We had seen that the four beasts of Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7, and the great dragon of Revelation 12, both have seven heads and ten horns. When the Scriptures repeat details like this, the Word is trying to help us see that the two passages are related; they go together.
First, let’s remember that a beast is a ruling empire, and heads and horns are kings or kingdoms or seats of authority. Daniel is seeing a vision of four empires which are to come, and together those four empires have seven heads and ten horns. John sees a vision of a great dragon (another type of beast) and the dragon has seven heads and ten horns. They are both seeing the same thing, but in different ways. 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 Christ.
John’s vision tells us that the true power and motivation behind 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 Christ.
The first beast in Daniel, the winged lion, is Babylon. Depictions like this winged lion were common in ancient Assyria and Babylon, and we can see why God chose that beast to represent 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 Revelation 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. This is not the first or last time the kingdoms of this world, under Satan’s direction, tried 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 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 Christians cruelly and fiercely for several hundred years. 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 are, the Holy Roman Empire in the west, and the Byzantine empire in the east. In fact, the Roman empire is still continuing today. The formal Holy Roman Empire ended with Napoleon, but he was just another “horn” sprung from the world- dominating empire patterned after Rome. Hitler was the same. 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?
The great beast with seven heads and ten horns we are going to encounter again in Revelation.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 12: the woman in the wilderness