Is Vladimir Putin the Beast of Revelation?
Russia’s recent aggressiveness has caused some to ask if it could have a role in end-time prophecy. Could Vladimir Putin be the “beast” of Revelation?
Many people are vaguely familiar with the mysterious “beast” found in the book of Revelation. The beast is described in Revelation 13:1: “And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”
Of course, students of Bible prophecy understand that the book of Revelation uses symbolic images to represent literal things. This prophecy is not talking about a literal monstrous creature that will rise out of the ocean. In Bible prophecy, a “beast” represents a government or political ruler (Daniel 7:17).
Within the past year, the world has witnessed Vladimir Putin act in ways that are reminiscent of the era of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. All of these men, and others like Saddam Hussein, have been the subject of speculation about the identity of the “beast.” Putin has:
- Supported dangerous regimes around the world (Iran, Syria and Venezuela).
- Limited free speech within Russia.
- Seized opportunities to exploit American weaknesses.
- Annexed Crimea from Ukraine and is currently threatening to intervene in eastern Ukraine.
Since the beast is also referred to as “the king of the North” in Daniel 11, could Mr. Putin be that final beast of Revelation who will plunge the world into war and usher in the return of Jesus Christ? Russia is, after all, located north of almost every other country.
Why Mr. Putin is not the “beast”
We believe that there will soon be a fulfillment of the prophecies of the beast. This power is forming in the world today—but it is not forming in Russia! In other words, neither Vladimir Putin nor Russia is the beast of Revelation.
Here are two reasons why:
1. The beast has its roots in Rome—not Russia.
To understand the geographical location of the beast, we have to study the book of Daniel. Daniel 7 contains a vision of four beasts that “came up from the sea” (verse 3).
- The first beast (like a lion with eagle’s wings) represented the Babylonian Empire (verse 4).
- The second (like a bear) represented the Medo-Persian Empire (verse 5).
- The third (like a leopard) represented the Greco-Macedonian Empire (verse 6).
- The fourth (described as “different” and stronger than the previous four empires) represented the Roman Empire (verse 7).
This fourth beast—Rome—is the key to understanding the “beast” introduced in Revelation 13. We can see they are linked by both having “ten horns”/“ten crowns” (Daniel 7:7, 20; Revelation 13:1) and an associated element of “pompous words”/“blasphemous name” (Daniel 7:8, 11; Revelation 13:1, 6).
The beast power is forming in the world today—but it is not forming in Russia! In other words, neither Vladimir Putin nor Russia is the beast of Revelation. The beast of Revelation 13, like the “fourth beast” of Daniel 7 (Rome), will have “ten horns” (verse 1). These represent 10 political revivals of the Roman Empire that would occur over the centuries. For a detailed explanation of the 10 revivals of the Roman Empire, read our article “What Is Babylon?”
All of these revivals were based in Europe.
The final revival of the Roman Empire will be unique. It will be a union of “ten kings” (Daniel 2:42-44; Revelation 17:12). These 10 political units will unite and give authority to one man—the “beast” (also called “the king of the North” in Daniel 11:40). This “beast” will be united with a religious system that is based in a “great city” (Revelation 17:18)—an obvious reference to the Roman Catholic Church, which is strongly associated with its headquarters city: the Vatican in Rome. (For more about this, see our article about Revelation 17.)
None of this applies to Vladimir Putin. The beast will arise out of Europe—not Russia.
2. The “beast” will be attacked by a power to the north and east.
Daniel 11:40-45 gives details about the actions and geographical position of the end-time beast. The beast is referred to as “the king of the North.” In biblical language, direction is typically determined from Jerusalem. So, based on what we know from the first point, we have to look for a geographic location north of Jerusalem that can include 10 distinct political units that unite into one union.
But there is a further geographical clue: the “king of the North” will be attacked by nations “from the east and the north” (verse 44). So the “beast”/“king of the North” will be attacked by a nation even farther north—who will be allied with nations to the east!
This proves that Russia cannot be the “beast.” It is impossible for any nation to be located farther north than Russia.
The “beast”/“king of the North” will be centered in Europe and be opposed and attacked by a combination of nations to the north (primarily Russia) and east (China and other Asiatic nations). Revelation 9:16 adds the detail that these nations will raise an army of “two hundred million”—which makes sense because the majority of the world’s population lives in the east.
Those watching recent events will notice that Russia is resisting European influence in the Ukraine and is developing stronger ties with China. This is exactly what students of Bible prophecy would expect based on Daniel 11:44!
Keep watching Russia and Europe
Life, Hope & Truth has been reporting extensively on Russia’s actions in the Ukraine. Though Vladimir Putin’s Russia will not be the beast of Revelation, he is still worthy of close watch.
Historically, Europe has been driven by a fear of Russia. As we have stated in our previous blog postings on the Ukraine crisis, an aggressive and strong Russia (with growing ties to China) could serve as an impetus for Europe to unite and strengthen its military and political power.
To learn more about Russia and Bible prophecy, read our article “Russia in the Bible.”
To read our past coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, see:
- What in the World Is Putin Doing in Crimea?
- The Russian Crime(a)
- The Crisis in Ukraine: Where Is It Leading?