The beast with seven heads and ten horns described in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation is certainly an allegorical vision. The description seems to be very much like a mythological creature. It is clear to me that this description is designed to incite horror and fear.
The meaning of the number of the beast, 666, is unknown. Mathematically, however, the number has many interesting properties such as being the sum of the first 36 natural numbers (i.e. 1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 34 + 35 + 36 = 666).
The beast is depicted in this painting as a tearing – a spiraling laceration of the fabric of reality.
The tear resembles a slashing or brutal ripping apart -- like a dark bolt of lightning. Its action appears to be to destroy that which was joined together as a single piece of material.
The beast represents all that we call evil and destructive. Its ultimate reality is death and destruction. It appears to be spiraling out of control.
The figure of the person is symbolic of all humanity.
The tear can be seen two ways: either as emanating from the head (the mind) of the man or as attacking the head (the mind) of the man.
When you ponder the possible interpretations of this image, the tear is most likely doing both – emanating from the man’s head and also attacking the head.
The important question is: how does this story apply to us today?
The real evil in today's world is like a mythological beast that tears things apart. Rather than bringing people together in one community, this beast divides and separates, pitting one faction against another.
The message of Christ is all about being one -- one with one another and one with God.
That oneness is what we should strive to manifest throughout all aspects of our lives.
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