There are two images in Scripture that refer to the succession of world empires that leads to the final beast system. The first is in Daniel 2 where an image of a statue is portrayed and the second is in Rev 17 where a beast with seven heads is pictured. These two pictures have several similarities. Both pictures indicate
· that these empires are only manifestations of a system of world power that Revelation calls the beast
· Each empire is the head of the system at a given period of time
· Each empire is conquered by the empire that will succeed them as head of the beast system, in chronological order, continuing the beast-system
· The final empire is a ten-nation empire
· This ten-nation empire is destroyed by Jesus Christ the Messiah personally and when that happens the entire beast-system dies.
The table below illustrates the various forms of the system in history. The image portrayed in Daniel begins with Nebuchadnezzar's time forward while the image in Rev begins at Babel forward.
Rev 17 seven heads
Daniel 2 statue
Old Babylon (Babel)
The first six empires are straight-forward. In Rev 17 John is told that five are fallen and one is in power in his time. In John's time the Old Babylonian Empire, the Assyrian Empire, the New Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, and the Grecian Empire had already fallen and the Roman Empire was in power. The failure of some students of prophecy to realize that there were two Babylonian empires that were interrupted by Assyria have resulted in some including Egypt in this list. But Egypt does not fit in the succession. Egypt did not fall to Assyria as it would if it were in the succession.
The Identity of the Seventh Empire If the empires fall in succession to their successors then the identity of the seventh empire can be determined. According to Rev 17 Rome was in power at the time of the writing of Revelation. Rome is therefore the key to identifying the seventh empire. In AD 395 Rome split into two empires. The fall of the western half in AD 476 does not necessarily mean the fall of the Roman Empire. There was no clear successor to the western half (without violating consistency of language i. e. a religious empire-Catholicism- replacing a literal political one as the first six were). The eastern half, however, was clearly succeeded by a literal empire. The Ottoman Empire replaced the Roman Empire as the head of the Beast system in 1453 AD and was in power until 1918. The Ottoman Empire is the seventh beast.
The Eighth Empire is the beast. We are given two clues that identify the eighth beast:
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. Rev 17:11
The phrase was, and is not means that the eighth beast was an empire that was in power prior to the Roman Empire but had fallen at the time that Rome became the head of the beast. This eliminates the possibility of a revived Roman Empire being the head of the beast. Which empire is it? The answer is so simple that many of the most brilliant Bible scholars keep missing it. It is Babylon. Rev 17 is about a woman named Babylon riding a beast. The beast is also named Babylon. Babylon is the original head of the statue in Dan 2 and therefore the ultimate head and name of the entire system in addition to being the first and third heads.
Jeremiah 50-51,which predicts the final destruction of Babylon, clearly portrays the battle as an end-times battle and Babylon as the dominant power on earth. Babylon is called "the hammer of the whole earth"(50:23 Also read 51:7,25,41,49). Babylon is often interpreted symbolically in this passage, however Babylon is clearly equated with the land of Chaldea. This clearly identifies literal Babylon as the final beast.
The phrase is of the seven indicates that the beast is a composite of the previous seven. Babylon is not limited to Iraq. Babylon 3 is a composite of all previous empire and includes a revived Roman Empire-European Union.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire the process of succession is more detailed. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire there is a woman who rides the beast. The woman, Mystery Babylon, is the immediate successor to the Ottoman Empire. At first she controls the beast. Then there are ten kings who hate the woman and shift the balance of power towards the antichrist.