We have studied two prophecies which point us to the origins of the Antichrist, but there is still more. Yet another prophecy in the book of Daniel confirms what we have been seeing. This vision, too, shows us where the empire of the Beast will be situated. Not only have we been shown where the Antichrist comes from, but God also reveals where the ten nations over which he rules will be. His kingdom will also be located in the Middle East.
The prophecy concerning the four beasts is found in Daniel chapter 7. It is of special importance to us since it is so clear and speaks to us so much. Therefore, we will examine this vision at some length to extract the maximum benefit from it. Here, four beasts or animal figures are seen by Daniel. They are: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a fierce looking beast that is not likened to any specific animal. These four “beasts” represent kingdoms which are of some importance in the world.
Most Bible teachers have taught that these kingdoms are simply a repetition of what we have just studied. They teach that: 1) the Lion = the Babylonian Empire, 2) the Bear = the MediaPersians, 3) the Leopard = Alexander the Great, 4) the “Dreadful” = the Roman Empire (which conquered the Middle East after Antiochus) and then, 5) the Antichrist.
Well, now you might say, “Wait a minute, the scriptures only mention four beasts but you have listed five empires.” The explanation for this is quite simple. The Bible explains to us that the Antichrist’s empire (symbolized by ten horns) arises out of the remnants of the fourth beast kingdom. Therefore the last empire is “revived” so to speak, turning four beasts into five kingdoms.
We read concerning the fourth beast: “The ten horns [of the Antichrist empire] are ten kings who shall arise from this [fourth] kingdom” (Dan 7:24). This is a very important clue for us. The ten kings and their kingdoms, who comprise the empire of the Antichrist, arise out of the remnants of this fourth kingdom. Therefore, it is very important for us to identify this fourth, “dreadful and terrible” beast.
As we have mentioned, many Bible expositors have identified this fourth animal or beast as the Roman empire. Perhaps you have heard that there will be a “revived Roman Empire” which will be the kingdom of the Antichrist. This passage is the origin of this teaching. So, let us take a further look at it together.
THEIR LIVES WERE PROLONGED
Upon careful examination, a few problems arise with this understanding. The most notable difficulty is that when we read these verses carefully, it becomes clear that each of these four beasts exists when Jesus returns to this earth. The rulers of these nations are alive and well when our Lord comes to judge the nations!
Therefore, they cannot be these ancient, historical kingdoms. They must be nations which are contemporaries of the Antichrist. They must be countries which we can identify today.
How can I make such a statement? Let us look together at Daniel 7, verses 9-12. In verses 9 and 10, Jesus is sitting on His throne. His description matches the one of His appearance in the first part of the book of Revelation. He is preparing to judge the nations. But in verse 11, the Antichrist comes to His attention due to the sound of his great, pompous words. At this point, the Beast/Antichrist is killed.
But the other beasts, the Lion, the Bear, and the Leopard, (referring to the rulers of these nations) receive a different fate. They lose their kingdoms, but are allowed to remain alive for a while longer. We read in verse 11, “As for the rest of the beasts [the other three], they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.”
In order for this verse to make any sense, these other empires must exist at the time of the Antichrist. They cannot be ancient kingdoms.
For example, the Kingdom of Babylon was destroyed by the Medes and the Persians. Of course you remember what happened to the ruler. The handwriting was literally on the wall. “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans [Babylonians], was slain” (Dan 5:30). His kingdom certainly was taken away, but his life was not prolonged.
The same is true of Alexander the Great. As we have studied, he died unexpectedly at the peak of his power. His kingdom was taken away too, but his life was not prolonged for any “season” or any “time.” Furthermore, the deaths of these rulers was not something that occurred when Christ returned and sat on His throne of judgment. These scriptures do not fit with a historical interpretation.
Therefore, these kingdoms cannot be Babylon, the Medes and the Persians, Alexander the Great and Rome. So for a better interpretation, we must look in another direction which will be discussed further as we proceed.
In the scriptures we find even more difficulty with the “revived Roman Empire” idea. Let us now turn to verse 17 of chapter 7. Here we read that, “Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings [representing their kingdoms] which shall arise out of the earth.”
I include the word “shall” here following the translations of the Septuagint, the King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, the American Standard of 1901, John Darby in his New Translation, and possibly others.
You see, here we have a problem. This vision was given to Daniel “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon” (Dan 7:1). He was the last ruler of Babylon. So this vision is given very near the end of the Babylonian Empire.
But we hear the angel explaining that four beasts “shall arise,” meaning sometime in the future. Therefore, this cannot include Babylon, since it had already arisen long ago.
If then Babylon is not the Lion, the other beasts cannot follow the traditional interpretation either. The only logical conclusion we can draw is that the angel is not referring to what we know as four historical kingdoms, but of future ones – kingdoms which will exist at the same time as the Antichrist. Consequently, we should not view this prophecy as a simple repetition of the one before it, but a new revelation about the last days.
The conclusion of all this is that the Bible is not teaching us here about a “revived Roman Empire.” An honest, unbiased examination of the verses at hand do not lead us to this conclusion. Therefore, Europe, the Common Market, the Pope as the Antichrist, and other such teachings based on the “revived Roman Empire” theory must be discarded.
THE SEVEN MOUNTAINS
Another passage which many teachers often cite to support a revived Roman Empire teaching is found in Revelation 17:9,10. We have already studied these verses about seven mountains in the book Babylon which is the first part of this end-times series. In the previous book we learned that the seven mountains also do not point to Rome as a source of the Antichrist empire. If you have any doubts about this, please review note at the end of chapter 7 of that book about: “Mountains, Heads and Kings.”
What we studied in the book Babylon is that even in John’s day there were no longer seven prophetic mountains. Five of them had already fallen (Rev 17:10). This left only two. Therefore, this cannot be and is not a secret reference to Rome. Consequently, the revived Roman Empire is not in view. Also, nowhere in the Bible is Rome referred to as “the city on seven hills” or any similar thing. We cannot take our inspiration from secular literature such as the story of Romulus and Remus, but only the inspired scriptures.
WHO ARE THE FOUR BEASTS?
We have been discussing the four beasts, the Lion, the Bear, the Leopard, and the “Terrible.” We have been seeing that these cannot be: Babylon, Media-Persia, Alexander, and Rome. But if then the fourth beast is not Rome and the other beasts are more contemporary kingdoms, who could they be?
Seeing who these beasts might be, will greatly help us in knowing where the Antichrist empire will arise. Identifying these countries will of course involve a little bit of speculation. The meanings of these animals, representing kingdoms, are impossible to determine with total certainty. So, please bear with me as we consider the possibilities together.
Remember that we are looking for empires which can still be identified today. The fourth one of these kingdoms, although it still exists, will have largely disintegrated. It is from the remnants of this kingdom that the ten horns of the Antichrist empire emerge (Dan 7:24). These beasts rise up from “the great sea,” which is usually identified as the Mediterranean. Their arising from the sea is precipitated by a violent storm caused by the “four winds of heaven” (Dan 7:2). This could indicate that these four empires are, over a period of time, in conflict with each other for control of and/or influence in the Mediterranean region. This would include countries in the regions of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
The first beast is a lion which has wings like an eagle. As Daniel watches this vision, the wings are plucked off and the Lion is made to stand up on two feet like a man and its own heart is replaced with a human one (Dan 7:4).
The two wings might represent rapidity of movement or expansion of the empire. This conclusion would come from the fact that of all the animals, birds are certainly the fastest and travel further (Deut 28:49; II Sam 1:23).
If we accept this interpretation, having the wings removed would signal an end to rapid expansion. Standing on its feet like a man and receiving a man’s heart seems to show that what was once a mighty, warlike kingdom would become somewhat weak and human.
One country which might fit this description today would be Great Britain. Once, the sun never set on her empire. At one time, she expanded her influence and holdings rapidly over the entire globe. But today, things have changed. Now Great Britain is much less significant on the world scene. Her empire is in pieces. She has become much less lion-like and much more human. Interestingly, the symbol for this nation is a lion. Over the last few centuries, she has been directly involved in conflicts for control of the Mediterranean region.
The next beast we see is a bear. It “was raised up on one side” (Dan 7:5). Some Bible translators say that this could mean that it “established for itself one dominion” which seems to be a more logical translation. The Bear has three ribs in its mouth. It is told, “Arise, devour much flesh.”
Meditating on the Bear, Russia or the old Soviet Union comes to mind. Certainly, her history is a very bloody one with countless millions of her own people being killed for one reason or another, especially under Communist domination. This would fulfill the “devour much flesh” part of the vision.
If Russia is the Bear, then the three ribs could represent the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which it first gobbled up when expanding its territory. Russia too has been involved through the years in conflicts over the part of the world which we have mentioned.
ABOUT HEADS AND HORNS
Before we proceed, we must study an important clue to understanding Bible prophecy. Please remember this because we will refer to it again in our later discussions. Many beasts which appear in prophetic visions have several heads and/or multiple horns. What does this mean?
When a prophetic animal has several heads, this refers to a succession of rulers. From our detailed discussion of Revelation 17:9,10 in the previous book Babylon, this progression of seven heads/kings is quite evident. This succession does not need to be immediate, but, as the case of Babylon, these rulers can be separated by hundreds, if not thousands of years.
On the other hand, when the animal has multiple horns, this indicates simultaneous rulers. We can see this by looking at the Antichrist empire. There we find ten horns, indicating the ten rulers who hold power together with him, all at the same time.
So we have a simple formula:
multiple prophetic heads = a succession of rulers;
multiple prophetic horns = simultaneous rulers.
Using this formula, we can now proceed.
The third beast is a leopard. Its notable features are four heads and four wings. Not much more is said about it except that “dominion is given to it.” Applying our “multiple heads” formula to the Leopard, we would then need to look for an empire in the region which we have described, which has had or will have a prominent progression of four rulers. The four wings might mean that each of these rulers rises up rapidly to power.
By the way, our “several horns” understanding discounts the Leopard beast from being Alexander’s empire and his four generals. Four simultaneous rulers should be represented by four horns (as they certainly are in the vision of the Ram and male Goat) not by four heads which appear on the Leopard.
This beast is not so easy to identify. We must look for a nation which has been prominently involved in the conflicts in the Mediterranean region which also would be a contemporary of Russia and England. No nation springs to mind in this area which has the national symbol of a leopard. However, there is one country which has had a notable succession of rulers and has been much involved in the conflicts of that area. It is Germany of which I speak.
When Adolph Hitler came to power, he claimed that his kingdom was the third reich. Reich means “kingdom” in the German language. He identified his rule as being the third in a series of important rulers. Perhaps the earlier Otto von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm could be the two previous ones which he was recognizing. Although I do not know the history of these two earlier rulers, certainly Hitler’s rise to power was startlingly rapid. This would fit with the four wings.
(Someone else has suggested the Holy Roman Empire [900-1806 A.D.] and the German Empire [1870-1918 A.D.] as being the first two “reichs” or kingdoms.)
If this is the correct identification of the Leopard, then we should soon see another strong, charismatic leader quickly rising up to power in Germany. Such a ruler does not need to be a Nazi. He (or she) only needs to be someone who captures the hearts of the German people and galvanizes the population to some end.
Therefore, the readers should keep their eyes open for a popular leader rising up in Germany who would lead this nation to a position of greater world prominence.
Our identification of this third “beast” is somewhat tentative. The weak points seem to be that the national symbol of Germany is not a leopard and it has had only three “heads.”
However, this third beast certainly must be some nation which we can identify today. It needs to be a country in the region which we have been discussing. Furthermore, it must have had or will have a prominent succession of four rulers. So, let us keep our hearts and minds open to the Holy Spirit for any further revelation which He might give to us. If Germany is not the right choice, God will certainly reveal this as time goes on.
THE FOURTH BEAST
The fourth beast is not described in the same way the others are. That is to say it is not compared to some kind of animal which we could recognize. We are only told that this beast has large iron teeth and bronze claws (Dan 7:7,19). It is further described as being “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong.” Signifycantly, it is “different from the beasts that were before it.” This beast decisively smashes all opposition wherever it goes.
For the identity of this beast, I would like to select the Ottoman Empire or the Ottoman Turks. The reason I choose this empire is that it was located in the exact spot which the other prophecies indicate. Also, it was a huge kingdom which was extremely powerful but now has disintegrated. This empire was intimately involved in the struggle for control of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
Most Westerners know little about this empire. Some have never even heard of it. Yet it was a dominant, overwhelming force in the region about which we speak for hundreds of years, right up until after the First World War.
The reason for this kingdom being “different” from the other three would be that the others were secular, political empires. This fourth beast kingdom was a religious one. In recent years, this kingdom has fallen into pieces. What remains is the country of Turkey.
Yet, it will be out of this disintegrated empire that the ten nations of the Antichrist alliance will appear. Remember that we read: “The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this [fourth beast] kingdom” (Dan 7:24).
As we have already studied, it is this area of the world, the Middle East, from which the Antichrist and his ten nations will come.
Perhaps it would benefit all the readers to take a little time and review just what the Ottoman Empire was all about. Here I am quoting excerpts from the website:
www.wsu.edu:8080 /~dee /OTTOMAN / OTTOMAN1.HTM
“The Ottomans are one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations of the modern period. The empire they built was the largest and most influential of the Muslim empires of the modern period, and their culture and military expansion crossed over into Europe. Not since the expansion of Islam into Spain in the eighth century had Islam seemed poised to establish a European presence as it did in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Like that earlier expansion, the Ottomans established an empire over European territory and established Islamic traditions and culture that last to the current day (the Muslims in Bosnia are the last descendants of the Ottoman presence in Europe).
The Ottoman empire lasted until the twentieth century. While historians like to talk about empires in terms of growth and decline, the Ottomans were a force to be reckoned with, militarily and culturally, right up until the breakup of the empire in the first decades of this century.
We will start with the greatest figure of Ottoman history, the Sultan Suleyman, who built from the conquests of his father a great city, military machine, empire, and culture.
The Ottomans arose from the obscure reaches of Anatolia in the west of Turkey; these Western Turks were called the Oghuz. Some of them were warriors to the Islamic faith carrying out jihad, or "holy struggle," to spread the faith among hostile unbelievers.
In 1402, the Ottomans moved their capital to Edirne in Europe where they threatened Constantinople. The city seemed to defy the great expansion of Islam. No matter how much territory fell to the Muslims, Constantinople resisted every siege and every invasion. The Ottomans wanted to break this cycle. Not only would the seizure of Constantinople represent a powerful symbol of Ottoman power, but it would make the Ottomans master of east-west trade. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed (1451-1481), who was called "The Conqueror," finally took this one last remnant of Byzantium and renamed it, Istanbul. From that point onwards, the capital of the Ottoman Europe would remain fixed in Istanbul and, under the patronage of the Ottoman sultans, become one of the wealthiest and most cultured cities of the early modern world.
The Ottoman Empire had been started. It expanded greatly under Sultan Selim I (1512-1520), but it was under his son, Sultan Suleyman (1520-1566), called "The Lawmaker" in Islamic history and "The Magnificent" in Europe, that the empire would reach its greatest expansion over Asia and Europe.”
This empire was divided up after World War I. The Ottomans sided with the Germans and were defeated. Then their holdings were parceled out between several European nations. Many territorial boundaries were redrawn. This conquest and subjugation of the Islamic world by the European powers after hundreds of years of prosperity and dominance is the source of much of the hatred against the West you will find among Muslims today.
One great hope for many Muslims is that their empire and culture will some day be restored to its former prominence and greatness. It is worth noting in the above article how they are especially proud when Islam conquers and takes root in Europe.
You see, this empire was really “different” from all the others. The leaders and even citizens were trying to prove something. They were attempting to establish a religious empire and demonstrate that their religious society was superior in every respect – culturally, militarily, economically, and politically – to that of those they fought against.
For them, Western civilization was a “Christian” culture. They were, in many respects, anti-Christian. If you speak to any Muslims today, they will know all about the history of the Ottoman Empire. Certainly it conquered, smashed, “trampled,” “broke in pieces,” and “devoured” much of the civilized world of its day. This empire fits very nicely into the picture of what we are calling the fourth beast because of its activities and location.
It is from the territory once held by this fourth beast that the ten horns of the Antichrist empire come. From this general area arise (and probably have already arisen) ten nations.
This author does not insist that the coming Antichrist kingdom will be a strict “revival” of the old Ottoman empire. It is possible that some of the older empire will be left out. It is even conceivable that some neighboring lands, which were not governed directly by the Ottomans but were dominated by Muslim authority, could be included in the ten. This will probably only become clear as time goes on.
There are probably more than ten countries today which occupy the territory once ruled by the Ottomans. This does not change our understanding. What is necessary is that the ten nations which will form the Antichrist empire will come from the general area of former Ottoman rule and/or influence. Thus, this vision too dovetails perfectly with the other prophecies which we have been studying.
"Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit!
He who loves his soul life, will have it destroyed. But he who has a deep aversion to his soul life in this world, will have it preserved [through transformation] into the eternal life of God. John 12:24-25