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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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APPENDIX  2: Identifying The Beast

Throughout Scripture the political manifestation of the enemy of God's people has been symbolised by a beast.   Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Rome, the Jews and the Papacy have all been described as 'beasts' in their aggression towards the true believers.   The beast in Revelation has been convincingly expounded by different writers with reference to at least three separate powers - Rome, Israel and Catholicism.   Whilst these interpretations hold true over certain periods of history, the present writer feels that 'the beast' must have a specific latter-day application.   Copious evidence has been presented to show that the Babylon beast of history must have a latter-day equivalent.   Much has already been said about this in the present volume;  this study aims to fill in some background.

The Serpent

The most basic principle behind the symbolism of the beast is found in Gen. 1:28, where man is told to " have dominion over" (Heb. 'to break to powder', cp. Dan. 2:35) the beasts.   This was to teach him the need to dominate the bestial instincts of the flesh.   Thus the beasts are set up as representative of the flesh.   Indeed, Strong defines the Hebrew word for 'beast' as fundamentally meaning 'raw flesh'.   It is therefore understandable that the devil (sin), the beast and the serpent are linked in Rev. 12:9, and that Prov.28:15 parallels " a wicked ruler" with a wild bear or lion; the beast epitomizes the sinful person who controls it.   The Apocalyptic beast of the earth (Rev. 13:11) must look back to the common phrase " beast of the earth" in Genesis (e.g. Gen. 1:25).

The serpent is an epitome of the bestial desires found in the beasts, and is thus the prototype 'beast' of later prophecies.    The serpent being the greatest of the beasts (Gen. 3:1,14) points to the latter-day beast being supreme over the other nations;  its being cursed above all beasts (Gen. 3:14) points forward to the latter-day beast-power being relegated beneath all other nations in the Millennium.   As the serpent dabbled in spiritual things but was not morally responsible (1), so the beast of the last days will do likewise.

This beast being a manifestation of sin, the significance of the conflict between it and Christ at the second coming lies in the open declaration of Christ's victory over sin, the motivating spirit of the beast.  Thus Is. 51:13 describes the Assyrian beast in language which is picked up in Heb. 2:14-18 concerning the " devil" of human nature. Christ's victory will not just be the means of Israel's salvation from the Arab oppressors.   The two-fold conflict between the serpent/beast and the woman (Christ), and between their respective seeds, must therefore have a latter-day application (Gen. 3:15).   The temporary bruising of the saints by the beast must be seen in the last days - and we have earlier examined the prophecies concerning the holocaust to come upon both natural and spiritual Israel.   The final crushing of the serpent/beast and vindication of the woman's seed will therefore be at Armageddon.   The language of Gen. 3:15 is alluded to in Rev. 12:17, which describes the dragon making war with the woman and her seed.    We have earlier shown this to have a specific latter-day application.

As the serpent deceived Adam and Eve, so the beast will deceive the weak believers of the last days.   The serpent/beast in its first century Jewish manifestation is described as seducing the saints through the subtle reasoning of the Judaizers (2 Cor. 11:3).   These people used many " fair speeches" (Rom. 16:18 cp. Jude 15), suggesting that their prototype, the serpent, persuaded Eve to eat the fruit after a lengthy series of discussions, albeit unrecorded. " Yea, hath God said..." (Gen. 3:1) implies the continuation of an unrecorded conversation.   The beast's ecclesial agents of the last days will likewise use the tactic of extended public speeches using superficially deep arguments.   Their political arm will be doing the same to destroy the morale of natural Israel, after the pattern of Rabshakeh's speeches to the Jews during the Assyrian invasion.   Being an apostate Jew (3) he may possibly have a latter-day equivalent in a Jewish leader, who deserts to the Arab cause, urging Israel to capitulate.   Likewise there may be a specific " man of sin" who similarly tempts spiritual Israel.   The description of him in 2 Thess. 2:3 is framed in terms of Judas - implying that he will be an apostate member of the ecclesia?

These two evil individuals may well meet their opposite numbers in the " two witnesses" who will arise (Rev. 11:3), as discussed in Chapter 12.   The judgment of the serpent was by the voice of God (cp. Christ, the word) walking through the garden, summoning the sinful parties to judgment.   This easily looks forward to Christ's second coming, and the judgment by Him in His role as the word made flesh (Rev. 19:13;  Gen. 3:8).

The beast has always been associated with a pseudo-spirituality, an aping of true God manifestation.   We have shown earlier that there will be much of this in the latter-day Babylon/beast.   There is a connection between the beasts of God manifestation and the cherubim in Rev. 4:7;  indeed, the Hebrew word for 'beast' seems to be the equivalent of the phrase " living creature" used in Revelation concerning the cherubim.   The beast and beasts therefore represent systems which falsely claim that they are the vehicle of God manifestation.   This most clearly fits the claims of Islam, and also those of Catholicism.

With all this in mind, it must be significant that Isa. 14:29 speaks of Assyria as a " cockatrice" born out of " the serpent's root" , i.e. she was the seed of the serpent.   " His fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent" is the language of Isa. 6:2 concerning the seraphim.   Thus the Assyrian seed of the serpent is associated with a pseudo-seraphim, and a false God manifestation.

Spotting the beast

The precise political identification of the latter-day beast seems to have preoccupied the minds of many students.   Instead, there needs to be close Biblical analysis of what the beast does to God's people.  When a system arises which fulfils these expectations, there will be no more doubt in the minds of those who have had ears to hear concerning who the beast is.

This said, there is such extended use of the beast symbology concerning Israel's previous enemies that it seems reasonable to suggest that the beast largely refers to Israel's Arab neighbours.   Deut. 32:24 connects the 'beasts' of the surrounding nations with the Genesis serpent:  " I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust" (cp. Gen. 3:14).   There is also a connection between the serpent and beasts in Isa. 30:6.   " The teeth of beasts" coming down upon Israel will be finally fulfilled in the Arab desolation prophesied in Joel 1:6,7, where the Assyrians of the future (Joel 1:15) are described as having Israel between their " cheek teeth" tearing the bark off the Israeli vine and fig (cp. Isa. 9:12 concerning the Philistines).

Sheep and Wolves

Israel being the sheep of God's pasture is a common Bible figure.   Whenever their shepherds were negligent over a prolonged period, the figure was extended to describe the 'wild beasts' of the surrounding nations invading the land and mauling the flock.   Hos. 13:6-8 is typical of those passages which speak in these terms.   Verses 7 and 8 liken these nations to the lion, leopard and bear, all of which are nations mentioned in Dan. 7, which are constituents of the huge system of Arab domination described in Dan. 2.  

These three beast nations are all part of one " wild beast" , as the nations of the image in Dan. 2 are all part of the same latter-day confederacy headed by 'Babylon': " I will be unto them as a lion:  as a a bear...the wild beast" .   Likewise Isa. 56:9,10;  Jer. 30:16 and Eze. 34:5 feature the beasts of Babylon and the surrounding Arab nations as preying on the flock of Israel due to their sleepy shepherds.   After Israel's spiritual awakening they will become like a beast among the 'sheep' of the Arab nations (Mic. 5:8), continuing the theme of the Jews doing to the Arabs as they did to them.

It is possible that Deut. 28:26 also refers to the beasts of the surrounding nations:  " Thy carcase shall be meat...unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away" .   This alludes to the fowls being frayed away while the covenant was made to Abraham.   Thus while Israel abode in the covenant, the Arab nations surrounding them were kept away.   Similarly Eze. 34:25 associates the making of the covenant with Israel in the last days, with the " evil beasts" leaving the land.

Time and again Israel's Arab enemies are likened to " wild beasts" .   The list of references is impressive: Hos. 2:12;  Eze. 5:17;  14:15;  Ps. 80:13;  Jer. 7:33;  15:3;  16:4;  19:7; Deut. 7:22.   Job's Sabean (i.e. Arab) invaders are called " the beasts of the earth...the beasts of the field" (Job 5:22,23).   It is possible that " beasts" in these passages can be read as an intensive plural - i.e. 'the great beast', which symbolizes all of Israel's various enemies.   This equivalence of the multitude of these enemies with a singular beast is seen in Eze. 34:28, which parallels " the heathen" (enemies of Israel) with " the beast of the land" (singular).   Rev. 17 similarly exhibits the (singular) beast as comprising a number of nations (heads/horns).

Ps. 74:19 RV asks God not to deliver His people “unto the wild beast”. This is one of the Asaph Psalms, written in the context of the restoration. The ‘beast’ threatening to destroy Judah then was a confederacy of her surrounding Arab neighbours. Ps. 73:13,14 likens these enemies to a many headed dragon. Another such Psalm, Ps. 83, asks for protection against a confederacy of 10 such nations. In all this we have a remarkable type of the last days after the pattern of Daniel and Revelation-a beast with 10 horns, seeking to devour the recently returned people of God from off their land.

There is repeatedly the theme that Israel’s enemies are confederated together under one confederacy which has one leader. Ps. 118 can be shown to be relevant to Hezekiah at the time of the Assyrian invasion (see George Booker, Psalm Studies). He speaks of how “all nations compassed me about”, i.e. the surrounding Arab nations confederate with Assyria. And yet Hezekiah speaks about them as if they are really headed up by one individual: “Thou [you singular] didst thrust sore at me” (Ps. 118:13). The beast is to punish people by beheading them (Rev. 20:4)- and it's only Islam at the moment which legally practices beheading as a form of execution.


The symbology of the beast was particularly used concerning Babylon.   Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon's king, was given a beast's heart and lived with them (Dan. 4:16) to show his personification of the beast.   " The beasts of the field" , i.e. the surrounding Arab nations, were given into his control (Dan. 2:38), thus they constituted part of the beast of Babylon, " the noisome beast" of Eze. 14:21.   Babylon's army is likened to " beasts" in Jer. 34:20,21.   As God gave power to Assyria and Babylon to achieve His will (Isa. 10), so He will to the latter-day beast (Rev. 13:5,7).   The description of the beast leading people into captivity (Rev. 13:10) shows another connection with Assyria/Babylon, whose trains of captives were well known.   The beast causing men to worship it (Rev. 13:12) recalls Nebuchadnezzar's decree concerning the statue on the plain of Dura (Dan. 3:1,5).   The historical " beast of the field" was associated with the wilderness (Isa. 43:20), as the beast of Rev. 17:3 is a wilderness power.

Babylon's beasts

Israel's Arab neighbours confederated with Babylon in their invasion of Israel.   Jeremiah describes this in beast language:  " I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar...the beasts of the field have I given serve serve him...all nations (around Israel) shall serve him" (Jer. 27:5-7; 28:14).   Ps. 79:1,2, a passage whose links with Rev. 11 give it a clear latter-day application, speaks of the beasts of the surrounding Arab nations being confederate with Babylon.

As the horns hate the Babylon/whore and turn against her to destroy her (Rev. 17:16), so the beast nations once confederate with Babylon will come and lie down in her (Jer. 50:39;  Isa. 13:21).   Beasts lying down in a ruined city is representative of nations dominating another one (Zeph. 2:14,15).

Note that the beast is "scarlet coloured" (Rev. 17:3). Whilst this may have had reference in its time to imperial Rome, let's note that "The Canaanites... derived their name from the purple dye which was produced there and used for making an expensive cloth" (2). In the light of all this, it is difficult to read the latter day beasts of Revelation as referring to anything other than a conglomeration of Arab powers under the leadership of a revived Babylon, between them constituting the most powerful system of opposition to God's people which there has ever been.


(1)  John Thomas in 'Elpis Israel' has an excellent section concerning the a-morality of the serpent - i.e. its lack of moral perception.

(2) R.E. Clements, Exodus (Cambridge: C.U.P., 1972) p. 21.

Extension work 

Some good homework for the enthusiast lies in expounding the 'beasts' described at the end of Job.  'Behemoth' is the Hebrew word elsewhere translated " beast" (Job 40:15).   Leviathan and 'behemoth' appear to use the language of both God manifestation and the political aspects of the beast as elsewhere recorded.