We meet a seven headed beast in Revelation 12:3 and 13:1, but the text does not explain there what the heads represent. We know from the Revelation 13:1’s composite beast that the bizarre seven headed creature is related to Daniel, for it is a composite of all four of Daniel’s beasts. This identity in composition links John’s vision to that of Daniel and permits us to draw from the inspired explanation of what the pieces symbolized. For example, in Daniel’s vision, the multiple heads were the multiple kings that ruled the pieces of Alexander’s empire (cp Dan 8:22). Later in Revelation John explains the meaning of the heads (Rev 17:10). John explains the heads to be seven kings or kingdoms, and he said the sixth kingdom (Rome) was then ruling (Rev 17:18). From Revelation 17 we also learn that the heads symbolize a sequence of kingdoms (“five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come” Rev 17:10), and there was one kingdom remaining in the sequence of seven at the time when John wrote and Rome ruled the world.
Since John wrote Revelation in AD 96, there have been many empires that have come and gone, but there was to be only two other empires after Rome until the end of the world. Why do not the empires such as the Muslims, the Monguls, the Ottomans, and Napolean make for many more than seven world empires? Why are there only seven?
To answer why God counts only seven empires, you need but look at to whom the Old Testament (OT) was directed. The people of concern in the OT were the children of Israel. Since the seven headed beast is linked to the OT through the composite beast of Daniel 7, the context of the seven headed beast is Israel. The seven world empires of whom Daniel and Revelation speak were all intimately involved with the nation of Israel.
The first head of the beast is Egypt, and Israel dealt with that kingdom at the birth of their nation, but the ancient empire of Nimrod preceeded Egypt by many centuries. Why was it not counted? We can see why Nimrod was not counted when we recall that God’s covenant with Israel only began in the days of Moses, a time when the Egyptian empire was in its ascendancy. The empires of the ancient Babylonians (Nimrod, Gen 10:9-10) and Elam’s Chedorlaomer (Gen 14:5), while historically were very significant, were too early to deal with the nation of Israel, since Israel did not emerge as a nation until around 1460 BC.
For the seven headed beast to be a succession of only seven kingdoms, the only criteria that makes sense to arrive at only seven kingdoms is to limit the kingdoms under consideration to those that had dominion while Israel existed as a nation and that interacted with the nation of Israel. Six existed before Israel ceased to exist as a nation in AD 70. From AD 70 until AD 1948, there was no nation of Israel, and the empires that existed during that time had no relevance to Israel as a nation. However, since the rebirth of the Israeli state in 1948 it has become possible for Israel to once again interact with world empires, and according to John’s prophecy one still remains to emerge before the end of the age. I believe that empire is emerging, and it will be the New World Order. When the seventh empire emerges, John says, “He must remain for a little while.” The seventh world empire will be destroyed by the Antichrist (the Beast of Revelation 17:11) when he destroys Rome (Rev 17:18).
Israel will not be destroyed when the Beast burns the NWO’s Rome, but the NWO’s Rome will not be the last of the seven heads with which Israel has to contend. John says, “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 Antichrist will rule the 8th world empire, one of the previous seven (the Medes/Persians) that rises from a death stroke to once again rule the world. The Antichrist in the company of 200,000,000 of his closest friends invades Israel and takes Jerusalem only four days before the end of the world (Joel 2:9, Zech 14:1-2, Rev 11:8, 11). That will be the end of his career. The Father comes while the Antichrist revels in the “victory” over God’s Christ, and when the Father stands on the Mt of Olives, the power of His presence causes the mountain to split in two. The Son comes like lightning and shines from one part of heaven to the other, the graves are opened, and the righteous dead come forth immortal to destroy the Beast and his army. The Beast is taken and cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 19:20). The army of the Beast is slain by the Son and the armies of heaven (Rev 19:21). Such is the end of the seven headed beast and those that would dare touch the elect of God.