Characters and Themes – A Beastly Nation

25Apr11

This will be a very quick posts as the following posts will deal directly with the human character, the Beast, and his number and how they relate, while this post will deal with the nation represented by the beast. As shown in the previous post, there is a dual representation of the beast. Along with the personal, individual representation, the Beast also represents a nation. We see this first through the description of nation’s in Daniel

Daniel 7:3  And four great beasts came up out of the sea. The first was like a lion …And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. .. After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, … and behold, a fourth beast… and it had ten horns

Though the Daniel passage alludes to a coming nation, the book of Revelation gives a much more definitive picture. In fact, though we haven’t discussed Revelation at all in this blog, and it will be quite a while before we will in detail, the book does offer some wonderful clues to some of the more difficult parts. Quite often when John (and the reader) is confused by some of the imagery presented, an angel of the Lord will appear with an explanation of what was seen and what it represents. This is true in the case of the beast.

Revelation 17:7 But the angel said to me, Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery … of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. … 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.

While this passage will help with both the national and individual unveiling of the beast our purposes in this post will be with simply deal with the national revelation. The clues are are actually quite simple. The seven heads of the beast represent two different things. The first and only, for our dealings in this post, is that they represent a city set upon seven hills or mountains. There is only one historical city that sits on seven hills.

Rome!

Now many, including many Reformers, argued that this was representative of the Roman Catholic Church. Since the description also includes the seven kings of the city/nation the Roman Catholic connection goes beyond the scope of the passage. It should then be most easily understood to be the City and Nation of Rome. Also as an aside it should be noted that the scope of the book’s primary emphasis runs through the demise of the seventh head and a later eighth head. This is one of the reasons I have trouble accepting the Historicist interpretation of the Revelation’s picturing the entire scope of history.

This also makes sense in the midst of what John is writing and the circumstances under which John has penned this prophecy and epistle. John has been exiled to an island called Patmos victim of a sort of “house arrest.” He also has been greatly persecuted for the sake of the Gospel and states that, he too, was a “brother in tribulation” with those he was writing to. The Church was being persecuted by both the Roman government and the Jews depending on it’s location.

That is the backdrop of his writing. Also, one other very important thing to remember is that his “postal service” would actually be the Roman government. So, as a result, he would be forced to use cryptic language and imagery to represent the Rome. This leads to a beast which is a city on seven hills that had, at that time, a sixth king, and would soon have a short lived seventh king.

So, this persecuting empire is clearly the Roman government. So, the question as to who the actual individual beast who eventually receives a wound to the head is much easier to decipher once we realize what nation he would be a king of and then answer the following questions.

  • Who are the Seven Kings?
  • Who are the five that have fallen?
  • Who is the one that “currently is” ?
  • Who will follow for a short time?
  • Whose name adds up to 666…not 6-6-6

This final point is important and will be dealt with in greater detail in the following post. Quite often you may read people who make claims of deciphering the number of the beast by using three separate sixes. The problem is, though, that the text reads six hundred, sixty and six. This is an accumulative number adding up to six hundred and sixty-six, not three separate sixes. So conjecture that lead to possibilities like Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6) are simply patently false based on a incorrect premise.

So, who is this Beast of Revelation?

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