Identifying the Sea Beast
In the previous chapter, it was stated that the sea beast was the Roman Catholic Church. However, scant evidence was offered to convincingly prove this assertion. The purpose of this chapter (and the next), is to provide the evidence that the sea beast is indeed the Roman Catholic Church. [Further proof is available in the ‘Historical Prologue’ section on this website. In the ‘Historical Prologue’ section the main issue is ‘The Battle for Religious and Political Liberty’ which features the Catholic Church and the historical beginnings of the Catholic Church]. This chapter will deal with the facts and features, listed in the previous chapter. Since the woman riding the beast in Revelation 17, is a repeat and enlargement of the sea beast, some of the 16 facts and features will be dealt with when Revelation 17 is interpreted. In addition, the sea beast is a repeat and enlargement of the little horn portrayed so prominently in the Book of Daniel.
The Sea Beast rises out of the Sea
If we refer back to the types, upon which the sea beast is the antitype, we will notice that all three beasts rise from the sea (see Dan. 7:3). Therefore, it should not be surprising that the antitypical beast also rises from the sea. In addition to the commonality of ‘sea’ origins for these beasts, we find that the sea beast from the sea, also serves as a type. The antitype for the sea beast is the beast in Revelation chapter 17 – it is the same beast, but the principle of repeat and enlarge is in operation here and the prophecy is simply adding more information about the beast – but it is still the same beast. This why the commonality continues, the woman riding the beast, is not just of the sea, she is sitting on the sea – which means she has conquered the ‘sea’ or subdued its turbulence. Therefore, since this ‘sea’ common thread runs through all these beasts, we should be searching for the meaning of ‘sea’ and we find the biblical interpretation of ‘sea’ in the same chapter as the woman riding the beast:
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. Rev. 17:15.
Because ‘waters’ represent the whole gambit of humanity, the reference to the ‘sea’ as the origins of these beasts, must mean that all these beasts rose in areas of the world, that were heavily populated. This feature pertains to the Roman Catholic Church. It rose within the remnants of the Roman Empire. One of the reasons why the Roman Empire crumbled was because everyone wanted to live there. It was an area that could sustain large populations. This is why the so-called barbarian tribes, for hundreds of years, were invading the ‘promised land’ because of its wealth and riches. Therefore, did the Roman Catholic Church rise out of heavily populated ‘seas?’ Yes, it did.
The Sea Beast is a Composite Beast
As already mentioned in the previous chapter, the sea beast is a composite beast made up of the empires that preceded it – Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. However, the portrayal of these empires, in the sea beast, is not limited to a literal resemblance. The sea beast is a composite of all the main features of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. It means that, the ‘spirits’ (philosophy, culture, religion, agendas etc.), are replicated, reproduced and promoted in the sea beast. This means that the sea beast pursues the same goals and agendas of the previous beasts. And this is why this sea beast, at the time of its judgment, is called Babylon (see Rev. 17:5). It is called Babylon, because it is Babylon. It is Babylon, that has come down to us, through the Medo-Persian Empire, through the Greek Empire, through the Roman Empire and finally in its last manifestation as the Catholic Church.
The Sea Beast and the Little Horn
If we recognize the workings of Biblical principles of interpretation, such as repeat and enlarge and type and antitype, we should be able to find a type for the sea beast in the Old Testament. It becomes self-evident when we employ these principles that the sea beast of Revelation and the little horn of Daniel are the same power. The little horn is the type and the sea beast is the antitype. Which means that the little horn is also a representation of the Catholic Church:
|Origin: the sea via Babylon. Dan. 7:3.||Origin: the sea via Babylon. Rev. 13:1.|
|Origin: the sea via Medo-Persia. Dan. 7:3.||Origin: the sea via Medo-Persia. Rev. 13:1.|
|Origin: the sea via Greece. Dan. 7:3.||Origin: the sea via Greece. Rev. 13:1.|
|Origin: the sea via Rome, 10 horns. 7:3.||Origin: given Roman seat, 10 horns. Rev.13:2.|
|A mouth speaking great things. Dan. 7:8.||A mouth speaking great things. Rev. 13:5.|
|Makes war with the saints. Dan. 7:21.||Makes war with the saints. Rev. 13:7.|
|Destroys the holy people. Dan. 8:24.||Overcomes the saints. Rev. 13:7.|
|Supremacy for 1260 years. 7:25.||Supremacy for 1260 years. Rev. 13:5.|
|Horns are 10 kings that will arise. 7:24.||Horns are 10 kings that shall arise. Rev. 17:12.|
|Not by his own power. Dan. 8:24.||Not by his own power. Rev. 13:2.|
|Magnify himself to Prince of hosts. Dan. 8:11.||Blasphemes God and heaven. Rev. 13:6.|
|Given to the burning flame. Dan. 7:11.||Cast into lake of fire. Rev. 19:20.|
There are differences in the prophecies between the type and the antitype, but they are explicable for two reasons. Firstly, the principle of repeat and enlarge always adds additional information to the description of the antitype. Secondly, the prophecy about the type, contains a lot of details that are fulfilled with the appearance of the type historically. Many of these details are specific to the fulfilment of the type, and are not relevant to the appearance of the antitype which appears in the future.
When we understand that the little horn and the sea beast are the same power, we will understand more fully that the prophecies are painting us a picture. And just as a painted picture is made up of many strokes of the brush, and applied on the canvass layer upon layer – obscure to begin with, but with each stroke and each layer building towards the final revelation. So it is, with Bible prophecy: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10). When we gather all the information, our ‘picture’ will come into sharp focus.
Confirmation from Daniel
In Daniel’s Book, chapter 2, is the ABC of prophecy. The image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, and the interpretation of the dream by Daniel, is the foundation of all the prophecies that come after it. All the prophecies from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream onward, are repeating and enlarging on the dream and Daniel’s interpretation of it. This is very helpful for students of Bible prophecy. It is extremely helpful because Daniel chapter 2, now acts as a ‘spell checker.’ Daniel 2, ‘spell checks’ all interpretations of all the prophecies that come after it. In other words, as people ‘spell out’ their understanding of the prophecies, if their ‘spelling’ disagrees with Daniel, then it is a false interpretation. Conversely, if their ‘spelling’ agrees with Daniel then in all probability, it is a correct interpretation. This is one of the reasons why Peter wrote, “We have also a more word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed” (2 Pet. 1:19).
Compared to other Bible prophecies, Daniel chapter 2 is relatively easy to understand. Starting with Babylon, there are three more empires, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, symbolized by gold, silver, bronze and iron. However, there is one last enigmatic empire symbolized by the iron being mingled with miry clay. There are no more empires after the ‘iron and clay’ because the Stone (representing Christ and His second coming), strikes the image on its feet and crushes the entire statue to dust.
[Note: The Bible prophecies are only concerned with those political/religious powers (or empires) that impact God’s people. This is why other empires are not included, such as the Spanish Empire, British Empire, etc.].
For our purposes, the lessons we can learn from Daniel 2 are vital. The lessons we learn will demonstrate that the ‘spelling out’ of the sea beast is correct. Firstly, the stone strikes the feet of the image then rolls over the whole image and destroys it all (see Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45). Because the stone, reduces all the clay the iron, the bronze, the silver and the gold, to dust. This means that, there must be some kind of existence of the gold, silver, bronze and iron, in the world, all the way from Babylon down to the empire of iron and clay. In other words, the ‘spirits’ of these empires has been passed down through the centuries and exist together in a ‘composite’ form in the empire of iron and clay (see Dan. 7:12). The iron and clay empire and the sea beast are both composites of the preceding empires. Does this mean that they are the same thing? Yes, the empire of iron and clay is the type and the sea beast is the antitype.
Identifying the Empire of Iron and Clay
There is more in the image, that connects to the Roman Catholic Church and the sea beast. There is no disputing, that the iron in the image represents the Roman Empire. But what does the miry clay represent? If we allow the Bible to interpret itself, there is also no disputing what the miry clay represents. The prophet Jeramiah was instructed to go down to the potter’s house and observe him at his work. The potter’s staple substance, that they work with, is miry clay. After Jeremiah observes the potter, God spoke to him and said:
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. Jer. 18:6.
In Jeremiah’s time God was about to deliver His people into the hands of the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar. This must, at first, seemed confusing to Jeremiah. Therefore, God tells Jerimiah, that His people are like the potter’s clay (miry clay), to be molded and formed according to his will. God taught Isaiah the same thing, because Isaiah wrote:
But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Isa. 64:8.
Isaiah understood that “we are the clay” and Jeremiah was taught the same thing by God. Therefore, we can be sure, that clay represents the people of God. But what does it mean, to have a kingdom made up of iron and miry clay?
And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. Dan. 2:41, 42.
Two things are definite. The iron represents Rome and the clay represents God’s people. This means that the empire, that was formerly Rome, metamorphoses into something else. The iron of Rome appends to itself the people of God, and changes into a new empire, a blend of church and state, a blend of the sword with the spirit. This means that God’s people have been captivated, by the promise of power, wealth and glory (the very thing that Satan promised Jesus see Lu. 4:5-7). This is contrary to the will of God – Jesus said: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21; cf. 6:24). This is why Jesus also says “Come out of her my people” (Rev. 18:4). Jesus says, “come out of her my people” because even to this day, a large portion of His people are still held captive in the empire of iron and clay. The woman riding the beast represents the union of church and state because she is committing fornication with the kings of the earth (see Rev. 17:2). The Bible is simply telling the same story in different ways. The empire of iron and clay and the empire of woman and beast are the same – they are the same composite power.
Therefore, is the Catholic Church a composite power? Yes, it is. The iron and clay is a composite power, the sea beast is a composite power, and the woman riding the beast is a composite power. All these powers, from the little horn onwards, represent the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church is a composite power. Many historians have clearly seen that the Roman Empire has continued on in a metamorphosed form as the Roman Catholic Church:
Whatever Roman elements the barbarians and Arians left … [came] under the protection of the Bishop of Rome, who was the chief person there after the Emperor’s disappearance… The Roman Church in this way privily pushed itself into the place of the Roman World-Empire, of which it is the actual continuation… the empire has not perished, but has only undergone a transformation. That is no mere ‘clever remark,’ but the recognition of the true state of the matter historically, and the most appropriate and fruitful way of describing the character of this Church. It still governs the nations… It is a political creation, and as imposing as a World-Empire, because it is the continuation of the Roman Empire. The Pope, who calls himself ‘King’ and ‘Pontifex Maximus,’ is Caesar’s successor. Adolf Harnack, What Is Christianity? (2d ed., New York: Putnam, 1901), pp. 269, 270.
If a man considers the origin of this great, ecclesiastical dominion he will easily perceive that the papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire sitting crowned upon the grave thereof. Thomas Hobbs, Leviathan, p. 457.
The Roman Catholic Church is the exact and accurate fulfilment of the prophecy concerning the empire of iron and clay, and the sea beast is a repeat and enlargement of the empire of iron and clay, and the woman riding the beast is its final manifestation. The practical earthly manifestation since its inception, is a union of church and state:
The mingling of churchcraft and statecraft is represented by the iron and the clay. Ellen G. White, SDABC Vol. 4, p. 1168. (MS 63, 1899).
[Note: More evidence that the Roman Catholic Church is a composite power will be presented when chapter 17 is discussed].
[Note: The issue of iron and clay as related to Dan. 2:41-43, is dealt with in Appendix 7].
The more sure word of prophecy has been given to us to understand the world we live in and to understand what will happen in the future. It has been given to us to confirm and increase our faith. It confirms and increases our faith, as we witness the prophetic picture being painted before our eyes. The prophetic picture has been given to us in symbols, that require spiritual interpretation. If we follow the Bible given rules of interpretation, we cannot fail to arrive at the correct interpretations. Sometimes these interpretations are difficult to accept, because they seem harsh and abrasive. This is why we must always remember that we are at war. This war has been ongoing since the drama in the Garden of Eden. This war is intensive, it is personal and cruel. If we choose to ignore this war, we will be personally harmed by it in this world, and permanently excluded from the next one.