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Particulars of Christianity:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)


Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 2)

Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 9 and 10 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 9 and 10 (Part 2)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 9 and 10 (Part 3)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 2)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 13 (Part 3)


Articles 7-12
Articles 13-18
Articles 19-25
Articles 26-29



Now that we know what the seven-headed beast represents, including what empires it represents, the next question that we have to deal with arises out of verses 3, 5, and 14.

Revelation 13:3 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...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...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.

These three verses tell us that one of the heads of this beast is wounded to death by a sword, healed from this wound, and allowed to continue for 42 months. In keeping with our symbolic map legend, we know that a head represents one of these historic empires. Of course, the first question concerns what it means for one of these empires to be "wounded by the sword?"

If we survey scripture, we find this similar phrase in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 38:2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,...8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.

We should note that the word "prince" here in verse 2 is "nasiy" (Strong's No. 05387), which is a different word from either of the two words used in Daniel for "prince." As such, we would not particularly assume that this is a reference to an angelic ruler. We must keep in mind that even though Daniel speaks of angelic rulers, the Old Testament most certainly speaks of human rulers as well. Therefore, we don't want to assume an angelic prince is referred to unless the context indicates that we should.

In this passage in Ezekiel, God says that in the latter years Gog "shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword." Now, the question is whether or not this nation "that is brought back from the sword" is Israel or some other nation. On this point, we should note that this nation that is "brought back from the sword" is also "gathered out of many people." Likewise, verse 8 also states that Israel is "brought forth out of the nations." In fact, there seems to be some parallel between the nation that is "brought back from the sword" and "gathered out of many people" and Israel, which has "always been laid waste" and "is brought forth out of the nations."

There are really two possibilities for interpreting this verse, and either one is quite informative to our examination of Revelation 13. First, based upon this parallel, this passage could be describing Israel as the land brought back from the sword. If this is the case, this passage would essentially state that in the latter years, Gog will come into Israel and against Israel, which has been brought back from the sword and gathered from the nations. In this way, the phrase "against the mountains of Israel" is simply a restatement of what is depicted previously in the phrase "shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and gathered out of many people."

However, because of the way this passage is structured, some might assert that it might indicate that Gog comes into Israel BEFORE he comes against Israel.

Ezekiel 38:8 ...thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel.

It could be said that it seems somewhat strange to think of Gog coming into Israel BEFORE he comes against Israel. Normally, we might think that an enemy first launches an attack against a country before he is able to overrun and enter that country. Conversely, it could be said that it seems strange to think of an enemy coming against a land after they have already invaded it. If that is the case, because Gog comes into the land that is brought back from the sword BEFORE he comes against Israel, we would have to conclude that Israel is not the land that is brought back from the sword, but another nation entirely.

As we said, either interpretation is helpful to our examination of Revelation 13. If Israel is the land that is brought back from the sword, then all that is necessary is to examine the history of Israel in order to define what it means to be "brought back from the sword." After the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, the Jews began what is called the Diaspora, in which the Jews left Israel in large numbers and after which Israel ceased to exist as a nation until its official reformation in 1948.

In fact, just as Ezekiel describes, the Jews were scattered to the nations and then gathered back to Israel. So, if Israel is the nation that is brought back from the sword in Ezekiel 38, then we know that being brought back from the sword refers to a nation that ceases to exist through military defeat. Thus, when we read in Revelation 13 that one of the seven heads is wounded by the sword and then restored, we would be looking for the point in time when this historic succession of empires ceases to exist when one of them is defeated in war.

Now, we must remember two things. First, the first beast of Revelation 13 represents the succession of empires in its entirety. Second, the fact that this is a succession indicates as we have seen both biblically and historically that each empire passes on its imperial dominion to the next empire.

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

For one head to be wounded by the sword would mean that at some point in the progression of dominion from one empire to the next, the succession of the empire ceases to exist for a time through military defeat. When we look at history, the Bible records that upon the death of Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, the empire passed to Darius of the Medes.

Daniel 5:28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. 29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

Notice from Daniel 5 that it was "thy kingdom" meaning the kingdom of Belshazzar that Darius took when verse 30 says "and Darius the Median took the kingdom." Belshazzar's kingdom was Babylon. So, the Babylonian kingdom did not cease to exist, but it was simply passed on and taken over by the Medes and Persians. Thus, Babylon was not the kingdom that was wounded and brought back from the sword since the kingdom of Babylon did not cease to exist due to war, but continued after its fall under the dominion of the Medes and Persians.

And when we consider historically how the kingdom of Media-Persians came to an end, we can see it was similarly taken over by Alexander the Great and did not cease to exist. Concerning the end of the Persian empire, encyclopedia.com says of Alexander, "He was now the visible ruler of the Persian Empire, pursuing the fugitive Darius to Ecbatana, which submitted in 330, and on to Bactria." Notice that Alexander became the ruler of the Persian empire, just as Darius had become ruler of the Babylonian empire. In neither case did the empire cease to exist. Instead, control of the empire merely passed to another nation. So, neither Babylon nor Media-Persia can be the head that was wounded by the sword, for both of those empires continued to exist after those peoples lost dominion.

When we look at the history of Greece, we can see that after the death of Alexander the Great, the empire was divided into the lesser kingdoms of Alexander's successors.

Daniel 8:21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

Daniel 11:3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.

From these passages in Daniel 8 and 11 we can see that after the death of Alexander, the empire did cease to exist for the kingdoms that succeeded from it did not have the power or the dominion of Greece under Alexander. And chapter 11:4 tells us that "his dominion" and "his kingdom" was given to "others beside those." Where it states "others beside those," who is indicated by the word "those?" The word "those" seems to indicate that Alexander's dominion will pass to someone other than the four kingdoms to whom it was divided. Therefore, the text seems to hint that the empire of Greece would not reemerge until the arrival of the Romans.

So, if we interpret these passages in Daniel 8 and 11 to indicate that, while the empire did not cease to exist when it transferred from Babylon to Media-Persia and from Media-Persia to Greece, the empire did cease to exist for a time upon the death of Alexander when it passed to four nations that did not retain his power or dominion. However, despite the fact that the empire ceased to exist for a time after Alexander until it reemerged under the Romans, Greece cannot be the empire that was wounded by the sword and brought back. Simply put, both history and the Bible record that it was not war that brought the cessation of the empire after Greece, but rather the death of Alexander from a fever. So, even though the empire did cease to exist for a time after Alexander, it was not "wounded by the sword" but by the breaking off of Alexander's horn in the middle of his strength by a fever. Therefore, Greece cannot be the empire that is brought back from the sword for it was not the sword that brought an end to the empire under Greece.

Moving on from Greece, we might consider whether or not Rome was the empire that was wounded by the sword and brought back. When we look at the history of Rome, we see the following.

In 330 AD, Constantine moved the capital of the empire to Byzantium, which is called Constantinople. From 378-476 AD, the decline of the Roman empire in the west ensues. In 410, the city of Rome is ransacked by the Visigoths and what's left of the Roman empire is known as the Byzantine Empire, which is the eastern half of the empire. In 455 AD, Rome is again ransacked, this time by the Vandals. In 476 AD, the last western Roman emperor is overthrown.

The Byzantine Roman empire manages to hold on and even thrive for some time, but begins its slow decline from 1056-1452 AD. In 1071 AD, the Byzantines are defeated by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert. In 1204 AD, Constantinople is taken over by the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade. In 1261 AD, Constantinople is freed from the Crusaders. In 1452 AD, Constantinople is finally overthrown by the Ottoman Turks. This marks the temporary end of the succession of the empire.

Now, of course, we have not considered either Egypt of Assyria, which we have also identified as empires represented by two of the seven heads in Revelation 13. On this note, we find that Egypt was conquered in 671 BC by Assyria. Likewise, the fall of Assyria was continuous with the rise of the Babylonian empire. The Assyrian dominance ended at approximately 612 BC, while the Babylonians' reemergence as the dominant power began just over 12 years earlier in 625 BC. So, it would appear that the imperial dominion did not cease after the Egyptians or the Assyrians but in both cases merely passed to their successors just as it passed from Babylon to Media-Persia and from Media-Persia to Greece.

In conclusion, an examination of the Bible and history demonstrates that of the six empires we have been able to identify as the historic heads of the first beast of Revelation 13, Rome is the only case where the imperial dominion ceased to exist due to war. Thus, of these six contenders, only the eastern Roman (Byzantium) empire fits the description of a land or nation that is "wounded by the sword" and "brought back" as that description is exemplified by Israel in Ezekiel 38:8.

On the other hand, if Israel is not the land that is brought back from the sword in Ezekiel 38, then what nation is Ezekiel 38 describing with that phrase? Well, Ezekiel 38:8 tells us that in the latter days Gog will "come into the land that is brought back from the sword." And thankfully, verses 1-3 tell us plainly what land Gog is associated with.

Ezekiel 38:2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:

According to the Condensed Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, "the land of Magog" is "the mountainous region between Cappadocia and Media," (SEELexicon 1 and Lexicon 2)which on a map of the modern Middle East places it somewhere in southeastern Turkey and Northern Iraq. However, Gog is also the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. According to the Hammond Medallion World Atlas, Meshech is a region located in Western portion of Turkey and Tubal is the region of central Turkey (SEE Magog1.)

All three of these areas, particularly Western and Central Turkey were at the very heart of the Byzantine Empire. Gog is said to be the chief prince of Magog, Meshech, and Tubal, which are all in Turkey. So, if Israel is not the land that is brought back from the sword, then judging from the text of Ezekiel 38, Gog's association with Turkey (Byzantine Roman empire) would indicate that it is the Byzantine Roman empire that is brought back from the sword.

Therefore, whether we interpret Ezekiel 38:8 to refer to Israel as the "land that is brought back from the sword" or some other nation, the result is that both interpretations point to Eastern Rome, or the Byzantine empire as the nation that is "brought back from the sword."

And furthermore, there is one other very significant item that we have learned from Ezekiel 38. From Ezekiel 38 we know for sure that being "brought back from the sword" is something that happens to a nation or a land, not a man. Thus, Revelation 13 is not referring to the antichrist being healed of a head wound or some figurative restoration of the antichrist spirit or attitude that was exhibited by the Roman Caesars. Therefore, we can conclude that Revelations 13's use of the description "brought back from the sword" is a phrase that, according to precedent, should be taken as a reference to the restoration of a land or nation, which was defeated and ceased to exist due to war.

Another reason to reject the idea that it is a man, the Antichrist, himself, which is wounded in the head and then healed of the wound is that Revelation 13 describes a seven-headed beast as having one of its heads wounded and then healed. Those who interpret Revelation 13 to indicate that it is the Antichrist that is healed from a head wound are identifying him as the first beast of this chapter, a beast, which has seven heads. Therefore their interpretation would be that the Antichrist himself has seven heads, one of which is wounded and healed. Such an interpretation would be absurd since a man has only one head and not seven. So unless the Antichrist is a seven-headed man, as depicted by this first beast, then there can be no reason to assert that he is wounded in the head and then healed of the wound.

On the other hand, if the Antichrist is only one of the seven heads, then one might assume that he is wounded (though not necessarily in the head) and then healed of this wound. However, this interpretation would not fit well with the meaning provided in the precedent of Ezekiel 38's description of a land, which is "wounded by the sword" as we have discussed above. Further evidence that the Antichrist, the man, is not in view as having a head wound, which is healed with be provided as we examine Revelation 17.

So, now we know not only what Revelation 13 means when it speaks of a head being wounded by the sword and brought back, but we also know that this phrase itself points to the revival of the Roman, particularly the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, which was seated in modern-day Turkey.


Related Images



Figure 1.1
This animated sequence
illustrates how the term
"beast" can focus in on
1 of 3 distinct aspects
of the same overall entity.
1.) The seven-headed empire system
2.) The revived head
or revived empire
3.) The 8th king who becomes head of both.




Historic Map Series
(Maps 1-12)




Additional
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Lexicon Excerpts



Apocalyptic
Comparison Chart



7 Heads of the
Beast Chart




Illustrations of
Symbols Series
(Illustrations 1-7)



Correspondence of
Visions Diagram