“The beast which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come out of the abyss and go to his destruction.” Revelation 17:8
In Daniel 7 the beast has its body destroyed and is thrown into the blazing fire when the Messiah returns to the earth. (Daniel 7:11; 13) How can Vespasian be the beast when Jesus didn’t return to end his reign? In fact, after the Jewish war ended Vespasian reigned six more years until his peaceful death in 79 AD. How can he be the beast when everything that was supposed to happen to the beast didn’t happen to him?
Is it possible that the beast is both the one who appeared in history using Vespasian and the one who inspires and possesses a future anti-Christ? The beast, according to the text above, is more than a human being; it is a creature of darkness that has been released in the past, now is restricted, and will be released again before the coming of Christ.
The Apostle John writes Revelation after one of the judgment events has already occurred in history (the fall of Jerusalem), and before the final one (after the second coming). John assures us that the beast who comes up out of the abyss, and once was (had already appeared), now is not (is not presently active in the world), yet will appear again before he is destroyed.
What Daniel sees is a composite of both comings of the beast. Just like Old Testament prophecies about Jesus are sometimes confusing because they don’t distinguish or even see two comings of the Messiah; Daniel can’t see two comings of the beast. He can only see what God shows him, so what he describes is everything that the beast will do until God destroys him.
In Daniel we’re told that after the beast changes Jewish law (Vespasian did this at the destruction of the temple), the saints will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time. (Daniel 7:25) This is a reference to his second appearance where John sees a future anti-Christ speaking “great blasphemies against God,” waging “war against God’s holy people and conquering them,” and being “given authority to do whatever he wants for forty-two months.” (Revelation 13:5-7) Revelation 12:14 calls this same period, “time, times, and half a time,” the same words used in Daniel seven.