“Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion! And the dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority.” Revelation 13:1-2
The sea represents the abyss or pit, the haunt of demons. The picture is of Satan summoning a powerful demon from the abyss, which then activates and controls the beast (Antichrist) and his empire. Seven heads and ten horns. This description is like that of Satan in 12:3. The heads may represent successive world empires—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the final kingdom of Antichrist. The final one is made up of all the kingdoms represented by the horns. Ten is a number that symbolizes the totality of human military and political power assisting the beast (Antichrist) as he controls the world. Horns always represent power, as in the animal kingdom—both offensive power (attack) and defensive power (protection). Daniel shows that the human Antichrist will rise up from these ten kings (Dan. 7:16–24). John picks up the numerical imagery of Daniel 2:41–42, which refers to the ten toes on the statue’s clay and iron feet. The apostle sees the beast as the final world government—the anti-Christ, anti-God coalition—headed by a revived Roman Empire, having the strengths of various world powers, yet mixed with weakness and ultimately crushed (see Dan. 2:32–45; 7:7–8, 19–25; see 12:3). The crowns show the regal dominion of this confederate kingdom. Throughout history, every time a monarch has identified himself as a god, he has blasphemed the true God. Each ruler who contributes to the beast’s final coalition has an identity, wears a crown, exerts dominion and power, and therefore blasphemes God.
The leopard is a metaphor for ancient Greece, alluding to the Greeks’ swiftness and agility as their military moved forward in conquest, particularly under Alexander the Great (see Dan. 7:6). The leopard and subsequent animal symbols were all native wildlife in Palestine, familiar to John’s readers. The bear is a metaphor for the ancient Medo-Persian Empire, depicting that kingdom’s ferocious strength, combined with its great stability (see Dan. 7:5) The lion is a metaphor for the ancient Babylonian Empire, referring to the Babylonians’ fierce, all-consuming power as they extended their domain (see Dan. 7:4).”