The Orthodox Pages



Part 11

14th March 2013


































































































































































Last time we finished with the vision of the pregnant woman in heaven clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and I said that the woman has two identities – at times it can be the Mother of God, but because it says that she had great pains in giving birth, the more correct interpretation of the woman is that she represents the church and the birth pains refer to the persecutions, martyrdoms and heresies that she continues to suffer through the ages. In front of her appeared a red dragon with seven heads and ten horns which we saw was Satan.
We therefore continue from where we left off with the following verse.
"And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born."
For the interpretation we need to use the double meaning of the woman. The identity of the woman as being the Mother of God or the church is interchangeable because the relationship between the Mother of God and the Church is very close: As the church is the Mother of all Christians, so is the Mother of God. She gave birth to the head of the church, she gave her flesh to Christ and the Body and Blood we partake of is the flesh that she gave to the world. Also, as the Church protects all her children from the Antichrist, so does the Mother of God. Consequently, the Mother of God and the Church are the same thing, with two views or aspects.
So the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born. This verse expresses the readiness and anticipation of the devil to kill anyone that might attempt to grab his authority that he feels he has upon the earth. He has never forgotten what God said to him in the Garden of Eden, that a descendant of Eve will crush his head. Since then the devil was observing the births of every male child to see if a child had those characteristics with which he would become his adversary. But the virginity, conception and birth giving of the Mother of God were concealed from him. Through God's providence they went unnoticed by the prince of this age. Mary herself did not go around saying she was pregnant, she kept the conception even from Joseph her betrothed and for this reason Joseph was suspicious of fowl play. Even when she was aware of his suspicions she did not open her mouth to defend herself and it was left to God to reveal to Joseph the truth in a dream. The devil is not omnipresent, he is not everywhere and certainly not all-knowing, but he became aware of the holiness of the Mother of God which was not easy to conceal especially during her pregnancy. So when he was aware that this holy maiden was with child he did not waste much time, he rushed to introduce thoughts of suspicion to Joseph to make an example of her publicly. This is the first attempt of the devil to stand against the woman. So the devil stands in front of the woman, he stands in front of the pregnant Virgin Mary. Of course he does not know that she is a virgin, this escaped him, but he stands and is curious and is ever watchful.

The second phase is that he tried to devour the child. This happened when he influenced Herod to kill Jesus at infancy. The devil saw the angels hymn and glorify God, he saw the angelic star above where Jesus was born, he saw the nearby shepherds come to worship the child and the wise men from the east coming to bring him gifts. He concluded that with all these signs the infant must be an extraordinary person, a formidable and extraordinary opponent who must be taken out. When Herod plots against the infant it is the devil who stands to grab and devour this infant.

But having failed to devour the infant, he kept a close watch on him as he grew up and then at the Lord's baptism he heard the voice from heaven saying "you are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." The devil's suspicions that this Jesus was the formidable adversary that would crush him were again aroused and then seeing Jesus go into the desert and fast for forty days he found the opportunity to tempt him to see if his suspicions were true. He tempts Jesus saying to him "If you are the Son of God do this and do that quoting verses from scripture concerning the Messiah, but Jesus doesn't answer his curiosity but rebukes his temptations with other verses from scripture. This is the third phase of the devil's attack to devour the Virgin's son and the fourth phase of the devil standing in front of Mary to grab her child was when he succeeded in raising her son upon the Cross. But this backfired on the devil because even though he saw in Christ a formidable enemy, and realized that he was from God, he didn't know that he was God and when Christ descended into Hades then the devil was dethroned and as we hear in St. John Chrysostom's Easter sermon: Hades received that which it could see, and was overthrown by Him whom he could not see.
"And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."
This refers to the incarnation. Christ the God-man will rule all nations with a rod of iron meaning he will rule with power. But what does it mean when it says: "and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne"? This hast to do with the Lord's ascension into heaven and his sitting on the right hand of God. This signifies that not only did Christ escape the devil, but also that the devil suffered a great defeat; he can no longer do anything to the child. He cannot go to Heaven.
With the second identity of the woman as meaning the church, the birth of the man child can refer to all Christians. In the person of those who are baptized we see the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church ceaselessly gives birth to Christ; just as, according to St. Paul, we come unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians. 4.13) The Church will not cease to give birth from her heart to the Word which is persecuted in the world by unbelievers. The Church always gives birth to Christ through men, and from the very beginning Satan has striven to devour Christians as he did in the Person of Christ. And just as the Lord Jesus Christ was caught up to heaven on the day of His glorious Ascension and sat upon the throne of His Father at His right hand; so also all the saints in whom Christ is depicted are caught up unto God so as not to be conquered by temptations which surpass their powers. Thus also are all Christians of the last times to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. (2Thessalonians 4.17)
"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
In history the church had often found it necessary to go into the wilderness, in other words away from civilization. The early church found it necessary to worship in the catacombs from fear of persecution, but even in recent history, the Russian Church went underground and often held the Liturgy in the forests hidden from the eyes of her enemy. But this verse is probably referring to the last days because as we saw last week the church in the last days will be forced to seek refuge in the wilderness, the mountains and other places not ruled by the antichrist. There the church will be in a place prepared for her by God, in others words the church will have the protection of God. The verse also says that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. Who will feed the church? This could be a reference to angels who will sustain and protect the church during those 1260 days which corresponds to the three and a half years of the rule of the antichrist in Jerusalem.
The vision now changes and John sees the war in heaven between Lucifer and his angels with the Archangel Michael and his angels which does not take place in the future, but rather took place before man was created.
"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 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."
Tradition and the scriptures tell us that Satan was according to how God created him a mighty and beautiful angel called Lucifer or Eosphoros as he is known in Greek and whose name means light-bearer. The Prophet Ezekiel says of Lucifer: "From the day that thou wast created thou wast with the cherub: I set thee upon the holy mount of God... Thou wast perfect in thy days from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee... Thine heart hath been lifted up because of thy beauty; thy knowledge hath been corrupted with thy beauty: because of the multitude of thy sins have I cast thee to the ground." (Ezekiel 28:12-18)
He was one of the most perfect and radiant of angels, as his name implies. He had been richly endowed by the Creator and should have ever held his eyes on the Lord, but instead he concentrated his attention on his own perfection; he fell in love with it and was seized with pride. By doing this he left the path of truth, which united him with the Source of Life and Light, and entered the path of destruction. He forgot that he owed all to God, that all his perfections were the gift of God. He ascribed them to himself, and so seemed exceedingly great to himself. He was so blinded by the idea of his own greatness and considered, "is there any who is equal to me? Is there another angel equal or even God himself? Thus he said to himself "I am divine, I myself am a divinity!" In his self conceitedness he rose up against the Lord and with him also a third of the angels who were loyal to him. This information we saw last week from the verse "And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth". (Rev 12:4)
We don't know how this war took place, its nature is spiritual, but in our earthly language we say there was a war in heaven. The holy Chief Commander Michael, the faithful servant of the Lord, appointed by God as general and commander over the entire assembly of the nine angelic orders together with his angels fought against Lucifer and his angels. The result of this battle was that Lucifer lost and could no longer remain in heaven.
"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."
Lucifer and his angels, having fallen from the grace of God and the source of their light and radiance became dark angels. From thereafter Lucifer was called the devil from the Greek word diavolos meaning divider, and Satan a Hebrew word meaning "enemy." Here he is also called the dragon because that is how John saw him and that old serpent which refers to how he appeared to the first created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The fall of Satan and his demons must have taken place after the creation of the world, but before the creation of man. The space between heaven and earth, the whole expanse of the air, which is visible to us under the heavens, serves as the dwelling for the fallen angels. The holy Apostle Paul calls the fallen angels "the spirits of wickedness under the heavens", (Eph. 6:12) and their chief "the prince of the powers of the air". (Eph. 2:2)
Having lost their place in heaven they also lost their bright beauty and became as frightful beasts. Cast down and beaten, the love they once had for God was turned to hatred and from that moment on their only purpose was to oppose and sabotage whatever is from God and whatever God favours.
The holy angels are nine ranks, but some say that they were originally ten, the tenth being Satan and his fallen angels. It is also said by some that God created man to take the place of the fallen rank. This certainly would have made Satan envious and revengeful, but man was not created as a ministering angel. God created man so that man may sit by his right side and rule with him. God created man so that man may become a god by grace. God's plan for man was to be superior to that of the angels. Satan wanted to sit at God's side and be a god and for this he was cast out of heaven, but now God created another being who was destined to do just that. Envious of God's love for man, man became the object of Satan's hatred and deployed the force of his hatred to destroy him. He had not the power to destroy man bodily so he craftily set out to bring man's downfall, to make him, like himself, disobedient to God. You all know the story of man's fall from paradise, how in the guise of a serpent Satan tempted Eve to disobey God's command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil saying that God lied to them when he told them that if they eat of it they would surely die. Satan played on their innocence and succeeded in bringing man down to his level, but with a difference. Satan disobeyed God through his own free will from within himself; man on the hand did not discover evil by himself; he disobeyed God because he was tempted from without by the devil. Because of this God gave man the opportunity to repent and ask for forgiveness.
The result of man's fall was expulsion from paradise and death, but unlike Satan's fall, God put into motion a plan to save man and return him to paradise. Thus the battle between Satan and God, between Satan and man continues with Satan and his army of demons opposing man's return to his original homeland.
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."
The loud voice is the voice of the Elders, the Martyrs and all the righteous in heaven, all those of the church triumphant, and they are saying now salvation has come, right now, When? At the moment the devil was defeated in heaven and the salvation, power and kingdom and authority of Christ became a reality. Interesting here is that the devil appears as the accuser of people and especially the faithful; "the accuser of our brethren who accuses them before our God day and night." It seems that before the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, Satan had some access to heaven and suggests that his fall from heaven was not absolute or final, that he had some kind of entrance to heaven. Certainly we don't understand these things, we have no idea of what is heaven, nor can we understand that the devil had some kind of entrance in heaven; these are the mysteries of heaven, but in the Book of Job we read that on a certain day "the angels of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and the devil came with them. And the Lord said unto the devil, Whence art thou come? And the devil answered the Lord, and said, I am come from compassing the world, and from walking round about under heaven." (Job 1:6-7) So here is scriptural proof that Satan had a back door to enter heaven and stand before God.

But he doesn't stand before God because he loves him but to accuse people before him. In the story of Job, he accused him that he only loves God because he has wealth and happiness, but if all these things were to be taken away then he would curse God. He accused Job of loving the Lord out of self centeredness to continue living in prosperity. From the verse we read from Revelation, that Satan accuses our brethren before God day and night, it shows that he did not only do this with Job but with everyone who loves the Lords. Certainly there are many Christians who go to church and light their candles so that God will not take away their prosperity, health and happiness which very often is motivated by selfishness, but what is of interest to us is that the devil accuses the saints in front of God that they are worthless, that their motives are insincere and impure. And this he does after he initially instigates the downfall of the faithful with temptations and then he has the audacity to turn to God and say "did you see your believers, how easily they turn from you and your commandments." Christ also confirms that the devil accuses us, he said: "Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." (John 14:30)
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
Victory was not only scored by Michael and his angels against the devil, but also by the saints because the saints also open war with the devil and defeat him. The victory comes about through three factors: the first according to the text is through the Blood of the Lamb. This is the victory of Christ against the devil due to his sacrifice upon the Cross, in which sacrifice the faithful become participants and make it their own through faith in the God-human person of Jesus Christ. Consequently Christ is the victor, but when the faithful believe in Christ they make this victory of Christ their own and by the power of the Blood of the Lamb they defeat the devil.

Second, by the word of their testimony; this has to do with the preaching and confession held by the faithful towards the God-man Jesus Christ. Any Christian who confesses that Christ is the Lord gives the good testimony against the apostate world. And third, "they loved not their lives unto the death." Since the faithful make their good confession before the world about Jesus Christ, it is understood and expected that they will be subjected to every form of martyrdom from an apostate world. This phrase that they did not love their lives as to shrink from death, serves as a reminder of the words of Christ who said "He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." (John 12:25) In other words, anyone who limits his love to this earthly life and makes the enjoyment of this life his goal, and has no trouble in denying Christ and his commandments to spare his own life and sweet lifestyle, he will lose his soul eternally. And the one who hates his life in this world, who refuses to let go of his Christian beliefs even if this may mean death, then he will preserve his soul eternally in the kingdom of God. Thus the third term of the victory against the devil is the self-sacrifice of the faithful for the name of Christ even if a martyr's death is required.
"Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
With these words the hymn of the righteous comes to an end which refers not only to those dwelling in heaven, but also to those who live on earth. The cause of joy for all those who are in heaven is that their accuser, the devil has been expelled from heaven and they are discharged from his accusations. They passed over to heaven and are finally free from the devil. But woe to those still on earth because the devil is fuming. He had great fury because of his failure to win the battle against his most formidable adversary Jesus Christ. But an extra cause of his anger is his expulsion from heaven and this because he is quite aware of his upcoming judgement and his decisive defeat and destruction during the second coming of Christ, which the devil believes word for word. Scripture tells us this that the demons believe and tremble, and yet the devil convinces people not to believe. This is the tragedy of our existence; the devil believes and is in full expectation of hell, but he whispers to us that there is no hell. He believes in the second coming of Christ but he tells us don't listen to this nonsense it doesn't exist.
"For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
What does it mean by a short time? Initially the devil knows this time very well, which is the time between the first and second coming of Christ. He does not know the time of the second coming, but he is informed from Holy Scripture, which he knows extremely well, that this time is short. He also knows that the eschatological time is very short which is only three and a half years, especially when the antichrist will begin his activities the devil knows that his time is extremely short and that is why he gives his all to defend himself, just like a wounded wild animal will muster up all his strength and fury to attack and defend itself. This is the final attempt of the devil to overcome the faithful and defeat heaven; he knows he is condemned to hell, but at the same time he thinks that he can change the outcome, and if not then he is not going without mustering all his strength and hatred against God's creation.
"And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child."
We have already analyzed the fleeing of the woman into the wilderness, but now it is presented again in much more detail. The woman or the church, who continually gives birth to Christ through the baptism of her members flees into the wilderness.
"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."
It says the woman was given two wings of a great eagle. These wings are symbolic of divine protection. The same symbol of the eagle was used in the Old Testament where God undertakes the protection of all Israel in the wilderness: "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians; and I took you up as on eagles’ wings, and brought you nigh unto Myself." (Exodus 19:4) The church is led towards the desert by God, just as the Hebrews were led into the wilderness to worship God without the fear of the Egyptians. So the desert is characterized to be the place of the church, it is her place, the place best suited for her and which will be the permanent place of the Church since the persecutions in the world will always be an endless fact. The church seeks refuge in the desert and in the last days the desert will literally become her place.

So in this place the church will be nourished for a time, and times and half a time from the face of the serpent. What will be the nourishment of the church? Certainly it will be spiritual, but also material. If God's will is for his church to move towards a place of wilderness then it is very natural for him to nourish the church in these remote places. Now how and what kind of food will be provided this is only known by God. Let's not forget that we have two precedents in the Old Testament, the first, the nation of Israel in the desert for forty years where God fed his people with quail and manna and the second is with Prophet Elias whom God provides with fresh meat through the help of a crow who brought him the meat daily. So God knows how to provide for his church and he will nourish her for a time, and times, and half a time.

This is an expression that we also see in the book of Daniel from which we also receive the interpretation. A time means a full year, times means two years and half a time means half a year. Consequently it means three and a half years; the same three and a half years we saw previously, which are the years of the antichrist in Jerusalem. What is interesting is that the ministry of Christ was three and a half years and the activities of the antichrist will also be three and a half years, which shows that the antichrist will attempt to mimic Christ as much as possible.
"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."
The church which has fled from the face of the devil is now pursued by the dragon who is presented here as an aquatic serpent who spews out of his mouth rivers of water to drown her. The river is symbolic of all the persecutions against the church, the antichristian and heretical currents that have been inundating the earth in their attempt to drown the church.
"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."
In the literal sense the earth opens and swallows up the flood that came out of the dragon's mouth, but as we saw the flood is symbolic of the antichristian and heretical currents so the earth here simply means that God intervenes to protect the church. How? We do not know, but God has his ways: we will just have to wait and see.
"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 devil is enraged when he sees that all his schemes are constantly backfiring and failing. His first failure was when he received a deadly blow from Christ's Cross and Resurrection, his head was crushed; now he sees that the church is constantly saved. Many have attempted to destroy the church, but the Church cannot be destroyed because the head of the church is Christ. The devil then seeing that his attacks on the church come to nothing engages all his anger upon the remnant of her seed, in other words upon the remainder of the faithful Christians who vigilantly keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. He cannot attack the institution of the Church, but he can attack the members individually in the hope that he will succeed in bringing about their downfall.
We now enter a new chapter which refers to two beasts; these are two different people. The image of the first beast has fascinated generations of Bible students and interpreters. Throughout the history of the church the beast has been identified with someone or some organization according to the contemporary events of each era. Beginning from the first century the beast was identified as mad Nero, then the Roman Empire, the Roman Papacy, Peter the Great of Russia, Napoleon, Lenin, the Soviet Union, Hitler, Gorbachev, the European Union and recently the Computer. On one thing all Orthodox interpreters are in complete agreement is that the first beast is the Antichrist and the second beast is the false prophet.
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."
Almost all commentators understand by this beast rising up out of the sea as the Antichrist rising out of 'the sea of life', that is, from the midst of the race of men which is disturbed like the sea. From this it is clear that the Antichrist will not be some kind of spirit or demon, as some have thought, but a man.
Antichrist can mean the opposite of Christ and from this there are many who say that he will be, as it were, an incarnation of the devil, for Christ is the incarnation of God. That he will be the son of a prostitute woman, the opposite of Christ who was born of a pure virgin. That he will be the personification of evil, hatred, lying, pride and unrighteousness, for Christ is the personification of goodness, love, truth, humility and righteousness. But the proper interpretation of Antichrist is that he will come in the stead of Christ, an imitation of Christ who will convince people that he is the true Christ. To do this he must appear according to the scriptures. Simply speaking, he will be unable to beguile the people of the circumcision unless he appears as the champion of the law.

Because of this it is believed by some that the conception of the Antichrist will attempt to imitate the conception of Christ. In fact everything concerning the antichrist must be convincing enough to persuade the Jews that he is their expected Messiah. Everything must be interpreted, even if this is falsely, according to the scriptures. Thus it is possible that the birth of the antichrist will attempt to fulfil Isaiah's prophecy and be born of a virgin who has not known man. She need not be an actual virgin and the fathers say that this woman will in no way resemble the holy Mother of God; she will be the most filthy and impure woman to have lived, though she will appear as a supposed virgin. St. Hippolytus of Rome says, she will be a polluted woman, a supposed virgin, a Jewess of the tribe of Dan.
Christ was conceived without the seed of man, without an earthly father, how? we do not know, Christ's conception is a mystery; it is beyond our understanding, but we do know something about angels and demons. We know that they are only spirits and do not have a bodily DNA. And because they have no bodies they do not have a desire for sexual activities and cannot multiply. God did not create angels with bodily functions: they were not created like men to be “fruitful and multiply.” Christ told us this saying: “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matth. 22:29-30)
Thus we know that the union of man's nature with angelic or demonic nature is not possible so how can this imitation of Christ's conception take place? A prophecy attributed to St. Nilus the Myrrh-Gusher who died in the 17th century says: "The Antichrist will be born of man's seed, but without man's sowing", how? he will be born through artificial insemination. At the same time, we may suppose, genetic engineering will take place on the seed, so as to make the child born of it the most brilliant and talented, but at the same time the most corrupted person ever born! The transgressing of God’s laws concerning marriage and the begetting of children could very well bring forth the birth of the Antichrist! Today artificial insemination is a common practice, but I'm sure that in St. Nilus' time, more than 250years before the first recorded experiment, this procedure was completely unknown except maybe in animals.
The antichrist will then be totally man from his mother and his father's seed even though the identity of the father is of no concern. His identity is at all times concealed because the devil will want to claim that the antichrist is his son. This would be false, but hypothetically he will be able to claim this. Through the technique of artificial insemination, it might be possible for the devil to seize and possess the sperm before it has reached the mother’s egg. Since artificial insemination takes place in a test-tube, outside the human body, the possibilities for possession and genetic manipulation of the sperm by the devil will be maximised. Moreover, having taking possession of the sperm before it fertilises the egg, the devil will be able to claim that he is the father of the Antichrist. Then the Antichrist will be, according to the demonic anti-theology, one person in two natures – from a bodiless father before he became man, and from a virgin mother at the moment of conception.
So John sees the antichrist as a beast with seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. This Antichrist-beast is very closely linked with the red dragon we saw in the previous chapter, for, like it, it has seven heads and ten horns. Moreover, just as the seven heads of the dragon are said to be crowned, so the ten horns of this beast are said to be crowned. The similarity of the two visions wants to show the close relationship and union between the devil and the antichrist and since the horns are symbolic of power, this shows that the antichrist will receive his power from the devil. Along the same lines the heads with the crowns are indicative of royal authority. If you remember last time we said that the devil is the prince of this world and God has allowed him temporary authority to govern the world until the time when this authority will be taken from him at the end of time.

Through Satan, this authority is now given to the antichrist. This is another imitation of Christ. After Christ fasted for forty days in the desert, the devil came to tempt him. One of the temptations was that he took Christ up to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, all these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Christ did not correct him and say they are not yours to give, but God's. His silence on this matter shows that the devil actually had this temporary authority, that the kingdoms of this world are under his rule. Christ refused the offer and rebuked the devil to get behind him saying: "it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matth. 4:8-9)
The antichrist will imitate the true Christ even in his temptations. One thing we must understand is that the antichrist is simply a man like everyone else. He may not be groomed from his infancy to be the devil's servant and the destroyer of mankind as many films concerning him have made him out to be. In fact he may be a man of prayer and fasting and after fasting he too will be taken up to the high mountain and shown the kingdoms of this world and tempted by the devil that all these kingdoms can be yours to rule over if you fall down and worship me. But unlike Christ who refused the offer, the antichrist will accept and fall down and worship the devil.
The ten horns are therefore the many kingdoms of the earth that the antichrist will rule over and the seven heads are symbolic of his close aids or bodyguards. And on the heads is written the word blasphemy. This shows that these servants of the antichrist will not cease to render various blasphemies against Jesus Christ and his church. At the head of these blasphemies is the denial of the two natures of Christ; the denial that Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect man. This is the main blasphemy in the world against Christ, and all other blasphemies proceed from it.
"And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."
The description of the beast is a cross section of the four beasts from the Prophet Daniel's vision. Both Daniel's vision and John's in Revelation have many similarities and both refer to the last times and the antichrist. Daniel saw four beasts, the first a lioness with eagles wings, the second a bear, the third a leopard with four wings and the fourth which he doesn't name but says was dreadful and terrible, and exceedingly strong... and it was altogether different from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. Daniel then says that another little horn came up in the midst of them, and plucked out from the root three of the horns. On this horn were eyes as the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things. The little horn is identified as the antichrist while the four beasts are revealed by and angel as being four great kingdoms. According to the holy fathers, these kingdoms are: the Assyrian-Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Macedonian-Greek Empire and the Roman Empire.
The difference with John's vision is that the beast that comes out of the sea is one with the combined characteristics of three of the four beasts of Daniel. It cannot therefore refer to the four dynasties mentioned, but rather to the power with which the antichrist will rule. He will be swift as a leopard in controlling the world, he will trample the saints with his bear's feet and from his lion's mouth will roar arrogant and blasphemous words against the Most High. How will he manage to gain such power? And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. The antichrist will receive the devil's energy and authority, he will be possessed of the devil and the devil will act through him.
There is still much to say on the description and authority of the antichrist, but we do not have time to see this today. There are still a few verses to finish this chapter which ends with the number of the beast, the number 666. We will see these things next week which will be our last talk before we break for Lent. If fact today should have been our last talk because from Monday we begin Great Lent, but we cannot finish this series of talks without seeing how the number 666 is interpreted. Next Thursday then will be our last talk on the Book of Revelation even though we will have covered only thirteen of the twenty two chapters. Maybe at a future date we might resume with the interpretation of the remaining chapters, but all these weeks you have seen how the language and symbolisms of the Book of Revelation are interpreted by the Church Fathers and you should have no problem understanding the rest of the book if you read it by yourselves, as it refers to the time of the antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ; God's punishment on the earth, the casting of the antichrist, the false prophet and the devil into hell fire and the eternal Kingdom of heaven which the faithful will inherit.