This article will use the Historicist model of bible prophecy interpretation. If you are unfamiliar with this approach, you can read an overview here. Applying the Historicist method to the beasts of Daniel and Revelation and bringing them together yields some striking results for our time. I don't claim these interpretations are 100% correct, but they are my best guess at this point.
In the Book of Revelation, there are four beasts described: the Dragon Beast of Chapter 12, the Sea Beast of Chapter 13:1-10, the Lamb Beast of Chapter 13:11-18, and the Harlot Beast of Chapters 17 and 18. To understand the meaning of these beasts, we must first look to Daniel's book where beasts are defined. There, beasts are clearly described as political powers, and there is a historical order to them:
Babylon: Head of gold (Daniel 2); Lion with eagles' wings (Dan 7)
Medo-Persia: Chest and arms of silver (Dan 2); Bear raised up on one side (Dan 7); Two-horned Ram beast (Dan 8)
Greece: Belly and thighs of bronze (Dan 2); Leopard with four wings and four heads (Dan 7); He Goat with a large horn that is broken and four other horns spring up (Dan 8).
Rome: Legs of iron and feet of iron and clay (Dan 2); Terrifying beast with iron teeth and ten horns, among which one small horn arose, displacing three previous horns (Dan 7); "Little horn" which arises, becomes great, opposes Christ and his people for 2300 "evenings and mornings" (Dan 8).
Notice the following:
Beasts grow vertically: time moves from the feet of the beast up through its horns. For example, in Daniel 8, the he goat with a large single horn (Greece) defeats the two-horned ram (Medo-Persia). The goat's horn is then broken and four horns rise up. Then a little horn arises that grows in power and persecutes God's people. This represents Alexander the Great's conquest of Medo-Persia, his subsequent dying by illness, and his four generals taking over his empire. The "little horn" is Imperial Rome, that becomes a world power and persecutes God's people. Time moves vertically in these beasts.
Babylon drops out of the picture when we get to Chapter 8 of Daniel. That chapter begins with the Ram Beast, Medo-Persia.
The Ram Beast of Chapter 8 has two horns, signifying a partnership of two powers, Medea and Persia. This will become important when we look at the Lamb Beast of Revelation 13:11-18, which also has two horns. It also must be a partnership of two powers.
Rome (iron) must be around in some form when Christ returns. The rock (Christ and his Kingdom) is thrown at the feet of the statue destroying it and all other political powers (Dan 2). Therefore, because the feet of the statue in Dan 2 are formed from iron and clay, and Rome is represented by iron, it must be present at the end in some form. Clay in the bible represents people, especially God's people (Isaiah 64:8; Jer 18:2-6; 2 Cor 4:7). Clay mixed with iron means God's people have partnered with Roman power and have rejected God's exclusive rulership. They have become apostates.
All beasts have one head except for Greece, which has four heads (from Dan 7): Babylon (1), Medo-Persia (1), Greece (4) and Imperial Rome (1), for a total of seven. The Dragon Beast, Imperial Rome, described in Revelation Chapter 12, also has seven heads and ten horns, and is a composite of the beasts in Daniel Chapter 7. The Dragon Beast has diadems on its heads, meaning it exists prior to the ten horns, European powers, receiving their diadems in the Sea Beast, in the form of European monarchies.
The Sea Beast of Revelation 13 has the feet of a bear (Medo-Persia), the body of a leopard (Greece), and the mouth of a lion (Babylon). Since beasts denote time vertically, from feet to horns, this means the Sea Beast begins with Medo-Persia, then transitions to Greece, and finally, to the "mouth of a lion", which is the blasphemous Papacy. The Papacy now takes on the persona of Babylon reborn (it speaks with the arrogant, God-dishonoring speech of narcissistic Babylonian kings). The diadems are now on the ten horns, not the heads, because the ruling powers of this time are the European monarchies, under the Papacy.
How can Rome be around at the end when it was destroyed in 476 CE by northern tribes? The answer is Rome goes through transformations. As one version of Rome fails, Satan tries another. His goal is to create an apostate Christian totalitarian power under his absolute control. After the destruction of Imperial Rome, the Papacy--arguably the most wicked institution in history--arose to take its place. The Pope claimed to be Christ's unique representative, which is blasphemous, and viciously persecuted Christ's sincere disciples. But the Papacy came to its political end in 1792, when France became a republic and ousted the Papacy from decision-making. It no longer has any significant political power and is no physical threat to sincere Christians. Since Satan uses Rome (in some form) to deceive, manipulate, and control people, there must have been a Rome-like power arising as Papacy was falling (2 Cor 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Ask yourself: which power is the predominant superpower of our time that was rising as Papacy was falling? Which power is able to impose sanctions on any individual, business, or country it wishes (Rev 13:16-17)? Which power looks like a lamb (pretends to be Christian), but speaks as a dragon (Rev 13:11)? There is only only one answer: America, with its British partner. Anglo-America is the Lamb Beast of Revelation 13:11-18, the modern representation of Rome. The two horns are America and Britain. It cannot include China, Russia, or Iran because these countries do not have the sanctioning power of America, and China and Iran do not claim to be Christian powers (i.e. must have "two horns like a lamb"). The story of Rome then, God's enemy, the main power Satan uses is as follows:
Imperial Rome (509 BCE - 476 CE)
Papacy / Holy Roman Empire (6th century until 1792 CE)
Anglo-America (1792 CE to present) as leader of the Western Empire
Some may argue that America is "the world's policeman" and just wants to spread democracy and Christian values to other less enlightened countries. But the facts don't support this. If there was any doubt about America's true nature, the following slide should put those doubts to rest.
Anglo-America, although claiming to be enlightened, democratic, and Christian (looks like a lamb), is actually a violent, greedy, deceptive power that has created more misery on earth in our time than any other power (speaks like a dragon). And because it claims to be Christian, it is especially offensive to God. I strongly suspect it is being positioned for divine punishment, because the Lamb Beast is destroyed before the other powers:
And the beast [Western Empire] was captured, and with it the false prophet [representing the Lamb Beast] who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
- Revelation 19:20
We see here that the False Prophet is closely associated with the Lamb Beast:
Lamb Beast (Rev 13:15-17)
And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
A false prophet is someone who claims to speak for God, but is lying, delusional, or mistaken. I suspect that after this 2024 US presidential election, we will understand this subtle shift much better. Currently, there are scores of false prophets making predictions about Donald Trump and America returning to greatness. This is blasphemous. God is not interested in America's so-called greatness or Trump and the MAGAs and their delusions. He will punish them for their sacrilege.
So we see that Rome is indeed with us until Jesus returns in judgement, in Anglo-America, the leader of the Western Empire, which includes the EU, Canada, Australia, Japan, and other western-friendly nations.
The Dragon Beast of Chapter 12 is clearly Imperial Rome: it tries to kill the 'child', obviously Christ, who is caught up to heaven, and after failing, persecutes Jesus' followers. Imperial Rome was destroyed by northern tribes in 476 CE. Originally, there were ten of these tribes, represented by the "ten horns" in the vision, and these would eventually become the monarchies in the countries of Europe, and the EU in our time. After the demise of Imperial Rome, the Papacy arose to take its place and rule over Western Europe. The Sea Beast of Rev 13:1-10 represents this power. Note that, "One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled" (Rev 13:3). Heads in these beasts represent different manifestations of the political power in history. Imperial Rome was one of these heads, and it was destroyed. The rising of Papacy brings Rome back to life, as it were. This beast has "a mouth to utter blasphemies against God...it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them" (V7). The rule of Papacy was arguably the most evil, terrifying time in European history. The Pope had authority over monarchs in Europe and could send anyone charged with 'heresy'--that is, disobedience to the Pope--to the flames, the Inquisition, or prison. "Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints" (v10). It would be a very difficult time for sincere Christians, who were aggressively persecuted.
But the time for this terrible Sea Beast came to an end with the French Revolution. France became a Republic in 1792, exactly 2300 years after Rome first became a Republic in 509 BCE. This is described in Daniel 8:9-14. As the Sea Beast, the Papacy, was going down, America was putting the final touches on its new Constitution and became a Republic in 1776 CE. The reigning superpower of the time, Britain, after losing the revolutionary war (1775-1783 CE), decided to partner with America rather than continue trying to dominate it. And so the Anglo-American power was born. At first Britain was the major partner, but after WWII, with Britain in financial ruin, the US took that role. Anglo-America today, is the leader of the Western Empire, and represents the last version of Rome in our time.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, America became the lone superpower whose goal was to be world ruler. China was a relatively poor country at the time and Russia was completely broken. However, in our time, Russia has recovered, China is now a great power, and the BRICS countries now have a greater combined GDP than the G7. The BRICS are quickly moving to a multi-lateral world based on mutual respect--a world that rejects the US dollar and American hegemonic impulses. The Western Empire is now in rapid decline as the BRICS rise. This brings us to the Harlot Beast of Revelation Chapter 17.
The vision presents a harlot, "drunk with the blood of the saints" (v6). The kings of the earth have "committed sexual immorality" with her and the "dwellers on earth have become drunk" (v2). She sits on a scarlet beast with "seven heads and ten horns" (v3). This signals Rome in some form, and I suggest that this vision represents the entire Western Empire and its culture, led by Anglo-America in the modern period. Harlots in the bible are God's people gone bad: apostate Christians. What we see here is a system of false Christianity, intertwined with kings (oligarchs) of the earth, and in Revelation Chapter 18, merchants--corrupt, greedy business leaders. The three work together to deceive, manipulate, profit from, and abuse the peoples of earth. The whole system is driven by satanic forces through oligarchs, lying politicians, corrupt and ignorant pastors, and greedy, corrupt business leaders. They deceive the people and run the empire for their own benefit. The beast the Harlot rides is the same as the Sea Beast of Chapter 13:1-10, but later in time: just near the end of the French Revolution, when republics would arise, displace European monarchies, and remove churches from political power. The Harlot Beast has two applications: first, with the French Revolution as a model, where secular powers overthrew the religious powers, and second, in our time, on a global scale, where again, a people's uprising will destroy the Harlot and bring fear and trembling to the kings and merchants. It will be "a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great" (Rev 16:18).
Now someone might object here. Didn't the Reformation (1517 CE) bring about Protestant Churches that were true to biblical teaching? Yes and no. Although obvious unbiblical teachings, like Mary worship, were rejected, the state Protestant churches that emerged also persecuted sincere Christians who did not bow to their authority. Political leaders also used these churches to control, harass, and deceive. Since this beast rider is "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes" (v5), she is also the mother of the apostate state Protestant churches, since they came out of her. "It deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived" (Rev 13:14). The beast, prior to the French Revolution, was the Papacy. Its image was originally King Henry VIII's Church of England, with its priests, altars, holy water and incense--beholden to the king. The 'image' is now a symbol for all harlot Protestant churches that partner with political and business forces.
How do we know a church is apostate, a harlot? It will violate clear, biblical teachings and partner with political and business leaders for power and money. Its leaders and members, in general, will not exhibit Spirit-led behavior but will be in the flesh (Gal 5:16-25). The violent white MAGA evangelical movement in America today, with its fixation on Donald Trump as sent by God, is a modern example of a harlot church. Sincere, biblical, Jesus-following Christians know that they must refrain from seeking political power and money and instead, witness to the world using persuasive speech and a good example. And they must avoid violence and war. This is clear from Jesus' teachings and I have written more here.
"The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction" (Rev 17:8). John is seeing this beast from a future perspective now. The beast "was" Imperial Rome, and "is not" when Imperial Rome was destroyed. It (Imperial Rome) "is not" when the Papacy ruled. It arises "from the bottomless pit" after the French Revolution to come back into power as first, the Republic of France, then European republics, as well as the rise of America and Britain. The Harlot Beast with seven heads and ten horns now represents the entirety of the Western Empire and its culture, led by Anglo-America, in opposition to the rapidly growing BRICS group.
Looking at the beast from John's time (first century CE) now, the angel says, "The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated" (v9). Rome is known as the city on seven hills. This is a prophetic indicator that we are dealing with Rome in some form. "They are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come" (v10). We noted above that these seven headed beasts in Revelation are composites of the beasts from Daniel. We see that the Sea Beast of Revelation 13:1-10 was "like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth, and to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority" (v2). Beasts represent time vertically, and this beast begins with the feet of a bear: Medo-Persia, then the body of a leopard, Greece, and lastly, the mouth of a lion, Babylon. Daniel Chapter 8 also begins with Medo-Persia, the Ram, and then transitions to Greece, the He Goat. We then get the "little horn", which is initially Imperial Rome, but then transitions to the Papacy, represented by the Babylonian mouth in the Sea Beast. The vision tells us that this beast should be aligned with Daniel 8. And so the five kings who have fallen, from John's point of view (first century CE), are: Medo-Persia (1 head) and Greece (4 heads) for a total of 5 heads. The head that is current in John's time then, is Imperial Rome, the sixth head, and persecutor of Christians. The other that has not yet come (from John's point of view) is the Papacy, the seventh head. The entire beast itself, "is an eighth but it belongs to (or is one of) the seven and it goes to destruction. The seven heads then, from the book of Daniel Chapter 8 are:
Med0-Persia (1 head)
Greece (4 heads)
Imperial Rome (1 head)
Papal Rome (1 head)
In 476 CE Imperial Rome went into the abyss and Papal Rome rose to take its place. If this modern-day Harlot Beast arises near the end of the French Revolution, in the form of western republics, then Imperial Rome (sixth head) must be the head that the eighth head is modeled on. The Western Empire then, led by Anglo-America, is the eighth head, and the modern equivalent of Imperial Rome, which has "come out of the abyss". The Harlot represents apostate Christianity, which is intermingled with corrupt business and corrupt politicians and oligarchs. This is the last version of Rome before Christ returns in judgement. He will destroy this beast and judge the other nations.
"And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. They are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb and the Lamb will conquer them" (v12-14). The ten horns, in our time, represent the EU, which was formed from ten northern tribes initially. Currently, the EU has enslaved itself to Anglo-America over the Ukraine-Russia war. America now dominates Europe completely. It insisted that Europe abide by US sanctions on Russia and stop using Russian oil and gas. President Biden then allegedly had the Nordstream pipeline, which delivered inexpensive Russian gas to Europe, blown up, and promised Europe liquified American gas deliveries by ship, but at markup prices. The result of Europe's slavish obedience to America is its loss of status globally, a deep recession due to high energy costs, and a war on their continent that is America's project and which was completely avoidable. Many businesses in Europe are now making plans to move to America, wooed by Biden's promise of tax breaks and other incentives. With friends like this who needs enemies?
But this arrangement is going to change. "And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled" (v16-17). The beast is the Western Empire in its entirety. The ten horns, representing the EU, as well as the beast itself, are going to turn on the Harlot because "God has put it into their hearts." We note that in Chapter 18, the kings (oligarchs and political leaders) and the merchants (business leaders) stand at a distance, watching the end of the Harlot in fear (Rev 18:9-17). What we are seeing is a revolution, similar to the French Revolution, but on a much larger scale now. Since the Harlot is being destroyed, and the kings, merchants and ship owners stand at a distance in fear, it is likely a people's revolution that arises in resistance to the oligarchs who run the Western Empire (Rev 18).
So what lies ahead? The US presidential election is this November, 2024, and currently Donald Trump is leading in the polls over Joe Biden. The Republican Party already has a "Project 2025" plan to destroy the "deep state"--including shutting down the FBI, exiting NATO, and ensuring all government departments obey the president's dictates. If he succeeds, it will likely mean the end of the Western Empire and possibly the end of American democracy. As the BRICS grow in power and popularity (dozens of nations now want to join), investment will move away from the West and towards the BRICS (US billionaires are only loyal to their own personal wealth and power). America's budget deficit is some 34 trillion dollars and growing rapidly. As the BRICS continue to dump the US dollar, its value will plummet and America will enter a severe recession. And since American business leaders have off-shored much of their manufacturing base, America will be hard pressed to recover its economy.
Biden's unwavering support for Israel's genocide of Gaza is severely damaging America's image. His project in Ukraine looks like a failure. Most competent military analysts think Russia has already won and is just mopping up. The American leadership looks weak and completely incompetent in the face of these multiple crises, and Joe Biden's mental state appears to be on the wane. Yet he wants to run for another term! Things do not look good for Anglo-America. Its dreams of world hegemony are now lost; its leadership drunk on their own hubris. And the horrific Trump train continues its incessant march to victory.
What should sincere Christians do? Be very wary of government, religious, and business leaders and their propaganda. Do your research! Look for alternative sources of information that are reliable. I have listed some I use here , but evaluate them yourself. Stay close to Christ and biblical teachings. This is a critical time, a time of deep and widespread evil, corruption, and deception, and many have lost their faith.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:13-14
Be wary of politicians and pastors that try to combine Christianity with politics and power; that want you to vote a certain way, or promise benefits for your support, or tell you that good Christians should go to war for the Empire when Jesus forbids it. (See my article here). Beware of those that combine nationalism with Christianity. The Kingdom of God is no part of this world (Jn 18:36). Reject the claims of mere humans who pretend to have some blessing from God for their program but are really just manipulating you for their own ends. And finally:
Stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. - Luke 21:36