1. Is a final world kingdom
2. Will come up in an unknown/mysterious/deadly manner
3. Possesses seven heads which represent kingdoms (Daniel 7:17 & 23). The seventh head is still in the future, the sixth was present when Revelation was written (Roman Empire), and the first five heads have already fallen: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The last or seventh kingdom will come out of the 6th and will devour the whole earth.
We are now going to see that this beast from the sea has ten horns. What do these ten horns represent and how do they fit in with the final world kingdom?
We have the first glimpse of the beast’s ten horns in the Book of Daniel. Revelation 17 gives us further information about the purpose of the ten horns and their relationships. And Revelation 13 provides us with more specifics as to the authority this Beast from the Sea has in relation to the Beast from the Earth.
Who or What are the Ten Horns?
To begin understanding what the ten horns represent, let’s read portions of Daniel 7.
As you read, remember that the beast from the sea has as its sixth head the fourth beast in Daniel. (See Seven Heads Chart)
“After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. Daniel 7:7 NASB
“Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head.” Daniel 7:19-20a NASB
“This is what he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth which will be different from all the other kingdoms, and will devour the whole earth and trample it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise;…” Daniel 7:23-24a NASB [Emphasis mine]
The fourth beast is different from the previous beasts in a couple of ways. It is a “revived” beast from the Roman Empire. It is more dreadful than all of the others. It devours the whole earth. And, it has “ten horns.”
So, what are the ten horns? Notice the language in the above texts. “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom (meaning the fourth beast or the Roman Empire) ten kings will arise; and another (king) will arise after them.”
The ten horns are ten kings that will arise. These kings will have great authority.
Side Note: There is another ‘little horn’ that will arise after the ten. We will consider this horn in another article. In both Daniel and Revelation he is greater than the ten horns.
What is the Purpose of the Ten Horns?
We now look at Revelation 17 to see some of the specific functions and relationships of the ten horns.
“And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns……And they (the seven heads) are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. The beast which was, and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast.” Revelation 17:3, 10-13 NASB [Emphasis mine]
One thing is to be especially noticed in this text. The beast has “seven heads and ten horns” in verse 3. But in verse 12 the ten horns receive authority with the beast for one hour.
So the ten horns are both described as an integral part of the beast but also distinguished from the beast. They give their power and authority to the beast in a supportive role. But it would appear that the head of the beast is a greater authority. We might use the term coregents to describe the ten horns.
Please notice the language of an “eighth” beast/king in verses 10-11. He is the “eighth” but he is also “one of the seven”. This language is most likely not only distinguishing the ten horns from the seventh beast/head of which they are a part. It is also distinguishing the eighth beast as a “uniquely positioned” beast/king. In other words, one king is the seventh, but he is also the eighth. And he is especially described here as the one who “goes to destruction, just like in Revelation 19:20! The representative heads of the first six beasts were all pagan kings. But this one is different and we will see that in Part 3 – The Antichrist. (Also see Will Christians Know Who the Antichrist Will Be?)
So these ten horns are upon the final head (seventh) of the beast, but yet can be distinguished from the beast via their powerful and, yet, supportive role.
Chart of the Ten Horns
Below is a chart to visually display the beast’s ten horns. This chart is a continuation of the Seven Heads Chart from Part 1.
What Do the Ten Horns Mean For Us?
In the ancient world, kings conquered, plundered, occupied, and set up their rule. It was diverse but local in that it only covered certain geographical territory. And other kingdoms would be able to carry out their reign in other places. But the main thrust of the authority of these two beasts is “over the whole world” and it is not, first and foremost, military or political. It is via a means of commercial submission/stranglehold across the entire face of the earth. This is beyond the scope of normal reasoning in the ancient world. But we have high-speed internet, and a massive banking system and potentially “virtual” money. There have been entities at work like the European Commission, the Club of Rome, the Council on Foreign Relations, Global World System, and the Millenium Development Goals to deal with all things “Global.” And we have instantaneous identification capabilities (QR Code) and “trading regions” (U.N. Regional Groupings) of the world. So it is not beyond normal reasoning in our present world! In our technological, interconnected and large corporation world it would not be out of the question for ten horns to reign monetarily.
Remember, God has ordained that these things happen for the purposes of His coming judgments. But we can ultimately take comfort in our Lord’s words: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
There is yet more to learn about the Beast from the Sea. The “little horn” that will arise after the ten horns is known as the Antichrist, and we will see his purpose and characteristics in Part 3.