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"When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive all the nations in the four quarters of the earth...and mobilize them for war." ---Revelation 20:7-8
"Here there is a need for cleverness, for a shrewd mind;
the seven heads are the seven hills, and the woman is sitting on them."
Standing at the shoreline on Patmos island, John looked out over the Mediterranean and "saw a beast emerge from the sea which had seven heads and ten horns..." (Rv.13:1).
The symbolism in this vision is rich with dualism (see footnote).
The seven heads, John explained, are metaphors describing on one side, seven particular nations, and on the other, seven specific men, both of whom, in combination, have severely persecuted God's people on earth throughout history.
The monster these seven heads belong to is Satan, the dragon, the creature Babylon is shown to ride. (Rv.17:3). Often described in prophetic passages as the 'sea monster' (or Leviathon), this dragon is the ruler of the lower sea.
Its seven heads have been smashed and destroyed by the word of Jesus Christ. "By your power, Lord, you split the sea in two, and smashed the heads of the monster on the waters." (Ps.74:13).
Note in the passage above the multiple heads of the monster God has destroyed. It's plurality in this Psalm shows that the Psalm and the Book of Revelation are referencing similar entities -- similar heads.
One of these seven heads, Persia, destroyed long before Christ was born, will soon be reincarnated and become so powerful in the last days that it will challenge all the kingdoms of Babylon -- seeking to dominate the earth completely.
This challenge will manifest itself in a specific place on earth -- Rome. For this reason all the symbolism seems to point to Rome -- the city of the seven hills.
But Rome and its seven hills is only one part of the meaning. The seven continents of the earth is another. The seven continents form the seven hills which human civilization has mounted itself upon. And all the symbolism of the Bible seems to be directed toward this larger image, because in its inception, remember, Babylon originated at the Euphrates River, the cradle of human civilization.
When God corrupted the language of this civilization at the Tower of Babel, He scattered mankind across the earth, sending the civilization of Babylon to the four winds of the planet.
The society of man began to take form in the Euphrates valley soon after the birth of Adam and Eve about 5800 years ago. From there it spread across the earth. Later (and again back at the Euphrates) this emerging society began to polarize into two parts when Abraham was born. Using Abraham as His seed, God began to officially divide human civilization into two clusters of people by forming the House of Israel inside of it.
This division grew to the point of Jesus Christ whose arrival lifted the division to a spiritual level -- one which brought the entire human race to the doorstep of God.
Promoting God is Jesus Christ and the righteous Gospel he preached. Opposing Jesus is Satan, the beast who guides the nations in wicked behavior.
In between are all the world's leaders. Their rule can either support wickedness and expand its influence over the people, or it can deplore such behavior and actively work to control it.
Those leaders who promote Jesus Christ and struggle to expand the growth of His churches on earth, work against the beast. It is these who flourished during the millenium.
But those world rulers who work against Jesus, promote the beast. And it is these, the latter, who occupy the framework surrounding the beast's seven heads. And it is these that we can see arising in our own time, rebirthing the secular world of the Caesars.
Rome is the symbolic capital city of the secular earth (Babylon).
For almost 2000 years (the term of the millenium according to Joshua's prophecy), this Italian city has been ruled by a Christian government -- fulfilling the vision of the millenial rule of Christ. But, as the vision shows, that conquest and rule had defined limits. (Rev.20:1-9).
Because world leaders play such a pivotal role in promoting one or the other of the two kinds of behavior on earth, they form an integral part of the image.
The beast's seven heads not only represent the kings and kingdoms dedicated to the beast's service, they are brought to a focus in seven particular world leaders who have committed their energy to the captivity and destruction of the House of Israel.
It is in this obsession -- the destruction of the people of God -- that we can identify the heads specifically.
The first six were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece (through Syria) and Rome. The seventh head seems to have been Germany. And beyond that, there is an eighth yet to come.
The ten horns are a part of this eighth, and they represent the nations making up what Daniel called 'the fourth kingdom of Persia' -- the ten eastern nations who will band together to support the reappearance of this eighth and last beastly head at the end of time.
The heads, then, while pointing in one sense to Rome or to the continents of the world, are integrally bound up with nations and their rulers. It is in this latter sense that they can be most clearly identified.
While the seven heads of the beast seem to encompass in a symbolic way all the pagan rulers of Babylon from its inception to its end, they can be seen most vividly in those seven individual governments listed above which have actively committed their energies to the purpose of Satan's fundamental goal: the enslavement and persecution of God's people on earth.
In the case of Egypt, we do not know for certain the exact name of the Pharaoh who persecuted the Hebrew tribes, but we do know the nation -- Egypt. That is why the seven heads in certain cases refer to nations, and in others, to the leaders who headed these nations.
Rome plays a key role in this vision because it can be seen on both sides of the prophecy. Not only was it's government (especially under Nero) one of the seven enemies of the House of Israel, the city itself sits atop seven hills, duplicating mankind's occupation of the planet's continents.
Seeing Rome's relationship to the vision in John's prophecy, some scholars feel that the first six heads allude to the first six emperors of Rome. The claim falls apart, however, in the procession of emperor's who followed Nero (the sixth Roman emperor) -- a number which stretches far beyond eight. John focuses everything on Rome because it is in Rome that all the visions of Babylon will ultimately crystallize.
A much clearer image of John's vision lies in the seven nations and world leaders which have focused their combative energies against the House of Israel.
The first pagan nation to attack Israel was Egypt.
The captivity of Pharaoh, the first head of the beast, was so binding that it could only be overcome by the direct power of God -- the display of which when it came was of such awesome proportions that it split the Red Sea in half.
Egypt was the reason for Moses and the Exodus. This nation created the allegory for the 'ingathering' and defined the structure upon which mankind's redemption and atonement would be based.
The second of these seven nations was Assyria, a country situated in what is today the northeastern part of Iraq. It's capitol, Nineveh, was about a hundred miles north of the modern city of Baghdad.
The Assyrians were responsible for the lost ten tribes of Israel.
Invading the land of Palestine, the army of Nineveh swept ten of the twelve tribes of Israel out of the pages of history, plunging them into a captivity so deep that only the power of Jesus could rescue them from permanent anonymity.
In this mass eviction and enslavement, over 80% of Jacob's entire descendancy disappeared -- submerged by the Assyrians into the greater human race through the genetic camouflage of intermarriage with the pagan people which surrounded them.
The Assyrians were also responsible for bringing the foreign Samaritans in to occupy the land made vacant by the deportation of the Hebrew Ephraimites.
The Assyrian offensive against the northern tribes was of preeminent significance, because it created the vast invisible pool out of which the 'hidden remnant' of Israel which Jeremiah said would be called back by the Messiah to take the ruling scepter away from the Jews and rebuild Jerusalem in the integrity of the Son of David, would later flow.
As we have seen before, these 'lost tribes', because they were so extensive, have created, through intermarriage and time, an enormous hidden reservoir of Israelites able to claim in Christ a legitimate tribal legacy reaching right back to Abraham himself. And no one can dispute their claim because God has made their heritage physically invisible.
In the 3000 years that have gone by since this massive deportation first occured, virtually every person living on earth today has the potential for having been 'touched' at some point in their genetic past by this ever-expanding, but imperceptible, Hebrew legacy.
This lineage was promised to Abraham by God in the Bible: "I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore... All the nations of the world shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience." (Gen.22:17-18).
The third major nation to attack the House of Israel was Babylon.
One hundred years after the northern tribes fell to the Assyrians, Nebuchadnezzar led the forces of Babylon into Jerusalem and carried away the last two tribes (Judah and Benjamine), transporting them to the banks of the Euphrates where they were held in bondage for seventy years.
This event created the base on which the the Bible has brought to a focus every attack ever made against the House of Israel. Babylon's very name has become the scriptural cryptogram for all empires opposing God's people. As a result, most of us now see Babylon and the work of Satan in synonymous terms.
The destruction of Babylon by Persia, (announced the night before it happened by Daniel) presages the ultimate destruction of this sinful world by eastern forces in the last days; and the Persian decree which set the Jews free from Babylon, anticipates a future declaration that will end Babylon's reign over Israel forever.
The fourth assault against the House of Israel came from Persia itself. This attack, documented in the Bible's Book of Esther, came in the form of a Persian proclamation sentencing all Jews to death -- a sentence typifying Satan's own decree.
In the pages of the Book of Esther we are shown vivid symbols of the hierarchy of God's kingdom and it's principle figures. In this story the king alludes to Jesus; the first wife (Vashti) to the old creation; the new bride (Esther) to the new creation; her guardian (Mordecai) to Michael the Archangel; and the wicked prince trying to exterminate the Jewish race (Haman) to Satan and his Beast.
The book unfolds its analogy in an allegorical format; and it culminates in the ultimate salvation of the people of God from a death sentence initiated by Haman -- a high official in the Persian court -- a man who is ultimately put to death on the very gallows he built to destroy the Hebrew race.
These circumstances not only duplicate the biblical image of the House of Israel under siege by Satan (the 'Accuser' who has condemned us before God and petitioned for our deaths) they bring into focus the actions of the Rebel to come who will duplicate all these things one final time at the end of the world.
At that time, the whole tenant of the Bible's story of Esther will be repeated once again in a fatal decree which will be issued by the Rebel when he overthrows the church in Rome, taking back his throne; and then gathers his armies around Jerusalem in an attempt to make his dictum final.
The fact that Haman (a non-Persian who had risen to the highest ranks of the Persian court) tried to use his office to exterminate the Jews as a race brings him into direct correlation with the northern prince at the end of time who will similarly vow to bring the House of Israel to the gallows of Jerusalem -- using troops from the very same nation.
The fifth attack on the surviving tribes of the House of Israel came from Greece -- actually from the Syrian part of Alexander's Grecian empire.
This assault was led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and elements of it have been recounted throughout this book. That is because it was Antiochus who ordered the original abomination in the Jewish temple be erected, defiling the Hebrew sacrifice.
In this action, Antiochus initiated the allegory which now defines the ultimate separation of the human race from its one and only shield against the Apocalypse -- the sacrificial peace treaty of Jesus Christ that holds back the terrible wrath of the last days.
When the beast of the last days places iniquity on Christ's sacrifice, the entire allegory of Antiochus will be replicated, and there will be no clemency possible from the events which follow.
The sixth of the seven empires was Rome itself.
This is the nation which put Jesus on the cross and then later repented of its actions by ratifying the treaty of the cross. Within this treaty was structured the exodus of the millenium. Because of this, Rome brings us full circle.
In the actions of Constantine we see a duplication of the edict of the Egyptian Pharoah who allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt in peace as they followed the road God created for them in Moses, leading to the Promised Land. With the Edict of Milan, the Roman emperor Constantine allowed the Christians to live in peace in his empire and to preach the Gospel of Christ without hindrance from the government.
This allowance enabled those who chose to live and preach in Christ, the opportunity to do so, creating the spiritual exodus the Bible was written to expedite.
At the end of the Exodus, however, Pharaoh had a sudden change of heart and sent his troops to attack the rearguard of the departing Israelites. This attack brings us to the seventh emperor -- to the head which had not yet come when John wrote down his words. And then to the eighth -- the duplicate.
When paganism returns to rule the earth, it's reign will eventually center in the city of Rome. Just as Babylon itself became the cryptogram for the beast and all of its heads, Rome has fallen heir to the fulfillment of these prophecies, because it is in this city that Satan will set up his final throne.
While Rome is portrayed as Babylon in the prophecies of John, and the Rebel depicted as a Roman emperor, Daniel's prophecies focus on a 'prince of Persia' who will come out of the east in the image of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Since the Rebel of the last days will conform to everything written about him in scripture, he must be seen in both contexts. One aspect of his rule involving Rome and the other encompassing the eastern world.
Satan's rule is not just in Italy. Satan exists in every nationality on the planet because he rules everyone on the earth who is not committed to Jesus Christ. The key to these two images (Babylon and Persia) is paganism.
John's vision and Daniel's vision coalesce in pagan government, and since it is this that continues while the 'heads' of the beast come and go, we must assume that the true 'beast' is Satan's kind of empire.
The beast itself is something that has the capacity to outlive earthly human beings and even earthly empires.
Together, all these empires and their kings are a part of each other and so they all form the one 'beast' which is pagan government at war with God. The beast is a lawless world at odds with God and committed to the destruction of God's people.
As such, the beast has been around for thousands of years. And each of its heads represent the various kings and empires who have committed themselves to carry out Satan's war against the House of Israel.
When Theodosus outlawed paganism in the Roman empire and declared Christianity the only true religion of God, he ended the world-rule of the beast and replaced it with the world-rule of Jesus Christ.
This was a major happening in the world.
With his sword (the word of God) Jesus inflicted what the Bible calls 'a mortal wound' on the pagan Roman empire -- dooming the sixth 'head' of the beast.
What Christ's mortal wound destroyed was the adverserial relationship between the House of Israel and world government.
The disintegration of a Roman empire hostile to God effectively ended pagan rule in the world and initiated an era of Christian rule in its place, and this created the millenium.
The wound Jesus administered was proved mortal the moment Theodosus issued his proclamation outlawing any form of pagan worship in the empire, and commanding the entire world to worship Jesus Christ.
Only nineteen years after this proclamation was announced, The barbarians of Germany overthrew Rome militarily, proving physically what had just occurred spiritually. The sixth head of the beast had been destroyed. The Roman empire of the Caesar's was gone -- spiritually and physically.
In its place, the spiritual 'invasion' from the North which Jeremiah so clearly predicted, had begun. (Jer.1:14-15). The 'lost tribes' of Israel began returning in spirit to rebuild in Christ the Jerusalem which they had left in ruins because of their sins.
This was not a physical return. It was entirely a spiritual return. These converts did not go to the Jerusalem in Palestine and rebuild a major Christian city there. This was a rejuvenation of ethical behavior, and so constituted a spiritual return to God. They rebuilt themselves in the ethic of Jesus, creating an invisible city in heaven.
The conversion of the Lost Tribes of Israel also constituted a spiritual exchange of leadership roles over the House of Israel.
The Jews who had previously headed these twelve tribes were dismissed from the management office by God for a lack of faith, and their influence was immediately overwhelmed by an immense Christian body that grew meteorically to mammoth size, soon outnumbering the people of Judah by a hundred to one.
Taking away the Jewish reigns, and heralding the message of God's treaty of peace for a rebellious mankind, this immense Christian Church quickly became the dominant theological force on the planet, and the divinely designated spokesperson for the House of Israel on earth -- two roles it has retained virtually to the present day.
The Roman persecutions ended for the most part soon after the empire converted to Christianity, but the Church never went back to Palestine. It has remained bound to 'Babylon' by the will of God since the day of the crucifixion. (Jer.29:4-10).
The Holy Spirit has made this obvious by structuring the headquarters of the largest Christian Church in the city of Rome and keeping it there for almost 20 centuries.
According to prophecy, this Babylonian exile is to remain in place until the day the Prince of Persia appears and cuts the tie. This means that the Roman empire in God's eyes has continued uninterrupted all this time; surviving in a converted form through its committment to Jesus Christ.
The image is that of a Babylon being ruled by the people of Christ from that day to this -- a period of time constituting on earth, Christ's millenial rule.
We can see evidence of this by the fact that even though Germans took control of Rome in 410 A.D., their descendants never renamed the empire in their country's own image, but chose the name 'Holy Roman Empire' instead -- acquiescing their own heritage in favor of one defined in God's Son.
That is why so few people today are aware of the fact that the Holy Roman empire was in reality a German kingdom.
While the influence of Jesus has been the leading export of Rome since the days of Constantine, the city of Rome itself remained subservient to a great host of German monarchs -- from 410 A.D. all the way up to the nineteenth century.
Because these German kings chose not to tamper with the rule of Christ, the overwhelming image that emanated from Rome throughout the Germanic rule was the power on earth of Jesus' Church.
At the end of Christ's reign on earth, when this Christian rule over Babylon is scheduled to collapse, the last two 'heads', according to John, will make their appearance. John said they were standing by, just waiting for the appropriate time.
Because so little is said about the seventh head in scripture we know very little about it; but it seems likely that this is the empire designed to prepare the way for paganism's return to power.
Given the state of the world today, it is almost certain that the seventh head has already come and gone. We will explore this in more detail in the next chapter.
The eighth head, of course, will end the world.
As we can see all around us now, under the influence of Satan, Christianity is beginning to fail. The mortal wound inflicted by Christ on paganism has begun to heal. World government has abandoned Jesus and that alone constitutes the revolt that will destroy the millenium, because it has brought to an end the world rule of Christ.
This sudden religious reversal by the western world has allowed pagan leaders to return to political power all across the earth.
Not even the emperor Napoleon (who grabbed the crown of France out of the Bishop's hands and put it on his own head) would have been able to foresee how quickly those who came after him would take his lead and toss out the church.
The collapse of Christian influence in world government began in earnest at the beginning of this century with the First World War and the communist revolution in Russia. And its ultimate death blow was delivered a few decades later by Adolph Hitler.
The events of this century have ended the Church's 1700 year reign over the western world, and brought to a halt on earth the age of the 'iron scepter' of Christ. (Ps.2:8-12; Rv.2:26-29).
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