The Ancient Conspiracy

History repeats itself. Its landscape is littered with efforts by tyrants and empires to dominate large populations if not the entire planet. An aggressor may experience success for a time, but so far, every self-appointed global leader has floundered in the end. The empires of Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, and Caesar have all collapsed and been assigned to History’s dustbin. This raises the question: Why?

Does this pattern repeat because humanity never learns? That is the cynic’s answer. Are nefarious groups of conspirators working behind the scenes to impose a New World Order?

T-Rex - Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash
[T-Rex - Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash]

Book of Revelation provides a different explanation. Yes, a secret conspiracy is taking place, but it is not what many people and historical researchers imagine. Satan is the “Dragon,” the “Ancient Serpent” who has been slithering behind the scenes since the beginning.

As History demonstrates, the “Serpent” is an opportunistic predator. His tactics may vary over time and geography, but his goal remains the same. Revelation presents us with information about his plans as well as his final demise. He cannot defeat an omnipotent deity, so he works stealthily to destroy the people of God, most often from within the Body of Christ.

In Revelation, the “Great Red Dragon” was seen poised and ready to “devour” the Messianic “Son” as soon as the “woman clothed with the sun” gave birth. But the plot failed when the child was “caught up” to the Throne of God. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus achieved victory over Satan and everlasting redemption for his people - (Revelation 5:5-6, 12:11).


The “Serpent” bruised the Son’s “heel” when he caused unrighteous men to execute him on a Roman cross, but he “crushed” the Serpent’s head when God raised him from the dead and exalted him. Enraged, the “Dragon” turned his wrath against the “woman” and “her seed,” namely, those men who had the “Testimony of Jesus.” To execute his war, he summoned his own “seed,” the “Beast from the Sea” and the “Beast from the Earth,” to wage war against the saints of God - (Revelation 5:6-14, 12:1-6, 12:17, 13:1-10).

This “war” was and is the culmination of an ancient feud. The image in Revelation echoes the story of the seduction of Adam and Eve by the “Serpent” in Eden. The present conflict between the “Dragon” and the “Lamb” is as old as human civilization - (Genesis 3:14-15, Revelation 12:1-17, 13:1-3).

The Book of Revelation is NOT retelling the story of Adam. It illustrates the present cosmic conflict that manifests in the daily struggles of the saints of God. History “repeats” because the same malevolent creature has been plotting against the saints since Adam’s fall.

The “woman clothed with the sun” in Chapter 12 represents the covenant community that produced the “Son.” The application to him of the Messianic prophecy from the Second Psalm leaves no doubt as to his identity - (Psalm 2:6-9, Revelation 12:5-10).


The appearance of Satan’s first creature, the “Beast from the Sea,” parallels Daniel’s vision of the “four beasts ascending” from the Sea. In Revelation, the term rendered “ascending” translates the present tense Greek participle anabainon. It stresses action in progress, namely, the ongoing process of ascent – (Daniel 7:1-4, Revelation 13:1-3).

Daniel saw four “beastsascending” from the sea. They represented four consecutive kingdoms that were “diverse one from another.” They varied in certain specifics, but they all originated from the same source, and each was of the same character and dedicated to the same mission of destroying the people of God.

In contrast, John saw a single beast “ascending from the Sea” with the same animalistic features as Daniel’s four beasts - the lion, bear, leopard, and the unnatural monster with “ten horns.” Strikingly, Revelation lists the four creatures in reverse order. The monster with ten horns, the leopard, the bear, and the lion, as if John was looking back over time starting from his first-century perspective.

John’s single “Beast from the Sea” was an amalgamation of all four of the “beasts” described in Daniel. It was related to those earlier entities, but it also was something different and beyond them, and presumably, far worse. They were related but not identical.


The merger of Daniel’s four “beasts” into a single creature meant that John’s “Beast from the Sea” was and is a transhistorical reality, a monster that has existed since the beginning. It reappears periodically, though each time in a different guise. There are scriptural precedents for this understanding.

For example, in his interpretation of the “great image” from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel explained that four kingdoms would arise in succession, beginning with Babylon. The king’s “great image” consisted of four distinct sections; nevertheless, it was ONE image.

This “great image,” including all four of its segments, was destroyed when the “stone cut from a mountain” struck it on the feet, at once shattering the entire edifice. That “stone” was none other than the “Kingdom of God” - (Daniel 2:44).

In another vision, Daniel saw the “fourth beast” destroyed and “burned with fire.” But the lives of the other three “beasts” were “prolonged for a season and a time.” All four creatures were parts of a single whole.

In the vision’s interpretation, their “kingdom,” singular, was given to the “saints.” In other words, the “life” of the preceding three “beasts” continued in the “life” of the “fourth beast” - (Daniel 7:11-12, 7:27).


The understanding that the “Beast” is an age-old entity becomes clear in the interpretation of the “Great Whore” that John saw riding the “Beast from the Sea”:

  • (Revelation 17:8-11) “The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to ascend from the abyss, and goes into destruction… The inhabitants of the earth saw the beast, how he was, and is not, and will come. Here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. And they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a little while. And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he is going into destruction.

The “seven heads” symbolized seven kingdoms. The “Beast” was something more than a single human ruler. It represented an empire. Moreover, it “was, is not, and will come.” It appeared in the past more than once and will manifest again in the future.

Landscape  Photo by Xander Kassinberg on Unsplash
[Photo by Xander Kassinberg on Unsplash]

Of the “
seven heads,” five “were fallen,” one “is,” and another is yet to come. That is, by John’s time five empires had come and gone, one existed, and another and final beastly incarnation would appear on the Earth before the end. In this historical context, the “fifth beast” could only be the Roman Empire in which John and the Asian congregations resided.

The final “Beast” is “of the seven” but is also “an eighth.” In other words, its final form will be of the same nature as its predecessors, but it will also be something beyond them. It will wage “war on the saints” as part of Satan’s final effort to annihilate the people of God.

This interpretation of the “Beast from the Sea” is not allegorical. The prediction of a coming final “Beast” that attempts to destroy the Body of Christ once and for all is quite specific. But Revelation wants us to understand that this is an ancient battle that is playing out even now in the daily trials and tribulations of believers.

The final satanic battle will occur in the “short season” allotted to the Devil at the end of the age. At that time, he will gather the nations of the Earth for one final effort to crush the “seed of the woman.”