Rev. 17:1 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:
Rev. 17:2 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.
Rev. 17:3a So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness:
“fornication” = 4203. porneu/w porneuo, porn-yoo´-o; from 4204; to act the harlot, i.e. (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practise idolatry:—commit (fornication).
John lets us know that he recognizes the angel that is coming to talk to him next as an angel that poured out one of the seven vials. (Not that it matters, but I tend to think it was probably the fifth angel that poured out his vial over the kingdom of the beast.) This angel wants to direct John’s attention to a particular judgment and takes him “in the spirit” to a wilderness location to explain things to him. It is basically a summary of Satan’s war against God on planet earth through false religion—from its inception in Babylon to its destruction.
The judgment concerns a “great whore” that sits on many waters and who has committed fornication with the kings of the earth. She has made the inhabitants of earth drunk/intoxicated by encouraging them to practice idolatry and indulge in unlawful lusts. Jeremiah prophesied against Babylon using the same terminology.
Jeremiah 51:7&13 - Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad….O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.
Waters are used as representative of many things in scripture, but this is talking about nations and peoples according to verse 15 below.
We are also reminded of the message of the angel in Revelation 14:8: Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Rev 17:3b and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
A whore is a term used in reference to a sexually immoral woman, and it seems obvious that the woman and the whore are the same being. John sees a woman sitting on a scarlet colored beast; this is a picture of the fact that she is supported by and derives her power from the beast
This beast is full/swelled out with blasphemies and has 7 heads and 10 horns. This has a direct connection with the Dragon and the beast from the sea, Antichrist.
Revelation 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
There also seems to be a direct connection with the dream of the prophet Daniel regarding the four major world kingdoms significant to bible prophecy.
Daniel 7:23-27 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
It seems obvious to me that Babylon is directly connected to the kingdom of Antichrist. Note that Daniel says he will “devour the whole earth” and “wear out the saints.”
Revelation 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Daniel also prophesies that this beast will “speak great words against the most high” and will be allowed to rule for “a time and times and the dividing of time,” 3.5 years or 42 months. (Hebrew for time = “ a set time; technically a year”……for dividing = “a half”)
Revelation 13:5–6 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Daniel tells us that the kingdom of the beast will eventually be destroyed and the kingdom of the saints of the Most High established—as will be described in these last few chapters of Revelation.
Rev. 17:4 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 woman is wearing purple and scarlet colored clothes and is adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She is holding a golden cup that is filled with abominations (especially idolatry) and filthiness (moral impurities) that are part of her fornication.
Both purple and scarlet are associated with the high priest; it was one of the colors of the ephod, the girdle and the breastplate (Exodus 28:6,8,15). They were also colors used by royalty and the elite of society. This seems to indicate that she is associated with “religion” and a position of power and influence. She represents the religious authority that is supported by and exerts great influence in league with Antichrist/Satan.
I liked this comment by E. W. Bullinger in connection with this verse: “The cup is one. This tells us that the corrupt streams which flow from this one fountainhead are all one in essence, character, and effect. It is the religion originally instituted at Babylon, by Nimrod, at the instigation of Satan. It is seen in all the great religions of the world. They are all alike in substituting another God for the God of the Bible: a god made either with the hands or with the imagination; but equally made. And a religion consisting of human merit. These things are common to all systems of false religion, and unite them in one.”
I believe the writing in her forehead in the following verse affirms Bullinger’s statement. There is nothing good about these false religions; they all lead to eternal damnation.
Rev. 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Mystery – a secret or mystery, through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites (i.e., Satanism)
Babylon the Great
The Mother of: 1) Harlots and 2) Abominations of the earth
This woman called “Babylon the Great” is identified as the “mother” of harlots, all those prostituting the false religions of this world in rejection of worshipping the Almighty God, the One true God. I think it is important to note that it is as the originating source of these false religions, she is also credited with originating the “abominations of the earth.”
The Greek for abominations directly identifies idolatry. The idolatry promoted by these false religions encouraged its participants to worship false gods using practices that directly violated the morals established by God Almighty. The worship of these false gods justified prostitution and drunkenness. The murder of children was justified in the form of qualifying as sacrifices pleasing to these false gods.
Paul specifically addressed God’s response to these practices in his letter to the Romans.
Romans 1:20–32 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
The comparison to the attitude predominant in much of the world is too obvious to ignore. I can’t help but focus on the moral culture of my own country, America, especially in light of the biblical principles upon which our nation was established. I was born in 1951 and grew up in a time in which those principles were still embraced by the nation as a whole. I memorized Psalm 23, 24, 100 and the Christmas story from Luke 2 as part of school assignments. The Bible was removed from the schools in 1963 and the moral decline of our nation has tracked steadily downward with ever increasing speed since then. As I read the passage in Romans above, I see God denouncing through Paul those things that are justified as acceptable today. In his letter to Timothy, Paul identifies such morals as characteristics of the end times that would precede the return of Jesus as King.
2 Timothy 3:1–5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
It is important to note that it was through the leadership of Nimrod at the tower of Babel that idolatry took root.
Genesis 10:8-11 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
That truth provides an interesting tie-in to the following verses in Zechariah.
Zechariah 5:6-8&11 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.
The ephah represents business transactions. The fact that the woman is described as wickedness indicates that Babylon will become the base of evil business operations. This is especially interesting since a worldwide base of wicked business practices could not have described the Babylon of Zechariah’s day. Today is a different story; and if, as I believe, the Antichrist establishes his economic base there, this would again have direct application to end times.
In reading through this section again, I thought the mystery could be the seemingly resilient nature of Babylon. She has featured prominently in past history in association with Nimrod’s kingdom and again as the empire that took Judah captive. God scattered the inhabitants of Nimrod’s kingdom by confusing the language of the people according to Genesis; Archbishop Ussher dates this at 2,242 BC.
Genesis 11:5-9 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Babylon, the capital of the empire that took Judah captive, was conquered by Cyrus and made part of the Medo-Persian empire; Usher dates this at 538 BC. If my understanding is correct, the rise of Babylon to world prominence in the tribulation period will mark her third rise to prominence. This would certainly defy historical precedence and present a “mystery.” I’m just convinced that it is an area of great satanic stronghold where he is allowed to exert great influence and where false religion holds sway. At the current time Islam is of significance on the world stage.
The “mystery” could also make reference to the many forms in which false religions have presented themselves. They have all, however, found unity in the fact that they all rejected and sought to usurp the authority of Almighty God.
Rev. 17:6 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.
The word drunk implies drenched or satiated. This woman was “drunk” from the blood of saints and the martyrs of Jesus; she was responsible for killing so many that she was drenched in their blood. John looked at her much the way we are drawn to watch “terrible” accidents or situations (e.g., 9-11-01) and try to process what we are seeing.
Rev. 17:7 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.
The angel asks John why he is looking at the woman with such wonder. The angel tells him that he will explain the mystery/secret concerning the woman and the beast that carries her, the beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. It is significant to note that the beast is carrying (lift, endure, sustain) her. This woman could have accomplished nothing in and of herself; she needs the support of the beast.
Rev. 17:8 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.
Rev. 17:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
Rev. 17:10 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.
Rev. 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
The angel goes on to explain to John that the beast carrying her “was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition.” We’ve already learned that the scripture uses the term “mountains” to describe both kings and kingdoms. Verse 18 below tells us that the woman is synonymous to a city, so it would make sense for the beast to represent not only Satan in the person of Antichrist but the kingdom she rules on his behalf. Reminder—Her sphere of authority is spiritual or religious, but that influence is powerful and results in economic prosperity as well according to chapter 18.
It’s like the angel is trying to help us understand by telling us that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains upon which she sits. Those seven mountains have had 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 (v10).” It would seem that this woman has held sway in each of these kingdoms—each one rooted in the false religion of Babylon of old, the place where Nimrod led the world of that time in rebellion against God and went on to establish his own religion in ancient Assyria.
Micah 5:5–6 And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
Why is the beast described as the beast that was, and is not, and shall ascend….? I think only the future will reveal the truth.
Arthur Pink has some interesting thoughts on this scripture: “….The various time marks here concern the beast in his relation to the earth. First, he ‘was’ i.e., on the earth. Second, he ‘is not,’ i.e., now on the earth…Third, he shall ‘ascend out of the bottomless pit’ (where he now is)….4th, he shall ‘go into Perdition.’ We learn then from this scripture that at the time the Apocalypse was written that the Beast ‘was not’ then on the earth, but that he had been on it formerly. Further, we learn that in John’s day the Beast was then in the bottomless pit but should yet ascend out of it….In John 17:12 Christ termed Judas ‘the Son of Perdition’ and in 2Thessalonians 2:3 we find that the man of sin is similarly designated….These are the only two places in all the Bible where this name occurs, is it not clear then that Judas and the Man of Sin are one and the same person?”
The unbelievers dwelling on earth will be filled with great wonder when this beast manifests himself to them. Why? Because of His miracles.
2Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders…
Those whose names are written in the book of life will not be deceived by his miracles in light of this same scripture.
Again, we are reminded of God’s omniscience. The names of those who comprise the book of life have been known since the foundation of the world. As stated in the notes on chapter 13, I believe all names are written in the book of life until they are blotted out at death (if not before) due to unbelief and rejection of God as Lord of their life.
Five of the kings (from John’s knowledge base I would presume) are fallen, one is, and the other is yet to come. Now he identifies the beast that was, and is not; he is the eighth king that rules one of the seven mountains and will end up in perdition.
This description makes it clear to me that we are talking about mountains as representative of kingdoms/empires—not the city of Rome (as I know many believe). Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece were the great empires of the past from John’s perspective. The Roman Empire would represent the ruling empire of John’s time. Then there is the kingdom yet to come. The king that rules the seventh kingdom only continues “a short space.” Now we are told that the beast will rule the seventh kingdom. Actually, the final king is one of the seven kings but is actually the eighth (which I think refers to the fact that Satan indwells the antichrist in the middle of the tribulation after his miraculous resurrection from the dead).
Why were other great kingdoms/empires of the world (e.g., the Ottoman’s) not included in Daniel’s/John’s visions? Because God is using the scripture to tell His-story as reflected through His dealings with the nation of Israel. After 70 AD that nation no longer existed. When Israel reemerged as a nation on the world scene in 1948, the stage was set for the rise of the last world kingdom that will precede the coming of Jesus as King.
It’s also interesting to note that point is made that those whose names are not written in the book of life will be filled with awe at the resurrection of the Antichrist. Again, this implies that those whose names are in the book of life will not be so awestruck because they will understand what is happening through the revelation of God’s word.
Rev. 17:12 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.
Rev. 17:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
Now we get into more of an explanation of the seventh kingdom—the one that is yet to come. This kingdom is represented by the ten horns/ten kings which have not yet received their kingdoms. When they do get their kingdoms, they will only “continue a short space” (cf vs. 10), one hour. They will rule with the beast/Satan willingly deferring to him as the supreme authority because they are of one accord; they have the same principles and goals. Verse 14 identifies their main goal—to “make war with the Lamb.” This Lamb is clearly identified in scripture.
John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
One cannot objectively assess global worldviews today without having to acknowledge that this goal aligns with those views. The United States of America has exerted an ever-growing influence toward achievement of that goal. We were basically recognized as a “Christian nation” because our government was founded upon biblical principles. Our president (Obama) has made a point of stating to the world that we are not a Christian nation, and we are leading the way in promoting moral degeneracy and rebellion against God.
The buzzword of the day is “tolerance.” True Christianity at its root is not tolerant because it identifies Jesus as the “only” way to salvation. Those pushing for the new world order that will set the stage for the rule of antichrist consider biblical Christianity as the greatest detriment to the achievement of their goal. Most disturbing to me is that those professing themselves to be Christians are contributing to their efforts by attacking the truth of the word of God and denigrating the sacrifice that Jesus made to atone for our sin.
Though most of the news making headlines today grieves me, I have hope. Not hope as the world defines it, but the hope of scripture—a confident expectation of the fulfillment of God’s word. I know these headlines are proclaiming the soon return of my Lord as King. The angel explaining things to John boldly declares, “the Lamb shall overcome them.” (cf v14 below)
Because God in His sovereignty has allowed man the privilege of choice and allowed Satan and his followers their time of influence with limited authority, many deny that He is sovereign and in control if they acknowledge His existence at all. Because God does not fit their ideas of who He should be and how He should act, they deny Him. Their refusal to accept the truth does not change the truth. God is LORD both in heaven above and on earth beneath—in fact, throughout His creation. His purposes and ways are far beyond our understanding.
Deuteronomy 4:39 “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”
Isaiah 55:8–9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:10–11 “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Note that Isaiah declares the word of God to be just as sure as the rain and snow that fall to the earth to water it and allow it to produce food for us all. Whether or not we can understand all that He tells us in His word, we can be sure that everything God has told us will come to pass just as He has foretold.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
We can say just as surely today as Solomon proclaimed when he dedicated the temple, “there hath not failed one word of all his good promise.” (IKings 8:56)
I especially rejoice in the last part of verse 14, “they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” I am confident that I am one of those that will be with Him.
I think it is at this point that you have to bring in Daniel 2 and 7 since they are directly connected to this section in Revelation.
Daniel 2:1 & 26-45 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him….The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Daniel 7:1–28 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.”
These prophecies reveal more about the beast and his horns. The fourth kingdom in Daniel 2 is the Roman Empire. (See journal on Daniel for more detail.) The reason we refer to the seventh mountain (vs. 9) as the Revived Roman Empire is because the toes are part of the fourth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. The stone (Jesus) crushes the whole image (the resulting composite of all the kingdoms combined) and becomes a great mountain (kingdom) that rules the whole earth. The toes obviously originated from the remains of the fourth kingdom. Otherwise, you would have expected Daniel to describe five different kingdoms, instead of four. The reign of Messiah is obviously yet to come; He didn’t come to reign at the end of the “Roman Empire” as we know it.
In Daniel 7 we are dealing with a vision that was given to Daniel personally that describes four beasts that are contemporaries that merge to form the kingdom of the Antichrist. Daniel tells us that the fourth beast/kingdom begins with ten kingdoms/kings, and then an eleventh one appears and subdues three. This would seem to correspond to the eighth king that is of the seven in verse 11 of this chapter.
Observations about this little horn:
In light of these scriptures and our study to this point, I believe there will be a powerful ten-part confederacy that first comprises the coming new world order. The Antichrist will begin His rise to supremacy by in some way taking control of three of these parts. He will suffer an apparently fatal wound but will miraculously be resurrected from the dead. He will declare himself to be God and relentlessly persecute any that reject Him and choose to follow God. Mercifully, his reign will be limited to 3.5 years, the last half of the tribulation period.
Rev. 17:14 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.
These = the Antichrist/Satan/beast and his allies
The Lamb = Jesus, the Lord of lords and King of kings
Point is made that it will be the Lamb, Jesus Christ, that defeats Satan and his armies. The Lamb will also have his armies with Him—those who are called (invited, appointed, especially a saint), chosen (selected, by implication favorite, elect) and faithful (trustful, believing, true)—we believers, but we will not be required to fight.
Rev. 17:15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
The angel clarifies at this point that the waters in verse one represent many peoples, nations and languages. David Guzik points out that “this tells us that the harlot’s influence is worldwide, through her connection to the beast. This will be a truly one-world religion.”
Rev. 17:16 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.
Rev. 17:17 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.
Interestingly enough, the angel declares that the ten horns/kings that have been delegated authority under the Antichrist will hate the whore. I think it is because they will not like the fact that this religious leader is allowed to have such influence on world business practices. In fact, in accordance with God’s own purposes, they will bring about her destruction. I believe the following words of the prophet Jeremiah refer to this destruction.
Jeremiah 51:27–30 “Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers. Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion. And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken.”
Babylon was not destroyed by the Medes and Persians when they conquered Babylon in 539 BC as recorded in Daniel. Because of the statement of complete desolation, I believe this has to be referencing Babylon’s future destruction. The context in Jeremiah seems to be indicating that her destruction will come at the hands of those ruling the land of the Armenians and Medes and the area around the Black Sea (where the descendants of Ashchenaz settled).
The verses in Revelation seem to indicate that those who destroy the false religious system have the approval of the beast. Once she has served his purposes in getting all the nations to worship him, she becomes expendable. I am reminded that though the kingdom of the beast will be rooted in Babylon, he will eventually establish his throne in Jerusalem.
2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
John MacArthur makes a thoughtful observation in his commentary regarding the dissension in the kingdom of Antichrist.
“… Satan is finally going to wake up and realize that he can't do this thing to defeat Christ, he has no chance at all unless he pulls this division together. So he does. And he makes her desolate. That is, I believe, he robs the system of its wealth, its treasure, its power. Leaves her absolutely naked, he strips the system bare. Takes it all. The religious system of the world is left with nothing. And by the way, the False Prophet cooperates in this and moves over...this False Prophet isn't dumb, he wants a job and so the job left is to be the one who points to the beast.
"He eats her flesh." What does that mean? Everything is gone. Everything is consumed. There's not a vestige of the former false religious system left on the face of the earth. He is the new God, the new king, the new ruler, the new idol. There's nothing left. And even what may be the residue, the bones, if you will, of the consumed harlot are burned with fire.” [end MacArthur quote]
I think it is important to understand that God’s purpose for Babylon’s destruction will be accomplished by the actions of wicked people. As Christians, I think we sometimes forget that truth. God is sovereign and will still be in control during Satan’s reign of evil in the person Antichrist. In His omniscience, He has ensured that His purposes be accomplished—sometimes through the choices and actions of the wicked. Because these wicked men are acting in accordance with their own desires, they will still be held accountable for those actions.
It’s also important to note that Antichrist will be allowed to reign “until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (v17). I love the way God declares this truth through the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 14:24 “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand….”
Isaiah 46:9–10 “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure….”
Many teach that this is a reference is to Rome and the Roman Catholic Church. I understand their rationale, but I believe the fact that she is identified as the “mother of harlots” and is specifically identified with Babylon negates that possibility. The fact that the ranks of Islam are quickly rising and that the base of this future religious authority is in Babylon is thought-provoking at least. The fact that those who are killed for refusing to worship the beast and rejecting his mark are beheaded…
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
…readily identified with Islamic “justice,” provides even more food for thought in that connection. Only the future will reveal the truth, and believers of that time will understand. Frankly, I think it references a one-world religion that will assimilate practices of the major false religions of our day that will once again establish its seat of influence from the place that false religion was birthed.
It is important to understand that the false religion of Babylon has always been under the sovereign oversight of God. This thought is troubling to some. Truth is, however, that God in His sovereign will chose to give man freedom of will even though He knew that man would choose to rebel against Him and follow the lead of the very first rebel—Satan. I believe He did that because He wanted a love relationship with us; He wasn’t interested in a relationship with programmed robotic creatures. In His omniscience He planned for man’s redemption before creation. That plan would require that His people suffer times of judgment and discipline that He would often accomplish using the desires and choices of wicked men that chose to reject Him. All of these wicked men were followers of the false religions that were birthed in Babylon.
Rev. 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Now the angel tells John that the woman is “that great city” which rules over the kings of the earth through spiritual deception, and I believe that city to be Babylon. As stated in the comments on verse 5, I think the prophet Zechariah supports this conclusion.
I read an article by Noel Chartier entitled “Who is the Woman of Revelation 17?” in which he also concludes that this is a reference to actual Babylon. He states: “This great city must have existed prior to the five “fallen” kingdoms (represented by the seven heads of the beast) in order to exercise her influence over them. It is said that she “reigneth” (Greek echo: to have or hold in possession) over all the kings/kingdoms of the earth. This would disqualify the Roman Catholic Church for it would be impossible for her to reign over the five kingdoms prior to the Roman Empire for she did not exist before the Roman Empire. ….We must remember as well that the beast that carried her ‘was, and is not and shall ascend (v8). It appears then, that when this eighth kingdom ascends to power, she too will be exalted as the great and mighty city of the beast.”