Beast with 7 Heads & 10 Horns
In the book of Revelation, John describes a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. Yes, it is possible to interpret what it means! God isn't going to reveal something that is impossible for us to understand. A careful examination of scriptures reveals the interpretation. This descriptive picture symbolizes a panoramic view of kingdoms that have ruled throughout history. Let's compare the different descriptions of this beast.
Revelation 12:3—The dragon has 7 heads and 10 horns, on his heads were 7 diadems (crowns)
The dragon is interpreted as Satan (12:9). This represents Satan's dominion over the 7 world empires:
Rev. 13:3 tells us one of his heads was wounded as if slain. Some have wrongly interpreted this to mean the Antichrist will receive a head wound, appear to have died, and then come back to life. Notice it says "one" of his heads was wounded. Remember, the beast has 7 heads and only one head is wounded. Rev. 13:14 says it was wounded by a "sword."
The head that was wounded was the 6th head, Rome, which was conquered by the sword, but will come back to life in the future to become a Revived Roman Empire just before the Second Coming of Christ.
Revelation 13:1-3—The beast has 7 heads and 10 horns, on his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.
Verse 2 describes the beast as a leopard, a bear, and a lion. These are the same beasts as described in Daniel 7:4-6, except in reverse order. Daniel was looking into the future to see these kingdoms, while the apostle John looks back on them as fulfilled in history. In this description, we get more details.
Revelation 17:3—Scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, have 7 heads and 10 horns.
Rev. 17:9-10 tells us the 7 heads are 7 mountains and 7 kings. "Mountains" in the Bible are symbolic of kingdoms or governments. (See Ps. 30:7, Jer. 51:24-25, Dan. 2:35,44).
Revelation 17:10-11—The 7 heads are 7 Kings
“Five have fallen”: At the time John was writing Revelation, 5 kingdoms had already past:
“One is”: When John was writing, Rome was ruling the world.
“The other is yet to come”: This refers to a future Revived Roman Empire.
“The beast…is himself also an eighth”: Dan. 7:19-25 says Antichrist will rule this empire.
Revelation 17:12—The 10 horns are 10 Kings
What is the difference between the 7 kings (represented by 7 heads) and the 10 kings (represented by 10 horns)? Simply this: The 7 kings (v.10) are successive kingdoms because they rule one after another over centuries of time.
The 10 kings (v.12) are contemporaneous kings who rule at the same time in history. This verse tells us the 10 horns are 10 kings who "have not yet received a kingdom" when Revelation was written in 96 A.D. Because the 10 horns are on the 7th head, these 10 kings will come to power in the future Revived Roman Empire. Daniel 2:44 tells us "and in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed…" That means when Jesus returns to earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom, he will destroy the Antichrist and the kingdom he rules.