The REVELATION mentions two beasts. The first was a SEA BEAST that was given power by the dragon (Satan). The second was an EARTH/LAND BEAST or FALSE PROPHET(S) that was given authority in the presence of the first beast.
“1Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a BEAST RISING UP OUT OF THE SEA, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name . 2Now the BEAST which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.” (Rev.13:1-2).
“11Then I saw ANOTHER BEAST COMING UP OUT OF THE EARTH (Land), and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12And he exercises all the authority of the first BEAST in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first BEAST, whose deadly wound was healed.” (Rev. 13:11-12).
(Ed Stevens) While Dr. Kenneth Gentry’s excellent book, The Beast of Revelation, provides great value and information on a lot of historical, and even biblical facts; however, I have to be one of those who disagree with his conclusions that the Beast of Revelation is referring to Nero. My conclusion is based on numerous things, the predominant of which is Rev. 19:19-21 which speaks about the Beast being seized and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire, which does not fit Nero and Rome. Dr. Gentry questionably does not even deal with this vital passage in his book, which I believe relates to the fact that his entire premise would fall based on this one passage alone (never mind other issues), as Nero was never thrown alive into the Lake of Fire.
It is here in this subject that I turn to all those who will follow in the generations. As the church has developed and grown in much truth and light from one generation of believers to the next through continued study, new archeological finds, deeper and more expansive resource tools, etc. So too I look forward this topic being further developed and clarified in the coming generations. So, let’s approach this study topic of the Beast with the laying out of some foundations, with many bricks which we can work with, and then each continue to explore and search to seek clearer truth and understanding to pass along for future generations for them to build upon.
Not a New View (Ed Stevens)
The concept of a Jewish Beast is not a new view. Although I [Ed Stevens] have been teaching it for over thirty years, I was not the originator of the view. My study of Revelation 19:19-21 first pushed me in that direction, and I was further influenced by my historical studies of Josephus. I was then made aware of Dutch Reformed theologian Cornelius Vanderwaal, who, in his commentary on 1 John, sees all three of the so-called “antichrist texts” (2 Thess. 2; 1 John 2:18; Rev 13) as pointing to a Jewish individual or entity (citing earlier theologians who do the same): John, who may have been on the island of Patmos when he wrote 1 John, now declares that things have gone so far that many antichrists have already appeared. This indicates that it is the “last hour” (2:18). Many false prophets have gone out in “the world” (4:1), that is, the apostate Jewish world . . . . John’s words make it clear that we must not think of the “antichrist” in connection with a misty future. Did you realize that there is not a single mention of the term “antichrist” in the entire book of Revelation? When John reports the vision of the Beast in the book of Revelation, he is not telling us about a future political antichrist with the reins of world government in his hands; he is indicating that some beastly devil will arise out of Israel to attack the church. 2 Thessalonians 2 follows the same line of thought. In 1 John 3:8-9, John distinguishes sharply between the seed of God and the children of the devil (see John 8:44). (Cornelius Vanderwaal, Search the Scriptures Vol. 10 (St. Catharines, Ontario: Paideia Press, 1979). (End of quoted section of Ed Stevens).
I believe both the biblical and historical evidence provide the evidence that both of these BEASTS are Jewish. The first SEA BEAST is strongly supported to be a Jewish entity, such as the Jewish Zealots; and the second EARTH/LAND BEAST (“FALSE PROPHETS”) is also Jewish.
“3And I will give power to my TWO WITNESSES, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. 4These are the TWO OLIVE TREES and the TWO LUMPSTANDS standing before the God of the earth.” (Rev. 11:3-4; Zech. 4:3; 4:11; 4:14).
“7 When they finish their testimony, the BEAST that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, WHERE ALSO OUR LORD WAS CRUCIFIED.” (Rev.11:7-8).
Again negating Nero, as he did not come up out of the abyss, go to Jerusalem, and kill the two witnesses. However, we do know that the Jews killed all the prophets in Jerusalem, the city where Christ was crucified (Rev. 18:24; Luke 13:33-35).
“10Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the BEAST, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their (hunger) pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.” (Rev. 16:10-11).
The Romans did not experience this. However, the Jewish Zealots during the war killed each other, were starving inside Jerusalem, they blasphemed God and did not repent of their evil deeds. They were extremely wicked, killing one another, and committing abominations in the temple. Josephus describes the Jewish Zealot rebels as “a wild beast devouring its own flesh.” He talks about the rival factions of Zealots killing each other, burning, and plundering in the city of Jerusalem, and says the Zealots were like a wild beast, so starved for food that it turned upon itself and started eating itself [See: Josephus, “Wars” (4.4.3; 4.7.4; 4.9.8; 5.1.1; 5.2.5); website: BibleStudyTools.com].
The Jewish Zealots and “false prophets” required the Jewish people to follow their orders on buying and selling (see “Mark Of The Beast”). The Romans captured and killed over a million of the Jewish people. The blood of the saints was avenged upon that generation of unbelieving Jews. Their armies were defeated and killed, and their bodies were eaten by the birds (Rev. 19:17-21; 20:9-10).
“20 Then the BEAST WAS CAPTURED, and with him the FALSE PROPHET(S)…were CAST ALIVE into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the REST WERE KILLED with the sword… And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” (Rev. 19:20-21).
Historical Fulfillment of Rev. 19:19-21: The Zealot cause (the Sea Beast) along with its False Prophets (the Land Beast) literally descended alive into the Lake of Fire when the Temple burned. Josephus tells us that the Zealots set fire to some of the temple buildings first, before the Romans did, and also that a False Prophet hired by the Zealots deceived the people into going up onto the roof of the Temple to await the Salvation of God, and were burned to death when the Temple roof collapsed into the fire. They descended alive into the fire which killed them (first death) and took them straight into the Lake of Fire (second death) in the unseen spiritual realm. It is also interesting that all the bodies of the Zealots who committed suicide on Masada were thrown into the building and then the building was burned.
SUMMARY: There is evidence (with only a small summary portion being listed above) that points heavily to both the SEA BEAST and the EARTH/LAND BEAST (“FALSE PROPHETS”) being Jewish entities, rather than either of them being Roman.
[For a “far” more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 4 Rev. Chapters 13 thru 20 on The Beast”]