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"Then I saw a second beast; it emerged from the ground;
it had two horns like a lamb, but made a noise like a dragon.
This second beast was servant of the first beast, and extended its authority everywhere,
making the world and all its people worship the first beast, which had had the fatal wound and had been healed."
The Bible tells us in prophecy that there are two "beasts" and presents them to us in a format much like a children's riddle:
'What is it that comes in two parts called beasts, the first having seven heads, plus an eighth head that is one of the seven and which stems from the second beast, which has both two horns and ten horns at the same time; and all of it (beasts, heads and horns) coming out of a dragon?'
The spatial concept alone is daunting, almost mathematical in its complexity. Like the concept of fourth cousins, three times removed, it must be seen graphically, charted out on paper even to begin to untangle the relationships hidden in its words.
Before any of this graphic work can be done, of course, one needs to translate the four key words involved in the prophecy: "beast", "head", "horn" and "dragon".
Although it employs the term often, the Bible almost never uses the word "beast" to describe a person. Instead, the term "beast" is used to define empires, i.e., whole populations of people with a focused mindset. Antagonism to the House of Israel is the defining element in the word "beast".
We can see that most clearly in John's explanation of the seven heads that form the composition of the first beast. John wrote in about 92 A.D. that five of these "heads" had come and gone, the sixth was there at the time he was writing. The seventh was yet to come. All scholars of scripture are agreed that the sixth head, the one there at the time of John's writing, was the pagan Roman Empire.
We can deduce from this that these seven "heads" are all empires. Such a composition indicates that the first beast spans centuries. It spans enough time for all seven heads, and even the eighth yet to come, to pass across history's stage. This first beast, then, is a kind of spiritual "mother-empire" that spawns and is propelled through time by specific historical empires bitterly antagonistic to God.
Each "head" has one particular individual on its throne during the course of its history that personifies that antagonism. For this reason, the word "head" can also be written with a slash. For instance, in the case of the sixth head, "Rome/Nero". While previous emperors focused their militancy on Judea, Nero targeted the Christian leadership, executing it's highest figureheads.
The entire purpose of the Bible is to define and explain the relationship between two spiritual antagonists, God and Satan, and to show how each has produced dissimilar sets of children, one good, the other evil. The children of good stem from the two houses of Israel.
The children of evil are anti-God, fiercely opposed to the House of Israel. Scripture tells us the children of God have been captured by evil and imprisoned within evil's kingdom. God has sent His Christ to rescue these captives and lead them back to God's kingdom (a heavenly Jerusalem which is not of this earth). It is in this context that we must view the "beast" in the riddle above.
Satan, then, i.e., evil itself, is the "dragon".
The kingdom of Satan in all of its forms is the "beast".
The "first beast" (the mother-empire of paganism) reflects the spirit of paganism on earth. In keeping with that, the first seven "heads" of that beast have all been pagan. Though various "gods" have come associated with them, their governments have all been secular. Together, they reflect secular antagonism to God, i.e., they are militant enemies of the God of Israel.
The "second beast" is different. It is religious. It comes as a theocracy. What makes it a "beast" is it's antagonism to the House of Israel. Sharing its throne will be a god hostile to the people of Israel. It claims to support God, but in the end will be shown to secretly promote the "first beast" (paganism).
In terms of the first beast, the ubiquitous pagan force on earth whose "heads" (one after another) have tried to block God's will and war against His people down through the ages, we are now able to identify all seven of its heads.
Since we know that the sixth head (empire) of this first beast (the one with the mortal wound) was called pagan Rome, we can see the other empires in the same way: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and, finally, in just this past century, Germany. These represent the seven pagan kingdoms that have, down through history and in scripture, mounted severe and catastrophic attacks against the House of Israel.
When the Bible describes human leaders, it uses the term "horn", not "beast".
If we look for human beings (i.e., "horns") in this group, it is easy to single out the following figures: Adolph Hitler, Nero, Haman, Antiochus Epiphanes IV and Nebuchadnezzar. The two others are less clearly defined. Distinct individuals do drive the malignancy of the empire. But the object scripture defines as "heads" resides in the governmental organizations these horns set up to try to thwart God. It is those governments, one after another, servants of the beast, that have, since the beginning, specifically targeted the people of Israel in their efforts to move human society down paths that lead away from God.
Under the influence of all seven of these "heads" (empires), human society has had to deal with various derivations of paganism.
The "second beast", as shown above, is different. It comes, not in paganism, but cloaked in the guise of religion. That is why it stands in its own category apart from paganism. That is also why it is called the empire of the "False Prophet". The religion it preaches will be false.
Two "horns" will rise up to rule over the 2nd Beast.
Scripture tells us that this second beast (this new empire) is to have two horns like a lamb, but will make noise like a dragon (i.e., a noise like Satan). The fact that scripture categorizes these two horns in the image of a lamb, tells us this empire (this second beast) is religious, but its draconic noise indicates its malignancy (i.e., its religious antagonism to God). The use of the word "dragon" also points to its eastern character.
The fact that it has two horns indicates two primary rulerstwo distinct individuals rising up to rule over it's citizens (see Dan.11:15-24). Both will be enemies of the true God.
The embryonic possibilities of such a movement can be seen today in the small but growing movement of frenzied Middle Eastern terrorists and renegades, bitterly antagonistic to Israel, who are trying to violently wrest the Islamic world away from the current religious leadership that now governs it. Were these outlaws ever to gain control of this enormous empire and convert it to their wicked and virulent ends, a perfect correlation with this prophecy (Rev. 13:11) would occur. This is something the world (East and West, Muslim and Christian alike) must guard against with great diligence.
In the Book of Revelation (12:3), it is revealed that both the "first beast" and the "second beast" are children of the same dragon (i.e., Satan).
This close relationship can be seen in the fact that scripture tells us the "second" beast will actually spawn the eighth "head" of the first beast (bringing to power a "reincarnation" of one of the first seven pagan empires). It will act as the servant of the first beast.
The second beast will come to power in the form of "ten horns". These are ten kingdoms whose alliance will create the empire of the false prophet. We can see previous examples of such governmental coalitions in the construct of the United States and the Soviet Union, i.e., a fusing of independent states united into a single entity, with a single horn rising to rule over all ten.
"Next I saw another vision in the visions of the night: I saw a fourth beast, fearful, terrifying, very strong; it had great iron teeth, and it ate, crushed and trampled underfoot what remained. It was different fr om the previous beasts and had ten horns." (Dan.7:7).
These ten horns, then, are ten kings who will be given power in the last days to knit their separate kingdoms together into one giant empire committed to the single malignant agenda of the dragon (Satan).
Two significant "horns" will rise to govern this ten-nation confederacy. A third "horn" between these two is described by Daniel, but his reign will be short.
Each of the ten "horns" will act as lieutenants to the whole. But sole command of them all (like that of a commanding general) will rest in the person that is described as "a horn like a lamb that makes noise like a dragon".
After the end of the first horn's rule, the second horn will appear (Dan. 11:21). Under the leadership of the first horn the world-rule of western government will be toppled. The second horn will target the people of God.
For this reason, the second "lamb-dragon" horn is the one scripture calls the "Madman", the man we often refer to as "the" beast. This second horn will be the great "Destroyer" of scripture, the "Man of Perdition' who is destined to topple the power of the holy people (see Dan.11:13-24 & Dan. 12:7).
This "wretch" is the single individual most of us refer to as the "beast" because he so perfectly images the evil empire he serves. He is described in the Bible under a large variety of titles that include: "the Destroyer", "the Madman", "the Man of Perdition", "Daystar, Son of Dawn", "the King of Babylon", "the Prince of Persia", "Gog", "the prince who will come", "the Wretch", "the King of the North", "the man of Arrogance", "the Lost One", "the Enemy", "the Rebel", "the Man of Lawlessness", "the Lawless One", "the Man of Sin", "the Man of Iniquity", "the Son of Perdition", "the Angel of the Abyss", "the Anti-christ", etc.
Because this Rebel personifies the dragon whose empire he rules, he alone (as a person) is accorded the title of his empire "beast". This is why Bible scholars see in him Satan's attempt to parody the Trinity of God, raising up a spectre of dragon, anti-christ and false prophet, the beastly empire that is symbolized in his person. We know that empire as "the beast", a collective name for the mother-empire of paganism that, over time, incorporates seven evil kingdoms (including Babylon) in its world-dominating structure. As we have seen, at the end of time it is to be joined by a second empire, the empire of the "False Prophet", a seemingly anti-pagan religious empire fiercly opposed to the House of Israel. In reality, it's anti-pagan stance will be a ruse it will be the secret servant of paganism and will act in concert with it, even to the point of bringing to power paganisms final (8th) "head".
That will be seen clearly when this "Madman" leads all the troops of the "second beast" into the capital city of the "first beast", coalescing the two empires (the two beasts) into one for the specific purpose of marching their combined forces toward Jerusalem, his heart bent on Israel's complete and total destruction. It is this fateful movement of troops that scripture calls "Armageddon".
Daniel tells us that the ten horns of this second beast, and even the empire itself, will not arrive on the scene until just before the end of the world (Dan. 7:7). People will be able to recognize this empire when it rises to power by the ten kingdoms that comprise it. The fact that we cannot see that empire now means that it still lies in the wings of tomorrow, awaiting its conceptual moment on history's stage.
That arrival cannot take place until after the United Nations fractures (Dan.8:8). That division will occur in a catastrophe that mimics the death of Alexander the Great. It will divide the world into four dissimilar spheres of governmentall of them different from the global policies we are familiar with today. The ten-nation confederacy of the false prophet (the second beast) will rise to world power out of the smallest of these four divisions (Dan.8:9).
It is against all of this that God will ultimately triumph as He suddenly descends to earth in the drama of the final Judgment, arraigning all mankind to account for the conduct of their lives.
To view a list of the actual empires involved, click here.
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