Revelation 17:1-18 Part 6

REVELATION 17:1-18 Part 6


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.


As we continue this morning with the sign to John and the messenger’s explanation of it, I sense that there still remains a “disconnect” regarding the promise of a “seed”.

Rather than looks of comprehension, awareness, and wonderment – and then, of course, gratitude for so great salvation – I still see some blank stares when I mention it.

But, you see, John responds in great “wonder” at all he’s being shown!  By deception on a grand scale, God is about to execute the great harlot (as Israel and Jerusalem are described here in verse one) – Babylon the Great, the fullness of Babylon of old (as she is called in verse five), having already preserved the promised seed from the coming final wrath of God.  And they are shown to him, preserved by God and standing with the Lamb on the new Mount Zion.  They have all been “taken up”, out of harms way; and all remaining have been “left behind”.

The Lamb is the Seed – and all who are in Him.  And John makes the connection with all that has come before in the prophetic Word!  And he was “in wonder” about it all!

So, since I get the impression that all of that still seems somewhat “abstract”, I’m going to spend some time on it this morning – especially from two letters to the Churches from the apostle Paul.  It’s really important that we all get this.  It’s so important that your apprehension of the fullness of the Revelation of Jesus Christ actually depends on it.

And, as we approach the letters of Paul, let’s remember that they were sent to people – Jewish people – who had traveled to Jerusalem and Judea from every nation in the world to participate in Passover and Pentecost!  And they were there when Jesus was crucified; they were there when Jesus arose out of death; they were there when Jesus, forty days later, ascended to the Right of the Father and was crowned King of Kings.  And they were there in Jerusalem, ten days after that when there was a thunderous roar of the Presence of Almighty God in His glory cloud; and Holy Spirit was poured out upon many at Peter’s preaching of the Gospel… starting with the prophecy of Joel!

And these people, baptized into the resurrected and ascended body of Jesus Christ, went home to their various cities and nations to tell others of the mighty work of God that had just come upon them.  And the Church of Jesus Christ was born in the nations (all seventy of them).

And then the work of finding all of the lost sheep of the house of Jacob began (and during that time we also see some indications of the great work of salvation among Gentiles).  But as the lost sheep of the house of Jacob were found (from all over Judea and Samaria), they were sent out of Israel into all of those places where Christians were now gathering for worship; and the brand-new Churches were being established everywhere.

Now, it wasn’t too long after Pentecost that Paul (formerly the epitome of the term “judaist”) was made an apostle of Jesus Christ.  And the letters that he wrote were to these very young Churches that were rapidly filling with more brand-new believers from Judea and Samaria.  And the letters were Theological “correctives” and also preparations for the end of the age! 

All of these new believers in the infant Churches… all had to be built-up in the Faith for the persecution to come and for the final wrath about to come upon the “land” (which would come as soon as the last of the “lost sheep of the house of Jacob” was found – and “raptured” to meet Jesus when He came.  Oh, I’m sorry!  I used an unbiblical word there!  But John has already seen every last one of them standing with Jesus at His Parousia at the end of the age!  They’re all gone from the land… marked, sealed and removed before the last day.  And there wasn’t a pilotless airplane or a driverless car anywhere!)

But back to Paul, one of the preeminent topics in his letters to the Churches was that all these of the Faith of Jesus were of the “promised seed”.  So, as we read from Paul, hopefully the “abstract” will become “concrete”; and the “disconnect” will be connected.  And all of us can be in “wonder” with John as we begin to perceive with the perception of God and understand His purpose. 

And then we can ask ourselves the same question that YAHVEH’s messenger asks of John: “Why did you wonder?”

Why are you still in such shock and amazement at what you’re being shown?  It’s all through Moses; it’s all through the prophets, and in the Person of the Son of God/Son of Man – the Word made flesh!

Apparently the apostle John was not yet fully aware of the purpose of God regarding the preservation and deliverance of the promised seed; apparently he was not yet fully aware of the purpose of God regarding the great harlot; apparently he wasn’t yet fully aware of the purpose of God in deceiving the dragon and the beast and the kings of the earth and the pseudoprophets and all those remaining (left behind) in the land; apparently he wasn’t yet fully aware of the purpose of God regarding the dominion of Christ the King over all the nations of the earth, and the salvation of the world IN HIM.

That may be hard for us to conceive; but in his letter to the Churches he admits that!  He writes to them about the gentle chastening of YAHVEH through His messenger (“why do you wonder!”).  He lets them all know that he was in “wonder” about all that he was being shown!  It was an open admission to the Churches that in no way was he fully prepared for what he was being shown!  But this servant of Jesus Christ and His people, the apostle John, was preparing the Churches in this letter! 

They would know; they would have the written Revelation of Jesus Christ.  And they would have a comprehensive view of the purpose of God to bring Himself glory in the Person of God the Son.  The promises of God – from the beginning – would be completely fulfilled in the work of the Son; and they – the believers in all the Churches – would soon have the mind of Christ… even if John had to have an explanation!


But here we are, nearly two thousand years later.  We have the explanation; but, for the most part, the Church in our time is “unaware” of the revealed purpose of God for all of these things!  We have the sign that John was shown; and we have the explanation – but (once again), for the most part, the present-day Church doesn’t know!

In the moral decline which defines our time (of which there have been many), many Churches have failed to be separate from the world order; and they have confused the prophetic Word with the imaginations of men as they fabricate new “mysteries” regarding the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

We can’t do that.  John admits in his letter that he needed an explanation; and he received the explanation; and he writes it for us!  And we have it.  So we don’t have to make up new mysteries and strange scenarios.  We have God’s purpose written for us; and that purpose is revealed all through His Word – the Capstone of which is the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  It all agrees!  And it all begins with the promise… the promise of a “seed”.  That promise, which was to preserve a seed for Himself, is revealed at the beginning – in The Genesis.

Due to the apostasy from God of all cursed and depraved mankind, there were none who were good – not even one!  But even in the flood, God preserved a seed for Himself out of cursed humanity!

But even afterward, there was a total, depraved apostasy of cursed mankind.  However, God chose one man from among all corrupt and cursed men on the earth.  And He gave that one man faith as a gift; and He promised Abraham the “seed”.

But not through all of Abraham’s children… only through Isaac!  But not through all of Isaac’s children… only through Jacob!  And four hundred and thirty years later, the tribes of Jacob’s twelve sons were birthed as a nation out of Egypt.

But, you see, there was still a depraved and cursed humanity in complete apostasy from God its Creator.  Even though YAHVEH had given them everything – even His Law-word and a replica of His tabernacle in the heaven, this nation was cursed humanity in rebellion against God from the beginning.  It was as corrupt and depraved as all the rest!  But in this nation God preserved a seed for Himself.

And later – even through four great beast/kingdoms raised up against her – God preserved a seed from the tribes of Jacob according to the promise!

God had placed great “enmity” between the seed of the dragon and the seed of the woman; and the hatred and vengeance of the dragon drove it, all through history, to cut off that seed so the Kingdom, promised from the beginning, could not be established.

The fourth beast raised up out of depraved humanity was, by far, the strongest and most terrible.  And it would incorporate all the kings of the earth in its quest to destroy the promised land and its great city.  And it would disassemble the temple and burn everything; and it would kill all those of the tribes of Jacob in order to cut off the promised seed!

But, you see, what it did was the purpose of God; for it was deceived!  What it destroyed was the harlot!  The promised seed was already gone!

The Church has to re-learn all of this!  All mankind was cursed; all mankind was corrupt; all mankind was depraved… but God mercifully purposed to save some.  He promised!  That’s a covenant!  And all through His history that “some” was the seed that He preserved for Himself in the coming Christ (the Anointed One).


So now let’s listen to the apostle Paul as he writes to the Churches about these things.  And remember, he writes before John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ.  And the Churches had to understand all of this; for God’s purpose in the deception of the dragon was about to be carried out in the full and final wrath of God.

The fledgling Churches in Rome, established after Pentecost, were about to be driven underground in the horrible, world-wide persecution of Jews and Christians when they received Paul’s letter. It was Paul’s purpose to strengthen them and prepare them for what was shortly to come.

It included many things of great Theological value.  And of preeminent import was the promised seed that God had preserved for Himself all through His history, because (as Paul explained in chapter one) all mankind is cursed of God; and his corruption is complete; and it leaves him no hope save in the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Listen to Paul now in chapter four of the letter to the Roman Churches:


8)    Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin.

9)    Is this blessing pronounced upon just the circumcision, or upon the uncircumcision as well?  For we say, ‘To Abraham his faith was reckoned for righteousness’.

10) How then was it reckoned?  When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?  Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision;

11) then he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision, in order that he might be the father of all them that believe, even though they be in uncircumcision - that righteousness might be reckoned unto them;

12) and (that he might be) the father of circumcision to them who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham which he had in uncircumcision.

13) For not through the law was the promise to Abraham or to his seed (that he should be heir of the world), but through the righteousness of faith.

14) For if only they that are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect;

15) for the law works wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there transgression (of law).

16) For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

17) (as it is written, ‘a father of many nations have I made you’) before him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead ones, and calls the things that are not, as though they were.

18) Who in hope believed against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken: ‘So shall your seed be’.


All through His history there is a seed preserved by God out of all corrupt and condemned mankind.

Salvation is not by the Law of God, Paul says; it can’t be by the law, because God’s Law drives depraved mankind into intense, further rebellion, corruption and despair!  Salvation is by grace, through faith in the promised “seed” – which is Christ and all of those In Him who were promised to Abraham – many nations, Jew and Gentile alike!

Salvation isn’t to those because they’ve been circumcised (you Jews in Rome).  Abraham received the gift of faith before he was circumcised!  The seed was promised to him through the faith that was given to him; and then he was circumcised – circumcision being the sign and seal of the promise!

And faith (through which the promise is realized) is given to those of the circumcision (Jews) and those of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) by way of the promise of a seed!  And faith, which is reckoned as righteousness in the coming seed – The Christ of God, will be given to circumcised people and uncircumcised people; and Abraham (through faith) will then be the father of many nations!  Not by the Law; not by circumcision… but by God’s promise!  The only way the promise could be “sure” to any of cursed humanity is by grace through the gift of faith… “counted” as righteousness.

So, it’s the promised seed, you see… preserved by God for Himself, from the beginning.  There are promised seed of the twelve tribes of Jacob (the remnant of Israel filling up the promise to the sons of Jacob); and there are promised seed of the Gentiles (who didn’t receive the Law, and who were not circumcised).

Some of the Jewish Christians in the Churches didn’t yet understand the promise of a seed; and they were requiring Gentiles to be circumcised in order that they first become Jews in order to then be Christians!

But Paul says “no, no”!  That’s not what God did; and that’s not what He said!  YAHVEH chose this man – Abram – a cursed and depraved human; and preached the Gospel of the coming Savior of the World to him, and gave him faith; and He promised Abraham a seed… all BEFORE he was circumcised – before he received the sign and seal of the promise of a seed!

And Abraham, an undeserving, cursed and depraved human (like all the rest), became the great-grandfather of the twelve sons of his grand-son Jacob – the great-grandsons becoming the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel; one of which was the ancestor of Jesus Christ the Savior of the World!  This promise of the seed was given to Abraham; and he believed the promise through faith given to him by YAHVEH.

Now let’s listen to a portion of Paul’s letter to the Churches in Galatia (an area which we now know as Eastern Turkey).  This is from chapter three.  Paul writes:


6)    Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned (counted) unto him for righteousness.

7)    Know therefore that they who are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham (his seed).

8)    And as the scripture says, foreseeing that God Who would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, ‘in you shall all the nations be blessed’.

9)    So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.

10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse.  For it is written, ‘cursed is every one who continues not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.

11) Now, that no man is justified by the law before God is evident; for ‘the righteous shall live through faith’;

12) and the law is not of faith; but, ‘he that does them shall live in them’.

13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; it is written, ‘cursed is every one that hangs on a tree’ (it was Jesus Who was cursed, you see);

14) (Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law) that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

15) Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: though there may be just a man's covenant, yet when it has been confirmed, no one makes it void, or adds thereto….

16) But to Abraham were the promises spoken (GOD’s covenant), and to his seed. He said not, ‘to seeds’, as of many; but as of one, ‘and to thy seed’, which is Christ.

17) Now this I say: a covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law (which came four hundred and thirty years after) does not annul, so as to make the promise of none effect.

18) For if the inheritance (the seed) is of the law, it is no more of promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by promise.

19) What then is the law?  It was added because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through messengers by the hand of a mediator.

20) But a mediator is not a mediator of one (but God IS One).

21) Is the law then against the promises of God?  God forbid; for if there had been a law given which could make alive, truly righteousness would have been of the law.

22) But the Scriptures shut up all things under sin, in order that the promise through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

23) But before faith came, we were kept in ward (prison) under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

24) So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified through faith.

25) But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor.

26) For you are all sons of God through faith - in Christ Jesus.

27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

28) There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be neither male nor female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus.

29) And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise.


So, you see, if depraved mankind could have been made righteous by the Law of God, then at its writing there would have been righteousness.  But what the written law-Word of God did was shut up all mankind in its cursed depravity!  It exacerbates human depravity!  But the just shall live through faith; and the Law of God is written in their hearts so that they live in it!  It no longer drives men and women of faith to further rebellion against God; but it is put into the hearts of those who live in the Faith of Jesus Christ that they may live lawfully according to God’s Law-Word.

But the point to the Galatian Churches is that Jesus Christ and all who belong to Him are the seed promised from the beginning.  And that seed was all those who God had preserved for Himself – again, from the beginning, and all through His history!

And since all mankind is dead in sin, those who God has preserved for Himself are reckoned as “righteous” through faith that is given to them in the promised seed – which is Christ.  It is HIS faithfulness which is reckoned to them, you see.

Once more:  the ones promised and preserved by God are reckoned – counted – as righteous through faith which is given to them!  It is Jesus’ faithfulness which is put to their account; and it is counted to them as righteousness solely by grace.  And God’s Law-word no longer curses them and holds them in prison to their depravity; but they are “alive” in it!

And as the apostle writes to the Galatians, at the gift of Faith in Christ Jesus there are no differences in the promised seed.  All of them were cursed and under condemnation.  You see, if it’s a gracious gift from God, then there can be no distinction between Jew or Gentile!  There’s no deserving of the gift by either one!  It’s by grace!

There can be no distinction between a bond-slave or a wealthy free-man!  It’s a gift!  There’s no deserving by either one!

And there can be no distinction between male and female.  It’s a gift, and there’s no deserving by either!  There’s no “accommodation” for either one, because neither is more deserving than the other!  They’re all dead in sin (Jew-Gentile; rich or poor; male or female).  If they are the promised seed of God in Christ – undeserving as they all are, they are all the same in the body of Christ.  They all received it (only) by the grace of God!

So, what the apostle/prophet John is being shown here in chapter seventeen, and what has caused him great “wonder”, is that the “daughter of Zion” has been birthed out of the land; she is the promised seed of Israel in the risen Christ… promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

There are “none” of the seed remaining in the land.  All who do remain in the land constitute the great harlot whose harlotry gives her great power over the nations.

But God deceives the dragon and the beast and the nations; He “put it into their hearts to do His purpose” (verse seventeen).  He deceived them into turning on their harlot and destroying her.  All of the seed of Israel promised to Abraham are scattered into the nations to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ… and the promise to Abraham of a seed among the Gentiles is fulfilled; for they, too, are given faith (undeservedly) through which they are counted as righteous (indeed, a wondrous thing to John).

And the Kingdom of Christ is established among all the nations of the earth – the “seed” growing into a great tree in which the birds make their nests, and under which the beasts of fallen humanity lie down with the Lamb of God.

And YAHVEH’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations will have been fulfilled.

You see, the promise to Abraham was for a “Seed”, which is Christ.  And In Him cursed and depraved humanity is saved through faith, which is reckoned to them as righteousness.  The faith is a gift; and God blesses His gift because of the faithfulness of His Christ!

John is receiving the whole picture here at the end of the prophetic Word… the purpose of God throughout history.  And it is a “wondrous” purpose!  Through the mouths of two or three witnesses a thing is confirmed.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit are the three witnesses of the Covenant for the salvation of the world.  He promised!  And He always fulfills His promise.  Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts, will be glorified in all that He has made.