The Composition of the Last Beast Empire

Filed in Biblical Studies, Prewrath by on April 9, 2014

The Composition of the Last Beast Empire

For whatever reason, God did not include sufficient information in his Word to identify explicitly whom Antichrist will be prior to the beginning of events connected with end-times, and even now remain unclear. Of course, this has not dampened the endless prognostic speculation regarding possible fulfillment by “so-called” prophets in our own day. With each new generation, candidates multiply if a person with a name, a body part, or an inordinate evil inclination seems to echo certain characteristics found in Scripture as to Antichrist’s identity.

A few recent examples will highlight my point. Mikhail Gorbachev has a red birthmark on his forehead. Given that the Greek term for “lightning” is “astrape”, and the Hebrew equivalent is “Baraq”, and since Jesus said he saw Satan fall like “lightning” (Luke 10:18), clearly Barak Obama has been pinpointed. Prince Charles’ name adds up to 666 in both Hebrew and English, so it must be he. Wow! Those who advocate for these types of sophomoric speculations will not listen to calls to abandon this behavior.

It remains our desire to gather exegetically only those facts that Scripture makes explicit. One area of concern is the composition of the last beast empire. Daniel addresses this matter in Daniel 7, 8, 9, and 11, together with Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 2, and the book of Revelation. The final beast empire will eventually consist of  eight nations (Dan 7:20), and just prior to the last great battle of God, it will be composed of 10 kings who have no kingdoms (Rev 17:12) and Antichrist, who was driven off Mt. Zion (Rev 14:1), will act as their leader.

One factor that has contributed to a lack of understanding regarding the final beast empire has been the doggedness on the part of many Bible scholars to identify the beast empires of Daniel 2 with the beast empires of Daniel 7. Previously, we attempted to show that the beast empires of Daniel 2 (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman) are not the eschatological beast empires found in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. In this article, we hope to move this position another step forward.

In Daniel 7, we see four empires that “come up out of the great sea.” Notice the description of the beasts:

1. The first beast is “like a lion and had eagles’ wings” that becomes a man.
2. The second beast is a “bear” with “three ribs in its mouth.”
3. The third beast is “a leopard with four wings and four heads.”
4. The fourth beast is almost indescribable with “ten horns.” Another small horn comes up after the ten and plucks up three, leaving an eight-horn empire.

The author gives no information concerning the identity of the first three beast empires of Daniel 7, unlike Daniel 2 and the fourth beast empire of Daniel 7, which the author explicitly identifies. However, because of certain similarities, this has led some scholars to postulate that Daniel 2 and 7 describe the same four beast empires, but that is unwarranted. It makes better sense to see the fourth beast empire of Daniel 7 as the eventual combination of the 15 kings/kingdoms detailed in Daniel 7:4-6:

The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

The first beast empire – a lion with two wings – represents three kingdoms that forcibly merge to become one kingdom. The second beast empire is one kingdom that forces three additional kingdoms to submit to his will. Four kings/kingdoms will become one. The third beast empire is a conglomeration of eight more kings/kingdoms. Thus far, we initially have 15 kings/kingdoms that later will become 10 kings/kingdoms. The fourth beast empire consists of 10 kings/kingdoms. Another king (the eleventh) will arise and pluck up three of the kings/kingdoms, leaving eight kings/kingdoms. Antichrist is the head of this resulting conglomeration of kings/kingdoms. Therefore, the first three beast empires go through wars and rumors of wars that result in 15 kings/kingdoms becoming 10 kings/kingdoms. Antichrist will further reduce that number to eight kings/kingdoms.

In Daniel 8, the horns represent kings/kingdoms on both the ram (Medo-Persia) and the male goat (Greece) and form the exegetical basis of our interpretation of the “wings,” “ribs,” and “heads” of Daniel 7 as kings/kingdoms. The pattern that kings/kingdoms are the primary focus of the book of Daniel is established clearly in chapters 2-8. In Daniel 2, the metals gold, silver, bronze, and iron mixed with clay represent kings/kingdoms. In Daniel 3, a gold statute represents a king. Daniel 4 has the king represented by both a great tree and an ox. Daniel 7:17 states emphatically that the four beasts are four kings.

The decision to see “wings,” “ribs,” and “heads” as kings/kingdoms seems to be a logical conclusion in light of the primary emphasis of Daniel 2-8 and 11. It is also our conviction that Revelation 13 strongly confirms this conclusion. This last chapter states that the beast that comes up out of the sea is a composite beast, which has the overall composition of a leopard (the third beast empire of Daniel 7). It also has feet like a bear (the second beast empire of Daniel 7) and a mouth like a lion (the first beast empire of Daniel 7). This description of Antichrist only applies to the second half of Daniel’s final week (Rev 13:5). These facts are not coincidental.

Only Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 chronicle the career of Antichrist from the sea to his defeat by God’s Royal Representative; this proves the connection between these two chapters. Therefore, given that both Daniel’s and John’s characterization of the beast as lion, bear, and leopard, seals our conviction. The role of the first beast empire in Daniel 7 is quite interesting. It begins as a lion with wings, but experiences a transformation that results in the creation of a man. Revelation 13 gives the additional fact that although this beast thinks like a man; he continues to speak like a lion.

It is clear that the beast/Antichrist will have a conflicted nature. He will be a man, but a man energized by Satan. Just how this will work is not clear. That he comes up out of the abyss (Rev 11:7) may explain this cryptic fact. We shall look at it again in our next article.

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