The Beast of Revelation will be active throughout the Times of the Gentiles, but it takes different forms. Its first manifestation is the Roman Empire. Later it morphs into Christendom. The final manifestation of the Beast comes through the democratic revival that is now spreading throughout the world.
Democracy promised freedom, but instead it has given even greater power and authority to the political powers. Traditional kings had absolute power, but the scope of their authority and ability to levy taxes was limited. The modern democratic state has far more power than previous empires. It can conscript any citizen, male or female, to fight in its wars. The democratic state can tax income and wealth at whatever level it wishes. A democratic parliament can pass any law it chooses. Democracy has given unprecedented power to human governments.
Much of the second half of the book of Revelation is a description of this democratic beast. The environment in which it gains power is the religious, social and economic turmoil released on earth when the first four of the seven seals are opened (Rev 6). Human governments will be handed enormous political, legal and military powers, as they attempt to manage these troubles and restore peace to earth. One political power will tower above the rest and will eventually dominate all other human governments. This political beast will hold immense economic, political and military power.
The power of the democratic empire will reaches a climax in one nation. The emergence of this "ultimate democratic empire" is described in Revelation 17-18. John uses the name "Babylon the Great" to describe this democratic empire. He focuses on the fall of Babylon the Great, but in the process provides significant information about its rise to power.
One of the seven angels.... came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries (Rev 17:1,2).
Babylon the Great is a prostitute, but she was meant to be a bride. John gives a picture of a church that has lost her way. She has broken her relationship with her true Lord by committing adultery. She started as the best church ever, but sold out after she was seduced by political power.
The woman's partner in adultery is described as the "inhabitants of the earth" and the "kings of the earth" (Rev 18:3, 9). This is not two different groups. Rather, the "kings of the earth" and the "inhabitants of the earth" have joined together to commit adultery. Kings and inhabitants working together is a description of democratic power. Democracy is the merging of the power of kings with the power of the inhabitants. The church that John saw had prostituted itself by using and supporting the power of the democratic state.
The powers welcomed the support of the church, because she legitimised their demands for greater political power. With her support, they gained power to manage life in a way that earlier empires could only dream about.
Previous political empires forced people to worship the emperor. This empire is different, because it is supported by the church. People will believe that they are serving God when they honour the Beast.
The rider and the beast are not two different entities, but different sides of the same coin. John uses the image of the woman riding on a beast to show that this new empire appears to be the bride, but underneath is just the same as every other beast. Babylon the Great is the final manifestation of political power that dominates the age. The rider and the beast are one and the same.
Babylon the Great "sits on many waters" (Rev 17:1). The meaning of this phrase is described later in the chapter.
Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages (Rev 17:15).
The waters represent the people of many nations and languages. This also points to the democratic power. The prostitute sits on the people of the world, which means that she gains her power from them. Her political power is not imposed from above, but raised up by the people.
This passage also points to the United States, which more than any country has received multitudes of people from many other "nations and languages". The famous poem by Emma Lazarus, which is inscribed on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty close to Ellis Island, the place where migrants from many nations arrived in the United States, some this up.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
The United States is built on many "peoples, multitudes, nations and languages".
Red and Purple
Babylon the Great was dressed in bright colours.
The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls (Rev 17:4).
Red and purple are the colours of royalty. They speak of kingly or political power. This woman has compromised herself by using political power to accomplish her purposes. By doing a deal with the political powers, she gained royal power, but spoilt her character.
The first name of the woman is "Mystery" (Rev 17:5). This is a warning that her appearance is deceiving. She appears to be beautiful, dressed in her lovely garments and glittering jewels, but underneath the facade, she is ugly and loathsome.
John was carried into the wilderness to receive a more detailed vision of Babylon the Great.
There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns (Rev 17:3).
The seven heads and ten horns are important clues to the identification of the scarlet beast and the prostitute.
The meaning of the seven heads is explained further on in the vision.
The world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction (Rev 17:8).
The seven heads refer to seven different forms of human government that ruled over Rome. Five did not exist during John's lifetime, but had held power at an earlier time. The sixth form of government was ruling at the time when John received his vision. It is easy to identify, because the Roman Empire dominated the world throughout John's lifetime. It is the sixth head.
The key to identifying the scarlet beast is identifying the form of human government that came to a violent end prior to the time when the emperors came to power. The major form of human government that existed prior to the Roman Empire was the Roman Republic. The Republic began in 500 BC and lasted for nearly five centuries. This democratic form of government came to a violent end about thirty years before Jesus was born. Democracy died as the Kingdom of God began.
Julius Caesar and his successor Caesar Augustus turned the Roman armies against Rome and destroyed the Republic. By the time that John received his vision, democracy seemed to be gone forever, having been dealt a fatal blow by the Roman emperors
John warned that Republic would come Back to life as an eighth king. "The beast that once was, now is not" is the fifth king come back an eighth king in a different place. It is not one of the seven. This eighth form of government is another democratic republic.
Democracy did not come Back to life until ten centuries later, but the leaders of democratic movements in England and the United States looked Back to the example of the Greek and Roman Republics. The eighth king is a restored democratic republic.
John was amazed when he understood the identity of Babylon the Great.
When I saw her, I was greatly astonished (Rev 17:6).
John saw a form of human government that appeared to be finished forever, coming into existence again. People will be amazed when a democratic republic returns, because this form of government seemed to have been obliterated.
The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come (Rev 17:8).
Christians will be astonished when then they wake up and realise that America has become Babylon the Great. America was the only nation ever established with a deliberate intent of being the Kingdom of God earth. It was supposed to be the city set on the hill that would reveal God's glory to the world. For many years, the United States has been seen widely recognised as the ultimate Christian nation. Most Christians will not be able to believe that it is morphing in the Beast of Revelation. They will not be able understand why a nation that started so well has fallen so far.
When the democratic republic is restored, the people of the world will be impressed too.
The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast (Rev 17:8).
They will be impressed with the "new" form of government, because it seems to give them control over the state. The democratic republic will seem like the best form of government ever. (Its true nature will eventually be revealed). People longing for peace and prosperity will support any government power that promises to fulfil their dreams.
The only challenge to this aggregation of political power will come from Christians who understand the signs of the time. When most people are calling on the political powers to do more to turn back the overwhelming crisis, they will expose the real character of the "best government ever". Explaining that this democratic republic is just another manifestation of the beast will make them unpopular. Opposition to the Beast will lead to the persecution of the God's people (Rev 6:9-11).
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished (Rev 17:6).
The church that is allied with the power of the democratic state will persecute those who reject the treachery of political power.
The woman was riding on Beast with "ten horns". This provides a link Back to the Beast in Daniel. He explained the meaning of the ten horns, which is the key to identifying the Beast.
After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time' (Dan 7:7,8,23-25).
This frightening kingdom devoured the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing everything that stood in its way. Daniel is describing a powerful military empire that would dominate most of the earth.
Daniel's Beasts rose to power when the four winds of heaven had churned up the sea (Dan 7:2-3). The sea is a symbol of the multitudes of people living on the earth (Rev 1715). These events happen at a time when the people of the world are all stirred up.
A Confederation of States
The ten horns refer to a situation where a number of independent nation states hand over their sovereignty to become part of a single united nation. One third of these nations refuse to hand over full sovereignty and are forced to join under threat of military force.
America is the only once place where this has ever happened. The thirteen states that gained independence from Britain were each independently-governed, autonomous nation-states. They united to fight for independence, but they remained politically independent. After the war of independence, these nation states came together and established the United States. They created a federal system in which they handed over very limited powers (mostly defence) to the federal government. All other powers were retained by the states.
The word state can be confusing in this context. These states were not provinces of a greater state, but independent political entities that gave some power to a federal government. Because they joined freely, many states considered that they could also withdraw from the Union. At the beginning of the civil war, the southern states attempted to withdraw from the Union and establish a separate confederacy.
The civil war was partly about slavery, but it was also a battle over the right of these states to secede from the Union. The army of the twenty northern states (two thirds) destroyed the armies of the 11 southern states (one third). The victory of the union forces enabled them to maintain the union, eliminating the right of the states to secede. This opened the way for a gradual shift of power to from the states to the federal government. During the following century, the United States became the greatest military and economic power in the entire world and the states are now just provinces within this greater entity.
Christian commentators looking for a powerful confederacy of nations forget that a powerful union called the "united states" already exists. Daniel saw a group of nations (ten horns) joining together to become one nation (a single horn). At first the federal government had very limited power (a little horn), but it defeated a group of states that tried to withdraw from the union (three horns) and became very powerful (large beast). The numbers ten and three should not be taken literally. Ten symbolises completeness, indicating that all the states joined freely. The number three indicates that some of these states would be defeated in their attempt to secede.
The beast attempts to "try to change the set times and the laws". This represents a rejection of God's laws. Since the civil war, the United States government has become increasingly secular and humanistic. The Supreme Court has forced through a separation between church and state that has shut the influence of Christianity out of the corridors of power. Whereas the thirteen original states had laws directly based on the bible, American law is now dominated by pragmatism and humanism.
John also saw Babylon the Great sitting on a beast with ten horns.
The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast (Rev 17:12).
This is the same Beast as Daniel saw. The horns are ten kings who gain power for a short time when the Beast is emerging to power. They are the independent autonomous states that were established by the settlers in America (ten symbolised completeness). They hand their authority over to the federal government.
They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God's words are fulfilled (Rev 17:13-18).
The purpose of the states was to establish a united government that would eventually become a terrible beast.
The woman is sitting on the beast with seven heads and ten horns is the same one as is sitting on many waters, representing of peoples of many nations and languages (Rev 17:15). This is strange, but it confirms that the Beast with seven heads and ten horns is actually a democratic empire.
Adultery with Kings
The kings of the earth committed adultery with Babylon the Great.
Every king on earth has slept with her (Rev 17:2 CEV).
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her (Rev 18:3).
This phrase has two meanings. The first reference is to the leaders of the thirteen states that joined the union. They were appointed to represent the interests of the people living in their state, but they sacrificed those interests to the federal government, because they were intoxicated with its power.
The reference has a wider fulfilment. The American empire does not need direct control of every country in its sphere. It can gain enough control to accomplish its purposes by doing deals with kings and dictators. The United States government supplies the dictator with military and economic assistance. The dictator creams a tithe off the top of the economic aid to maintain his family in a presidential lifestyle. He uses the military assistance to suppress opposition and to establish the peace and stability needed for the operation of American business. The American people get their cheap coffee. Everyone that counts is happy.
These dictators and presidents commit adultery with the American Beast by selling out the interests of their people, for the privileges of being an American vassal. When they were sworn into office, they made a covenant to serve their people, but then they sacrifice them, for the pleasure of power.
The expansion of the American Empire does not eliminate kings and dictators. They continue in their comfortable lifestyle with undiminished power, provided they submit to American interests. The only risk is people marching in the streets demanding their overthrow, but even then, they can fly to a safe haven in an American satellite and continue their abundant life.
The Great City
John referred a great city.
The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth (Rev 17:18).
The book of Revelation climaxes with a holy city coming down from earth to heaven. This is the picture of the Kingdom of God. The "city that rules the kings of the earth" is a counterfeit kingdom that purports to be the Kingdom of God, but is really the opposite.
America started as a beautiful city. John Winthrop one of the early colonists wrote these famous words.
For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill (Winthrop Papers).
Unfortunately, another John warned much earlier that it will become a "City that Rules the Kings of the earth". Unfortunately, as the United States has gained more and more political, economic and military power, it has become less like the holy city, the Kingdom of God.
All this stuff could be really scary, but a key promise puts it all in persective.
They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers (Rev 17:14).
This is an amazing promise. Jesus will triumph over the all the political powers and human empires. He has been raised to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is
Lord of Lords King of Kings
John use the present tense. This is not a promise for the future. Jesus is already Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Every king, lord and political power must surrender to him, or see their power swept away.
The called, chosen and faithful followers of Jesus will share in his victory.
American hegemony and power operates in various ways:
These forces work together. The American entertainment industry has encouraged the export of American culture. American military power extends the reach of the American economy. American political power is enhanced by the globalisation of the American economy. These four forces have worked together to give the United States a dominant position in the world.
Americans do not see this as hegemony, but as exporting American values of freedom and democracy to the rest of the world. The United States has become an imperialistic nation, with the goal of saving the world from evil. The underlying motivation might be good, but eventually this enormous power will corrupt those who exercise it. Recent presidents have had good intentions, but they have overseen a vast increase in American power. Power is always dangerous. Messianic power is even more dangerous. American hegemony will be perverted for evil ends.
Time of Distress
The Beast of Revelation emerges in a time of distress. The Seven Seals of Revelation describe a series of tumultuous events that release terrible fear on earth. The people of the world will look for to human governments to rescue them from them these tribulations. This allows the emergence of the most powerful human government that has ever existed on earth. Daniel and John refer to this enormous power as The Beast and Babylon the Great, because it is both a government and a nation.
The first of the seven seals have already been opened and the Time of Distress has begun, sot the Beast must already be emerging. The United States is the only government in the world that has the military and economic strength to step into this role. It has no real competitors.
The beast is already visible, but most Christians have not recognised it, because they are looking in the wrong place. They have been taught that the Beast will emerge in Europe, but this is wrong. The Beast develops in a place where a number of states joined to become one. That already happened in America in 1787 and was confirmed in 1865.
Confusion over the future of America has prevented Christians from see the rise of the Beast. Many political and economic commentators believe that America is about to collapse. They are wrong. Worldwide disaster and distress will strengthen the hand of the American government. This is already happening, but Christians have not noticed.
Many Christians are surprised that the United States is not mentioned in Revelation and Daniel, but they have missed the fact that the United States is the dominant character in these prophecies. It is well on the way to becoming the Beast described in Daniel and Johns visions.
Fear of Islam
Many Christians fear that Islam will take over the United States. While, the scriptures warn of a struggle between the Islamic nations and the United States, America will not be invaded or forced to convert to Islam. The greatest danger to America comes from a within, and most Christians are unaware.
The advance of radical Islam is the first seal in Revelation 6 (the bowmen on a white horse). It sets off a chain of events that leads to the empowerment of the beast. Therefore it is not surprising that the threat of Islamic terrorism has produced an amazing aggrandisement of power in the United States. As the fear of Islam increases, especially if it is stirred up by some frightening incidents, the government will demand more and more power to expand the American empire. People who are afraid will gladly give power to the politicians who promise to protect them. Americans will wake up one up one day and realise that Islam is still just a threat, but America has become the Beast.
Grouching towards the Beast
Some economists and prophets claim that the American economy is collapsing. They see the Global Financial Crisis has a terminally blow. They are wrong. The credit crunch did not destroy American power. The productive base of the United States is too. After a brief hiccup, the underlying power of American economy will become stronger than ever. It will continue to grow until this democratic beast has completed its adventures.
The main consequence of the credit crunch has been an enormous increase of state power in America. Crises always lead to an expansion in the power of government, as the people demanded political action to solve the problems that are disrupting their lives. The only impact of the credit crunch will be a sharp shift from freedom and independence towards state subservience and control. This radical change has happened without even a whimper of protest.
The American government has made some huge interventions in the economy and most Americans are cheering. People who would not accept telephone number that includes the digits 666 are glad to have the state bailing out the banks and automakers. They will never be a credible resistance against the creeping power of government again.
The home of market capitalism and the bastion of independence has become the breeding ground for state power. Faith in the state has grown rapidly in the United States over the last few decades. The beauty of the Democratic Beast is that it does not seize power by force. It is freely given power by people who prefer peace and plenty to freedom and faith.
A combination of collapsing faith and widespread crisis has created a perfect breeding ground for the growth of democratic political power. God would have to open the eyes of the American people to prevent this from happening. That would require an enormous move of the Holy Spirit and widespread repentance. There are no signs that this is going to happen. The more likely outcome is more of the same.
America is slowly grouching toward the Beast.
Return to the Terrible Beast.