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Chapter 10

The First Beast of Revelation 13

 

The thirteenth chapter of Revelation presents an intriguing account of history and last day events. Here two beasts are brought to view. We move to this chapter, not by way of a diversion from the little horn of Daniel 7, but in order to better understand and identify the little horn. We will discover that the first beast of Revelation chapter 13 and the little horn of Daniel chapter 7—two strikingly different symbols—are representative of the same power.

The following description is given of this strange first beast:

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. 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. (Revelation 13:1, 2)

What is the basis upon which we dare to state that the little horn and this first beast of Revelation chapter 13 are identical powers? A summary of their identifying features will demonstrate a remarkable concurrence, a similarity too close to ignore. First, however, we let the Scripture speak of the identifying features of this first beast, as we term it for brevity.

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:5—7)

Once more we note the following parallels:

Little Horn of Daniel 7

First Beast of Revelation 13

1. Speaks great words against the most High (Daniel 7:25) 1. Possesses a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies (Revelation 13:5, 6)
2. Makes war with the saints and wears them out (Daniel 7:21, 25) 2. Makes war with the saints to overcome them (Revelation 13:7)
3. Rules for a time, times and the dividing of time (Daniel 7:25) 3. Continues 42 months (Revelation 13:5)

Many nations have blasphemed God, and many have persecuted God’s people. But only one has ruled for a period of 1260 years. Since identifications 3 (above) are equivalents, as we have seen in the chapter entitled "Time, Times and the Dividing of Time," this is the most compelling evidence that the little horn and the first beast are one and the same power.

Yet the descriptions of this power in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 not only demonstrate a remarkable concordance, they also provide complementary features.

Let us turn our attention to this weirdly composite beast. We notice six features are set forth.

1. It possesses seven heads.

2. The name blasphemy is upon its heads.

3. The beast possesses ten crowned horns.

4. It has the body of a leopard.

5. It possesses the feet of a bear.

6. Its mouth is that of a lion.

At the initial reading this first beast must appear to be an incomprehensible mishmash. But Scripture can guide us through these various features and present us with a remarkable fusion of history and prophecy.

In our later view of Revelation chapter 17, where a beast of the same features is described, we will discover that the seven heads represent the seven mighty powers from the period following the Noachian Flood until the Second Coming of Christ, which have stood and will stand in mighty opposition to the God of heaven. Thus these heads represent a succinct historical summary of the violent opposition to the pure faith of God over a period of more than 4,000 years. That these heads are all located upon the first beast is indicative that all features of the previous opposing nations are to be found in this fierce opponent of God. The dominant feature of each of these powers has been blasphemy against Almighty God.

We have seen that the ten horns represented the nations into which the Western Roman Empire fragmented in the fifth century. That these horns, located on the first beast, bore crowns, indicates that the ten nations of Western Europe would be ruling when this power arose. As we have seen in the chapter, The Little Horn Among the Ten Horns, history confirms this fact.

The significance of the leopard’s body, bear’s feet and lion’s mouth is not to be lost. Here the first three beasts of the prophecy of Daniel 7 are represented, confirming the fact that this beast power incorporated the features of previous nations which stood in bold defiance of God—Babylon (lion), Medo-Persia (bear) and Greece (leopard).

This power would closely reflect Greek intellectualism, religious practices and culture, since it is represented primarily as a leopard. It would eventually emerge from the fourth nondescript beast of Daniel 7 which, akin to this nondescript beast of Revelation, represented Rome in its pagan state. As we have seen in chapter 2, the Papacy was to seize the scepter of imperial Rome, following the transfer of the capital to Constantinople. Both its theology and its political authority, the two mighty pillars of Roman Catholicism, are rooted in paganism. The two great influences on the theology of the Roman church were Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, in the fifth century and Thomas Aquinas of the thirteenth century.

That the beast of Revelation 13 incorporated all the elements of the four beasts of Daniel 7, as it stood in mighty opposition to the God of heaven, is signified by the fact that it possessed seven heads and ten horns.

The four beasts contained precisely the same total number of these features.

  Heads Horns
Babylon (Lion) 1 0
Medo-Persia (Bear) 1 0
Greece (Leopard) 4 0
Rome (Nondescript Beast) 1 10

Total

7 10

Clearly the first beast of Revelation 13 represented a power which was the culmination of the opposition to God exhibited by the four empires which preceded it.

We shall now examine the reason God chose to designate this first beast of Revelation 13 as a leopard—Grecian in substance.

Scholasticism reached its height in the writings of the Dominican friar, Thomas of Aquinas, "The Angelic Doctor." His systematic exposition of the Catholic faith in terms of Aristotelian philosophy produced a revolution in Christian thought, for Augustine and Anselm, the Christian thinkers in general before Aquinas, had regarded Platonism as the specifically Christian philosophy. (Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, p. 199)

Here we see that Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354—430), whose grossly faulted theology dominated Roman Catholic thinking from the fifth century, brought the Greek pagan concepts of Plato (428 b.c.—348 b.c.) into the Christian Church. Anselm (1033—1109) who served as Archbishop of Canterbury is regarded by Roman Catholics as the greatest theologian in the 800-year period between Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas Aquinas (1225—1274) merged the views of the pagan Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384 b.c.—322 b.c.), with Christianity. As we shall later document, it was he who advocated death for heretics as just, and the use of the state to enforce the church’s punishment of heretics.

Thus, in describing the first beast of Revelation 13 as a leopard beast, Christ revealed to the apostle John a faith built on Greek philosophy intermixed with Christianity. The use of the symbol of the leopard power, Greece, from Daniel 7 is a most important and accurate clue to the identity of the first beast of Revelation 13. God’s symbols are always full of meaning.

This beast possessed the feet of a bear, the symbol of the empire of Medo-Persia. It would crush opposition underfoot as did Medo-Persia. In what way was Medo-Persia able to crush opposition under its feet? The kings of Medo-Persia were deified and so, as gods, they were declared to be infallible in their decision making. Thus we read that their laws could not be altered once they were enacted by the king. We cite two instances of this from Scripture.

Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. (Daniel 6:8, 12)

Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews. Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse. (Esther 8:7,8)

The long tradition of papal infallibility in the Roman Catholic Church and its proclamation by Pope Pius IX, in 1870 as a dogma to be believed by all, is in the tradition of the bear (Medo-Persia) and is a powerful weapon designed to crush all dissent from Papal proclamations. How appropriate that this power be represented, in symbol, to possess the feet of the bear!

This beast would speak the words of Babylon. This last feature must be remembered, for the book of Revelation represents this powerful entity as spiritual Babylon in chapters 14, 16, 17 and 18. Thus it was appropriate for God to depict this power possessing the mouth of the lion, the symbol of Babylon in Daniel 7.

There is yet a deeper and even more sinister meaning in the designation of the beast’s having the mouth of a lion. Babylon enforced worship by the issuing of a death decree designed to quell all dissent. This decree was issued as the leaders of the nation were compelled to assemble on the plain of Dura to perform an act of worship before the image set up by this beast (lion) power. Daniel recorded this disgraceful breach of the principle of religious liberty in his prophetic writings.

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchad-nezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:1—6)

Thus the mouth of the beast of Revelation 13 represented fearful persecution of God’s people as a death decree was invoked for conscientious dissenters to the king’s decree.

The second beast of Revelation 13, we are informed, uses its mighty power to enforce the worship of the first beast.

And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. (Revelation 13:12)

How appropriate that this coerced worship is said to involve the making of an image to the beast, paralleling that which happened under Babylon, the lion power, on the plain of Dura.

And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Revelation 13:14, 15)

Thus the first beast of Revelation 13 is identified as a power—

1. The very theology of which is based upon Greek philosophy;

2. which proclaims its infallibility;

3. and which utilizes death decrees in order to exterminate all dissent from its dictated worship.

Such identifying features greatly narrow the search for the identity of the beast of Revelation 13.

 


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