If all of the religions of the world were joined into one global “super church”, what would such a conglomeration look like? More importantly, how would the Lord view such a thing? We really don’t have to wonder long, as we are told exactly what this union would look like, and how the Lord will view it in the 17th chapter of Revelation. It is referred to as the “great whore” upon whom judgment is going to come in verse 1. This ungodly, evil “woman” is seen riding a “scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” She is seen “riding” upon this wild, vicious beast, indicative of the fact that early on in the Great Tribulation, no doubt within the first three and one-half years, this “woman” to a great extent will greatly influence, if not control the “Beast”; which of course will be the political system with the “Great Whore” being the religious system.
We laid out quite a bit of history last time concerning the ancient Babylon mystery cult of Nimrod with his wife Semiramis, and her supposed miraculously conceived son, Tammuz. We showed the link with this coming into the early church, and the fact that these pagan rites and practices have been retained until this present day in the Roman Catholic Church in general, and in the Papal system specifically. I know that is a controversial statement in today’s atmosphere of “tolerance” for all and every belief system. For example, we have Christian leaders who seem unable or unwilling to identify what it means to be a Christian, and exactly how one gets to Heaven. Yet scripture is quite clear. Jesus said,I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.[John 14:6] Again, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. [Acts 4:12] And, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [Rom. 10:9] What is difficult to understand here? It is crystal clear, and every Christian has the responsibility to know the Truth and be able to articulate it to a lost and dying world. [See 1 Peter 3:15] Wouldn’t you think this should be especially true for those leading congregations as Pastors?
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. [verse 6 KJV] Compare this with verse 2. Not only are the nations made “drunk” by her, but she herself is intoxicated with the blood of martyrs and her acts of persecution. Even though I do not believe that the true Church will go through the Great Tribulation, as we near the end of the Age of Grace, I believe we will see increased persecution of believers. We are already seeing it in many Third World countries, and I believe it will come to the shores of America in some form or fashion in the very near future. Keep an eye on the so-called, “Occupy Wall Street” (It has spread now to several States as well as different countries) movement. With the clear connection between the occupy protestors and the radical arm of Islam, I would not be surprised if “occupy” demonstrations are turned against Christian Churches. Those who fearlessly and unalterably stand for the Truth of the Word of God will find it increasingly difficult to stand for the Lord in a culture that is more and more growing antagonistic toward the things of God.
“The saints” probably refers to the Old Testament saints, while the “martyrs of Jesus” refers to New Testament saints. This shows us clearly that this “harlot” system is not made up of any one religious system, but is an amalgam of all religious systems, originating with the ancient Babylon mystery religion of Nimrod. This “Babylon” described in this chapter is a composite system made up of apostate Protestantism, Catholicism, cults, and basically all of the religious lost left on earth following the catching away of the true Church. It is confusion compounded, and is the fountainhead of all religious error and idolatry. The sight of this “woman”, this confused mess of religion, causes John to look at her with a dismayed wonder. The KJV says, when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. John was astonished at this site. In modern vernacular we might say it, “blew his mind.” Babylon in the Old Testament persecuted God’s people and was the enemy of God. It was Babylon, for example, that put the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace because they would not bow in worship to an idol. The emphasis here is on the Roman Empire aspect of the “wild beast” rather than the Antichrist aspect.
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 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. 17:7, 8] The angel explains the “Beast” to John by its chronology. The “bottomless pit”, the abusos, was prepared to be the home of Satan and all evil spirits, and as used here indicates that the power behind the “Beast” political system is satanic in its origin, as is clearly indicated in 13:4. The wild beast “was” speaks of the history of the Beast System. “Is not” refers to the present condition of the fragmented Empire. The Roman Empire is not dead. It is fallen apart into the Nations of Europe today. It is about to be reactivated by Satan. Many in the past have attempted to bring the Roman Empire back, and have failed. The Antichrist will be successful, at least to a degree. The reappearance of the Roman Empire, or at least the system that produced it will win the admiration of the world, the people who are not redeemed. They will respect and worship the Antichrist for his brilliant coup d’etat. The saints will not be fooled. [See 1 John 2:20, 27]
It is important to understand that this “harlot” system has operated over a vast period of time. The Gentile empires really resulted from Israel’s collapse and captivity. History records that with the rise of the Egyptian Empire, the system was ushered in. The Egyptian Empire, the first head of the Beast, enslaved the people of Israel. When God delivered them, the great Nation of Israel was established. Then came their rebellion and captivity. Assyria was the Gentile empire that initiated Israel’s captivity by taking the ten northern tribes. The Southern two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, followed about 107 years later, being taken into captivity by Babylon. Thus, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2) begins with the Babylonian Empire after Israel’s total captivity. With the fall of the Roman Empire, in reality the system totally collapsed, at least for a time. The “harlot”, which had a controlling influence on Gentile Empires, was responsible for the death of many of god’s saints, including those of the Early Church. In Revelation 17 just as Revelation 12, John is tying historical records to future events. Both the biblical and historical records depict the collapse of the Gentile Empire system, the defeat of a satanic attempt at world control.
Its demise directly resulted from the first Coming of Jesus and the establishment of the true Church. Daniel chapter 2 spells this out quite clearly. [See Dan. 2:34, 35, 44] The “stone” of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is a type of Christ. During the time of the Roman Empire, the Father sent Jesus who struck a death blow to Satan’s system and established His kingdom, the Church, upon the Earth. John states however that the satanic system will be restored for a time, before being totally destroyed. He continues,
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 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. 17:9, 10] The world, by and large, does not peruse the contents of the book of Revelation. When they do, for example on the History Chanel, they get it wrong. Why is that? It is because only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life can understand it. A mind that has wisdom is required to understand what is written here. “Wisdom” is from the Greek sophia, and can refer to the wisdom of man, broad knowledge over a vast array of subjects. More specifically, it refers to the varied knowledge of things human and divine. The Bible says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. [Prov. 9:10] Beginning here is in the sense of opening. The opening of true wisdom begins with the reverential fear of the Lord. It stands to reason then that one who has no regard for God whatsoever, cannot really be said to have wisdom. Such a person may accumulate a great deal of this world’s knowledge, but how to correctly apply such knowledge as it was intended to be applied would not be there.
So, lets look at these “seven mountains” upon which the “woman” sits. Through the years many commentators have concluded that this phrase was speaking of Rome since it is known as the, “City upon seven hills.” While I certainly see a definite end-time role for the Roman Church, this phrase is not referring to Rome. Why do I say that? We know that each of the seven crowned heads represents a great kingdom, this fact is confirmed by verse 10. It speaks of, if you will, seven empires, six of which have already existed; with one yet to come. In examining the word, “mountain”, we employ a basic law of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation). When mountain is used in a passage which does not specifically name an existing range of mountains for a geographical location, it represents a kingdom. By reading the verses above and below the one in which mountain is used, you discover in such cases that it refers to a kingdom, not a pile of rocks.
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. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.[17:10, 11] The “seven mountains”, and “seven kings” are the same symbol. A king, or national leader has been or will be over each of the seven kingdoms. At the time of John writing the book of Revelation, five of the kingdoms had “fallen.” Five great Gentile Empires had come and gone. He also said, “One is”, and that of course refers to Rome which was in existence as an Empire when John was on Patmos receiving the Revelation. The seventh he said, is not yet come. The “woman”, the harlot religious system, has sat on each of them. The word actually says, on which the woman sitteth. “Sitteth” is the present middle indicative, grammatically speaking. What does that mean? The present tense in the Greek represents a simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in real time. It corresponds pretty much to the present tense in English. Greek words however not only have tense, they have voice. The tense of “sitteth” is present, however it is in the middle voice. That simply means that the action of sitting that this woman has done in the past, is still active in the present time, and may well be for a time in the future. That is why it is, “sits” rather than, “sat.” Greek words not only have tense and voice, but they also have mood. This particular word is in the simple indicative mood. The indicative mood in Greek is again a simple statement of fact. If action really occurs, or has occurred, or will occur, it is rendered in the indicative mood. I said all of that to say this, on which the woman sitteth, indicates that the “woman”, this harlot religious system, has tremendously influenced each of the kingdoms over a vast period of time.
History names the seven kingdoms or great empires that the heads of the Beast System represent. The first is the Egyptian Empire; the second, the Assyrian; the third, the great Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar and his grandson, Belshazzar. When Israel began to rebel and fall away from God, the first great Gentile empire to form was the Assyrian. The Babylonians then overthrew the Assyrian Empire by dissolving it into their own. In the time of the Babylonian Empire, Daniel began his prophecies concerning the development of the Gentile empires. Also, Judah and Benjamin, the last two tribes of Israel, were taken captive. The fourth head was the Medo-Persian Empire. Daniel 5:5 – 31 records the famous account of the “handwriting on the wall.” It told of course of the Babylonian Empires destruction and the rise of the Medes and Persians.
The fourth empire gave way to the fifth, the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. When it collapsed, the Roman Empire swallowed it up. The Roman Empire of course existed when John received the prophecy. God the Father in His providence and wisdom, sent His Son to earth in the days of this empire. Jesus came and laid the foundation for His Church and became its Chief Cornerstone. The Apostles then began building on that foundation. The Church then would accomplish a very productive work during its approximately 2,000 years on earth between the sixth and seventh heads of the system. On the Cross, Jesus Christ struck Satan a tremendous mortal blow. The Beast System collapsed with the fall of the Roman Empire. One would think that was the end of the story, but alas it is not.
As we exam these biblical and historical truths, we get a good understanding of what God is doing. As long as the Church is on the earth carrying out Jesus’ ministry, the system cannot return to full operation. In this present time we are witnessing the Beast System being prefabricated. After the Church is caught up, the Antichrist will fit the pieces together. This will be the resurrection of the system which produced the sixth head that was wounded to death, the Roman Empire. The vast Satan-motivated Gentile system had three major divisions: (1) government, (2) commerce, and (3) religion. When one empire succeeded another, the head of government changed, but the commercial and religious systems remained the same. Religions were always controlled by witchcraft in its most cunning and subtle form, commanding control of the people. As a sum total of the previous five heads, the Roman Empire was very wicked, immoral and pagan.
In contrast, the Church is a godly vehicle; the empire system is satanic. Because the Church has the greater power and authority, the satanic system cannot operate as long as the Church is on the earth. Even though this is the case, it has not stopped many down through the centuries from attempting to restore the system. Napoleon, Hitler, and Mussolini were only three of many who tried, though unsuccessfully. It will be restored however, and the initial groundwork is being laid even now. On verse 9 we can only conclude that “seven mountains” refer to the seven great kingdoms, each ruled by a king. Today, six of them have fallen. The seventh head, now pretty much in its development stages, will produce the eighth head, the Antichrist. Remember, the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and 8 is the same as the “eighth head” of Revelation 17:11. Both symbols identify the Antichrist.
According to John, once the seventh head becomes operational under the man of sin, the Antichrist, it lasts only a short time (the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation). During this time, the Antichrist will bring together the governments, armies, commerce and religions of the revised Roman Empire. He uses the harlot system to advance himself to the center of world religion. At mid-tribulation the Antichrist, produced by the seventh head, assumes the identity of the eighth head. [See again verse 11] He attempts to force himself on the world as a self-appointed “god”, existing for only 3 ½ years before being cast alive into the Lake of Fire when Christ returns.
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. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. 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. [Revelation 17:12 – 14] The “ten horns” represent a confederacy of ten nations that had not arisen in John’s day, and in fact still have not arisen, but will in the not too distant future. The phrase, And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, basically represents the the same thing Daniel saw in his vision in Daniel 7:7, 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.
The Holy Spirit was describing to the great Prophet Statesman the then soon to come Roman Empire. Actually, when Daniel received this vision the Babylonian Empire was still in power. It would be followed by the Medo-Persian, which would be followed by the Grecian. Then would come Rome, about 350 years after Daniel’s day. Which have received no kingdom as yet, speaks of John’s day. In effect, the angel is describing to John the, seventh head, which will be the ten-horned kingdom. As we have already stated, this confederacy has not arisen as yet, but we do know it is going to come up shortly.
Between the rapture of the Church and the rise of the Antichrist, could be a period of several years. For example, from the time of the Ascension of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem was approximately 37 years. It is possible that this time period could be the same. There is nothing in scripture that tells us that the Antichrist will sign the seven year pact with Israel, which will be the beginning of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, immediately after the rapture. The only thing the scripture actually tells us is that the Antichrist cannot make his debut until the Church has been taken out of the way. [See 2 Thess. 2:7 – 8] It doesn’t tell us how long it will be until he begins to rise to power.
When John writes, but receive power as kings one hour with the beast, this tells us two things: 1. These ten nations will come to power before the Antichrist, making up the seventh head. In fact, the very reason for their federation will be to stand against Israel. This will be their answer to the Israeli/Palestinian problem, which now plagues the Middle East. 2. They will join forces with the Antichrist, realizing they cannot oppose him. They will feel that it will be better to have some semblance of power under him than to be totally destroyed by him. These ten kings enter into a strong agreement with the Antichrist, pledging him their armies and their influence. Upon the anticipated success of the Antichrist’s campaign, the kings will receive great kingdoms. This is the alliance of rulers and armies which the Antichrist leads on the final day of the Tribulation. The combined armies of the kings are destroyed in the battle of Armaggedon fought against the returning Christ.
In the scene of verse 14, we see something else very important for us to understand. Christ’s Return to earth is depicted here. In this scene we are given further proof that the Church is caught up before the Tribulation’s final day: 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. Throughout the New Testament the terms called, chosen, and faithful identify members of the True Church, the Body of Christ. This called, chosen, and faithful company is returning with Jesus (Zechariah 14:5 also confirms this truth.) The members of the Church, along with all others who take part in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6), will administer Jesus’ Kingdom on earth.
I want to take one more posting to deal with the destruction of the Harlot. There is some very important information yet to come. Plan to join us.