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 by many waters.2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” 3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 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. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. 7 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. 8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyssand go to its 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 it once was, now is not, and yet will come. 9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 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 only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. 12 “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. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” 15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 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. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”

Matthew 16:16-18 (NIV) tells us:
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” 

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:23 (NIV):
Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 

And again in Colossians 1:15-18 (NIV) Paul tells us:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 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. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Jesus delights in His church. Indeed, He has engraved our names on the palms of His Hands as Isaiah 49:16 (NIV) tells us:
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. 

And He never ceases to remember us – continually interceding for us at the right Hand of God as Hebrews 7:25 (NIV) states:
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Such a great High Priest!  Such love as this deserves our all, Amen? The Lord’s admiration of His church – of His people – is an extraordinarily, wonderfully amazing thing - viewing her as perfect - having been washed by His blood and now clothed in His righteousness. We are precious in His sight. Without blemish and free from accusation as Paul writes in Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV):
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. 

We have real worth and excellence which cannot be rivaled by either royalty or nobility. Through His blood we now stand as children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and are co-heirs with Jesus. His love and passion for us is undeniable. And our love for Him should be likewise. Yet sadly, like the Church in Ephesus, some of us may have forsaken our first love for lesser loves. Trevin Wax writes: 
“Come what may, there’s no substitute for love. Loving God. Loving to worship God. Loving to worship God with his people. Loving to hear God’s Word and to feast on his goodness at the table. God forbid we lose the fire of love and hand down religious formulas that no longer burn within our hearts.”

God’s heart burns with love for us – and He will not forget His children.  Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) tells us:
3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. 

Isaiah adding in Isaiah 30:18 (NIV):
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 

And lastly, as Spurgeon writes:
“To embrace our Lord Jesus, to dwell in His love, and be fully assured of union with Him – this is all in all.  Dear reader, you needn’t try other forms of life in order to see whether they are better than the Christian’s.  If you roam the world over, you will see no sights like the sight of  the Savior’s face – even if you were to have all the comforts this life, you would be wretched if you lost your Savior; but if you win Christ, then even if you were to rot in prison, you would find it paradise.”

Indeed, Jesus is worthy of our fervent, passionate love. King David, the man after God’s own heart, held such passion for God. We hear his passion in the Psalms when he declares in Psalms 18:1-3 (NIV)
1 I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. 

We are going to begin by reading Chapter 17 of Revelation and then discuss.
Prayer:  Lord, if you do not teach us nothing worthwhile will be taught.  We desperately need you Holy Spirit to open our eyes to rightly discern Your Truth—both for your glory and for our ultimate good.

Revelation Chapter 17
The Woman on the Beast
1 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. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” 3 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. 4 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. 5 This title was written on her forehead:  
6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 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. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king.  He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.” 12 “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. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 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.” 15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 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. 17 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. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” 

Prayer – Make the Word come alive Lord, make it come alive – for your glory and for our good.  

In Chapters 17 and 18 we discover the descriptions of the final destruction of Babylon – symbolic of the worldview standing in direct opposition to God. It appears that the destruction of Babylon’s religious worldview is discussed in Chapter 17 and the destruction of its political worldview is discussed in Chapter 18. 

Babylon—the source of so many heathen and pagan religions which have opposed the faith of Israel as well as the faith of the church—is here seen in its final judgment.  
The event described here in Chapter 17 precedes the events of the seven bowl judgments from Chapter 16 by a considerable period of time. It is probable that they occur at the beginning of the tribulation period – the first half of the last seven years preceding Christ’s second coming.  Remember, the seven bowls of Chapter 16 occur at the end of the Tribulation. Also remember, the Church has already been Raptured and we are with Jesus.  We see here in Revelation 17 that God was pleased to reveal various aspects of future events not in chronological order. It serves us well to be reminded of this in our study of Revelation as it can be confusing since we normally read chronologically. 
As you can well imagine, expositors have widely differing views of both Revelation 17 and 18. Again, in general, it is best to consider Chapter 17 as dealing with Babylon as an ecclesiastical or spiritual entity and Chapter 18 as dealing with Babylon as a political entity.  

In Verses One and Two of Chapter 17, the Apostle John was invited by one of the seven bowl angels to view the destruction of Babylon, representing false religion. And also to view the judgment of a woman – the symbol of Babylon – described as “the great prostitute” who is seen sitting on many waters (the many nations) ruled by Babylon. Those that dwell on earth are said to have become drunk or utterly evil with the “wine of her immorality”. This is a picture of those who outwardly and religiously seem to be joined to the true God but are untrue. Their appearance is deceptive. They are spiritual hypocrites. Titus 1:16 (NIV) tells us:
15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.  In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. 

Also Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 (NIV):
1 But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them. 
Again, the picture of the utterly evil woman signifies the spiritual adultery of those who outwardly claim to have faith in God yet inwardly are anything but followers of Him. The apostate people of Israel were frequently spiritual adulterers. The Book of Hosea is replete with this. In the Old Testament Yahweh was likened to Israel’s husband. In Jeremiah 3:14 (NIV) we are told:
14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you--one from a town and two from a clan--and bring you to Zion.” 

In the New Testament the church is viewed as a virgin destined to be joined in the future to her husband, Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:2 (NIV):
2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 

She too is warned against spiritual adultery in James 4:4 (NIV):
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 

The alliance of the apostate church with the political powers of the world during this future period not only leads astray the true spiritual character of the church as well as compromises her testimony in every way, but it also has the devastating effect of inducing religious drunkenness on the part of the earth’s inhabitants. False religion is always the worst enemy of true faith. It breeds in people a false sense of security. They are the hardest to win to Christ and the most difficult to instruct in spiritual truth.  These are those who have previously embraced false religion with its outward demonstration of worship of God yet lacking any inward change.  Having a form of godliness yet denying its power. Paul writes of these people in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (NIV):
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 

The concept presented here makes plain that the apostate church has eagerly sought and solicited the adulterous relation with the world political powers and therefore is primarily to be blamed. She will reap what she sows as Tony Evans notes:

“Organized religion will do the Antichrist’s will, until such time as he turns on this false system and destroys it.” 

This is why I am chronically telling you guys to take everything back to God’s Word. He will never go against it and He has given it to us as our great guide for all of life. We can trust His inerrant word. 

In Verses Three and Four of Chapter 17, Scripture describes the Apostle John being carried away to a place described as a wilderness. Here, John sees a woman seated on a scarlet colored beast bearing blasphemous names along with seven heads and ten horns. The fact that the woman is riding the beast and is not actually the beast itself signifies that she represents ecclesiastical power as distinct from the beast which is the political power. This indicates that on the one hand she is supported by the political power of the beast and on the other hand she is in a dominant role and at least outwardly controls and directs the beast. This occurs before the time the beast has already assumed all power and has demanded that the world worship its ruler as God described in Revelation Chapter 13. Again, it is an indication that this occurs in the first half of the tribulation. The seven heads mentioned here apparently refer to forms of government that are successive and the ten horns refer to kings who reign simultaneously in the end times. That the woman representing the apostate church is in such close association with the beast – which is guilty of utter blasphemy is indicative of the depth to which her apostasy will ultimately descend. The only form of a world church recognized in the Bible is this apostate church designed to come into power after the Rapture of the true church. This is Satan’s counterfeit church.
The woman’s regalia of gold, scarlet, and gems is all too familiar to anyone acquainted with the trappings of ecclesiastical pomp and splendor today – especially of high officials in certain branches of Christendom. Purple and scarlet are symbolically rich in meaning when connected with true spiritual values are here prostituted to this false religious system designed to glorify it with religious garb in contrast to the simplicity of pious adornment that Scripture calls for. In 1 Timothy 2:9-10 we see:
9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

It also stands in stark contrast to our Savior as well when He walked this dusty earth. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 53:1-6 (NIV):
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

The most striking aspect of her description is that she has a golden cup in her hand full of the filth of her immorality. The Word of God does not spare words in describing the utter debauchery of this adulterous relationship in the sight of God. Few crimes in Scripture are spoken in such unsparing terms than that of spiritual adultery which this woman epitomizes. As alliance with the world system and showy pomp increases, spiritual Truth and purity decline. It would do us well to remember Jesus’ severe reaction to the Pharisees of His day – the religious elite that looked down their noses to those they thought beneath them and demanded respect and honor rather than earn it.  God is looking for the humble in heart. David tells us in Psalms 51:17 (NIV):
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 

And again in Psalms 18:27 (NIV):
27 You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Indeed, God tells us pride is detestable in His sight.  Proverbs vehemently speaks against “haughty eyes” (pride) – naming it first in a list of seven things the Lord hates in Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV):
16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. 

Pride caused angels to turn to demons and fall  – how much more so us?  
There is no pride at the foot of the cross.  We are all beggars in need of a Savior and praise Jesus we have one.  Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV):
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Indeed, if our Lord was so humble how much more so should we be?  Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV):
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Interestingly, when our Lord and Savior walked this earth He was hardest on the Pharisees – the religious elite of His day – because they looked down their snooty noses on the those they believed beneath them.  We find in Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV):
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” 

To be sure, humility is the jewel every believer in Christ Jesus should adorn. Lastly, Paul gives us further insight on humility in 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV):
7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 

In Verse Five of Chapter 17 we discover the title assigned to this woman is not a reference to Babylon as a city or nation rather a religious designation. This is made clear by her description as the “mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abomination.” It has been noted by many writers that the iniquitous and pagan rites of Babylon crept into the early church and were largely responsible for the corruption incorporated in Roman Catholicism from which Protestantism separated itself in the Middle Ages.
The subject of Babylon in Scripture is a prominent theme in the Bible beginning in Genesis Chapter Ten where the city of Babel is first mentioned  and having a continued reference throughout Scripture climaxing in Revelation. Babylon is the name for a great system of religious error. Babylon is a counterfeit religion that plagued Israel in the Old Testament as well as the church in the New Testament, and which, after the apostolic days, has had a tremendous influence in moving the church from biblical simplicity to apostate confusion – offering a poor substitute for God’s perfect plan. Babylon is the source of counterfeit religion. Remember, back in Genesis, the Tower of Babel was a monument to human pride and an express act of rebellion against the One True God. In judging this act, God confounded the language of the peoples and the city was dubbed “Babel” meaning “confusion”  in Genesis 11:9 (NIV):

9 That is why it was called Babel --because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth. 

Ancient accounts of Babylon record the wife of Nimrod – who founded the city.  She became the head of the so-called Babylonian mysteries that consisted of secret religious rites developed as a part of idol worship.  She was known by the name of Semiramis and was a high priestess of the idol worship. According to extrabiblical records, Semiramis gave birth to a son whom she claimed was conceived miraculously. This son, named Tammuz, was considered a savior of his people and was, in effect, a false messiah, purported to be the fulfillment of the promise given to Eve. The legend of the mother and child was incorporated into the religious rites and is repeated in various pagan religions. Though the Babylonian religious rites varied, there was usually a priestly order that furthered the worship of the mother and child cult, practiced the sprinkling of holy water, and established an order of virgins dedicated to religious prostitution. Tammuz, the son, was said to have been killed and brought back to life – apparently a satanic anticipation of the resurrection of  Jesus Christ.

In Scripture we find Ezekiel protesting against the ceremony of weeping for Tammuz in Ezekiel 8:14-15 (NIV):
14 Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the LORD, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. 15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.” 

Jeremiah also mentions the heathen practices of making cakes for the queen of heaven in Jeremiah 7:18-19 (NIV):
18 The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger. 19 But am I the one they are provoking? declares the LORD. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame? 

Baal worship, characteristic of pagan religion in Canaan, was another form of this same mystery religion originating in Babylon. Baal is considered identical to Tammuz. The doctrines of the mystery religions of Babylon seem to have permeated the ancient world, giving rise to countless offshoots, each with its cult and individual beliefs offering a counterfeit religion and a counterfeit god in opposition to the One true God. The chief priests of the Babylonian cult wore crowns in the form of the head of a fish, in recognition of Dagon the fish god, with the title “Keeper of the Bridge” – that is, the “bridge” between man and Satan – imprinted on the crowns. The Roman equivalent of the title, Pontifex Maximus, was used by the Caesars and later Roman emperors, and was also adopted as the title for the bishop of Rome. In the early centuries of the church in Rome, incredible confusion arose.

Spiritual apostasy, which is seen in its latent form today, will flower in its ultimate form in this future “superchurch” that will apparently engulf all Christendom in the period after the rapture of the church.    

In Verses Six and Seven of Chapter 17 we discover that the woman pictured is not only the source of all evil in apostate Christendom but also as actively engaged to the point of drunkenness in the persecution of the true saints of the Lord Jesus. This describes ancient Babylon perpetuated in apostate Christendom – especially in its future form. Church history demonstrated that apostate Christendom is unsparing in its persecutions of those attempting a true faith in the Lord Jesus. What was true in the past will be brought to its climax in this future time when the martyrs will be beyond number from every nation, tribe and language. The blood shed by the apostate church is exceeded only by that of the martyrs who refuse to worship the beast in the Great Tribulation. The Apostle John is greatly astonished by her. Remember, Satan never appears to us as he really is. We would never fall for him. Instead he seeks to wrap his darkness in light to get us to fall for his despicable ways. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-11 (NIV):

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

In Verse Eight of Chapter 17 the angel explains the beast to John by chronology. The bottomless pit or the abyss is Satan and the demon’s abode. This indicates the power of the political empire is satanic in its origin. The power of the political empire in the last days is going to cause wonder. The overwhelming satanic power of the world’s final political empire will be most convincing to great masses of mankind. Obviously, the power behind the ruler is satanic. Satan and the man he controls are closely identified. Their power is one. The fact that the beast was, now is not, and will come up in the future is another indication of what was introduced in Revelation Chapter 13:3 (NIV) which states:
3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 

The supernatural survival and revival of both the world ruler and his empire will impress the world as being supernatural and will lead to worship of the beast and Satan. The Antichrist will receive a fatal wound only to rise from the dead and increase his following. This passage, however, adds a detail absent from Chapter 13:3 that is, the Antichrist’s ultimate end is destruction. Nevertheless, non-believers will be astonished temporarily at his apparent resurrection – those whose names are not written in the book of life.  

In Verses Nine through Eleven of Chapter 17 the angel informed John, that this calls for a mind with wisdom. The truth that is being presented here symbolically requires spiritual insight to be understood, and the difficulty of correct interpretation is illustrated by the various ways it has been interpreted in the history of the church. Again, the reader is warned that spiritual wisdom is required to understand what is unfolded. 

The seven heads of the beast are also said to be symbolic of seven kings or world leaders as described in Verse 10. Five of these are said to have fallen, one is in existence in John’s lifetime, the seventh is yet to come and will be followed by another described as the eighth, which is the beast itself. The seven heads are best explained as referring to seven kings who represent seven successive kingdoms. In Daniel, kings and kingdoms are interchangeable, showing that a king can stand for the kingdom ruled by that king. The seven kingdoms are the seven that dominate the world scene throughout human history. The final form of world government is symbolized by the eighth beast itself and is the world empire of the Great Tribulation. The beast described in Verse Eleven as the eighth king is the world empire which is destroyed and the beast will go to his destruction when Jesus Christ arrives at His Second Coming. The Verses Eight – Eleven describe the final form of Gentile world power in alliance with apostate religion symbolized by the prostitute.

In Chapter 17 Verses Twelve through Fourteen the ten horns represent ten kings, or world leaders who will receive authority for a short time and for one purpose – to give their power and authority to the Antichrist. The final stage of this world empire has a nucleus of ten kings apparently joined in a confederacy represented by the ten horns.  In contrast to the seven heads of the beast, these kings do not rule in succession rather simultaneously at the end time.  Ten nations will form an alliance under the Antichrist and make war against the Lamb at the battle of Armageddon. But the Lamb will be victorious – conquering them as He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords. And “with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.”

In Verse Fifteen of Chapter 17 the prostitute is seen sitting upon many waters. The description and the symbolic meaning of the waters are given. Generally speaking, when water is mentioned in Revelation, it should be taken literally. The fact that a symbolic meaning is assigned to it here is the exception to the usual rule. The situation described here is one of great political power on the part of the beast but also a sharing of rule with the woman who controls the multitudes of the world. The waters – as has been noted here - symbolize the peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages of the world – the majority of which embrace self-centeredness and ungodliness.   

In Verses Sixteen through Eighteen we discover a remarkable development in the vision. We see the ten horns or ten kings destroy the woman riding the beast in a very graphic way. The best reading indicates that the ten horns and the beast combine in this effort. The prostitute is stripped of all of her finery, her flesh is eaten, and she is burned with fire. These graphic words clearly picture the downfall of the apostate world church of the future. 

By comparison of other Scriptures, the time of this event may be placed approximately at the midpoint of the seven years of Daniel’s seventieth week (the midpoint of the Great Tribulation), which leads up to and climaxes in the second coming of Christ Jesus. Again, during the first half of the seven years, apostate Christendom flowers and flourishes and establishes its power over all the world. During this period there is a measure of religious freedom as indicated by the fact that the Jews are allowed to worship and renew their sacrifices as Daniel 9:27 (NIV) makes clear: 
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. 

However, false religion triumphs here. All religions of the world, apart from those with true faith in Christ, gather in one great church. Only those who are truly saved, whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life and who know Christ as Savior, seem to escape this unification. The climax of this series of events is seen in the early portion of Chapter Seventeen where the woman in all her pomp and wickedness is riding the beast.  However, in the second half of the week beginning the Great Tribulation period the beast no longer needs the power of the church – she has fulfilled her purposes for his agenda – and he destroys and replaces her with the worship of himself. According to Revelation 13:8-9 (NIV) we read:                     
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. 9 He who has an ear, let him hear. 

All people will worship the beast except true believers in Christ Jesus.  The divine judgment inflicted upon apostate Christendom follows a pattern that can be observed in Scripture in other judgments upon evil nations and ungodly rulers. Remember, God does not change.  We read in Malachi 3:6 (NIV):
6 “I the LORD do not change.”   

Their actions, though inspired by a blasphemous attempt to institute a world religion, nevertheless fulfills God’s will that the kingdoms of the world come under the domain of the beast in fulfillment of prophecy until the end of the age. Thus the plan of the ages unfolds majestically, and Scripture indicates that God sovereignly permits the growth of evil until its cup of sin overflows.

Despite the fact that worldly systems and schemes ultimately leave their adherents empty handed, worldliness will exert power over the kings of the earth for a short time, especially during the tribulation. It is appropriate to pause here and note an important application: These events could occur at any time. Jesus stated that no one knows the day or the hour of His coming and we are not to make an attempt to predict the precise timing of His glorious return, however, He has told us clearly to be ready and the stage appears to be set for the Antichrist to rise out of chaos. Believers must remain alert and devote their full energy while there is still time to do God’s agenda for their lives, the lives of their families, their churches and their communities. Further, unbelievers would be wise to confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior immediately before it is too late.

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

What I Glean