Identifying the Beast! Part 2by Steve Wohlberg
The Bible says, “All the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:3). It’s no secret that the majority of modern prophecy teachers apply this prediction to the rise of one Mr. Bad Guy (the Antichrist) who will supposedly show up after the rapture. That’s the dominant view. Is it correct?
“FBI Apologizes to American Lawyer Wrongly Arrested” was the title of an Associated Press story that appeared in the San Luis Obispo Tribune on May 26, 2004. A terrorist bombing had occurred in Spain killing 191 people and FBI fingerprint evidence pointed to Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield - a Muslim - as the guilty one. Mayfield was thrown in jail. But the FBI soon discovered they had wrong man. The Tribune declared, “Court documents released Monday suggested that the mistaken arrest first sprang from an error by the FBI’s supercomputer for matching fingerprints.” The embarrassed agency then acknowledged the need to “review its practices on fingerprint analysis.”
When it comes to the beast, is it possible that the “fingerprint analysis” of many modern prophecy teachers is in error? Most expect the arrival of a future Antichrist, but are they looking for the wrong man? Could the beast be here now?
Let’s review the evidence presented in Identifying the Beast (Part 1). The beast of Revelation 13:1-10 is the same as the “little horn” of Daniel 7. Both have “a mouth speaking great things” (see Daniel 7:8; Revelation 13:5) and “make war with the saints (see Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:7). Almost everyone agrees here. In Daniel 7, the plain prophetic sequence is:
- The rise of a lion (verse 4)
- The rise of a bear (verse 5)
- The rise of a leopard (verse 6)
- The rise of a fourth beast (verse 7)
- The fourth beast has ten horns (verse 7)
- Another little horn rises among the ten horns (verse 8)
- The little horn had eyes like a man (verse 8)
- The little horn had a mouth speaking great things (verse 8)
- The little horn made war on the saints (verse 21).
An angel said, “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth” (Daniel 7:23). 98% of Christian scholars throughout history have identified these four beasts as four kingdoms - Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. It’s simple history, a no brainer. The controversy swirls around the ten horns and the little horn. Futurists place the ten horns in the future (predicting a “revived Roman empire”) and think the “little horn” refers to one Mr. Diabolical who shows up after we’re gone.
Preterists think the little horn is Nero who waged war against Christians in the first century. In Identifying the Beast! (Part 1), we saw fatal flaws in both of these views. Futurists insert a 1500-year gap after the fall of Rome (thus breaking the successive sequence of Daniel 7), while preterists fail to realize that the little horn bursts into strength after Rome’s division into ten parts, not before.
The ONLY SOLUTION that fits Daniel 7’s sequence sees Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, then Rome’s division into ten parts, and then the little horn that is the same as the beast. Let me stress that this prophecy is not pointing its irrefutable finger against sincere people who don’t fully understand the Scriptures. No. Its focus is a “kingdom” or beast-system (centered in one “man”) that is leading millions away from childlike faith in the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Who is the little horn? Are you ready? Martin Luther wrote that Daniel “saw the terrible wild beast which had ten horns, which by the consent of all is the Roman Empire, he also beheld another small horn come up in the middle of this. This is the papal power, which rose up in the middle of the Roman Empire” (1).
Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, John Knox, William Tyndale, John Calvin, John Wesley, Roger Williams, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, the translators of the King James Bible, John Bunyan, the Westminster Confession, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Spurgeon, David Benedict’s History of the Baptist Denomination, Bishop J.C. Rylie, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, and countless other historic Protestants all believed the little horn of Daniel 7 was the global power of the Roman Catholic Church which came out of the Roman Empire, rose up among the ten parts of Europe, is centered in one man (the Pope), has made war with the saints in history, is a “kingdom” today (over 100 embassies stand on Vatican hill), and even now exerts global influence.
According to 400 years of Protestant scholarship (which shouldn’t be taken lightly), the beast is here now and has been operating for over a thousand years. Again, this prophecy is not against sincere people who don’t fully understand the Bible - but against a system that leads away from direct faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and has introduced many subtle traditions into the Christian Church.
Preterists and futurists should “review their practices of fingerprint analysis.” Like the FBI in 2004, they have identified the wrong man. Let’s not make the same mistake.
- Quoted in Romanism and the Reformation - From the Standpoint of Prophecy, by H. Grattan Guinness. Harley House, Bow, London.1891, p. 127. Italics original. See also Works of Martin Luther, vol. II, P. 386.