Since I wrote the post “Wanna Bet?”, in which I give my stance on the identity of the ten horns of Revelation 17:12 and Daniel 7:7, 24, I have had a chance to dialogue about the identity of the seven heads of Revelation 17:9-11 with a couple of different people. I’ve wavered about this over the years, but now I think it’s time to officially declare my position. I know that some will not agree, as many people more studied than myself have come to different conclusions, but I think the view that I hold makes the best sense of the passage. Here is the passage for reference:
This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast.
What is meant by five have fallen? If we use the approach that the seven heads are primarily empires and secondarily as kings, then we can easily show that there had been seven previous empires which Satan had used. The word for “fall” here can mean a variety of things. It is used in Revelation for those who fall before the LORD in worship. But it is also used in reference to the city of Babylon the Great falling, which means the destruction as described in Revelation 18. It is also used for cities falling in Revelation 16:19. This could very easily be used in reference to empires having fallen previous to this point in time.
It is quite simple to pinpoint the empire immediately previous to the empire that was in power at the time of John’s vision. The Greek Empire had preceded the Roman Empire. The Medo-Persian Empire had preceded the Greek Empire. The Babylonian Empire had preceded the Medo-Persian Empire. These are the empires that are envisioned in Daniel 2 & 7. But what about previous to this? What were the empires that preceded the Babylonian Empire?
The empire that preceded the Babylonian Empire was the Assyrian Empire. This is noted in history and in the historical books of the Bible. II Kings shows that the rise of the Assyrian Empire was a threat to the entire Mediterranean region, including Samaria and Judah, the two divisions of the kingdom of Israel, see II Kings 15:29, 17:1-6, 18:13. Tiglath-Pileser was responsible for carrying away Galilee into captivity. Shalmaneser brought judgment upon Samaria which resulted in the destruction of the northern kingdom and the apostasy of those who remained. Sennacherib would have destroyed Judah except they turned to the LORD for refuge resulting in a miraculous protection from the Assyrians, II Kings 19:32-37. The prophets referred to the Assyrian Empire in several different ways, but usually as an evil tool, see Isaiah 10:5, 12, 27:1, 28:15, 18, Micah 5:5-6 (land of Nimrod). The entire book of Nahum is directed toward the destruction of the Assyrian Empire since Nineveh was most likely the capital city, see Zephaniah 2:13. Nahum is not overly popular on our study list, but its content is extremely important to God’s overall plan to judge the Assyrian Empire and bring in its place the Babylonian Empire.
This brings up an important point concerning the empires that have been used by Satan in this seven empire scheme. They all have oppressed the people of Israel, which is God’s nation-plan for this society. II Kings 17-19 are sufficient to show Assyria’s oppression of Israel. Babylon’s oppression can be seen in II Kings 24-25 as well as Jeremiah 24-25, 27-29, 39, 52; while her destruction is outlined in Jeremiah 50-51. The book of Esther is evidence of the oppression of Israel during the Medo-Persian reign. Daniel 8:21-26, 11:2-3, 29-35 picture the then future oppression of Israel by the Greek Empire. The oppression by the Roman Empire is documented in secular history and hinted at in the gospels and Acts.
As we consider this prerequisite for qualification in the seven empire scheme of Satan, it becomes obvious which empire would be the first to oppress the people of Israel. The Egyptian Empire was present at the birth of the nation of Israel, oppressing them at that time, and then at later times as well. God’s supernatural judgment upon the Egyptian Empire seems to be unequaled in later judgments. His judgment is direct, from heaven, and full of wrath, see Exodus 7-15 for details. The judgments upon later empires are all vicariously carried out by other nations. One empire rises up only to be judged by the next empire. One extremely interesting reference to the judgment upon Egypt is Psalm 74:13-15. Apparently it was revealed to this prophet that the judgment upon Egypt was likened to judgment upon a dragon type creature which had its heads broken into pieces, which then in turn rained down manna for the children of Israel. This leviathan was judged during the plagues and then at the Red Sea in such a way as to crush its head in some spiritual way that we don’t completely understand. It’s interesting that the word leviathan is used in reference to the coming judgment upon the Assyrian Empire in Isaiah 27:1, but an eschatological reference cannot be denied either since the resurrection is present in Isaiah 26:19-21.
Because of Psalm 74:13-15 and Isaiah 27:1, along with the above study, I believe that Satan used the Egyptian Empire and the Assyrian Empire as the first two heads of the dragon/beast of Revelation 12, 13, and 17. Then logically it follows that the next three heads of the beast that had already fallen in John’s day were Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. So that is my view of “five have fallen”. The “one is” would be the Roman Empire in power at the time of John’s vision. “The other has not yet come” would be the ten kings which John viewed as the next step in the beast’s transformation. Daniel’s vision showed that the fourth beast (the sixth head of John’s beast) has ten horns. These ten horns existed on this beast, yet the Roman Empire never existed in the form of a ten nation empire. John’s vision shows us that the next step would be the transformation of the Roman Empire into an empire which had a ten nation confederacy, Revelation 17:12. This head of the beast (with ten horns) will only remain a little while. It’s duration will be relatively short in time span compared to the others, Revelation 17:10. The beast as a whole is the eighth, yet there are only seven heads on the beast. What will happen to transition from the seventh head to the eighth is that the ten kings will give their authority to the beast, meaning the empire and the one man who controls the empire, Revelation 17:13. Daniel’s vision is helpful here showing the little horn rising up among the ten horns, Daniel 7:8. The vision is explained that one man will rise up among these ten to take control of the entire beast, Daniel 7:24.
So what can we expect? Sometime in the near future, as the return of the LORD grows closer, we will see the development of a ten nation confederacy within the boundaries of the old Roman Empire. Remember to include both the eastern and western divisions of the Roman Empire in your calculations. The Western portion would center around Italy and Europe. The Eastern portion would include Asia Minor, the Middle East, and even northern Africa. It was basically the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The ten nation confederacy will rule the world. It’s not that every single nation will be under direct control of this empire, but its hegemony will make it unequaled in power. Then while this ten nation confederacy is in control, there will arise one leader amongst these ten leaders, subduing three during his rise to power. The ten leaders will then concentrate their authority to one central location, to the beast as an empire and to the little horn as a person.
I am contradicting three well respected scholars with my views. First is BW Newton. His views can be read at this link here. Here is a short clip for what he believes about the seven heads. “The native monarchy of Nimrod – the theocracy of Israel – the systematic despotic monarchy of Nebuchadnezzar, which was, in a peculiar sense, established by God – the aristocratic monarchy of Persia – the military monarchy of Alexander – the empire of the Caesars, which arose out of democracy – and the clay-iron or constitutional monarchies of modern Europe, are the seven forms which have already appeared. The sixth, viz. that of the Caesars, was existent when the Revelation was given; the seventh, though it has appeared, has not yet been perfected; the eighth, which is reserved for Antichrist, closes the scene.” While I respect much of BW Newton’s scholarship, his view lacks scriptural substance and strays from the idea that the seven heads on Satan are in view here as well, thereby excluding the theocracy of Israel, see Psalm 114:1-3.
Another scholar that I am contradicting is fellow PreWrather Donald Salerno. His view is that the four divisions of the Greek Empire must be included within the seven heads of the beast. Here is a quote to summarize his views taken from Revelation Unsealed. “The seven heads or kings are the same seven that were given to us by Daniel: Babylon, one head; Medo-Persian, one head; Greece, four heads (Egypt, Syria, Macedonia, and Asia Minor); and Rome, one head. The five that have fallen or have had their dominion take away (Daniel 7:12) are : Babylon, Medo-Persian, Egypt, Syria, and Macedonia.” In my estimation, Salerno’s method doesn’t make sense because the Asia Minor portion should have been considered past, but Salerno justifies this by pointing to passages like Revelation 2:13 and Daniel 8:23-26 believing that the end times antichrist will rule from there.
A third scholar that I am contradicting is Robert Van Kampen, one of the founders of the PreWrath position. While Van Kampen and I agree on the first six heads, Van Kampen holds another view on the identity of the seventh. While I view it as future, existing in the form of a ten nation confederacy before the appearance of the antichrist, Van Kampen identifies it as past from our perspective. From his book The Sign under the section The Seventh Beast Empire Identified: “The shocking reality is that only one nation in history fits these criteria – Nazi Germany, the Third Reich, under the absolute and demonic dictatorship of Adolf Hitler!” My response is that Revelation 17 seems to give the definition for this seventh that would come for the short period of time, namely the ten kings that would arise for a brief period of time. Then the eighth would be the antichrist, or the little horn of Daniel 7 rising up among the ten. I would not include Nazi Germany for the same reasons that I would not include the nations which persecuted Israel during the time of the Judges such as Midian, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.
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