Revelation 13:2

like a leopard . . . bear . . . lion
The characteristics of the first three beasts in Daniel’s night vision contribute to this beast of the end (Dan. Dan. 7:4-6).1 The fourth terrible beast seen by Daniel is not mentioned because this Beast is the embodiment of that terrible beast at the time of the end.

It is a composite of the four beasts of Daniel’s vision (Dan. Dan. 7:1) and must be related to them. Daniel wrote from the standpoint of the Jewish people, whose fate under the Gentile empires to come would effect the First Coming of Messiah. Revelation, written under the fourth and last of these empires, presumably after the Jewish commonwealth had been crushed, takes this picture of Gentile world power from Daniel and combines these four empires onto the picture of the future world-state. The magnificence of Babylon, the vastness of Medo-Persia, the dominating culture of Greek Macedonia, and the organizing might of Rome are united in one state that will aspire to world domination and that will achieve it.2

The order in which the attributes are listed, leopard then bear then lion, are reversed from what Daniel saw. This reflects John’s different vantage point. Daniel, living in the days of the lion beast (Babylon), looked forward in time to see the rise of the bear (Medo-Persia), and then the leopard (Greece). John, writing in the time of the first phase of the terrible beast (Rome), looked backward in time to see them in reverse order. See #8 - Four Beasts/Kings.

The mention of the leopard, bear, and lion in connection with the Beast arising from the sea is in concert with what Daniel was shown concerning the continuation of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece and their contribution to the final form of world government. “As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time” (Dan. Dan. 7:12). When the stone representing the Messianic kingdom strikes the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, all the metals of the image are demolished together: “the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together” (Dan. Dan. 2:35); “it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold” (Dan. Dan. 2:45). Thus, attributes of all the kingdoms are found in this last beast.

Many understand this final kingdom to be a “revived Rome.” This view is based on continuity expressed in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The ten toes of the image are on its feet which are partly of iron which symbolizes Rome:

Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. (Dan. Dan. 2:41-44)

Adding to this identification is the fact that Daniel is only shown four beasts prior to the kingdom being given to the Son of Man (Dan. Dan. 7:11-14). In some sense, this last kingdom of the end must be a continuation of Rome.

The final world empire will be in some sense a revival of the Roman Empire (the iron legs and ten toes of the statue in Daniel Dan. 2:1), but will far exceed it both in power and extent. It will be much more than a European confederacy; it will cover the entire world.3

It is also clear that all the previous kingdoms contribute to its characteristics. Bullinger notes that when John is told “one [kingdom] is” (Rev. Rev. 17:10+), it is Rome which is in view—the next kingdom “has not yet come.” He wonders how Rome can be both.4 Yet the continuity between Rome of John’s day and the form of kingdom represented by the rise of the Beast is strongly inferred by the continuance of Daniel’s fourth beast until the time of the end, when it is predicted “to devour the whole earth” (Dan. Dan. 7:23). Moreover, in the famous prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks, Daniel was told that the “people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan. Dan. 9:26). This prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 by Rome. Thus, the prince to come has a Roman origin. These passages argue for some form of continuity between Rome and the initial beast kingdom of the end. This should not be overemphasized since attributes of the other three beasts are also found in it.

As we progress in this chapter, we will see God sovereignly grant permission for this beastly empire to attain authority by way of empowerment from the dragon. Hosea was shown these beasts and how they would be used to tear Israel to cause her to turn back to God:

When they had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they forgot Me. So I will be to them like a lion; like a leopard by the road I will lurk; I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, and there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them. O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from Me. I will be your King; where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’? I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath. (Hos. Hos. 13:6-11) [emphasis added]

The lion, bear, leopard, and wild beast . . . correspond to the world empires among which Israel is to be scattered and persecuted (Dan. Dan. 7:1) during the time that she is in Dispersion until she will be regathered by her covenant-keeping LORD (Eze. Eze. 37:1-28; Mtt. Mat. 24:31; Rom. Rom. 11:26).5

the dragon gave him his power
Paul told the church at Thessalonica that the coming of the Beast would be according to the working (ἐνέργειαν [energeian] ) of Satan (2Th. 2Th. 2:9). The Beast will be energized by Satan, which speaks of empowerment by a supernatural being.6 “In him shall dwell all the fulness of the Devil bodily.”7

He will be Satan’s parody of the God-Man. He will be an incarnation of the Devil. The world today is talking of and looking for the Super-man. This is exactly what the Antichrist will be. He will be the Serpent’s masterpiece. . . . he will be the culmination and consummation of satanic craft and power. All the evil, malignity, cunning, and power of the Serpent will be embodied in this terrible monster.8

We must not underestimate the connection between the dragon and the Beast. The relationship between the Beast and the dragon must be intimate, for the Beast is allowed to be the recipient of all worship (2Th. 2Th. 2:4). This may indicate that worship toward the Beast finds its ultimate destination in the dragon by way of possession. See commentary on Revelation 13:4.

his throne and great authority
The Beast obtains his throne and authority from the dragon. During the temptation, the dragon showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time” and explained, “All this authority I will give You . . . for this has been delivered to me and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke Luke 4:6). Evidently, the Beast accepts an offer similar to that which Jesus refused. Mat. 4:8).”9 Although Scripture does not say, we can infer that the Beast, probably in some private fashion, ultimately gives his worship to the dragon. The only alternative would be that Satan so completely indwells the Beast that the result is their near unity.

The close association of the Beast with the dragon and Babylon is seen in a passage from Isaiah which begins as a proverb against the king of Babylon, but contains elements which go far beyond any mortal man to identify the power behind the king—Satan:

Take up this proverb against the king of Babylon . . . How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms?’ (Isa. Isa. 14:4, Isa. 14:12-16)

The shaking of the earth and kingdoms refers to the activities of the ultimate king of Babylon, the Beast and his close unity and empowerment with Satan, the dragon. The fifth bowl of God’s wrath is poured out “on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom” (Rev. Rev. 16:10+).

Notes

1 “Because the leopard, lion, and bear in Revelation Rev. 13:2+ are also used in Daniel Dan. 7:1 to depict nations, the interpreter is alerted to the fact that John is employing symbolic language. Thus, the leopard, lion, and bear also represent nations in Revelation Rev. 13:1+ just as they did in Daniel Dan. 7:1.”—Andy Woods, What is the Identity of Babylon In Revelation 17-18?.

2 Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 188.

3 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 13:1.

4 “We are at a loss to understand how this can be the Roman Empire revived! For the Beast itself is like a leopard (Greece) (Dan. Dan. 7:6). Its feet are those of the bear (Medo-Persia); and its mouth is like a lion’s mouth (Babylon). Where is the Roman Empire here in any form? If the Beast be the Roman Empire, does he have himself, intact, for one of his own heads? The notion is only a venerable, but vain, imagination. Rome cannot be at the same time one of the heads, and yet the whole Beast himself. ‘One is’ (Rev. Rev. 17:10+). That is said to be the Roman Empire. But it is added, ‘the other is not.’ Is this the Roman Empire too? Clearly not! What we have here is the embodiment and personification of the sovereignty of the world under Satanic power.”—E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 13:2.

5 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Hos. 13:8.

6 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 265.

7 Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “The Genius and Character of the Antichrist.”

8 Ibid., s.v. “The Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition.”

9 Ibid., s.v. “The Antichrist in Revelation 13.”

Read Revelation 13:2