God’s wrath has never been aimed at any but those that oppose Him and this is verified by the opening verse of chapter 17. A chapter that speaks of prophetic things for man that has yet to come to pass.
One of the seven angels
who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the
punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.
Who is this great prostitute who sits
on many waters?
begin with, let's understand that God is not speaking here of earthly carnal
things in the sense that people normally relate a prostitute to.
As an example of this, in the past God referred to the nation of Israel
as a harlot, an unfaithful wife.
But like a woman
unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of
Israel," declares the LORD. NIV
"For they have
committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. Thus they have committed
adultery with their idols and even caused their sons, whom they bore to Me, to
pass through the fire to them as food. NASU
Notice, “They have committed adultery with their idols.”
It is because of
what God is saying in the above scripture that He considers food offered to
idols more detestable than the idols themselves.
20 And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?
slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.
“Was your prostitution not enough?” Yet,
concerning all this… God had this to say:
"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them
by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I
was a husband to them," declares the LORD. NIV
Well, now that we understand that God is not speaking here of some streetwalker but using the word prostitute to define someone or something as being unfaithful to Him, let us again look at the first verse in Chapter 17 of Revelation.
One of the seven angels
who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the
punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.
What does a
prostitute that sits on many waters mean? Part
of this is answered by verse 15 of this chapter in Revelation.
Revelation 17:15 Then the angel said to me, "The
waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and
explanation seems clear enough. Many
waters represent mankind in general, which is also true of the word 'sea' when
used in Revelation. This
prostitute, referred to in verse one, is the symbol of pagan idolatry fostered
on the world of men… by Satan. Why,
then, is John being shown this symbolic prostitute by one of the angels carrying
one of the bowls of God’s wrath? Obviously,
this angel is pointing out this prostitute to John because the bowl of God’s
wrath, in this angels hands, are aimed at her, and it is upon her that this bowl
of wrath will be poured out. Why
that is so is explained in the next verse.
With her the kings of the
earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with
the wine of her adulteries." NIV
It is clear that this symbol of Satan’s
pagan idolatry, represented by a prostitute, enticed the world of men away from
faithfulness to the one and only God that exists. Now this angel takes John, in
the spirit, elsewhere to make whom this prostitute represents even clearer.
Then the angel
carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a
scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and
ten horns. NIV
that this symbolic prostitute was covered with blasphemous names clearly means
she is not part of God's kingdom. As
we will learn shortly, the beast with the seven heads and ten horns represent
future Satanic kingdoms or governments which means this prostitute is part of
Satan’s world, which is further clarified in the next verse of this chapter.
The woman was dressed in
purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.
She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth
of her adulteries. NIV
Gold, pearls, precious stones, all symbolize the enticements of this
world used by Satan to deceive the waters, or the general population of earth,
away from the Creator. Verse 4
makes this crystal clear with the words…
“She held a golden cup in her hand, filled
with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.”
And just so no one mistakes this prostitute
for anything but what she represents, she is given a name.
This title was written on
her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE
ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. NIV
This could not be said, in any way, to make her any clearer than what this
symbolic prostitute is or represents. That she is called mystery Babylon is
because she was born in the first kingdom of Satan, which was Babylon.
Babylon and the prostitute are not themselves mysteries. But the pagan
religions she spanned dearly love the mysterious because their religions do not
have sensible or rational explanations. Their
foolish and irrational tenants or doctrines are instead explained as mysteries
of God. Still, the angel tells us a bit more so there can be no
mistake concerning this prostitute and what she is symbolically responsible for
over the whole earth.
I saw that the woman was
drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to
Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.
Verse six does not need any explanation, for it was through her
adulteries that many of the family of God died, including the only begotten Son
of God. However, why John was
astonished does need an explanation and that should be predicated on the verses
in further chapters of Revelation. Let
us look ahead, then, at the verses that apply most directly to what will be said
in the next verses of chapter 17 of Revelation.
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from
deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that,
he must be set free for a short time. NIV
verses above are making it clear that there will come a time when Satan is to be
bound and locked away for a period of time, when he will be completely out of
the picture. During that period of time when Satan is no longer free to move
about he will have no power, nor minions, to deceive the nations or waters at
all. At the end of the period of
time prescribed by God, Satan will be released for a short time.
Understanding what has just been said in the verses above makes what is
being said by the angel to John, easy to comprehend it is also letting us know
that this is a prediction for a time way down the line from here and is clearly
prophecy of the far future even for us today.
Now that we know this let us proceed with verse 7 back in chapter 17.
Then the angel said to me:
"Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and
of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns.
To begin with, notice that there are no
mysteries in God’s Word, for He sees to it that all mysteries are clearly
explained to His family. The beast
she rides is Satan’s world or kingdom. It is everything about Satan, including
Satan himself. The next verse concerns Satan directly.
The beast, which you saw,
once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his
destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in
the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see
the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.
Let us look at this verse section by section and relate it to Rev 20:1-3.
“The beast, which you saw, once was,”
Satan was around from the beginning at the
Garden of Eden. But Revelation 17:8 is speaking of the time when Satan is locked
up or in the abyss, during the thousand-year reign of Christ, “Now
He threw him into the
Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations
anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for
a short time. NIV
“And will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction.”
Satan’s destruction will come at the end
of Armageddon, when God will destroy Satan, along with death.
This will take place after
“He must be set free for a short time.” Now Revelation 17:8 is also telling us that the waters, or general population of the earth, which “Will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.”
There is nothing mysterious or mystical about all this. It simply has to
do with what will happen at a given time. Satan, along, with his kingdom and
even death, is to be destroyed, but that is at the conclusion when God has decreed
it to happen. There is nothing that can alter or stop this from taking place
just as God is telling us through John in Revelation. When the time for this to
happen occurs, it will take place, not one second sooner nor one second later.
Now let us look at something else said in verse 8 of this chapter in
Revelation, “The inhabitants of the earth whose
names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world
will be astonished when they see the beast...”
As we will learn, there is to be a general resurrection of all men; good and bad. The ransom paid by the only begotten Son of God was for all mankind, both good and bad.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also
through a man.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Adam and Eve brought on death for all men through disobedience, but Christ,
through obedience, has bought life for all men.
Whether that life will remain with any given man, depends on what that
man does about the offer of eternal life that was bought and paid for by Christ.
If one takes the mantle of Christ and follows the commandments given by the
Creator's Son, then his name goes into the book of life that God has had from
the beginning of creation. Now
there is no literal huge book somewhere in the clouds that contains a list of
names. The book of life is symbolic
for the memory of God. That memory
is infinite and does not suffer from forgetfulness. We know that the heavens
contain billions upon billions of stars, yet the Bible tells us:
determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
All those stars one can see on a clear night, each and every one has been given
a separate name by the Creator.
is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
The point of this is that God has not predestined some people for life and some people for death as many religions claim, using verse 8 to back up this false claim. For that would make God unjust and unrighteous. What that verse is truly saying is… that symbolic book has been around since the beginning of creation, and God places the names of those that become part of His family in the book after they become part of the family, not before.
But the angel that has brought John to the desert, in the spirit, which means in
a vision, continues the explanation that was to be given to John.
This calls for a mind with
wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.
What wisdom is needed here? Kingdoms on earth are equated with mountains. Mountains are large and firm, and the kingdoms spoken of in the Bible are just that. In fact, there are no kingdoms larger or stronger than God's kingdom.
They will neither harm nor
destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of
the LORD as the waters cover the sea. NIV
God’s kingdom, spoken of as a mountain above, covers the entire earth.
But, the prophecy spoken of in Revelation 17:8 is referring not to mountains,
but to seven hills. Hills, of course are much smaller than mountains, and far
less imposing. Therefore, the seven kingdoms or governments that the prostitute
will sit over in the future will not have the same kind of power that was given
to her in the past. Her governments will not stand as mighty mountains but as
seven small hills. This will be
because “The earth will be full of the knowledge of the
LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
At this point in
Revelation 17, since Governments or kingdoms are being spoken of, God blends the
past with the future so that we as children in His family can see the continuity
of it all.
They are also seven kings.
Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he
must remain for a little while. NIV
Before we go on, let us
verify that the kingdoms on earth, even though they are part of Satan’s realm,
are there because of the authority of God and His only begotten Son.
For by him all things were
created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones
or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Now before you write us and tell us that the Vatican is still here,
remember that the prophecy in verse 10 of chapter 17 of Revelation is for a
still distant time in the future. And when the time for the Vatican to collapse
comes…collapse it will, simply because its allotted time by God will have
expired. It will have to hang out a sign “Lost our lease.”
This is also absolutely true of all the other religions of the world.
If you doubt this, go read Col 1:16 again.
this was about the past up to the present and the angel now blends in the
The beast who once was,
and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his
The reason that Satan is now being included as part of the beast, which
is rightly so, is because at that time, in the future, the earth will be covered
with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Therefore, Satan will not find it so easy to deceive; he will not be able
to hide behind a false shield of light as he does today.
2 Corinthians 11:13-14
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder, for
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. NIV
the same, Satan will still try to hide behind the showpieces or puppets of his
The ten horns you saw are
ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive
authority as kings along with the beast. NIV
As God sees time, one hour might well be equated as one minute to us.
Nonetheless, regardless of how long that one-hour is, in the eyes of the
Creator, for us, it will eventually pass and what is predicted will then most
assuredly take place. Now, all the
ten kings over the seven hills spoken of by the angel to John, are receiving
their authority to rule under Colossians 1:16 and other scriptures of the Word
of God; letting us know that none of this will come as a surprise to God.
In fact, it is because God sees fit to allow it to take place that they
have any authority at all. Because of this…
They have one purpose and
will give their power and authority to the beast. NIV
Because God is granting them the authority to rule for this short time, that authority can be given to any they choose, and as the scripture tells us, they give that authority to Satan. Remember, Satan has been locked up until now and is just released and that is why they give their authority to him, which is exactly what happened when Adam and Eve gave him authority to begin with. But, as has been said, that one-hour allotted, by God, to them will pass… but before it does:
They will make war against
the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King
of kings- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.
Then the angel said to me,
"The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes,
nations and languages. NIV
peoples, multitudes, nations and languages, are all part of Satan’s forces or
kingdoms that reside on the seven hills. Now,
as has been said before, these seven hills do not have the same power as the
kingdoms that were given to Satan to control in the past, and one cannot help
but wonder why God would give Satan any kind of power at all.
The answer to that question is supplied with the final three verses of
The beast and the ten
horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave
her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
The seven hills are a period at the end of the thousand-year reign of
Christ after Satan has been released for the short time spoken of in chapter 20.
During that time, even though the earth would be under the control and
peaceful rule of the only begotten Son of God, Satan and his minions will cause
deceptions again. We are told he will do this quite extensively… however, not
with the same kind of all-consuming power that the devil has today.
Now the people who choose to follow Satan at that time, and according to
the word there will be a great many that do, will be required to share the same
fate as Satan. Even so, they will,
in the end, turn on him and help bring him to his end by exposing his kingdom to
the light. This helps explain the
For God has put it into
their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power
to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. NIV
In short, this will be the prelude to the final test by the Creator to
decide who survives the second death, which we will learn more about in other
chapters of Revelation.
The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. NIV
That great city will most likely be a city or state like the Vatican is today or another that appears in the future, only time will answer that for us. It is not important that we know its name or shape at this time, only that it will exist so that the family of God will be able to recognize it when it does arrive. However, God already knows the conclusion of all this and he tells us about that conclusion in the rest of Revelation.
(As a side note here,
it should be obvious to everyone that has been following this series on
Revelation that the Bible does an excellent job of interpreting itself and needs
no help from men.
might also be noted that this book of Revelation is not hard to understand at
we let God explain it.)
many of these events depicted in this chapter will take place at what the Bible
terms as Armageddon.
much has to take place on earth before then to prepare the earth to exist as the
glorious kingdom of God, and we will learn of those events in the next chapter.
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