THE BOOK OF REVELATION, Chapter 17
[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
17 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
The angel is offering John further insight into the events of the fifth bowl. This is not a literal woman, spoken of here. When the Bible speaks of a harlot, symbolically, it is referring to a city or nation that has turned away from its commitment to God. The many waters are identified in verse 15 as peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. Verse 5 calls her “The Mother of Harlots”, which suggests that she had the closest relationship with God before turning from Him, or that she also nurtures others in spiritual prostitution. This is undoubtedly Jerusalem after it has become the command center of the Antichrist. (See also- Ezekiel 16:1-34)
Isaiah 1:21 says, “How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.”
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
This same description is given, in Revelation 14:8 and 18:3, when she is called “Babylon the great”.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
The fact that she is seated upon the beast shows that she has purposefully joined to the beast, which violated her relationship with God. She is not controlling the beast, she is simply receiving benefits from it.
The scarlet dragon from Revelation 12:3, and the beast from the sea in Revelation 13:1, also each had seven heads and ten horns. The first had seven crowns, and the second had ten crowns. There is no mention of a number of crowns on this beast. The first beast, or dragon, was Satan. The second beast was his global government. This beast is apparently the global government and the Antichrist which reigns over it. “Names of blasphemy” may refer to the Antichrist proclaiming himself god (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Daniel 11:36-37), or it could be referring to the general anti-God ideology of the beast-kingdom.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
The description of the woman shows her religious status, wealth, and willingness to partake of immorality. The Bible mentions purple and scarlet 29 times, with 3 of those concerning the harlot. The other 26 times, are in the book of Exodus, and concern the tabernacle of Moses, and the apparel of the priests. This signifies her religious role in the kingdom of the Antichrist.
Most attempts to identify this city, or nation, tend to focus on places that already fit that description. I believe, however, that she will obtain her status and wealth as a result of serving the beast.
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.
There is much debate on the identify of Babylon The Great. Some even suggest that it is allegorical or metaphorical. We see here that Babylon is the same as the great whore. To identify one, is to identify the other.
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
Literally, John wondered with great wonder. This would be difficult to interpret if Babylon were any city, or nation, other than Jerusalem. It is hard to grasp that the city of God (PS 87:1-3), will be the city of Satan.
7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
John did not marvel at the beast, or any previous beasts, but at the harlot’s actions, and relationship with the beast.
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
The beast will ascend from the bottomless pit some time before the two witnesses have finished their testimony (Revelation 11:7). It will be destroyed at the second coming of Jesus (Daniel 7:7-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).
The earth-dwellers are those whose names were not written in the book of life. This shows that God’s elect will not be deceived by the beast, and therefore, will not accept the mark of the beast.
9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
These are not literal mountains. We learned in chapter 13 that the seven heads are kingdoms, or governments. Seven mountains symbolize the seven kingdoms. The phrase “on which the woman sitteth” shows that they strongly affect the nation of Israel.
10 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.
This is still referring to the seven heads. The seven heads symbolize both, seven co-existing kingdoms, and seven consecutive kingdoms. This verse refers to the seven kingdoms that come in consecutive order. At the time of John’s revelation, five of the kingdoms were history (Egypt, Syria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece). Again, the phrase “on which the woman sitteth” shows that it only includes world kingdoms that strongly affect the nation of Israel.
11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
This is still referring to kingdoms, but it is also speaking of the Antichrist which will rule over Satan’s final world kingdom. In Revelation, this beast can refer either to the Antichrist, or his kingdom, which will be resurrected from a former kingdom.
12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
In verse 10, we saw that only one of the heads (along with the beast-kingdom) was in the prophetic future. Here we see that all ten horns are prophetically future.
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
The ten horns are ten kings which reign during the end-times global government. The Antichrist, however, will overpower three of these rulers, and rule over all ten. Daniel 7:1-8 gives some people the impression that the three kings will be destroyed, but we see in verse 16 that all ten kings still exist during the wrath of God.
These kings will not inherit, or earn, their position. It will be granted to them so that they may serve the beast. One hour is symbolic for a specific, and limited, amount of time.
14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
This does not occur immediately at the coming of Jesus, but occurs some time later, during the sixth and seventh bowls of wrath (Revelation 16:12-19).
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
There are many prophecies in the Bible which show that Jerusalem will be the world capital during the millennial reign of Jesus. During the time that Jerusalem is headquarters of the Antichrist, she will reign over peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues, and this may appear, to some, to fulfill prophecy,
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
In the beginning, the relationship between the woman and the beast will be mutually beneficial, but afterward, the true nature of the beast comes forth. Their hatred for the great whore appears to hinge on her religious role.
17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
That God put it in their hearts to fulfill His will, does not mean He took away their free will. They purposefully chose to hate the harlot, and to make war with the Lamb. God simply put it in their hearts to work with, and for the beast, to accomplish their own evil desires (James 1:13-15).
God will use the ten kings to execute His judgment against the city. Leviticus 21:9 says, “And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.”
18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Once again, Revelation refers to the great city. As we learned, in Revelation 11:8, the great city is Jerusalem. This will be at the time Jerusalem is the headquarters of the Antichrist, with the ten kings serving him.