Who Was The Land Beast Of Revelation 13?
By Don K. Preston (Part 1 of 2)
These are the notes I took while watching Don Preston’s video serious of the same name, so the writing style is a bit more relaxed and casual. However, the information Don presents is irrefutable. There are 14 videos in this series and Don’s teaching is excellent and very thorough. The link to the series playlist on YouTube is shown above.
There were actually two beasts involved in Revelation, a land beast and a sea beast and we will actually identify both of them. We cannot isolate Revelation 12, 13, and 14 in our understanding of the identity of the Land Beast of chapter 13. One of the keys to understanding the identity of either of these beasts is to understand Hebraic thought of the 1st century. The Hebrews understood that the sea represented the pagan Gentile world. The Hebrews were not known as seafarers and were more of a land-based people. The “land” for Israel did not represent “dirt” it represented the covenant land of Israel. It is not simply “land” to them, but “THE Land.” When Hebrew writers referred to “THE Land,” they were referring to the land of Israel. If that well known, well established usage of the term “The Land” is being used here in Revelation 13, as opposed to “THE Sea,” then what we find is that the writer is describing a pagan authority joining with Israel to persecute the saints of God. This becomes within itself one of the most definitive proofs that Revelation was written prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., prior to the time of Domitian. We’re told: “Revelation was written during the time of Domitian, so Domitian was the beast!” NO he was not. The identification of the sea beast as a pagan gentile force, and the land beast as related to Israel, demands there was a partnership between a pagan force which is the dominant force, and Israel in some way or fashion, in a partnership of persecution against the body of Christ. If true, this proves Revelation was written prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 and it proves Domitian was not the Beast, as we shall see.
We’re dealing with apocalyptic language which is highly metaphoric and hyperbolic. It should never be pressed to the extreme “nth” degree of literalism. That completely and totally misses the point of apocalyptics. That’s one of the reasons why the dispensational view of Revelation is so misplaced. It takes Hebrew scripture which was never meant to be taken literally and imposes a modern, literalistic hermeneutic upon it and then people say “Oh look! We’re expecting a future atomic warfare!” Apocalyptic language was never meant to be taken literally.
In Revelation 13, we have two beasts depicted, a sea beast and a land beast. We have to go back to chapter 12 to discover that both beasts are empowered by the Dragon. The Dragon in chapter 12 is the “mover and shaker” of the persecution. The Dragon is the one that attempted to slay the man-child that was to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in Revelation 19. It is the Dragon that is pursuing the seed of the woman and notice that, in Revelation 13 and 14, John then sees the beast of the sea and he says in verse 2:
Revelation 13:2 [KJV]
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
So the Dragon is the real POWER behind the land and sea beasts which is obviously Satan:
Revelation 12:9 [KJV]
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
In John 12:30-31, Jesus, speaking of Satan, said:
John 12:31 [KJV]
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
Here is Jesus in John 12 talking about the impending overthrow of the Great Dragon. In Revelation 12, we have the casting of the Dragon out of heaven, but remember it was that same Dragon that empowered both the sea beast and the land beast. Whatever identities that we feel we must assign to the sea and land beasts, they are both empowered by Satan the Dragon and Jesus said that the power of his cross would lead to the casting out and overthrow of Satan. Virtually all scholars admit that Revelation 13:1-2 is speaking about the same (fourth) sea beast of Daniel 7.
Daniel 7:3 [KJV]
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
Daniel 7:7 [KJV]
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Daniel 7:11 [KJV]
I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
Daniel 7 spoke of the coming of four world empires and that fourth world empire is the SAME days of the sea beast of Revelation. The fourth empire in Daniel is the Roman Empire. This gives us another textual connection that tells us something. No matter what else we may think of the Dragon, the sea beast, and the land beast, we are limited to the days of Rome because that is how John is applying Daniel. We therefore, cannot look beyond the days of Rome for the fulfillment of Revelation 13. Revelation 13 is about the Dragon and the sea beast and the sea beast is the fulfillment of Daniel 7, but Daniel 7 and the fourth beast is the Roman Empire. Therefore, Revelation 13 HAD to be fulfilled in the days of Rome. Rome fell in 476 AD, so we can’t get Revelation 13 beyond that date. However, when we couple that with Revelation 12 when Jesus said the Dragon would be cast out (John 12:30-31), we find that we aren’t even close to 476 AD, we are in JESUS’ GENERATION. Therefore, the Sea Beast of Revelation 13 was ROME.
In Revelation 13, we have a partnership of persecution between the sea beast (Rome) and the land beast. The land beast causes everyone to worship the sea beast, but the partnership between the two is the most important aspect. Revelation 13 develops this extensively where we have the beast who is in partnership with Babylon. Babylon sits on the beast which sits on the 7 mountains. In Revelation 17, we have the beast and Babylon in persecutorial partnership, but then the beast turns on the woman, Babylon, hates her, destroys her and burns her with fire. We are told Revelation was written under Domitian and he is called “the beast.” However, there are problems with this view. Scholars and historians realize that Domitian never instigated any type of systematic persecution of the Church! Domitian was also NEVER in a persecution partnership with ANY city against the Church. He NEVER destroyed any “partner” city by fire and he never destroyed Rome either. When we look at the historical facts, we find very quickly that a late dating of the writing of Revelation DOES NOT FIT and, secondly, the identity of Domitian as “the Beast” DOES NOT FIT. So, who was John writing about when he said in Revelation 17:10 “and there are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come”? There is only ONE historical situation which fits this prophecy and it fits the prophecy PERFECTLY.
Revelation 17 depicts the same identical partnership as Revelation 13, but it uses slightly different imagery. In Revelation 17, we have the same sea beast (Rome) with seven heads and ten horns, but now we have that enigmatic city called a woman (and also identified as a whore) with the name of MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT and there is a partnership between the beast and the woman against the saints. In Revelation 17, the beast and Babylon are of one mind.
Revelation 17:12-17 [KJV] And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
So, here you have the partnership of persecution between the beast and his confederates (ten horns) and the woman, Babylon. But this partnership turns sour and the beast and his confederates turn on that woman and they hate her and burn her with fire. This is critical to understand because most commentators claim that Domitian was the “Beast.” But the problem with this view is that Domitian was never in a partnership with anyone else, no city, no kingdom, to persecute the Christians. As previously pointed out, there was NO systematic persecution of Christians by Domitian AT ALL. However, when we look at Nero Caesar, we find that Nero was the very FIRST Roman Emperor to persecute the Church. But what most don’t realize is that Nero was in partnership with the Jews. Nero’s wife, Popea, was a Jewess. Likewise, most of his inner circle of counselors were Jews. It is also known that when the persecution began against the Christians, there was an ambassage from Jerusalem of Jewish priests IN ROME who were actively attempting to prosecute Paul. It is widely believed when the fire broke out at Rome, that Nero’s Jewish counselors are the ones who suggested to Nero that if he wanted to take the heat off of himself for setting the city ablaze, that he should blame this tragedy on the Christians. And thus, the Roman Empire began widespread persecutions of the Christians. But, in 66 AD, Jerusalem revolted and Nero sent his armies and destroyed Jerusalem completely. All these historical events fit the prophecy PERFECTLY.
The land beast and sea beast of Revelation 13 form a partnership of persecution against the body of Christ. This partnership is demonstrated again in Revelation 17 with the scarlet beast and Babylon. If you compare the sea beast of Rev 13 and the scarlet beast of Rev 17, you find they are one and the same. They both arise out of the waters. If you compare the land beast of Rev 13 with Babylon, the Whore who sits on the beast of Rev 17, you will find the Whore Babylon of Rev 17 and the land beast of Rev 13 are ALSO one and the same. Babylon is said to be the city where the Lord was slain which means that Babylon was Old Covenant 1st century Jerusalem!
Revelation 11:8 [KJV]
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
In Rev 17, we also see that the partnership between the scarlet beast and Babylon (sea beast and land beast of Rev 13) goes sour and the beast hates her, leaves her naked and desolate and burns her with fire. When you consider all these things, you find there is only ONE historical context that fits the timing and framework in which John posits all these things. People like to say Domitian was “the Beast.” But that won’t work because only ONE Roman emperor was ever in a partnership with any other city to persecute the Church where the partnership went sour and Rome turned on the city and destroyed it by fire. This is EXACTLY what happened at Jerusalem in 70 A.D.! Nero and Rome are the sea beast of Revelation 13 and the scarlet beast of Revelation 17. Jerusalem is both the land beast of Revelation 13 and the whore Babylon riding the scarlet beast in Revelation 17.
There are some things in Revelation which absolutely demand that we confine the events to John’s generation as being urgently imminent for the 1st century. We cannot extend anything in Revelation beyond the Roman empire, let alone 2000 years into the future. Critically, in Revelation 13 we have the sea beast and the land beast who persecute the saints in partnership. In Chapter 14, we gain some insights as to the identity of those who are persecuted. We are told about the 144,000 who are out of the twelve tribes of Israel. These are the righteous remnant. In chapter 7, we are told this 144,000 have come out of the Great Tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, both beasts and the 144,000 belong together temporally. In Revelation 14, John again sees the 144,000 and identifies them as virgins, undefiled with women, the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb redeemed from the earth. They are the 1st generation of Hebrew Christians depicted as martyrs for their faith. Who was it who persecuted them? Both Rome and Jerusalem (Babylon!), with Jerusalem being the driving force behind the persecution in alliance with Rome. The sea beast and the land beast persecute the 144,000 who go through the Great Tribulation, but these 144,000 are also the firstfruits from the 1st CENTURY CHURCH! This means that the Great Tribulation was IN THE 1ST CENTURY! This means that Armageddon was also IN THE 1ST CENTURY!
We’ve already pointed out the correlation between Rev 13 and Rev 17, in which we find that the land beast is actually Babylon. This is obviously critical because Revelation, particularly chapters 18 and following, specifically identifies Babylon as the focus of God’s wrath for her persecution of the saints. As in chapter 13, the land beast causes people to worship the sea beast and the focus of all of that is the partnership between the sea beast and land beast to persecute the saints. Interestingly, in chapter 13, we have the land beast conspiring with the sea beast to persecute the saints, those who would not receive the mark of the beast. The 144,000 also have a mark to identify them as the followers of the Lamb (Rev 14:1f).
Revelation 14:6-10 [KJV]
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
So, who made people worship the Beast? The Land Beast…and the Land Beast is BABYLON! The main point to understand with the passage above is that this great angel flying through the heavens, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those that dwell on the earth, said the HOUR of God’s judgment on Babylon HAS COME. Where do we find the idea and motif of the preaching of the gospel into all the world before the time of the end? In Matthew 24, Jesus predicted the fall of the city of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. The disciples immediately asked him when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of your parousia and of the end of the age? Please don’t make the mistake of believing that the parousia and the end of the age refer to something DIFFERENT from the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple. They are absolutely and inextricably tied together. Jesus gave the signs of that impending destruction, his parousia, and the end of the age. What was one of those signs? He said this gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world (oikoumenē) as a witness to the nations (ethnos), THEN comes the end. Jesus said the gospel would be preached in all the world IN HIS GENERATION and that HIS GENERATION would not pass until all those things were fulfilled (Matthew 24:14,34) Paul testified in Colossians 1:23 that IN FACT the gospel HAD ALREADY BEEN PREACHED TO EVERY CREATURE WHICH IS UNDER HEAVEN. This is precisely why John could now say in Revelation that the hour of the judgment of Babylon IS HERE. By the time John wrote Revelation, the gospel HAD been preached into all the world.