I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
We return in this fourth installment to our current series entitled, “The Harlot Emerges – Protestants March to Rome.” Last time we looked at Revelation 17:1 – 6, where one of the angels with the seven vials (or bowls) of judgment shows John a vision of the end-time super church which will be an amalgamation of all world religions, headed up by I believe the institutional Roman Catholic Church working together with factions of Islam and apostate Christianity. I am of the opinion that the true Church, comprised of all truly born-again believers, will have been caught-up to Heaven prior to the full revealing of this ecclesiastical monstrosity.
This angel, which is the Greek aggelos (ang’-el-os), means messenger, or one who brings tidings. It is used of both divine and human beings. In the case of Revelation, the angels mentioned are often redeemed human beings, perhaps prophets of old, bringing these messages to John. In the first six verses this messenger shows John the vision. Beginning with verse 7, he gives the interpretation. We will look at that this time.
Verse 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 (messenger) promises to show John this “mystery” of both this woman and the beast she is riding. As we have pointed out previously, “mystery” is the Greek musterion (mu-stay-dee-on), and refers to something not previously known or revealed. This angel (messenger) is going to reveal this to John. The question the messenger asks John, “…Wherefore didst thou marvel?”, is from the Greek thaumazo (thaw-mod-zo), and it is from a root word that can be translated as “wonder”, and is by implication to admire or have admiration. It as if John was amazed at the sight of this woman riding the beast.
The messenger begins with explaining the “Beast” in verse 8.
Verse 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.”
You will recall that we said last time that the term “beast” refers to three things in the book of Revelation: 1) A supernatural angel out of the abyss. 2) A mortal man, albeit enhanced. 3) A kingdom or system. In verse 8 John is shown a supernatural angel which will be released from the abyss. This particular fallen angel is mentioned in at least one other place in Revelation. In 11:7 he kills the two witnesses. He will be released from the abyss (Gr. Abussos (ah-boo-soss), which is a depth-less void or shaft located beneath sheol or hades. It is a prison, if you will, for certain fallen angels and demon spirits. It is part of the underworld. He does not incarnate himself as the Antichrist, but will enter him in the sense of using him to revive the old Roman empirical system as the 7th kingdom of prophecy. In John’s day the Roman Empire while ruling was fractured, yet it has never truly died. While many have tried before to revive it, the Antichrist empowered by an angel out of the bottomless pit will be successful. This will cause the world to be amazed, all those not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Ever since the event at Nimrod’s Babel in Genesis 11 the nations of the world have been governed in the spirit-realm by angels, Sons of God, while God set apart a people the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as His own. These “Sons of God” were to govern and watch over (hence the term, watchers) the nations on behalf of Yahweh God. They rebelled against God and began to seek worship for themselves, hence the birth of idolatry. Where do I get the idea that the Gentile nations were assigned to the “Sons of God” and that He reserved Israel for Himself? Look at Deuteronomy 32:8, 9. The KJV reads,
“When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” [Deut. 32:8, 9 KJV]
The problem with this particular translation is that there were no “children of Israel” when God separated the “Sons of Adam”, which occurred at Babel in the plains of Shinar. In fact, we don’t see the call of Abram and the promise to make from him a great nation until Genesis 12.
With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls a lot of additional manuscript evidence was discovered that shed new light on many passages. The English Standard Version (ESV), based their translation on much of that manuscript evidence. Deuteronomy 32:8, 9 in the ESV reads,
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” [Deuteronomy 32:8, 9 ESV Emphasis added]
The “Sons of God” in Hebrew are benai ha elohim, and they are angels, divine beings. The nations were divided and assigned to them at Babel. These angels, known as “princes”, are over the nations today. Some angels however, along with demon spirits, are presently incarcerated in this place known as the “Bottomless Pit.” This angel here in Revelation 17:8 will be released probably about mid-tribulation to empower and inspire the Antichrist in his destructive work in the last half of the Great Tribulation. He is probably the same being referred to as the, “King” of the bottomless pit in Revelation 9:11 named in Hebrew as Abbadon or Apollyon in Greek. We are dealing with things here that will originate in the spirit-realm and manifest in the natural realm at the time of the end.
Verses 9, 10 – “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.”
This part of the vision has a dual interpretation. In the first part John is shown that the “woman” sits on seven mountains. This gives us another clear indication as to the identity of this “woman” and where she is located. Rome is known as, “The city on seven hills.” In fact, in ancient times Rome was also referred to as Babylon. In 1 Peter 5:13 we read, “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.” [1 Peter 5:13 KJV emphasis added] Babylon in this reference is understood to refer to Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined.”
The Vatican in fact sits on one side of the Tiber river facing the seven hills. In all fairness there are other cities that claim to be built on seven hills, however Rome has a long history of wearing this title. Keep in mind the “woman” in this vision shown to John is both a city and a religious and economic system. The city sits on seven mountains (Greek, oros – ah’-ross), which is a raised place above the plain, a mountain or hill. It is also worth noting that in ancient Rome the goddess Roma (or Europa) was minted on a coin depicted as sitting on the seven hills of Rome. Even in modern times Euro coins are minted depicting Europa riding on a bull. It is from the goddess Europa that the continent (although technically Europe is made up of seven continents), of Europe derives it’s name.
The second part of the dual interpretation of the vision shown to John is a bit more tricky from an interpretative perspective. The messenger tells John that there are also “seven kings”, five of which are fallen, one is, and one has not yet come. There are several schools of thought on this. Commentators Newell and Govett saw these “seven kings” as seven individual rulers all the way from Julius Caesar to Nero, all of which were either assassinated or committed suicide. Domitian was the emperor in the time of John, and the Antichrist of course was and is yet to come to power. Others like C.I. Scofield and Walter Scott saw this as seven forms of government through which Rome passed.
I tend to agree with the view of Finis Dake and others who take the position that these are seven kingdoms (kings have to have a kingdom). The five fallen kingdoms would be Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The kingdom that was in the time of John was Rome, and the kingdom to come that will continue for a short space will be the kingdom of the “Beast” or Antichrist, who will revive the old Roman Empire (which will have characteristics of past empires we learn from Revelation 13), and then form the eighth and final kingdom of prophecy when all the kings of the earth give him their combined power and wealth.
Verse 11 – “And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.”
Here again the interpretation is a bit difficult. Remember we said that the term “beast” refers either to an angel released out of the abyss, a mortal man, or a system in the apocalypse (Revelation). We get a hint of how we should understand to whom (or to what) the messenger refers in this verse from the Greek text. In the Greek both “seventh” and “eighth” are masculines pointing to the kings in the previous verse. The “beast” then in this case would be referring to the Antichrist, who will form the eighth and final kingdom of prophecy, and yet he is of the seventh. He will form the seventh kingdom, which I tend to think will be some form of revived or revised Roman Empire, will suffer an apparent assassination (see Revelation 13:14) and be “resurrected” to form the eighth and final kingdom of prophecy. His end will be “perdition” or destruction.
Verse 12, 13 – “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.”
“Horns” in biblical typology refer to power, often military or political power, and that is the case here. These ten kings had received no kingdom in John’s day, and they have not come to the forefront at this point in our time, but they will in the latter half of the Great Tribulation. They will see the “Beast’s” destruction of the harlot system and as a result give their combined military and monetary might over to the Antichrist. It is not certain what form all this will take, but I tend to believe that a model much like the Club of Rome purposed in 1973 with their map of the world divided into ten economic regions, which they referred to as, “Ten Kingdoms”, with ten rulers over them. Here is a map of the proposed divisions. The United States and Canada are included in region one. This is their plan for global governance, which while on pause for now will indeed come forth in some form. Could these be the “ten kings” who will give their power to the “Beast” and reign with him for “one hour?” Time will tell.
Verse 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 looks ahead to the Second Coming of Christ. John is shown these ten kings or rulers actually attacking or making war with the returning Messiah. This scene is shown to John in detail in Revelation 19:11 – 21. To say the least the “war” these kings and their allies along with the “Beast” wage against Christ and the returning armies of Heaven will be the ultimate exercise in futility.
Verse 15 – “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
The “Beast” system though headquartered in the ancient Roman Empire, will be a global government with authority over many people and nations. All buying, selling, and exchange of goods and services will be controlled by this system. Up until now the Lord has not allowed this system to fully come to power. In the time of the end it will.
Verse 16, 17 – “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. 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.”
It is these ten kings who will destroy the “whore” religious system in the second half of the Great Tribulation. They will hate this system and bring it down, but it is important to remember in doing so they will be fulfilling the will of God. God will allow this system to come forth to fulfill ancient prophecies.
Verse 18 – “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”
The “woman” John is shown is a city, “that great city”, which holds political and financial and religious authority over world rulers and governments. It is the headquarters of both the end-time church and world government. The Antichrist and false prophet will rule it together. In the end they and all of their followers will meet their end in the Lake of Fire.
What we have referred to as the protestant march to Rome is forming in this time. Those who are aligning themselves with this movement are knowingly or unknowingly becoming a part of the “Beast” religious system.
Until next time,
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson