And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. Rev 12:3
Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’ After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” Dan 7:2-7
If we count the heads and horns on these four beasts of Daniel’s vision, we come up with seven heads and ten horns. In other words, Daniel and John are seeing the same thing: Daniel saw four distinct beasts or ruling empires, because they were future to him, at least, he was living during the reign of the first beast. John saw a single beast, the great dragon, because for the most part, these beasts were all past to him. He was living (as we are) during the reign of the fourth beast.
Daniel’s vision tells us that the beasts are world- dominating empires. They are, in fact, a representation of the kingdoms of this world. From history, we know that the kingdoms of man and kingdoms of this world are opposed to the kingdom of God and of His Messiah.
John’s vision tells us that the true power, motivation, operation, and goals of the dominating empires is all one, and is of Satan. In fact, Satan works through the kingdoms of this world to oppose the kingdom of God and of His Messiah.
The first beast in Daniel, the winged lion, is Babylon. Babylon also happens to be the first of the kingdoms of this world; it was founded by Nimrod who built the Tower of Babel. The rebellion and worldview Babylon represents — which is of Satan — was carried over into all the other world- dominating empires which followed it, which it is why it is Babylon that falls in Rev 18. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Babylon destroyed the Temple and took Judah captive. Its head was Nebuchadnezzar.
The second beast, the bear, is Media- Persia. It is raised up on one side because Persia started out as an equal partner with Media, then grew greater than Media. Persia tried to annihilate the Jews as a people (through Haman). This is not the first or last time the kingdoms of this world, under Satan’s direction, try to annihilate one or both of the two witnesses.
The third beast, the winged leopard with four heads, is the Greeks – the empire founded by Alexander the Great. The leopard was his symbol; the empire split into four kingdoms at each point of the compass, thus the four wings and the four heads. The Greeks under Antiochus Epiphanes (one of the heads) forbade the Jews from worshiping God, and he set up an abomination of desolation in the Temple.
The fourth beast is Rome. This beast killed the Messiah, destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, scattered the Jews, and persecuted the Jews and true Christians cruelly and fiercely as the Roman church. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great statue is another depiction of the same thing: the kingdoms of this world. From that vision, we know that the Roman empire continues on after the fall of Rome in two parts (the two legs), which we will get to. In fact, the Roman empire is still continuing today. One of its incarnations has been the Roman church. Another of its incarnations was the Holy Roman Empire. One of its horns — kings or seats of authority — was Napoleon; another was Hitler. Today the incarnation of Rome is the European Union, and to an extent, the United Nations (which follows the Europeans in its beliefs, rather than the US or Israel). Is it a coincidence, do you think, that they have adopted the Tower of Babel (the head of gold, or Babylon) as their symbol?
Christine’s book The Revelation of Jesus Christ Revealed, based on these studies but greatly expanded, is now available at Revelation Revealed Online. You may also be interested in reading the Book Extras and joining in on the Discussion.