All kinds of questions come to mind when reading chapter 13 of Revelation. The initial one is who or what is “the beast coming out of the sea” in verse one.
To help answer that, I want to do a little exploring in the book of Daniel. You should understand that Revelation is deeply rooted in the Old Testament. Here is where we can look for clues as to the meaning of its various symbols.
Daniel is considered the prototype of all Jewish apocalyptic writers. Resaid, he’s the originator of this type of material. All others follow his model. So we’re looking for what the beasts in Daniel 7 represent to help us identify Revelation 13’s beast.
Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me … four great beasts, each different from the others, came out of the sea.
“The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle…
“And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear…
“After that … one that looked like a leopard…
“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful…”
But what are these beasts in Daniel 7? Well, the answer is given in verse 17. “The four great beasts are kingdoms that will rise from the earth.” Today we don’t use the word kingdom all that much. We would probably refer to these as world empires, or, in contemporary talk, superpowers.
I believe Revelation 13 draws on the imagery of Daniel 7, even incorporating in verse 2 the leopard, bear and lion characteristics into this final kingdom / superpower being described. “The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.”
In summary, since Daniel’s beasts are kingdoms, that’s probably going to be true of the beast of Revelation as well. However, this leaves us with the problem of which kingdom or superpower, and what about the pronoun problem?
(…to be continued…)
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