The book of Revelation relates a series of visions. John on the island of Patmos is called up to Heaven and he "sees" a lot of fantastic and wondrous things. These visions have a couple of odd characteristics. 1) The vision he sees must be interpreted as a view, in its entirety, of several visions of the Old Testament prophets before him. This could lead to a dismissal of the book as a mere weaving together of the old visions, except that; 2) The number of new visions, the level of interweaving of the old visions, and the revelation that Jesus as the Lamb was found worthy to open the Seven Seals, preclude the conclusion that the book of Revelation is just a composite.
I believe the book of Revelation is a wide view of a vision that the Old Testament prophets saw in narrow slices. In the Old Testament, Christ had not yet come and the visions could not be understood. In other words, before He came, He was still part of the vision. In Heaven, the potential and the actualization are the same thing, but we here on earth can only see up to the present. Heaven being Eternal, everything has already happened. (Which also explains how free will and predestination can co-exist.)
Revelation 4:6-7 speaks of 4 living creatures before the throne of the One in Heaven. They resemble: 1- a lion; 2- a calf (Greek moschos, a young bullock, which is the castrated male of the genus Bos, any bovine animal) 3- a man; and 4- a flying eagle.
In Ezekiel 1:10, the 4 living creatures each have 4 faces- 1- of a man, 2- of a lion, 3- of an ox (a castrated male of the genus Bos, any bovine animal), and 4- of an eagle.
The creatures of both Revelation and Ezekiel have wings. The creatures of Revelation have eyes behind and in front; in Ezekiel the eyes are on the wheels. In Revelation, they are before the throne of One in heaven, before which is a sea of glass like crystal. In Ezekiel, the firmament above the creatures' heads is like the color of an awesome crystal, and above the firmament is the likeness of a throne with the likeness of the appearance of a man high above it.
In Ezekiel 40 and subsequent chapters, a man has a measuring rod to measure the city, the temple and the sanctuary. In Revelation 11, John is given a reed like a measuring rod to measure the Temple, the altar and those who worship there. (Could Ezekiel have been seeing John?)
Revelation 11:3-4 introduces the 2 witnesses who are the 2 olive trees and the 2 lampstands standing before the God of the earth. Also, in Revelation 1:12-13, One like the Son of Man stands in the midst of 7 lampstands.
In Zechariah 4, there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top, and 7 lamps on the stand, with an olive tree to its left and right. In Zechariah 4:11-14, he asks what the 2 olive trees are, and the angel answers, "These are the 2 anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."
You could argue that the differences indicate 2 different visions, but I maintain that:
1) The visions of Revelation were meant to be recognized as those of the prophets because of the fundamental similarities (i.e. 2 olive trees as 2 anointed ones in proximity to lampstands), and;
2) The subtle differences tend to prove a genuine revelation, because a false chronicler would be more likely to adhere to the original in its finer points. A counterfeit artist tries to copy the details exactly. A true artist only builds on styles used before.
Revelation 9:7-8 describes locusts like horses with lion's teeth, prepared for battle, similar to Joel 1:4 describing locusts which are a nation with lion's teeth, and (Joel 2:4) the people's appearance is like horses, and like swift steeds they run.
Ezekiel introduces Gog and Magog. In Revelation Gog and Magog appear after the Millenium.
To lead to the main point of this article, let's look more closely at the vision of Daniel. Daniel prophesied to the king of Babylon- Nebuchadnezzar- while in Babylon. The fact that he wrote while in Babylon is an important point.
In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar builds an image of gold, measuring 60 cubits high and 6 cubits wide. He commands that any of his subjects who do not worship it be cast into a fiery furnace.
Revelation 13. The image of the beast, as many as would not worship the image would be killed, the number of the beast- 666. Both passages refer to an image. Nebuchadnezzar’s image is 6 units wide and 60 units high. The image of the beast seems to add to that a dimension of 600 units. That additional dimension would be length if dealing with ordinary geometry.
Now let's look at this beast. Revelation 13:1-2 describes the beast whose number is later the number of a man, 666. "Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having 7 heads and 10 horns, and on his horns 10 crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority." Revelation 13:5 describes its duration: "And he was given authority to continue for 42 months"- or 42 x 30 days. A day in prophecy equals a year, as when the Israelites are forced to wander in the wilderness 1 year for every 1 day spent scouting out Canaan. Or when Ezekiel had to lie on 1 side for 390 days and the other side for 40 days, signifying 390 years and 40 years, respectively (Ezekiel 4).
Daniel 7 describes a dream of Daniel's. There are 4 beasts- a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a 4th beast which is dreadful and has iron teeth, devouring and breaking in pieces and trampling the residue with its feet. It is different from the beasts before it, and has 10 horns. An 11th horn pops up and the horn has a mouth speaking pompous words against the Most High, persecutes the saints of the Most High, and intends to change times and law. The saints are given over to him to be killed.
In Revelation 13:7, it is granted to the beast to make war with the saints and overcome them. It is the same as Daniel's beast. What kingdom is this beast?
The leopard of Daniel 7 has 4 heads, and 4 wings. These 4 heads, plus the heads of the bear and the lion and the 4th beast, equal 7 heads.
Revelation 13 is a composite of those beasts:
The lion is Babylon, where Daniel is speaking.
The bear is Medo-Persia, which overtook Babylon.
The leopard is Greece, which defeated Medo-Persia.
The beast of Revelation has the feet of a bear. This is where the beast stands. In Medo-Persia- anywhere from Iraq to Iran.
The beast of Revelation has a mouth of a lion. This is the nature of the words it speaks, the religion it holds, the religion of Babylon. The lion of Daniel 7 is described as being like a lion, with eagle's wings. Its wings are plucked off, and it is made to stand on 2 feet like a man, and a man's heart is given to it.
This is also the image of Nebuchadnezzar, with a head of gold, chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet of clay and iron (Daniel 2). This is also how the beast is also a man. The number of the beast is that of a man. The man is in Babylon. The 11th horn of Daniel 7 has a mouth speaking pompous words- the mouth of the lion. I don't know the significance of Greece as the leopard, other than power and swiftness.
The beast of Daniel 7 has 10 horns, and an 11th pops up, and 3 of the 1st horns are plucked out by the roots.
Many Protestant reviewers of these prophecies think the beast will be a revived, modern-day Roman Empire. There are two problems with that:
1) What about the intervening centuries? (19 centuries separate us in time from John. But Protestants usually skip over the uncomfortable centuries when the only Church was the Catholic Church.)
And 2) What about Mystery Babylon?
What is Mystery Babylon?
In Revelation 17 she is a harlot who sits on a scarlet beast full of names of blasphemy and having 7 heads and 10 horns. The angel says to John, Revelation 17:9-11:
"Here is the mind which has wisdom. The 7 heads are 7 mountains on which the woman sits. There are also 7 kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also the 8th, and is of the 7, and is going to perdition."
What are we told about the woman? Revelation 17:1-6:
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
Jeremiah 50 and 51 contain prophecies against Babylon. Jeremiah 51:7- "Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD's hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged."
Revelation 16:19- "...And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath...(17: 4)- The woman...having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication...(17:6)-...drunk with the blood of the saints...(18:3)- For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury."
Jeremiah 51:45- "`My people, go out of the midst of her! And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the LORD.'"
Revelation 18:4- "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, `Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.'"
Jeremiah 51:63-64- "`Now it shall be, when you (Jeremiah) have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. Then you shall say, "Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary."' Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." Jeremiah performs the symbolic action.
Revelation 18:21- "Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,`Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.'" The angel performs the action in Heaven.
Isaiah 21:9- "...`Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.'"
Revelation 18:2- "And he (an angel) cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, `Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!'"
Isaiah 47:5-8- "`Sit in silence, and go into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; For you shall no longer be called The Lady of Kingdoms [This is Babylon- see 47:1]...Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, "I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children..."'"
Revelation 18:7- "`In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, "I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow."'"
What is this all about? It's about Babylon. Not Rome. Nowhere is Rome mentioned, not even alluded to, except in the notion of 7 hills. Other cities are built on 7 hills. Jerusalem, Istanbul, Mecca, Tehran, . There is no way you could call Rome, “daughter of the Chaldeans”. But say Babylon 30 times more and people will still say this means Rome.
Getting back to Daniel- Daniel's vision of the beast comes when he is in Babylon. He does not dream of Israel- his revelations come from where he is, his location. Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the image with a head of gold and feet of iron and clay stands in Babylon. But all the numbers and heads and horns get us confused. Nebuchadnezzar's dream mentions 4 kingdoms while Revelation 17 mentions 7 kings, then an 8th. The 10 horns are 10 kings, with an 11th which pops up, as the 8th does. Daniel also has a vision of a ram with 2 horns and a male goat with 1 horn which is broken and in which place spring up 4 horns, and 1 little one which grows exceedingly great toward the south, the east, and toward the Glorious Land (Israel, which, from Daniel's position in Babylon, is northwest.)
At the time John was having his vision, Babylon (again, the city of Daniel's vision, and NOT JERUSALEM), was not in the hands of the Romans. The 5 kings which "have fallen" (Revelation 17:10, keep your Bible open) were Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and the Seleucid Empire. The goat in Daniel's vision was Greece- the 4 horns which sprang up were the 4 satrapies which emerged following his death, of which one was the Ptolemaic in Egypt, and one the Seleucid in Babylonia. John's 6th king, the one which "is," was the Parthian Empire. The one which "has not yet come(, a)nd when he comes, he must continue a short while" was the Roman Empire. Remember the prophecy of Gabriel to Daniel about the 70 weeks? The phrase used about the destroyers of Jerusalem was that they were "the people of the prince who is to come," and the same phrase is used here. This is the Romans. Then there's an 8th king. The Romans held Babylon for a nominal period, but the region was not captured again until the second wave of Moslem conquest, under the "first four caliphs," which ended in 661.
It was not relinquished by a Moslem leader until the Ottoman Empire gave it up to the Allies following its defeat in World War I. Iraq fell under British mandate in 1921- 1260 years later.
The Ottoman Empire, the Caliphate, was completely defeated in 1921. The “head”, the nation, was slain. What if it comes back? What if the man who is proclaimed Caliph is also identified as the Mahdi, the 12th Imam? Would the world see it as a resurrection?
“And I saw one of his heads as it were slain to death: and his death's wound was healed. And all the earth was in admiration after the beast. And they adored the dragon, which gave power to the beast: and they adored the beast, saying: Who is like to the beast? and who shall be able to fight with him?”
Revelation 13:5- "And he was given authority to continue for 42 months..."
42 months. 42 x 30 days = 1260.
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding count (or calculate) the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is six hundred, three score (3 x 20 = 60) and six.”
Count or calculate. How do you count to 666? 1,2,3,4,5,6...
How do you "calculate" the number? Add all the numbers 1 through 36:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 + 14 + 15 + 16 + 17 + 18 + 19 + 20 + 21 + 22 + 23 + 24 + 25 + 26 + 27 + 28 + 29 + 30 + 31 + 32 + 33 + 34 + 35 + 36 = 666
That could be shown as a two-dimensional pyramid with 1 at the top and 36 at the bottom.
(666 is also the sum of the squares of the first 7 primes:
2^2 + 3^2 + 5^2 + 7^2 + 11^2 + 13^2 + 17^2 =
4 + 9 + 25 + 49 + 121 + 169 + 289 = 666)
(666 is also the sum of the first 144 digits of pi after the decimal point.)