The Beast

Mystery Babylon

In the first chapter of Daniel, we are told that King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and took some of the articles of the house of God, which he kept in the treasure house of his god.

This helps us understand the meaning of “Mystery Babylon” in the Book of Revelation. Just as the Israelites and their religion were taken into captivity in Babylon, the saints were taken into captivity in “Mystery Babylon” by the beast, the bishop of Rome.

In the Book of Daniel, the beast was represented by King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. In Chapter 4, he became as a beast until seven times passed over him: “a time, times, and half a time.” In Chapter 3, he set up an image for everyone to worship: the image of the beast. In Chapter 6, we learn about the law that cannot be changed, not even by the king. Finally, in Chapter 7, we are told that the beast will even “intend to change time and law.” The changing of time and law in the Sabbath day would be his mark.

Chapter 5 describes the fall of Babylon after the king makes all his subjects intoxicated with wine from the cups of God’s house. This imagery depicts Mystery Babylon in the Book of Revelation.

Mystery Babylon was the final kingdom prophesied by Daniel: the kingdom of the beast with ten horns. The beast with ten horns, ten powers, prevented the saints from rebuilding God’s temple, which had to be built according to His measurements before His glory could come in. Until this day, many of Christ’s saints remain in Mystery Babylon. The Angel still cries out, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”

Daniel’s prophecy of the beast begins in the second chapter of Daniel.

The Dream of King Nebuchadnezzar

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of an image with a head of gold, a chest of silver, a belly of bronze, and thighs of iron. Its feet were partly iron and partly clay.

A stone smashed the toes of the image, and it became a great mountain that filled the whole Earth.

None of the wise men were able to tell King Nebuchadnezzar the contents of the dream and explain their meaning, so he became furious and sent his soldiers to kill all the wise men in Egypt. But Daniel begged them for a chance to explain the dream. He prayed to God, who revealed to him the contents of the dream and their meaning, which he told the king:

“You O King … are the head of gold…. After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours … then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the Earth…. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron inasmuch as iron it breaks in pieces and shatters everything…. Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided — as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed.”

The identities of the first four kingdoms were well known: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome—the four kingdoms that kept Israel in captivity. These are the four beasts in Daniel 7. The ten toes in the image of Daniel 2 are the ten horns in Daniel 7.

The Protestant Reformers understood that the ten toes and ten horns were the ten states of Europe that came out of the Roman Empire and were united by the bishop of Rome. This gave them the confidence to break free from the power of the church, which was supported by the political power of Europe.

The stone that struck the image was Christ for Isaiah wrote, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone….” The Spirit of Christ grew up into the mountain of the Lord’s House, which Isaiah described in the second chapter of his book.

The Ten Kings

Daniel described the ten toes in the image of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. These were said to come out of the fourth beast, the Roman Empire, in Chapter 7. Of course, more than ten states came out of the Roman Empire, but at the time of the Reformation, only ten states had a relationship with the pope, who was called “the king of the north” in Chapter 11.

In the Book of Revelation, John said that these ten kings ruled “as one hour with the beast.” The Book of Revelation uses the expression of an “hour” seven times to describe a period of about 500 years, 1/12 of the human clock of 6,000 years. The ten kings ruled with the pope from the East–West Schism of 1054 until the 16th century. In Daniel 7:8, we are told that the little horn subdued three states, which were the three Latin states of France, Italy, and Spain. They are still subdued by Catholicism today. In Chapter 9, Daniel calls these peoples “the people of the Ruler to come.”

Daniel said the ten states would not adhere to one another in the seed of men. They were separated by language and culture. The Protestants had different ways of counting these states, but the most credible listing came from Machiavelli in 1532. He was an advisor to the pope and did not favor this prophecy. In his history of Florence, he described the following ten states as the “irruption of the Northern people upon the Roman territories”:

  • the Ostrogoths in Moesia (Romania);
  • the Visigoths in Pannonia (Austria);
  • the Sueves and Alans in Gascoign and Spain;
  • the Vandals in Africa;
  • the Franks in France;
  • the Burgundians in Burgundy (Germany);
  • the Heruli and Turingi in Italy;
  • the Saxons and Angles in Britain;
  • the Huns in Hungary; and
  • the Lombards in Switzerland.

The Pope in Daniel

Most Protestants did not see the little horn in Daniel 7 and 8 as the power of Satan. They saw this little horn as the pope himself.

Not all Protestants, however, believed that the little horn in Daniel 7 was the pope. Some said that it was the pope while others, such as Martin Luther, said that it was the little horn in Daniel 8 that was the pope.

Daniel 8 describes the little horn as the power of Satan. Daniel compared the power of Satan to the power of Cyrus the Great and Alexander the Great, whom he also referred to as horns. Daniel said the little horn exalted itself as high as the Captain of the Armies, as high as Christ.

All Protestants understood that the king of the north in Daniel 11:36–39 was the pope. The apostle Paul himself quoted this passage to warn the saints of the coming Antichrist, saying, “That Day (the Day of Christ) will not come unless the man of sin is revealed … who … sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself as God.”

Daniel said the pope would “magnify himself above every god” and “have no desire for women,” which described his celibacy. Daniel said, “He will act against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god that he shall acknowledge … a god that his fathers did not know.” This described the pope’s crusades against the fortresses of Islam. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, said that the god of the Trinity was a god that the pope’s fathers did not know. It was a departure from the teachings of the Bible. In verse 39, Daniel said, “He will divide the land for gain.” The Catholic Church is still the largest non-governmental landowner in the world, owning 177 million acres of land.

The Seven Heads and Ten Horns Explained

In Revelation 13, the diadems on the seven heads of the dragon moved to the ten horns, the ten states of Europe. The seven heads and ten horns of this beast are best understood in Revelation 17.

“The beast that you saw was and is not.”— The beast was established by “the lie” of Satan. It “was and is not.”

“Is about to come up out of the abyss.” — The same description of the beast can be found in Revelation 11. It is the beast that will kill the two witnesses.

“All those who dwell on the Earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will wonder when they see the beast.” — The people of the world are misled by this beast in a drunken state.

“Here is the mind that has wisdom — the seven heads are the seven mountains on which the woman sits.” —Here, the Protestant Reformers looked to Rome because Rome was on seven hills, but the next phrase was incorrectly copied in later manuscripts, saying, “There are seven kings.”

The earliest manuscripts said:

“They are seven kings.” — The seven mountains are seven kings.

“Five have fallen.” — Looking backwards from John’s time, there were five kingdoms that kept the saints in captivity: Greece, Persia, Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt.

“One is….” — This is Rome.

“The other is yet to come.” — This is described in verse 12 as “ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom.” The seventh head is a conglomeration of the ten kings.

“He must remain a little while.” — The conglomeration of the ten kingdoms will remain a little while, but the kingdom of the beast will continue.

“The beast is also … eighth.” — The Greek lacks the definite article “the” for “eighth” because the kingdom of the beast was not consecutive to the seventh kingdom. It began in the days of the seventh kingdom.

“And is one of the seven….” — The beast was identified by the name Lateinos, the Latins, who were among the seven.

The Beast Is Described

From all John’s descriptions, the Protestants saw the beast in Revelation 13 as none other than the pope.

On its heads were blasphemous names. — The pope took on names like “Christ on Earth” and “Father.”

Who can make war against the beast? — The pope was not the head of a state.

There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies. — Satan spoke through the bishop of Rome.

He was given authority to act for forty-two months. — The bishop of Rome held the saints in his hand for 1,278 years.

He opened his mouth in blasphemies against God. — Through his blasphemous teachings

To blaspheme His name and His tabernacle that is those who dwell in heaven. — To blaspheme the saints of New Jerusalem.

To make war with the saints and overcome them. — Just as Daniel also said

He was given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. — He claimed to have the keys of salvation for every person.

All who dwell on the Earth will worship him. — All the false worshipers kissed the feet of the pope.

Everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life — All those who worship the beast will not be saved.

Finally, the Angel of God said, “If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes. If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here lies the faith and patience of the saints.” — In 1522, Martin Luther wrote: “I will preach, speak, write, but I will force no one, for faith must be voluntary. Take me as an example. I stood up against the pope, indulgences, and all papists, but without violence or uproar.”

The Number of the Beast

In Revelation 13:18, John gives us the number of the name of the beast, saying, “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man, and the number is 666.”

In the Greek language, every letter is a number. John asked his readers to add up the letters of the name of a man. The Greek word that John used for “man” was anthropos, from which we get “anthropology,” meaning race or species. The Greek word aner refers to a particular male person.

Many have tried to come up with a response to John’s challenge with English or Latin letters, but John was writing to Greek-speaking readers in the seven churches of Asia. He expected them to add the name using Greek letters, and they did.

The anthropos or race that John was describing was the Latienos, the Latins. The letters of the Latienos add up to 666. The Latienos was the solution given by Bishop Irenaeus in A.D. 180. He was born in A.D. 130 in Smyrna, one of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Bishop Irenaeus said, “Then also ‘Lateinos’ has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable [solution], this being the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel]. For the Latins are they who at present bear rule: I will not, however, make any boast over this.”

Lateinos can describe the pope, Latin Christianity, and the three Latin-speaking states of France, Spain, and Italy, which were “subdued” by the little horn, as described in Daniel 7:8.

The Rejection of Prophecy

Most Evangelical Christians today understand “a time, times, and half a time” differently from the 18th-century Protestants. In his 18th-century dissertation on the Book of Revelation, Bishop Newton stated that all the Protestants of his day recognized that “a time, times, and half a time” did not equal 1,260 days but 1,260 years, which began when the saints came under the power of the bishop of Rome.

The Protestants did not understand the abomination of desolation, the event that put the saints in the hand of the Antichrist, but they clearly understood the kings and kingdoms that Daniel prophesied in Chapter 2 and 7. They easily saw the relationship between the ten kings and the pope. The ten kings were the ten states of Europe that came out of the Roman Empire, and the little horn was the Antichrist, whom they identified as the pope. This understanding gave them the confidence to break free from the Catholic Church, which the Book of Revelation called “a great harlot.”

Today, however, few Evangelical Protestants believe in the interpretation of the Book of Revelation we have described. Most Evangelicals now say that “a time, times, and half a time” literally means a 42-month tribulation.

Why is the modern interpretation so different from the view that was universally acknowledged only 200 years before? In the 19th century, the Seventh Day Adventist Church successfully argued that if the pope was “the beast,” then the “mark of the beast” was the changing of God’s commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day. As a result, many Protestants abandoned the understanding of “the beast” that they had held for centuries.

Modern Evangelicals say that the beast has not yet appeared and that “the mark of the beast” is a microchip that will be implanted in people’s foreheads, but the 19th-century Protestants simply quoted from the last chapter of Daniel, which said that Daniel’s prophecy was sealed until the end times.