Four Beasts in One

The single Beast from the sea is related to but distinct from the four beasts that Daniel saw rising from the sea

Dragon Three Heads - Photo by aisvri on Unsplash
In the 13
th chapter of Revelation, the single “Beast from the sea” displays all the animal characteristics of the four creatures that Daniel saw ascending from a chaotic sea. John’s “beast” is from the same lineage, but it is also something more. It certainly is not identical to the “fourth beast” with the “little horn,” though it incorporates many of its attributes - [Dragon Three Heads - Photo by aisvri on Unsplash].

That Daniel’s vision of four “beasts” is behind John’s image of the “beast from the sea” is indisputable. But the latter employs the language and imagery of the former to build its own picture.

What was “sealed” in Daniel is NOT SEALED IN REVELATION, and it envisions something beyond what Daniel saw. John’s single “beast” combines all four of the “beasts” from the book of Daniel - (Daniel 12:1-4, Revelation 22:9-10).

PARALLELS


Both Daniel’s fourth “beast” and the single “Beast” in Revelation ascend from the sea. Both have “ten horns” and “wage war against the saints.” And in both visions, the “tens horns” represent “ten kings” or kingdoms. But the differences outweigh the similarities - (Daniel 7:21-24, Revelation 13:7, 17:12).

Daniel saw four individual beasts ascend from the sea in succession, but John sees only one. In Daniel, the first beast is compared to a lion, the second to a bear, and the third to a leopard, but the fourth has no analog in the animal kingdom - it was a monstrosity with “ten horns” and “seven heads.”

In Revelation, the animal features of all four “beasts” are combined into one new entity, then they are listed in reverse order - The beast with “ten horns,” the leopard, the bear, and lastly, the lion. And the composite nature of John’s “Beast from the sea” means that it is NOT identical to Daniel’s fourth “beast” – It includes the features of all four of the “beasts” seen by the prophet.

The “ten horns” of Daniel’s fourth beast represent ten kings that will reign over the fourth kingdom. In contrast, the “ten horns” of John’s “beast” have “received no kingdom yet, but they will receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” - (Revelation 17:12).

Daniel’s fourth beast has “ten horns,” but another “little horn” ascends among the ten after three are removed, and it “speaks great things.

DIFFERENCES


However, in Revelation, the one “Beast” had “seven heads” in addition to its “ten horns,” one of which is “struck dead, and his death-stroke is healed.” And in Daniel, the “little horn…speaks great things,” but in Revelation, the “Beast” itself is “given a mouth speaking great things and slanders” - (Daniel 7:8, Revelation 13:3-5).

In Daniel, the four beasts represent four successive kingdoms. The first, the winged lion, undoubtedly symbolizes Babylon. The second, the bear with one side “raised higher than the other,” most likely represents the Medo-Persian Empire that overthrew Babylon. And in Daniel, the “kingdom of the Medes and Persians” always includes both nations - (Daniel 2:38, 8:20, 11:1-2).

The third beast with four wings and four heads represents the conquests of Alexander the Great, especially his defeat of the Persian Empire. After his death, his kingdom is divided into four lesser domains. The four heads of the leopard point to this fourfold division.

The identity of the “fourth beast” is not made clear until the vision of the Ram and the Goat in the eighth chapter of Daniel. The “little horn” is a malevolent king who rules over one of the four successor kingdoms of the “goat,” that is, Greece.

This king “of fierce countenance” wages war against the “saints,” desecrates the Temple, erects the “transgression that desolates,” and causes the cessation of the daily burnt offering in the sanctuary - (Daniel 7:15-26, 8:21-26, 9:26-27, 11:30-36).

Dragon Head Rock - Photo by Tiraya Adam on Unsplash
[Photo by Tiraya Adam on Unsplash]


Revelation does not employ the framework of four successive empires that features prominently in the book of Daniel. Instead, it employs a sevenfold succession of kingdoms.

The “seven heads” of the “Beast” represent “seven mountains” on which the “Great Harlot” sits. In turn, the “seven mountains” symbolize “seven kings” or kingdoms, five of which have “fallen” prior to John’s time, one is “present,” and another is “yet to come” - (Daniel 7:17, 7:23, Revelation 17:8-10).

The kingdom that “is” when John receives his vision can only be the Roman empire, the “Beast” that is persecuting the “churches of Asia.” But there yet remains a future incarnation of the “Beast.” When it does appear, it will “continue a little while,” and then “go into destruction.”

FINAL BEAST


Thus, the single “Beast from the sea” represents something far beyond what Daniel originally saw - it indicates a trans-historical reality. It was present in the four historical empires represented by Daniel’s “four beasts,” and it is working in John’s time to destroy the “saints.”

One day, the final or seventh incarnation of this “Beast” will ascend to “make war with the Lamb,” and since the “Dragon” has been expelled from the heavenly courtroom, Satan’s earthly cohorts cannot attack him directly. Instead, they wage war on his “saints” - (Revelation 5:5-12, 11:7, 12:17, 13:7-10, 20:7-10).

Thus, the book of Revelation borrows imagery from Daniel to build its portrait of the World Empire that had threatened the existence of the Church throughout the present era.  It is not identical to any of the “four beasts” from Daniel, but it certainly is of the same nature and character.

Daniel’s four malevolent entities are forerunners, prototypes of the final version of the “Beast from the sea,” and in John’s time, that creature is attacking the “churches of Asia.” But its ultimate form will appear only at the end of the age when Satan launches his final attempt to annihilate the church – (Revelation 20:7-10).



Comments

POPULAR POSTS

Is Russia "Rosh"?

Son of Destruction