The Dragon's 7 Heads
  Here is wisdom.
Let him that hath understanding count the number
of the beast: for it is the number of a man;
and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Revelation 13:18
 

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The Dragon's Seven Heads

Las Siete Cabezas del Dragón

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The Dragon's Heads

The Seven Heads of the Dragon

In Revelation 12, the dragon is shown to have seven heads with seven crowns and ten horns.
It also identifies the dragon as Satan, and as Rome.

Revelation 12
1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

The twelve stars are interpreted in Genesis 37, where Joseph's dreams employ the exact same elements of the Sun, Moon and Twelve Stars;

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

The twelve stars that were present about the woman when she was about to be delivered were the twelve tribes of Israel. This was the heritage of the woman in the days of her child.

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4a. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:

One third of the angels of heaven were deceived by Satan. These were also cast out with the dragon to the earth, after the cross of Christ.

4b. and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Matthew identifies this same account:
Matthew 2
1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

Thus the Bible identifies the dragon as Satan, and as Rome.

There are many parallels that are seen between the portrayal of the dragon, and the beast. These parallels also serve to help identify the dragon's heads and horns.

From all the commentary I have seen written regarding the seven heads, I find a common error among them; They do not differentiate between the passages of the prophecy regarding the dragon, and the passages of the prophecy regarding the beast, and by intermingling these elements of prophecy, they always produce error.

Beware also of the "wisdom" of men who make up their own rules of interpretation, and tell you that all the heads and horns of the beast and the dragon in Rev 12, 13, and 17 are all the same. The Bible does give its own direction to its study, and is simple enough for children to understand;

2Timothy 3: 15 And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The 7 heads and 10 horns of the dragon, are not the same 7 heads and 10 horns as those that are on the beast.

Alexander's kingdom was divided among his four generals - - - Cassandra, Lysemachus, Ptolemy and Seleucid. These four heads of the Grecian beast are also Grecian. Thus it sets forth a very clear principle of interpretation that the heads of a beast, are of a like nature to the beast which they are on. Therefore, the seven heads of the ``Papal beast'' are also ``Papal.''

By identifying correctly the identity of the dragon's seven heads, it is easier to understand the identity of the beast's heads.

``The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome.'' GREAT CONTROVERSY p. 438

``It was Satan that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of the archrebel in making war upon Christ and His people during the early centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the dominant religion. Thus, while the dragon primarily represents Satan, it is in a secondary sense representative of pagan Rome.'' Page 557 Uriah Smith, in his Book; Daniel and Revelation.

The dragon - beast transition differs from being a representation of Satan's control as it was through the dragon's heads, but a new investiture in a beast that rounds up all the kingdoms of the earth and puts them under this new beast's control; the ``kings of the earth'' commit fornication with this beast. Thus the dragon persecutes the woman who is represented by Christ's people, apart from the communion of the papal beast. The ten horns of Rome are subjected to the rule of the papacy.

There is an equation in Revelation 12, that Satan is the dragon, and the dragon is equated to Rome. In Daniel's prophecy, the terrible beast, and seventh head since ancient Babylon, had ten horns. And another ``little'' horn arose among the ten, uprooting three other horns. This ``little'' eleventh horn of the dragon's seventh head, is the beast of Revelation 13. The eleventh horn emanating from the dragon's seventh head, is the beast. And this beast is seen coming up from the sea, also with seven heads and ten horns. The account of the dragon continues into Revelation 13, where the dragon gives great power and his seat to the beast. Rome, is also portrayed, as having ten horns. It was three of these ten horns of Rome that the dragon gave up to accomplish the transferring of his seat and power to the beast. The Roman empire is the dragon, and therefore, Rome's ten horns are the dragon's ten horns.

Daniel 7 depicts the same transfer of power from the dragon to the beast in the outline of the little horn, being papal, arising from Rome, the terrible beast, and plucking three other horns out of their place.

Thus in Daniel 7, there are four beasts, bearing seven heads, and ten horns. Since the dragon has been directly equated with Rome, and the dragon is also said to have seven heads and ten horns, that during the time the dragon is represented through Rome, it shows that the head of Rome, is the seventh head and is a subset of the others.

``The final overthrow of all earthly dominions is plainly foretold in the word of truth. In the prophecy uttered when sentence from God was pronounced upon the last king of Israel is given the message:
`Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown:... exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.' Ezekiel 21:26, 27.
The crown removed from Israel passed successively to the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. God says, `It shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.' Edu. 179

Ezekiel 21: 24 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are discovered, so that in all your doings your sins do appear; because, I say, that ye are come to remembrance, ye shall be taken with the hand.
25 And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end,
26 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.
27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.

The dragon's seven heads are said to have seven crowns. These are the crowns of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia and Rome. Seven crowns, seven heads, and the last head of Rome bearing ten horns, of which three of these; the Ostrogoths, Vandals and Heruli, were uprooted, to give the papal beast its power and its seat. These are the seven heads and ten horns of the dragon.

In the latest commentary by Ranko Stefanovic; ``The Revelation of Jesus Christ,'' published by Andrews University in 2002 reads;

``However, as William G. Johnsson states, the seven heads of the dragon represent `the kingdoms through which Satan has worked to oppress God's people throughout the ages.' ''

``It is significant that the beasts of Daniel 7 have together seven heads and ten horns in total.'' THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST Ranko Stefanovic 2002 p. 404

``However, while the dragon had the seven crowns on his heads, the beast has ten crowns on his horns. We saw earlier that the seven crowns on the dragon's heads denote Satan's false claim of full authority and power over the world.'' THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST Ranko Stefanovic 2002 p. 405

If Babylon was a head, and Medo-Persia was a head, and Grecia has four of them and Rome was the terrible beast that had one head and ten horns, then you have the recipe for the prophecy that identifies the dragon as having these seven heads and ten horns. Indeed, it was Rome that broke into ten parts which are represented as horns, and of which the Dragon gave up three horns to give its power and a seat to the beast. (Another dragon-beast parallel is also shown; The dragon's head Medo-Persia is depicted with three ribs in its mouth, having uprooted three kingdoms and the beast had uprooted three of the dragon's ten horns.)

This is the Biblical explanation of the heads and horns of the dragon, as it is evidenced within Revelation 12 and 13, which cover the same prophetic details written in Daniel.

Both chapters reference Rome. Israel was free, until it was taken captive by Babylon. It was then transferred to Medo-Persia, then to Grecia, and finally to Rome. All of these kingdoms have held the Jews captive.

When the papal beast came, power was then transferred from the political agents of Satan, to the religious institution of the papacy.

To say the crown passed means simply that these world powers that persecuted the people of God, were allowed by God to rule. Only one ruling kingdom on the earth at any time. There were 7 crowns thus it is said; The ``crown'' passed.

If you align the imagery of Daniel and Revelation placing the little horn with the leopard-like beast, the chronology will show that the papal horn is one of a subset, placed on par with the ten horns of the beast of Rome, and uprooting three of them.

``Chapter 12
3-6, 13-17 (ch. 13:1, 2, 11). God's People in the Minority.-- Under the symbols of a great red dragon, a leopard-like beast, and a beast with lamblike horns, the earthly governments which would especially engage in trampling upon God's law and persecuting His people, were presented to John. The war is carried on till the close of time.'' Vol 7 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY p. 972

``It was the same Herodian spirit, only in another personality, as `the dragon' of Revelation 12: 17 is the same as the dragon of verse 3, the real inspiring power in each being the dragon of verse 9. In the one case he works through pagan Rome; in the other through our own government.'' (Notes from the EGW Estate in Early Writings p. 186)

Revelation 12: 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Revelation 12: 9 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.

Revelation 12: 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Satan the dragon is from Eden Rev 12:9 "that old serpent" and is also who claims the kingdoms of this earth that Christ had said these are not of His kingdom. Satan is represented as the dragon in John's prophecy, and in John's time, Rome was the dragon's last head. John did not write any explanation of the dragon's seven heads. He wrote from his time, and his prophecy is not a rehash of history, and since the dragon's six previous heads were already history, John only writes from Rome the seventh head of the dragon. From there, we follow the action of the dragon's ten horns. First, to continue the persecution of the people of God, and then after the eleventh horn arose, he invested the beast with his power. The beast is not one of the dragon's heads, it is one of the dragon's horns. As much as pagan Rome was in the power of Satan, so also is the beast;

``Paganism had given place to the Papacy. The dragon had given to the beast `his power, and his seat, and great authority.' Rev. 13:2.'' GREAT CONTROVERSY p. 54

``As he influenced the heathen nations to destroy Israel, so in the near future he will stir up the wicked powers of earth to destroy the people of God....'' Maranatha p. 32

``Kings and rulers and governors have placed upon themselves the brand of antichrist, and are represented as the dragon who goes to make war with the saints--with those who keep the commandments of God and who have the faith of Jesus. In their enmity against the people of God, they show themselves guilty also of the choice of Barabbas instead of Christ.'' TM p. 38

These also represent the ten horns of the dragon that are seen making war on the remnant of the seed of the woman.

13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

Rome held dominion for a few hundred years after Christ's death, and the early Christians were persecuted by the horns of the dragon which still held power.

14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

The face of the serpent is upon his head, which was Rome. When Rome ended, the dragon's face is no longer seen.

During the time of the Apostles, the Gospel had been spread over the world, into the far remote corners, beyond the reach of the dragon or the beast. At the time when the dragon imbued the beast with power to persecute the saints, the bearers of the Gospel freely exercised their faith away from persecution. During the time from 538A.D. to 1798A.D., the beast dominated over the kings of the earth.

15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The dragon is cast to the earth after his place is no longer found in heaven. His role in the death of Christ on the cross, sealed his fate, and his presence was cast out from heaven. His head was wounded, and Rome was doomed to fall. Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Here is another parallel to the beast; The dragon while Rome was its head, it received the head wound. Later, the beast would suffer a wounded head in 1798.)

The ending of the power of the Roman government in 476 A.D. corresponds to the end of the time of the dragon's heads. Then the time of the ten horns of the dragon begins. These would remain until the end of the world at the second coming, as many nations that are some strong and some weak, never able to be mixed into one. Three of these ten horns were plucked up as the dragon gave his seat and great power to the beast. Hence the dragon employs the newly formed beast to persecute the woman. For 1,260 years, the people of God endured suffering for the Gospel's sake.

The means that the dragon sought to persecute the woman, is through the beast, because his face is hidden from the woman during this 1,260 years.

The Differences Between the Seven Heads and Ten Horns of the Dragon and the Beast

The dragon is spoken of during the time before the earth began, and is seen to extend to the remnant of God's people. The beast begins shortly after the dragon was cast down to the earth, and later receives power from the dragon in 538 A.D., and also continues to the end.

The dragon has seven heads that have seven crowns upon them. The beast's heads do not have crowns upon them. The seven heads of the beast did not rule over the earth as did the heads of the dragon.

The dragon's ten horns do not have ten crowns upon them, but the ten horns of the beast do have ten crowns upon them. These receive power for one hour with the beast when they receive their ten kingdoms at the end.

The beast's seven heads have in them many names of blasphemy. There is no blasphemy written upon the dragon's seven heads.

The dragon has after the ten horns, a little horn that arises after them and destroys three of the ten horns. This little horn is also the seven headed and ten horned beast of Revelation 13. There is no eleventh horn on the beast.

The beast has after its seven heads, another eighth head that follows after the seven. The dragon does not have an eighth head.

Thus by the distinctions that are made in the differing characteristics of the seven heads of the beast, and the seven heads of the dragon, it shows that the seven heads of the beast are not the same as the seven heads of the dragon.

A ``student of the Word,'' was the first to direct my attention to the fact that there were seven heads and ten horns presented in Daniel 7. These are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, (4 heads; Ptolemy, Lysemachus, Cassander, and Seleucid), and Rome, along with its ten horns. It suddenly became clear to me that the papal beast's seven heads were the seven names of popes since 1798, and it was the dragon's seven heads and ten horns that were presented in Daniel 7.

This has been the key to the whole problem in the interpretation of the seven heads of the beast, because everyone, regardless of their interpretation, have been mixing together all the references to the seven heads of the beast and the dragon. It became clear that the references in Revelation 12 and 13, have better delineated the distinction between these prophecies. The dragon's seven heads are the same as presented in Daniel 7, and the beast's seven heads are the seven papal names from 1798.

 
 

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