In the Bible, the Greek world empire is symbolized by a leopard with four heads and four wings. (Illustration 7.5) The wings symbolize the rapidity of his conquering, and the number four symbolizes that the leopard took over power and a cultural heritage from the four previous world empires. The leopard's four heads symbolize the four divided kingdoms which his generals ruled over after Alexander's death.
The heads also symbolize that the kingdoms are governed with royal power. In the sub-kingdom Syria, a very wicked ruler arose in time, named Antiochus Epiphanes. By his act of desecrating the temple in Jerusalem (during the years 175-165 B.C.) he became a significant forerunner to the coming Antichrist. Jesus himself made reference to this historical event when he spoke of the persecution of Christians and Jews in the end times. (Matt. 24:15-22, see also illustration 5.7)