The Two Beasts and the Dragon Chapter 13:1-18
n chapter 11 we saw a beast come up from the pit and kill the two witnesses. In chapter 12 we were introduced to the “remnant” of Israel under the sign of a sun-clad woman with twelve stars, which crowned her head. In addition, Satan was introduced with the sign of a seven-headed red dragon and was cast out of heaven to the earth. In chapter 13 we are given greater details about “The Beast.”
We remind our readers that the title “beast” was not only given to the beast of the field such as, cattle, sheep, lions, etc.; but also, to angels, men, and their governments. When this title is applied to man and governments, it always has a negative connotation.
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” (Revelation 13:1).
Keep in mind that wars are raging between the nations within and surrounding the old Roman Empire. John gives the imagery of a seven-headed beast rising up from a body of water. However, we know that the beast is not a sea monster, nor is the sea a literal body of water. A beast, as we have said, is at times, a mortal man, a group of men or their governments. The sea from which the beast arises consists of the Gentile multitudes. (See 17:15.)
The title “beast” is used interchangeably between a person or persons and their kingdoms. This beast, which comes from the masses, is a man who takes over the kingdom that has been formed by an alliance of ten kings within the boundaries of the old Roman Empire. That kingdom, consisting of the ten kings, must exist before the man designated “the beast” can rise to power. The ten kings comprise the seventh head on the beast.
This man rises to power through his craft, deceit, lies, and the aid of Satan. Through his diplomacy, he will over-throw three kings and capture the allegiance of the other seven. He is called “the little horn” and comes up after the ten horns were fully-grown. He will overthrow three of the ten because they resist him. He is the Antichrist who comes to full power in the days of the ten kings. He will overthrow three of them, and the others will submit to him without further resistance (Daniel 7:8, 23-24; Revelation 17:11-17).
Commentators are not in agreement as to who or which governments are represented by the seven heads. We have stated, that we believe they are:
6. The Old Roman Empire
7. The Ten Kingdoms that are yet to be formed inside the Roman Empire (Daniel 7:23-24).
Just as Daniel was given a view of the four world empires in one image, with the ten kings represented by the ten toes, so John is given a vision of seven heads, comprised of the seven Gentile powers who have persecuted Israel. These are given in the form of a single beast with the eighth head coming from within it.
“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” (Revelation 13:2-3).
John describes the likeness of the Antichrist’s new composite government as a leopard with feet like a bear and the mouth of a lion. Daniel gives the same description of these governments and tells us who they represent. He informs us that the lion represented Babylon, the bear represented Medo-Persia, and the leopard represented Greece.
Some commentators believe the leopard symbolizes the United States. They reason that its white underside represents white people, and that the black spots symbolize integration of blacks. Further arguments are given for this theory, but we forbear. Several writers point out that the spots on the Antichrist’s kingdom symbolize its wickedness in contrast to Jesus, God’s Lamb without spot.
Williams says, “The Wild Beast will be the fourth beast of Daniel 7 and will exercise the power of the Grecian, the Persian, and the Babylonian kingdoms; signified by (verse 2) the leopard, the bear and the lion.” He further says, “The future will reveal the meaning of verse 3.”
Tim LaHaye comments on this verse by taking the reader to chapter 17. He says, “… they represent five kings to the time of John; the sixth, Domitian, a Roman king at the time of John, he then skipped forward to the time of the seventh head, Antichrist.” He continues, “Others suggest that these are the seven phases of the Roman type of government through which the non-descript beast, which represents Caesarean imperialism, passed. In either case the whole animal represents a bestial kingdom that will be in the dominant control of the earth during the Tribulation.”
William McDonald says, “They combine the features of the four beasts of Daniel in 7:3-7.”
Dr. John Walvoord says, “…the final world ruler gathers into his power all the power of the preceding rulers and their territory…eventually becomes ruler of the entire globe, something that had never been accomplished before.”
Dr. Ruckman says, concerning verse 3, “One of the heads of the beast is cut off, and wounded. It is Nimrod (King of Babel), Pharaoh (King of Egypt), Sennacherib (King of Assyria), Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon) or Cyrus (King of Rome). One of these heads is ‘wounded to death’ and the ‘deadly wound was healed.’ One of those nations that was cut off is going to revive and take over.”
John Phillips says, “…this is evidently a reference to the revival of the Roman Empire as it will be in its final form.”
Dake believes the “beast” empire is ancient Greece. It is described as a leopard and a bear. He says both were symbols of ancient Greece. Greece is first symbolized by brass in Daniel 2:39b, “… and another third…”
It seems reasonable to stay with the Scriptural designation of the leopard as given by Daniel. He was told that the leopard symbolizes the Grecian Empire. (See Daniel 7:6.) In Daniel 7:6 the leopard has four heads. The four heads symbolize the four divisions of the Grecian Empire after the death of Alexander, as do the four horns of Daniel 8:8, 22-23. Heads always symbolize kingdoms. (Daniel 8:20-23; Revelation 17:9-11.) This kingdom is mentioned in Daniel 2:32,35,39,45; 7:6,17; 8:5-25; 10:20; 11:3-45; Zechariah 8:13.
Alexander the Great died at age 33. After his death his kingdom was divided between his four generals. The four kingdoms formed out of his empire are known today as Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Egypt. The Antichrist, we believe, comes from Syria.
The leopard symbolizes the Grecian Empire, which was one of the seven heads on the beast-vision, which John saw. Satan, who is here called “the dragon,” energized the whole beast from its inception to its destruction. One should note that the dragon is also said to also have seven heads and ten horns. This shows how unified Satan and his beast kingdoms are. They are inseparable. The Antichrist has great power and authority. Satan delegates these to him.
John says one of the “heads” on the beast had received, “as it were,” a wound to death (v.3). Now the question is which head was, “as it were wounded to death”? Dr. Ruckman said that we are forced to choose from the list. Was it Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, the old Roman Empire, or the 7th that made up the 10 kingdoms that are yet to be formed inside the Roman Empire? Some commentators believe the wounded head is Rome. Others believe it to be the Grecian empire. It seems more likely that it is the Grecian Empire, since it is from that head the Antichrist comes. This will be covered in more detail when we come to chapter 17.
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:4).
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.