Prophecies of Revelation
Mark of the beast
Symbolism of Numbers in Scripture
Writer: Betty Miller | bibleresources.org/mark-of-the-beast/
This beast rising up out of the sea has seven heads (Revelation 13:1And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.Revelation 13 verse 1). Numbers are often symbolic in the Scriptures with the number seven standing for perfection, completion. For example, when Jesus told Peter to forgive "seventy times seven,"
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22
He did not mean to forgive 490 times. He was telling Peter to forgive completely and perfectly. To the Jew, numbers were descriptions rather than mathematics as each number represented something. Since we will be dealing with several of these symbolic numbers in this chapter, listed below are the Jewish equivalents for each number (see glossary for detailed definitions):
- One symbolizes new beginnings and unity.
- Two symbolizes witness and division.
- Three symbolizes divinity, heaven and God.
- Four symbolizes earth and man.
- Five symbolizes grace and favor.
- Six symbolizes the world and is man's number; it falls short of seven; therefore, it is imperfection.
- Seven symbolizes perfection, completeness and abundance.
- Ten symbolizes obedience, completeness of order.
- Twelve symbolizes government, authority.
- Three and a half, being half of seven (perfection), is an indefinite period of time; it is a number of trouble and judgment.
When the beast is described as having seven heads, it speaks of completion or fullness of the wickedness and evil. Heads refer to leadership, to governments and to ruling. When we refer to the head of an organization or a group, we're speaking of the leadership. So seven heads would refer to fullness of governments. Seven heads mean the governments of the whole world (a New World order?). The headship of the governments is upon the beast. The ruling governments are right in the midst of the beastly system. In man's eyes, some governments are good and some evil. But in God's eyes they're all evil because they're not performing the will of God. No country is truly doing the will of God, even my own country which I do love and pray for. Of course, some governments are better than others because of the greater freedom they allow.
The beast in Revelation has ten horns. In the Bible, horns are symbolic of countries with world power and influence. A horn does not represent the whole beastly system that pervades the earth, but rather a country. A little horn would represent a little country. The countries have influence, but not as much as the whole power of the beast. So when the beast is seen with ten horns it speaks of influential countries in the world that are part of the system of the beast. One meaning of the number ten is completeness of order, so ten horns indicate how complete the involvement of smaller countries is with the beast, just as the seven heads of the beast show the involvement of major world powers.
Upon the horns are ten crowns. Crowns stand for authority and political influence. So we further see the beast system coming through the authority in the world, the governmental and political system.