The dispensationalists teach that the Antichrist will arise from a revived Roman Empire. They base this upon Dan 2 where there are four empires that last until the end of the world when Jesus comes and crushes all world powers (Dan 2:34-35), and they base it on Dan 7:23-24 where the Little Horn (the Antichrist) arises from among 10 kings that emerge from the latter end of the Roman Empire.
Revelation parallels the teaching of Daniel and the other prophets, but provides the structure and glue to tie together all the miscellaneous clues dropped by all the prophets. A major feature of Revelation is a multiheaded beast (Rev 13, 17) similar to the one in Dan 7:6 that was a symbol of Alexander the Great’s four headed Greecian Empire. Daniel’s prophecy shows us that the multiple heads are kings. However, unlike Daniel’s four heads that operated simultaneously, Rev 17 shows that the seven heads on John’s beast operated sequentially. He says the seven heads are seven kings. Five are fallen and one now is (Rev 17:10).
Another clue that ties in with Daniel is the seven headed beast as it appears in Rev 13. In that vision, the seven headed beast not only had seven heads, but it was a composite beast that had parts of three of the four beasts that Daniel described in Dan 7:4-6. The four beasts that Daniel described were “four kings that will arise out of the earth” (Dan 7:17). If we compare Dan 7 with Dan 2 and Dan 8, we learn from the inspired commentary that the four beasts of Dan 7 were Babylon (the lion), Medo-Persia (the bear), Greece (the leopard), and Rome (the terrible beast unlike the others). So, the seven headed beast of Rev 13 and 17 that has sequential heads is comprised of an amalgamation of world empires, four of which were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Since Rome was the sixth world empire, and Daniel only names three that lived before Rome, we are left to our own devices to guess at who the two earliest ones might be. The Old Babylonian, Sumerians, Hittites, and Egyptians are all possibilities, but I know of no definitive way to narrow these choices down.
However, John said that at the time he wrote Revelation, five of the heads/kings/empires had fallen, and one existed at that time, and one was yet to come. One of the preceeding empires had received a deadly wound, yet it would live (Rev 13:3). Now since the empires came one after the other, you could wonder that since all of the extinct empires received a death stroke, what’s the deal with this one head? It appears to be a device to illustrate that this particular world empire that had fallen from its number one position to a much lower ranking would one day come back to reclaim its position as position as world ruler. John says that this revived world empire is the eighth world empire, but it is one of the seven (Rev 17:11). So, John is clear about a previous world empire regaining its world dominance, but which one is it?
As we noted in the beginning of this article, the dispensationalists say that the revived world empire is the Roman Empire. They say that based on credible reasoning based on Dan 7:23-24 and Dan 2:34-35. Likewise, if you consider the figure of Dan 2, when Jesus comes He smashes the feet of the fourth world empire, that is, Rome. However, Rome is the 6th world empire in Rev 17. Another one, the seventh, follows Rome that “continue[s] a short space” (Rev 17:10). After “a short space” a revived empire follows the seventh empire that rules for only a little while. Since it is the ten kings from the end of the Roman Empire that attack Rome and support the early efforts of the Man of Sin/Beast/Antichrist, it is tempting to conclude that Rome is the empire that revives. However, the scriptures teach that it is the kings of the east that are the first that act to raise the world army that fights the battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:12-16). Rome is not “the kings of the east.”
Rev 13 gives a scenario to synthesize the answer to the conundrum posed by Rev 16:12-16. Rev 13 introduces two beasts, a land beast and a sea beast. Based upon Dan 7’s commentary about beasts, we could conclude that these two beasts are world empires. While that is true, the narrative in Rev 13 continues in such a way that we are forced to conclude that the Beast and the False Prophet are two persons (Rev 13:5-7, 14) that head two world empires, one characterized by the sea, and one characterized by the land. The sea beast is a continuation of the old succession of world empires, for it has seven heads and the body composed of Daniel’s world empires. The land beast had two horns like a lamb. There is a striking resemblance between the land beast’s appearance and the appearance of the first beast in Daniel’s vision in Dan 8:3. Daniel describes the first beast as “a ram [an adult male sheep] which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other [the Medes and the Persians], and the higher came up last [Persians]” (Dan 8:3). Daniel then interprets the vision of the ram as a vision representing the kingdom of the Medes and Persians (Dan 8:20). The lamb and ram are sheep and both have two horns. The land beast appears to be a renewed form (lamb) of the old Persian empire. It is the kingdom that was wounded unto death, but lives.
The identification of the beast that revives is supported by the ancient Gentile prophets, the Sibylline Oracles. In the Oracles, the Sibyl says,
Sib Orc Book V 39-
And one whose mark is fifty (Â“LÂ” Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus Nero http://www.gracenotes.info/topics/romnames.html) shall be lord,
40 A dreadful serpent (Rev 13:1) breathing grievous war,
Who sometime stretching forth his hands shall make
An end of his own race and stir all things,
Acting the athlete, driving chariots,
Putting to death and daring countless things;
45 And he shall cleave the mountain of two seas [Nero started the canal from the Adrian Sea to the Mediterranean through the Peloponesus]
And sprinkle it with gore; but out of sight
Shall also vanish the destructive man;
Then, making himself equal unto God,
Shall he return; but God will prove him naught.
Sib Orc Book V 125-150
125 For there shall come a Persian on thy dale,
And like hail shall he all the land destroy,
And artful men, with blood and corpses. . . .
By sacred altars one of barbarous mind,
Strong, full of blood and raging senselessly,
130 With countless numbers rushing to destruction.
And then shalt thou, in cities very rich,
Be very weary. Falling on the earth
All Asia shall wail on account of gifts
Crowning her head with which she was by thee
135 Delighted. But, as he himself obtained
The Persian land by lot, he shall make war
And killing every man destroy all life,
So that there shall remain for wretched mortals
A third part. But with nimble leap shall he
140 Himself speed from the West, and all the land
Besiege and waste. But when he shall possess
The height of power and odious reverence,
He shall come, wishing to destroy the city
Even of the blessed. And a certain king [Jesus]
145 Sent forth from God against him shall destroy
All mighty kings and bravest men. And thus
Shall judgement by the Immortal come to men.
Alas, alas for thee, unhappy heart!
Why dost thou move me to declare these things,
150 The painful rule of Egypt over many?
Go to the East, to races of the Persians
Who lack in understanding, and show them
That which is now and that which is to be.
Hellas thrice wretched shall the poets weep,
When one from Italy [Nero] shall smite the neck
Of the isthmus, mighty king of mighty Rome,
A man made equal to God, whom, they say,
190 Zeus himself and the august Hera bore
He, courting by his voice all-musical
Applause for his sweet Songs, shall put to death
With his own wretched mother many men.
From Babylon shall flee the fearful lord
195 And shameless whom all mortals and best men
Abhor; for he slew many and laid hands
Upon the womb; against his wives he sinned
And of men stained with blood had he been formed.
[177. Rhea.–Comp. book iii, 165-182.
179. Centaur race.–Fabulous race in Thessaly, represented as half man and half horse.
181. LapithÃ¦an land.–The mountainous parts of Thessaly, so called from a fabulous people, the LapithÃ¦, who are said to have once dwelt there.
185. The Greek text is here corrupt, and the words in parentheses are conjectural.
187. One from Italy.–Another picture of Nero (comp. lines 39-49) who is here represented as the author of the Roman war which resulted in the overthrow of Jerusalem and the temple.]
And he shall come to monarchs of the Medes
200 And Persians, first whom he loved and to whom
He brought renown, while with those wicked men
He lurked against a nation not desired [Israel]
And on the temple made by God he seized
As a lamb, the Persian kingdom appears harmless, but it spake with the power of his master, that old dragon (Rev 13:11), the Devil (Rev 12:9, 20:2). As you can plainly see from the Sibyls and as Paul hints in II Thes 2:6-9 when he speaks of the Man on Sin/Antichrist that arises at the end of the age, it is Nero that rises from the dead and returns to plague the earth once again. Likewise, some False Prophet (Muhammad?) rises from the dead to lead the revived Persians. The Beast and False Prophet are risen from the dead because both are taken alive, judged, and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev 19:20). However, the scriptures require that every man must die before the Judgment (Heb 9:27). Since the Beast and False Prophet are taken alive, judged, and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire, the only logical conclusion that satisfies all the constraints is that they died earlier and rose from the dead.
Since Nero is obviously a Roman king, and he rises from the dead among the 10 kings that exist in Europe at the end of the world, then you can see why he is the mouth of the beast from the sea. Europe is surrounded by the sea on three sides, and he is a Roman. Likewise, Persia is from the heart of the Asian land mass, and is thus the land beast. However, like the Sybils show, Nero is not for Rome, for he destroys his countrymen. He is for Persia, just like he was during his troubled reign. He goes to Perisa and with the supernatural help of the fallen angels (Rev 9:14) rouses the kings of the East to prosecute a war against the righteous. When some of the Roman kings dissent, Nero eliminates them, and plucks up three of them (Dan 7:8). So while Nero is from the West, his power base is the East. He is backed by the revived Persians, a revived False Prophet, the demons from the Abyss (Rev 9:1, Lk 8:31), and the freed angels that left their first estate (Jude 1:6, II Pet 2:4).
The synthesis is that Nero is the little horn that arises among the Roman kings. He at first uses their support, but turns to the East to the Persians to derive his real power. When the Roman kings resist his plans, he removes three of them. Thus, the Roman kings remain in place during the reign of the Beast, but they are subordinate to the people of the False Prophet, the Persians, the head that received the death stroke and lived.