What Does Scripture Say a ‘Beast’ Represents

‘The Beast’ is one of those subjects that seems to fascinate believers and non-believers alike.  As per most things, I happen to have a different take on what is meant by a ‘beast.’  Whether or not others agree, I see a prophetic language in the Scriptures, and it speaks to us in symbolic form.  However, the prophet in question will almost always define the symbolism in his prophecy.  We need but look for it and then accept it once we’ve found it.  Well, the meaning of a ‘beast’ in the prophetic language is no different.  So, let’s take a look at what the prophet, Daniel, was told a ‘beast’ represents.

We first encounter the prophetic use of the word, ‘beast,’ in the Book of Daniel.  It is found in Chapter 7.  If we read carefully, we will also find the prophetic meaning of a ‘beast’ in this same chapter:

Daniel 7:15-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Vision Interpreted

15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed [a]within me, and the visions [b]in my mind kept alarming me. 16 I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the [c]exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 17 These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. 18 But the [d]saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, [e]for all ages to come.’

However, we must not stop there!

A ‘beast’ is not just a king.  In the ancient times (as is often the case, today), a king and his kingdom were thought of as the same thing,  For example: A Caesar might have said, “I am Rome!” but he was not literally Rome, and Rome might have lasted long before or after that particular Caesar.  The same thinking applies to the kingdoms in Daniel’s vision and, if we keep reading, this is exactly what Daniel was told:

Daniel 7:23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

23 “Thus 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 tread it down and crush it.

There we have it: a fourth beast is a fourth kingdom.  This means each of the previous three beasts were kingdoms, as well; and that each of the four beasts is associated with its king.  But a king is not a ‘beast,’ because a king only lives for a small part of a kingdoms existence.  Saying the four beasts are four kings is merely a figure of descriptive speech; a figure of speech which Daniel would have immediately understood.  Which gives us a final prophetic definition for the symbol of a ‘beast:’

In the prophetic language, a ‘beast’ represents a kingdom.

 

I accept this prophetic definition because I clearly see it defined this way in the Scriptures.  Others may disagree, and they are free to do so.  I cannot.  Nor have I found anywhere in the Scriptures where the prophetic meaning of a ‘beast’ is changed after it was explained to Daniel.  Therefore, I hold that, in the prophetic language, a ‘beast’ represents a kingdom all the way through to the end of “The Book of Revelation of Jesus, Christ.”

I will, however, offer a word of explanation.  I believe that a ‘beast’ is a kingdom, but an evil kingdom — not The Kingdom of God.  This should be obvious to believers, but I think that it should be said, nevertheless.  Furthermore, I believe that the symbol of a ‘beast’ was used to represent an evil kingdom because of its destructive power: both physically and Spiritually.  In ancient times, beasts were feared for their might and ability to destroy and kill.  An evil kingdom is to be feared for the same reasons.  Not only can it destroy a nation, but it can also destroy the soul.  I will explain how that is possible in the next post on this subject.