In Revelation chapter 13 John saw a beast with seven heads rising out of the sea, which symbolized the papal Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages. It blasphemed God and persecuted the saints for 1260 years (see What is the Beast with Seven Heads?). But at the end of that time it received a deadly wound: the French and Italian Revolutions of the late 18th and 19th centuries severely damaged the ability of the Roman Church to exercise military and political power, and took away its territory.
John next saw another beast with “two horns like a lamb” (Revelation 13:11). Unlike the first beast, which rose out of the sea (“peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues” Revelation 17:15), this beast rises out of the earth. The key to identifying the beast from the earth is the meaning of the symbol earth.
In Revelation chapter 12 the dragon, Satan, was pursuing the woman (the true Church) during the 1260 years of papal domination. “The serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman”, but “the earth helped the woman and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth” (Revelation 12:15,16). During the Middle Ages there was, for the first time in history, a sudden and dramatic increase in human population (the dragon spewed water out of its mouth), but with the discovery of the western hemisphere, God’s people could flee for safety (the earth swallowed up the flood). The earth represented the sparsely populated American continents. See section 12: 15,16 A Flood After the Woman in The Book for more details and scriptural support.
Thus it appears that this new beast with lamb-like horns arises from the relatively unpopulated Western Hemisphere. It comes into power after the forty-two months of authority of the beast from the sea, and after the beast receives the deadly wound. Obviously the United States of America is the country which arose in the western hemisphere and started to become a powerful nation after the 18th century.
The beast from the earth “exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:12).
This verse shows, first of all, that the two powers exist at the same time rather than one succeeding the other. Even though the Roman Catholic Church received a “deadly wound” which limited its ability to exercise military power, it did not in any way cease to exist, and in fact the Church prospered and grew, expanding into South America and Asia.
In 1928 Italy granted the Catholic Church sovereignty over Vatican City, so that she again became a legal political entity with diplomatic relationships with many of the nations of the world. This could be considered the beginning of the healing of the deadly wound.
The United States, as a Protestant nation that has a constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, has traditionally been antipathetic toward Catholic political aspirations. But Revelation 13 shows that this will change, and in fact it is changing rapidly before our very eyes.
The beast from the earth will “cause the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:12). The United States will be the chief ally of the revived Catholic/European power, and the major enforcer of its program. This will result in the Image to the Beast, the Mark of the Beast, the Number of the Beast (666) and finally the death decree, all supposedly done in the name of Christ.
For much more information and scriptural support read section 13:11,12 The Beast from the Earth and the sections that follow.