The beast is first explained in Daniel, actually. Daniel has a dream, which is recorded in chapter 7, in which he sees four beasts arise, one after another. He then sees the throne of God, and myriads attending Him, and books were opened for judgment, and One like a Son of Man was presented before Him. Dominion was taken away from the beasts, and everlasting dominion was given to the Son of Man. Daniel asks one of those attending the throne:
“I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: ‘These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.'” Daniel 7:16-18
The four beasts we know, were a winged lion, representing Babylon; a great bear, representing Media- Persia; a leopard, representing Alexander and the Greeks; and a terrible beast, representing Rome which would continue until the establishment of the kingdom of the Son of Man. None of these four kingdoms just ruled over themselves, but they were dominating empires, ruling over the known world. So it is my belief that a beast, in Revelation, is a ruler of an empire, with domination over the known world.
Now a beast comes from the bottomless pit, from whence comes Islam, and makes war with the two witnesses, who we think are Christians and Jews, and kills them. Well, is not a world- wide empire of Islam seeking world domination, and seeking to kill Christians and Jews? I am afraid that Revelation assures us that the beast will succeed in its war against God’s two witnesses, but that God will raise up His two witnesses, and they will ascend to heaven in the sight of their enemies.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 11: the end of the third woe