Revelation Chapter Seventeen
Introduction: It will be most helpful to review again the time setting of Revelation Seventeen so that we do not get lost in the process. Revelation Thirteen tells us of the development of the Beast – the RCC, the Two Horned Beast – The United States, and the Image to the Beast – Apostate Protestantism which has chosen to follow the belief system and the behaviors of the RCC. Revelation Fourteen tells us of the opposite system of worship – the
1And 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:
Author: In verse one we are taken back to the definition of a woman – which prophecy says is a church. (II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:2-32). This church is not in right relationship with her husband – Jesus – for the Scriptures call this woman/church a whore. (See Ezekiel Sixteen for the process of changing from a faithful wife to a whore. She sits on many waters which Revelation 17:15 are “peoples, multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” This is the same concept as the Beasts that come up out of the sea in Daniel 7 and the Leopard like Beast (the RCC) of Revelation 13:1-10.
2With 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.
Author: The illegitimate lovers of the Whore of Revelation 17:1are the kings of the earth. As the apostate church (II Thessalonians 2:1-3; Acts 20:28-31) falls away from her husband – Jesus – she commits fornication with the kings of the earth, and thus becomes the whore. As a result of this fornication she gives the inhabitants of the earth the byproducts of her fornication – false doctrine. When the inhabitants of the earth drink this chaos and confusion they become drunk – unable to process spiritual data properly and accurately and thus come to wrong conclusions about God, church, and truth. (Matthew 15:1-9 and 10-20).
3So 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.
Author: So one of the angels carries John away into the wilderness. This wilderness is connected to the pure woman in Revelation 12:6 and she fled into the wilderness to get away from the dragon. Ellen White also states that the dragon can be interpreted as the kings and rulers of the world. See Testimonies to Ministers page 38:
“In the scene representing the work of Christ for us, and the determined accusation of Satan against us,
Joshua stands as the high priest, and makes request in behalf of God's commandment-keeping people. At the same time Satan represents the people of God as great sinners, and presents before God the list of sins he has tempted them to commit through their lifetime, and urges that because of their transgressions, they be given into his hands to destroy. He urges that they should not be protected by ministering angels against the confederacy of evil. He is full of anger because he cannot bind the people of God into bundles with the world, to render to him complete allegiance. Kings and rulers and governors have placed upon themselves the brand of antichrist, and are represented as the dragon who goes to make war with the saints--with those who keep the commandments of God and who have the faith of Jesus. In their enmity against the people of God, they show themselves guilty also of the choice of Barabbas instead of Christ.”
This woman sat upon, controlled, a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having, seven heads, and ten horns. This beast is very similar to the beast of Revelation 13:1-2 but there are some significant differences. This beast is not identified as a composite beast and there are there are no crowns on its heads, and it is scarlet. At the same time it is similar in that it has seven heads, ten horns, and it is full of names of blasphemy. (Please see Revelation 13:1-4 to identify the issues of heads, horns, and blasphemy). The issue of this beast not being a composite beast is that it is the Apostate Protestant Churches united against Jesus, and His people, in the
4And 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:
Author: This woman/church was arrayed in purple and scarlet, the colors of the Papal system of sanctuary worship, not the Jewish system of sanctuary colors for the colors of the Old Testament Sanctuary service are purple, scarlet, and blue the color of the laws of God. (Exodus 25:1-8; 38:18-23; Numbers 15:37-41).
She has in her cup abominations, and the filthiness of her fornication. A cup is to partake of an experience of joy and light and insight (Genesis 40:11-13; II Samuel 12:3; Psalm 16:5; I Corinthians 11:25-28), or it can be a cup of judgment (Psalm 75:8; 116:13; Jeremiah 25:15; 51:7; Ezekiel 23:33; Matthew 20:22-23; 26:39-42; Revelation 14:10). The cup that the whore offers is full of abominations – all those things that the RCC and the Image to the Beast have taught and will teach where they violate the truths of the Bible through the traditions of men. (Several abominations would be eating unclean foods Leviticus 11:10-42; the desire to worship heathen images Deuteronomy 7:25-26; mistreatment of the things and ways of God Ezekiel 22:1-12). All of these things the great whore teaches to the world, and encourages them to drink of this error.
5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Author: God identifies this whore and tells us what name is written on her head. She is Mystery Babylon the culmination of the errors and attitudes of the Babylonian nation. She is a rebel, and the fountain of confusion and false doctrines. Her heritage is from the
6And 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.
Author: When John saw this woman/church he was struck with awe at the events that he was seeing in her. He marveled at the audacity of this woman, who once was so pure and now is so mean that she drinks the blood of Jesus saints, and His martyrs.
7And 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.
Author: The angel comes to John and poses the question of what he was marveling at. John was apparently marveling at the mystery of how she could fall from grace, and how could she become attached to that which she once fought against using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17). So since John wondered why, the angel would explain the mystery of who the woman was, and who the beast was.
8The 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.
Author: In this verse the angel states that the beast, upon which the woman was sitting, was, is not, and shall ascent out of the bottomless pit. All things in the Bible should be identified and interpreted through the Bible. In Genesis 37:29-30 God states that “is not” means that the perception is that something is dead, or in captivity. This is further stated in Genesis 42:13, 36. In this Scripture Joseph is stated by Jacob to be in the “is not” category or dead. In Genesis 42:36 Simeon, although a captive, is considered to be “is not”. With these texts in mind we can say that this beast was a live, and then went into a death state, or a state of captivity, and then was resurrected, and was brought back to life, or freedom. This state of being perfectly describes what happened to Rome in Revelation 13:3-4, 12 and what happened to Egypt and Sodom in Revelation 11:8. These kingdoms/philosophies were once killed and yet they live on in concept and in influence. So this beast had an experience like that of Papal Rome, Egypt and Sodom in that is was wounded to death, and yet lives, but will go into perdition – that state of being which means that they will be lost and will not go to heaven with Jesus. (John 17:12; II Thessalonians 2:3; I Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; II Peter 3:7).
God says that all of the world will wonder after this beast in the context of being fascinated enough to follow it, and the woman, rather than Jesus. All who do so will not be found with their names written in the book of life. (See Revelation 13:8; 3:5; 21:27).
9And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
Author: Here is another one of the mysteries of the Bible. The Bible states that the seven heads are seven mountains, or a perfect kingdom. And the woman controlled this kingdom. One of the ironies of life is that literal Jerusalem was built on seven mountains, literal Rome was built on seven mountains, and Washington DC was built on seven mountains.
10And 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.
Author: The angel goes on to explain that the seven mountains and the seven heads can also be seen as seven kings. In this description, the seven kings, seems to identify seven kingdoms which make up the historical application to this beast. There are many lists of who these kings/kingdoms can be. It is this writers’ belief that the seven kings are Egypt, Israel, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome – Pagan and Rome Papal. I get this thought from a quotation in the book Education page 179:
The crown, in this case, the control of the leading kingdom of the world, came through Israel to Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. It is this writer’s belief that Israel received the crown from Egypt, then the greatest nation on the earth. When God defeated Egypt in the battle of the Red Sea, then the crown passed to Israel, and when Babylon conquered Israel the crown passed on, and on until it came to Jesus the King of the Jews, for He was crowned with a crown of thorns symbolizing that He was the King of even the rebellious ones – those of us who have sinned against Him. (Ezekiel 2:1-8).
So the five that were fallen were Egypt, Israel, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece. The one that was, was Rome Pagan which transitioned into Rome Papal. (Revelation 13:2 - when the dragon – Pagan Rome gave Papal Rome its power, seat, and great authority). The one that was yet to come was Rome Papal, in its resurrected form, united with Apostate Protestantism, and the United States.
11And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
Author: Because Papal Rome received a death wound (Revelation 13:3; Daniel 11:40; Great Controversy 579) and was resurrected it is the eighth. Eight is a symbol of rebirth or renewal. (There were eight people in the ark, a male child was circumcised on the eighth day Leviticus 12:3; dedication of the altar Ezekiel 43:26-27; symbol of the establishment of the covenant Acts 7:8). So the Papacy is resurrected in the form of the Image to the Beast and it will be condemned to hell fire for the evil it attempts to accomplish in Revelation 13:13-18.
12And 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.
Author: The ten horns of this beast have not yet come up. The ten horns on the Roman beast came up in around 430-470 AD when Pagan Rome was fracturing and preparing for the entry of Papal Rome in 508-538 AD. The ten horns of this future beast have not yet come up but when they do they will receive power for a short period of time with the Beast.
13These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
Author: These horns, kings, kingdoms, will give their mind, power, and strength to the beast. They will invest their all in the Image to the Beast. They will not give anything to God, their Creator.
14These 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.
Author: These kingdoms will be convinced by the Harlot that God, and His people, are the true enemy of the earth. They will repeat the story of Caiaphas stated that it is better for one person, or in this case one small group, to die than for the whole nation to die. (John 12:45-54). They will condemn the Christians who will accept the Word of God as the highest statement of authority and will not accept the testimony of Pope, Prelates, Pastors, or the state when it comes to spiritual issues. They will be obedient to the state where it does not infringe on the commandments of God, but will always be obedient to God first. (Matthew 22:17-21; Mark 12:14-17; Luke 20;22-25; 23:2; Matthew 15:1-9; Acts 5:17-33). But the Lamb of God – Jesus the Lord of Lords and King of Kings shall overcome the world and deliver His people as He did in Exodus 14-15 at the Red Sea. Those people who have chosen to respond to God’s invitations are called the Chosen, and the Elect. (Isaiah 45:4; Matthew 24:22-31; Mark 13:20; I Peter 1:2).
15And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
Author: This is the definition of waters – peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. (See also Isaiah 8:5-8; Jeremiah 2:18).
16And 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.
Author: The ten horns, which are yet to come, will eventually come to the point that they are no longer deceived by the Whore and will turn on her and destroy her. This is very similar to the fate of Jezebel the antitypical whore, and her daughter Athaliah. (See I Kings 21:1-24; II Kings 9:20-37; II Kings 11:1-16).
17For 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.
Author: When the people see that the righteous are protected by God they will recognize that God is watching over these people that the Whore said were a problem. They will then recognize that God was trying to talk to them but the Whore preached unto them “peace and safety” and they were willing to receive a lie and now understand that they will be lost. (I Thessalonians 5:1-3; II Thessalonians 2:7-12; II Timothy 3:1-8; 4:1-4).
18And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Author: The great Whore is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth in the end. In Daniel 9:16, 20 God says that His city is Jerusalem. He loved Jerusalem until she turned on Him and on His people. (Matthew 23:37-39). When she murdered her Lord, and His people, and prophets, she became an abomination of desolation and was no longer to be a part of His people, unless they repented and came to Jesus in faith. (Romans 11; Romans 2:28-29; Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 3:6-9, 26-29). God’s true city is what is has always been, the New Jerusalem above. (Galatians 4:21-26; Hebrews 11:8-16; Revelation 21:2-4). It is our privilege to accept the promises of God so that we will not be found outside of that beautiful city (Revelation 21:23-27) and join the ranks of those who have rejected Jesus and His truth. Let us stay faithful, and patient, keeping the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12).