Character and Themes – Introducing…The Beast

26Apr11

Revelation 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain…

18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

So it is with this passage that many believe we are introduced to this sinister Beast of Revelation. But in actuality we have to take a step back to the previous chapter of the book of Revelation. We also must travel even further back to the book of Daniel.I will put the verses in question back to back. We will also discuss whether then this beast should be seen as an “it” or a “he.” Or perhaps it is both? Where does the beast come from? What is it or he doing?

But first since this is a remedial study and a portion of the purpose of the study is to eliminate any presupposition or perception regarding to what we believe the beast was, is or will be. We cannot allow our extra-Biblical or non-Biblical ideas to be imported into the passages in question. This will help see trhe author’s intent instead of trying to make our preconceptions fit the passages.

Who are what has qualified as the beast of Revelation in history? Below are a few who have been identified with the beast and whose names or titles have added up to 666.

THE POPE

  • Irenaeus claimed the first pope was named Lateinos which in Greek added up to 666
  • The title Vicarius Filii Dei = In Place of the Son of God
  • The Pope “set himself up” in the Temple of God

MARTIN LUTHER

  • The Latin name for Martin Luther is Martin Lutera which adds up to 666

I guess turn about is fair play?

HITLER

  • It appears his name can be twisted around enough to make it add up to 666 as some have claimed

NAPOLEON

  • Another evil soul whose name added up to 666 in some twisted fashion

RONALD REAGAN

  • Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6) – three separate sixes referring to 6-6-6

MUSSOLINI

  • Mussolini’s slogan “VV IL DUCE” added up to 666

POPULAR RECENT NOMINEES

  • James Brady – even Dan Rather said he was killed during the Reagan shooting with a wound to the head
  • Anwar Sadat’s name added up to 666
  • Gorbachev’s support from Yitzhak Shamir made many believe he was the Beast
  • 1994 Time Magazine cover with Bill Clinton lead many to believe he was the one because the I and the E in TIME were covered up by his picture while the M stayed appeared above his head looking like “Devil Horns” to some readers
  • Prophecy expert Zola Levitt claims that w-w-w = 666
  • Levitt also claims “Yah” is short for God (Yahweh) and “Hu” means “he” in Hebrew…so the Beast is…YAH HU…Yahoo!

But since the entire point of this study is to see what Scripture has to say about the subject, let us examine the information we have before us. The first important concept to grasp is the idea that the term beast” represents both an individual and a notion. This dual representation is not uncommon and, admittedly, may cause some confusion but an examination of the passages in question will bare this out.

  • Verse 18 tells us that the beast has a number and it is a number of a man – PERSON
  • We are told that the beast receives a wound to one of it’s heads – a nation is not physically wounded, but it’s leader can be – PERSON
  • We are told in Revelation 17 that the beast sits on the “city on seven hills” but is also 6 (eventually 7) kings – NATION and PERSON
  • The animal imagery describing the beast combines the animals in Daniel which are seen as nations in history – NATION

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

Note the incredible similarity to the opening of Revelation 13.

Revelation 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth.

So, in this we know that we are dealing with a nation represented by the seven heads who we are told in chapter 17 represent 7 kings of that nation. So again with this we need to understand the Beast in a dual imagery relating to both a nation and that nation’s rulers. We are told that one of those heads is a man who has a name represented by the number 666.

Finally we will note the similarity between the beast in Revelation 13 and the one found in Revelation 12.

Rev. 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads

Rev. 12:3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns

So whatever the beast is in Revelation 13 it is closely associated with the beast in chapter 12. Their appearance is the same. Fortunately for us the book of revelation at least identifies the first beast found in chapter 12.

Rev. 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan

You must appreciate how John wants to leave no doubt as to who this red dragon is; the serpent, the devil, Satan! So with this information how are we to relate this to the similar appearing beast in revelation 13? This dual imagery also will help explain how one of the heads is mortally wounded, but the beast itself can come back to life. This imagery nicely describes how a nation may appear to be in peril when it’s leader (head) is killed, but can maintain it’s prominence (come back to life) with a new leader (head) in place. We will see how this worked in history.

First note how the beast in Revelation 12 comes from the heavens and the beast in chapter 13 comes from the sea. The sea used in as Biblical imagery is a common description for the gentile nations as Israel is known as the Tribes of the “Land.” So, this nation beast in chapter 13 is a gentile nation made up of the four beasts of Daniel (in power and scope) and is related in some way to the beast of chapter 12 – who is the devil.

The best explanation I have discovered is that the evil of the gentile nation beast of chapter 13 is so great that it compared to the great evil of the devil and that the devil fulfills his plan by using this gentile nation. They, in a sense, are one in the same in regards to evil and propose and plan.

So, what do we know for sure thus far?

  • The Beast rises out of the sea – Gentile nation
  • Seven heads and ten horns – similar in focus and purpose to the “devil” beast in revelation 12
  • Combines a leopard, a bear and a lion from Daniel’s “Beast” nation prophecy
  • Description matches the beast in Revelation 12:3 – one merges with or controls the other
  • Receives a mortal wound to it’s head – one of it’s heads
  • Returns to life – wound is healed – the nation not the individual head
  • Makes war on the saints – Persecution
  • Rules the entire world – every tribe, language, nation. This must be a large nation in the known world
  • It is a man in regards to the individual heads and one head is given particular attention
  • This man (head/king) is identified with a number – 666

With this information in mind we will being over the next few posts to consider who and what this imagery may represent. This foundational information, though, will prove vital and will be referenced several times in the future. But we cannot simply jump into hypothesizing the identity and purpose of this beast without this background information.

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