The 13th chapter of Revelation contains John’s vision of two beasts. The first one “having seven heads and ten horns” which rose up “out of the sea,” and the second one that has “two horns like a lamb” which will come up “out of the earth.” Why does the first beast come up from the sea and the second from the earth? In this text, we will briefly overview Revelation 13, uncover the identity of the first beast, and point to the Bible’s own interpretation of the symbols, SEA and EARTH.
The Sea Beast
The first of the two beasts rose up out of the sea (Revelation 13:1-10, the first half of the chapter). We will refer to it as the SEA beast. It is the same as the fourth of the four beasts in Daniel chapter 7. Daniel 7:3-7 is where we read about four beasts: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and one diverse from all the ones before it. The sea beast in the first half of Revelation 13 is characterized by the same three creatures, being likened to a leopard with a bear’s feet and a lion’s mouth.
The four beasts in Daniel 7 are widely understood to be the historic Empires of Babylon (the lion), Medo-Persia (the bear), Greece (the leopard), and Rome (diverse from the others). We covered this briefly in a previous article, The Antichrist Unveiled. History of the Jewish Diaspora confirms that the fourth of the four beasts is the Roman Empire. And we know without a doubt that a beast is a symbol for a kingdom (Daniel 7:23). But how do we know the first beast in Revelation 13:1-10 is the same Roman beast? One way we know is that it shares three characteristics:
- it also has ten horns (which only the fourth beast had)
- it also came up from the sea
- it carries traits from the first three beasts in Daniel 7 and combines them into one beast – just as the fourth beast in Daniel is “diverse from all the beasts that were before it”.
The Earth Beast
The second of the two beasts is the one coming up out of the earth (Revelation 13:11-18, the second half of the chapter). We will refer to it as the EARTH beast. It is the one that is known so well for the number of the beast (666).
In verses 12-18, many things are prophesied about this beast that reveal it is different from the sea beast (Rome), and actually takes place in a future time. This includes the sea beast being named as “the first beast before him.” Additionally, the earth beast causes fire to come down from the sky, deceives the people with the fire to make an image to the beast, kills anyone who will not worship the image, and causes all people to take the mark of the beast (666), his name, or the number of his name. Considering all of these things, it becomes quite difficult to argue it all occurred in times past. Therefore, we consider the second beast to be a future occurrence. For more on the number 666 and the image of the beast, see 666 and the Image of the Beast.
Sea Beast / Earth Beast Symbolism
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” (Rev. 13:1)
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” (Rev. 13:11)
What meaning can we gather from the two beasts rising up out of the SEA and the EARTH? Basing our answer on the Law of First Mention, we must go back to the first occurrences of the terms EARTH and SEA in Genesis chapter 1. It says in Genesis 1:9 that the dry land first appeared when the waters gathered to one place. Then in verse 10, it is actually God who gave the sea and the earth their names.
“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:9-10)
If we apply this concept to the two beasts in Revelation 13, the beast which came up out of the sea must be “gathered together unto one place” [gather/unite the whole world] before the beast which will come up out of the earth can “appear.”
There is plenty of Biblical evidence to prove the “sea” symbol in Revelation 13 means a gathering of people from around the world. The same symbolic imagery of “waters” is found in Revelation 17:15. There it states that the “whore” (MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT) sits upon “waters” which are interpreted to be “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues”. And as it says earlier on in Revelation 17:1, the whore sits “upon many waters”, but in verse 7 she is really sitting on the beast that is upon many waters. And that beast happens to have seven heads and ten horns, just like the sea beast in Revelation 13.
All of this may help to paint a clearer picture of how the two beasts, or two world orders, take their places in history. The new world order (the earth beast), would come as a result of the old world order (the sea beast, or Roman system) gathering the peoples, tongues and nations together. In other words, we can infer that the new world order emerges as a result of the formation of a globalized society.