The Beast

Mystery Babylon

In the first Chapter of Daniel, we are told that the 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 kingdom of heaven – the saints, were taken into captivity in “Mystery Babylon,” by the Bishop of Rome.

In Chapter Four King Nebuchadnezzar became as a beast until seven times passed over him, that is, time, times and half a time. In Chapter Three, he set up an image for everyone to worship – the image of the beast. In Chapter Six, we learn about the law that cannot be changed, not even by the King, but in Chapter 7 we are told the beast will “intend to change time and law” – this is the mark of the beast. And in Chapter Five, we see the fall of Babylon of the Great, after the King make all his subjects drunk with his wine, the wine that he drank from the cups of God’s house. All of these become the themes of Mystery Babylon in the Book of Revelation.

Babylon was only one of six great powers that held the saints in captivity.

Assyria and Egypt, had already taken Israel into captivity.

After Babylon, the Israelites would remain in captivity under Persia, Greece and finally Rome.

The last earthly power that the Bible describes, is a conglomeration of Ten Kingdoms, that Daniel said would come out of the Roman empire.

These seven powers formed the beast of seven heads, and ten horns in the Book of Revelation. They represent the power of the world that oppressed the saints.

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

The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

In Daniel Chapter Two, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw an image with a head of gold, chest of silver, belly of bronze, and thighs of iron. Its feet were partly of iron, and partly of clay.

A stone struck, and smashed the image, and then became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.

When none of his wise men were able to tell King Nebuchadnezzar the dream and its meaning, he became furious, and sent his soldiers to kill all the wise men in Egypt.

But when they came to Daniel, he begged them for a chance to explain the dream.

He prayed to God, who revealed the dream and its meaning, which Daniel 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”

Daniel 2:37-43

The identity of the first four kingdoms was well known as Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, the four kingdoms that kept Israel in captivity.

The Protestant Reformers understood that the Ten toes were the Ten States of Europe that had a relationship with the Pope. This gave them the confidence to break free from the Church, that was supported by the political power of Europe.

The stone that struck the image was Christ.  Isaiah wrote, “Behold, I lay in Zion, a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone . . .” (Isaiah 28:16). The Spirit of Christ grew up into the mountain of the Lord’s House that Isaiah described in Chapter Two.

The Four Beasts and the Little Horn

In Daniel Chapter 7, Daniel saw four Great beasts, which he called Four Kings and Four Kingdoms.

First, he saw a lion – which we know as Babylon, symbolized by Nebuchadnezzar the Great.

Then, a bear with three ribs in its mouth – the Persian Bear, as it is still called today, symbolized by Cyrus the Great, who had “three ribs in its mouth,” the Median Empire, the Lydian Empire, and finally the Babylonian Empire.

Third, a leopard, with four heads – Greece had the appearance of a leaping leopard. And out of Greece came four dominions,  four territories divided among the four Generals of Alexander, the Great.

 And last, an exceedingly dreadful beast with Ten Horns – this was Rome, and the power of Rome that continued after the fall of the Roman Empire. In Revelation 13, John said the beast “had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed, and the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.” Rome was defeated in the Gothic War of 376 but the power of Rome continued through the political and religious relationship of the Pope, and the Ten states of Europe. In Chapter 8, this little horn, the power of Rome is described as the power of Satan. This little horn had the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. Satan spoke to the Ten States through the Pope.

Finally, Daniel said read, “as for the rest of the beasts – the lion, the leopard, and the bear – they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. “A time” as one year, and “a season” as three months, gives us 457 days, or rather 457 years, from the time of King Belteshazzar (555 BC1) until 98 BC. Then the Greek Empire fell to the Romans, and the dominion of the first three beasts was taken away.

The Ten Kings

Daniel described Ten horns – Ten kings that shall arise from the Roman Empire (Daniel 7:24), which he called the exceedingly dreadful beast.

Of course, more than Ten states came out of the Roman Empire, but in the time of the Reformation, there were only Ten states that had a relationship with the Pope, called “the King of the North” in Chapter 11.

In the Book of Revelation, John gave us another clue. He said that these Ten Kings ruled “as one hour with the beast.” The Book of Revelation uses the expression “hour” seven times, to describe a period of 500 years, that is 1/12 of the human clock of 6,000 years. These Ten Kings ruled with the Pope from the East-West Schism of 1054, until the 16th Century.

In verse 8, we are told that the little horn subdued three states, which are the three Latin states of France, Italy and Spain. They are still subdued by Catholicism today. The Latins were “the people of the Ruler to come,” that Daniel described in Chapter 9.

Daniel said that these Ten states would not adhere to one another in the seed of men. In other words, 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 a supporter of the Catholic Church, and he did not favour this prophecy.

In his history of Florence, Machiavelli described Ten States as the “irruption of Northern people upon the Roman territories.”

1, the Ostrogoths in Moesia (Rumania);

2, the Visigoths in Pannonia (Austria);

3, the Sueves and Alans in Gascoign and Spain;

4, the Vandals in Africa;

5, the Franks in France;

6, the Burgundians in Burgundy (Germany);

7, the Heruli and Turingi in Italy;

8, the Saxons and Angles in Britain;

9, the Huns in Hungary; and

10, the Lombards in Switzerland.

The Pope in Daniel

In the Reformation, not all Protestants believed that the little horn in Daniel Chapter 7 was the Pope. Some said that the little horn in Chapter 7 was the Pope, and others said the little horn in Chapter 8 was the Pope.

In Chapter 8, Daniel described the identity of the little horn we met in Chapter 7. Daniel said that this little horn would exalt himself as high as the Captain of the Armies. In Chapter 8, we understand more clearly that the little horn in both Chapters was the power of Satan, the power of the lie, that was working through the Bishop of Rome.

Martin Luther believed that the little horn in Chapter 7 was the Turks, and he thought that the little horn in Chapter 8 who “exalted himself as high as the Captain of the Armies,” was the Pope. In 1537, he wrote: “the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power. . .”2

All Protestants believed that the King of the North, in Daniel 11:36-39, was the Pope. The Apostle Paul quoted this passage to warn the saints of the coming Antichrist. Paul wrote, “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” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Daniel said that the Pope will “magnify himself above every god” and “have no desire of women,” “he will act against the strongest of fortresses,” in his crusades against the fortress of Islam, that were the strongest in the world. And, 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, with 177 million acres.

The Beast

In Revelation Chapter 13, the diadems, representing Satan’s power, moved to the Ten Horns, the Ten states of Europe.

The Protestants saw this beast of seven heads and Ten horns, as none other than the Pope, from all of John’s descriptions.

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 42 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 and 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. 

Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. VII, ch. 4, sec. 68

The Great Harlot and the Scarlet Beast

In Revelation 17, we meet the Great Harlot, the most obvious portrayal of the Catholic Church.

The Angel who guided John said,

“come and I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters” – by the late 15th century, European missionaries and explorers had spread their teachings to the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania.

“with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication” –  the Church comprised its teachings to appease those with political power.

“all those who dwell on the earth are made drunk with her immorality” –  Isaiah called them “the drunkards of Ephraim” (Isaiah 28:1).

Then John described the woman he saw, 

sitting on a scarlet beast – in the Basilica of St. Paul’s are the portraits of 109 Popes, all in scarlet. 

full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns – this was the same beast described in Revelation 13.

clothed in purple and scarlet – the Bishops wore purple, and the Cardinals and Pope wore scarlet.

adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls – the Churches were adorned with precious stones, and magnificent architecture.

having in her hand a golden cup – Jeremiah wrote, “Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunk.” 

full of abominations – the Apostle Paul said, “whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” 

on her forehead was the nameMystery Babylon –  this was the spiritual kingdom of those who worshiped the beast.

the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth – she was the mother of denominations that mixed pagan religious practices with Christianity. 

and I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints – the Church was responsible for the death of thousands of saints.

The Kingdom of the Beast

In the second part of Revelation 17, the Angel described the beast, and the kingdom of the beast:

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

“and is about to come up out of the abyss” – the same description of the beast is found in Revelation 11. This is the beast that killed 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 in a drunken state.

“here is the mind which has wisdom – the seven heads are 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. It said, “there are seven kings.”

But earlier 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” – which is Rome.

“the other is yet to come” – which 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 to say “the 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 one of the seven.

In the Wilderness

John said “he was carried by the Spirit into a wilderness” to see a Woman who sat on the scarlet beast. The wilderness was the place of the saints, who flew into the wilderness for time, times and half a time away from the presence of the serpent.

The dark ages, of the 5th to 10th Centuries are so called because the Church suppressed personal thought and prevented reading the Bible in the common language. During this time, the Church used political power to enforce Sunday rest, and the Trinity doctrine.

After the East-West Schism and Pope Hildebrand, the power of the Popes increased significantly, and they became more and more corrupt. Most were murderers, and extortioners. They burned heretics at the stake and sold the forgiveness of sins by way of indulgences. Many of the Popes had a reputation for their love of money and fathering illegitimate children.

In his Historical Studies, Eugene Lawrence wrote, “From the twelfth to the fifteenth century the people of Europe were nearly united in opposition to the Roman See…Every country in Europe swelled with dissidents who repelled as the Antichrist the Bishop of Rome.”3

The first to translate the Bible into the common language was Peter Waldo, in the 12th Century. From him came the sect of the Waldenses. During this time, dissident groups like the Waldenses opposed the practices of the Church but remained under its power.

John Wycliffe, who died in 1384, translated the Bible into English and preached that the Bible should be the only authority. He said the Pope was the Antichrist, and the claims of the papacy were unhistorical. He also claimed that the moral depravity of the priests invalidated their sacraments.

The preaching of John Wycliffe found its way to Jan Huss in Bohemia. In 1415, before he was burned at the stake, Jan Huss preached against indulgences, more than 100 years before Martin Luther.

After Jan Huss was burned at the stake, the Bohemian Archbishop John Rokycana “denounced the Church of Rome as Babylon, and the Pope as the Antichrist himself.”4

The Rejection of Prophecy

Today most Evangelical Christians have a different understanding of the Book of Revelation, than the Protestants of the 18th Century. With history behind them, all 18th Protestants recognized that “time, times and half a time” was not 1260 days, but 1260 years that began when the saints came under the power of the Bishop of Rome.

They 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 Chapters 2, and 7. They could easily see the relationship of the Ten States of Europe and the Pope. The Ten States were the Ten kings that came out of the Roman Empire in Chapter 7, and the little horn was the Antichrist, who they identified as the Pope.

This gave them the confidence to break free from the Catholic Church, which the Book of Revelation called, “a great harlot.”

Today, there are very few Evangelical Protestants who believe this interpretation of Revelation.

Most Evangelicals now say the “time, times and half a time” is a literal 42-month tribulation.

So why is the modern interpretation of many Evangelicals so different from the view that was universally acknowledged, only 200 years before?

Because in the nineteenth 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 the God’s commandment of the Sabbath Day. 

As a result, many Protestants abandoned the understanding of “the beast” they held for centuries.

Today, many Evangelicals say that the beast has not yet appeared, and “the mark of the beast” is a microchip that will be implanted in people’s foreheads.

But 19th Century Protestants simply quoted from the last Chapter of Daniel, which said the words of his prophecy were sealed up until the time of the end.

  1. Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906,   BELSHAZZAR
  2. The Smalcald Articles, II.IV.9.
  3. Historical Studies, Eugene Lawrence, 1876, pp. 202
  4. Mike Atnip. The Birth, Life and Death of the Bohemian Revival