The image beast could be represented as an exact replica of the original or a mirror image. Take your pick!
The bible in Revelation 13:14 says "...saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast...", which it indicates is advocated by the 2-horned earth beast. Now an image is a replica (or you might consider it to be a mirror image) of the original, but is NOT the original itself. Historically, we know that the original beast was the legal power the papacy got to punish what it considered heresy and for the pope to be the highest bishop over all others. It had those legal powers from 538 AD to 1798. This basically amounts to a situation where the powers of the state are put under the control of the church for accomplishment of these purposes.
In Revelation 17, we are told that the original beast will return during the time of the 8th king, which is yet future as of the writing of this in December of 2002. Rev 17:8 says "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is." Now, this text indicates that the beast "is not" right now because this time occurs during the time of the heads, but will in fact return someday because of the statement at the end of that verse that says the beast "yet is". That means the original beast will return.
It would not make much sense to create an image to the original beast in the same location or time as the original beast for there would not be a need for it, so what makes sense here is that we need to look at history and Revelation to figure out what is meant by the bible when it says an image to the beast is made and the original returns. To put it another way, we need to figure out why there is a need for both of them, do they occur in the same location, time, or have the same purpose?
Consider the leopard beast (or sea beast as it is sometimes called) of Revelation 13. It has 7 heads and 10 horns. Now the 7 heads refers to the time period after 1798 and the 10 horns refers to the time that will follow the 7 heads, which should end with the yet future death of John Paul II. The 10 horns are 10 representative leaders of the Protestant Religions (please see the section titled "Who Are the 10 Horns?" on the Revelation 17 Scarlet Beast page for information about how this is so). . We know from Revelation 17:13 that "These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. ", which refers to what the 10 horns will do in the future. Therefore, we can know that the leaders of the Protestant Religions will join with the beast, which returns, to accomplish something. We know this because it says "These have one mind", which means they will be joined in pursuit of a common goal, and because of the phrase which says "and shall give their power and strength unto the beast." which evidently means they will invite the beast to return and give their power (or you could say authority) to the beast. From the context of these verses, it would seem that if they did not invite the beast to return, it would not be able to do so. If you question that, consider that they "give" their power and strength to the beast, which means it is voluntary. It does not say that the beast simply "takes" their power and strength to himself to use for himself as he sees fit. Therefore, it is a voluntary thing they do. Further, the act of giving their power and strength evidently is to help the returned beast accomplish a common purpose. This must be done at their invitation or the beast could not have the power given to him because he does not simply "take" their power and strength. Therefore, they invite the beast to return and voluntarily give him the power to accomplish the purpose they all have in mind.
Now, something to consider here is where the beast returns. Historically, the beast was in Europe during the dark ages up until 1798. Would it make sense to say that the beast will return if it were to appear somewhere else in the world? It seem unreasonable to believe that it would appear anywhere but where it was originally. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the original beast, which was in Europe, will again return to Europe at the request of the 10 horns. But, that again begs the question, "where and when is the image beast"?
The image beast is brought about by the 2 horned earth beast of Revelation 13. The 2 horned earth beast is the United States of America. The United States for most of its history has unofficially been a Protestant Nation (I say unofficially because it is not a state religion for the United States at present does not have a state religion). If you read the description of the earth beast, it becomes evident that it has great power at its disposal as it compels all to worship the image beast that it creates and has the power to do great miracles. Now, the 10 horns on the leopard beast of Revelation 13 are the 10 representative Protestant Leaders, so it seems likely that as in the Old World where the Protestant Religions will gain power and invite the beast to return, so in the New World, the Protestant Religions will also gain power and will create an image to the original beast.
Now an image is a replica, not the original, so what would such an image be? Consider that the original was the making of the pope as head bishop and being given use of state power to punish what it considered heresy. To make an image to that, it seems likely that this entails the use of state power to punish what the Protestant Religions consider heresy, and to make them (whoever these Protestant Religions in particular are) the head over all other religions, including all other Protestant Religions not among those taking part in this activity. Does that make sense? It should.
So, someday in the United State, the Protestant Religions will demand state authority to punish what they consider heresy and to be the head over all other religions. That is what the image to the beast is.
Now, the next question is when does the image to the beast occur? Since the leopard beast of Revelation 13 shows 10 horns for the final time period of the beast and we know that these are 10 representative Protestant Religions, it must be during this same time that the image beast occurs, for only then will the Protestant Religions have sufficient political power to accomplish this goal. So, the image to the beast in the United States will likely occur at about the same time as the original beast returns to the continent of Europe.
A final question is why? Why does the original beast return and why is an image beast formed in the United States? Revelation 17:14 says "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. " This war against the people of God has been mentioned before in Revelation. In Rev 12:17 it says "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. " Also, in Rev 13:7 it says "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. " This indicates that during the time of the original beast (leopard beast of Revelation 13), there was war against those who follow God and that the dragon or Satan instigates such war against them. Historically the papacy pursued war against 2 classes, which were: (1) those who opposed the supremacy of the pope, and (2) those who kept all the commandments of God, including the original seventh-day Sabbath, which was made by God during creation week for all mankind and has never been set aside by God. So, it will be again by the returned beast and the image to the beast. They will behave in the same identical manner as the original beast did during the dark ages.
The issue here is POWER or CONTROL. These religious powers will demand state power to carry out their wishes because of the desire for power and control. And, they will get it. But, the result will be ruin, for them, and for all who follow them, both here and for eternity. Rev 14:9-12 says "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. "
So, worshipping the original beast or its image or receiving the mark of the beast, will have very serious consequences for all eternity, for the result is the second death in hell fire that cannot be put out (until it has burned up to completion everything of the body that can be burned). The result is eternal destruction that will never be undone by God.
So, in conclusion, the image to the beast is like the original beast in its power and what it will do. It will form here in the United States someday during the time of the 8th king. The consequences for anybody following its dictates will be the same as those who followed the dictates of the original beast.