The Bible tells the same stories in different ways. This principle is very evident in the description of the woman riding the beast, and in the explanation given by the angel, about the ‘mystery’ of the woman and the beast. The beast is a composite of ‘stories’ told elsewhere in the Bible. Therefore, in order to understand the ‘story’ being told in Rev. 13, and by extension, Rev. 17 & 18, one first needs to understand the ‘stories’ being told about the parts that make up the composite beast. The composite beast is not just made up of a lion, a leopard and a bear. It also has, heads and horns, and mountains and kings and a woman riding it, and the woman has daughters, etc. etc. All of these individual parts need to be understood, in order to understand the story about the whole – which is called Babylon the Great.
What are the Seven Heads?
After John marvels at the sight of the woman sitting on the water and sitting on the beast. The angel comes to him and says:
Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns… And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. Rev. 17:7, 9.
The angel informs John that he has come to unravel the mystery of the woman and the beast. Part of that mystery is understanding that the seven heads represent seven mountains, and that the woman ‘sits’ on these mountains. Therefore, the first thing of consequence, we can discern from this information, is that the woman ‘sits’ everywhere. She sits on the waters, she sits on the beast and she sits on the mountains. In other words, she rules everything and everywhere. The question is, what are the mountains, upon which she sits and rules over? Answer: in Scripture, the word mountain is often used to symbolize, a political or religio-political power (see Isa. 2:2,3; Jer. 17:3, 31:23; 51:24,25; Eze. 17:22, 23; Rev. 8:8). Therefore, the heads on the beast represent political or religio-political powers upon which the woman ‘sat/sits’ upon. The next question therefore is, what are these seven specific powers/heads?
Who are the Seven Heads?
We already know what some of the other component parts of the beast are. We know that the lion, leopard, and a bear, are referring us to Dan. 7, where these beasts are depicted coming out of the sea, just as the composite beast is depicted coming out of the sea, in Rev. 13. We already know, that the method of deciphering Revelation requires the principles of type and antitype and repeat and enlarge, therefore we need to refer to the Old Testament for the keys to unlock this puzzle. Therefore, we have to begin with where we find, the individual component parts of the beast – we have to begin with the prophecies in the Book of Daniel.
In Daniel chapter 7, we are introduced to the lion, the bear and the leopard with the addition of a beast with ten horns, all coming out of the sea. This succession of beasts is a repeat and enlargement of the figure in Daniel chapter 2. We know that these visions are prophetic pictures of a succession of empires from the time of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel to the end of time. These prophecies are about the empires that have a direct impact on the Kingdom of God.
The first prophecy begins, with a figure introducing the first five empires. The empires start with Babylon, because Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, “You are the head of gold” (Dan. 2:38). The second is Medo-Persia, followed by Greece, Rome, and the Roman Catholic Church (the empire of iron mingled with clay).
In the second telling of the same story, these empires are repeated and enlarged in chapter 7, but this time they are depicted as beasts rising from the sea. The same progression of empires is repeated and enlarged in chapters 8, 11 & 12. The same story is repeated and enlarged yet again in the Book of Revelation. But in Revelation the first five empires depicted in Daniel are all combined together in one composite beast. This is partially why John is so amazed about what he sees. He sees the combined power of satanic influence going all the way back to the tower of Babel in one ginormous world-wide conglomeration. With the sole purpose of making war against the Lamb, and His people. Therefore, the first five heads are identifiable from the prophecies of Daniel. The first five heads are; Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Pagan Rome and Papal Rome. But who are the sixth and seventh heads? For the identity of the sixth and seventh heads we need to turn to the Book of Revelation because, the Book of Revelation repeats and enlarges the prophecies of Daniel and completes the story.
The Sixth Head
One of the features of the rise and fall of these empires, is that each empire rises after the demise of the former. In large measure, the next empire is directly responsible for the demise of the former. This pattern is consistent with the demise of the fifth head and the rise of the sixth head. In chapter 11 of Revelation we are introduced to a power that causes a tenth part of the city of Babylon to fall. This is another way of telling the same story as told in Revelation, that the sea beast/Roman Catholic Church receives a “deadly wound” (Rev. 13:3). In other words, the power that rises in chapter 11, puts the Roman Catholic Church out of action, until the wound could be healed. The power that rose to inflict such a wound on the beast with ten horns, was revolutionary France.
The nation of France, bears the title of ‘first daughter of the church’ – bestowed upon it, because France was the nation responsible for launching the Vatican and its popes, on its trajectory of world-wide supremacy. It is the same nation of France that turns on the Vatican and gives it, the deadly wound during the French Revolution in 1798. The papal seat of power was abolished and the pope was taken captive into France. Inspiration has told us that this was the manifestation of a new satanic power, rising from the bottomless pit, announcing its arrival on the world stage:
The period when the two witnesses were to prophesy clothed in sackcloth, ended in 1798. As they were approaching the termination of their work in obscurity, war was to be made upon them by the power represented as “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.” In many of the nations of Europe the powers that ruled in church and state had for centuries been controlled by Satan through the medium of the papacy. But here is brought to view a new manifestation of satanic power. GC 268.
Notice the language used to describe this new satanic power, it is a beast ascending from the bottomless pit – it is a new beast in the service of Satan. The new beast ‘kills’ the previous beast. This heralds the arrival of revolutionary atheism, which makes war upon the Bible and God’s people.
Even though the French Revolution was eventually defeated, what it gave birth to was not defeated. The French Revolution was the beginning of revolutionary atheism or what is commonly now known as communism. The Kingdom of God is not a faith limited by boundaries. It is not dependent on nations or institutions. Communism is of the same nature – it is an ideology. It can implant itself in nations and take them over, but it is not dependent on nations to survive. It is an empire of the mind, in the same way that God’s Kingdom is an empire of the heart. It is these two ‘kingdoms’ that have been at war with each other ever since this new satanic power manifested itself in France:
It had been Rome’s policy, under a profession of reverence for the Bible, to keep it locked up in an unknown tongue and hidden away from the people. Under her rule the witnesses prophesied “clothed in sackcloth.” But another power—the beast from the bottomless pit—was to arise to make open, avowed war upon the word of God. GC 296.
The reason why, the enemy brought in a ‘new manifestation’ of his power, to make war upon the Bible and its adherents, was because the impetus of the old war was waning and losing its effect. The Roman Catholic Church had been given 1260 years in order to accomplish the destruction of God’s kingdom. Jesus called this period, a time of “great tribulation” (see Matt. 24:21, 22). He said if those days were not shortened “no flesh would be saved.” However, towards the end of the 1260 years, it had become ‘politically and religiously incorrect’ to burn people at the stake anymore. The power of the Roman Catholic Church to persecute, on the scale of the past, was being curtailed. Therefore, it was necessary for Satan to press the ‘refresh button’ and bring in a new power that could do the same work as the old, but under the auspices of a new ‘faith’ – the ‘faith’ that man can fix his own problems. It was no longer necessary to wait for death in order to enter paradise in heaven, man was now going to build his own paradise on earth. All the oppressed workers of the world had to do, was to cast off their ‘chains’ stop ‘smoking’ the opium of religion, destroy capitalism and ‘build back better.’ Man could become his own ‘messiah’ – Jesus was no longer needed. Therefore, those who persisted in holding on to Jesus, needed to be persecuted and eventually eliminated. Thus, the persecution of the faithful members of God’s Kingdom continued, in an ‘updated’ form – what was politically incorrect under Catholicism became politically correct under communism. It is for these reasons, that communism and its ugly step sister, socialism, have become, and is the sixth head.
The Seventh Head
After we have identified the composite best that rises out of the sea as being the fifth head and the beast that “ascendeth out of the bottomless pit” (Rev. 11:7), as the sixth head, there is only one more beast power in the Book of Revelation – the land beast – this land beast must be the seventh head, simply by default. But ii is also the seventh head because it is the instrument that works on behalf of the fifth head to heal the wound and restore the papacy to supremacy:
It (the land beast) compels the earth and all its inhabitants to worship the first animal—the one with the mortal wound which had healed. Rev. 13:12. J. B. Philipps New Testament.
And he exercises all the authority of the first beast on behalf of him. Rev. 13:12. Lexham English Bible.
It worked for the beast whose fatal wound had been healed. Rev. 13:12. Contemporary English Version.
The prophecies tell us that the fifth head receives a deadly wound from the sixth head. But the prophecies also tell us that the fifth head does not die and disappear – it revives, it heals and comes back to life. It comes back to life, because the land beast, works on its behalf to restore the supremacy that it lost. The land beast accomplishes the restoration and exaltation of the sea beast through the means of deception and ‘miracles’ (see Rev. 13:13, 14). Therefore, it is the land beast that is the proactive power in the last days. It is the land beast that is the hegemon and it forces the other nations of the world to comply with its ‘rules-based international order’ as prophesied in Rev. 13:14.
…saying to them that dwell on the earth… King James Version.
…telling those who dwell on the earth… New King James Version.
…commanding them… Amplified Bible.
And he ordered the people of the world… The Living Bible.
It ordered them… New International Version.
The land beast is the United States of America. And America is the seventh head on the beast. The prophecies tell us that the land beast “spake as a dragon” (Rev. 13:11). In other words, in spite of its Protestant and Republican heritage, America would be subverted and corrupted and become an instrument for the satanic agenda. It is currently American policy to enforce its ‘rules-based international order’ and it is current American policy to ‘command’ the observance of its ‘rules-based international order’ by the power of its military might. It is for these reasons that it is conclusive that America is the seventh head of the seven-headed beast.
The woman and the beast, are a composite prophetic picture, of how the world would be arrayed against the people of God, in the last days. Each component part tells a story that contributes to the overall panorama of the whole. The seven heads, tell the story, of a succession of empires that the enemy has and is using, to persecute and to thwart the progression of God’s Kingdom. Those who have ‘ears to hear’ and ‘eyes to see’ ought to be able to see the fulfilment of these prophecies in the daily news bulletins that we are subject to. Those who have been appointed ‘watchers on the walls of Zion’ (see Eze. 3:17-21; 33:6-16; Isa. 21:11, 12) ought to be able to intelligently inform the flock, and give the people “meat in due season” (Matt. 24:45).
Many Seventh-day Adventists are not impressed with the emphasis, that some within their midst, place upon the New World Order. Some think it is such a negative issue [as compared to the love of Jesus] that we should not speak about it. Others say that the New World Order is not in the Bible, or the Spirit of Prophecy, or the prophecies therefore we have no mandate to speak about it and it should not be included in the Adventist message.