The crowns are on the seven heads of Satan in Revelation 12, which is Rome at the time of Jesus birth. On the beast of Revelation 13, the crowns are the the ten horns. The dragon (Satan) and the beast of Revelation 13 from the sea (Mediterranean Sea) have the exact same governmental framework. Both have seven heads and ten horns. The continuity cannot be denied that Satan gives his authority to the beast from the sea. Those who worship the beast, also worship the dragon.
The problem with some of the Historicist view you are promulgating is that the beast is only given 3 1/2 years from the time that Satan gives him that authority until his demise. The difference in the placement of the crowns is crucial as you write. However, I disagree on the way you divide the transition. I believe in a future Roman Empire receiving its strength from Satan, being centered in the very area that the Old Roman Empire was located, East and West legs.
At the time of Christ’s birth, the Roman Empire was the power which tried to "swallow" the Messiah. Here the authority of the empire (the diadems) were still vested in the empire itself. The shift between the diadems on the heads being placed on the horns has not occurred. It will occur when Satan gives his authority to the beast at some point in the future. At that same time, ten kings will throw all their weight behind the beast, allowing for the vision to accurately portray ten diadems on the ten horns of the beast, rather than having seven diadems on the seven heads of the dragon.
The only place in scripture that I see the European Republics is in the devaluation of metals in the Colossus of Daniel 2. Babylon was a monarchy. Medo-Persia diluted this with a structure of presidents to accompany the royal rule. Greece was the original democracy. Roman rule introduced the idea of representative type rule. Early Romans emperors were elected. Here we have devalued governments to the iron phase. The last phase is a mixture of iron and clay, yet they don’t cleave to each other. This is what we see now. Some governments are turning to the softest type of government yet (like USA), while others want to hold on to military dictatorships.
Daniel saw the ten horned beast as digesting the previous three empires into its being. He simply saw a great iron beast with ten horns. He did not see the seven heads. When John sees the vision of the beast with ten horns, he is seeing the same beast as Daniel. Yet within the ten horned beast’s body are characteristics of the previous three empires. What Daniel saw as occurring in the future (the digestion of the previous three empires) John saw as a reality. John saw that the ten horned beast had indeed digested the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Greek Empire into its being.
The Roman Empire has never had a ten nation division within its boundaries. The ten nation division is yet future. Each vision of each beast was the beast in its final form. For instance, the Greek Empire had four heads, yet it did not start out as having four divisions. It was the Greek Empire in its final form. The Roman Empire will have ten kingdoms in its final form, so the vision that Daniel saw is accurate.
Egypt and Assyria have great importance in scripture. The five heads which were fallen were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece. The one which "is" at the time of John’s vision, was the Roman Empire. The seventh will be the Roman Empire in its ten nation confederacy. The eighth will be the antichrist himself as he leads the ten nation confederacy with all ten kings giving their authority to him for that final 3 1/2 year period. The ten kings don’t stop supporting the beast, they turn their back on the great prostitute, the city which rides the beast. This corresponds with the "Fallen is Babylon" passages.
The Roman Empire is very important. The papacy will undoubtedly play a role in the future re-establishment of Roman rule over the Mediterranean area. But the antichrist need not be the pope, and I believe cannot be the pope. He will be a political leader, a king, with ten kings giving their authority to him for 3 1/2 years. The false prophet may very well be a pope, pointing to a political leader. But we have a few other things that must be developed first.
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