By Walter Kazimir
A ‘beast’ with seven heads and ten horns; another beast that looks innocent as a lamb but ‘speaks as a dragon;’ a mysterious mark, and that renowned number, 666– what’s it all about? Probably no book has been as misused as the Bible, and no part of the Bible as mystifying and misunderstood as the Revelation. In particular (coincidentally?) one of the more misinterpreted parts of Revelation is Chapter 13– the source of the famous ‘beasts’ and ‘666,’ and so on. My contention is that the eschatological prophecies are deliberately obscure, but that they become increasingly transparent as we approach the ‘End Times’ they describe. The puzzling chapter 13 is the key to this comprehension. This essay investigates that portion of Revelation in the light of recent history.
In the interests of condensing a long discussion into a readable article, I have to assume that the reader has read (better yet studied) the book of Revelation, and moreover, understands that the book defines its strange imagery within its very pages for those who perceive. [For quick reference, the passage can be read here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Rev%2013&version=NIV ]
The first eight verses describe a ‘beast’ that rises from the ‘sea,’ having ‘ten horns and seven heads,’ each horn crowned by a diadem, and each head showing ‘blasphemous names.’ We are told that ‘the dragon gave him his power, and throne, and great authority.’ Verse three is crucial, and many have stumbled on it: “I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.” This amazing beast clearly becomes very powerful, and so arrogant as to blaspheme God, and to persecute His people.
Verses 11 to 18 then turn the spotlight on ‘another beast,’ who comes out of the earth, and who looks like a lamb, externally, but who speaks ‘like a dragon.’ This beast turns world attention on the first beast, and makes everyone worship it. It deceives everyone, and enforces the famous ‘mark’ on the hand or forehand that must be received in order to buy or sell. Chapter 13 ends with the infamous number, 666, ‘the number of the beast,’ that is said to somehow designate ‘a man.’
This short chapter would be pretty difficult to unlock on its own; but it so happens that chapter 17 seems to rehearse the same scenario, but from quite a different perspective. By combining the clues from the two chapters, a coherent picture emerges.
In chapter 17, John is shown a ‘harlot’ sitting on a ‘scarlet beast having seven heads and ten horns,’ clearly establishing a link with the earlier vision (of ch. 13). On her forehead is written the mysterious name ‘Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of the abominations of the Earth.’ She is described as drunk with the blood of the saints. In verse eight the beast is twice described as one that ‘was, and is not, and will come;’ a phrase that is repeated again in verse 11. That verse goes on to state that he is ‘also an eighth and is one of the seven.’ The last verses of chapter 17 describe how ‘ten kings’ will wage war against ‘the Lamb,’ but will be defeated. They turn against the harlot, and destroy her, and the last verse defines her as ‘the great city that reigns over the kings of the earth.’
Now; let’s start putting the clues together, letting scripture define its own terms as much as possible, and always bearing in mind that Revelation is a symbolic book. Most of the symbols used by John echo similar ones used 6 centuries earlier in the book of Daniel, which were explained in the text. Similarly, the angel/guides in Revelation give John the general meanings of the symbols in the visions. Summarizing very briefly, they are…
Beast = ‘kingdom,’ country, empire (Rev 17:10, Dan 7:17); Dragon = Satan, the Devil (Rev 12:9, 20:2); Sea = populous area; the ‘old world’ (Rev 17:15); Horns = kings, rulers (Dan 7:24); Heads = governments, nations; Diadem = sign of authority, rulership; Blasphemous — un-Godly; Tabernacle=the ‘church’, ‘saints’, who are spiritually residents of heaven; harlot = apostate faith community (Ezek 23:4); judgment = fate, punishment; waters = people, populations (Rev 17:15). Also, we should know that numbers are used symbolically in the Bible, where seven indicates perfection, completion; and ten stands for a complete or inclusive set. Many commentators, ancient and modern, have become hopelessly sidetracked because they do not accept the Bible’s own definitions, and try to impose their own! For example, many pundits have assumed that the beasts stand for people (e.g. the Pope); but the scriptures don’t say that; they tell us explicitly that they’re kingdoms (or nations, today).
Re-capping the main points of the text in plain language, we can see that:
- The text refers to a kingdom (nation) that had disappeared (was slain) at the time of John’s writing (set at about 90 AD), yet would reappear later in history;
- when this nation reappears it will cause people to be amazed;
- this nation is associated with the name of a man; and perhaps aspires to attain godly heights… their way.
- this nation was among a group of 7 that existed in a then-populous region– i.e. the Middle East– before it was extinguished;
- when it reappears, it will be in some ‘new’ form (different from the first appearance);
- this nation is associated with a false religion somehow;
- another nation appears later (after John’s day), that will be closely allied with the restored nation– it wasn’t one of the original 7; but when it arises in a less populous area, it will enforce homage to the restored nation;
- the ‘new nation’ will first appear benign (lamb-like), but will issue draconian edicts that will cause all other nations to ‘fall into line’ with it;
- the new nation is being directed by a false, apostate religion;
- there seems to be a blurring between ‘the woman’ as a church and as a ‘city,’ but in any case, there is a highly urbanized nation that exercises hegemony over all other nations;
- a set of ‘ten’ symbolic kingdoms arise in the end-times and they give their ‘power and authority’ to the restored kingdom for a brief time (ch. 17:12-13) until Jesus defeats them.
When you look at the facts laid out like this, while there may still be some fuzzy details, nonetheless, certain conclusions jump out as inescapable!
As soon as you mention ‘restored nation’ the obvious candidate that leaps out is ‘Israel’. Its name comes directly from ‘a man,’ their patriarch Jacob who was renamed Israel (Gen 32:28). Ancient Israel was one of a group of seven prominent kingdoms in the Middle East that includes Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Babylonia, and Rome. With their rejection of the Messiah, Israel’s cherished cultural religion, Judaism, became an antichristian blasphemy. As a nation, Israel has always aspired to ‘help’ God do things their way. From the taking of the Promised Land, to the Pharisaical plot to eliminate Jesus, the children of Israel preferred their deeds over God’s providence. The dramatic restoration of the Jewish homeland, named Israel, in the land of Palestine in 1948 was indeed seen as amazing, even miraculous, by the on-looking world. While many assumed that it must be due to God’s intervention, others who have investigated the creation of modern Israel, find that it was, instead, due to conniving plans dating back to the late 19th century (as Zionism, promoted by Herzl) and renewed following the First World War, by the Balfour Declaration. It was not God’s hand that was involved, but that of the Dragon, motivating Zionist agents behind the scenes of diplomacy.
The Bible had this insight long before any modern pundit could possibly discern the covert machinations that culminated in a restored Jewish state. However, this resuscitated nation is a pretender! Altho populated by Jews (progeny of Judah, one of Israel’s 12 sons), they call themselves Israel, in pretense of comprising the original, full 12 tribes of Jacob. Even IF all 12 tribes should be ‘represented’ in today’s Israel (as claimed), Jewish researchers have found that those known as Ashkenazi Jews (who engineered the takeover of Palestine) are actually descended from the Khazar people, who lived in the Caucasus region, and whose king made his whole nation convert to Judaism in the eighth century. And whereas ancient Israel, the state, occasionally worshipped the true God, the new nation follows a worldly, ultra-nationalist, pseudo-religion known as Zionism. Thus, ‘Israel’ has reappeared, but in a new, ersatz format, just as predicted. (See also, Rev 3:9 for another hint about Israel.)
Now, the second prominent nation, the later one that originates in a less populous region, seems to reach its zenith near the culmination of apocalyptic events. Again, on the evidence, there’s one nation that immediately springs to mind– the USA. Obviously, it didn’t exist at the time of John. And when it did appear, it arose in the ‘new world’, far from the populations of the old world. With its declaration of the rights and freedoms of individuals, particularly in regard to religious worship, the USA indeed looked lamb-like, and the two horns could symbolize the separation of church and state. Lately, there is no doubt about the dragon-like voice with which the US government has been throwing its weight around the world over the last 60 years or more. All nations of the world are compelled to heed the voice of the US government, whether they like it or not. In the vivid imagery of Revelation, this beast calls down fire from heaven, and deceives the Earth with the ‘signs’ he has the power to perform in front of the world (vs. 13-14). This made little sense– until the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, and recapitulated in the ‘Shock and Awe’ invasion of Iraq. Now it reads as prescient indeed! Especially now that we know the extent to which deception was used to justify war.
The lobbying of the ‘religious right’ has become increasingly influential since the Reagan presidency of the 1980s. It is a profane, false Christianity influencing affairs in D.C., and through their warped interpretation of eschatology, they are closely linked to Zionist (‘Judaic’) interests (hence, ‘Judeo-Christianity’). That is the cursory analysis of ‘the harlot riding the beast.’ However, one could argue that the religious right is still, nominally, Christian, and not exactly what the prophecy points to. There exists a more covert connection between an abominable religion and the US administration. Summarizing a vast amount of evidence, there is undeniable evidence that the individuals who populate the US administration are linked to a panoply of occult practices and symbolism that can be traced back to ancient Babylon. These politicians congregate at the ‘Bohemian Grove’ (California) annually to indulge in bizarre, satanic rituals. That is their abominable, antichristian religion. It is well known that G.W. Bush, J.F. Kerry, and many other political figures are members of the Yale U. secret society called the ‘Skull and Bones.’ Many high-placed officials in Washington are associated with various occult/Masonic societies, as a little Internet research will attest. It could be sensibly argued that these ‘mystery cults’ of the elite more accurately represent the prostitute of the prophecy.
One can think of Zionism as a geo-political conspiracy for the ‘New World Order’ whose top names come largely from the ranks of Jews. In any case, it is indisputable that Washington is dominated by Zionist interests promoted by Israeli-American ‘dual-citizens.’ Leveraging these ‘inside assets,’ the Israeli government exerts pressure over the USA, particularly to do its dirty work in the Middle East. For decades the US delegation has used its veto in the Security Council of the United Nations to prevent censure of Israel. Lately, US foreign policy seems to be dictated by Tel Aviv. The First and Second Gulf Wars make little sense except when analyzed in the light of Israel using US military power to subdue its enemies. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, and Gaza in 2008, deliberately destroying civilian infrastructure and killing non-combatants, the US waited until it was too late before expressing some measure of reservation over the Israeli depredations. While Israel and the USA make an uproar about supposed nuclear ambitions by Iran, they simply ignore the open secret that Israel already possesses nuclear weapons, and has the means to deploy them. Any nation fingered by Washington must jump and salute; however, Israel gets a free pass. In other words, the ‘second beast’– the USA– causes the rest of the world to worship the first beast– Israel. The trend is so marked that we can see that it’s a hallmark of the ‘New World Order.’
As many commentators have speculated, the 10 horns (of 17:12) probably refer to the countries of the European Union, that have had reservations about Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, yet in the end, support the US-British backing of Israel. Once EU membership exceeded ten nations, some pundits abandoned this view. But they fail to note that ‘ten’ is simply a symbolic count for an inclusive set. And in any case, only ten or fewer countries have significant influence on EU foreign affairs. This view also accords with Daniel’s vision of the statue in chapter 2, where the feet and toes (‘of iron mixed with clay’) have long been identified as the ‘revived Roman Empire’ embodied in the modern EU, with its strained mix of strong and feeble economies.
Many commentators have taken the picture of ‘buying and selling’ in chapter 13 quite literally, and have weaved some rather bizarre scenarios based on that view (e.g. micro-chips, bar-codes in people’s flesh). However, it’s not unreasonable to take the figure as symbolic… but, of what? Perhaps Proverbs 23:23 gives a clue: “Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.” By means of so-called ‘anti-hate’ laws, it is becoming almost impossible for anyone to legitimately question Israeli policies and actions. Increasingly, no one in Western societies can dare openly criticize Israel without unleashing severe censure. It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee a time when any expression of reservation about Israel will result in prison or even death. And yet, how can we ‘get understanding’ if any criticism of Israel is crushed by so-called ‘anti-hate laws?’ Zechariah 11:4-6 is another passage that puts buying and selling in the context of duplicitous and predatory exploitation of one class by another, and God’s judgment on them. So, Rev 13:17 may be alluding to the fact that no one can speak truth about Israel and religion, but only mouth what the state permits.
Nonetheless, with the huge crises in the world banking system in recent years, it is equally possible that the ‘buying and selling’ may be literal. A little research will confirm that the global banking regime is largely in the hands of a cabal of Jews, and that they have, in fact, implemented a key strategy cited in the enigmatic ‘Protocols of Zion.’ That is, the world’s banks are under the management of a tiny elite, and all money is regarded as debt owed to them. Hence, they have total control over money, and with the advent of computerized records systems and banking cards, the banks can exert unparalleled monitoring of transactions (ie. buying and selling). Many pundits have postulated that we are heading for a system where micro-chips will replace tangible money, and the prophetic vision could be realized literally.
The one piece of the puzzle that escapes me at present is the question of the ‘image of the beast.’ While the other pieces fall into place fairly neatly, this one is far from obvious, at least at this time. I expect that it will become apparent as events unfold, but for the time being, the image is an open question. The NIV translates the passage as: “an image in honor of the beast.” The NASB and the KJV translation is: “an image to the beast.” In the Amplified Bible, the passage reads: “a statue (an image) in the likeness of the beast.” So, we have the later nation commanding the inhabitants of the earth to ‘make an image’ that represents the first (restored) nation in some manner.
My guess is that the construction of the image hasn’t yet happened, and when it does, we will be close to the end of the game. I predict that when the USA proposes some kind of ‘solution’ to the Middle East crisis that involves enforced homage to something that stands for (symbolizes, represents) the state of Israel, then we will recognize the fulfillment of this graphic prophecy. I expect that whatever it is, it will be a surprise to all, yet clear to those who remember scripture.
The other puzzle-piece is the ultimate uncovering of the false, apostate, mystic religion that masquerades as Judeo-Christianity, and that exercises covert control over the nations. It has long been realized that the Vatican, seat of Roman Catholic authority, is full of mystic symbolism derived from Egyptian and Babylonian sources. And since ‘Mystery Babylon’ is the ‘mother of ALL harlots,’ then all the Christian denominations are implicated, not just Roman Catholicism. Similarly, modern Judaism, via the Talmud, is heavily influenced by Kabbalah, a mystic school that dates back to the time of their captivity in ancient Babylon. Some investigators claim covert connections between the Vatican and Zionists, and although those theories are speculative, there’s no doubting the common lineage of their mystic symbolism, namely, Babylon.
Finally, I should anticipate one observation that some readers who are versed in history may raise. The predictive imagery of widespread, bloody persecution of true believers by an apostate church prevailing upon government to do its bidding, may ring familiar. Yes, it happened during the Dark Ages, when the official, Rome-based Church persecuted ‘heretics’ of all kinds, especially those who revered the Bible. However, it is possible for prophecy to have a primary, literal fulfillment, and a later, figurative reprise. Thus, the persecution of the first millennium could be repeated in its characteristics in this third millennium, with different actors but the same plot… and a much shorter time frame. Indeed, almost all exponents of eschatology have identified the (first) Beast (of Rev. 13) as the Roman Catholic Church or the European Union. But, the reader should see, now, that this can’t be: John repeats the phrase ‘that was, and is not, and will come’ for the purpose of making a point. That point should not be lost on us, latter day readers, who need it most! (Refer to item no. 1, above, in the summary of facts). Only Israel had existed prior to John’s last book (ca. 90 AD), had gone into oblivion in 70 AD, and ‘re-appeared’ two millennia later. This ‘beast’ therefore, cannot be the Roman church or the EU… nor some yet-to-emerge ‘Antichrist!’ With the acuity of hindsight, I think it is clear that the prophecies of Daniel focus on the history of the early Christian church, while those of Revelation move the spotlight to the End of the Age, and the geo-political turmoil of these times.
What I hope this analysis demonstrates is that without imposing a lot of exogenous, novel, dogmatic interpretations on the text, and allowing the scriptures to illuminate themselves, a sensible picture readily emerges… and, without the need of a Ph.D. in something or other to do so. And another important thing is that the Bible is not a book of science-fiction or technological predictions. The abstract scenes in Revelation are sketches of geo-political and geo-religious currents, not of helicopters, atomic weapons, and so on (as sensationally claimed by some American Evangelicals). And note that the whole panorama would not be comprehensible until the time when it is needed.
We must note that the text had to be written in such a way that an accurate prophecy can be presented without being so obvious that unscrupulous forces could suppress or alter it. And yet, the clues are skillfully encoded so that someone who has a reasonable understanding of history, and allows the scripture to explain itself, can gain a clear grasp of who the actors are, and what they are doing. Still, the picture only clarifies after the fact; i.e. after the forecast events actually begin, or as they unfold. In this process, it is astonishing to see how a book written millennia ago in a far-off land contains a description of the geo-political and religious situation that has unfolded over the last, mere half-century or so… within the lifetime of many who read this article. Friends, you can’t make this stuff up– no human mind could produce the bizarre vision-clips of Revelation, and use them to accurately predict world political events 2,000 years in the future!
Clearly, the prophecies are designed to demonstrate and reveal that God is real and supreme, and that we can’t determine what will happen next– it is entirely in His hands. Our job is just to trust and believe. I pray that sincere atheists will read this essay and have their eyes opened to the beauty of God’s scriptures. Remember, the Bible has been in a more or less final, ‘canonical’ state for many centuries. The prophecies survived intact to this day for the very purpose of demonstrating the genius behind them. No human could have achieved such a feat– that’s why this book is truly a Revelation!
(My verse-by-verse analysis is available if a reader wants to follow the detailed study; go to http://truthquestors.blogspot.com/2008/09/revelation-re-visit-new-study.html)
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