"And 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 his 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." (Revelation 13.1-2)✞
Here we have a picture of John of Patmos looking out to the sea and seeing a beast emerging. The power of the Roman Empire beast represented the Caesars who controlled vast resources around the Mediterranean Sea, governed 70 million people and instituted Caesar worship as one of the ways of keeping control firmly in their hands. It was a divinely sanctioned authority. Caesar worship was, however, a blasphemy against God, the heavens, and the angels according to the Early Church.
By erecting these images of Roman gods in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, the Romans incurred the ultimate and extreme anger of the Jews. The Greek word used for God's "dwelling place" was "Skene," which meant a "tent" or a "tabernacle" or even "a place to dwell." "Skene" always reminded Jews of the Hebrew word "Shechinah", or "the dwelling of the glory of God." It may be that John was saying that the whole conduct of the Roman Empire, and particularly the institution of Caesar worship, was an insult to the glory or the Shechinah of God.✞
The term the Roman beast may indicate that John of Patmos was thinking of all the ways, not just those in his own time, in which the Roman Empire had insulted God and his dwelling place in Jerusalem. Some of the early Roman Emperors were embarrassed by Caesar worship, but not Emperor Caligula (12-41 AD), who was an epileptic and unfortunately more than a little mad. Caligula was nicknamed by his father's soldiers as "the little soldier's boot" when he accompanied them during campaigns in Northern Europe. For the first six months of his reign, he was by all accounts a noble and moderate ruler. After that, he became an insane tyrant. He took his divinity very seriously, insisting that he should be universally worshipped by all his subjects in the Roman Empire including Jews and Christians.✞