Revelation 17-1-18 Part 3

REVELATION 17:1-18 Part 3


1)    Then one of the seven messengers having the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying ‘here, I show you the judgment of the great harlot that sits by many waters

2)    with whom the kings of the earth did fornicate and those indwelling the land were made drunk from the wine of her fornications.

3)    And it bore me away in spirit into isolation.  Then I saw a woman sitting upon a crimson beast full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns;

4)    and the woman was purple and crimson clothed, adorned in gold and precious stone and pearls, and having in her hand a gold cup full of abominable things and the unclean things of her fornications;

5)    and a name, a mystery, having been written on her forehead: BABYLON THE GREAT, the mother of the harlots and the land’s abominations;

6)    and I saw the woman drunkened from the blood of the saints and from the blood of Jesus’ martyrs.  And when I saw her I wondered with great wonder!

7)    And the messenger said to me, “for what did you wonder?  I will speak to you the mystery of the woman and the beast bearing her that has the seven heads and the ten horns.

8)    The beast that you saw was, but isn’t; and it is about to go up from the abyss and to go forth into destruction.  Then those dwelling in the land whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be astonished when they behold the beast that was and is not and though is!

9)    Here, the mind that has wisdom!  The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, for there are seven kings.

10) The five did fall in ruin; the one is; the other did not yet come.  But when he comes it is necessary for him to remain briefly.

11) Then the beast that was and is not and is eighth and of the seven goes forth into destruction.

12) And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings whose kingdoms had not yet been taken but receive authority as kings for one hour with the beast.

13) These have one mind; and they give their power and authority to the beast.

14) These will make war with the Lamb.  But the Lamb will overcome them; for He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  And the ones called and chosen and faithful are those with Him!”

15) Then (the messenger) says to me, “the waters that you saw where the harlot sits are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.

16) And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the harlot and make her a desolation and naked and eat her flesh and burn her in fire;

17) for God did put into their hearts to do His purpose and be of one mind to give their power to the beast until the words of God are completed.

18) And the woman that you saw is the great city having power over the kings of the earth.


Six hundred and sixty-six years after Babylon of old was raised up from the sea of humanity to world dominion, the full and final wrath of God was poured out on Jerusalem and all remaining in the land.

From the text of this great and awesome sign shown to John, we went back and read the very words that YAHVEH had spoken to the prophets regarding Babylon.  It had caused the nations of the world to drink the cup of the wine of her fornications.  And the cup of the wine of the wrath of YAHVEH was poured out upon that first beast of history.

And here in John’s text, he wrote that YAHVEH recalled Babylon of old; for Jerusalem – the great city of God – had caused all the nations to drink from the cup of the wine of her fornications.  In the mind of God there was a perfect correspondence between Babylon of old and Israel.  And the cup of the wine of the wrath of YAHVEH would be poured out once again – this time on a harlot even more perverse than the first one.

The first beast called up from the sea of humanity had put an end to the light and glory of the great city.  It had terminated the sounds of the millstone in all of Israel, and the joy and celebration of its feasts.  And it had voided the happiness and anticipation of the bridegroom and the virgin bride.

But the great “mystery” here in our text, you see, was that God’s Anointed One had come.  He came to seek and to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And he “reversed” the debasement that had been inflicted upon His promised seed by this harlot people.  And He led them to green pastures and fed them and salved their wounds; and He scattered them among the nations.  And by His Spirit a people who were not His people would hear HIM!  The Gentile nations and tribes and peoples and tongues would now be the beneficiaries of His covenantal salvation; He would be their King; and they would be His people.

And once again there would be joy and feasting in His Kingdom… and the happiness and “wonder” of the Bridegroom and His virgin bride – all of this a “reversal” of what Babylon of old had done to Israel, and what the “greater Babylon” had done to the seed of the promise.

As you can see and hear, there’s nothing here that comes out of the fertile imaginations of men.  It is YAHVEH Lord of Hosts Himself Who reveals His purpose and makes the connections.  We simply observe them and make note of His Words as He, Himself, makes the comparison between Babylon of old and the harlot here in John’s text.  She even has the name on her forehead!

The great mystery is the grand deception of the serpent/dragon; the grand deception of the four beasts of history; the grand deception of the nations gathered against YAHVEH and His Anointed; the grand deception of the harlot… all for the promised Seed, and the Kingdom of His beloved Son.

As to what John is shown here (and by way of further identification of the harlot this morning), what the messenger from YAHVEH says to him, is that this harlot “sits by many waters” (verse one).  The messenger later explains (in verse fifteen) that “the waters that you saw where the harlot sits are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (i.e., the “sea” of humanity in great turmoil as it foams and rages).  And John would have immediately recalled the words of YAHVEH through the prophets as the harlot is further identified here as the “greater Babylon” and condemned.  She, too, sits by the nations in turmoil; and her turmoil is even greater than that of the nations around her!

And, like John, we too will marvel at the perfections of God’s Word as He makes the connections between Babylon of old and Jerusalem… Babylon the great!

Over a hundred years before God raised up His servant the king of Babylon, the prophet Isaiah was sent to Israel with dire warnings concerning her idolatry; and, of course, all through his prophecy there were the wondrous messages regarding the coming Messiah/King.

But in chapter seventeen of Isaiah, in the midst of many deep historical and geographical references attesting to the mind and perspective of God (all too extensive for us to deal with this morning), comes the Word concerning the peril to come due to Israel’s idolatry.

I’m not going to read it for you (it’s far too comprehensive for our purpose); but it contains the first prophetic glimpse at how YAVHEH sees the raging and foaming waters of the sea of pagan humanity, in the midst of which sits the glorious city of God – the very “center” of God’s creation in His promised land.

In the words of YAHVEH, Isaiah foretells of a time during which this land of paradise has only one or two berries left on the boughs; a time in which only a very few grapes are left on the vine, and one or two or five ears of corn are left remaining in the field.  Israel (Isaiah writes) has forgotten the Rock of its salvation; she has joined the turmoil of the troubled waters all around her and played the harlot with them and their pagan idols.

The few remaining grapes and berries and ears of corn are the children of the promise.  And there will be a “rushing” of nations… a rushing as in the rushing of “many waters” (and here we’re reminded of the sounds of the cherubim and their mighty wings).  And in the raging of the waters of the great sea of humanity, all the cities of Israel shall be made a desolation.

That’s the essence of what’s found there in Isaiah seventeen.  And it was seven hundred BC, remember!  And even then YAHVEH was speaking the sounds of many nations gathered against Israel because of its idolatry.  And the sounds are compared to the sound of the cherubim – the sound of many rushing waters!  And here in chapter seventeen of The Revelation, the harlot that is shown to John “sits by many waters”.

As you may remember from last Lord’s Day, the Word of YAHVEH through Jeremiah (last Lord’s Day we read from chapter twenty five remember), YAHVEH’s Word was that the king of Babylon was His servant who ruled the world, and who did all that YAHVEH purposed in destroying the temple and the city of Jerusalem and all of Israel… and taking all its wealth and the twelve tribes into captivity for seventy years… Babylon of old having been raised up out of the tumult of the waters.

Much of the language in that chapter (Jeremiah twenty five) is also here in our text of chapters fourteen through seventeen as John hears that YAHVEH has now recalled all that He had spoken regarding Babylon.  Jerusalem is the greater Babylon, for the golden cup of the wine of her fornications exceeds even that of Babylon of old!  And John sees that very golden cup in the hand of the harlot as she sits atop the fourth beast of history (verse four).

The Word of YAHVEH through Jeremiah concerning Babylon isn’t done, though… not by any means.  In chapter fifty one we can see even more clearly that Babylon itself is a prophecy regarding Jerusalem and all of Israel; for once again the sound of many rushing waters will be heard in God’s paradise land as He pours out His full and final wrath.

I’m going to read part of that chapter; and listen to the language.  Not only do we hear more of the cup of the wine of Babylon’s fornications and the cup of the wine of YAHVEH’s wrath; but we also hear of the “waters” beside which she sits.

Here’s a part of Jeremiah fifty-one:


5)    …the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.

6)    "Flee from the midst of Babylon; let every one save his life!  Be not cut off in her punishment, for this is the time of YAHVEH’s vengeance, the repayment he is rendering her.

7)    Babylon was a golden cup in YAHVEH’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.

8)    Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail for her!  Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.

9)    We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed.  Forsake her, and let each go to his own land, for her judgment has reached up to the heaven and has been lifted up to the clouds.

10)       YAHVEH has brought about our vindication; come, let us declare in Zion the work of YAHVEH our God.

11) "Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields!  YAHVEH has stirred  up the  spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of YAHVEH, the vengeance for his temple.

12) "Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon; make the watch strong; set up watchmen; prepare the ambushes; for YAHVEH has both purposed and done what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.

13) O you who sits by many waters, rich in treasures, your end has come; the thread of your life is cut.


The “grand deception” is once again apparent; for YAHVEH raised up His servant – the one He describes as sitting beside many waters.  Babylon was a golden cup in YAHVEH’s hand – a cup with which Babylon made the nations drunk with the wine of its fornication.

And here in the Revelation John hears all of these same words regarding the harlot that made the kings of the earth drunk with the cup of the wine of her fornications; that made all those dwelling in the land drunk with the cup of the wine of her fornications; and was, herself, drunkened with the blood of the righteous from Abel to Zechariah; and drunkened with the blood of those who Jesus came to seek and to save (verse six)!

The messenger of YAHVEH says to John that the harlot sits by many waters; and the waters are the nations all around her… the implications being (as the prophets said) that they are in raging turmoil.  But Israel has surpassed even the turmoil of the surrounding nations… the nations in the midst of which she sits.

In God’s perception, the correspondence between Babylon of old and Jerusalem here in John’s text is unquestionable; and our perception of it must be the same as His.  And just as YAHVEH prophesied the demise of Babylon of old, so would be the ultimate demise of the harlot – but worse; so much worse.

But YAHVEH would raise up another with dominion over all the nations of the earth.  The Anointed One would – Himself - drink the cup of the wine of the wrath of God for the promised Seed!

You remember (hopefully) that Jesus asked His disciples whether they were able to drink the cup that He was about to drink?  And Peter, eager to defend Jesus said (in essence) “yep!  I can do that!”  But of course he had no idea about what Jesus was about to suffer.

He was abandoned as He received that stroke of wrath from His Father… abandoned into sin and death and hades.  He drank the whole cup… down to the dregs.  But IN HIM we won’t suffer abandonment as Babylon did, or as Israel did.  He gave Himself to that stroke for us.  And His dominion is forever… as is ours In Him.

That’s what we remember at Communion (as Peter later did, and as we will observe next Lord’s Day).  It is the covenantal sign and seal of salvation for all who are in Him.  It is our surety of His having already suffered the full wrath of the Father, and a surety of His dominion over all; and that, even in our deaths, He holds on to us.  We are not abandoned; we will not suffer the wrath of the Father.  But the One Who has been given all authority in heaven and earth will raise us up as He was raised up out of death.  And since His dominion is forever and ever, so we will enjoy all the benefits of that dominion forever.  His Kingdom (as YAHVEH spoke through the prophet Daniel) will never be destroyed as the four previous ones were.

Yet there are still many who hate Him and rage against His dominion.  They don’t wish to be ruled by Him.  They are deceived; and they are committing eternal suicide.  Nevertheless, the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ will grow until it covers the earth, and until men of all nations and tribes and tongues acknowledge His Kingship.

As we proceed now to the “beast” – atop which sits the harlot (verse three), the words of YAHVEH through the prophet Daniel are important with regard to this creature here in The Revelation of Jesus Christ.  But even before Daniel, much is said in God’s Word concerning the beasts of the field.  Lions and bears and leopards and jackals and vipers and eagles and owls and other birds of prey are all through Scripture.  They bite and rip and tear and destroy – and feed on carcasses.

And yet YAHVEH’s words through the prophets foresee the time in which His people shall rest in green pastures and sleep safely in the woods – free of the danger of the beasts.

Listen to Ezekiel at chapter thirty-four:


2)    Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus says YAHVEH GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves!  Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

3)    You eat the fat, and you clothe you with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock.

4)    The diseased have you not strengthened, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them.

5)    And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.


And then YAHVEH continues:

8)    As I live, says YAHVEH GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

9)    Therefore, O you shepherds, hear the word of YAHVEH;

10) Thus says YAHVEH GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.


Then YAHVEH says this to Ezekiel:

22) Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

23) And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

24) And I YAHVEH will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I YAHVEH have spoken it.

25) And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.


The beasts – and the seed (the sheep); it’s a constant throughout Scripture (the seed of the dragon and the seed of the woman).  And Jesus made it clear to His disciples that He came to seek and to save the lost sheep of the house of Jacob.  And from God’s perspective, throughout His Word, He came to save them from the beasts… to save the promised seed from the seed of the dragon; to save the sheep from being eaten by the beasts.

Here in the Revelation, at the end of the age, the fourth “beast” was being deceived into destruction – to “eat the carcass of the harlot”.  But Jesus Christ and His disciples had already sought out and saved the promised seed (His sheep) before the ravenous beast arrived!  It feasted on the harlot instead!  The sheep were gone.  All that remained in the land were the ones that adored the image and received the mark of the beast!  See the deception?

There are a number of references in God’s Word like that one in Ezekiel; but the most specific of all the prophecies concerning the beasts of history is the Word of YAHVEH through the prophet Daniel, who was in captivity in Babylon with all the rest of Israel.

Daniel is shown an image of four great kingdoms (of which Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon was the first – the “head” of gold).  And then he was shown a stone cut without hands from the mountain; and the stone smashes the fourth kingdom into pieces, and all four kingdoms are crushed into chaff to be blown away in the wind.  And the stone becomes a great mountain over all the mountains of the earth.

And when Daniel describes all of these things to God’s servant Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of all the earth, the king’s true nature emerges at the decree of YAHVEH!  He is a beast!  Hair grew all over his body (like eagle’s feathers); his nails were as claws; and he grazed in the fields – wet with the dew of heaven.  He was set back up on his feet later on, which is important to our text.

But later on, during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar, Daniel was shown another vision… this one of all four beasts of world history.  Let me read this one for you… it’s really important that you hear the words (chapter seven).  And take note of the fact that there are, among the four beasts, a total of seven heads; and the last beast has ten horns.  Here it is:


3)    And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

4)    The first was like a lion, and had eagles’ wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.

5)    And behold another beast, a second, like unto a bear, and it raised itself up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth.  And it was told: Arise, devour much flesh.

6)    After this I looked and, lo another, like a leopard, which had upon its back four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

7)    After this I saw in the night visions, and lo, 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 its feet: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.


Now, before we take all of this back to the text of John’s Revelation, let’s go back even before Isaiah for a moment; for it was Hosea that YAHVEH called upon to marry a harlot.  The prophet’s LIFE was a sign of Israel’s harlotry.  That was his allotment as YAHVEH’s prophet!  And, mind you, his prophetic Word was received from God a hundred and fifty years before the Babylonian captivity and the prophecy of Daniel!  Listen carefully for the beasts of world history.  This is from chapter thirteen of Hosea’s prophecy:


4)    I am YAHVEH your God from the land of Egypt, and you shall know no god but me: for there is no savior beside me.

5)    I did know you in the wilderness, in the land of great dryness.

6)    When they had pasture, they were filled - they were sated, and their heart was exalted; therefore they did forget me.

7)    Therefore I will be unto them as a lion; as a leopard I will lurk by the way.

8)    I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her cubs, and I will tear open the covering to their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion, like a wild beast I will tear them.


You see, there, in the prophet Hosea, are the great beasts that are shown to Daniel a hundred and fifty years later, and written in chapter seven of his prophecy.


And now let’s come forward once again to John’s Revelation.  And let’s be reminded of what he was shown in chapter thirteen.  Here it is:


1)    Then I saw a beast having ten horns and seven heads arising out of the sea; and upon its horns there were ten diadems, and a blasphemous name on its heads.

2)    The beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet as a bear, and its mouth the mouth of a lion and the dragon did give it its power and its dominion and great authority;

3)    and one of its heads as having been fatally wounded and its stroke of death healed, the whole land was caused to marvel after the beast.

4)    And they adored the dragon that gave the authority to the beast and adored the beast, saying ‘who is like the beast’ and ‘who is enabled to wage war with it?’

5)    And a mouth speaking great, blasphemous things was given it, and authority to act forty two months was given it;

6)    and it opened its mouth in blasphemies toward God, to blaspheme His Name and those tabernacling in His tabernacle in the heaven.

7)    And there was given it to make war with the holy people and to overcome them.  And authority over every tribe and tongue and people was given it.

8)    And all who dwell on the land whose names have not been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the cosmos shall bow before it.

9)    If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

10) If anyone is for captivity, into captivity he goes; if anyone is for killing by the sword, he is to be killed by the sword.  Here is the determination and the faith of the holy people!


So, you see, as we come to chapter seventeen, John has already seen the fourth beast arise from the sea here at the end of the age.  It has been identified with the exact words of the prophets (right there in chapter thirteen).

And the beast atop which the harlot sits has the seven heads and the ten horns!  And it is the same one spoken to Hosea seven hundred and twenty five years BC; it is the same one spoken to Isaiah seven hundred years BC; it is the same one spoken to Jeremiah six hundred years BC; and it is the same one spoken by YAHVEH to Daniel five hundred and fifty years BC.

It has all of the attributes and endowments of the first three beasts; yet it is diverse.  The first beast ruled the known world by Chaldeans; the second beast ruled the world by Medes and Persians; the third beast ruled the world by Greeks!  But this fourth beast, in all its diversity (and having all of the attributes of the first three) is exceedingly strong and dreadful, having dominion over all the earth from ten different kingdoms – all paying homage to the emperor-god of Rome!

Israel and its glorious city of light that God had made the very center of His creation had played the harlot with each and every one of those nations for centuries; and all that remained in the land were to adore the image of the beast and the image of the dragon.  The great city was truly the beautiful woman adorned with the wealth of the jewels and stones and garments of the world; for she had been paid for her fornications.  She was a bought-and-paid-for harlot sitting atop the beast.

The dragon was deceived; the beast was deceived; and the nations were deceived; and all those remaining in the land were deceived.

And in the full and final wrath of YAHVEH this beast with the iron teeth and the ten horns (the representative and embodiment of all the beasts of history) would destroy the harlot Jerusalem and eat her body and stamp out the residue with its feet… all in an attempt – the fourth attempt – to destroy the kingdom and cut off the seed of the promise.

But… as Daniel later saw, the Stone had already been cut without hands from the mountain (Mt Zion); and it would grow into a great mountain over all the mountains of the earth.  And it would break and scatter the feet and legs of iron and clay (the fourth dominion); and it would crush the remainder of the bronze and the silver and the gold (the third, the second and the first dominions) and blow away the remains like chaff.

And His Kingdom would never be destroyed; for it would be forever.

And so now we’ve identified the harlot and the beast directly from the Word of God through the prophets.  And there is no scenario, super-imposed on the text, that can possibly take it out of its own context.  John, in awe and wonder at all he’s being shown, is provided an explanation through God’s messenger.

And next Lord’s Day, as we take the verses one by one, we will have that explanation to guide us as well; for it, too, comes from the mouth of God.  Therefore it all agrees.

And we’ll be able to see the grand deception: the deception of the serpent/dragon; the deception of the beast; the deception of the nations; and the deception of the harlot… all with the purpose of the preservation and manifestation of the promised Seed, and the glorious Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and the salvation of the world – all to the glory of The Father.