The Beast and the Ten Kings
(Here we continue with the narrative we left off with in Part Two of this study.)
There are actually two views held with regards to the events spoken of in these verses. One is that most of this has already been fulfilled and the other is that it has yet to have been fulfilled each however presents an excellent argument for their case.
Both Brother Shallieu in his work (“The Keys of Revelation”) and the New Albany Notes on Revelation support the future view however both hold various views as to how things will unfold.
Although I personally think the future view held by the New Albany class makes the most sense I would not say that this is set in stone, as I have said the first view makes a strong case, and seeing as we are dealing in prophecy here, much of which is still unfolding its best to keep an open mind and not become too dogmatic in our views.
“Briefly in the first view (that most of this has already been fulfilled), the ten horns are explained as symbolizing ten kingdoms, which, at the time that St. John was given the visions, were still future. Indeed, these ten horns are the same as those seen by Daniel on the fourth beast, which were divinely explained to him as the ten-fold division of the Roman Empire.
The explanation as given by the revealing angel to St. John is contained in the words: “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings [kingdoms], which have received no kingdom as yet [that is, at the time St. John saw the vision]; but receive power as kings one hour [“at one and the same time,” as rendered by noted translators] with the beast.”
Brother Shallieu’s explanation being the “seven kings” or kingdoms in Verse 10 are successive powers of the government of Rome while the “ten kings” (kingdoms) of Verse 12 are contemporaneous, that is all are 10 kingdoms exist at the same time, with this we are in full agreement.
As the ten horns, according to Irenaeus, a disciple of a disciple of St. John, are “the same as mentioned by Daniel,” and since they came into existence on the division of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, the vision of the “harlot woman” seated on the beast could not possibly begin to meet its fulfillment, until the Roman Empire was thus divided. In the explanation of the angel, these horns or kingdoms are represented as first giving a voluntary submission to the harlot woman or city (government). They are subsequently represented by the revealing angel as rising against her, “and making her desolate and naked, and eating her flesh and burning her with fire.”
Now this explanation by the angel is a faithful portrayal of outward Christian history for long centuries. It is universally agreed that in less than four centuries after St. John’s day, the Western Roman Empire fell and its territory was divided into ten kingdoms and that after a brief period these kingdoms all gave their support to the Roman bishop who sat at first as a religious ruler and next as a temporal ruler.” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Page 29)
The foregoing makes sense, and yet there is another view, which likewise has its merits.
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.”
AND THE TEN HORNS WHICH YOU SAW: “Which you saw” is important. The Revelator is mopping up details.
He has disposed of the heads, the eight kings, and the body of the beast in his predictions to this point. He realizes that we also “have seen” horns and a harlot. He will, from this point on, tell us how these end up in this story of Babylon’s fall. The ten horns, of course, have been the supporting powers (nations) which have cooperatively sustained the great heads (empires) through the age. They have not always been the same ten, but they have always been there to bolster up the system. As we continue the narrative, we are looking at the supportive powers of the 20th Century.
ARE TEN KINGS: — ten nations yet on earth formerly supportive of the beast. Remember that the beast has been “downsizing” since Napoleon. By the time Victor Emanuel rules, it has shrunken so that, functionally, only Italy remains. The Nazi empire tried to return a more continental size to the beast, but failed. By 1945, the beast lost its seventh head. Thus these 10 kings are no longer horns (supportive powers) upon a beast, the beast not now being supported. They are, thus, functionally KINGS, not horns, now.
Thus, note with interest this other change in symbolism: in Verse 10, the heads became kings. In Verse 12, the horns become kings — and all for the same reason. There is now no head to support. But these “horns” have not vanished. They are not now horns, but kings — nations not currently supporting a beast.
WHO HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED A KINGDOM: Note carefully that it doesn’t say they haven’t received kingdom(s). They are kingdoms (nations), but they have not collectively received A kingdom — an overall beast-type of empire. They DO eventually receive one as is proven by Verse 17. When they DO receive this kingdom, they give it to the beast – the PARTIAL beast which made its first appearance as the French Republic.
BUT THEY RECEIVE AUTHORITY AS KINGS WITH THE BEAST: Thus, eventually, they collectively have some kind of authority in cooperation with this re-emerged body of the beast. The thought seems clear. For a while they are merely ten different nations (kings). Eventually they cooperate (“in unity is strength”) and support (sort of like new horns – which they are again called in Verse 16) the beast that “was” and which will have made its comeback. This gives them a collective “authority” they could never have enjoyed individually.
FOR ONE HOUR: An hour is a non-specific time with a specific characteristic. The addition of the word “one” intensifies the peculiar nature of the time. Thus, this will be ONE UNUSUAL time in history. It is likely that the first half (or maybe the “middle half”!) is the period of time referred to in the seventh seal. (Rev 8:1) While, scripturally, an hour can be long or short, the nature of this time and the description here given suggests that it will, in this instance, be quite short.
The thought seems to be that Europe’s nations will collectively support some new continent-wide republic — perhaps one which comes into existence (as in France) from an uprising. And for a time (one unusual time, indeed,) this arrangement will give great power through shared authority.
Here we have the answer to a member of the Bible Student Forum’s earlier question, viz. “Are we really to expect that 10 kings will lend their support (give power) to a headless beast (a group of anarchist ‘people’)?
Heavens No! It is not the anarchist masses that these governments will lend their support it’s this new republic. Anarchy is the opposite of government; of law and order, no government would willingly lend its support to such an unruly mass, although it has been shown in recent times that governments have been a bit too tolerant of such groups both here at home and abroad, yielding to their demands.
“These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”
THESE HAVE ONE PURPOSE (MIND): Their purpose is not stated, but it likely will be self-preservation. It is probably that this is in some way connected to the ideas of the sixth plague.
AND THEY GIVE THEIR POWER AND AUTHORITY TO THE BEAST: Note the contrast to Verse 12. In Verse 12 the kings receive authority. In Verse 13 they give authority. It is very clear that this is a two-way cooperative arrangement. “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.” It is also clear by comparing these verses that each (king and beast) retain their own individuality while cooperating. This is not a United States of Europe. This is independent European nations cooperating with a larger system (possibly some continent-wide republic as suggested above).
There is of course another possibility and that is that the “ten kings” represent more than just those ten nations who formerly supported the beast “that was”, but that as the number “ten” symbolizes “completeness”, so these ten kings represent all the (cooperative) nations of the world who cooperate in some type of world-wide or one world order type government.
“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
THESE: kings and beast
WILL WAGE WAR AGAINST THE LAMB: There are two thoughts here, one far more important to us than the other. The first is that, by trying to bolster up the old order through their confederacy, this unholy alliance is warring against the incoming kingdom. The second thought, and personally most important to the saints, is that this alliance will be an enemy of saints — probably (as in France) of religion as a whole. Whatever final experiences are in store for church and/or the Great Company, this will be the time they will occur. It is not unlikely that the Church will be gone in the early part of this time.
AND THE LAMB WILL OVERCOME THEM: There is no question that the alliance will fail — to the good against him whom God has established as judge of all — once the time has come.
BECAUSE HE IS LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS: (Compare Rev 19:15, 16.) It is impossible to prevail against him whom God has established as judge of all — once the time has come.
AND THOSE WHO ARE WITH HIM: — the completed Church.
ARE THE CALLED, CHOSEN, AND FAITHFUL: Having gone through all, these are on Zion with the Lamb. (Compare Rev 14:1).
Continued with next post.