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The Christian Counter

 




The Four Beasts of Revelation

 

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven; a
 woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet
and a crown of twelve stars on her head.”

                                                                                     -Revelation 12:1

 

We will examine two prophecies in this study. The first prophecy is a short story about Lucifer’s hatred for Jesus and the second prophecy is a longer story about Lucifer’s hatred for those who follow the teachings of Jesus. The first prophecy is found in Revelation 12:1-6 and the second prophecy immediately flows in Revelation 12:7-14:5. According to Rule One of Apocalyptic Prophecy, Revelation 12:1-14:5 consists of two different prophecies because chronological order is broken between verse 6 and 7. These two prophecies are intimately related, so we should examine both in this study. The two prophecies identify four beasts we need to consider. They are:

 

1.   A lamb with seven horns and seven eyes (Revelation 5:6; 12:11; 13:8,11; 14:1,4)

 

2.   A great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 12:3)

 

3.   A leopard-like beast with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1,2)

 

4.   A beast with two horns like a lamb, but speaks like the dragon (Revelation 13:11,17)

 

What Do the Four Beasts Represent?

 

1.   The Lamb represents Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins. (John 1:29)

 

2.   The great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns represents the fallen angel, Lucifer, who is also called Satan or the devil. (Revelation 12:9)       

 

3.   The leopard-like beast with seven heads and ten horns represents Babylon. (Revelation 14:8; 18:2-4) Babylon will form during the first four trumpets and rule over the world as a church-state government.

 

4.   The beast with two horns like the Lamb, but speaks like the dragon, represents Lucifer in human form. The devil and his angels will be released from the Abyss (the spirit realm) at the fifth trumpet. (Revelation 9:1-11) These evil beings will be given physical bodies so the inhabitants of Earth can see them, touch them, and freely talk with them. 

 

Now that we have identified the four beasts, we need to investigate each of them.

 

 

The Lamb

 

Ever since the day that Adam and Eve sinned, a flawless lamb has been used to represent the sinless life of Jesus Christ. Although the Bible does not explicitly say the burnt offering was a lamb, the Bible does say,  “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21, italics mine) Since the Bible does not elaborate further on the first sin offering, we can deduce two things. First, the use of skin for clothing indicates an animal died. Second, when we assemble everything God has said in the Bible about sin offerings, it is safe to assume that Adam sorrowfully killed the first lamb because “…sin entered the world through one man and death through sin….” (Romans 5:12)

 

When Jesus began His ministry on Earth, John the Baptist announced the mission of Jesus with a single sentence: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”(John 1:29) I am sure that God choose a lamb to represent Jesus for several reasons. First, what are more adorable than baby lambs? They are loving, gentle, and easily bond to human beings. Second, in terms of survival, sheep are valuable animals in Bible times, providing a source of food and clothing. They are hearty creatures and they reproduce often. Sheep often have multiple births, and since gestation is only five months, a herd of sheep can quickly double in size. Symbolically, Jesus is to eternal life what a lamb was to earthly life in Bible times. Last, sheep are social creatures. They are typically meek and gentle. Consider the words of Isaiah concerning Jesus: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet, he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter [i.e., without resistance], and as a sheep before her shearers is silent [submissive], so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, insertions mine) When we put these features together, a lamb symbolizes the life of Christ very well.

 

Notice’s John’s description of Jesus in Revelation 5. “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by four living creatures and the [24] elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits [the seven angels] of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.” (Revelation 5:6,7, insertions mine) Three fascinating aspects about Jesus are highlighted in this passage. First, John saw a “resurrected Lamb” standing in the center of God’s throne. This scene indicates the scene occurs after the cross. Second, John saw seven horns on the Lamb. This means the Lamb has sovereign power (the number seven represents completion and the horns represent authority). Third, the Lamb has seven eyes. These eyes represent the seven angels who stand (notice their posture) before the throne of God. (Revelation 1:4) These eyes are the seven angels who receive the seven trumpets. (Revelation 8:2) They are also called “seven spirits” (as in seven ghosts) because they are highly exalted beings that can appear and disappear on command. (Revelation 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, 5:6) Notice Paul words: Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14, italics mine) The seven eyes of the Lamb are the seven angels of the seven churches, the seven angels who receive the seven trumpets, and the seven angels who pour out the seven bowls. (Revelation 1:20; 8:2; 15:6) These seven angels are servants of Jesus. They are sent from the throne and they report back to Him whatever they see. The beauty of understanding the seven eyes is that they serve an omnipotent Lamb who had been slain. 

 

The Great Red Dragon

 

“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth [to Jesus], so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.” (Revelation 12:3,4, italics and insertion mine)

 

The great red dragon symbolizes Lucifer. We know this to be true because the Bible interprets the symbol with a relevant text: “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought back. But he was not strong enough, and lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9, italics mine) The great red dragon is the devil. He is God’s adversary and man’s accuser.

(Revelation 12:10)

 

Please consider two points that will prove useful later in this study:

 

1.   The great red dragon and the Lamb are not governments or nations. I emphasize this distinction because some people insist that beasts in Bible prophecy always represent nations or governments. This assertion is not valid. The four beasts in Daniel 7 do represent four world empires because Daniel 7:17 says the four beasts are world empires, but Daniel 7:17 does not force the four beasts in Revelation to be four world empires. The Bible is not internally conflicted. If we allow the Bible to define symbols with texts that point to the symbol, we will find that the Lamb in Revelation 5 represents Jesus, and the great red dragon in Revelation 12 represents His adversary, the devil. These two beasts are caricatures two supernatural beings – Jesus and Satan.

 

2.   The great red dragon has seven heads and ten horns when he is introduced in Revelation 12:3. Later, we will learn that these seventeen features represents future extensions of Satan’s authority over mankind. In other words, when the story begins in Revelation 12 (at the birth of Jesus), the seven heads and ten horns on the great red dragon are not functioning, but they will “come alive” and function when their appointed time comes. This technique is not unusual in apocalyptic prophecy. When the fourth beast (Rome) rises out of the sea in Daniel 7:7, it has ten horns. History says that Rome began to function as a world empire in 168 B.C., but the ten horns did not begin functioning until six hundred years later. The beasts in Daniel and Revelation may have various parts when they are introduced in a story, but these parts may not have any function when the beast is first introduced.

The Devil’s Name

 

The devil was an exalted angel before he was cast out of Heaven. Please consider three different translations of the same verse:

 

KJV

 

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12, italics mine)

 

NIV

 

“How you had fallen from heaven, O Morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12, italics mine)

 

NASB

 

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!”

(Isaiah 14:12, italics mine)

 

The translators of the KJV chose to translate the Hebrew word heylel with the Latin name “Lucifer,” whereas the translators of the NIV and NASB chose to translate heylel as “morning star” or “star of the morning.” The differences between the KJV and later translations stems from an ancient practice. Venus was a prominent morning star during the first century A.D. Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79) lived during the time of Christ and he wrote, “The star called Venus [has two names]…when it rises in the morning it is given the name ‘Lucifer’ [which means ‘light bringer’]…but when it [Venus] shines at sunset it is called ‘Vesper.’” (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 2, par. 36, insertions mine) Early translators of the Bible, as far back as Jerome’s fifth century Latin Vulgate, preferred to use the Latin name “Lucifer” for heylel rather than translating the Hebrew word as “morning star.” This is how the name Lucifer found its way into the KJV because Lucifer’s given name is unknown. It is ironic that Venus shone brighter than any of the other stars each morning and in a spiritual sense, Lucifer allowed his surpassing glory to bring about his downfall. “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.  You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:12-15)

 

A review of Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28: 12-18 reveals that Lucifer was once an anointed cherub in Heaven.

Eventually, he became arrogant and self-seeking. He became dissatisfied with God and His government. He coveted worship and adoration that belonged to Michael, the archangel. When Lucifer became jealous of the archangel Michael, Lucifer did not know Michael was God living “in the feathers.“ Let me explain what I mean. The Bible indicates that Jesus, the Creator, lived among the angels. This seems to be Jesus’ pattern. Jesus created the angels and lived among them (as Michael) – He also created man and lived among us. Michael lived among the angels, but Lucifer did not recognize that Michael was God. This mistake led to his undoing. Lucifer’s experience in Heaven is similar to what happened when Jesus lived as a man on Earth. The Jews did not know that Jesus was God living “in the flesh.” Our Creator (whether of angels or men) so closely identifies with His creation that no one can know that He is God unless there is a revelation of this truth! (This is the essential reason for the upcoming revelation of Jesus Christ!) Through malicious lies and deceptive innuendo, Lucifer persuaded one-third of Heaven’s angels to join him in rebellion against Michael, and this is how Lucifer became the Antichrist. The Godhead loved Lucifer and his followers. They did everything possible to change the feelings and attitudes of their subjects, but there was no repentance. When it became evident that extended mercy would bring no change and have no redeeming effect, God’s forbearance ended. God cast Lucifer and his angels out of Heaven. Jesus told His disciples, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven.”

(Luke 10:18)

 

When Lucifer and his angels were cast out of Heaven, their anger and bitterness toward the Godhead turned into a roaring rage. To get even, they focused their wrath on Jesus’ handiwork-the creation of Earth. The devil studied Adam and Eve for several years before he developed his subtle and deadly approach. The devil led Eve to disobey God and Eve led Adam into disobedience. Of course, the devil did not stop there. Cain, the first born of Adam and Eve, became a murderer. Astoundingly, within ten generations of creating Adam, human beings became so degenerate that God grieved that He had even made man! (Genesis 6) Consequently, God washed Earth with a flood of water, sparing just eight people – Noah and his family. The flood may have slowed the devil’s efforts to destroy mankind, but Peter reminds us that the devil is relentless. He goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour! (1 Peter 5:8,9)       

 

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