The Seven-headed Beast of Revelation 12, 13, and 17
The question of the identity of the Seven Heads of the Beast of Revelation 12, 13 and Revelation 17 is one the issues that has caused a lot of discussion among evangelical Christians today.
1.) The Seven-headed Beast with ten horns is the Roman Empire. Satan is the power behind this seven-headed dragon-beast which persecutes the church throughout her earthly sojourn of symbolic "1260 days". The fall of the pagan Roman Empire is symbolized in Revelation 13 as its having received a "deadly wound". The deadly wound is "healed" however and from the ashes of the Imperial Roman Empire arises Papal Rome which is an "image" or pseudo-Christian duplicate of the pagan Roman Empire. The "pontiffs" of Imperial Rome were replaced by the "pontiffs" of Papal Rome. Now Papal Rome sits upon the seven hills of Rome and pompously claims to rule the Christian church from its Vatican Papal throne as the so-called "Vicar of the Son of God". (VICARIVS FILII DEI = 666)
2.) The lamb-like Beast is the "False Prophet", the apostate Roman papacy that heals the deadly wound that Pagan Rome receives in the collapse of the Empire. Thus Pagan Rome lives on as Papal Rome due to the ability of the "False Prophet", the lamb-like Beast, to breathe life back into Imperial Rome and causes all the world to worship the Roman Beast again, but now as Papal Rome. Make no mistake, the religion of Pagan Rome is the same religion as Papal Rome. The religion and gods of Pagan Rome came from the ancient Babylonian worship of Nimrod and Semaramis. The lamb-like Beast of the apostate Roman papacy has erected an exact duplicate or image to the first Beast of Rev 13:1.
3.) Now to come to Rev 17 and the Seven-headed Beast with ten horns and the Woman who is sitting on the Beast. This woman is the "Woman with the Cup" as she was universally understood in John's day as being Venus the promiscuous goddess of "love" (fornication and prostitution through her temple prostitutes) and "wrath" who drank the blood of her enemies from her cup. More can be said of the proof of her identity from the literature of Roman mythology at another time, however the worship of this woman by Pagan Rome was taken into the apostasy of Papal Rome as the Virgin Mary cultus with her vestal virgins, the celibate nuns.
Every teaching and "Mystery" that Pagan Rome embraced re-appeared in Papal Rome but with "Christian" terminology. Thus the "Image to the Beast", Papal Rome, is actually a worship of the "Queen of Heaven"—Venus, Semaramis, Diana, or Isis and all the other gods of Rome in the form of the "canonized" Virgin Mary and the "Saints" who comprise the new Papal Roman pantheon of mini-gods to intercede for worshippers.
4.) The seven mountains or hills—Rome was universally recognized to have been built on the Seven Hills of Romulus. Rome is the city which rules over all the world (Rev 17:18)
5.) The seven heads symbolize the kings of Rome, the Caesars, who ruled Rome in John's day until the fall of the Empire. (these are the powers that were "restraining" the manifestation of the "Man of Sin" which Paul refers to in 2 Thes 2). The meaning of the apocalyptic phrase "five have fallen, one is, and the other is yet to come" is a symbolic way to tell the apostle John that the reign of the Caesars is about to end, but there are still a few more Caesars to come in the future before they are "taken out of the way" (2 Thes 2:7) and replaced by the "eighth head"—the False Prophet—Papal Rome.
6.) After the Caesars are taken out of the way, the "ten horns" or divisions into which the Roman Empire was divided must reign and give their power to the "False Prophet", the Papacy—the "eighth" head. But eventually the people who have been made drunken by the "wine" of her false teachings will turn upon this "harlot", Papal Rome, and will withdraw their loyalty to her and help effect her physical fall at the end of the age. This spiritual fall is brought about by the "loud cry" of the Angel of Rev 18 which is the giving of the Gospel to all the world in the Judgment Hour setting, warning all to "come out of her my people". This restoration of the gospel message which was begun with the Protestant Reformation and which is being completed today will lighten the entire Earth with the brightness of its glory.
The final proclamation of the Gospel of justification by faith in Christ's imputed righteousness will effect the spiritual fall of Babylon by "drying up the River Euphrates". In the Judgment Hour all repentant sinners who call upon the name of Christ for forgiveness of their sins will be judged by the holy Law of God, but justified by faith in the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. This message will be finally given in the latter rain power of the Holy Spirit and the end of Babylon and the world will come.
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen