The dragon[a] stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. (Revelation 13:1-2)
In this part of John’s vision we take a break from the narrative that has unfolded so far to see a more in depth description about the forces of evil that will torment Earth during the tribulation period. Here we are presented with “the beast.” This beast is probably a person (Revelation 19:20), the great world leader that will rule the Earth with Satanicly derived power.
This passage, of course, is difficult to interpret because it contains a lot of symbolism. Here is what I think the images mean as best as I can tell.
The dragon, of course stands for Satan (Revelation 12:9). I am not sure what the sea represents. It could mean all the nations and tribes of the Earth, which will obey the beast. It could also mean that he will invade Palestine from the sea.
The ten horns and the ten crowns are ten kings, who will share power with the beast (Revelation 17:12, Daniel 7:7). They are the “toes” of the revived Roman empire (Daniel 2:42 NIV). The seven heads probably represent the seven kings that will be left after three of the original ten are overthrown (Daniel 7:8). The seven heads could also be the seven hills on which the city of Rome sits, and seven consecutive world empires (Revelation 17:9-10)
The blasphemous names on the heads represent the fact that the whole purpose of this kingdom is to blaspheme against God (Daniel 7:8)
The “beast” resembles certain parts of specific animals. These animals are symbolic of past world empires. I think this is implying that the beast will have some of the qualities of these now defunct empires. He resembles a “leapord” meaning that He will be able to conquer swiftly like Alexander the great (Daniel 7:6). He had feet like a bear, which must stand for the power of the Persian empire (Daniel 7:5). Finally the “mouth of the Lion” symbolizes the glory, and perhaps the blasphemy of ancient Babylon (Daniel 7:4).
This kingdom will really come one day and cause great destruction. Many of the details of this kingdom will not be understood until it comes.