The Beast with seven heads and ten horns, depicted above, is a symbolic picture of the world system of the Antichrist that will come into existence in the time of the end.
There are actually two Beasts of Revelation: the "nation-beast" depicted here (See Rev. 13:1-10) and the "man-beast" that we call the Antichrist (See Rev. 13:11-18).
At some point in time, a child will be born who will become "the man of sin, the son of perdition" (See II Thess. 2:3): the Antichrist. If time is as short as many, including us, believe, it's quite possible that he's already on the earth.
No one knows - or may know - for certain where he may be living - or who he may be - until the time comes that he is revealed (Again, see II Thess. 2:3). But, since we believe the church will be on earth until the end, it's important for us to be prepared for that time.
At the present time, the Holy Spirit is holding back, or restraining, the power of evil from taking full effect. Satan is presently limited in the scope of his power and authority. But, in God's perfect timing, he will pull back his restraining power and allow the Antichrist to show himself for who he truly is.
God will "let" the man of sin be revealed. Paul says, "the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan" (II Thess. 2:7-9).
At the beginning of the last seven years leading up to the return of the Lord, also called the last week of years, Daniel the prophet says the Antichrist will "confirm (a) covenant with many for one week (seven years)" (Dan. 9:27). It will be an agreement with both political and religious components.
It's quite possible that we will not know for certain when the covenant is confirmed; but in the "midst" of the seven last years, God will allow the Antichrist to be revealed. He will, however, only be revealed to those who know the Word of God; and who are alert and watching for the signs of the times.
An economic crisis will come upon the world that will set the stage, so to speak, for the rise of the Antichrist; and he will break the covenant he has confirmed (See Dan. 9:27). He will set himself up in power in the Middle East with his headquarters in Jerusalem (See Dan. 11:41 & 45). His armies will remain there for the last 3 1/2 years (See Luke 21:24 & Rev. 11:2). In his rise to power, he will "place the abomination of desolation in the holy place" (Matt. 24:15, Dan. 9:27, 11:31 & 12:11); and he will establish the Mark of the Beast (See Rev. 13:16-18).
It is these acts on his part: breaking the covenant, placing the abomination of desolation, setting himself up in power, and establishing the Mark of the Beast that will reveal him as the man of sin.
He will offer a plan that we commonly call the Mark of the Beast as a solution to the world's problems. When he established the Mark, there will be some that will refuse to go along with his plan. They will not take the Mark; and will be persecuted for the last 3 1/2 years (See Dan. 7:21 & Rev. 13:5-7) while he is in power.
The Antichrist will want to be worshipped (See Rev. 13:4) just as Satan wants to be worshipped (See Isa. 14:12-14); and he will issue a death sentence on those who refuse to take part in his plan (See Rev. 13:15).
The act of taking the Mark of the Beast is an act of worship. Those who take the Mark will, in effect be worshipping Satan - and the Antichrist - whether they see it as worship or not.
They will do the things that constitute - or make up - worship. They will see the Antichrist as powerful; and will be in awe of him. They will agree to abide by his will; and to live within the laws and regulations he sets forth. They will depend on him and his world system for their livelihood, their sustance, their protection, and their care. They will do business with others within the system of the Beast. They will "buy and sell" in accordance with the limitations he sets forth. They will do nothing outside his will and dominion. In effect, they will obey his commandments.
All of these things are acts of worship! The Antichrist will be their God; and they will be his people.
Scripture says the Antichrist will rise to power in the time of the end. As we've said, we won't know exactly where he will come from; but scripture does give us some general guidelines about where to look.
When he rises to power, he will have a mighty political and military system at his disposal, symbolized by the beast with seven heads and ten horns, that will support his efforts (See Dan. 11:31 & Rev. 13:4). No man could achieve world domination without such a world system.
It's possible he could rise up from within the European Economic Community, from within the United Nations, or from any number of other powerful nations on earth, including the United States. Any, or all of these, could give him the power base he will need.
The deceptiveness of Satan - and of the Antichrist - in these end times: in the days that lie ahead - cannot be overstressed. Things will not be what they seem to be! We must look beyond the surface; and discern the truth of world events - and discern the spirit behind them. We must consider everything that happens from a spiritual point-of-view.
Let's be alert to the signs of the times; and to the prophecies given to us in the Word of God. Let's not be deceived by the Antichrist who is truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's described in the Book of Revelation as having "two horns as a lamb," but he "speaks as a dragon" (Rev. 13:11). His true colors will come to be known by those who are alert and watching.
When the seven last years are over, God will see to it that the Antichrist "shall come to his end" (Dan. 11:45). Jesus will "destroy him iwth the brightness of his coming" (II Thess. 2:8). "And the beast was taken (who) deceived them that had received the mark of the beast; and them that worshipped his image (and he) was cast alive into the lake of fire" (Rev. 19:20).