Revelation: Its Ongoing
Relevancy and Fulfillment
of Two Great
Chapter 13 of Revelation
The First Beast
Act 1 | Scene 1
New York City, the United States of America, England, Canada, India, China, Russia, France, Germany, and Italy are in some of the cinematographic scenes of the Book of Revelation. I am, you are, and the rest of the world of today.
The central figures of the short, vivid, videos, with audio, transmitted to John and verbally recorded in Chapter 13 are two tremendous beasts. The first, predominantly earthy, secular, and political. The second, essentially religious, but also worldly and politicized. There is a third made in the image of the first.
Ah! Do you scoff at the imagery of "beasts?" Friend, those beasts are nations and empires, whether
mostly secular or mostly religious. Empires, nations, and people can be, in general terms, pacific and
relatively benign, or they can be real beasts, of the meanest, most dreadful, and destructive sort!
If you are observant and have even a cursory knowledge of history, you will know that is so. Witness the nations of the 20th century who embroiled hundreds of millions of human beings in two World Wars, several more limited, but equally vicious ones, plus numerous pogroms, and genocides that soaked the earth in human blood wherever they were executed.
Why would you stumble over the metaphorical
imagery of nations and empires as "beasts"? Video
games and many movies of our digitized
entertainment world are saturated with that
very same imagery! Incredibly repulsive monsters
some of them; vindictive, cruel, soulless, savage,
sadistic, and destructive.
Good and bad nations, empires, and peoples. These are great and very popular
subjects of video games, innumerable movies, comics, and literary works of fiction.
Of dreams and nightmares. Of reality in the real world past and present. And, of REVELATION!
Why not? A fantastic book about these very subjects. Meant to be understood.
If the typical teenager and young adult of today spent a third of the time, energy, and mental concentration investigating the meaning and application of the video-audio scenes of Revelation
that he or she spends on the fantasy worlds, empires, and peoples of the digital realm, who
knows but that great and astonishing understanding might be achieved!
That kind of knowledge and understanding can potentially set lives and souls on a course for
a better world now and an extremely better one in life after death.
So then, take courage. Revelation is for you and me. And not just for teachers, preachers, and theologians.
I would like to respectfully offer you the following study on the two beasts of Revelation, the fruits of my own extensive investigations. Beginning with Act 1, Scene 1.
The First Beast comes up out of the sea, a terrible creature
with seven heads, ten horns, and a blasphemous name.
“Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.”
I. The first beast. “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.” Revelation 13:1
The apostle John, telling us the history of his divine visions, says, in Revelation 13:1, that he “stood on the sand of the sea.” It is not altogether inconceivable that he literally stood on beach of Patmos, the island where he lived when he received the prophecies and visions gathered in the book of Revelation.
While standing and looking far out to sea, maybe to the West towards Rome, or perhaps to the East, in the direction of the seven churches of Asia, the curtain is opened on a new prophetic drama, which we identify as the “Fearful Drama of Two Great Apocalyptic Beasts.”
When Scene 1 of Act 1 begins, the panorama before us is of the sea itself, from which suddenly there arises a terrible, phantasmagorical creature, “having seven heads and ten horns” and “a blasphemous name.”
A. The first beast of Revelation 13 comes up out of the SEA. “And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea…” Revelation 13:1
1. In the visions Daniel received in Babylon during the first year of king Belshazzar, there come up out of the sea, not just one beast but “four great beasts.” “Daniel spoke, saying, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.” Daniel 7:2-3
Left. Daniel sees four beasts coming up out of the sea. Painting by Joe Maniscalco.
Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great
beasts came up from the sea… The first was like a lion…” The second one was “like a bear.” The third one was “like a leopard.” “…and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” Daniel 7:1-7
2. What does the “sea,” or “the Great Sea,” symbolize in these visions?
With much probability, because of similarities and settings in the texts, the same as the “many waters” mentioned in Revelation 17:1.
“Come,” the angel says to the apostle John, “I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.”
Then, in Revelation 17:15, the angel explains: “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”
Though “Great Sea,” or just “sea,” in the visions of John and Daniel are, no doubt, an allusion to the literal Mediterranean Sea, also known as the “Great Sea,” the language of the visions is highly metaphorical, and, consequently, a sea on planet Earth is not really in focus, but rather what “sea” symbolizes in prophetical language.
Given that “sea” and “many waters” may be taken as synonymous, it seems logical to conclude that “sea” in these visions also symbolizes peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”
At any rate, the beasts in Revelation are patently not literal and, logically, would not be coming up from a literal sea here on earth.
That they would rise from among multitudes of peoples in different places and “SIT” on them, as “the great harlot… sits” on “peoples, multitudes,” etc., is, indeed, exactly what they did, as shall be evident as we proceed.
3. Neither would the “four winds of heaven” that were “stirring up the Great Sea” be literal winds of
the earth. Rather, the language is rhetorical, representing, as we understand, convulsive struggles, battles, and wars of an ideological-political-social-religious-economic nature, which have commonly occurred throughout history among peoples of different nations, races,
and tongues; between kings, emperors, princes, armies, priests, ecclesiastical hierarchies, etc.
“…stirring up the Great Sea” signifies that these “winds” vigorously agitate the superstitious, badly informed, ignorant, and inconstant populations, as if they were themselves like foaming waves of the sea, tossed to and fro.
In the midst of these turbulent “many waters,” sometimes there are born and come forth really terrifying “beasts.”
“I saw a beast rising up out of the sea…” “… four great beasts came up from the sea…”
The meaning of “beast” and “beasts” will soon come to light, we trust, in this “Analysis.”
Act 1. Scene 2. The seven heads of the first beast. Revelation 13:1; 17:2, 9-12; Daniel 7:1-7.