Ancient scribes recycled a complex of old images when writing Revelation into a vision of an apocalyptic universal age. We are told of a futuristic beast would be like an old beast – “like a leopard and his feet were as of a bear, and his mouth of a lion” “and the dragon” gave him power, his seat, and great authority – Rev. 13.
Being “like” guaranteed continuance with differential. Using the world “like” barred room for personal prejudice in this “Revelation of Jesus Christ” – Rev. 1:1. But it provides ample room for contemplation. Many religious exegetists advocate their personal preference of exegesis guessing in the dark. The scribes of Revelation by giving the “testimony of Jesus Christ” – Rev. 12:17 shielded their words by this word “like”. No exact shape, form or time frame is downloadable. Revelation is antithetical to image making, especially graven images (anything set up, moveable work, impressed), idol, golden calf.
Revelation is entirety compiled only “like” types, antitypes and archetypes, symbols from former orally recollected fables and tales in the OT. Religiosity, structure institutional theology, rather than Christianity as such, in much later centuries, swung to a definite personal interpretation based on their wannabe of just one singular person – despite the complexity of Revelation. This waywardness immediately created bogus “history” that became rampant. The Church overly literalised much later gospels downplaying Revelation from alpha to omega.
The ancient scribes within the gospels personified oneness in a figure who had never been prophesied – the prophetic books recorded pre-exilic times and Daniel looked back to the Jewish experiences of two witnesses – one pre-chronological and one post-exilic in chronicled times. In the gospels the struggle is against the rulership of Pharisees and Sadducees, suppression of their own Jewish community. The scribes writing verifies massive individual resistance to the two horned beast (Pharisees and Sadducees) – Rev. 13:11. And there is no doubt individual stood out, many calling themselves messiah. It was a highly illiterate age apart from the top echelons and educated elite, especially the ancient scribes. Community resistance (burning of cities) proliferated against the draconian rulership evident with the Hasmoneans and intensified under the great infrastructure projects of Herod the Great. This rebellion is well documented in first three Gospels – a subjective portrayal of the objective book of Revelation.
Such later theological absolutism epitomised in the inquisition was prodigiously promulgated in religious art of the twelfth century onwards directing. Thank God we have kept these relics in galleries for our children. Such artworks are far away from the midrash story. Such scholarship denigrates the ancient way of thinking – a perception of an ever-changing creativeness – creation in likeness (1260 sacred = 1260 civil over seven years) of an inherited eternal model. Literal imaginary is the very antithesis of everything conceived by the scribes’ alpha to omega encyclopedia. Such backsliding has darkened the potential psyche of all humankind. Only Christianity claims complete authority to their very personal, non-testament interpretation.
Now let’s look at these wheels within wheels. Revelation’s beasts are purely a replication of Dan. 7:5 – “The first like a lion … eagle’s wings … wings plucked … it were lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it … And behold another beast like a bear, and it raised itself up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth of it between its teeth … devoured much flesh … behold another, like a leopard … upon its back four wings of a fowl … with four heads, and dominion was given to it.” Has any minister shown you this logical connection?
And Daniel’s beastly image was a replication of the earlier recalls. So we have “likeness”, precept on precept, ensample on ensample, one building block built upon an earlier foundation. This is to show likeness as the world ascends from local, to state, to nation to universal. The word “like” means “similitude”, “as these”, “resembling”, “thus”, “nearly”, “similar”, “so as”, “pattern”, “form”, “something made like”, “according to this”, “thus” and “in the same manner”. It was never intended to be about one singular event at a singular convenient point in history.
Now Daniel, thanks to Gabriel, never had any inclination for a private interpretation of his vision. The Ancient scribes constructed precept upon precept and so the lion, bear and leopard had been descriptively known in earlier embellished oral perception – from many books of consistency:
Saul like a lion:
• “Lion” had “eagle’s wings”: — In Proverbs 23:4–5, the writer narrates concerning eagle’s wings, saying, “Labour not to be rich … riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven.” So this king we need to identify had riches, and this was synonymous with eagle wings. In the book of Samuel, Saul took the spoils of the Amalekites, sheep and oxen, and the chief of the things that should have been utterly destroyed. See also the stock of Saul in Chronicles. Saul’s riches transgressed the word of the Lord, with the quick destruction of the Amalekites. Saul was rich and quick-footed like a lion. Saul matches the description of eagle wings.
• “The wings thereof were plucked”: — “Plucked,” from merat, indicates “peeled,” “polished” (confident, elegant, and skilled). This is exactly how Saul was characterized. “There was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish … a mighty man of power (substance, wealth). And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he” (1 Sam. 9:1–2). Saul overwhelmingly demonstrated all these superior facets. Saul matches the sophistication emanating from the word plucked.
• “Lifted up from the earth” and “stand upon the feet as a man”: — In Daniel, the lion “was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man.” A lion standing upright on his hind legs would be taller than any man. Very tellingly, Saul, “from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Sam. 9:2). Every scholar knows Saul was mighty in height. Numerous times, artists have drawn Saul’s lion like stance towering over others. Only Saul could be said, in early chronicles, to be this one.
• “And a man’s heart was given to it” (the lion): — Samuel anointed Saul (1 Sam. 10:1), “And it was so, that when he (Saul) had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart” (1 Sam. 10:9). This must have been the world’s first heart transplant. It is more than just a coincidence that Saul matches the fourth characteristic. Saul is the only grand character to be given a new heart.
David like a bear:
• “raised up itself on one side”: — “And David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the people Israel’s sake” (2 Sam. 5:12; 2 Sam. 7:16). David’s insignia bore the establishment of a dominion. It certainly raised itself up. David’s catalog of mighty men is listed in 1 Chronicles 11. Match one for David.
• “three ribs in its mouth”: — David smote Moab but did not destroy its people; “the Moabites became David’s servants” (2 Sam. 8:2). Similarly, the same is pronounced of the Syrians in 2 Samuel 8:6 and the Edomites in 2 Samuel 8:14. The three ribs in the bear’s mouth symbolized these three pestilent nations. The bear had not devoured these three ribs or peoples. It cannot be a mere coincidence that David’s part perfectly fits all of this recollection. Match two for David.
• “devour much flesh”: — David did devour much flesh in his conquests, especially that of Philistia. This is recorded in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings. It is clearly seen that Daniel’s vision of the bear portrayed King David in every aspect. No other scriptural character matches these signs. Is this description too much to bear or just hogwash? Match three for David.
Solomon like a leopard
The third beast was “like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl” (Dan. 7:6). Wings, as already stated, indicate wealth. “The beast had also “four heads,” illustrating much wisdom, as, “the wise man’s eyes are in his head” (Eccles. 2:14).
Solomon’s standout features are “four heads” and “four wings.” The Bible tells us in 1 Kings 10:23, “So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom.” There are many phrases about Solomon’s wisdom in the book of 1 Kings: “He was filled with wisdom, and understanding” (7:14); “Solomon exceeded … for riches and for wisdom” (10:23); Hiram king of Tyre said, “Blessed be the Lord this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people” (5:7). And in 2 Chronicles 9:23, we read, “All sought … Solomon, to hear his wisdom.” Wow, so much indisputable wisdom was cached in those four heads.
In the texts “heads” denote wisdom and “wings” riches. Solomon, increased in power and wealth, had gold in abundance, weapons of war, and a throne of ivory, built his own house, gave cities to Hiram king of Tyre and had numerous wives and concubines.
Obviously this perception makes one belong to a different planet.