from Babylon. He observed the various empires as merely different heads of the same creature.
On the other hand, Daniel identified what he saw as beginning in his days and remaining until the return of Christ when the saved ones would acquire the kingdom (Daniel 7:18). The Roman Empire of John’s day was simply a perpetuation of what had begun in Babylon.
The Beast of Revelation
The Apostle John stood upon the beach on the shore of the Isle of Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea and noticed that a change began to form. As he stared, captivated to see what would happen, a strange creature rose out of the water.
Waters in prophecy represent peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. As mentioned earlier, a beast represents a religious or political power. This entity denotes a new world power arising from a densely inhabited area of the earth. Secular history verifies that this new power arises from the territory of its predecessor, pagan Rome. The description of the beast in the passage makes its identity crystal clear.
In verse one, “having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns.” Each head has a crown and represents a specific king or kingdom. The kingdoms denoted by the seven heads are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, pagan Rome, papal Rome, The United States of America, and the One World Coalition. These seven kingdoms have persecuted Christians since the time of Babylon. They will continue to do so until the end of the world when Christ returns.
Since this beast has the names of blasphemy or words of blasphemy on each of its heads indicates that this is a religious power. Additionally, it is a political power with seven kingdoms empowering it throughout history.
These heads have the name of blasphemy written upon them. Blasphemy is described as claiming to be God or claiming the power to forgive sins. Jesus affirmed to be God, and He did forgive sins. This affirmation led the Jewish leaders to charge Him with blasphemy. To them, He was a man as they were instead of the Son of God. Since Jesus is God, it was not blasphemous for Him to forgive sins or to declare that He is God.
Revelation 17:10 define the seven heads as seven kings. It reads, “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” Daniel 7 (vss. 17, 23) illustrates that the words “kings” and “kingdoms” are interchangeable in prophecy. Thus the seven heads are kingdoms that supported and will continue to support the great red dragon in its persecution of God’s people, Christians, covered in chapter 12. Again, these heads represent the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo Persia, Greece, pagan Rome, papal Rome, the United States of America, and a One world coalition at the end of time. The two latter ones are present and future.
The phrase, “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” One of the seven heads received a deadly wound (vs. 3) in 1798. This deadly wound occurred with the capture and captivity of Pope Pius VI by Napoleon’s general Berthier. When this incident occurred, the beast lost its political power over the nations of the earth and over which it had dominance. As a result, a heavy blow was imposed upon the church powered by the beast—the false church. Notice in Revelation 17 that there are no crowns upon the beast’s ten horns. The loss of crowns denotes the loss of power over the political kingdoms of the earth.
After 1798, the beast transitioned from was to is not. Concerning the seven heads, in Revelation 17:10, “five are fallen.”
When the deadly wound occurred to one of the heads in Revelation 13:3, this is synonymous with five of the heads being fallen. It was the fifth of the seven heads that received the deadly wound. When the fifth head received the deadly wound in 1798, it is accurate to say that “five are fallen”
and that the beast “was” and “is not.”
It is the papacy that received the deadly wound in 1798. To comprehend the timing of this deadly wound, it is essential to note that this beast had power for 42 prophetic months (vs.5).
That’s 1,260 years of papal supremacy from AD 538—1798. For more on this time period, please see the article, What is 1844 about on this website.
Although the deadly wound will not heal completely pending the passing of the Sunday law, the healing process commenced in 1929 with the treaty between Mussolini and the Vatican, which began restoring the papacy’s political power. Since then, the pontiffs have become significant players in the political scenes of the world.
The association concerning the popes and the United States presidents, particularly from the period of Pope John Paul the Second and President Reagan to the present, indicates that the wound is healing progressively for the provision to fulfill the prophecy of the complete healing of the wound.
The deadly wound is healing effectively and will heal completely with the passing of the Sunday law.
The deadly wound takes place at the end of the 1,260 years of papal supremacy. Nonetheless, the deadly wound will be healed sometime in the future after 1798. When this wound is healed, “all the world” will wonder “after the beast.”
All the false forms of the religion of the pagan nations from Babylon to Rome have been integrated into the papacy. The papacy is the fundamental system of false religion. It combines church and state, and many forms of paganism continue under the façade of Christianity.
Whereas five of the heads were fallen by 1798, another head or kingdom currently exists, as the Scripture reads, “and one is.” This kingdom is the sixth head which is current, and is the prophetic kingdom between the deadly wound of 1798 and the complete healing of the deadly wound when the Sunday law is passed.
As for the sixth kingdom, from a historic standpoint, there are two views: Atheistic France and the Protestant United States. It was France that delivered the deadly wound in 1798. This beast arose in 1793 with the French Revolution, just before the deadly wound, and has been responsible for secularism and a godless worldview ever since. Atheism has been at war with the papacy since 1798. However, atheism is not a kingdom but a movement, making it a less likely prospect.
As for the Protestant United States, historically, it became autonomous after the War of Independence in the late 1700s, about the time of the papacy receiving the deadly wound.
Both atheism and Protestantism in America have flourished worldwide as the papacy has been in its wounded state. However, only one power can characterize the sixth head. Protestant America became part of Babylon, as seen in Revelation 14:8. The message from the second angel
is that “Babylon is fallen.” For more on the Three Angels Messages, see the article, The Three Angels Message, on this website.
There are two falls. The Roman Catholic Church fell centuries past. Through a system, it merged pagan idolatry into the Christian church. It changed the Sabbath to Sunday and the confession of sins to the priests rather than Christ, the High Priest. It additionally claims the pope as the voice of God on earth. These and other erroneous doctrines have continued perpetually for centuries.
The protestant churches in America have to a substantial degree, accepted the Babylonian theology of Sunday as the Sabbath along with others and are paving the way for the comeback of the wounded head in the future. At this time, the union of church and state will take place.
Consequently, the sixth “now is” head of the beast represents the Protestant United States of America. [Also, the second beast of Revelation 13] This sixth head endures from 1798 to the passing of the Sunday law. Throughout this period from 1798 and the passing of the Sunday law, the papacy will not have power over the world’s nations as it did from AD 538-1798.
As for the seventh head, this head or kingdom is the future. As the Scripture reads, “and other is not yet come;” This kingdom will succeed the Protestant United States of America after the Sunday law is passed and involves the second beast in Revelation 13, which will be covered in a future article.
This seventh kingdom will arise in the future when the beast that received the deadly wound rises from the bottomless pit (Rev. 17:8). This kingdom’s power is only necessary for a brief time, As the Scripture reads, “and when he cometh he must continue a short space.”
The seven heads of this beast are the same heads or kingdoms in chapters 12 and 17.
Regarding the seven crowns, crowns denote rulership. Since there is a crown on each head, this indicates the rulership and dominion of each kingdom.
Back to Revelation 13, our key passage, in verse 2, we see that this creature had a leopard’s body, a lion’s mouth, and a bear’s feet. It, therefore, characterized the principal characteristics of the first three creatures Daniel had seen in his vision recorded in Daniel 7. The beast that John saw likewise had seven heads and ten horns. We are also told that “the dragon” gave this creature “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” The dragon represents Satan, the devil (Rev 12:9).
We see here that this beast, this political and religious power, is powered by Satan, the devil. The fact of the matter is that Satan has power on earth with whom he has invested his authority. After all, in Scripture, he is called “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), “the prince of this world” (John 12:31), “prince of devils” (Matt. 9:34), and “the enemy” (Matt. 13:39).
It is intensely calamitous, considering this entity, the beast, is a professed Christian power. Therefore, this beast, known as spiritual Babylon, is a satanic power while Christian in appearance. This spiritual Babylon established itself in Rome and persecuted Christ and the Christian church. When Rome fell in AD 476, the dragon endowed the beast with great power and authority to be his agent of government on the earth.
The dragon in this prophecy is Satan, who persecutes Christ and the Christian church. He then gives his power, seat, and authority to the papacy. The seat of the papacy is in Rome. And it established its power where Pagan Rome had its seat. The papacy continued this work of persecution for 42 prophetic months, or 1260 literal years.
It is essential to realize that Satan, the father of lies; a murder from the beginning (John 8:44), is behind the power behind this beast. Satan is ultimately behind every act of evil on the earth. He inspired the nationalistic monarchies and empires to harass, torture, and kill the people of God (Christians) during the dark ages. He is the power behind the 1260 years of torture and the death of millions of Christians.
The fact of the matter is Satan works through the papacy to gain the worship of the earth. The vision illuminates this in verses 4-8 (Rev. 13:4-8).
The ongoing battle from the beginning is over worship. Satan has always wanted to be worshipped, to take worship from God to himself; he wants to be like God. This state of affairs is most evident during his temptation of Christ in the wilderness. Luke 4:5-8 reads:
5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” NKJV
In his final attempt to seduce Jesus to worship him, he offered Him “all the kingdoms of the world…, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
However, in verse 8, “And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” NKJV
Jesus made the choice and is an example of the choice we should make—to serve God only. Because in the end, we will have to choose who we will worship. There is no middle ground in the struggle between God and Satan.
Prophecy is history foretold, history and prophecy fulfilled. The prophecies in this article illustrate the ongoing battle of spiritual warfare. For more on spiritual warfare, please see the article, All about Spiritual Warfare, on this website.
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