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The Beasts of Revelation Exposed
What do They Represent?

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The book of Revelation refers to four beasts. They are:

  1. A slain lamb with seven horns and seven eyes (Revelation 5)
  1. A great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 12)
  1. A leopard-like composite beast with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13: 1-10; 17: 3-13)
  1. A beast coming up out of the Earth with two horns like the lamb but speaking like the dragon (Revelation 13: 11-18)

What do the Four Beasts Represent?

  1. The slain lamb with seven horns and seven eyes represents Jesus, the Lamb of God.
  1. The great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns represents the fallen angel, Lucifer.
  1. The leopard-like composite beast with seven heads and ten horns represents a coming worldwide crisis government controlled by seven religious systems and ten political kingdoms.
  1. The beast coming up out of the Earth with two horns like a Lamb, but speaking like a dragon, represents the physical appearing of Lucifer masquerading as God. Lucifer, the ancient Antichrist himself, will gloriously and physically appears before all nations during the Great Tribulation.

A Crucial topic

Why should Bible students be concerned with the identity of these beasts? Answer: These beasts are about to fulfill a prophetic destiny that includes everyone on planet Earth. Later, I will present the reasons why I identify the four beasts as I do, but for now, consider the conclusions presented as a “starting place” for this study. For the sake of clarity and discussion, I have reduced the beasts to four short names:

1.      The slain lamb with seven horns and seven eyes will be called “The Lamb.” (Key phrases are highlighted in bold letters.)

2.      The red dragon with seven heads and ten horns will be called “The Dragon.”

3.       The leopard-like composite beast with seven heads and ten horns will be called “The Dragon-like beast.”

4.      The beast with two horns like the Lamb will be called “The Lamb-like beast.”

Synthesis

It may be helpful as we open this study to conceptually group the four beasts in the following manner:

The Lamb and His imposter, the Lamb-like beast

The dragon and his worldwide empire, the Dragon-like beast

The Lamb and the Lamb-like Beast

This association of names is easy to remember because the contrast is obvious: Jesus is “The Lamb of God” and when Lucifer personates Christ on Earth, he will portray himself as “Lamb-like” in everything he does. This is an important association because a great controversy has raged for thousands of years between Jesus and Lucifer. Revelation 12 portrays Michael and Lucifer as commanders and each has its own followers. Ever since Lucifer was cast out of Heaven, the conflict between them has not faded. We know that Lucifer caused the events that led to Jesus’ death on the cross and we also know that Jesus will destroy Lucifer in the lake of fire at the end of the thousand years. (Revelation 20) Further, we know that The King of kings (Jesus), Himself, will descend from Heaven to face His rival (Lucifer) who will have established himself as God on Earth. These two commanders with their armies will war against each other at the Second Coming. (Revelation 19: 11-20) We also know the Lamb-like beast (also known as the false prophet) “will be destroyed, but not by human power.” (Daniel 8:25)

Please consider this point thoughtfully: When the great Antichrist comes, he will be more than a mere man. He will be more powerful and glorious than anyone can imagine. The Bible reveals that God will allow the devil himself to appear “in the flesh” to lead the world into destruction. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).  Consider the fairness of our Heavenly Father. Just as Jesus came to Earth in the flesh to establish His kingdom, Lucifer will be granted the opportunity, in days to come, to do the same.

The Dragon and the Dragon-like Beast

This association should be easy to remember because it speaks of a king (the dragon) and his government (the Dragon-like animal). Lucifer is a fallen angel king and at a future, designated time, God will allow him to have full control of Earth, just as though it were his personal possession. The dragon king will have the advantage of operating in two dimensions – in the background (influencing the spiritual part of man) much like a hand operates within a glove and operating before the physical senses of the people (influence through hearing, seeing, etc.).

From his spiritual throne, he will rule over demons and men as the prince of demons. (Luke 11:15) From his physical throne, he will awe many inhabitants of Earth into submission.

Note: The reader may question why I apply both titles, “king and prince,” to be proper, the devil is a prince – that is, he rules over the kingdoms of this world under temporary provisions granted him by the King of the Universe. In other words, the difference between a prince and a king is perspective. From God’s perspective, the devil is a prince and Jesus often identifies him as such. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) On the other hand, a prince may also be regarded as a king by those over that he rules. For example, Herod is often called a king in the Bible although he was subordinate to Caesar. (Matthew 2) The use of both titles is confirmed in John 16:11 in which the devil is called a prince and Revelation 9:11 that calls him the angel king of the abyss.

Coming Destruction – A Key Event

When conducting Bible studies on Revelation, one of the biggest obstacles that hinder understanding about the Great Tribulation is that most people fail to appreciate the environment during that time. Of course, we can only reason from what is known, and consequently, many people try to understand Revelation’s story by looking at our world “right now.” The challenge though, is to grasp what God predicts, then process it and repossess it until we can observe complete harmony between the environment AND the resulting actions of the time. Comprehending the overwhelming sudden and horrible changes that will occur is important when the judgments of God begin. In this environment, the devil will be able to things that he cannot do right now because he will be granted special privileges that he does not have currently. The devil will seize upon a “crisis opportunity” to set up his worldwide government – and his actions will appear, at least on the surface, to be appropriate to the people of Earth. Although the devil cannot physically appear until the fifth trumpet, he will prove his incredible control over men by establishing a new government “overnight.” This forthcoming government will eventually reflect how completely evil and controlling the character of Lucifer really is. (Revelation 13:4) Therefore, I call his coming government by the title, “The Dragon-like beast.” (The Bible also refers to this coming world government as Babylon.) Through his command and control center, the devil will wage war against everyone who chooses to oppose him and of course, this includes the saints of God. As the time for his government draws to a close, the devil will especially seek to destroy the saints and many of God’s people will die. (Revelation 6:9-11; 18:24) As this coming world government reveals the evil character of its father, Earth’s inhabitants will know why the dragon and his Dragon-like organization are so closely identified with the anatomy of the beasts. It is extremely fitting that both entities are symbolized in Scripture as mean and ferocious animals – a dragon and Dragon-like – what choices of symbols could have been better?

A Two-faced Devil?

 Before we get to far along, I should point out Revelation’s story describes a two-faced devil – not two or three different devils. This point can be confusing at first. In other words, one view from Revelation shows the devil working through religious and political leaders that will continue through the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 13:4; Ephesians 6:12) How the devil works from the spiritual realm to accomplish his evil plans remains a mystery to me. Of course, we know that he influences people to do evil things. For example, the devil influenced Herod to kill Baby Jesus. (Revelation 12:4) On the other hand, the devil will physically masquerade before the people of Earth in a glorious body of a man – claiming to be God! How the devil can be a spiritual being and a physical being at will is another mystery. If you can find my claim hard to believe, consider the fact that angels, both fallen and unfallen, can pass through walls, closed windows and doors and still appear before men as physical beings. (See acts 12:7. Jesus also performed a similar miracle on at least one occasion! See John 20:19.) However, do not let this unexplained phenomenon obscure the point. The book of Revelation exposes both faces of the devil (the spiritual and the physical); so do not underestimate the sophistry and cunning of this wily foe. The great contest ahead is more than a physical battle – it is a contest for the souls of men and woman.

Faulty Presuppositions

I know several different views exist on the identity of the four beasts described above, and the culprit that produces so many different views is this: Presuppositions. A presupposition is an idea or theory believed to be true before examining or testing new data. The problem with presupposition surfaces when we force the weight of evidence found in Scripture to conform to a preexisting concept. If a presupposition leads us away from a plain and simple “thus saith the Lord,” then the presuppositions are faulty. Do not misunderstand; nothing is wrong with presuppositions if they can be demonstrated to be true. Everyone studies the Bible with various presuppositions, but caution is needed because logic alone is not sufficient properly to understand the Word of God. As students of God’s Word, it is necessary to bring all the relevant data to the table before we can resolve the meaning of difficult passages. Evan after doing this, we are still at God’s mercy to discover and know truth. If God does not want certain things revealed, no amount of study or logic will produce them. On the other hand, if God wants something known, every sincere heart will be enabled to draw the correct conclusions! This is why the gospel must be preached to the entire world before Jesus can come. (Matthew 24:14) If our heart and attitude are not right toward God and man, we cannot be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Without the illumination of the Spirit, there is no possible was of grasping knowledge of Truth! Therefore, the sword of truth has two edges – we must depend upon the Spirit of God to reveal truth, and take time to study. The Spirit helps us to “connect the dots” as we gather all the information the Bible has to say on a topic. To show the power and influence of presuppositions, four examples are described in the following paragraphs. Pleas consider them and their results:

Presupposition # 1: “All events described after Revelation 4:1 occur after the saints are taken to Heaven in a pre-tribulation rapture.”

Notice how the presupposition logically forces the fulfillment of the seven seals, seven trumpets and a host of other events after the rapture simply because the seals, trumpets and other events are described in chapter following Revelation 4.

Presupposition # 2: “In Bible prophecy, beasts always represents kingdoms or nations.”

Notice how this presupposition forces the identities of the Lamb and the dragon in Revelation to be nations or kingdoms. (Contrary to the claims of those who defend this presupposition, a lamb is a beast – just like a ram and goat in Daniel 8 are beasts.) As you will see, this presupposition forces conclusions that are contrary to the plainest Scripture. For example, the Bible interprets the symbol of the great red dragon as follows: “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 12:9) It is not good scholarship to make the symbol of the dragon more, or less, than what the Bible says that it is. In fact, it is highly dangerous. (Revelation 22:18,19) We must be vigilant to allow the Bible to be its own interpreter. The dragon in Revelation 12 is nothing less and nothing more than the devil, and the Lamb in Revelation 5 is nothing less and nothing more than Jesus, the Son of God.




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