The Scarlet-colored Beast
THE fourth or last beast seen by the apostle John in his apocalyptic vision was also the last to appear in modern times in the fulfillment of Revelation. Concerning it John wrote: “I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names and that had seven heads and ten horns. The wild beast that you saw was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction. And when they see how the wild beast was, but is not, and yet will be present, those who dwell on the earth will wonder admiringly . . . The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top. And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction.”—Rev. 17:3, 8-11.
Note the similarity of three of these beasts, the fiery colored dragon (Satan the Devil), the, wild beast that ascended out of the sea (Satan’s visible organization), and the scarlet-colored wild beast; each has seven heads and ten horns. The ten horns in each instance would picture complete power. As for the seven heads, however, in the dragon these picture his authority over the seven world powers through demon princes; in the wild beast out of the sea the seven world powers themselves are pictured by the seven heads, and in the scarlet-colored beast these seven world powers appear as seven heads belonging to a very modern organization or entity. This scarlet-colored wild beast could not be any single one of these seven world powers, for we are plainly told that it “springs from the seven,” also that it is an eighth. It would therefore have to include all of them in some form or another. What could this beast represent but that entity first known as the League of Nations and now as the United Nations? Is it not a worldwide organization as is Satan’s visible organization? Are not what remains of these seven world powers included in this world organization, and does it not in effect constitute an eighth world power? Its ten horns picture all the kings or rulers of earth.
How aptly the prophetic words “the wild beast was, but is not, and yet will be present” apply to the scarlet-colored beast! As the League of Nations it first was, its existence beginning on January 10, 1920. Then during World War II, from 1939 until 1945, to all intents and purposes this “beast” was not, for it was ignored by the nations of the world, although they did not formally decree its end until after the United Nations was formed.* Then, with the forming of its successor, this scarlet-colored beast again was present. And certainly for the last seventeen years the world has gazed admiringly upon this eighth world power, the United Nations.
What about the seven kings concerning which it was written, in John’s day, “five have fallen, one is, the other has not arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while”? These are the same seven world powers of Bible history and prophecy referred to in the symbolism of the dragon and of the wild beast that came out of the sea. In John’s day five of these had fallen: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. The sixth was then in existence, pagan Rome, which continued its existence later as the Holy Roman Empire, and one was yet to come, the Anglo-American world power, the two-horned beast. Its remaining for a short time indicates that the end of these powers is near.
This scarlet-colored beast appears in yet another form in the book of Revelation. This, however, should not seem surprising, since in Bible prophecy various persons and entities appear at times in more than one form, all of them appropriate and fitting, but used to show different aspects of a person, organization, nation or political entity. Thus we have noted that the seventh world power, the Anglo-American world power, is shown as the seventh head of the wild beast that came out of the sea, as the wild beast that has two horns like a lamb and yet has the voice of a dragon, and also as the false prophet because of its propaganda activities. So here with this scarlet-colored wild beast; it is also termed an eighth world power and, at Revelation 13:14, 15, “an image to the wild beast,” that is, to the sea beast: “And [the two-horned beast] misleads those who dwell on the earth, because of the signs that were granted it to perform in the sight of the wild beast, while it tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the wild beast that had the sword-stroke and yet revived. And there was granted it to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who would not in any way worship the image of the wild beast.”
According to this prophecy the two-horned beast, that is, Great Britain and the United States, told those dwelling upon the earth to make this image to the beast, the League of Nations. Do the facts of history bear this out? They certainly do, for, says The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 20, page 846, 1959 Ed., in its biography on Jan Christiaan Smuts, South African statesman: “After the  Armistice, Smuts wrote his Memorandum on the League of Nations, The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion (1918), which received the support of both President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George, and in substance became the Covenant of the League.” The latter two were, of course, the heads of the United States and Great Britain at the time. While the United States never did officially join the League, its head did indeed take the lead in telling the world to make this image to the beast. With the years the United States did in effect get in the back door of the League through its support of covenants and treaties promulgated by the League members. The evidence is even stronger that the heads of these two nations, or this dual world power, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, took the lead in causing the people of earth to bring this scarlet-colored beast out of the abyss of inactivity into which World War II had plunged it, in the form of the United Nations.
What about this scarlet-arrayed woman that is shown riding this beast of similar scarlet color? Throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22:17, a woman is used to picture an organization, and especially a religious organization. Thus unfaithful Jerusalem is described as a prostitute, and the faithful Christian congregation as a chaste virgin. (Isa. 1:21; 2 Cor. 11:2) This woman would therefore well picture false religion and, in particular, apostate Christendom, which professes to be espoused to Jesus Christ but has proved unfaithful to him as seen by her consorting with and making common cause with the governments of this world instead of waiting for Christ’s kingdom. To her the words of condemnation apply: “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” It is worthy of note that, whereas the King of kings, Jesus Christ, is shown as executing judgment against the various beasts, it is the ten horns or kings of the scarlet-colored beast that are shown bringing about the destruction of this false religious system, a precursor of which is seen in the avowed opposition of communism to all things religious.—Rev. 17:5.
Obviously, this thumbnail sketch, as it were, of the beasts of Revelation, could not touch on all the minute details. These, however, upon study will be found to be consistent with the foregoing, even as noted elsewhere in the publications of the Watch Tower Society.
Surely Jehovah God is causing light to shine upon his prophecies long ago recorded, in keeping with his promise that the path of his servants would grow ever lighter. Such is indeed reason for all his servants to have increased faith that He at all times has full control of world affairs and that the Bible is his inspired Word. It should strengthen their hope in the ultimate triumph of righteousness and assist them in serving God with the “form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father,” keeping themselves without spot from the world.—Jas. 1:27.
“During the war, the League practically ceased to function.”—The Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 17, page 142, 1956 Ed.