And 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. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
-1 John 4:3
The Beast from the sea is a composite of the four beasts that emerge from the “great sea” in the vision of Daniel 7. The sea represents the Gentiles, the world of the ancient Mediterranean, and the forces of chaos. Leviathan, a symbol of chaos in the Old Testament, is a sea dragon (compare Tiamat), and has obvious resonance with the seven-headed Dragon of Revelation and the Beast from the sea. In Daniel 7, the various beasts represent Gentile empires that oppress Israel. In Revelation, that theme is applied to the Church as well (the distinction or otherwise between these two entities lies beyond the scope of this post).
Although those ancient empires are gone today, we see attempts by various forces to procure an anti-Christian empire once again, a force that ignores national differences and national sovereignty, a force that wishes to keep the Gospel of Christ and the word of truth from the nations’ hearing. Revelation tells us that the Beast will be successful in persecuting the saints, but it will not destroy them all. At the end, the saints will witness Christ destroying the Beast and instituting His own kingdom rule.
John tells us that the spirit of antichrist is already abroad in the world. Traditionally, the Church has identified the Beast as a facet of antichrist, the nuance of his role as an imperial tyrant, a political and military figure. The spirit of such a figure is already at work, even if his final empire has not quite coalesced. Wherever Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, is denied, antichrist is at work. For this reason, I believe that in our prayers for our nations recovery, we must pray against the spirit of antichrist, that Christ would have the victory.