There is so much interest in the church lately about the apocalyptic books and the return of Jesus Christ, possibly being right around the corner. I was recently sent a question about the beast with the seven heads, spoken of in Rev 13, whether it represents Rome on seven hills, as some say it is, or Jerusalem on seven hills, as others say it is:
"Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority." Rev 13:1-2
My opinion is that it is neither.
Daniel saw four beasts in his vision (Dan 7:1-7), and they had seven heads between them. The four beasts were:
1) a winged lion with one head, representing Babylon.
2) a bear with one head, representing Media – Persia.
3) a leopard with four heads, representing Greece.
4) a terrible beast with one head, representing Rome.
Daniel was seeing a vision of the kingdoms of this world, which are always opposed to the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah. Babylon is the head of gold, i.e. Babel (rebellion, man’s will and way exalted over YHVH’s will and way) is the first kingdom of this world, and the pattern all the kingdoms of this world follow. Daniel was looking forward into history.
We are still living under the beast of Rome. One of the books I read with my kids when we were still homeschooling, was Ancient Rome: How it Affects You Today by Richard Maybury. It was not written by a believer nor had he Bible prophecy in mind. He just took all the threads of the society, culture, worldview, and political system of Rome, and showed how they have endured through the centuries, and are so well entrenched in modern society, in American society, in what we consider 1st world societies all across the globe, that we have no idea that we are even living by the dictates of Ancient Rome. Very enlightening little book. There is a reason, I believe, YHVH commanded fathers to teach history to their children.
So fast forward to John. He saw a vision of a single beast with seven heads. The beast has the attributes of a lion, a bear, and a leopard, as well as of the terrible beast. John is seeing the same thing that Daniel did, only since John was looking back, more or less, on history, while Daniel was looking forward, John saw the beast as a single entity while Daniel saw it as four entities. By that I understand that the four beasts of Daniel are the kingdoms of this world, and the one beast of Revelation is also the kingdoms of this world — they are one and the same.
I see Revelation as a picture of unfolding history from the Messiah’s first coming to His second (therefore most of it including the mark, 144,000, etc. has already been fulfilled). Just as Daniel’s vision vwas a picture of unfolding history from his time to Messiah’s first coming. The two visions are of a piece.
This is all my opinion and I could be wrong. But let’s allow that the Lord still has things to reveal to us, that perhaps not all of prophetic Scripture has been opened yet. So let us not get "set" in our interpretation or understanding, we might miss something important if we do. 🙂
What does all this mean for our daily lives today? "Come out, come out from among her, My people, lest you partake of her sins, and take part in her plagues." Heed the call!