Revelation's Seven Kings Are Rome's Seven Caesars
As we observed in our last post, in this most important series of posts, an iron representative republic is ever-prone to evolve into something positively nightmarish. While it has begun to do so right before our very eyes in today’s America, it began to do so in ancient Rome when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon.
Whereas the myth of Romulus and Remus provides us with the story, as fanciful as it may be, of the founding of the city of Rome, the story of the founding of the Roman Empire begins with Julius Caesar. The roots of Caesarism are to be traced back to the historical figure Julius Caesar, who crossed the Rubicon, conquered Rome militarily, and had himself proclaimed “Dictator in Perpetuity” or “Dictator for Life.” Caesar supplanted the quasi-republic of the aristocratic patricians, which was headed by a popular senate, and replaced it with a totalitarian empire headed by himself, and he deified to boot.
Julius Caesar claimed to descend from the gods. He claimed to be the descendant of Aeneas, a Trojan hero, who was supposedly the son of prince Anchises and the goddess Venus or Aphrodite. Aeneas was also portrayed in Roman mythology as an ancestor of Romulus and Remus, the legendary twin brothers credited with founding the city of Rome. After conquering Rome militarily and declaring himself to be “Dictator in Perpetuity” or “Dictator for Life,” Julius Caesar also proclaimed himself, “Divus Julius,” which means “Jupiter Julius,” after Jupiter, the chief god of the Roman pantheon.
One of Jupiter’s ancient epithets is “Lucetius,” which means “Light-Bringer,” and is eerily similar to Lucifer, the “day-star” or “son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12), who was worshipped in the ancient mysteries (the occult) as the “Light-Bearer,” the one who brought light—the knowledge of good and evil—to the world. By the time of Julius Caesar, Jupiter had become the supreme god of the Romans, equivalent to the Greek god Zeus, who was worshipped as the god of the sky. Jupiter was eventually and additionally worshipped in the Roman Empire as the god of light, who protected the empire by giving victory to its legions during war and by maintaining the welfare of its people during times of peace.
Is there any wonder that Julius Caesar, who had defiantly declared himself to be Rome’s divine dictator, was assassinated on the Ides of March (March 15) in 44 BC by conspiring Roman senators? Sixty men took part in the plotted assassination. Although Caesar was stabbed a total of twenty-three times, a physician at the time concluded that only one of the stab wounds actually proved to be fatal.
After Caesar was assassinated by senatorial conspirators led by Brutus (Marcus Junius Brutus) and Cassius (Gaius Cassius Longinus), civil war broke out between the conspirators, known as “the Liberators,” and Caesar’s avengers, Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius), Octavian, Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, and Marcus (Marcus Aemilius Lepidus). Once the Caesarian avengers defeated the so-called Liberators at the Battle of Philippi, resulting in the suicides of both Brutus and Cassius, the avengers began to war between themselves over control of the empire. All conflict and civil war was finally brought to an end, however, when Octavian invaded Egypt and defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra, who, like Brutus and Cassius, took their own lives in defeat. Upon Octavian’s victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra, by which he rid himself of all rivals and obtained for himself absolute power, the Roman Senate declared him emperor. They also gave him a new name, “Augustus,” which means “Great.” It is Augustus who historians point to as the first emperor of the Roman Empire, since he, unlike his adopted father, claimed to be Rome’s “First Citizen,” not its dictator.
Augustus, like all of his successors, adopted the name of his adopted father, Julius Caesar, as a title. Therefore, “Caesar” became synonymous with “ruler,” and ended up translated accordingly into other languages as well; such as, Germany’s “Kaiser” and Russia’s “Czar.” In addition to being dubbed ruler, Augustus Caesar was also deified and worshipped as the savior of the Roman Empire.
First, he was deified as “CAESAR DIVI FILIUS,” which means “Son of God.” In 29 BC, when Augustus Caesar dedicated the temple of the “Divus Julius” at the site of his adopted father’s cremation, he not only officially honored Julius Caesar as a “divus” god of Rome, but also officially declared himself to be a descendant of the “Julian star” and the “Divi Filius”—the divine son of god.
Second, Augustus Caesar was not just worshiped as divine, but also as Rome’s savior, since he was perceived to have saved the Roman Republic from despotism, not to mention credited with raising it from being a mere conglomerate of human effort to something absolutely divine—the Roman Empire. It is this deifying of the empire and its emperor as the embodiment of its divinity that gave birth to Rome’s Imperial Cult. Henceforth, oaths were taken on the divine spirit of the emperor, the emperor’s image was publicly adored, and the worship of his image became a requirement for Roman soldiers and eventually for all Roman citizens.
It is prudent, I believe, to pause at this point to point out a most salient point. Rome’s Imperial Cult, with its emperor or Caesar worship, is undoubtedly the historical background of the biblically predicted end-time worship of the Beast—this fallen world’s end-time emperor, who will serve as its final Caesar (Revelation 13:1-15, 14:9, 11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).
It was the Imperial Cult that transformed Rome's republican system of government into a 'de facto' monarchy, by providing a soft glove for the emperor’s iron fist. Seen as the embodiment of the divine state and a deity in the Roman pantheon, all opposition to the emperor became tantamount to treason against the Roman Republic and apostasy against the official state religion. Furthermore, since the emperor was elected, either by the army, the senate, or both, he was seen as the tribune of the people, making all enemies of the Roman Emperor enemies of the Roman people.
It was this trio of tributes—the embodiment of the divinity of the Roman Empire, a deity in the Roman pantheon, and the tribune of the Roman people—that resulted in the immunity of the Caesars from all criticism and accountability. It is also what enabled them to become the greatest dictators of all time, while at the same time being worshiped and adored by their subjugated devotees.
According to the book of Revelation, a final Caesar is soon to come, who, under this same trio of inoculating tributes, will also be granted immunity from all criticism and accountability. Although he will prove to be the greatest dictator the world has ever known, the whole world will, as the Bible predicts, worship him and wonder after him (Revelation 13:3-4).
As “cultus”—a man “cultivated” into a god upon his coronation and deification (apotheosis) by the senate—the Roman Emperor was expected to balance the interests of the Roman military, senate and people, as well as to maintain peace, security and prosperity throughout an ethnically diverse empire. This necessitated the emperor’s adoration of, or at least acquiescence to, the diverse deities and mores (traditions) of the Roman people. The Imperial Cult, therefore, was inseparable from the various gods of the Roman pantheon and the pagan religious practices and traditions of the Roman people. Any opposition to either was treasonous, since it imperiled the Pax Romona (Roman Peace), which was seen as a divine miracle bestowed on the Roman Empire by the gods of the Roman pantheon, so long as they were appeased by the due reverence of the people and the people’s dutiful observance of pagan rites and rituals.
To some degree, one could say that the Imperial Cult served as an ancient version of today’s political correctness and woke culture. It was the Roman Empire’s way of protecting unity within diversity by coercing its citizens into conformity to syncretism and multiculturalism. The spirit of ancient Rome’s Imperial Cult, or as the Bible labels its last days’ manifestation—the spirit of antichrist—is definitely alive and well in present-day America, where our government is now attempting to protect our national unity within diversity by coercing our citizenry into conformity to syncretism and multiculturalism. Anyone refusing to adhere to our country’s official cult, the belief that all cultures and religions are equally valid, and that none are superior or inferior to another, is quickly condemned in today’s America as a threat to our national security and an imperiling menace to the peace of our diverse society.
A good example of the spirit of ancient Rome’s Imperial Cult being alive and well in present-day America is the election of Barack Obama to the White House in 2008. Obama was dubbed by adoring supporters as “the one,” “the truth,” and even “our lord and savior.” He stated before his election, in his most important speech ever on the subject of religion, the following foreboding words in his much ballyhooed syncretistic screed: “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religious-specific values.” In other words, Barack Obama believes that the only religion acceptable in America is one that is offensive to no faith and universally acceptable to all faiths. It is a faith that is conformable with and compatible to all other faiths; a faith within which sound doctrine and sincere convictions are forbidden for the sake of national unity and the promotion of peace and goodwill in our pluralistic society.
Interestingly, during his two terms in the White House, President Obama unconstitutionally circumvented both our constitution and congress by dictating policy by executive fiat, an unconstitutional practice that our present president has carried to new heights, by dictating policy by executive fiat that is not only in defiance of congress and our constitution, but also in defiance of recent Supreme Court rulings and past precedents. Yet, despite such unconstitutional and dictatorial governance, Mr. Obama never ruffled the feathers of his adoring devotees, who continue till today to worship and fawn over him as their “divus,” deified one.
The Julio-Claudian Dynasty, which is the Roman Empire’s first and most famous imperial dynasty, began with Augustus Caesar, who was not only Julius Caesar’s adopted son, but also his great-nephew. It continued through the four legitimate successors of Augustus Caesar—Tiberius Caesar (14-37 AD), Caligula Caesar (37-41 AD), Claudius Caesar (41–54 AD), and the infamous, Nero Caesar (54–68 AD). It is called Julio-Claudian because it is not a direct bloodline to and from Julius Caesar, since Tiberius, the adopted son of Augustus, was from the aristocratic Claudia gens.
The Julio-Claudian Dynasty ended abruptly with the suicide of Nero Caesar, who was succeeded by the usurper Galba, a man with neither claim to the Julio-Claudian bloodline or to the title Caesar. Consequently, he was assassinated by the Pretorian Guard only six months into his short reign.
In Revelation 17:10-11, we read the following enlightening and illuminating words: “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” The “seven kings” John writes about with his inspired pen in this passage are the seven Caesars of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. The seven include Julius Caesar and his five legitimate successors, plus the usurper Galba, who ended the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. If John, contrary to popular opinion, wrote Revelation during the time of Nero Caesar (68 AD), then, the first “five” Caesars had “fallen” and Nero Caesar was the “one” referred to as “is” in John’s day. Furthermore, Galba was the one yet “to come,” who would “continue” but for a “short” time, being murdered by the Pretorian Guard six months after usurping the title of Caesar. It is, however, the “eighth” and final Caesar, the soon coming deified and elected despot of the end times, that ought to demand our attention in these perilous times of the last days. In our next important post, in this most important series of posts, we will put him in our crosshairs, as we lower our aim from the iron legs of Nebuchadnezzar’s nightmarish image to its feet of iron and clay