The Bible contains vivid descriptions of times past and those yet to come. The book of Revelation contains a great amount of imagery that grabs attention and allows us to use our imaginations to visualize future events and persons. Part of those future proceedings will involve the “beast,” described beginning in Revelation 13.
The apostle John, describing a vision, writes, “The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority” (Revelation 13:1–2).
John’s vision of the beast from the sea is similar to what Daniel saw: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns” (Daniel 7:7). Both Daniel and John include the detail that the terrible beast has ten horns.
The dragon, or Satan, as identified in Revelation 12:9, gives power to the beast so that he might act as an evil proxy and carry out Satan’s bidding. The beast will have a seemingly fatal head wound that will be healed, and he will have tremendous influence over the inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 13:3). The beast will utter proud and blasphemous words while holding authority for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5; cf. Daniel 7:8). It is this timing that solidifies his identity as the Antichrist.
We again compare John’s revelation with that of Daniel: “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9:27). The “seven” represents a seven-year period (the tribulation) beginning with the signing of a peace treaty with Israel, and ending with the second coming of Christ, foretold in Zechariah 14:1–9. For the first three and a half years of this period (the forty-two months mentioned in Revelation), Israel will experience peace and even have their temple rebuilt. But then, in the middle of that period, the Antichrist will go into the temple and proclaim himself to be God. This is referred to as the “abomination that causes desolation” in Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15. For the remaining three and a half years, or forty-two months, the Antichrist will attempt to annihilate the Jews. He is the beast with ten horns.
The Ten Horns
Knowing that the beast is the Antichrist who holds political power during the second half of the great tribulation helps us make sense of the ten horns. Daniel says, “The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom” (Daniel 7:24). Revelation corroborates this: “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb” (Revelation 17:12–13a).
Our view is that the Antichrist will rise from a “revived” Roman Empire in the last days. That empire will be divided into ten parts, governed by ten kings, who will rule under the Antichrist. These ten kings, symbolized as horns, voluntarily cede authority to the one-world leader, the Antichrist. These kings will wage war against Jesus (“the Lamb”) and His people. Despite their power and authority, these ten kings will be defeated at the return of Jesus Christ: “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet. . . . The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 19:19–20).
The coming Antichrist will certainly be a fearful dictator, and his federation of ten kings will seem unstoppable. But we know the end of the beast and all his followers: “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is the Lord of lords and the King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). Jesus Christ Himself will quickly and decisively defeat this coalition of evil, headed by the ten-horned beast.