There Comes a Beast

4 07 2009

The nation of ancient Judah was yet writhing with birthing pains, bringing forth the new body of Christ, but the seven-headed dragon, Satan, was already preparing to devour it (Revelation 12).  The city of the seven hills, the dragon,  was also known as Rome.  In fact, it still is.  In the early days of Christianity, it sought to destroy this fledgling faith.  The woman who gave birth to this new faith was Judah, with the sun and the moon and twelve stars, representing the tribes of Israel.  This was a flashback to Joseph’s dream, in Genesis 37:9.  Around 72 AD, this dragon sacked Jerusalem and laid it to waste, sending the residents fleeing into the desert.  Then it made war with her offspring, the believers in Jesus.

Then came the Beast from the sea.

The great empire of Rome came to be divided between the eastern, Byzantine, half, and the western half.  The western half fell to Germanic invaders, only to be revived again as the Holy Roman Empire, a nation which is said to have been neither holy, Roman, nor an empire.  Even this half was again divided into thirds, and one of these thirds was a European nation known as France.

France, whose monarchy descended from the beginnings of the new western Roman empire, was doomed.  The people revolted and overturned this regime, and out of the turmoil came the first horseman, otherwise known as Napoleon (Revelation 6:2), bent on conquest.  His France was like a lion with the wings of an eagle (Daniel 7:4).  The eagle was napoleon’s own symbol.  He was the wings.  However, those wings were torn off when Napoleon went into exile for the second time, where he eventually died.  The lion was raised up into a democracy, made to stand on its own two feet and given the heart of a man, which is the heart of a democracy.  For a time, he had conquered nearly all of Europe.  The irony of it all was that he rose to power on the back of a revolution to depose monarchy, only to declare himself a monarch.  This rider had been given a crown, just as the Apostle John had predicted.

Another of the divisions of the Holy Roman Empire was ruled by a monarchy that still named itself after Caesar, in the Roman tradition.  In their dialect, Caesar was spelled Kaiser.  This nation was Germany, and it sought to conquer the earlier monster of France.  After this World War, the people deposed the monarchy, and out of this upset came a new leader of the people, named Hitler.  He was the second rider, who took peace from the earth and made a legacy out of slaughtering countless masses of people for no strategic reason (Revelation 6:3).  He was also Daniel’s second beast, the bear who was told to get up and eat its fill of flesh, though it had already consumed Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, symbolized by the three ribs it had dangling from its jaws (Daniel 7:5).  In the end, this beast was raised up only on one side, as the previous beast had been raised up, which is to say that one side of it was made a democracy.  Germany had been divided.  Hitler had ridden in on the back of a popular revolution seeking democracy, as Napoleon had done.

The eastern half of the Old Roman Empire lasted longer than its western counterpart, but it was ultimately defeated for a time by the Turks.  As the western half was reborn with a new capitol and a new leader, so, too, was the eastern half, under czarist Russia.  It was hardly the same, but the rulers considered their nation to be a continuation of the Byzantine Empire, and so, in a sense, it was.  The czars ruled successfully, for a time, but their days were ended by the popular Bolshevik revolution.  Had the last vestiges of the Roman Empire finally come to an end?  On the wave of this attempt at a republic came yet another dictator, known as Joseph Stalin.  Out with one monarch; in with another.  So came the third horseman, who made his legacy from tampering with the economy (Revelation 6:5).  He was hardly in power before his disruption caused a collapse of the market and widespread shortage of bread.  Two commodities prospered under his communist regime, though, which were the alcoholic beverages and the crude oil.  And so we come to Daniel’s third beast (Daniel 7:6), the Soviet Union, symbolized by a leopard.  Initially, it was a union of four Soviet Socialist Republics, but it later grew into fifteen constituencies.  These four republics are represented by the four heads and four wings of the leopard.

All three of these monsters came to power in the vacuum left by the overthrow of some last vestige of a new Roman monarchy.  All three were foreign-born heads of state.  All three took control of the land of their birth, using the countries that they ruled.

But there comes a fourth monster (Daniel 7:7).  There comes a fourth rider (Revelation 6:7).  Its different from the other three in its methods, and far more destructive.  It starts out very little, but it grows quickly and uproots the previous three.  It’s name is death, and it kills with war, famine, plague and wild animals.  This monster is also the Beast from the Sea (Revelation 13), the successor to Rome.  His seven heads are the same seven hills of Rome, and his territory comes to include that of the first three, the lion, the leopard and the bear.  Could these three beasts be the ones that Daniel’s “little horn” defeats in chapter seven?  If this monster is to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors, then perhaps its ruler rises on the tail end of a popular revolt against some old, final vestige of the Roman Empire?  But, is there anything left of that empire?  There is only the Vatican, seated within Rome, itself.  This puny little city-state would have to grow very quickly and powerfully to consume all of Europe and Russia.  It seems impossible.  Nay, it seems ridiculous.  If it is, then the Pope will be killed, and the Catholic church will be destroyed, only to be replaced by the kingdom of the Antichrist.  One might think this notion to be an offense to the Catholic church, but one of their own has already prophesied it.  Saint Malachy, long ago, numbered the Popes, in a writing known as the Prophecy Of The Popes.  The current Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, is the last one before all Hell breaks loose and the church crumbles, according to their tradition.  Another is mentioned after him, named Peter of Rome, but this is believed to have been added by someone else at a later time.  It is strange, though, that the Apostle Peter would be expected to come again to lead the remains of the church that they believe he founded.  Is this a ruse to lead people astray?

The Catholic church may not be involved, and the Pope may not be killed, but one thing is certain, which is that the next horror to befall humanity in the tradition of Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin will be a Westerner.

But he will have a false prophet (Revelation 13:11).  Whereas the previous beast was from the sea, this one is from the earth.  It’s a reference to Daniel’s vision of the ram and the goat (Daniel 8).  Daniel’s prophecy predicted the Greek invasion of Persia.  This has already been fulfilled, but John’s prophecy has alluded to it for the sake of reference.  The reason Daniel’s beasts were a lion, bear and leopard was for the purpose of making a clear reference to John’s later prophecy, but here, John’s details serve to make reference back to Daniel’s prophecy.  The Greeks were represented by a goat that came from across the sea.  The Persians were represented by a ram that stood upon the earth.  “Across the sea” refers to Europe, being across the Mediterranean Sea.  The distinctive feature of the ram is its two asymmetrical horns, representing the hybrid nations of Media and Persia.  The Persia of ancient times is the Iran of today.  The false prophet of the antichrist is therefore Iranian, or Shiite, at the very least.  Not coincidentally, the Shiites of Iran have already built a special temple to their own messianic figure, who is expected to arrive shortly.  Theirs is the Twelfth Imam, and they even expect our very own Jesus Christ to return and lead us to faith in their Imam.  Will we see an imposter of Christ bow before the throne of a Muslim messiah?  Perhaps we will.  One might also note that this Beast from the Earth had the appearance of a man.  If the symbolism holds true from Daniel’s prophecy of the beasts, then this means that the nation of the false prophet has the appearance of a democracy.  This also implies that the nation’s democracy is not real.

But this reign of the Antichrist and his prophet will not be like the others of times past, for it will be maintained by the magic of Satan himself.  Otherwise, such a thing would have been impossible.

That’s my take.  I could be wrong.  We’ve certainly seen our share of hacks make fools of themselves over these enigmatic words.  More prophecy follows, but that is another discussion for another time…by someone else.  I’m done.  What’s important is not so much the details of the events as is whether or not we’re prepared for them.  The end comes for everyone, sooner, rather than later.  We all have our own personal end-times tragedy.  The end of human civilization is more dramatic and captures the imagination, rather than the end of one lone man, but to that one man, his end is the end of the universe.  If I am unprepared for my own demise, then I might as well be unprepared for the world’s demise.