Artist’s impressions of the apocalyptic ‘beast out of the sea’ from the Book of Revelations (whose number is famously 666). I really like some of that Christian apocalypse imagery, though for clarity I am an atheist. Each picture has particular comments.
The dragon 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. 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.
The ‘dragon’ here is often taken to be ‘Satan’, i.e. an antagonist to God who has existed for a long time, in contrast to ‘the beast’, which appears during the end times.
The beast is often interpreted as representing some past, present, or future political power - with the Roman Empire, the Papacy, and whoever-it-is-you-presently-want-to-demonise being the most popular candidates.
The mentions of lion, leopard, bear, and having ten horns recall a vision in the book of Daniel:
Daniel 7,3-7, 17, 23:
Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. The first was like a lion… a second… looked like a bear… another beast…looked like a leopard… and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth.
The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.
Some of the images show a similar-sounding, but not-necessarily-identical, beast which is seen being ridden by ‘the Whore of Babylon’:
…There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
'Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes, and of the abominations of the earth.'
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
Sources (several links go to Christian conspiracy-ish websites telling you how Obama is the antichrist or whatever; do I need to say I don’t endorse that?):
First image, via Luminousinsect, which inspired this post.
Second image, with reptilian tail
Third image, with lion-like heads
Fourth image, bright red and with Babylon
Fifth image, with seven heads like what ya done
Sixth image, with a triceratops head
Seventh image, with leopard-like heads
Eigth image, with the long necks from both ends