I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with 10 horns and 7 heads; it had a bear’s feet and a lion’s mouth. The beast uttered blasphemous words and made war on the saints. I saw another beast, with two horns , who made the whole world worship the first beast. It deceived the world with great signs, killed those who would not worship the beast, and caused all to be marked with the number of the beast–666. Then I saw the Lamb at Zion, with 144,000 of those who had his name on their foreheads. I saw an angel, proclaiming the eternal gospel to every nation and people. Then another angel proclaimed the fall of Babylon. Then a third angel proclaimed the eternal torment of everyone who worships the beast. I saw the Son of Man, with crown on head and sickle in hand. He reaped over the earth. I saw another angel with a sickle, who swung his sickle and threw the grapes into the wine press. Blood flowed from the press for 200 miles.
Then I saw 7 angels with 7 plagues in 7 bowls, singing the song of Moses. The first angel poured his bowl on the earth, and the beast worshipers developed a painful sore. The second angel poured his bowl, and the world’s water became blood. The fourth angel made the sun bright and scorched people with heat. The fifth angel plunged the beast’s kingdom into darkness; the people still did not repent. The sixth angel dried up the Euphrates. The seventh angel caused lightning, thunder, an earthquake that split Babylon into 3. Every island and mountain fled away, and 100-pound hailstones dropped on earth.
- The first beast combines the powers of the four beasts in Dan 7. It probably represents the Roman Empire, where emperors were deified and worshiped as gods. Supporting this interpretation, the empire’s capital is said to be Babylon, a common code word for Rome.
- 666 is probably the sum of the letters “Neron Caesar” (Emperor Nero) in Hebrew. Supporting this interpretation, some ancient manuscripts have the number of the beast as 616. A variant of the name, without the final N, adds up to 616. This practice of adding up the letters is called gematria. 6 has an additional significance in that it falls short of completeness, which is 7.
- The angel with the sickle “harvests” non-believers and crushes them, causing a stream of blood 200 miles long and as high as a horse’s mouth (14:20).
- Apparently, there are no women among the 144,000 of God’s chosen ones. 14:4 reads “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins.“