Animals in the Book of Revelation

September 5, 2016 — Leave a comment

When making a chart of the book of Revelation I was surprised to see how many different animals are described throughout the book. At times John seems to see a literal animal and describes it in the book, while at other times John uses an animal as a way to described what he sees (an example is when John says he sees a “lamb” when he sees Jesus).

Here’s a brief outline of some of the animals described in the book of Revelation.

I. BEAST

Two beasts are discussed in Revelation. The first is mentioned in Rev 11. When the two witnesses complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit declares war against them, conquers them, and kills them (11:7).

Photo from the illustrated Bible, "Bamberg Apocalypse: Book with 7 Seals - The First Beast"

Illustrated Bible, “Bamberg Apocalypse: Book with 7 Seals – The First Beast”

A. Beast of the Sea

Revelation 13 reveals the most material about the two beasts of Revelation. The first beast rises up out of the sea with seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns on its horns.

Written on each head are the names of those that blasphemed God (13:1). This beast looks like a leopard but has the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. The dragon gives the beast his power, throne, and great authority (13:2). One head on the beast of the sea is wounded but it is healed. The whole world marvels at this beast, gives allegiance to him, and worships him (13:3-4). This beast is allowed to speak blasphemes against God and is given authority to do whatever he wants for forty-two months (13:5-6).

This beast is allowed to wage war against God’s holy people, to conquer them, and to rule over every tribe and people (13:7). All the people whose names are not written in the Book of Life worship this beast (13:8).

The Beast of the Earth

Illustrated Bible, “Bamberg Apocalypse: Book with 7 Seals – The Second Beast”

B. The Beast of the Earth

The second beast to appear is the beast that comes up out of the earth. It has two horns like a lamb and speaks with the voice of a dragon (13:11). This beast has all of the authority of the first beast and requires all of the world to worship the first beast (13:12).

The beast of the earth does amazing miracles such as making fire flash down from the sky (13:13). With this, the beast of the earth deceives all the people who belong to this earth. He orders the people to make a great statute of the first beast (13:14). He is then allowed to give life to this statute so that it can speak.

Next, the statute of the beast commands that everyone refusing to worship it must die (13:15). Everyone is required to have a mark on the right hand or on the forehead (13:16). No one can buy or sell anything without the mark which is either the name of the beast or the number representing his name (13:17). The number of this beast is the number of man: 666 (13:18).

Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark must drink the wine of God’s anger (14:9-10). The smoke of these people’s torment will rise forever and ever. There will be no relief during the day or night because they have worshipped the beast and his statute and have accepted his mark (14:11).

Later, during the bowl judgments, the fifth bowl is poured out on the throne of the beast and his kingdom is plunged into darkness (16:10). After the sixth bowl is poured out on the Euphrates River, John sees three evil spirits that look like frogs jump from the mouths of the dragon, the beast of the sea, and the false prophet (16:13). These demonic spirits work miracles and gather all the rulers of the world for battle against the Lord on the day of judgement (16:14). The place where these spirits gather all the rulers and their armies is Armageddon (16:16).

C. Last Times Beast

A beast (most likely, this is the beast of the sea from Rev 13:1-10) is again mentioned in Rev 19 when John sees the beast, the kings of the world, and their armies gathered together to fight against the rider on the white horse (19:19). The beast and the false prophet are captured and thrown (while alive) into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (19:20). Their entire army is killed by the sharp sword of the rider on the white horse and vultures gorge on the dead bodies (19:21). 

Yet again, a beast is mentioned in Rev 20 when John describes the souls of people who were beheaded for their testimony of Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God (20:4). These people did not worship the beast nor his statue. They also had not accepted the beast’s mark on their hands or foreheads (20:4).

Photo from the illustrated Bible, "Bamberg Apocalypse: Book with 7 Seals - The First Beast"

Illustrated Bible, “Bamberg Apocalypse: Book with 7 Seals – The First Beast”

II. DRAGON

The event John sees in Heaven in Rev 12 includes a red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads (12:3). This dragon’s tail sweeps one-third of the stars from the sky onto the earth (12:4). This dragon stands in front of the woman as she is about to give birth and is ready to devour her baby (12:4). This dragon fights against Michael and his angels (12:7) but loses the battle (12:8). This dragon is the ancient serpent—the devil—who is called Satan and the one who deceives the world (12:9; 20:2).

The dragon is thrown down to the earth with all his angels (12:9). This dragon pursues the woman on the earth (12:13) and tries to drown her with a flood (12:15). The dragon becomes angry when he is unsuccessful (12:16) and declares war against the rest of the woman’s children (12:17). The dragon then takes his stand on the shore beside the sea (12:18). When the beast of the sea arrives the dragon gives the beast his own power, throne, and great authority (13:2). The people of the earth then worship the dragon for giving so much authority and power to the beast of the sea (13:5).

After the sixth bowl is poured out on the Euphrates River, John sees three evil spirits that look like frogs jump from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (16:13). These demonic spirits work miracles and gather all the rulers of the world for battle against the Lord on the day of judgement (16:14).

The dragon, which is Satan, is locked in prison for a thousand years (20:3). He will be let out after the thousand years are over (20:7) so that he can deceive the nations one more time (20:8). The dragon’s armies surround God’s people and the holy city, but fire comes from heaven and consumes them (20:9). Next, the dragon—the Devil—is thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur where he will be tormented day and night forever (20:10).

III. EAGLE

Eagles are mentioned twice in the book of Revelation. The first mention is when an eagle is identified as the fourth of the four living beings around the throne of God in Heaven (4:7). The second mention is between the fourth and fifth trumpets when John sees an eagle crying loudly as it flies through the air (8:13).

IV. FROG

After the sixth bowl is poured out on the Euphrates River, John sees three evil spirits that look like frogs jump from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (16:13). These demonic spirits work miracles and gather all the rulers of the world for battle against the Lord on the day of judgement (16:14).

Matthias Gerung (1500-1575)

“The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” by Matthias Gerung (1500-1575)

V. HORSE

Horses are part of the first four seal judgements. The first horse is white with its rider having a crown on his head and a bow in his hand (6:2). The second horse is red and its rider is given a mighty sword and authority to take peace from the earth (6:4). The third horse is black and its rider holds a pair of scales in his hand (6:5). The fourth horse is pale green with its rider named “Death” and companion named “Grave” (6:8). John sees horses with riders sitting on them during the sixth trumpet. The riders wear red, dark blue, and yellow armor. The horses’ heads are like lions, and fire, smoke and burning sulfur come from their mouths (9:17) and kills one-third of the people on the earth (9:18). Furthermore, the tails of the horses were like heads of snakes with power to injure people (9:19). Finally, horses are one of the types of animals Babylon buys from merchants around the world (18:13).

VI. LAMB

John sees a Lamb that looks as if it had been slaughtered standing between the throne, the four living beings, and the twenty-four elders (5:6). When the Lamb takes the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fall down before the Lamb (5:8). The Lamb is slaughtered as a way to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing (5:12).

The Lamb is the one who breaks the seven seals (6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 8:1).

The Lamb is mentioned other places too (7:9). Salvation comes from the Lamb (7:10). Those who die in the great tribulation wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb, which makes them white (7:14, 17). The Book of Life is said to belong to the Lamb (13:8).

In John’s visions between the sixth and seventh trumpet he again sees the Lamb. This time he sees the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with 144,000 people who have the Lamb’s name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads (14:1). These 144,000 follow the Lamb wherever he goes and have been purchased among the people of the earth as a special offering for the Lamb (14:4). Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of holy angels and the Lamb (14:9-10).

There is a wedding feast of the Lamb (19:7). The Lamb’s bride is prepared with the finest of pure white linen (19:8).

The new Jerusalem has twelve foundation stones which display the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (20:14). In the new Jerusalem there is a river with the water of life that flows from the Lamb (22:2). In the new Jerusalem there will no longer be a curse on anything because the Lamb is there (22:3). The Lamb’s name will be written on the foreheads of the people there (22:4).

VI. LION

The lion is the first of the four living beings around the throne of God in heaven (4:7). When an angel describes to John who is worthy to open the scroll, the angel tells John that the Lion of the tribe of Judah is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals (5:5). John sees horses during the sixth trumpet who have riders sitting on them. The riders wear red, dark blue, and yellow armor. The horses’ heads are like lions, and fire and smoke and burning sulfur come from their mouths (9:17). One-third of the people on the earth are killed by the fire, smoke, and burning sulfur that come from the mouths of the horses (9:18). Furthermore, the tails of the horses are like heads of snakes with power to injure people (9:19). The beast that comes up out of the sea has the mouth of a lion (13:2).

VII. LOCUST

During the fifth trumpet John sees a star fall from the sky and is given the key to the bottomless pit (9:1). He opens the bottomless pit and smoke pours out as though from a huge furnace (9:2). There is so much smoke that the sunlight and air turn dark (9:2). Then locusts come from the smoke and descend on the earth (9:3). They are given power to sting like scorpions (9:3) but are told not to harm the grass or plants or trees (9:4). Instead, they are only allowed to harm the people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads (9:4). The locusts are allowed to torture people (but not kill them) for five months (9:5). The pain will be so great that these people will want to die (9:6). These locusts look like horses prepared for battle. They have gold crowns on their heads, faces like human faces (9:7), hair like women’s hair, teeth like the teeth of a lion (9:8), armor made of iron, wings that roar like an army of chariots (9:9), and tails that sting like scorpions (9:10). The king of these locusts is the angel from the bottomless pit whose name is Abaddon (in Hebrew) and Apollyon (in Greek).

VIII. VULTURE

Because of Babylon’s evil it is described as a hideout for every foul vulture (Rev 18:2). An angel shouts to the vultures in the sky telling them to gather together for the great banquet that God has prepared (19:17). At this banquet the vultures will eat the flesh of kings, generals, strong warriors, horses, and all of humanity (19:18). After the rider on the white horse kills the armies of the beast and false prophet, the vultures gorge themselves on the dead bodies (19:21).

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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