by Herbert W. Armstrong
Who or what is "the wild Beast" of the Apocalypse, or book of Revelation, chapters 13 and 17? What does Bible prophecy reveal about world events now leading to Armageddon and the end of this age? This two-part booklet deals with governments and wars that will bring this world to its final end.
Bible prophecy reveals events of our time and world-shaking events soon to change your life.
A major world-shaking event is foretold in the symbolic language of a mysterious world-dominating wild beast.
The Bible is God's book of history, prophecy and revealed knowledge of God's purpose and master plan for humanity from its beginning on into eternity. But the Bible is primarily a book about the chosen nation of Israel, and other nations that have come into direct contact with Israel.
We know little concerning nations, or whether there were nations on earth, prior to the great Flood. But soon after the Flood, Nimrod founded the city-states of Babylon, Nineveh and others. In due time such nations as Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, the Aramean states, Israel, Phoenicia and others developed in the Middle East. By the end of the 7th century B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar had founded the first world empire or union of nations. The Bible does reveal the history, and prophecy from now, of the system of gentile world empires starting with Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon on to the Second Coming of Christ, as well as the history and yet future prophecy concerning Israel. This booklet will cover the true significance of these two systems of nations, and what it means to us today, as well what is prophesied for the imminent future.
First, then, who is the mysterious wild "beast" of Revelation 13 and 17? If you have his mark, you must suffer the seven last PLAQUES! Is he a mysterious superman world dictator yet to appear? ...Is he the Antichrist? ...or a government? ...or a church?
THE MOST important question of the hour is: What, or who, is the BEAST, the IMAGE of the beast, and the MARK of the beast spoken of in the Apocalypse or book of Revelation?
Whatever this weird beast -- whatever the baffling image -- whatever the mysterious mark -- it behooves you and me to find out!
For it is those of this very present generation who shall be worshiping this beast or his image, or shall have received his mark, that will suffer the unspeakable torture of the seven last plagues!
Ignorance will not excuse! "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," says the Eternal, in Hosea 4:6. And the illustration of Ezekiel's watchman shows that those who are unaware, because they are not warned, will suffer just the same (Ezek. 33:6; and 3:18). God expects the spiritual leader of His people to be His "watchman" (Ezek. 33:7) and to warn the people.
The time is at hand! The plagues of God's wrath will soon be poured
out, unmixed and undiluted -- full strength upon a heedless, God-defying
world, and a careless, lukewarm, indifferent Christianity!
Who Shall Suffer the PLAGUES?
Listen! John in the Apocalypse or book of Revelation describes the last warning message: "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture" (Rev. 14:9, 10). This prophecy is most significant because it is revealing, in advance, events immediately ahead of us at this present time.
John, carried forward in vision into the terrible "day of the Lord," sees these plagues beginning to fall! "And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven last plagues ... and the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image" (Rev. 15:6 and 16:2).
Every sign tells us these things will happen, plunging the world into the most frantic, frenzied state of anguish ever known, almost certainly within a matter of the next several years!
Those who suffer the wrath of Almighty God are described as those who worship the beast, or his image, or have his mark.
It is futile to try to imagine, as so many are doing, what the mark of the beast may be. These prophecies are real. They are imminent. Because these and other prophecies have never been understood until now, even churches, the theologians, evangelists have been ignoring prophecies in general and these imminent prophecies in particular. Too many are trying to speculate in their imaginations. But God says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8).
We can't work this out in our minds. We are face to face with a stern reality, not an imaginary fairy tale! There is only one way to learn the truth. That is to study carefully, cautiously, prayerfully, with an open mind yielded to and guided by the Holy Spirit, all the testimony of all the scriptures that bear on this question.
We cannot determine what the mark of the beast may be, until we have learned what, or who, the beast is!
For, of course, the mark is the beast's mark. Who, what then, is the beast?
The Bible DESCRIPTION of the BEAST
The beast, the image of the beast and the mark of the beast are all described primarily in the 13th chapter of Revelation.
Notice carefully this Bible description. The apostle John was being given this message for you and me of this day. In the vision he saw "a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."
"And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority" (Rev. 13:1-2).
Now most of those who are teaching and preaching to others on these subjects overlook entirely this description. For this description will IDENTIFY the beast.
If the beast is some mysterious superman, or antichrist, soon to appear as world dictator, he will be a peculiar-looking individual indeed, for he will have seven heads, and ten horns! Have you ever seen a man with seven heads, and ten horns growing out of one of his heads? And did you ever see a man who was like a leopard, and can you imagine a superman coming who will have the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion? And will he appear by coming up out of some ocean?
Now these, of course, are all symbols. The very word beast is a symbol.
And our problem is to interpret the symbols, for they stand for real, literal
things. But man cannot interpret biblical symbols. And when we know what
the heads and the horns are, what the feet of the bear, the mouth of the
lion, and likeness to a leopard all mean, then we can know what, or who,
the beast really is!
The Bible Interprets Its Own Symbols
The point we want to stress is that the Bible interprets its own symbols! If we want the truth, we must be guided solely by the Bible interpretation, not man's interpretations and imaginations.
And the Bible itself tells us what they represent!
In the 7th chapter of Daniel, we find exactly these same symbols described. Here again are the beasts, the seven heads, the ten horns, and here also is the lion, the bear, and the leopard. And here the Bible tells us what these symbols represent.
God had given Daniel understanding in dreams and visions (Dan. 1:17). And Daniel had a dream and a vision (Dan. 7:1) in which he saw four great beasts (verse 3). And notice, as in Revelation, the beasts came up out of the sea.
The first was like a "lion" (verse 4), the second was like a "bear" (verse 5), the third like a "leopard" (verse 6), and the fourth was so dreadful and terrible it could not be compared to any wild beast known to inhabit the earth (verse 7)!
Now there was only one head described on the lion, one for the bear, one for the fourth beast -- but the third beast, the leopard, had four heads -- thus making seven heads in all! And out of this great and dreadful fourth beast grew ten horns!
Now notice verse 16, latter part. Here comes the interpretation of the things! The question is, will we accept this Bible interpretation of the seven heads, the ten horns, the lion, the bear and the leopard?
"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth," is the interpretation of verse 17.
And the word king is synonymous with kingdom, and used only in the sense that the king represents the kingdom over which he rules, for in verse 23 we read, "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth." Notice also the word kingdom is used to explain the beasts in verses 18, 22, 24, and 27.
Now what do the "horns" represent? Notice verse 24: "And the ten horns
out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise." Notice the ten horns,
or ten succeeding kingdoms or governments, come OUT OF A KINGDOM, not out
of a man, or a superman. This alone makes plain that the beast is not some
mysterious personal superman yet to come. Also that the beast is not a
church as some claim, for no ten kingdoms ever did, or will, come out of
a church. And since "king" in these prophecies only stands for the kingdom
he represents, and since the words are used interchangeably, it follows
that these ten horns are ten succeeding kingdoms growing out of the fourth
kingdom, which was to rule the earth!
Identification of the Kingdoms
These same four world-ruling gentile kingdoms are described in the second chapter of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldean Empire, who had taken the Jews captive, had a dream, the meaning of which God revealed to Daniel.
The dream is described in verses 31-35. The king saw a great image. Its head was of gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron and its feet and toes were part iron and part clay. Finally, a stone, not in men's hands, but supernaturally, smote the image upon his feet and toes. It was broken in pieces and was blown away like chaff. Then the stone that smashed it became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
"This," Daniel says, beginning verse 36, "is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king."
" ... Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise" (verses 36-40).
The interpretation of the stone smashing the image at its toes is found in the 44th verse:
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." The Stone is Christ and His world-ruling kingdom. The interpretation of the stone is given many places in the Bible. "Jesus Christ of Nazareth ... is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner" (Acts 4:10-11).
And so we see that here are four universal world-ruling gentile kingdoms. They begin with the Chaldean Empire, which took the Jews captive to Babylon.
God had promised ancient Israel that if they would keep His commandments,
be His obedient nation, they would grow into a multitude of nations --
or an empire that would dominate the entire earth. But for disobedience
they would have to be taken captive by gentile nations (Lev. 26 and other
prophecies). Ancient Israel had been tried through the generations and
centuries. They had disobeyed. Now they had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar,
who had raised up the world's first empire. But as God revealed through
Daniel in chapter 2, it was God who had turned world dominion over to this
succession of gentile empires. They continue through four great universal
kingdoms and out of the fourth grows ten succeeding governments. These
carry to the time of the Second Coming of Christ, and the setting up of
the kingdom of God to fill the whole earth and last forever.
The Fourth Beast
Plainly, here in Daniel 2 are described the same four universal world-ruling gentile powers that are described by Daniel's four beasts. And this dream-image identifies who they are. The first was Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, the Chaldean Empire, called "Babylon" after the name of its capital city, 625-539 B.C.
The second kingdom, which followed, then, we know from history, was the Persian Empire, 558-330 B.C., often called Medo- Persia, composed of Medes and Persians.
All ancient-history students know the third world kingdom was Greece, or Macedonia under Alexander the Great, who conquered the great Persian Empire 333-330 B.C. But Alexander lived only a short year after his swift conquest, and his four generals divided his vast empire into four regions: Macedonia and Greece, Thrace and Western Asia, Syria and territory east to the Indus river, and Egypt. So these were the four heads of the third beast of Daniel 7.
And the FOURTH KINGDOM, which, developing from Rome, spread out and gradually absorbed one after another of these four divisions -- "dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly," was the ROMAN EMPIRE (31 B.C. to A.D. 476).
It had absorbed all the others, occupied all their territory, was greater and stronger than all. It included all the royal splendor of ancient Babylon, thus having the head -- the strongest part -- of the lion. It had all the massiveness and numerically powerful army of the Persian Empire -- symbolized by the legs, the most powerful part of the bear. It was the greatest war-making machine the world had ever seen, and it also possessed the swiftness, the cunning, the cruelty of Alexander's army, symbolized by the leopard.
And thus, this fourth beast was unlike any wild beast of the earth. It was stronger, greater, more terrible, than any.
And so John, in Revelation 13, sees, not four beasts, but one beast. Not a leopard, but like a leopard -- possessing all its cunning, cruelty and speed. But it also possessed the dominant characteristics of the two other most powerful beasts -- the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. Daniel's fourth beast, the Roman Empire, had absorbed and therefore it included the three beasts before it. Thus it included all seven heads. And John's beast also has seven heads. It was Daniel's fourth beast, only, which had ten horns and John's beast has ten horns.
And so, if we are willing to be guided solely by the Bible description of this "beast" and to let the Bible interpret the symbols used to describe it, we come to the inevitable conclusion that the beast of Revelation 13 is the Roman Empire, of 31 B.C. to A.D. 476! Of course, many man-imagined theories, widely taught and published, interpret this beast otherwise -- some as a church, some as a mysterious, individual, superman yet to come. But these theories will not stand the test of applying the Bible interpretation to all the symbols that describe this beast.
Nebuchadnezzar's image, by the two legs, describes the two divisions of the Roman Empire, after A.D. 330: West, with capital at Rome, and East, with capital at Constantinople.
John also pictures this beast, not as a church or as an individual man,
but as a powerful government having a great army. For they worshiped the
beast by saying, "Who is able to make war with him?" (Rev. 13:4).
The Symbolism of the Horns
Let us now notice the symbolism of the horns of the fourth beast of Daniel 7 and of the beast of Revelation 13.
The ten horns symbolize the same thing -- the ten stages of government continuing out of the Roman Empire after its fall, A.D. 476). The ten horns "out of this kingdom" (the fourth -- the Roman empire, 31 B.C. to A.D. 476) "are ten kings that shall arise ... and the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven" (not IN heaven) "shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High" (Dan. 7:24, 27).
The ten horns, then, are ten kingdoms to arise out of the fourth kingdom,
the Roman Empire. These kings, also called kingdoms, continue from A.D.
476 until the time when the Stone, Christ and His Kingdom, smashes the
image on its toes, and the kingdom is given to the saints. Therefore, since
in actual history there have never been ten contemporaneous kingdoms that
have continued out of the Roman Empire, side by side, down to the present
-- and since there have been nine successive kingdoms ruling that territory,
which we shall explain, from 476 to the present, therefore we know that
the kingdoms represented by the horns are successive, not contemporaneous.
The Deadly Wound
Now let us return to our description of the beast in Revelation 13.
"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
"And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months" (Rev. 13:3-5).
The beast here symbolized is the one which included the royal splendor and kingly power symbolized by the mouth of the lion (Babylon); the ponderous strength symbolized by the feet of the bear (Medo-Persia); and the speed, cunning and cruelty of the leopard (Greece). Since the interpretation of these symbols is found in Daniel 7, and since the fourth beast had ten horns, the Bible interpretation of the beast of Revelation 13 is the fourth beast of Daniel 7 -- the Roman Empire, of 31 B.C. to A.D. 476. The beast described by John in Revelation 13 included 7 heads, but the only head existing at the time John saw this nondescript beast (which included the most powerful characteristics of all the beasts symbolizing its predecessors) was that of the fourth beast of Daniel, containing the seventh head, and also the ten horns. So the specific "one of its heads" that was wounded to death (Rev. 13:3) was the seventh head of the Roman Empire -- the head out of which ten horns grew. The ten horns, as Daniel interprets, represent ten successive governments out of the Roman Empire, which were to continue until the setting up of the Kingdom of God at the Second Coming of Christ.
The deadly wound, then, was the one administered to the Roman Empire, when, in its last decaying stages, the barbarians overran it, ending its government in A.D. 476.
Notice, the dragon gave his power to the beast. Who is the dragon?
Some have said "pagan Rome." But will we be guided solely by the Bible interpretation of its own symbols? Then, if we will, the dragon is a symbol which means Satan, the devil. Notice Revelation 12. "The great dragon ... that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan ... was cast out into the earth ... the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath ... and when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth ... " (verses 9, 12-13). "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan ... " (Rev. 20:2).
They worshiped the beast (Rev. 13:4). Therefore some conclude, from this one statement alone, that the beast must be the papacy, not knowing that the people worshiped the Roman Empire and its emperors! Notice how they worshiped the beast -- saying, "Who is able to make war with him?" The Roman Empire was the greatest war-making power the world had ever known. This beast killed by the sword (v. 10).
History is full of accounts of the worship of the Roman emperors, for paganism was a state religion. The following is from Robinson's Medieval and Modern Times, an older college textbook, page 7:
"The worship of the emperor: In a word, the Roman government was not only wonderfully organized ... everyone was required to join in the worship of the emperor because he stood for the majesty and glory of the dominion ... all were obliged, as good citizens, to join in the official sacrifices to the head of the state, as a god."
But when the seventh head of this great beast received its deadly wound in A.D. 476, was that the end? No, the prophecy says "his deadly wound was healed ... and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months" (verses 3, 5). The ten horns represent ten successive kingdoms to follow out of this kingdom. So, through the ten horns growing out of this head (the Roman Empire of 31 B.C.-A.D. 476), the beast (for the ten horns are part of the beast) continues until the Second Coming of Christ.
The text says one of his heads was wounded to death. The beast included the seven heads and the ten horns. John sees the beast living in the days of its seventh head, the Roman Empire. And when that head of the beast was suffering from its deadly wound, his -- the beast's -- deadly wound was healed. The horns now reign, one by one.
The Roman empire in Northern Africa was overrun by the Vandals, who sacked Rome in 455. Then in 476 Odoacer set up his government at Rome, called the Heruli. But it did not heal the deadly wound, for this was a government in Rome. It was not a Roman government, but one of foreign barbarians.
Then there was the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, 493-554, another outside foreign people who ruled in the territory. But they were driven out of Italy and disappeared.
These three kingdoms, sweeping into the Roman territory, filled the period known in history as the "transition age" (see Myers' Ancient History, page 571). That is, a TRANSITION between the wound and the healing.
Now Daniel saw a "little horn" coming up among these ten, before whom
these first three were "plucked up by the roots" (Dan. 7:8). That leaves
7 horns to come. And of the little horn, Daniel 7 says "his look was more
stout than his fellows" (verse 20). The papacy dominated completely all
the horns to follow.
The Deadly Wound Healed
It was the fourth kingdom (symbolized by the fourth horn), succeeding the fall of the Empire in 476, which really HEALED the deadly wound, and restored the empire. In A.D. 554, Justinian, Emperor of the East, from Constantinople, set up his government through an Imperial Legate at Ravenna, Italy, and brought about what is known in history as the "Imperial Restoration" of the Empire.
Now, notice verse 5 of Revelation 13. Power was given to this beast, once healed, to "CONTINUE FORTY AND TWO MONTHS." In the prophecies pertaining to the times of Israel's punishment, each day represents a year in the actual fulfillment (Ezek. 4:4-6, Num. 14:34). Thus, the healed beast is to continue 1260 years.
Following the healing, in 554, came the Frankish kingdom (French), the Holy Roman Empire (German, then the Austrian Hapsburgs) and Napoleon's kingdom (French). But when Napoleon was crushed in 1814, the healed beast continued no longer. "So closed," says West's Modern History, page 337, "a government that dated from Augustus Caesar" (from 31 B.C.). It went into Abyss!
And from 554 to 1814, the duration of the "healed beast," was exactly 1260 years!
At that time, eight of the horns having appeared and gone, the beast
itself went into the non-existent condition symbolized in Revelation 17:8
as the "bottomless pit." But by the year 1870, Garibaldi had united the
many little divisions in the peninsula of Italy into one nation, and the
kingdom thus established began the ninth horn, which culminated in the
Fascist rule of Mussolini.
The "Heads" the Woman Rode
We shall deal later more specifically with the 17th chapter of Revelation in this connection. But let us note in passing that the woman mentioned in this chapter never rode on any part of this beast of Revelation 13 except its last seven horns! She is the "little horn" of Daniel 7, whose "look was more stout than his fellows," and who caused the first three to be plucked up by the roots. And since, in the 17th chapter of Revelation, the woman rode on all seven of the heads of the beast there pictured, and since she rode none of the heads but only the last seven of the horns of the 13th chapter beast, it follows that the seven horns of the "healed beast" of the 13th chapter form the seven heads of the beast of the 17th chapter!
Notice, at the time John saw the beast, five are fallen, one is, and one is yet to come (Rev. 17:10). The five that are fallen are the five during the 1260 years in which power was given, by religious authority, for the healed beast to continue. The one that "is," is the kingdom that extended from Garibaldi to the downfall of Mussolini. It was not in any sense the power-wielding old Roman Empire, so during the stage of this 9th horn (Rev. 13) or 6th head (Rev. 17) John speaks of it as the beast that was, and is not, and shall arise once more out of the bottomless pit.
The 7th head with its 10 horns, in the 17th chapter, will be, as the 17th chapter explains, the revival of the beast, the Roman Empire, "out of the bottomless pit" by a "United States of Europe," or federation of 10 European nations centered within the bounds of the old Roman Empire (Rev. 17:12-18). This is actually beginning today!
The entire beast of Revelation 17 -- the revivals of the Roman Empire
-- is a part "of the seven" heads of Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 because
it comprises the last seven horns. Yet this revived Roman Empire is "the
eighth" system, differing from the seven before it (Rev. 17:11).
The Number of the "Beast" -- 666 -- Whose Number Is It?
Where shall we find that mysterious number 666? Does the pope, as some claim, wear it on his crown, identifying him as the beast of Revelation 13? Or must we look for it elsewhere?
Here are all the scriptures speaking directly of this number:
"And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six" (Rev. 13:17-18).
"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that
had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his
mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having
the harps of God" (Rev. 15:2).
Note These Points
From these scriptures, we have the following definite points:
1. The beast has a number and may be identified, if we have wisdom, by this number.
2. The number is 666.
3. We are told to count this number -- that is, add it up. The same Greek word is used elsewhere only in Luke 14:28: "count the cost."
4. This number, 666, is the number of the beast. The only Bible interpretation of this symbol, "beast," is a kingdom or the king who rules it and, therefore, really is the kingdom (Dan. 7:17-18, 22-24, 27). Therefore 666 must be the number of the KINGDOM, or GOVERNMENT, or EMPIRE, as well as that of the king who founds or rules it.
5. The expression "the name of the beast, or the number of his name" makes plain that the number 666 is the number of the name of the kingdom or empire.
6. The expression "it is the number of a man" shows we must also count
this number in the name of the king, or ruler, over the kingdom identified
as the "beast."
The Beast Is Not the Woman
In the 17th chapter of Revelation we find a beast, and a woman -- a great, wealthy but fallen woman who was riding the beast. The Bible describes the symbol "woman" to mean a church (see II Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7; Eph. 5:22-27). On the other hand, "beast" is a symbol of a kingdom, or empire.
Let us be consistent. The beast of Revelation 13 is not the woman who rode the beast -- the beast is the government, and the woman is a church.
The beast of Revelation 13 is the Roman Empire!
This beast had a deadly wound (Rev. 13:3). That means the beast ceased altogether to exist or function as it had since 31 B.C. Yet its deadly wound was later healed, after which (verse 5) it continued to exist another 1260 years!
Those who believe a church is the beast say this deadly wound came in
1798. But the church did not cease to function in that year. Napoleon's
abuse of the Pope in 1798 could in no sense be called a wound to death.
And those who teach this do not expect that church to continue on another
The Founder of Rome
The founder and first king of Rome was Romulus. The Roman Empire was named after him. His name, the name of a man, also is the name of the kingdom. And every citizen in the kingdom bears the same name -- a Roman.
When John wrote this Revelation, telling us to count the number of the beast, he wrote in the Greek language. Consequently, we should look for this name, and the number 666, in this language recognized in the Bible, not in the Latin.
We are all familiar with the Roman numerals, where letters are used for numbers. All understand that I is 1, V is 5, X is 10, etc. But many do not know that the Greek language, in which the book of Revelation was written, also uses letters for numbers.
In the Greek, the language in which Revelation was written, this name was understood in the second century A.D. to have originally been spelled Lateinos. It signifies "Latin man" or "the name of Latium," from which region the Romans derived their origin and their language. This word, too, signifies "Roman." In the Greek, L is 30, A is 1, T is 300, E is 5, I is 10, N is 50, O is 70, S is 200. Count these figures. They count to exactly 666!
It is indeed no coincidence that the name of the kingdom, its founder and first king, and of each man in the kingdom, counts to exactly 666!
Certainly the beast stands identified!
And Mussolini, Too
But the same numbers also branded in Latin on the man who dominated the puny sixth head of the symbolic beast.
Mussolini called himself "Il Duce." Italians shouted "Viva Il Duce!" which means "long live the chief." Everywhere in Italy was the printed sign, "vv il duce." The "VV" is the abbreviation used for "Viva." A "V" is used instead of the "U" as is very commonly done. While this is a greeting, or title, Mussolini actually employed "Il Duce" as a name. It is in Latin. Count it.
V is 5, V is 5, I is 1, L is 50, D is 500, V is 5, C is 100, E has no number. Now count them, and you have exactly 666!
Thus this number 666 is indelibly branded upon the Roman Empire!
But, some will ask, does not this number apply to the Pope? Some teach "the words 'Vicarius Filii Dei' are on the Pope's triple crown." The Pope does, on some occasions, wear a triple crown, but these words are not on it! We should be careful to prove all things.
Furthermore, these words are in the Latin, not a Bible language. This is not a name, but a title, and it is the name of the beast, and the number of the name of the man of the beast we are told to count. Further, this Latin title does not apply to a kingdom, or empire, but alone to a man.
And so the number 666 is branded on the Roman Empire, on the founder and first king of the Latins, on every Roman, and even on Mussolini.
Could anything be more conclusive?
The "Two-horned Beast"
Satan has his civil government on earth. He gave it "his power, and his seat, and great authority."
He also has organized religion as his instrumentality in deceiving the world. In II Corinthians 11:14, we find Satan is transformed into an "angel of light." According to Revelation 12:9 and 20:3, he has deceived the whole world. How?
Paul tells us in II Corinthians 11:13-15. Satan has his ministers who pretend to be the ministers of righteousness, but are actually false apostles, deceitful workers, calling themselves the ministers of Christ! Therefore they claim to be Christian ministers. They are the many, not the few, because all prophecies say it is the many, not the few, who have been deceived. Satan's main labor for six thousand years has been the deceiving of the world.
Now turn to the 13th chapter of Revelation, beginning with verse 11:
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon."
Who -- what -- is this "beast"?
Some say it will be the United States aligned with the papacy. Some believe it is a federation of Protestant churches. Most church organizations ignore this very vital subject completely, or say frankly, "we do not know!"
Why this ignorance, when the answer is so plain? Yes, why indeed?
The Bible Interpretation
Remember, first, the Bible interprets its own symbols! When men put their own interpretation on Bible symbols, their conclusions are always false!
Notice, after John saw one beast, which we have proved to be the Roman Empire, he now sees ANOTHER -- a different -- beast rise up. We have learned that "beast" is a symbol for a kingdom, or civil government (Dan. 7:17, 23), and the term represents either the kingdom or its leader, as the case may be (Dan. 7:17, 23).
So this other beast with the two horns is the prophecy of another kingdom or government. In these prophecies, God pictures to us the earthly gentile governments as the wild beasts whose characteristics describe them. This two-horned beast appeared as a lamb. But actually it spoke as a dragon -- its true characteristic -- for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34).
What does the word "lamb" symbolize, in the Bible? The answer is, Christ (John 1:29; Rev. 17:14). And "dragon" is a symbol of the devil (Rev. 12:9, 20:2).
So here is some kingdom or government appearing as that of Christ, or the Kingdom of God.
Christ did not set up a government (kingdom) at His first appearing on earth. After His resurrection the disciples asked Him if He would at that time restore the kingdom (Acts 1:6); but He did not. The Church is not the Kingdom. Because some thought it was, Jesus spoke the parable of Luke 19:11-27 to show that He first must ascend to His Father's throne in heaven to receive the royal power to become King of kings, to set up the world-ruling Kingdom of God. But Satan is a deceiver, and he has deceived the world into supposing his (Satan's) system of churches is the Kingdom of God.
Now notice carefully Revelation 13:12:
"And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him."
The first beast is the Roman Empire. Here is another government pretending to be Christ's government, the Kingdom of God, taking, exercising, using, employing, all the power of the first kingdom.
Now when? "He exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed" (verse 12). So, it was after the deadly wound (of A.D. 476) was healed. It was healed when Justinian brought about the restoration of the Empire in the West in A.D. 554. Consequently this religious government exercised power after A.D. 554 when the Roman Empire was restored.
So here we have pictured a government -- a religious government -- appearing as Christ's government, masquerading as the Kingdom of God, actually ruling the civil Roman Empire after A.D. 554.
The teaching in that day was that the Second Coming of Christ is fulfilled in the person of the leaders of the church. The millennium had begun.
For the entire 1260 years, the emperors acknowledged the supreme power of religion. The church was organized as a governments a dual, two-fold government (symbolized by its two horns or kingdoms -- for "horns" symbolize kingdoms also -- see Dan. 7:24). It embodied church government, and it also was a state or civil government, always occupying a certain amount of territory over which it, alone, ruled as an independent sovereign State in addition to actually ruling over the vast civil kingdom called the Holy Roman Empire. Even today, it is a separate, independent, sovereign state.
Notice, this second beast was to wield power over all the earth, because it was to cause the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worship this first beast "whose deadly wound was healed" after 554.
In most any encyclopedia, under "Millennium," you will read the history of this very event -- of how the "Holy Roman Empire" was called the "Kingdom of God upon earth." They claimed the Millennium had arrived!
Notice Revelation 13:14: "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast." Verse 13 says "he doeth great wonders."
So notice these three points:
(1) This beast performs miracles.
(2) He performed them "in the sight of" the Holy Roman Empire, or the first beast.
(3) With them he deceived all nations.
All Nations Deceived
Where else, in the Bible prophecies, do we find these same identical facts?
First, note Revelation 17. Here is pictured a woman. In II Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:22-27 and elsewhere, we learn that "woman" is a symbol for church. This woman is a fallen woman -- an apostate church -- pictured as ruling over many nations (Rev. 17:1, 15).
In verse 3, this false church is pictured sitting on a beast "having seven heads and ten horns." A woman riding a horse guides, controls, the horse. It does her bidding.
Notice, verse 18, she is "that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." Notice, verse 2, the inhabitants of the earth have been deceived by this counterfeit Christianity. Also, Revelation 18:3, she has deceived all nations.
Next, notice II Thessalonians 2:3-4. The day of Christ -- and the coming of Christ -- shall not come, until there be a falling away, and a "man of sin" be revealed. He exalts himself above all that is called God. As God, he sits in a temple claimed to be the temple of God, showing himself to deceive people into accepting him as God. God is our holy Father. This final man, in a religious office, will claim the same title. This wicked man is to be destroyed at, and by, Christ's coming (verse 8). Notice verses 9-10: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs [miracles] and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness."
Here is an important religious figure prophesied to perform miracles
and lying wonders, with which he deceives people everywhere.
This deceiving religious ruler will still be active clear down to Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ! In Revelation 16:13-16 are described three foul spirits. They come from the dragon which is the devil; from the beast, which is the civil Roman ruler; and from the mouth of the false prophet associated with him. "For," continues verse 14, "they are the spirits of devils [demons], WORKING MIRACLES, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." And they are gathered, finally, at Armageddon! Note it! Yet future, the Roman ruler, as the Roman Empire, is again restored, along with a great religious leader -- and all in the power and influence of the devil! Working miracles! All prophecies concerning them show these powers doing the same things!
Now notice the last battle of "the great day of God Almighty." In Revelation 19:19-20 is pictured the beast -- "and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image."
Note it! Compare with the two-horned beast of Revelation 13:11-17:
(1) Both perform miracles.
(2) Both perform them before, or in the sight of, the beast.
(3) With them, both the false prophet and two-horned beast deceive them that have the mark of the beast -- cause them to receive that mark (Rev. 13:16).
Certainly, then, this two-horned beast, the false prophet, the man of sin and the woman that rode the beast are all picturing a counterfeit Christianity.
Did the two-horned beast deceive the very ones who have the mark of the beast? He did! Continue in Revelation 13:
"And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth" -- how? " ... saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell [trade, earn a living, hold a job], save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (verses 14-17).
So, notice: This two-horned beast not only caused people to receive the mark of the beast (compare Rev. 19:20), but also perpetrated the forming of an image that caused the martyrdom of saints. As many as would not worship this image were caused to be killed. This false church did not kill them -- she caused them to be killed. History shows that the civil government martyred millions who were declared "anathema from Christ" or "heretics."
Compare with the woman who rode the Beast in Revelation 17: "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (verse 6).
Certainly these are one and the same.
Now this ecclesiastical organization, which is a twofold government, deceived the people by saying they should make an image of the beast. Note it (Rev. 13:14) -- that is how it deceived people. What is an image? Dictionaries define it as a "likeness," or a "copy, representation, model, semblance, counterpart." So here is a church saying, "Let us make a model, or counterpart, of the civil Roman government" -- for that is what the beast is.
Jesus Christ proclaimed the Kingdom, or government of God -- divine government by will of God and by God's law -- not paganized human government by will of man and man-made laws. His Church includes all Spirit-begotten saints who have and are led by the Holy Spirit. Christ is its only Head, and His Kingdom is not of this world!
Where, then, did human church government derive its present form? "The first pope, in the real sense of the word, was Leo I (440-461 AID.)," says the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, volume 7, page 629. To him the form of government of the Roman Empire was the most marvelous thing on earth. He applied its principles to the church, organized the church into a government, forming the papacy.
This church government or organization is the image of the beast.
Says Myers' Ancient History: "During the reign of Leo I, the Church set up, within the Roman Empire, an ecclesiastical state [government] which, in its constitution and its administrative system, was shaping itself upon the imperial model." This church government, then, according to this historical authority, is in fact a model, a counterpart, an image of the beast which is the Roman Empire government.
The Britannica calls it an ecclesiastical world empire!
This image -- man-designed and man-ruled church government -- compelled people to worship the church! And since the church was organized into a worldly government, this was worship of the image -- false worship -- idolatry!
But this church became a mother, and daughter churches came out of her in "protest," calling themselves "Protestant." And all have worldly, political church government. "Upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS (Rev. 17:5). Her daughters are called "harlots." Together they are called "BABYLON." They are pagan, teaching pagan doctrines and customs, cloaked in the name of Christianity! And all nations are deceived!
Yes, human-organized churchianity, not Bible-designed spiritual-organism government, is the image of the beast. It is the pagan political counterfeit of God's government.
"Come out of her," God says (Rev. 18:4). God help us to heed!