What do the heads of the beast symbolize?
A: Dear Emidaka,
The beasts in Revelation actually have seven heads, not nine. The beasts are used as symbols in the Bible to represent Kings and their Kingdoms – earthly political powers (We find the clue for that in Daniel 7:17, when the angel is telling Daniel what the four sea beasts represent – “?‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.”).
In Revelation 12, 13, 17 and 18 we see beasts with seven heads. In Chapter 17, the Bible tells us that the heads are “ are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while” (Revelation 17:10). The multiple heads on the beast tell us that he represents not just one, but many successive kingdoms, one after the other. You would need to do a more thorough study of prophecy to understand which kingdoms these are, starting with the book of Daniel and then moving to the book of Revelation. What you will discover is that these are kingdoms of the world through which the devil has worked and will work to try to get rid of God’s faithful people and establish his own throne. There are a number of different viewpoints, even in the Adventist church, because no all of these beasts have appeared yet. Of the seven, there are five that the church is all agreed upon, and those are the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Pagan Rome and Papal Rome.
What is important to know is that there is a battle going on over who the rightful King is. The devil has wanted to sit on the throne from the beginning (“You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God ?I will set my throne on high” Isaiah 14:13). He has worked through many powerful world empires trying to become the ruler of the world. But prophecy tells us that the final kingdom will belong to Jesus and His followers. The Bible says “And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of ?the saints of the Most High; ?their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them” (Daniel 7:27). When we study the “heads” of the beast, and we see that God told about these powerful earthy kingdoms before they existed, then we can trust when God tells us about the coming kingdom of Jesus. Many people put all of their energy into trying to become something important in this world, but Jesus wants us to use our best energies in becoming a part of His kingdom, because these earthly kingdoms will pass away, but God’s kingdom is forever!
Thanks for writing, and remember, there's never been a better time to share Jesus!
Your friend, Pastor Howard