Summary: Several messages sewn together under the general heading of eschatology. A bit of a "sampler" message about last things.
The Beast from the Sea
Believers must feel nervous when yet another brother attempts to describe what some feel is unknowable information. I feel nervous myself. Oh, the incredible ignorance displayed by persons with unworthy motives. They seek to dazzle or entertain. But regardless of the foolishness abounding in books and video and internet, the mystery before us is still beckoning to be solved. The Lord Himself has told us that herein is wisdom. Persons of understanding, He says, should know what these things are about.
Revelation 13:1-10 and 17:8-14 provide a basic profile of the last-day world ruler known generally today as antichrist. In the Scriptures he is more often called the Beast, or the man of sin, or the little horn. There is actually a lot of Biblical content that points his way, but we will confine today's comments to the verses mentioned. Here are some no-doubt facts that we can glean. And once we establish facts, no one can come our way with off-the-wall suggestions about this or that man, or this organization, etc.
He comes from the sea, 13:1. Not like his partner of the latter half of the chapter, who has a normal earth-bound existence. He comes from below, from the pit. I will not be surprised if he literally makes an entrance from the sea, just as the text says. These two passages, together with II Thessalonians 2, let us know that he is now being held back by a restraining angel. When he is released he must find a way to get to the land. God says his entrance will be by signs and wonders.
His seven heads are equated with seven mountains, 17:10. Both of these symbols speak of empire, political leadership. The traditional interpretation - and I have nothing better at this point - is to simply point to the seven world empires that history and Scripture enumerate: Egypt, Babylonia (Old and New), Assyria, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the coming ten-nation confederation that rises out of Rome. On each of these mountains has at one time sat a despot who hated the God of Israel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He persecuted, enslaved, and/or tried to annihilate the people of God. Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, Antiochus Epiphanes, Xerxes, Trajan, are possible entries.
The ten crowned horns represent the final rule of a man of sin 13:1,2. He will incorporate aspects of former kingdoms but will be different in his full devotion to and filling with the evil spirit of Satan.
The final world ruler has already lived and reigned. He was mortally wounded, was held by spiritual angelic powers behind the scenes, and will be revealed when the time is right to continue Satan's quest for world power. Hence it is fruitless to guess his identity among the sons of men. He is invisible now. The only way to know who he is is to know the history of anti-God rulers. Most if not all of these men are alluded to in Scripture. Some I have listed above. So the simple-minded lovers of God will know the truth, not the erudite theologians and thinkers and scholars. It's in the Book!
He will be characterized by blasphemy. His name will be blasphemous. He will constantly, openly blaspheme Heaven, and the world will worship him for it. That's called political correctness. His blasphemous name, when taken a letter at a time and calculated, using numerical equivalents for each letter, will add up to 666. I have not yet been able to crack that code. Yet I believe God wants us to know, so I will continue to seek. Many have devised ingenious plans of calculation, and it seems that many historical names add up to 666. No matter. We start with the facts that we already have and we don't let them go. Fact is, as I stated, he has already reigned and won't be back until he reigns again. That knocks out most of the numerical guesswork.
There is much more, but the above should suffice to whet one's appetite. For me, I've come close to settling on Antiochus Epiphanes, since Daniel's 11th chapter seems to point that way. And Epiphanes is a blasphemous word when applied to anyone but God. It means, "a (Divine) manifestation." Another candidate could be that Assyrian ruler, Sennacherib, who was killed with a sword. The story is in your Bible. And the "sword" part points to a phrase in Revelation 13 that says the original "head" of the beast was wounded with a sword.
No, I don't have all the answers on this. I am confident of the bulleted parts above. And I am equally confident that anyone who will dig for these treasures will find them and be so far ahead of the crowd.