What are the seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 12)?

BibleAsk Team

Revelation 12

Revelation 12 begins a new line of prophecy, which continues to the end of the book. This section of prophecy sets forth the church of God in conflict with the powers of evil, and the church’s ultimate triumph over them. The apostle John wrote,

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve starsThen being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born” (Revelation 12:1-4).

Seven Heads

The seven heads appear also on the beast John saw rising from the sea (Revelation 13:1), and on the scarlet-colored beast in Revelation 17:3. The heads in Revelation 17:9, 10 are identified as “seven mountains” and “seven kings.” It can be concluded that the seven heads of the dragon represents political powers that have carried on the cause of the dragon, and through which the dragon has exercised his persecuting power. The fact that the heads are wearing crowns may be added proof that they represent political kingdoms. The Talmud also mentions a dragon with seven heads (Ḳiddushin 29b, Soncino ed., p. 141).

Ten Horns

The “ten horns” represent the governments, or nations, that support the major powers in their oppression of God’s people and church. During pagan Rome’s time (Revelation 12:3, 4), they represented the 10 barbarian tribes that supported the papacy in bringing down the Roman empire (Daniel 7:23, 24). These tribes later became modern Europe. In the last days, they will represent all the nations of the world as they unit in the end-time coalition (Revelation 16:14; 17:12, 13, 16) which will support “Babylon the great” in her fight against God’s faithful (Revelation 12:17; 14:12).

Stars of Heaven

“The third part of the stars of heaven” are the angels who supported Lucifer in his rebellion in heaven and who were cast out with him (Revelation 12:9; Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12). Satan and his angels were expelled out of heaven (2 Peter 2:4) before the creation of this world. It seems that until the cross, he had access to heavenly beings (Job 1), perhaps as “prince of this world” (John 12:31; Luke 4:6).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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