Purpose of this Article
There are three beasts in Revelation that each has seven heads and ten horns. They are:
- The Dragon in Revelation 12;
- The Sea Beast in Revelation 13; and
- The Scarlet Beast, on which the harlot sits in Revelation 17.
These are, obviously, NOT LITERAL beasts. Since all three have exactly seven heads and ten horns, they must be related. The purpose of this article is to determine what these beasts are and how they are related. Are they the same, or symbols of different things?
Beasts of Daniel 7
This article argues that Revelation’s beasts are a further explanation of the beasts of Daniel 7. This section, therefore, provides an overview of Daniel 7’s beasts.
Daniel 7 predicts four empire, using four beasts as symbols for the empires. (See Daniel 7 for a discussion.) Another article, which compares the beasts in Daniel 7 to the animals in Daniel 8, identifies the four beasts of Daniel 7 as follows::
1. The first beast is a Lion (7:4), representing the Babylonian Empire.
2. The second is a Bear (7:5); the Medo-Persian Empire;
3. The third beast is a Leopard with four heads (7:6) and stands for the Grecian (Macedonian) Empire.
4. Daniel 7 does not say what type of beast the fourth is, but says that it is “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong.” “It had large iron teeth It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet” and it has ten horns (Dan 7:7). ‘Dragon‘ seems like a good description for this beast. It symbolizes the Roman Empire.
Notice that these beasts have, in total, seven heads and ten horns while the beasts of Revelation each has seven heads and ten horns. This indicates some relationship between the beasts in Daniel and Revelation.
However, the MAIN ACTOR in the drama of Daniel 7 is not one of these four empire. Most of the verses in Daniel 7 describe a fifth power, namely the 11th horn that grows out of the fourth beast (Dan 7:8). Daniel 7 allocates more space to this 11th horn than perhaps to all four beasts put together. The only reason that these four beasts are described is so that we may be able to identify this 11th horn. The main purpose of Daniel’ prophecies is to identify this evil power. A separate article identifies this 11th horn as the Church of the Middle Ages.
There are, therefore, actually, five powers depicted by Daniel 7:
1. Babylonian Lion;
2. Medo-Persian Bear;
3. Macedonian Leopard;
4. Roman Dragon; and
5. The 11th horn of the Roman Empire, namely the Church
The Image in Daniel 2
Daniel 2 presents the same four empires as in Daniel 7 by means of an image of a man. Different body parts represent the different empires. The first empire is the head of Gold, representing the ancient Babylonian empire. The fourth is the legs of Iron. This goes over into the feet that are a mixture of Iron and Clay, called a “divided” kingdom. This divided “kingdom” is the same as the eleven horns of Daniel 7. The entire image is destroyed by Christ’s return. See Daniel 2 for a more detailed discussion.
I mention Daniel 2 here to emphasize the following principles:
Later prophecies explain and expand on earlier prophecies. Daniel 2 is the base prophecy. Daniel 7 and later Daniel 8 and 11 expand on that prophecy. Revelation’s beasts also provide further detail of the empires in Daniel.
While the beasts of Daniel 7 emphasize the differences between the beasts, the image in Daniel 2 tells us that, from God’s perspective, they are all simply different phases of a single reality; man’s blasphemous rule on earth.
There are only these four empires. The 11th horn continues the fourth (Roman) empire until Christ returns. The three beasts of Revelation are included in the image of Daniel 2.
We can now start to identify the beasts in Revelation.
The first and the last
The first seven-headed beast that we find in Revelation is the “great red Dragon having seven heads and ten horns” (12:3). It is also the seven-headed beast that disappears last from the pages of Revelation. The Sea Beast disappears into the lake of fire before the Millennium (19:20), but the Dragon is only thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the Millennium (20:10).
Revelation 12 provides a high-level overview of several wars in which the Dragon is the antagonist. One of these is the war in heaven. In this context, and also when it is imprisoned during the Millennium, the Dragon is specifically identified as Satan (12:7-9; 20:2). As Satan, the Dragon exists for all of human history and continues to exist even after the Return of Christ (20:2). It only vanishes when it is thrown in the lake of fire after the Millennium (20:10).
However, when the Dragon is first introduced in Revelation 12 as standing before the woman, it has heads and horns (12:3). Revelation explain both the heads and the horns are “kings” (Rev. 17:10, 12). The dragon therefore ALSO represents earthly kingdoms.
Furthermore, since the Dragon has exactly 7 heads and 10 horns, it is part of the continuum of beasts of Daniel 7.
Therefore, when it stands ready to devour the woman’s Child Jesus (12:5), as soon as He is born, it represents the specific earthly empire at the time when Jesus was born, which is the fourth kingdom (beast) of Daniel 7; the Roman Empire.
This conclusion, that the Dragon is the fourth kingdom of Daniel 7, is supported by the fact that “Dragon” seems to be a good description of the fourth “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” beast of Daniel 7.
The “Dragon” in Revelation, therefore, represents both Satan and the Roman Empire.
The beast from the sea in Revelation 13 is frequently mentioned as working with the Dragon (e.g. 16:13), which means that it is not the same as the Dragon.
This article proposes that the Sea Beast is the same as the 11th horn of Daniel 7. This is justified as follows:
7 Heads and 10 Horns
Firstly, the Sea Beast also has 7 heads and 10 horns (13:1) while the beasts of Daniel 7 have, in total, the same number of heads and horns. This means that the Sea Beast is also part of Daniel 7’s continuum of beasts.
After the four beasts of Daniel 7
Secondly, the Sea Beast looks like a leopard, has feet like a bear and the mouth of a lion (13:2). These are the exact same animals as the first three beasts in Daniel 7. Furthermore, the Sea Beast receives its throne and great authority from the Dragon (13:2), and, as already stated, “Dragon” is a good description for the fourth beast of Daniel 7.
The Sea Beast, therefore, inherits something from each of the four beasts of Daniel 7. This means that it must come in existence AFTER them, which supports the view that the Sea Beast is the fifth and main power of Daniel 7; namely the 11th horn.
The Successor of the Roman Empire
Thirdly, it is the Dragon that calls the Beast up from the Sea (13:1) and it is the Dragon that gave the Sea Beast his power and his throne and great authority (13:2). In other words, the Sea Beast is the Dragon’s successor. The Dragon represents the Roman Empire when it is represented as having seven heads and ten horns. The Sea Beast, therefore, is the successor of the Roman Empire.
But in Daniel 7, the 11th horn is the true successor of the Roman Empire (Daniel 7). This confirms that the Sea Beast is the 11th horn.
Lastly, consider how similar the 11th horn and the Sea-beast are:
Both persecute the saints for “a time, times, and half a time” (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:5). Both overpower the saints (Dan 7:21; Rev 13:7). (Compare 12:6 to 12:14 see that “a time, times, and half a time” is equal to 1260 days. Furthermore, 42 months is equal to 42 x 30 = 1260 days.)
Both blaspheme God (Dan 7:8, 20; Rev 15:5).
The main power in Daniel is the 11th horn. Similarly, the main power in Revelation is the Sea Beast (sometimes abbreviated to “Beast”). For example, the active persecuting force at the end-time is the Image of the Beast (13:15) and it gives the Mark of the Beast to his followers, which is the name of the Beast or the number of his name (13:17).
For these reasons, this article proposes that the Sea Beast is the same as the 11th horn of Daniel 7. A separate article identifies the 11th horn as the Church of the Middle Ages.
In Revelation 13, the Sea Beast goes through three phases:
1. It first arises from the sea.
2. Then it dies and remains dead for a period.
3. Then it becomes alive again (13:3, 4). “The whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast” (13:3). All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain (13:8; 17:8).
If we remember that the Sea Beast (11th horn) follows after the four beasts of Daniel 7, then we have identified seven phases:
5. 11th horn after it arose from the sea
6. 11th horn while dead
7. 11th horn revived (end times)
The articles on The Seven Heads argue that these seven phases are the seven heads of the beasts.
The Scarlet Beast is mentioned briefly in 11:7 but is described more fully in Revelation 17. It is not the same as the Sea Beast of Revelation 13:
Firstly, it has different associates.
The Sea Beast receives it power from the Dragon (13:2) and gives his authority to the Land Beast (13:12). In Revelation, we often find this evil trio working together (e.g. 16:13; 19:20-20:2).
The Scarlet Beast, on the other hand, is associated with Babylon. It is never described together with the Dragon, the Sea Beast or the Land Beast. The evil trio (Dragon, Sea Beast and Land Beast) is also never mentioned in the same breath as Babylon. Completely different sets of symbols are used in Revelation 13 and Revelation 17.
Secondly, the Sea Beast reigns while the Scarlet Beast serves.
In Revelation 13, the people worship the Sea Beast (13:3-4). The Sea Beast is, therefore, the main anti-God power.
In contrast, in Revelation 17, the harlot Babylon is the main anti-God power. She sits on the Scarlet Beast (17:3). That the harlot (Babylon) sits on the Scarlet Beast is explained by 17:18:
“The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
“Sits on” therefore means “reigns over.” She, therefore, rules over it (17:18). The Scarlet Beast is subordinate to her.
Lastly, the people worship the Sea Beast but are the Scarlet Beast.
The relationships between the two beasts and the peoples of the world are also different. In Revelation 13, the Sea Beast is worshiped by the people and is, therefore, something apart from the people. But in Revelation 17 the harlot (Babylon) sits on both the beast and the waters (people—17:1, 15), indicating that the Scarlet Beast symbolizes the people.
It is therefore clear that the Scarlet Beast is something very different from the Dragon and the Sea Beast. It belongs to a different category.
The Sea Beast includes the Harlot Babylon.
This we see in the following:
The Sea Beast will “make war with the saints and to overcome them” (13:7) but Babylon is guilty of all martyr deaths of God’s people (18:24).
The Sea Beast is the main evil force, for it is worshiped. Similarly, Babylon reigns over the Scarlet Beast.
Exists for all of human history.
The harlot is identified in the article on Babylon, the mother of harlots, as ‘false religion’. She exists for all of human history because “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24), and because she is the “mother (source or origin) of harlots” (17:5). If she exists for all human history, then the scarlet beast on which she sits must also exist for all human history.
The Sea Beast of Revelation 13, in contrast, is a specific organization that exists at a specific point in time. It comes into existence out of the sea (13:1). The sea is a symbol of humanity (Daniel 7:3, 17).
Includes all the kingdoms of Daniel 7.
Because it has seven heads and ten horns, the Scarlet Beast must, in some way, relate to the beasts of Daniel 7. Because the Scarlet Beast represents the “kings” and kingdoms of the world, and because it exists for all of human history, it includes all of the kingdoms of Daniel 7. It cannot be limited to only one of those kingdoms. It therefore also includes both the Dragon and the Sea Beast.
Revelation 17, therefore, presents the anti-God powers for all of human history, but shows that these anti-God powers consist of two components; a political (beast) and a religious (harlot) component, with the religious power always reigning over the political power. The kingdoms of the world are always under the deceiving influence of false religion (the Harlot Babylon). She exists during all the empires of Daniel 7, corrupts the minds of the people (17:2) and kills the saints (18:24).
This, therefore, also applies to the time of:
The Roman Empire (the Dragon in Revelation or the fourth terrible beast of Daniel 7),
The Church of the Middle Ages (the Sea Beast in Revelation or the 11th horn in Daniel 7) and during
The end-time crisis (the Image of the Beast).
In all of these times, the spiritual powers reign over the political powers. Each of these (Dragon, Sea Beast and Image of the Beast) must include both components to be effective persecutors of God’s people.