". . . . 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."(Revelation 13:1)
The first four trumpet judgments described in Revelation 8:2-13 will produce death and destruction on a biblical scale that exceeds human measurement and calculation. These judgments will have global impact and will occur during the first 30 to 60 days of the Great Tribulation. Most survivors will seriously question whether survival on planet Earth is possible. The first four trumpet judgments will destroy thousands of cities. Earth’s infrastructures will be in ruin and twenty-five percent of Earth’s seven billion people will die as a result of these judgments. Two painful observations will traumatize the inhabitants of Earth: First, they will tremble at the reality of a living God, and the power and scope of His wrath. Second, they will take note that these judgments fell on cities and places that were well known for wickedness. Since very few people understand the book of Revelation, most of the survivors will logically think that more judgments from God are imminently forthcoming. This anticipation will induce panic and this panic will prompt world leaders to rapidly and radically transform their governments. Desperate situations require desperate solutions.
A short review of the scope and nature of the first four trumpet judgments will assist us as we begin this study. The first four trumpets will come as judgments of fire and water. The first trumpet judgment (meteoric firestorms) will burn up a third of Earth. Fiery hail falling from Heaven, just like Sodom and Gomorrah, will destroy thousands of cities and millions of people. The second trumpet judgment will be a great asteroid impact in an ocean. This impact will create a super tsunami that will sink ships, destroy sea creatures and wash away thousands of wicked coastal cities, just like Noah’s flood. The third trumpet judgment will be another great asteroid impact. This horrific asteroid will impact a continent and the resulting ground waves will cause underground aquifers and rivers to become contaminated. Millions of people who live hundreds of miles from the impact site will die from drinking poisonous water. The fourth trumpet judgment will likely be a series of huge volcanic eruptions. The darkness caused by the massive amount of ejecta and ash blown into Earth’s atmosphere will obscure the Sun, moon and stars. Large cities close to these explosions will either disappear or become uninhabitable. The Bible states this darkness will cover the middle third of our planet and during this time of darkness,a crisis governmentwill form. The religious and political justification for the crisis government will be simple: "Earth must immediately appease God through repentance and worship or everyone will perish."
Given the religious diversity and antagonistic nature found in our world today, the sudden rise ofa crisis governmentthat will rule the whole world may be hard, if not impossible, to conceptualize. So, a few words about this amazing development might be helpful. The first four trumpet judgments will cause global destruction. Mankind will respond to God’s overwhelming wrath by forming a worldwidecrisis governmentto appease God. Revelation 13:1-10 represents this crisis government as a composite beast for at least two reasons. First, all nations and religions will voluntarily participate in this coming government (that is the composite part). Second, this government is represented as a beast because beasts cannot reason. Beasts are creatures of instinct. They react to threats, doing whatever they can to survive. So, think of this crisis government as mankind’s response to appease God so that His judgments will cease.
This comingcrisis governmentwill be something like the Taliban government which came to power in Afghanistan in 1996. The Taliban movement began when thousands of young Islamic students, who had grown up in Pakistani refugee camps, decided to return home to Afghanistan and take control of their war torn country. From the start, the Taliban movement was a Sunni Islamist nationalist pro-Pashtun movement (that is, it was a mixture of religious ideals, tribal loyalty, and national ambitions). The Russians had driven most of the students and their families from Afghanistan in a war that lasted about ten years. Many of the students passed their days in exile studying at a Madrassas (an Islamic school) and as the young men matured into adulthood, they became eager to return to their homeland and establish an Islamic nation. Thus, this government became known as the Taliban, because the Arabic word for "students" is taliban .
After the Russians were driven out of Afghanistan, the students armed themselves with whatever weapons they could find, and with the help of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and local militia, they overcame warlords who had taken control of various parts of the country. Eventually, the Taliban government emerged as Afghanistan’s government and it soon became notorious for its emphasis on piety, austerity and male responsibility. The Taliban banned all forms of television, imagery, music, and sports. Women were required to wear burqa’s (a gown that totally covers the face and body) in public. The idea of a "pure" Arab nation where the Koran was rigorously obeyed and Shariah law (Islamic law) reigned supreme attracted many young men who had illusions of an Islamic utopia. Many Afghans embraced the Taliban government because it brought peace and stability to the region. The Taliban did many good things for Afghanistan. However, they also took many actions that hurt Afghanistan using religious intimidation and fear of punishment. The penalties for violating the rules of the Taliban were not commensurate with the crime. This injustice put everyone on edge and people became afraid of sharing their true feelings. After five years of power, the Taliban government was toppled in 2001 when U.S. forces invaded the country and established a secular government; however, the possibility of the Taliban returning to power remains to be seen. (This possibility exists because many Moslems [and certainly, the Taliban] prefer an Islamic church/state.)
I have presented a brief background about the Taliban government because I see a parallel between the Taliban situation and the comingcrisis government.The Taliban believe that rigorous compliance with the Koran will bring the blessings and favor of Allah. Through humble and sincere obedience to Allah, they believe their endeavors will establish a pure Islamic nation. Similarly, when the first four trumpet judgments occur, the world’s survivors will conclude that they must rigorously comply with the will of an angry God to restore His blessings and favor. Therefore, in the context of overwhelming death and destruction, appeasing Almighty God will not be an option – it will be mandatory – or everyone will die!
Consider this: When God gave Nebuchadnezzar the vision of the metal man in Daniel 2, God accomplished several things simultaneously. First, He showed the arrogant Nebuchadnezzar that Babylon was temporal. This truth negated everything Nebuchadnezzar had worked for! God told the king that various empires would follow Babylon until the time came for God Himself to establish His eternal kingdom on Earth. Second, God used the vision of the metal man to expose Nebuchadnezzar’s clergy. When the king’s trusted clergy could not tell him what he had dreamed, he discovered that his diviners, soothsayers, and astrologers were a bunch of liars and con-artists. This deception made him furious – even to the point of wanting to kill them. Third, God used the vision of the metal man to lift a Jewish captive, Daniel, into a extremely high position within Babylon. Later on, Daniel was given a very high position in the Medo-Persian empire, as well. Fourth, God used the vision of the metal man to exalt Himself above the gods of the Babylonians. Do you remember that Nebuchadnezzar built a metal man of solid gold? The king did this to hide the truth. He did not want anyone believing that Babylon, the head of gold, would someday fall to an inferior kingdom of silver. Consequently, the king built a huge image of gold and invited all the leadership of Babylon to come and participate in a great lie. God stepped into the situation and ruined the king’s boasting with a miracle that dwarfed the golden image. Daniel’s friends walked out of a fiery furnace unharmed. Everyone watching knew that the furnace was extremely hot because the heat killed the soldiers who threw Daniel’s friends into the furnace! The important point I am making is that God can accomplish divine objectives without violating the will of a single person.
So, what does the ancient story of the metal man and the modern rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan have to do with the composite beast? God is going to turn the world upside down with His first four trumpet judgments and, in the process, the religious leaders of the world will come out on top! They will be promoted to higher positions than political leaders because they claim (and billions of people will believe) they know the will and ways of God! This "fruit basket upset" enables religious leaders to insist thata crisis governmentbe created to deal with God, and at the same time, it humbles politicians so they must go along. Remember the panic statement, "We must appease God through repentance and worship or everyone will perish." As political leaders survey the expanse of global death and destruction caused by the first four trumpets, and when they realize that God has specifically targeted places well known for wickedness, they will be willing to do whatever religious leaders require. Once empowered, religious leaders will attempt to appease God through the formation ofa crisis governmentthat resembles the former Taliban government of Afghanistan. Sins of all kinds will be outlawed, morality will be legislated, and offenders will be severely punished – all this to avert God’s wrath. With this overview in mind, let us examine some details.
The Composite Beast Rises to Power
The composite beast will not arise from an existing nation. Instead, it rises from "a sea of peoples, multitudes and nations." (Revelation 13:1-8; 17:15) This beast will have seven heads and ten horns. For reasons beyond the scope of this article, we know this beast does not exist yet. We know it has to rise after the French Revolution because when the beast rises from the sea, one of the seven heads of the beast "had been healed." (Revelation 13:3) The head that was wounded was the Roman Catholic Church. The power of the Roman Catholic Church was seriously wounded during the French Revolution (1789-1799), and only in recent years (due to the popularity of Pope John Paul II) has the church regained some of the influence and respect that it once enjoyed. However, the deadly wound will not be healed until the papacy gains credible authority over nations as it did prior to its injury in February 1798.
Like the Taliban government, the composite beast will be a ruthless monster – driven by misguided religious zeal and false theology. The Bible is clear, the composite beast will persecute the saints of God for 42 months. (Revelation 13:5) During this time, the composite beast will have authority over all nations (Revelation 13:7) and Jesus will destroy it at the Second Coming. (Revelation 19:20,21) This beast is called Babylon (Revelation 14:8, 17:5) because it will mirror ancient Babylon – both in arrogance and ignorance. Ironically, Babylon will claim to speak for God, but in reality, it blasphemes God and misrepresents Him. Babylon has not yet formed, even though all of the players are present. As the first four trumpet judgments wreak chaos and destruction, this coming government will rise to power. The fear of God will be global and overwhelming. The nations of Earth will look to their religious leaders for instruction and direction, but most religious leaders will be equally surprised by the global destruction. Political leaders will ask their religious leaders, "What does God want us to do?" and religious leaders will say, "We must immediately appease God through repentance and worship or everyone will perish."
Someone Must Mediate Between One God and One World
The first four trumpets will create a global crisis. In a vacuum of fear and uncertainty, it is likely that the Roman Catholic Church will step forward with leadership and an elegant solution. Since the Catholic Church is the one organization that has been politically active in seeking world peace, the pope will invite religious and political leaders from all over the world to a worldwide council. Three amazing decisions will come from this council that would otherwise be unthinkable. (1) Given the religious diversity of mankind and given the fact that there isoneangry God, this council will unanimously agree that all nations must unite as one man to appease God. This union will be possible because everyone will agree that certain principles of righteousness should be imposed upon the whole world. Amazingly, two principles on which the diverse religions of the world agree are repentance and the worship of God! The council will adopt these two principles as the basis for world unity and the appeasement of God. (2) Because everyone will know that God’s anger was directed toward places well known for wickedness, every nation will agree to legislate "sin-less" laws so that the wrath of the Almighty might be appeased and His judgments cease. Further, world leaders will recognize that they cannot disregard this unified effort to appease God. To do so would risk the possibility of God’s wrath breaking out against the world once again. Therefore, political leaders from every nation on Earth will agree to the directives ofa new crisis governmentwhich will be established to manage the current crisis between God and man. (3) The leaders of the world recognize that every government requires leadership. This council will therefore create an executive congress of religious leaders from all of the religions of the world. (This supreme council will be something like the United Nations, except it will be religious in nature and far more effective.) I believe the pope will be selected as the leader of this council and given the authority to oversee and direct the process of appeasing God on a global basis. The Roman Catholic Church is uniquely prepared to serve the world in this role because it is both a spiritual and a political organization having diplomatic relations with more than 170 nations of Earth.
(Note:Understand two things at this point. First, according to the third vision of Fatima, a number of high ranking Catholic scholars anticipate a global crisis. They believe this crisis will catapult the Church onto a stage of global leadership. (See The Keys of This Blood , published by Simon and Schuster, 1990, author, Dr. Malachi Martin, Chapters 32, 33.) Second, the popewill notbe elected to a position to impose Catholic doctrine on the nations of Earth. The diversity of the world’s religions will not permit this. Rather, the mission of the pope and his council of diverse religious leaders will be limited to overseeing and directing a united effort by all nations to appease God through repentance and worship. These two principles will be applied according to the prevailing religious beliefs within each nation.)
The Composite Beast: A Hand Puppet
Revelation 12 describes Lucifer, the devil, as a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns. The composite beast also has seven heads and ten horns, but the composite beast is not the devil. The composite beast will be the crisis government created by religious and political leaders from all walks of life. This diversity within the beast is indicated by the fact that this beast is a composite beast. The composite beast is part lion, bear and leopard – remnants of the ancient empires presented in Daniel 7. This composite beast, called Babylon, will eventually become the devil’s hand puppet.". . . .The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority."(Revelation 13:2)
The composite beast has seven heads and ten horns, just like the great red dragon, because the devil will infiltrate the crisis government and become the power within the composite beast. In other words, when the crisis government forms, men will respond out of a legitimate fear of God. Understand that these leaders do not comprehend what God is actually doing. However, as time passes, thecrisis governmentwill eventually become totally corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I like to describe Babylon, the composite beast, as "a human glove" which mankind will create, but the devil will use. The devil will insert his power and work through this human glove to persecute God’s saints. For example, if you put your hand into a glove and then you hit someone with your gloved hand, who is responsible for the pain you caused – your glove or your hand? Once mankind exalts religion over politics and creates this crisis government, the devil will quickly enter through the back door to take control of the world." . . . And he[the composite beast]was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship[obey]the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb. . . ."(Revelation 13:7,8, insertions mine) When the governments of the world submit to the demands ofthe crisis government,they will be, in effect, worshiping the devil because the concept of appeasing God through forced obedience is false from the start. The devil will be delighted with the crisis government’s decision to enforce its "laws" because he has been preparing to make war on the saints for a long time. (Revelation 12:17) The devil now has an opportunity to make war on the saints and destroy them."He[the composite beast]was given power[by the devil]to make war against the saints and to conquer them. . . ."(Revelation 13:7, insertions mine)
Now you can understand why the description of the devil in Revelation 12 and the anatomy of the composite beast in Revelation 13 is identical (both having seven heads and ten horns). God represented these matters to John in this way so that we can trace the devil’s hidden role and evil activities as he "enters" the human glove. The devil’s ultimate purpose is to destroy God’s people and he will make the most of the 42 months he has to wage war against the saints. Do not lose your faith! God will give His people grace to deal with persecution and death. As in the story of the metal man, God has a purpose for all of this! He will use the first four trumpets to show the human race that all religions of the world are false. To do this, the religions of the world must become very important and more powerful than politics! The devil will jump on this transition and use it to his advantage to persecute the saints. In spite of the devil’s plans, God is poised and prepared to rescue many wonderful people who are trapped inside false religions.
The composite beast has seven heads. Notice these nine specifications. Revelation 13 says:
1. Each head has a blasphemous name. (v.1)
2. One of the heads had been wounded and healed. (v.3)
3. The beast was given a mouth to blaspheme God. (v.6)
Revelation 17 says:
4. The seven heads are seven hills. (v. 9)
5. The seven heads are seven kings. (v. 9)
6. Five have fallen. (v. 10)
7. One is. (v. 10)
8. One is yet to come. (v. 10)
9. The beast that ascends out of the abyss [the devil] will be the eighth king and is a companion of the seven heads. (v. 8,11, insertion mine)
The composite beast has seven heads at the end of time. Seven is a perfect number – a whole number. Because there are seven of the same thing; namely, seven heads, each head must symbolize the same thing. From Revelation 13 we learn that each head has a blasphemous name on it. This means that even though the seven heads are religious in nature – they are opposed to God’s authority. According to Webster, blasphemy is defined as assuming the prerogatives of God. The composite beast will be given a mouth to speak blasphemies against God. (Revelation 13:6) This means the composite beast will speak (make laws) that are contrary to God’s laws which is blasphemy. For example, God has declared in the fourth commandment that the seventh day of the week is His holy day, a memorial to His creation of Earth. Satan has led the religious systems of the world to think that the fourth commandment has been terminated or even worse, that man has the authority to declare which day is holy to God.
Revelation 17 says the seven heads are seven hills (or mountains, KJV). How can seven religious systems also be seven hills? In ancient times, highest hills and mountains were reserved as places of worship or the dwelling of deity. Notice this passage:"Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. You must not worship the Lord your God in their way."(Deuteronomy 12:2-4) Ancient temples or shrines were placed on prominent places high above ordinary terrain because these locations were believed to be God’s dwelling places. King David wrote,"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?"(Psalm 15:1) Israel’s temple mount is often referred to as "Mt. Zion" and Bible writers often spoke of the temple mount as "God’s holy hill." (See Daniel 9:16,20; and Micah 4.) In the United States, we refer to the official building of the U.S. Congress as "Capitol Hill." The point of association is that the seven heads are seven hills. People look up to their religious authorities for knowledge and instruction on the will of God. This is why every religious system has clergy (men and/or women who speak for God).
Revelation 17 says these seven heads are also seven kings; that is, the seven heads have subjects. Do religious systems have subjects? Yes! People submit to the demands of their religious systems thinking they are obeying God. When confronted with a spiritual question or problem, to what authority do religious people submit if not their religious leaders? Billions of people go through religious rituals every week for no other reason than their religious leaders tell them it is necessary.
Five Are Fallen
Perhaps the most revealing specification about the seven heads is timing. The angel said to John,"This calls for a mind with wisdom. . . . Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while."(Revelation 17:10) This conversation took place around A.D. 95. The statement by the angel, "five heads have fallen" is stated in a past perfect tense – indicating that as of A.D. 95, five of the seven heads had fallen. According to Webster, the term "fallen" can mean "brought down" or "proven false." The word "fallen" is also used in Revelation 14:8 when the second angel says that "Babylon [the crisis government] is fallen." In both cases the word "fallen" means "proven false."
So, looking at the end of the first century A.D., we find a historical explanation of what the angel meant when he said that five heads had fallen. When Jesus became flesh and dwelt among men, five religious systems were exposed as false. The ministry and teachings of Jesus caused five religious systems to fall:
4. Eastern Mysticism
*Note: The label "Islam" came into existence during the sixth century A.D. as a result of Mohammed’s influence and is used here to identify the ancient religion of Arabs prior to Mohammed. Many Christians erroneously think that Mohammed is the founder of the Arabic faith. This is not the case. Mohammed united, organized, and expanded the beliefs of the Arabs. Even though he is considered by the Moslems to be the last and therefore the greatest of God’s messengers, Arabs trace the origin of their faith back to Abraham through Ishmael’s 12 sons. (See Genesis 21:13.)
How did Jesus expose these five religious systems as false?
1. Heathenism is a religious system that does not have valid knowledge about the God of Heaven. This religion creates its own super-gods and religious rules according to superstition. Jesus declared this religion false. (John 10)
2. Atheism denies the existence and reality of God. Even though it denies the existence of God, it is a godless system of religious thought. Jesus said this was false. (John 17)
3. Judaism believes that salvation comes through obedience and ceremonial rituals. Jesus declared that man cannot save himself through obedience or rituals. (John 3; Matthew 5:20)
4. Eastern Mysticism teaches that man can become God. This is the inverse of truth. God became man to save us from the penalty of sin. (John 1)
5. Islam denies that Jesus is deity, the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. This makes Jesus a liar. (Luke 22:70)
But wait! There’s more!
Keep in mind that the angel told John that "five heads have fallen, one is, and one is yet to come." In John’s day, five heads had been exposed as false by the teachings of Christ. The sixth religious system was just beginning to develop at that time, and according to the angel, a seventh head would appear later on and it would only last for a short time. The sixth head or religious system that was developing in John’s day began as Christianity and today, this religious system is known as Catholicism. John was a charter member of this new religious system. We know from church history that Christianity rose to power and fell from grace as Satan entered through the back door and gained control of the church. Centuries later, the Reformation produced the seventh and last religious system. The angel said the seventh head would only last for "a short time." This religious system is called Protestantism. Looking back over the landscape of history, Protestantism is a "newcomer" to the religious world in terms of existence. Since we are near the end of the world, it can only last for a short time!
The essential problem with all seven heads is that they are blasphemous. This means they teach things that are contrary to God’s will! Of course, no person believes that his or her church teaches blasphemy. Everyone thinks that what he or she believes is the truth about God, but this is where the problem lies! So, God is going to turn the world upside down. God is about to tear back the veil of religious beliefs and the sincere in heart will discover the truth about God – the rest will reject it! In other words, when repentance and worship become matters of persecution, the sheep will be separated from the goats in all religions! Because the first four trumpets will induce global panic, everyone will thoughtfully consider God’s will for a season! To help people make the right choice, God will empower 144,000 people to speak for Him.
This brings us to a very interesting point. When Babylon, full of false doctrines and demonic power, is given absolute control to manage the crisis between God and man, the head that had been wounded will be healed! Once again, the papacy will lead the world into apostasy through blasphemy. So, the seven heads of the composite beast represent the seven religious systems of the world! They are:
3. Eastern Mysticism
Think about this: Can you identify any person on Earth who does not belong to one of these seven systems? Next month, I will write an article about the beast from the abyss because it intimately relates to the seven heads and the ten horns. The ten horns are ten "puppet kings" which Lucifer will appoint to rule over the world once he physically appears. Please make copies and share this article with all your friends. They need to know.