End Times Prophecy (Eschatology) Prophetic
Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 1)
Symbols: Daniel 9 and 10 (Part 1)
Symbols: Daniel 9 and 10 (Part 2)
Symbols: Daniel 9 and 10 (Part 3)
Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 1)
Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 2)
Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 3)
Having completed our survey of symbolism
in Daniel, we will now turn our attention to the book of Revelation and some of
the main symbolism employed there. We will primarily be looking at two chapters
of Revelation, chapters 13 and 17. Then we will also be taking a look at a few
other passages as well. We will begin with chapter 13.
13:1 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. 4 And they worshipped
the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying,
Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 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. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy
against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in
heaven. 7 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. 8 And
all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in
the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9 If any
man have an ear, let him hear. 10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into
captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here
is the patience and the faith of the saints. 11 And I beheld another beast coming
up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 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. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down
from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 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. 15 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. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor,
free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the
beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding
count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is
Six hundred threescore and six.
The first thing to note from Revelation
13 is using similar imagery to what we found in Daniel 7 and 8, wherein we saw
beasts being used to represent political entities. One of the things that we found
in our study of Daniel 7 and 8 is that although those two chapters used different
images, both were depicting the same succession of empires through differing nations.
The second thing to note from Revelation 13 is that the description
of the first beast is actually a composite of the four beasts found in Daniel
7. (We have discussed this matter previously.)
Daniel 7:3 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.
Of primary significance
is that verse 3 specifically states that these four beasts are "diverse one from
another." Similarly, verse 7 states specifically of the fourth beast that "it
was diverse from all the beasts that were before it." The reason we point this
out is that we are constructing a map legend of sorts for deciphering the symbols
in prophetic passages. As we have said, the goal is to use precedent from earlier
passages to build a proper interpretation of symbols, which can be used in later
passages such as Revelation. It is appropriate at this point to state that many
interpret the first beast of Revelation 13 to be the same as the fourth beast
described here in Daniel 7, particularly because both have 10 horns.
Revelation 13:1 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.
In fact, most
people interpret both beasts as representations of the Roman Empire. However,
it is impossible for the fourth beast of Daniel 7 to be the same beast as the
first beast of Revelation 13 because the beasts of Daniel 7 are all specifically
described as being "diverse from one another." And the fourth beast is specifically
described as being "diverse from all the beasts that were before it." Conversely,
Revelation 13 goes on to describe the seven-headed beast in the following way.
Revelation 13:1 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.
While the fourth beast of Daniel
7 is diverse from all the beasts that were before it, this first beast of Revelation
13 has characteristics of all four of Daniel 7's beasts. It has the mouth of a
lion and the feet of a bear. It is like a leopard. And it has 10 horns, just as
the fourth beast of Daniel 7 has 10 horns.
And, additionally, while
Daniel 7:6 is careful to inform us that the leopard has four heads, Daniel's description
of the fourth beast does not include multiple heads. Given the fact that Daniel's
fourth beast is by far the most detailed in its description, we can be sure that
if this fourth beast had seven heads, Daniel would have told us so. Thus, the
first beast of Revelation 13 differs from the fourth beast of Daniel 7 in that
the first beast of Revelation 13 has the peculiar feature of 7 heads while the
fourth beast of Daniel 7 apparently has only 1 head.
We must conclude
that the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is not the same beast as the first beast of
Revelation 13. In fact, the first beast of Revelation 13 is actually a composite
of the four beasts of Daniel, just as we have already said.
does it mean that this first beast of Revelation 13 is a composite of the four
beasts of Daniel 7?
Well, when we look at our symbolic map legend, we
find two items that will assist us here. As we have noted in our survey of Daniel
2, 7, and 8, all three of those visions depict the same succession of kingdoms.
First, Daniel 2 depicts all of these individual empires collectively in a single
symbol, the statue. Second, Daniel 7 depicts Greece and the four kingdoms that
would arise from it using the four-headed leopard. When we apply these precedents
from our symbolic map legend to the first beast of Revelation 13, having noted
that this first beast is a composite of Daniel 7's four beasts, we can see that
Revelation 13 is simply depicting the same succession of individual empires collectively
in a single symbol, a multiple-headed beast.
And what do the heads represent?
Well, as was the case with the four-headed leopard, each head represents one of
the kingdoms whose power comes from that overarching beast. So, in the case of
Revelation 13, each of the seven heads would likewise symbolize a kingdom in this
succession of Gentile empires, just as the statue of Daniel 2 represented the
Of course, in Daniel 2, the statue only represents
five kingdoms, one of gold, one of silver, one of brass, one of iron, and one
of clay. We have identified all but one of these kingdoms and arrived at the following
succession: Babylon (gold), Media-Persia (silver), Greece (brass), and Rome (iron).
(We have yet to identify the clay and we will see why when we get to Revelation
17.) Given that Revelation 13's first beast is a composite of the four beasts
from Daniel 7 and since we know that Daniel 2, 7, and 8 all discuss the same succession,
we, therefore, know that Revelation 13 is discussing this same succession and
not some other succession of empires. Therefore, we know that 5 of the 7 heads
are Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Rome, and "the kingdom of clay." This leaves
us with two kingdoms not represented in Daniel 2 that are represented as heads
in Revelation 13.
And this leads to two questions. First, who are these
two kingdoms? And second, why are they not represented in Daniel 2?
For the answer to the first question, we look back at history. Recognizing that
all of the empires depicted in some way suppressed the Jewish people, we would
begin by looking for additional imperial kingdoms of the Middle East who likewise
suppressed the Jewish people. And not surprising, we find two very prominent contenders
mentioned frequently in the Bible. The first is Egypt, who enslaved the Jews from
the time of Joseph to the time of Moses. The second is Assyria, who destroyed
the kingdom of Israel and sent the Jews into exile in 721 BC. Both of these imperial
powers are mentioned frequently throughout the Old Testament.
additional two heads represent Egypt and Assyria, this would explain why those
two kingdoms are not depicted in the statue of Daniel 2. At the time of Daniel,
both of these empires had already passed away, while the statue in Daniel 2 begins
by depicting the current imperial power (Babylon) and continues by depicting the
empires that would succeed Babylon. Daniel 2 is concerned with explaining what
would happen in the time after Babylon. Simply put, Egypt and Assyria are not
present in Daniel 2, because their dominions were a matter of history and had
On the other hand, part of the purpose of the book of
Revelation is to complete the presentation of the end of human history and in
particular with the culmination of history in the kingdom of the Messiah Jesus
Christ. This being the case, part of what Revelation seeks to do is to pull together
many prophetic visions and themes as well as figures depicted in the Old Testament.
Therefore, when discussing the empire of the antichrist, Revelation also depicts
for us the complete picture of the history behind this imperial succession by
connecting these Gentile empires together in much the same way as Daniel 2 does.
However, in order to provide a complete picture of the history behind these empires,
Revelation makes sure to include all of the seven kingdoms in this succession.
In summary, the seven heads of the first beast of Revelation 13 would
be Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the yet to be identified
"kingdom of clay." This interpretation will be further corroborated and commented
on by Revelation 17.
This animated sequence
illustrates how the term
can focus in on
1 of 3 distinct aspects
of the same overall entity.
The seven-headed empire system
2.) The revived head
3.) The 8th king who becomes head of both.
Historic Map Series
7 Heads of