"He Who Does Not Remember History Is Condemned To Repeat It"
"Power tends to Corrupt, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely" - Lord Acton
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Story and History
Introduction to the Rules
Why have rules for interpreting Daniel and Revelation? The answer is very simple: rules create a guide to things unknown based on what is known. Using known things as a guide to unknown things is valid so long as there is a consistent pattern present. Four things are known about the visions of Daniel and Revelation:
- God designed the visions given to both Daniel and John,
- God is consistent so He would have designed in a common set of rules for both books where common symbols occur (the consistent use of symbols within any given vision demonstrates this concept), and
- We have prophecies that have known valid interpretations in Daniel 2, 7, and 8, for which the methods of interpretation can be converted to rules.
- There are beasts found in Revelation which are very similar to those found in Daniel.
The one thing that is unknown is a proper interpretation of the heads and horns of the beasts of Revelation 12, 13, and 17. The rules presented here can enable a proper interpretation of the heads and horns of the beast of Revelation.
The basic identity of the beasts of Revelation 12 and 13 is relatively easy to establish and with a little more effort, the identity of the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 can also be established. With aid from the rules governing the interpretation of the beasts of Daniel 7, a proper interpretation of the heads and horns of the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 is rather easily accomplished. The rules established in the book of Daniel can act as a guide so that these rules can save you a lot of effort.
This does make sense, does it not? The beasts in Revelation 12, 13, and 17, look a great deal like those in Daniel 7. So why, with the same author behind the visions of Daniel and John, should we conclude that an entirely different set of rules of interpretation is needed for the beasts of Revelation? Many think an entirely different set of rules is needed, yet they can demonstrate no Bible verse that says this is necessary. The Bible helps interpret itself, so why not use all the information it gives to us for that purpose?
There are those who object that the rules from Daniel cannot be generally applied to the prophetic beasts in Revelation. This sort of reasoning is inconsistent because these same individuals will use some of the rules from Daniel and apply them to Revelation, but refuse to use others where it conflicts with their current understanding. It should strike the reader that this inconsistent use of the rules should be avoided because it will inevitably lead to an incorrect understanding about at least some of the prophecies in Revelation. It also shows a bias on the part of the reader who does this.
Please note that the rules were designed using the Historicist method of interpreting the prophetic beasts of Daniel 7 and 8, and can be used in Revelation 12, 13, and 17. The sole purpose of these rules is to facilitate correct interpretation of the prophetic beasts of Daniel and Revelation (those which predict the futures of kingdoms based here on earth, visible or otherwise). ANY OTHER USE IS INVALID as they are NOT designed for interpreting other prophetic symbols (for example, the rules are not valid for interpreting the symbolic meaning of the Euphrates River in Revelation because it belongs to a different class of prophetic symbols).
Principles of Interpretation Rules
For more information about the historicist method, see the Historicist web page (web address: http://www.historicist.com/) which has excellent information about this method and why it is valid. The rules presented on this site are based on the historicist method. Two other common methods, which are invalid for interpreting the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, are the Futurist and Preterist methods. For information about all 3 methods, click here (web address: http://www.historicist.com/articles/historicism.htm).
The problem with the Futurist method is that nothing is ever fulfilled by their prophecies. They are always off in the future. If this is really true, then why did God bother with telling us about it? The problem with the Preterist method is that it predicts nothing. It is all about the past and has no predictive value. But at the heart of this idea is the concept that God is unable to know the future. Is God really unable to predict the future? Think about it, please.
The information presented in Daniel 7 clearly indicates the Historicist method is the correct way prophecies are to be interpreted, for it says that the 4 beasts represented 4 kingdoms that shall arise, meaning the kingdom Daniel was then in, and 3 more. History clearly shows three kingdoms did indeed follow Babylon. Thus, prophecy matches history as it progresses through time, which is the basis for the historical method. This disallows futurism or preterism as methods of interpretation.
Isaac Newton, probably the greatest scientific mind the world has seen in the last thousand years, had a great deal to do with the development of the historicist understanding. Click here to read about Isaac Newton's role in developing the historicist understanding (web address: http://www.historicist.com/Newton/title.htm). It is an interesting story.
This principle is very simple. The idea is that Revelation often, though not always, contains its own definitions for its symbols. Generally these definitions should be used first whenever possible before a search is made into other parts of the Bible. Of course, this means using common sense. The reader should not use a symbol definition solely because it is in Revelation, but the reader should first check it against the context to be sure it fits. If it does not fit the context, then continue looking for another definition. Remember that the same principle applies to the book of Daniel.
When the student of Revelation encounters a symbol, the first thing he should do is find other examples of that symbol in Revelation and study how it is used as a symbol. Sometimes no symbolic usage will be found. Sometimes only literal usage is found which will often have some type of associations that can create the interpretation of the symbol. If there is no association or symbolic interpretation that can clarify the intended meaning (or there are no definitions which fit the context) in Revelation, then the book of Daniel should be consulted next. If no symbol definition is found in the book of Daniel, then other parts of the Bible should be investigated. Once a symbol definition is found, use the one definition (there may be several) that best explains the symbolism in the verse in question. Try to use the nearest definition if possible before going to others.
If one is studying the book of Daniel, look there first. If nothing is found, then look in Revelation. If nothing is found in Revelation, then look elsewhere in the Bible.
There is one exception to this. The beasts of Daniel and Revelation obviously use a common set of rules of interpretation, so in order to understand the beasts of Revelation, one must study the rules from Daniel. But then, the rules are not definitions, just guides on how to understand the beasts, so this should not be a problem for most people.
Let us go through a couple of examples to explain this principle a little better.
Example 1: An example of this is the symbol formed by the word "waters". This occurs in several places in Revelation, such as the woman sitting on the waters in Revelation 17:1-2. As it happens, while the angel was showing John the vision in Revelation 17-18, he explained what waters symbolizes, which is as follows:
Rev 17:15 And he said unto me, The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
This definition will likely work anywhere in Revelation where water is used as a symbol. If you search in another book of the Bible, you may indeed find a symbolic definition of water, but you will likely find that it does not work well in Revelation because it was not designed for it.
Example 2: Here is another example of a symbol for which people routinely run to Daniel to understand, but which Revelation can help us to better understand. In Revelation 13, several prophetic beasts arise. Typically, people turn to the book of Daniel and study the beasts there to learn the type of power these beasts represent, something that is generally a good practice to do. Typically, they discover in Daniel that all beasts are political powers, so from this example they conclude that all beasts in Revelation are political beasts. However, if they would just open their minds a little, they can find a definition for beasts in Revelation that expands upon the definition in Daniel.
Here is how this works. In Revelation 12, we are presented with a dragon that comes down from heaven and drags a third of the stars of heaven down to earth with its tail. We are told that this beast represents Satan himself. Through the actions of this dragon, we are further informed that in a secondary sense it also represents Pagan Rome, a political beast. This should be obvious because of its attempt upon the life of the son the woman in Revelation 12 has, which represents Jesus. We know that Pagan Rome did attempt to kill Jesus when he was a baby.
However, considered from the standpoint of its primary representation, it represents Satan. Now, when the dragon is considered to represent Satan, is the dragon a political beast? I hardly think so. If you think he is a political power, then where do you see the marked, visible territory of Satan's kingdom on a map of the world? He should have a clearly marked territory, with a border that is clearly defined. Where are his border guards? Where are his embassies to other worldly governments? Where do we see dictator Satan in his palace and where is his capital city? You have never seen any of these? Then maybe this beast, the dragon, when representing Satan, is not a political beast after all? Consider that it is a religious power, one that has a hold over the minds and hearts of men and women everywhere on earth and prevents them from joining up with the opposition (Jesus) wherever it can.
Do you get the point? This beast, the dragon, considered from the standpoint of its primary representation as Satan, is in fact a religious power, not a political power. This helps us to understand that the beasts of Revelation 13 and 17 do not have to be seen only as political powers. It can open the mind to other possibilities that perhaps have never been considered before and yet still be within the limits of what is truth.
Now, what does this tell us in Revelation 13? It informs us that there is a possibility that either of the beasts in that chapter can be religious powers as well as political powers. As it happens, the beast that rises out of the sea is in fact a religious power. This is demonstrated by the blasphemy that is upon that beast and which it also speaks. Thus, by studying the definition of a beast in Revelation, we can learn more about the type of beasts that occur in that book. The beast from the earth in Revelation 13 is in fact a political beast, yet shows that one of its horns is religious. This is of a mixed type. Aside from the dragon, there is only one other beast like it, which is the fourth beast of Daniel 7, whose ten horns are purely political powers, while the talking horn is primarily religious.
Example 3: Here is a third example. There is a symbolic phrase used in Revelation for which no actual definition is found in Revelation (though Revelation 1:5 comes very close), so consequently, we must turn to Daniel to understand it. This symbol is the phrase "kings of the earth", which is found in Revelation, chapters 1, 6, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 21. It turns out that Daniel provides the definition of this rather curious phrase. Here is the definition:
Dan 7:17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
These are kings who "arise out of the earth". The phrase "kings of the earth" is nearly identical to the phrase in Daniel 7:17, so there should be an obvious connection between them. Any reader should be able to see that the two phrases are a literary device linking them together for the purpose of explaining the phrase "kings of the earth" from Revelation. Clearly, the kings who "arise out of the earth" in Daniel 7 are political leaders, the rulers of the empires which the four beasts symbolized. That being the case, we can know that the "kings of the earth" in Revelation are also political leaders of nations. Thus, the book of Daniel provides us with a good definition for this symbol. Revelation has no clear definition of its own for this phrase, though a person might correctly surmise what it means based on the context.
Hopefully this helps the reader understand the use of the Definition Principle.
Daniel and John wrote down what they saw in the visions that God gave to them. They primarily functioned as scribes for God so that the visions they were given could benefit those of us living after them. It is very clear that these visions were especially intended for the benefit of those living just prior to Jesus' second coming, though others prior to our time have also benefited.
With some theologians, they have a tendency to write about how John or Daniel meant some particular thing when they wrote out some portion of their books. There are several problems with this type of approach to the writings of Daniel and John.
First, God was the author of the visions, not Daniel or John, so anything that they meant to say is largely irrelevant. What God meant to convey to us is of far greater importance than whatever John or Daniel thought of it. The important point is that God is the common author of both books.
Second, There is evidence that Daniel clearly did not understand substantial portions of the visions he was given (see Daniel 12), but was told that he would not be able to understand certain parts of the visions and to go his way because the explanation was not going to be given. He was told that understanding would come to those living near the end of time, but not before, in regards to the portions he didn't understand. In Revelation, there are those who claim that we must understand it the way the people in John's time understood it, or understand it the way John himself understood it. The problem with this is that we simply don't know how much, if any of it, he understood, because he didn't tell us that information. Because of the information vacuum regarding this, we should draw no conclusions. Therefore, it is not a good idea to speculate about what he understood of it because we have no reasonable evidence that the vision as a whole was explained to him, except for the occasional symbol explanation that was given to him. Anything concluded from speculation about what John thought of Revelation is guesswork
Daniel and John were not given these visions to do creative writing, or to try to slant what they wrote to suit their own preferences. Instead, they wrote what they saw (and told us just that) because it was a message from God to all of humanity. This placed a heavy responsibility on them to get it right, to do as God required of them. So you can be quite certain they did their best and recorded it as accurately as possible.
With God as the author of both visions, you can be sure that he would be consistent with his use of symbolism in order that we may understand both Daniel and Revelation properly. God does not generally change the interpretation of symbols within either book or from one book to another. But, where he did change the symbolic meaning, he made sure we could figure out what he meant. He wanted to avoid confusing the symbolic definitions so that we could understand it. Otherwise, he risked inviting confusion into our minds which makes it extremely difficult or nearly impossible for us to understand either book. For these reasons, both books should be studied together. They both deal with the same historical themes and many of the symbols that occur in one book also occur in the other. If nothing else, the principles of how one book is to be understood can be applied to the other. Just remember, God is consistent as an author.
This is an inferred rule based on observation of the beasts in Daniel. One could also infer it from the fact that there are very similar beasts in Revelation, which would strongly suggest that previously established rules (from Daniel) should govern the later symbols (those in Revelation). Consequently, it is logical to draw upon previously existing rules when confronted with such situations for a proper understanding of these beasts or their individual parts.
One example that may help in understanding that this is so is the fact that 4 beasts are used in succession to represent the various kingdoms that were to arise in sequence in Daniel 7. God did not represent those four kingdoms by first a lion, then a bird, then a lizard, and finally a giant insect. He could have done that, but what he is telling us by using 4 beasts is that the same basic rules established already are to be used again. In other words, the lion established the basic rule that an animal can be used to represent a kingdom or power, so all succeeding animals in the same vision represent kingdoms or powers as well. It seems very likely that this would be extended to cover situations where similar animals appear again in the then future visions of John (relative to Daniel's time).
This graphically illustrates that the Precedence Principle is alive and well in Revelation. The reason for the great similarity of the two beasts is because God is trying to illustrate 2 basic facts to us, which are:
Some theologians believe that the 7 heads on the leopard of Revelation 13 are 7 ancient kingdoms that occur one after another, often beginning with ancient Egypt and ending with the antichrist or something equivalent. The 4 heads of the leopard beast of Daniel 7 were kingdoms that resulted from the breakup of Alexander the Great's empire and all existed together - they were not sequential kingdoms at all. Then, why should the 7 headed leopard be 7 sequential ancient kingdoms? This gets stranger yet when you consider that the body of the 7 headed leopard is usually believed to be the papacy, so that you have some heads (such as Babylon or Medo-Persia) existing before the body. Take a good look at the two leopards above and think about that!Is it not better to follow the Precedence Principle demonstrated in Daniel 7 so that you know such an interpretation is impossible?
An example of this is the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had that is recorded in Daniel 2. In this dream, he is shown a very general view of future world history. Then, later in the book in Daniel 7, Daniel recorded a vision given to him in which the same details of future world history are gone over, but this time additional details are expounded upon. Daniel 8 gives even more detail of three of those kingdoms presented in Daniel 7. Daniel 9 focuses in on even more detail.
Elements of usage of this principle are also found in Revelation. For example, Revelation 12 gives general details of the devil's efforts to destroy the church from the time of Christ onward. Revelation 13 and 17 give greater details of this effort and details of the powers through which Satan carries out these attacks.
Ownership Principle - This principle is very simple: God owns and controls the kingdoms of this world and is their leader, whether they know it or not. In spite of the fact that some people become very mixed up on this and think that Satan ultimately owns and controls the nations, the Bible is very clear that ultimately, it is God who does this. Satan may control the leaders of the nations to some extent, but only so far as God allows him room to do so. Here is Biblical proof that this is so:
Dan 2:21 And he changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings: he gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
This verse makes it very clear that God both sets up and removes kings as he sees fit. It is his power that controls this process ultimately.
Dan 2:37 You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
Dan 2:38 And wherever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven has he given into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all. You are this head of gold.
Note that in this verse, Nebuchadnezzar was told that God had given him his kingdom, including symbolic control of everything within it (it must be symbolic control because I don't think that he really had full control of the wildlife within his domain, but they were his to use as he saw fit while he was king).
Dan 2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is God of gods, and Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing you could reveal this secret.
In this verse, Nebuchadnezzar called God the "Lord of kings", by which he acknowledged that God had given him his kingdom.
Next, Daniel had some wise words for Belshazzar, who forgot this principle.
Dan 5:18 O king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor:
Dan 5:19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
Dan 5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
Dan 5:21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appoints over it whomever he will.
In these two verses, Daniel reminded Belshazzar of the fact that God gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom. He also detailed the kind of power a king has - power over life and death of the individuals within his realm (which means that in Daniel 7:25 where it speaks of the saints being handed over to the talking horn king, it is talking about this king being given power over life and death for the people of God). Daniel also detailed the consequences of Nebuchadnezzar's failure to admit that God was the source of his power and what happened to him until he was willing to admit this fact.
Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loves us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
This verse it very clear that Jesus is the prince of the kings of the earth (the political leaders of the nations - compare Revelation 17: 2 with Daniel 7:17 if you want to know that this is true).
But, of course, there are those who claim that Satan is the leader of the nations, especially those who do evil. While it is true that God permits these leaders for a time, he ultimately controls them. Satan, on the other hand, is allowed some control of nature, as shown by this verse:
Eph 2:2 In which in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
But, nowhere in the Bible does it say that Satan is the prince of the kings of the earth nor does it say that he sets up and takes down kings at will. God ultimately is in control.
The final conclusion and the reason this principle is called the Ownership Principle is that God ultimately is not only in control of the kings of the earth, but he own the kingdoms and everything in them as well. The Bible makes this very clear by this final verse:
Psa 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Psa 50:11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
Psa 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.
It cannot get much clearer than that.
Consider the leopard beast of Daniel 7. This beast had four heads on it. The body represented Alexander the Great and his kingdom, while the four heads represented the four kings (former generals of Alexander the Great) who divided his kingdom some 22 years after his death. Some would suggest that there is a gap between the death of Alexander the Great and the takeover by his four former generals. However, there is no evidence of that. The most logical explanation is that the history which the body of the leopard represented began with Alexander (or his father when he united Macedonia and Greece) and continued to represent those who ruled his empire until they legally divided it into four partitions by way of a decree written in 301 B.C. after the battle of Ipsus. Once divided, then the heads represented continuous history until each of them fell. There is no gap. No gap can be proven because there is nothing on the symbols involved to demonstrate such a gap. History is continuous for every beast, and if it has several heads or horns, history is continuous for the heads and horns also. In addition, whenever a beast has multiple heads, there is no gap at the point of change from the body of a beast to its heads. Also, there is no gap between the point of change from one or more heads to multiple horns (such as the fourth beast of Daniel 7 or the scarlet beast of Revelation 17). History is continuous for the body, heads, and horns of a beast from start to finish.
Some have suggested a theory in which the seven heads of the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 represent seven popes who have ruled beginning in 1929. This is based on the Lateran Treaty of 1929 which gave the Vatican to the Papacy as an independent country. If this theory is true, it means there was a significant gap between the writing of the 1798 decree, which caused the combination of the Roman Church and the governments of Europe to be split apart, and the start of the seven popes of 1929.
The problem is that in the symbolism of Revelation 17, the body of the scarlet beast ended in 1798. It cannot have continued onward because the body represents the combination of the leaders of the Roman Church and the leaders of the nations, which was gone in 1798 once the decree was written by General Berthier in Rome. That leaves a gap of 131 years between the body of the beast reaching its termination point in time and its seven heads, which should start immediately. Yet they have it that the heads start in 1929. That leaves a large gap for which there is nothing in the symbolism to indicate that there should be such a gap. Because there is no gap indicated, this tells us that the 1929 Lateran Treaty theory is false.
Also, the fact that kings always represent lines of kings, unless indicated otherwise by the Exception Principle, says that this theory is false because in the 1929 theory, each pope is one individual king, not a line of kings. But the Bible indicates that kings are lines of kings, so this theory violates the definition of kings given in the Bible. There is no exception Principle statement allowing the seven kings of Revelation 17 to be single individuals..
Exception Principle - If a beast has only one head and no horns, then the body and head represent one time period. If a beast has more than one head or horns, then the body represents the first phase of the existence of a kingdom, with the heads and horns representing additional phases of that kingdom.
For example, there may be an exception stated for a horn on a particular beast. This exception would apply to the horn but not the heads (if any are present) or body. Usually this will be plainly stated but may only be implied in a few cases. The best way to know how an exception fits in is to first follow the normal or previous rules of interpretation for the beast, including the particular body part in question (here is where the Precedence Principle would apply), and then, when the text indicates something is changed, you follow the difference for that part from the time where the exception is shown.
To help you understand this, consider the example of the vision recorded in Daniel 7, in particular the description of the dreadful beast and it's horns. Daniel 7:24 says "And the ten horns out of the kingdom are ten kings, they rise, and another doth rise after them, and it is diverse from the former, and three kings it humbleth;" (Young's Literal Translation, 1898). Here it is said that the talking horn is diverse from the former. Looking back into history and using other characteristics present on that beast and the description of the talking horn, one can know that this horn came out of Rome shortly after it's fall. You can identify this talking horn as the Papacy which is combined with the powers of the state by its characteristics. But the fact that it is said to be diverse indicates that an exception has occurred. Something has changed compared to what was before in the prophecy. What is that change, or in other words, what is that exception to the rule?
All prior kingdoms described were political kingdoms. Here is brought to light a kingdom that is both political and religious, though the religious seems to predominate (the Catholic Church is a religious organization, is it not?). This tells you that for the remainder of that horn's existence, this exception will prevail. And history, which is the final arbiter of prophetic interpretation (after the fact), does bear that out.
But what rule is it the exception to? The answer to that is the Similarity Principle (explained below), which says that the talking horn should be like that which it came out of. It came out of Rome, which was a political kingdom. Yet the talking horn was predominantly a religious organization (or at least that is what it claims).
History demonstrates that it was both a political and religious kingdom, so indeed it was different than that which came before it. From this, you know that the statement that it would be "diverse from the first" (KJV), is an exception to the previously existing pattern that the beasts and their heads and horns were political in nature. So this is the Exception Principle in action.
Something else to note about the talking horn on the 4th beast, is that because it was diverse from the others, it is not said to be an 11th horn. This alone tells you that there is something different about this horn. If it was a political kingdom like the other 10 horns, it should have been counted as an 11th horn, yet it is not. Therefore, something has indeed changed with respect to this horn so that it is not grouped with the others.
This rule is NOT to be taken as saying that the heads or horns are sequential. Only the beasts themselves, as a whole, are sequential. Thus, a symbolic animal that occurs after another in fact represents one kingdom rising to a dominant power position after another kingdom has fallen from a dominant position. Usually this requires that the later kingdom has conquered the earlier kingdom. This does not mean that these kingdoms did not exist before or after their days of dominance over other kingdoms, only that their days of dominance over other kingdoms were what was important so that God showed them as a beast. When their days of dominance were over, another took their place. That is the whole idea behind this principle.
The truth behind this is revealed by Dan. 7:23 that says "...The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces." This indicates that there is a sequence of four kingdoms (it does say "fourth kingdom"). History indicates that each kingdom or power succeeded the position occupied by the previous kingdom.
This principle is first demonstrated by Daniel 2 with the vision of the image. Four kingdoms, including the one Daniel was living in, were to arise in succession one after another. Yet, they were represented by different metals making up the image he saw when God explained the vision to him, all of which were shown together to make one image. This is again demonstrated in Daniel 7 where it is explained that 4 beasts come up from the sea, followed by a description as each beast came up.
Three conditions must be fulfilled for the Succession Principle to be shown to apply:
This last condition is demonstrated by the fact that the kingdoms in Daniel 7 were, in several instances, already empires before the succession took place, but it was not until they took over the territory and the people of God that they were counted by God as having succeeded the previous kingdom. Greece, for example, was a small empire (it included both Macedonia and Greece) before Alexander the Great began his conquest. But until he took over the territory and people of God, he was not counted to have succeeded the Persian Empire.
One important item to note is that the prophetic beasts of Revelation 12, 13, and 17, do not succeed one another. The reason is because none of them finish ruling until the end of the world. The one exception to that is the earth beast of Revelation 13, which is succeeded by the image beast, at least, it appears to be this way so far as we understand it. The sea beast of Revelation 13 is not succeeded by the earth beast because the earth beast arises about the time that the heads of the sea beast begin to have their day of power (1798). The sea beast's heads have not yet finished their day of power, though it is very close to that time now as of the writing of this paragraph in June of 2005.
Miller Principle - This rule consists of several parts. Note the author named this principle after William Miller, who, in the 1830s, widely taught the historicist understanding of the visions of Daniel over much of the Northeastern United States. Please do not confuse it with any of the principles of interpretation that William Miller himself wrote up, which were designed as rules of interpretation of the whole bible and not just of the beasts of the book of Daniel. The author did not take the rule now under consideration, or any other rules of interpretation on this web page, from any of William Miller's rules. Rather, the author created these rules based on the visions of Daniel 2, 7, and 8, and history as it played out and is matched against the prophecies in Daniel. There is a discernible pattern that can be formally stated as rules of interpretation. But, one word of warning: the application of the rules shown on this page are limited solely to the prophetic beasts of Daniel and Revelation, and any other use is invalid.
The basic idea behind this principle is that body parts of animals are used to indicate a progression of time from one time period to another within a given kingdom (or power). God found it necessary to represent things this way because some kingdoms have gone through several stages or eras of their existence. Note that this rule applies only to beasts that have multiple heads and/or multiple horns. It does NOT apply to beasts such as the lion or bear of Daniel 7 because those beasts had only one head and no horns. This rule is expressed in 3 basic ways:
Because time moves in the forward direction only in this world, the only way one can properly represent the movement of time on a beast that has multiple heads or multiple horns is by movement from the body to the heads to the horns direction ONLY. Time does not go backwards as one moves forward on the beast from the tail to head direction. And logically, because time does not go backwards, you cannot move backwards from the heads to the body. Backwards movement on a beast is not a legitimate use of the prophetic symbolism because the Bible shows no example of that being done. It also does not move forward by moving from one head to another, with just one exception to this in Revelation 17.
The Miller Principle definition:
When a beast has several heads or several horns, the body, heads, and horns each represent separate and distinct time periods or eras of that power which occur in succession. The body of the beast represents the first era of that power, the heads represent the next era of that power, and the horns represent the final era of that power. Thus you move from the body to the heads to the horns on a symbolic beast to go forward in time.
Likewise, where there are previously existing multiple horns on a beast and another horn comes up after them, this indicates that the horn that came up after the previously existing horns represents a power that arises later in time.
The Miller Principle is probably the most important rule of all to understand for it has very broad implications in understanding any prophetic beast.
When a beast has multiple heads or multiple horns, the body, heads, and horns are merely subdivisions of the entire history of that beast. Such a beast with its multiple heads and multiple horns can be looked upon as one long time period existing from the beginning to the end of its days of dominance which can be further subdivided. Thus, the body represents the first era, the heads represent the second era, and the horns represent the final era. In each era, the power represented by the corresponding body part is the dominant power for the time period it represents. When a new era begins, the previous era's dominion is taken away at the end of it's time.
Time of the heads
Subdivided Time Periods
Total Time of dominance of this beast is
represented by the bi-directional arrow at the top of the picture shown below.
This time can then be divided further into the time of the body, the time of the
heads, and finally the time of the horns, which are the three eras of existence
of this political power.
This principle of progression of time by moving from one body part to another is not a new idea. The image in Daniel 2 uses separate body parts to represent succeeding periods of time for each succeeding kingdom. The head of gold represented Babylon, followed by the arms and chest area of silver which represented the Medes and Persians. The belly, which was next in the sequence of kingdoms, was of brass and represented Greece. The legs were of iron which represented the final kingdom, Rome, while the two legs probably represented the two main divisions of the Roman Empire into the Eastern and western halves (though it is true that in the days of Constantine, the Roman Empire was divided three ways but this remained that way for only a relatively short time). The feet were of a mixture of iron and clay, which represented the breakup of the Roman Empire into both strong and weak kingdoms which will remain until the end of this world. This means that for this image, one must move down the body from one body part to the next (head to foot) to go forward in literal time from one kingdom to the next, and each body part represented both a separate and distinct time period and the corresponding kingdom.
Head of gold
Chest and arms of silver
Belly and thighs of bronze
Legs of iron
Toes a mix of iron and clay
Consider the leopard beast in Daniel 7. The body represented the empire built by Alexander the Great while the four heads represented the time and corresponding kingdoms that occurred after his death, during which his generals ultimately split his kingdom up into four separate, but smaller Greek kingdoms.
Questions for thought:
Some may say that the division of the leopard into a time of the body and time of the heads is artificial. If that is so, why is it that historicists have identified the body as representing the kingdom of Alexander the Great and the heads as representing the four kingdoms that his empire was divided into? Would these correspond to the time periods for each of these kingdoms as well? Think about it. It does fit!
For the fourth beast of Daniel 7, the body and its single head together represented the pagan Western Roman Empire, and the 10 horns on the head represented the 10 main divisions of Europe after the Western Roman Empire fell apart. How does the author know this is so? Consider Daniel 7:24 which says "And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. " History records that there were a number of tribal groups that came out of the European Western Empire of Rome, but there were 10 main tribal groups, of which 7 became nations of Europe.
Note that the Eastern Roman Empire is NOT represented by this beast unlike Daniel 2, where God showed the two main divisions of the Roman Empire. Some think that because of this omission, God was representing another empire altogether, but that is not true. What is happening here is that God is amplifying and clarifying the points about the Roman Empire that He wanted to focus on because of the effect it would have on the world.
Questions for thought:
Why did God show 10 horns on this beast instead of 10 heads, similar to what he did on the leopard with 4 heads?
Why does the talking horn have eyes and a mouth? None of the other horns have this. Do the eyes and mouth tell us something about the behavior of this horn (in particular, what it would do or how it would do something)?
History records 10 kingdoms that arose out of pagan Rome (there were about 20 tribes that came out of the Western Roman Empire but it divided into 10 main kingdoms). History also records the rise of the papacy long before the arrival of these 10 kingdoms, so if the talking horn represents the Papacy, how can it arrive AFTER the 10 kings? The answer is found in the decree that gave legal authority to the pope. History records that the pope was given a decree by the emperor Justinian that gave him special powers, which were the powers to punish heresy and be chief bishop throughout Christendom, which gave the Papacy power over the people of God. The Papacy used these powers to prosecute a war against the people of God through the power he had over the nations. The nations obeyed the pope because they believed that they were obeying God in so doing and he had the decree of Justinian. The pope was able to begin enforcement of that decree in March of 538 AD, AFTER the arrival of the 10 kingdoms that came out of Rome. So, this kingdom, the talking horn, did in fact arrive after the 10 kings, which the 10 horns symbolize.
The Bible itself gives indications that this would be the case for it says of this talking horn that it would have power over the saints of God for 1260 symbolic days (Daniel 7:25). Thus, this is what made it a king in God's eyes, because it took power over the people of God that did not rightfully belong to it.
The restatement above of the Miller Principle would correspond to the movement from one anatomic body part to another in their correct order on a literal beast. Though the vision given to Daniel used symbolic animals that don't exactly correspond to real animals (real animals don't have 4 heads or 10 horns - at least, not normally), there is enough correspondence that you know from experience you would not move anatomically from the body to the horns and then to the heads as you move forward on a beast. Real animals are not built that way!
Some prophetic beasts have multiple heads and no horns, some have multiple horns and only one head, and one even has a single horn that is replaced by four other horns. Here are the specific rules governing the understanding of them:
The example of this is the leopard beast in Daniel 7.
The next governing rule:
Because the horns are connected to the head, the kingdoms represented by the horns will immediately follow the time represented by the body and head, except where a horn comes up later than the other horns on the head of the beast. The example we have of this is the 4th great beast of Daniel 7. In the graphic below, the lines extending up from the timeline below the graphic show the time when the 10 horns arose, in 476 AD, followed later by the arrival of the talking horn in 538 AD. But the important point here is that the body and heads represented the time of the Pagan Roman Empire, and this is followed by the time of the 10 horns, the 10 kingdoms that came out of Rome after its fall in 476 AD.
There are no examples in Daniel where there are multiple horns on multiple heads such as occurs in Revelation 13 and 17, but it only makes logical sense that based on combining the rules for the leopard beast of Daniel 7 with the 4th dreadful beast of Daniel 7 and common sense based on knowledge of animal anatomy, one can create a rule that says:
The next governing rule says:
We have this example in the 4th beast of Daniel 7, and the goat of Daniel 8. The talking horn on the 4th dreadful beast in Daniel 7 arose in 538 AD, whereas the 10 horns arose in 476 AD. Now, to show that it arose some time after the 10 horns, God showed it rising up some time after Daniel first saw the 10 horns.
The goat with the single horn represented the empire built by Alexander the Great (the single horn represented Alexander the Great himself and his empire), then the first horn broke off, and 4 more appeared in it's place. These 4 horns represented the 4 kingdoms that were created by his generals when they divided the empire by a decree or agreement among them. Note that Daniel does not actually say "4 horns" arise to replace the first horn, but it is very reasonably inferred that "4 horns" is what he means from the context. But the wording clearly implies that the 4 that arise are the same type of thing as the original horn. Unfortunately, that is the best we can do. He actually says "4 notable ones" take the place of the first horn, so it is very reasonable to believe these are horns because he also calls the first single horn a "notable horn". Therefore, the assumption of 4 horns is extremely reasonable. He also says they are kings, and kings can be represented by horns.
The next governing rule says:
Examples of this would be the lion or bear of Daniel 7.
The final governing rule as part of the Miller Principle is one that is extremely important:
Identify the power the body of a given beast represents, and the identity of the heads and horns should be based on that identification. This totally destroys any possibility that the identity of the heads of a beast come from any source other than the body they are on, unless an Exception Principle statement is found to show that the heads must belong to another power. There is only one known example where this can be done in Daniel or Revelation, which is the dragon of Revelation 12. This totally rules out the idea that the heads of the scarlet beast in Revelation 17 represent a series of totally unrelated kingdoms. The identity of the heads must be derived from the body that came before them, so they ALL must have a common origin.
To understand that the corollary stated above is true, consider the leopard with four heads in Daniel 7. The four heads represent that the four powers they symbolize came about by subdividing the kingdom of Alexander the Great. Therefore, they were derived from the kingdom that Alexander created and did not take their territory from other kingdoms outside that.
The same is also true of the ten horns on the dreadful beast of Daniel 7 that developed out of the remains of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. They simply subdivided the empire. Therefore, their identity is taken from the beast they were on, not from another kingdom.
An example of this is the 4th beast of Daniel 7. Rome was a political kingdom and the 10 horns, which developed out of the ashes of the Roman empire, were in fact political kingdoms like Rome. The only exception for this is the talking horn (commonly called the little horn power) that came up later. Daniel 7 makes it clear that it is of a different character than all previous to it, so the reader is notified that an exception has occurred with this particular power because of the contrast between it and the other powers that came before. In fact, a careful reading of the description of the talking horn shows it to be primarily a religious power because it is described as fighting against God and his people, and even going so far as to think to change God's laws (which are unchangeable), but nothing is said of it as an empire except that it would in some way be responsible for the removal of 3 of the 10 horns. This is shown in the drawing of the 4th beast by the 3 horns being on the ground below the beast.
With the 4 headed leopard beast of Daniel 7, the body of the leopard represented the empire created by the conquests of Alexander the Great. The 4 heads represent the 4 kingdoms that the empire was divided into by his generals after his death in Babylon in 323 BC. Alexander the Great created a political empire which was followed by 4 political kingdoms.
If one follows this rule through, then one could generalize that a political power follows a political power and a religious kingdom will follow a religious power, unless stated otherwise that an exception has occurred. Likewise, a religious-political power will be followed by a religious-political power. This rule in action is shown in the pictures below.
This beast is both the church and the nations it combines with for the legally authorized purpose of persecution of the people of God. It was dominated by the religious or church power and will again be that way when the beast returns.
Difference Principle - Where there are multiple heads or horns (or both), there is a difference between the body and the heads, and a difference between the heads and the horns. This difference has to do with the fact that when an empire is subdivided, a group of smaller kingdoms are derived from the original empire that have a like nature (similarity principle), yet have a difference in that each of them is NOT the original empire, probably is smaller, and probably is reduced in power. There are exceptions, of course.
With the empire formed by Alexander the Great, when he died in Babylon, his empire was broken up into four smaller empires. These were carved out of the original empire, but each of them was in fact NOT the original empire. The heads were still largely Grecian in nature, which is one reason why they are shown as part of the leopard, yet were no longer the same original empire. They were smaller and reduced in power.
The same is true for Rome as the 4th beast of Daniel 7. The 10 main kingdoms in Europe that arose from the original empire were not the Roman empire, yet they retained aspects of Rome, and were reduced in power and size compared to Rome.
Thus, the Difference Principle can be stated:
Another horn appearing later should probably be considered as simultaneous with previously existing horns. The 10 horns on the 4th beast occurred simultaneously, but the talking horn came up later, and this symbolizes that it got power after the arrival of the 10 horns. The power behind the talking horn was the Papacy, of course, and it was somehow responsible for the demise of three of those horns, leaving only seven horns. The talking horn continued to exist in parallel with the remaining 7 horns, so it was also concurrent with them throughout most of their existence.
The same rule applies to multiple heads on the same body - they occur simultaneously with each other. Remember that heads occur after the body and horns occur after the heads (Miller principle). The four heads on the leopard beast of Daniel 7 all existed at the same time but they died out at different times as Rome conquered them. See graph below.
Note the 4 kingdoms were together at the beginning only for about 20 years, at which time the kingdom run by Seleucus conquered the kingdom run by Lysimachus. Thereafter, there were 3 kingdoms that one by one were conquered by the Romans starting in 168 BC. Time scale shown is not proportional to actual time passage.
Lysimachus was conquered by Seleucus
Ptolomy and Seleucus kingdoms conquered by Rome
Cassander's kingdom conquered by Demetrios, the son of Antigonus, one of Alexander's generals
Of course, we don't have any examples in Daniel or Revelation where heads appear after other heads, but we do have examples where horns appear after other horns (Daniel 7 and 8 only).
In Revelation 17 there are 7 heads on the scarlet beast. The angel says 5 have already been (obviously meaning they are past history), one is, and one more is yet to come who will remain only a little while. Below is a diagram showing how the 7 Papal lines were concurrent with the exception of the 6th and 7th lines, which were in sequence. Note that the first 6 name lines continued together past 1798 (so were concurrent) until, one by one they died out, eventually leaving only the Pope Paul Line, who was the "one is" of Revelation 17: 10. The seventh name, John Paul, has been around the shortest length of time of them all, just as the prophecy said he would do.
The wings on the back of the leopard beast suggests the swiftness with which Alexander the Great conquered. The fact that the wings are on the back of the leopard indicates the time to which the wings apply - the time of Alexander the Great, not the 4 kingdoms that followed his empire.
The scarlet coloring on the beast of Revelation 17 might suggest that it has killed a lot in the past and is all covered in blood. It can also represent royalty.
The leopard beast of Revelation 13 certainly would conjure up an idea of a kingdom like a leopard, something that is stealthy, smart, fast, and deadly. Each of the different empires was represented by a different species of animal, and these different species were chosen to reflect characteristics of each of the empires.
Crowns occurring upon heads or horns suggest kingly power, with the location (heads or horns) indicating when these apply and the beast they are on indicating who is dominant to those kings (Revelation 12 and 13).
The 3 ribs in the mouth of the bear suggest the 3 main conquests the Medes and Persians engaged in to create their empire and that they would devour (destroy) much flesh in the process.
Do the 4 wings apply to the time represented by the body,
or to the time represented by the heads? If to the heads, then why are the wings
on the back? Think about it!
Those wings suggest something about what way this empire would do something. This goes back to the behavior of this empire.
Sometimes characteristics of heads and horns can suggest something about how a beast will act. In Daniel 8, the ram (male sheep) would probably have had curved back horns like a real sheep, which might suggest they are more defensive in nature. The goat, on the other hand, appears to have had a forward projecting horn since the horn was said to be prominent and between the goat's eyes, which might suggest the much more aggressive nature of Alexander the Great. The talking horn on the 4th great beast of Daniel 7 had a mouth and eyes like a man and spoke. Horns normally don't do that. So this suggests the extraordinary ability of this horn to think, foresee, and plan out its actions against God and his people, and speak out against God very effectively.
Things added to beasts, such as wings, ribs, eyes and mouth, and so on, do not tell the time period for that part of the kingdom because the main body parts themselves do that, that is, the body, heads, and horns do that task. But additional things such as wings give you added details that the body parts themselves cannot convey about the time period to which they apply. Even the woman of Revelation 17 is an added on detail that tells you something about the behavior of the heads in that chapter. She is not the main part of the body (or the heads either) of that beast so cannot in and of herself convey the time period of the kingdom. Her place on the beast (she is sitting on the heads, not the back) tells you the time period to which she applies, but she herself does not convey the time period that is applicable. However, in combination with the heads and with consideration of the identity and time period of the beast's body and combining this with the information conveyed by the environment she and the beast are in, the woman can then convey time period information that corroborates the Miller Principle.
For example, coming up out of the sea would represent a nation or power arising among previously existing nations. In Daniel 7, the beasts arose from the sea on which the winds were blowing hard and stirring up the water. The wind there represents the strife among the nations out of which these powers arose (for an example of winds as a symbol of warfare among nations, see Jeremiah 49:36-37).
The second part says:
Examples of this are: the desert setting of the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 (which helps confirm that the time of the vision is a time of restraint or prison for the beast), or the location of the ram and goat of Daniel 8 beside the stream Ulai, the vision of which Daniel recorded in Daniel 8 (which indicated that the goat found itself in a battle for survival on it's own ground).
To understand this principle, begin by learning how the Bible defines a beast. Daniel 7:17 says this:
Dan 7:17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
It should be obvious from the verse that if four beasts are four kings, then one beast is defined as one king. This is the first and most important definition of a beast.
The second definition of a beast, is this from Daniel 7:23:
Dan 7:23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
Note that this defines a beast to be a kingdom. This definition is a little less important than the first definition.
So, now we have two definitions for a beast. These are:
It is never a good idea to just assume that a beast represents a kingdom. Always first check to see if it can be a king. Then, if that is not a good fit, one can check to see if it represents a kingdom.
It should also be obvious that a "king" is actually a line of kings, started by a founder for whom it is named. In Daniel 2:38, it tells us that the head of gold of the image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream represented Nebuchadnezzar. Since we are told in Daniel 2:38 that the head represents Nebuchadnezzar and in Daniel 7:17 we are told that each beast is a king, we can conclude correctly that the lion in Daniel 7 primarily represents Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 2:39 tells us that after Nebuchadnezzar, another kingdom would arise that would be inferior to his kingdom. This can be understood in several ways. First, the metals of the image in Daniel 2 decrease in monetary value as one moves from the head to the feet, so those lower on the image are said to be inferior. In addition, each metal lower on the image is harder than the one immediately above it. The increasing hardness of the successive metals is something that historians say gave each successive kingdom the ability to defeat its predecessor. Yet this fact suggests that each of the successive kingdoms was perhaps a bit inferior to its predecessor because it required them to have a harder metal in order to defeat the predecessor. That suggests success was not necessarily based on being a better kingdom or having a more skilled army (which may or may not be true but it does suggest it).
Because Daniel 2:39 defines the image's head of gold as a kingdom, which we know from history was replaced by another kingdom, and we also know that after Nebuchadnezzar died there were other kings who ruled Babylon. Therefore, it is obvious that to represent continuous history which leads naturally into the next kingdom after Babylon, the gold head must also represent other rulers who followed Nebuchadnezzar until the fall of Babylon and replacement by the Median and Persian kingdom. Obviously the head cannot be named for all of the rulers of Babylon, so one name, the main founder of the line of rulers of Babylon of that time (Nebuchadnezzar), was chosen by God to represent the entire line. Therefore, in Daniel, kings are always lines of kings, each of which can be considered to be named for its founder (even if we do not know the founder's actual name).
Verse 24 shows us that horns are defined as kings:
Dan 7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
So, we now have a definition for a horn. A horn is a king.
No definition for heads is given directly in Daniel 7. One must reason it out from information presented in Daniel 8.
Daniel 8 gives us the same definitions in the same order (kings first, kingdoms second). Daniel 8:20-21 defines both beasts as kings:
Dan 8:20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
Dan 8:21 And the rough goat is the king of Greece:....
Daniel 8:21 also defines horns to be kings, for it says:
Daniel 8:21 ...and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
But note the order which the definitions are given:
Can horns be kingdoms in Daniel 8? Here is what Daniel 8:22 says:
Dan 8:22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
Clearly, horns can be defined as kingdoms in Daniel 8.
Note that there is a third definition given in Daniel 8:22. It says that a horn can be a nation. It does this by saying that the four horns that stand up for the first great horn "shall stand up out of the nation", which defines a horn as a nation.
Therefore, we have three definitions for a horn, which are:
From this it appears that the definition of a beast differs from that of a horn. However, there is a way to show that the same definition applies to both a beast and a horn. To understand this, consider the goat of Daniel 8. The great horn on the goat is said to be the first king, which we know represented Alexander the Great (the king God chose to consider as its founder). When the explanation of the vision was given, the great horn was said to be a nation and four kingdoms were to stand up out of it, which did happen as predicted. This tells you several things. First, the great horn represents a king, a kingdom, and a nation. Second, if the great horn represents a nation, a kingdom and a king, then the four kingdoms that come up must also represent nations, kingdoms and kings. It is only logical for this to be true. Daniel 8:22 tells us that the four horns also represent kingdoms. Then, because the four horns represent kings, kingdoms and nations, and the body of the goat also represent kings and kingdoms, it stands to reason that the body of the goat also represents nations just as the great horn is a nation. Therefore, we can say this about the definition of a beast:
A beast is defined to be:
From Revelation 17:9-10 we learn that heads can also be defined as kings. In Daniel 7, we can observe that the four heads of the leopard beast are the same as the four horns of the goat in Daniel 8. Hence, if the horns are defined first as kings and second as kingdoms in Daniel 8, then logically, the heads of the leopard beast in Daniel 7 must also be defined as kings first and kingdoms second. This reinforces the fact that in Revelation 17, the seven heads are defined as seven kings, or heads = kings.
Therefore, the logical conclusion is this: beasts have the same definition as heads and horns because they are all primarily defined first as kings, then as kingdoms, and finally as nations.
There are several differences between the body of a beast, its heads and horns. These differences are the order in which the different body parts occur and the degree of power the different body parts will have compared to any body part that may have come before. The order in which the different body parts occur is this: the body of a beast occurs first, then the heads occur next, and finally the horns arrive after the heads are finished and gone. The heads of a beast will usually have less power compared to its body and the horns will usually have less power than the heads.
This principle is demonstrated by the 4 headed leopard in Daniel 7 and the goat of Daniel 8. The goat with the great horn represents the same thing as the body of the leopard (the king of Greece). The 4 heads of the leopard and the 4 horns of the goat represent the 4 kings who ruled Alexander's empire after it was divided among four of his generals following his death. Below is a graphic demonstration of this principle. You should be able to see that the body of the leopard beast represents the same thing as the body and the great horn on the goat. The four horns on the goat represent the same thing as the four heads on the leopard beast. Therefore, the body of a beast and its heads and horns can represent the same things: kings, kingdoms, and nations.
The fact that the great horn on the goat is replaced by four horns can help us improve our understanding of Revelation 17. If the first horn on the goat must be replaced by four horns in order to show a progression of time (from Alexander's rule to the rule of the four generals who followed his rule) and the four goat horns are equivalent in function to the four leopard heads, then it is logical that in order to show that heads are sequential in Revelation 17, one would have to show heads coming up one after another. In Revelation 17, to show that the heads are sequential, first the beast should have been shown with no heads, just a body appearing headless. Then one head should come out of the body and present itself to John. Then, another head should appear so that two heads were then on the beast. Then a third head should appear, and so on until all seven heads had appeared to John. Such a scene shows that the heads are sequential in nature. Does this make sense to you?
You may question that this has to be done to show that the heads are sequential, but in fact this very phenomena appeared in Daniel 8 and nobody ever notices. Here is what it says:
Dan 8:3 Then I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
Do you see what this means? Read it carefully. Daniel tells us in this verse that he first saw the beast without horns, then the first horn came up, followed by another horn which came up and rose higher than the first. If you don't believe this, study the verse very carefully because that is exactly what Daniel says even though he does not say it in those exact words (the clue to what he is actually saying is in the phrase "and the higher [horn] came up last").
Now, to understand this, the ram appeared without horns at first and then grew one horn and then another horn which rose higher. This means there is a sequence of events, both reviewed from history of Daniel's time and foretold from his time. God was telling Daniel that the ram without the horns represented the king of Persia before the two kings of Media and Persia arose to dominate that kingdom. According to this prophecy, apparently the king of Media rose to prominence first, followed by the king of Persia, who gained greater prominence and control of Persia than the Median king, so rose higher to represent this fact. But, the significant point here is that there is a sequence of horns that occurs here. To show that they occur in sequence, the horns of the goat actually appear in sequence.
In Revelation 17, if God had wanted to show that the seven heads of the scarlet beast truly are to be understood as a sequence of kingdoms, then just as the goat's horns in Daniel 8 were shown to come up in sequence, the seven heads of the scarlet beast in Revelation 17 must also come up in sequence. Yet that does not happen, which strongly hints that the sequential kingdoms interpretation is incorrect.
But, some might object to this by saying that the seven heads are explained to be in sequence in the text, so God did not need to show them appearing in sequence on the scarlet beast. Usually, that would be a valid reason to object because there are places in Daniel where God shows things in prophecy by either (or both) visual representation or verbal explanation. However, the objection is not true in this case because there are two different general interpretation methods available for the seven heads. Both methods must be considered and the correct one selected. These two methods are:
One must honestly deal with the facts regardless of which interpretation method one wants to use. Factually, a careful reading of Revelation 17 reveals that only the last two heads (the "one is" and the "one not yet come") are actually explained to be in sequence. The five that have fallen are not explained to be in sequence at all, but rather people assume they are in sequence based on the fact that the last two are said to be in sequence and the first five appear to occur before the "one is". Assumptions are nice and may be considered, but they are not the same as facts. The "one is" head appears on this basis to be in sequence after the "five have been" heads, but that is not provable based on the information the angel gives. It is possible that the "one is" actually started sometime during the time of the "five have fallen" heads and has merely survived longer than they have. If so, then the first five heads have "fallen" and the "one is" remains merely because of longer survival than the other heads. You should not dismiss this possibility because if you do, you are not dealing with the facts as they stand in Revelation 17. And factually, you cannot disprove it.
But, one can take this further and simply realize that there is the possibility that all of the first six heads started out together and have fallen, one by one, until only one remained. In this way, indeed "five have fallen" and the one remaining was said to be the "one is". After that, the sixth head fell. After the first six fell, then the final one came up. This possibility cannot be eliminated on the basis of the the statements of the angel, and must not be rejected just because one does not like it or because most scholars have failed to consider this and instead promote the sequential heads idea. Scholars have not always been right about many things in life. Their failure to consider this is unfortunate, but we should not make the same mistake they have made. We must consider all possibilities. The best thing about this possibility is that it fits in with the way things are done in Daniel. In Daniel, heads ruled concurrently (meaning together, at the same time). So, why should we not consider that this same thing could happen in Revelation 17 with the first six heads?
Therefore, in this case, to be sure the message is correctly understood, it is necessary for the angel to show the seven heads appearing on the scarlet beast in sequence if in fact it was actually intended for them to be understood from the text to occur in sequence. Because that is not done, it does not rule out the possibility of a concurrent ruler ship of these seven kings. This actually shifts the evidence in favor of concurrent ruler ship of the seven kings of Revelation 17.
This is demonstrated by the vision of Daniel 7 in which all 4 beasts, beginning with the beast representing Babylon, came up out of the sea. This vision probably occurred when the kingdom of Babylon was nearing its end, yet is shown coming out of the sea in the vision. The lion, which represented Babylon, could have been shown already standing on the sea shore and 3 more beasts could have come up after it, but instead it was shown as coming up out of the sea like the rest of the beasts in order to demonstrate it's origins.
This is also demonstrated with the 4 heads of the leopard beast of Daniel 7. Here, all 4 heads are shown together. The 4 kingdoms which the 4 heads represent began their existence together, but existed together only about 20 years before one of the four conquered one of the other 3, and as a result only 3 heads remained (from about 280 BC). The 3 heads remained together for about 112 years thereafter. Later, the Romans conquered the three remaining Greek (Macedonian) kingdoms one at a time (168 BC, 63 BC, and 30 BC are the dates of the three conquests by the Romans), so they could have been shown falling one at a time, but they were not. Instead, all four of them were shown together, a condition which existed only at the beginning of the division of Alexander the Great's kingdom. This indicates a view from the beginning. See graph below.
Note the 4 kingdoms were together at the beginning only for about 20 years, at which time the kingdom run by Seleucus conquered the kingdom run by Lysimachus. Thereafter, there were 3 kingdoms that one by one were conquered by the Romans starting in 168 BC. Time scale shown is not proportional to actual time passage.
Lysimachus was conquered by Seleucus
Ptolomy and Seleucus kingdoms conquered by Rome
Cassander's kingdom conquered by Demetrios, the son of Antigonus, one of Alexander's generals
This is also demonstrated by the vision of the image in Daniel 2. Here the 4 kingdoms are represented by an image in which different metals, starting with the head of gold, represented different successive kingdoms and time periods in future history. All 4 parts are shown as one as if they were an accomplished fact, yet 3 of them were not the dominant powers in that region as of the time of Daniel. Eventually, one by one, they did take over the region. But the fact that they were all shown together on the image indicates a view from the beginning rather than the end. See illustration below.
Head of gold
Chest and arms of silver
Belly and thighs of bronze
Legs of iron
Toes a mix of iron and clay
It seems logical that we should view other prophetic elements in the same way. This is perhaps less important than the other rules, but it does have implications on how one interprets certain elements of the beast's heads and horns in both Daniel and Revelation.
A final example of where the view of time was from the past towards the future is in Daniel 7. Below is a graphic depicting the view as Daniel might have viewed it from a time perspective.
The lion of Daniel 7 represented Babylon and only Babylon. It did not represent both Babylon and Greece (Macedonia). This rule also is demonstrated in Revelation 13 where each beast represents one and only one power.
Heads or horns are merely subdivisions of the power, territory, or people the beast's body represents. A beast with its heads and horns can also be looked upon as one long time period existing from beginning to end of its days of dominance. The body, heads, and horns are merely subdivisions of that entire time period and power that the beast represents.
A direct biblical evidence that this is true is given in the text from Daniel 7:17 - These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. Note that this would apply to both the leopard beast with 4 heads, and the dreadful beast with its horns. Each beast is said in Daniel 7:17 to be a king, and it is generally true that a king rules over one kingdom. Hence, each beast is considered to be one kingdom or power, not several such powers or kingdoms, even though the Bible does show them subdividing as time went on. This indicates that the body of each beast is what is considered to be one, because each is considered to be a king. And yet, as time goes on, they were shown subdivided. The only way this can be true is if each beast's body is one king, and is then subdivided later where applicable.
Each of the 4 kingdoms of Daniel 7 are represented by 4 separate beasts rather than 4 heads or 4 horns on a single beast. Babylon was represented by a lion. Greece by a 4 headed leopard.
The truth of this is demonstrated by Daniel 7:17, which says: These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. If these were not independent kingdoms (which by definition means they are separate powers), then why say they are four kings? Why not say they were one king but 4 beasts? But no, instead they are said to be 4 kings, thereby demonstrating that each beast represented a separate kingdom.
The four kingdoms of Daniel 7 could have been represented as a single beast with 4 heads, and one of the 4 heads would have 4 horns (to represent Greece and the kingdoms that came out of it), and another of the 4 heads would have 10 horns (to represent Rome and its follow-up kingdoms). But God did not do this. Why? He could have done it this way.
One reason that a beast with 4 heads as described above was NOT used is that heads and horns represent powers that arise from a common preceding kingdom, whereas a beast usually represents a power that does NOT arise from a common preceding kingdom or power (the leopard beast of Revelation 13 and the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 are exceptions to this). God chose this to establish this pattern because it would be useful to teach certain things about the powers that arose and would be useful for future use in Revelation. Another reason separate beasts were used to represent the four kingdoms was that if you were to place all of them as heads on one beast, it would imply that they came up at the same time, or were concurrent. But these kingdoms were actually sequential (as demonstrated by history), so they had to be shown as separate beasts. You see, this also helps one know that heads cannot represent sequential kingdoms, for here was a golden opportunity for God to show that heads were sequential, and yet he did not take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Why? Conclusion: Where kingdoms are sequential and represent separate powers, he uses separate beasts.
This is also demonstrated in Revelation 13 where the sea beast and the earth beast all represent separate powers (possibly the image beast also will be a separate power from the other two), thereby demonstrating that this rule applies in Revelation as well as Daniel. The Separate Powers Principle is a consequence of the Succession Principle and the Singularity Principle.
Another place where this rule can be applied is Revelation 17. Many believe that the heads on the scarlet beast represent separate kingdoms that occur sequentially (one after another, usually beginning with ancient Egypt and ending with some form of the Antichrist). The proposed kingdoms usually do not come from a common earthly power. However, the Separate Powers Principle demonstrates that such kingdoms would have to be shown as separate beasts, rather than as multiple heads on a single beast. The Separate Powers Principle eliminates the possibility that those heads on the scarlet beast in Revelation 17 are separate ancient sequential kingdoms, of any form or stripe (and also because these kingdoms do NOT arise from a common power).
This rule tells you that those heads of the scarlet beast must come from a common power and CANNOT represent separate ancient sequential kingdoms of any form. They MUST represent concurrently existing powers that come from a common previously existing power, except for the two heads it directly tells you are sequential.
The 4 headed leopard on the left represents Greece under Alexander the Great. the beast on the right represents Rome. Did Rome come out of Greece?
The answer to this should be obvious. Rome did NOT come out of Greece, and this is why they are shown as two different beasts instead of as heads on the same beast.
This is a common sense rule but is profound in its implications. Here is an example showing how it applies. Consider the leopard beast of Daniel 7. It has a body and 4 heads. History shows that after Alexander the Great died, there were four kingdoms that eventually came out of his one big kingdom (there was initially a fifth kingdom but it got swallowed by the other four, which remained stable for a while). We know that this leopard fits his kingdom because it is the third in a series of kingdoms that began with Babylon. So, we know from this that the story given in Daniel, the beast and its parts, and history all match up. The facts all line up with each other. There normally is no significant mismatch.
What this means is that when you are told that a beast represents a certain power, then the story in the Bible about that beast (the explanation part) should somehow reflect the facts presented about the beast itself (how many heads it has, for example) and actual history. This does mean there should be a reasonably good match between all these things.
Consider another example. There are those who claim that the Revelation 17 scarlet beast's heads represent a series of seven kingdoms. They base this on the explanation of the seven kings, which they realize are the same as the seven heads. In this theory, the first five heads occur at the same time as the body, the sixth usually comes after the body during the "is not" time, and in many of them, the seventh head occurs with the ten horns. But they fail to understand that the angel gives a general outline of the history of the beast, for he says that the beast (clearly meaning the body of the beast not including the heads or horns) already "was"or is in the past (Revelation 17:8), and he says that the horns are yet to be or are in the future (Revelation 17:12). Thus, the heads MUST all come between the body and horns. Since these beasts are generally patterned after real animals, it is natural that the heads should come between the body and horns for that is the way a natural animal is built - the head comes between the body and the horns. It cannot be any other way. This means that the body, heads, and horns are each separate one from another and represent different time periods. Therefore, when one reads the explanation of the seven ancient kingdoms, you can know that it is incorrectly understood because the explanation they give does not correspond with the angel's explanation. There is not a good match between things. That tells you that the hypothesis that that seven heads are a series of seven kingdoms is wrong. It does not match the facts presented in the story given by the angel (his explanation).
The point of this rule is simply this: don't assume anything not written in the Bible unless it is extremely obvious. An example of something that is extremely obvious is that kings are a symbol in Daniel and Revelation, and kings always have a name associated with them. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that a king symbolizes a name. An example of something not obvious and should not be done is to say that the heads of the dragon are the heads of the beasts of Daniel. There is nothing in the story that tells you that fact and there is nothing to associate them together. Plus, there is an explanation of seven heads and ten horns in Revelation 17, the only place in the Bible that explains seven heads and ten horns. The obvious thing to do here is to use the explanation that most closely matches the conditions of the story of Revelation 12, or in other words use the explanation that is given that matches - the seven heads and ten horns in Revelation 17. Clearly, the explanation in Revelation 17 matches the conditions in Revelation 12 much better than the heads and horns in Daniel 7. Thus, the seven heads and ten horns of Revelation 17 stick much closer to the story than do the heads and horns of Daniel 7.
Always stay close to the story and you'll have a much better understanding of it.
This principle is very simple. In the case of the leopard beast of Daniel 7, the body of that beast represented Greece under the command of Alexander the Great. When he died, his unborn son ruled through a regent appointed for him and was co-ruler with Alexander's half brother, who was mentally deficient. After about 20 years, five of his generals tired of the situation and declared independence. They were governors of different portions of Alexander's empire by this time and were ready to strike out on their own.
The kingdom was divided five ways, but that lasted only a short time. Soon, four of the generals became unhappy with the fifth general, so formed a coalition and went to war against him. They defeated the fifth general, killed him, and took his territory. They then sat down and wrote up an agreement dividing the kingdom among themselves.
Daniel saw only four heads on the leopard, not five. Yet there were five divisions initially. Why were there only four heads on the leopard beast instead of five heads? The reason is because there was no formal decree dividing the kingdom until four of them got together and wrote up a decree and divided the kingdom among themselves. The fifth general never signed any decree dividing the kingdom so was not included as a fifth head.
The same thing happens with the dreadful beast of Daniel l7 and the sea beast of Revelation 13. There was a decree formally ending the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. This marked the transition from the body and head of the dreadful beast to the 10 horns. When the talking horn came up, there was a decree that became enforceable in 538 A.D. which marked its coming.
The changes in power from the body to the seven heads of the sea beast of Revelation 13 also is marked by a decree. In 1798, General Berthier wrote a decree removing the Papal government from power, almost exactly 1260 years after a decree brought the sea beast (AKA the talking horn) into existence. In the future, when the 10 horns arise and the beast returns, there will be a decree marking their return. This decree will give them power that they did not have before, the power to persecute the people of God through the use of the power of the nations. In other words, they will be given the right to use the power of the state against the people of God and will be persecutors.
For more details, see the Main Menu and look for the article under Daniel 7 or Revelation 13 titled Beast Powers Change From One Era to Another By Decrees.