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Revelation: Its Ongoing
Relevancy and Fulfillment

Chapter Six

Ominous Drama
of Two Great
Apocalyptic Beasts

Chapter 13 of Revelation

The First Beast of Revelation 13

Act 1  |  Scene 1

New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles. London, Montreal, Cape Town, and Kingston. New Delhi and Calcutta, India. Abuja, Manila, Jakarta, Nairobi, Islamabad, and Dodoma are in some of the cinematographic scenes of the Book of Revelation. I am, you are, and the rest of the inhabitants of the world of the 21st century.

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. 

Image of a great modern city against a background of a great sphere and the heavens beyond, highlighting the ongoing relevancy of Revelation, ilustration for the Study on the First Beast of Revelation 13.

Ah! Do you perchance scoff at the “strange, unnatural imagery of the beasts of Revelation,” classifying them as “phantasmagorical creations of ancient mythologies, absurd and repugnant?” Well, if they are taken out of context, there would perhaps be justification for such a concept of them. On the other hand, when identified correctly in their context, the informed, sharp, objective mind understands that, in reality, the “beasts of Revelation” are astute, metaphorical representations of earthly, material entities either basically secular-political in nature or religious, of an earthyidolatrous, politicized genre. In general terms, such entities can be mostly benign and peaceful or truly beastly, terrifying, and destructive to the highest degree.

Image of a terrible, fantstical monster typical of many video games and comics of modern times, illustration for the ongoing relevancy of Revelation, for the Study on the First Beast of Revelation 13.
Image of hugh metaphorical beast in modern video games and comics, illustration for the Study on the First Beast of Revelation 13.

If you are observant and have even a rudimentary knowledge of the history of humanity, you will appreciate that what we have just affirmed makes sense. For example, the nations of the 20th and 21st centuries that embroiled hundreds of millions of human beings in two World Wars and several more limited but equally atrocious, plus numerous pogroms, and genocides that soaked the earth in human blood wherever they were executed, were absolutely beastly, terrifying, criminal, and destructive on a vast scale. ​

Why would you stumble
over the metaphorical imagery
of nations, empires, and secular 
leaders as "beasts?"
Video games and
many movies of our
digitized entertainment world are
saturated with that very same
imagery! Incredibly ugly
monsters many of them;
vindictive, cruel, soulless,

savage, sadistic, grotesque, repulsive, violent, 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, then, reject Revelation outright because the very same subjects make up much of its content? A truly outstanding literary work that treats them concisely with spectacular descriptive language. Written to be understood! A fact that is highlighted in Chapter 1 of this Commentary.

If teenagers and young adults of this 21st century would dedicate a third of the time, energy, and mental activity they invest in the fantasy worlds, empires, and fictional beings of digitized realms to the investigation, study, and practical application of the audiovisual scenes, scenarios, and visions of Revelation, they just might attain to some amazing understanding of the real world, material, physical, and spiritual, they actually do inhabit, their logical roles in it, and responsibilities to it, as well as to each other and the whole human race. They might even see and understand that a new and perfect world awaits human beings who seek it and prepare themselves to inherit it, for Revelation contains magnificent views and descriptions of it, corroborated by additional texts of the New Testament. Definitively, Revelation is not just about “beasts, plagues, wars, darkness, and hell.” Revelation, chapters 21 and 22; 2 Peter 3:8-13; Hebrews 2:5, etc.

See solid proof in the study: Why is there so much "wrath of God" in Revelation? This divine wrath is manifested in 125 verses of the 404 that the book of Revelation has. In contrast, 197 verses of the 404 may be classified as positive, encouraging, inspiring, full of healthy, pure hope.

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 1Scene 1

The First Beast comes up out of the sea, a terrible creature
with seven heads, ten horns, and a blasphemous name.

Revelation 13:1-2

“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.” 

Painting of the first beast of Revelation 13 which has seven heads and ten horns, for the Study on the First Beast of Revelation 13.

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

Painting of the four beast of Daniel 7, for the Study on the First Beast of Revelation 13.

Left. Daniel sees four beasts coming up out of the sea. Painting by Joe Maniscalco.
Rights reserved.

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.” 

Painting of the apostle receiving the visions of Revelation on the island of Patmos, for the Study on the First Beast of Revelation 13.

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.

Painting of the four winds and four beasts of Daniel 7, for the Study on the First Beast of Revelation 13.

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.”

Text and Document Composition by the author Homer Dewayne Shappley. All rights reserved. The only restrictions on the use of this document are the sale of it in any format and proper identification of its origin.

CATEGORY Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. 21st Century commentary.

Act 1. Scene 2. The seven heads of the first beast. Revelation 13:1; 17:2, 9-12; Daniel 7:1-7.

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