This section begins an important
“parting of the ways” between the various theories, for it begins to involve the Roman Catholic Church. We need to carefully draw our symbols:
The Sea: clearly
“peoples, multitudes, nations and languages”
(Rev 17:15 NIV) Then the angel said to me, "The waters
you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples,
multitudes, nations and languages.
We miss a point here if we hold this
beast to one location; in some sense,
it is from all people.
The Ten Horns: By Daniel 7:24,
we know that horns are kings. Since
there are ten of them, we may identify them
with the ten toes of Daniel’s statue.
This corresponds nicely to the identification
which is made in Revelation 17 -- the beast is Rome. Rome was divided into two parts (Eastern empire, centered at Constantinople; Western, at Rome) and then later into ten kingdoms (a fact which escapes futurists, who often
claim that this never happened).
Futurists hold that these ten horns
are yet to be fulfilled. Revelation 17
tells us these ten are “yet to receive
power” (at least, from John’s point of
In the 1970’s, Lindsey and Smith both
saw these ten horns as the Common Market (which had nine nations at the time, but one more -- Greece -- was
expected to join). It now has more than
ten, but this identification persists.
The ten crowns are symbols (as
usual) of kings or kingdoms.
The Seven Heads: (recall that
these are parallel to the seven heads on the dragon) are told to us in Revelation 17 as being seven kings. Recalling the first half of Daniel 8, we
know that this could be individual kings,
or it could be monarchies (remember all those passages with “King of the South” and “King of the North”?) This has been variously interpreted:
• Preterists, and some historicists, hold
these to be a particular set of seven Roman emperors.
• Most historicists hold these to be the seven
forms of government of Rome (kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors and finally the Dukes
of Ravenna, etc....) This matches well with Revelation 17:10, in which five (the
first five) were, one now is, and another is to come.
also hold (for reasons beyond me) that these are seven great nations of
antiquity: Rome, Greece, Medo-Persia, Chaldea, Egypt and
Assyria. This view, for the futurist,
makes for a very nice Middle East war.
Revelation 17 also tells us that
these seven heads are seven hills. This
is a clear sign; all of antiquity would have recognized the city on seven
hills: ROME. But which Rome? (or perhaps,
• Pagan Rome (preterist, and some poetic)
• Papal Rome (historicist)
• Revived Rome (futurist)
The Blasphemous Name likewise
has three meanings:
• Pagan emperors, “Caesar is Lord”
• The Pope, who (for example) claimed
exclusive right to forgive sin.
• The Antichrist to come.
The Order of the Beasts is
interesting. Daniel, looking forward,
saw the lion (Babylonia), bear (Medo-Persia),
leopard (Greece) and the indescribable “beast” -- Rome. John, looking backward, sees the beast, carrying with it the characteristics of the
others -- in exactly the reverse
order. Poetically, it implies that Rome
has all the fierceness of its predecessors.