Sermon title:  THE BEASTS OF REVELATION        Revelation 13:2, Daniel 7:3-18

   

                            Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, October 7, 2018

 

 

 

 

Immanuel Baptist Church has long been a church            

preaching “Christ crucified, risen and coming again.”

 

Our Lord Jesus told us at Matthew 24:42  

to “keep watch” for his coming again.

 

So, we have an obligation to our Lord to do this.

 

We can’t see Jesus as his return approaches,

but we can see the indications   

that tell us that we are in “The End Times”

“The Last Days” of this world.   

 

At Luke 21:25-28 our Lord told us that

 “nations will be in anguish and perplexity and

“Men will faint from terror,

apprehensive of what is coming on the world.”

But as for Christians he said,                          

“When these things begin to take place,

stand up and lift up your heads,

because your redemption is drawing near."  

 

The Bible is filled with prophecies about “The End Times”

from beginning to end.

 

The Bible’s first book, Genesis,

tells in its 3rd Chapter how a serpent led the first humans

into rebellion against God.

 

And it prophesies that an offspring of the woman

will destroy the serpent and his works.                      

“The Lord God said to the serpent  . . .

he will crush your head.”

 

The Bible’s last book, Revelation,

identifies that ancient “serpent”

as Satan the devil—

an angel who long ago rebelled against God.

Revelation 12:9 calls him

“The great dragon  . . .

that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,

who leads the whole world astray.”

 

And Revelation Chapter 12 pictures Satan

as a 7-headed red dragon.         

 

 

Beginning with Revelation 12:3, we read,

 

3 Then another sign appeared in heaven:

an enormous red dragon with seven heads

and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.

 

9 The great dragon was hurled down—

that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,

who leads the whole world astray.

He was hurled to the earth,

and his angels with him.

 

The next chapter,

Revelation Chapter 13,

tells about one of the means

that Satan the devil uses

to lead mankind astray.

 

And that instrument of Satan

is ungodly human government.

 

There are dozens of different interpretations

of the signs and symbols in the Book of Revelation.

 

But, I believe I represent a common, traditioal understanding,

when I say that

Revelation uses a 7-headed “beast”

to picture

human government in opposition to God.

 

 

The word “beast” doesn’t carry any connotation of “monster.”

It just means “an animal,”

much as we would call a donkey “a beast of burden.”

 

But this one that the Apostle John saw in vision

in Revelation 13:2 certainly was a monster.

 

We don’t know exactly what it looked like, so it’s been illustrated in various artists’ conceptions,                                            

but this is how John described it:

 

2 And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.

 

He had ten horns and seven heads,

with ten crowns on his horns,

and on each head a blasphemous name.  

 

The beast I saw resembled a leopard,

but had feet like those of a bear

and a mouth like that of a lion.

The dragon gave the beast his power  

and his throne and great authority.

 

So, Satan the devil

is the one who gave this beast power,

a throne, and great authority.

 

Remember,

Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world.”

 

And when he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness,

the devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of this world.

 

Jesus rejected that offer,

but he didn’t dispute the fact

that Satan had all the governments in his power.

 

Why do I

and many others

believe this beast in Revelation 13

represents ungodly human government?

 

The rest of the Bible—especially the book of Daniel

sheds light on that.

 

The Book of Genesis tells us human government began

with men imposing their power

over other men,

and disregarding God. 

 

Genesis Chapter 10 tells us that Noah’s grandson Nimrod

set up a kingdom

beginning in Babylon.

 

The ruins of ancient Babylon can still be seen

in modern-day Iraq.

 

And by the time of the prophet Daniel,

Babylon was a huge empire,

ruling much of the inhabited world at that time.

 

Daniel was a young Jewish man

who was taken captive from the vicinity of Jerusalem

and was pressed into service

by the emperor of Babylon.

 

In Daniel Chapter 2[  OPEN  ]

that Emperor had just had a nightmare of a dream

and nobody could be found

to explain it to him.

 

Nobody, until God gave Daniel that supernatural ability.

 

In Daniel Chapter 2, beginning with Verse 31, we read,

 

31 "You looked, O king,

and there before you stood a large statue

an enormous, dazzling statue,

awesome in appearance.

 

32 The head of the statue      

was made of pure gold,

its chest and arms of silver,

its belly and thighs of bronze,

33 its legs of iron,

its feet partly of iron

and partly of baked clay.

 

34 While you were watching,    

a rock was cut out,

but not by human hands.            

 

It struck the statue

on its feet of iron and clay

and smashed them.

35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze,   

the silver and the gold were broken to pieces

at the same time

and became like chaff on a threshing floor

in the summer.

The wind swept them away

without leaving a trace.

 

But the rock that struck the statue  

became a huge mountain

and filled the whole earth.

 

So, that was the dream that the King of Babylon had.

 

And it was a dream sent by God.

 

The prophet Daniel went on to explain its meaning:

 

36 "This was the dream,

and now we will interpret it to the king.

 

37 You, O king, are the king of kings.

 

Notice that Daniel called the King of Babylon “king of kings.

 

In this case, that title simply referred to the fact

that the Babylonian Empire

ruled over many smaller kingdoms.

 

The kings of those subjugated nations

looked up to the Emperor as their king,

so, in that sense, he was a “king of kings.

 

Daniel continued,

 

The God of heaven has given you

dominion and power and might and glory;

38 in your hands he has placed mankind

and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live,

he has made you ruler over them all.

You are that head of gold.

 

 

So, Daniel identified the head of gold

as that Babylonian empire that was ruling

much of the inhabited earth in his day—

especially the area around the Promised Land of Israel.

 

Then he continued,

39 "After you, another kingdom will rise,

inferior to yours.

 

We know from history

that Babylon was overthrown by the Persian Empire.

So, Persia was that Silver portion of the image.

 

Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze,

will rule over the whole earth.

 

Historically, that was the Greek empire of Alexander the Great.

 

It, too, ruled “over the whole earth

in the sense of the whole inhabited area

surrounding the Promised Land of Israel.

 

40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom,

strong as iron

for iron breaks and smashes everything—

and as iron breaks things to pieces,

so it will crush and break all the others.

 

The Roman Empire was that 4th kingdom.     

 

It took control of the areas ruled by Babylon, Persia, Greece

and beyond.

 

Then Daniel speaks about the image’s feet and toes

the nations that came into existence

after the Roman Empire collapsed,

and that continue today.

41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes

were partly of baked clay and partly of iron,

so this will be a divided kingdom;

yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.

 

42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay,

so this kingdom will be partly strong

and partly brittle.

43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture

and will not remain united,

any more than iron mixes with clay.

 

So, the prophetic dream

paints a picture of the history of the world’s governments

from ancient Babylon until now.

 

But now, in Verse 44, we get to the lesson

of this whole dream and its interpretation.

The end of the story

is that God won’t put up with

corrupt human government forever.

 

The Kingdom of God that we pray for

when we say “Thy Kingdom come”

in the Our Father prayer—

that Kingdom will finally come.

44 "In the time of those kings,

the God of heaven will set up a kingdom

that will never be destroyed,

nor will it be left to another people.

It will crush all those kingdoms

and bring them to an end,

but it will itself endure forever.

 

45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock

cut out of a mountain,

but not by human hands—

a rock that broke the iron, the bronze,

the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

 

"The great God has shown the king

what will take place in the future.

The dream is true

and the interpretation is trustworthy."

 

So, that account in Daniel Chapter 2

gives us a history of the world’s governments—

as they relate to the Promised Land of Israel—

and how Christ’s kingdom

will replace all of mankind’s governments.

 

That sets the stage

and gives us the background knowledge that we need

to understand how Daniel

will explain to us the “beast” in Revelation 13’

 

There the Apostle John described his vision

like this:

2 And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.

He had ten horns and seven heads,

with ten crowns on his horns,

and on each head a blasphemous name.

 

The beast I saw resembled a leopard,

but had feet like those of a bear

and a mouth like that of a lion.

 

The dragon gave the beast his power

and his throne and great authority.

 

So, that’s the Revelation “beast.”

 

Now Daniel Chapter 7 will explain that Revelation beast to us.

 

In Daniel Chapter 7, the prophet has a vision

of a series of “beasts.”

 

And the body parts of Daniel’s beasts

all add up—if you merge them together—

to the composite “beast” of Revelation.

 

Beginning in Daniel 7:2, we read,

 

2 Daniel said: "In my vision at night I looked,

and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.

 

3 Four great beasts,

each different from the others,

came up out of the sea.

 

4 "The first was like a lion,

and it had the wings of an eagle.

 

I watched until its wings were torn off

and it was lifted from the ground

so that it stood on two feet like a man,

and the heart of a man was given to it.

 

5 "And there before me was a second beast,

which looked like a bear.

It was raised up on one of its sides,

and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told,

'Get up and eat your fill of flesh!'

6 "After that, I looked,

and there before me was another beast,

one that looked like a leopard.

And on its back it had four wings

like those of a bird.

This beast had four heads,

and it was given authority to rule.

 

7 "After that, in my vision at night I looked,

and there before me was a fourth beast—  

terrifying and frightening and very powerful.

It had large iron teeth;

it crushed and devoured its victims

and trampled underfoot whatever was left.

It was different from all the former beasts,

and it had ten horns.

 

There is a lot of discussion later in Daniel

about the beast’s horns and what they represent.

 

But that’s enough material

for several more sermons.

 

Today we’ll stick to identifying the 4 “beasts” themselves.

 

Daniel continues,

 

9 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place,

and the Ancient of Days took his seat.

 

His clothing was as white as snow;

the hair of his head was white like wool.

His throne was flaming with fire,

and its wheels were all ablaze.

 

And then Verse 13 says,

 

13 "In my vision at night I looked,

and there before me was one like a son of man,

coming with the clouds of heaven.

 

He approached the Ancient of Days

and was led into his presence.

Notice that: “a son of man,

going into God’s heavenly presence.

 

Our Lord Jesus referred to himself as “the son of man,”

meaning that he was the one fulfilling this prophecy.

 

At Mark 13, beginning with verse 26, Jesus said:

 

“Then they will see the Son of Man

coming in clouds with great power and glory.”


Jesus will return as King of the kingdom of God. 

 

When He was  on trial before the high court of the Jews,

the high priest demanded to know

whether Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.

 

Then Matthew 26:64 tells us,

“Jesus said to him, ‘ . . . after this

you will see the Son of Man

sitting at the right hand of Power,

and coming on the clouds of the sky.’”—Matthew 26:64


Jesus knew the Jewish religious leaders would understand this

to be a reference to the book of Daniel.

 

Daniel 7:14 continues,

 

14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

that will not pass away,

and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

 

So, Daniel was prophesying

about Messiah’s eternal kingdom.

 

Then, in Verse 17, one of the angels standing in God’s presence

gives Daniel the explanation of the 4 beasts:

 

17 'The four great beasts are four kingdoms

that will rise from the earth.

 

They are the same 4 kingdoms

that we saw in the statue with the head of gold.

 

Daniel’s first beast was a winged lion.

 

And even back in Daniel’s day,                                          

Babylon was represented as a winged lion,      

just as the United States today

is represented by a bald eagle.

At the Louvre Museum in Paris                                   

there is displayed the “Lion Babylon Gate”

recovered from the ruins of ancient Babylon.

 

And it has on it a huge picture of a winged lion  

that stood for the Babylonian Empire way back then.

So, the winged lion represents Babylon in this vision.   

It corresponds to the head of gold in the earlier vision.

 

The “second beast, which looked like a bear”

 

Is the Persian Empire.

It corresponds with the second part            

of the statue in the earlier vision—

which also stands for the Persian Empire.   

 

The next “beast..that looked like a leopard

with 4 heads and 4 wings”

 

 

This is the Greek empire.

 

It corresponds to the third part of the statue.

-- the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great.

 

7 "After that, Daniel saw “a fourth beast—

terrifying and frightening and very powerful.”

 

This 4th beast corresponds to the 4th part of the statue,

so it represents the Roman Empire. 

 

So, Daniel’s vision of the 4 beasts

picturing 4 successive world powers

corresponds step-by-step

with the earlier dream vision of the statue.

 

Both visions

illustrate the succession

of ungodly world powers

down through Bible history.

 

And the most important point is that

both visions conclude the same way:                   

with Christ’s kingdom

destroying the ungodly human governments

and replacing them with the Kingdom of God.

 

“The Son of Man” returns as King

with great power and glory.

=========================================

So, the 7-headed beast of Revelation

is just a composite of Daniel’s beasts:

all 4 of them rolled into one.

 

The mouth of Daniel’s 1st beast, the lion, 

the body of Daniel’s 2nd beast, the leopard,

the feet of Daniel’s 3rd beast, the bear,

and the horns of the Daniel’s 4th beast

all come together as parts of the Revelation beast.

So, Revelation’s beast is not just one government   

but all of mankind’s ungodly governments

taken together.

 

Revelation uses a composite of the 4 beasts of Daniel

to tell us the same story

that Daniel tells:  

 

That the whole succession of ungodly human governments—

including the governments of today’s world—

will be destroyed and replaced

by the Kingdom of God

with Christ Jesus as King.

 

Revelation Chapter 19 tells us

how Christ will conquer the nations

when he returns in power

as King of God’s Kingdom.

 

Revelation 19, beginning with Verse 11, says,

11 I saw heaven standing open

and there before me was a white horse,

whose rider is called Faithful and True.

With justice he judges and makes war.

 

12 His eyes are like blazing fire,

and on his head are many crowns.

He has a name written on him

that no one knows but he himself.

 

13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood,

and his name is the Word of God.

14 The armies of heaven were following him,

riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.

15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword       

with which to strike down the nations.

"He will rule them with an iron scepter."

He treads the winepress

of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

 

16 On his robe and on his thigh

he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

 

Verse 19 continues,

19 Then I saw the beast

and the kings of the earth and their armies

gathered together to make war

against the rider on the horse and his army.

20 But the beast was captured,

and with him the false prophet

who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf.  

 

With these signs he had deluded

those who had received the mark of the beast

and worshiped his image.

 

The two of them were thrown alive

into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

 

It’s a frightening vision

but it’s also a comforting vision.

 

God’s people have been oppressed for centuries

by corrupt, ungodly human governments.

 

But God will soon bring all of that to an end.

 

Christ’s Kingdom will bring an end to human misery,

and will bring in peace and joy forever.

 

What reason is there

to expect that this will happen soon?    

 

What reason is there to believe that we are living

in the End Times,

the Last Days of this world?

 

There is plenty of reason,

and plenty of evidence

that what Christians have been praying for over the centuries

is finally about to happen.

 

We’ll be examining that evidence

 in our next three sermons.