Revelation 17:1-18 Part 7

REVELATION 17:1-18 Part 7


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.


Although John had to have an explanation of the awesome and wondrous sign that he was being shown, we have the sign – and we have the explanation by way of the messenger sent from the mouth of  God.

And everything in the sign is packed with prophetic fullness.  So, there’s nothing here that we can count as “insignificant” and just pass over it.  We’re dealing with the infinite mind of Almighty God and His purpose from the beginning.  It all has theological value so we can better love, adore and worship the Lord our God Who has saved us from an eternity of deserved retribution.

And that purpose was to manifest His glorious Person in the sure salvation of a certain people from a cursed and condemned humanity.  The Psalmist said of Israel: “there are none good; no, not one”.  Therefore, the salvation of a certain promised seed was only by grace – through faith.  So that it was “sure”.

The Gospel of God – the “good news” of God – concerns His Son, the “promised seed”, Who faithfully obeyed The Father, making full restitution for all of those of the promise – first those of the Jews (called the “remnant” of the tribes of Jacob), and then of the nations and tongues and tribes of Gentiles; His further work being the dominion over the entire cursed creation, to the end that all things in the heaven and on the earth redound to the glory of God. 

This is all by grace, in order that it might be “sure”.  “For God SO loved the cosmos – His creation – that He “gave” His only Son, in order that the salvation of all that He had made might be “sure”.

And what we’re reading in the Revelation of Jesus Christ is the “last days”, “end of the age”, manifestation of that Son – the Lamb of God – the promised Seed prophesied throughout Scripture – and all of the “seed” from the twelve tribes of Jacob, standing with Him – In Him.

And as Psalm two prophesied, all the nations of the earth are gathered against YAHVEH and His Anointed One.  But YAHVEH laughs at them.  He deceives them all; for His Anointed had already made the sacrifice; and He had already gathered the “seed” of Jacob to Himself; He had already been given all authority; He had already been crowned King of Kings… and the promised seed are seen “with” Him on the new mountain of His Kingship!

As John looks on in the sign, the waters of fallen humanity are raging in tumult against YAHVEH and His Anointed.  Cursed mankind doesn’t want to be connected to Him; they want to cut off the seed so they’re not ruled by Him.  But they’re all deceived into destroying the harlot – Jerusalem – with which they’ve all been fornicating for centuries.

John is in “wonder” at all of this, for every detail of the sign has great significance and is irrevocably connected with the prophetic Word from the beginning.

All that remained of the land; all that remained of Jerusalem; all that remained of the man-made replica of God’s tabernacle; and all that remained of the tribes of Jacob – the very “atmosphere” of the heaven-and-earth paradise that God had made the “center” of the earth – would cease to exist as the seven bowls of the full and final wrath of God were poured out.  That strong and terrible fourth beast with its iron teeth would eat the harlot’s body and burn the remainder… all with deceived “certainty” that it had cut off the “seed” (and, therefore, the promised Kingdom).


In verse three of the text John is shown the “beast”.  Having been removed from the tabernacle and “isolated” from it, John can now be shown the beast (since the beast has no business being in the tabernacle); and this fourth, and last, beast of world dominion appears to him in a particular “color”!  And, as you see in the text, its color is “crimson”.

Having now been alerted to the fact that nothing in the sign is, in any way, insignificant, we have to determine the reason why YAHVEH shows him and the Churches a “crimson” fourth beast of history!  And John makes a point of it (along with the colors of the harlot’s adornment – which we’ll also get to).

And remember that the beast has seven heads and ten horns (explained later by the messenger); and it has many of the features of the first three beasts.  As Daniel described them, the first was as a lion; the second was as a leopard; and the third was as a bear.

But this fourth one was much more terrible than even the former beasts – even though it has their features; and it is very strong; and it had great iron teeth with which to eat its prey as carrion.

The color of the beast, here in our text, is translated “crimson”.  Although there are two different words describing the same color in Hebrew (which is there for “poetic” effect), there is only one in Greek.  And the Greek word (translated “crimson”) has also been translated “scarlet” (because of the Hebrew word), and that translation has some acceptance.

But I’ve chosen crimson for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the King James version translates it that way (so it is familiar to many); and that crimson (more readily than scarlet) identifies the various purposes for the colors in the mind of God. 

The need is great for man to have the mind of God… to think His thoughts after Him; to perceive with His perception.  That gives Him glory!

Great concepts throughout Scripture are splashed with the colors of crimson and white and black and purple (and others).  Of course, God is the creator of colors, so they are of Divine origin.  And they reflect the colors of glory in the “bow” around the Presence of Almighty God above the firmament.  And that radiance of His glory is seen in the covenant sign after the rain.

But in His mind and purpose, colors are used in many other ways as signs and concepts and depictions.  There are several “reds”… one of fiery red – as in burning; another (crimson – or scarlet), which is the color of sin and the color of blood and the color of war – and even the color of redemption; and another is a mixture (or combination) of purple and crimson, which are colors of licentious extravagance and self-indulgence and fornication.

And, of course, John is shown “whiteness” all through the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  His first view of the resurrected and ascended Jesus is written at the beginning of the letter.  And His glorious appearance is described in “white”.

In many other instances the white is in contrast to the blacks and the crimsons, and to the combinations of purple and crimson.  And, as we’ve just recently seen, the promised seed of the tribes of Jacob are standing with the Lamb of God on the new Mount Zion; and they are attired in white!

So, in the infinite mind of YAHVEH there are associations that are made evident by color; and there are many contrasts made by color.  Events and prophecies all through the Word are thereby connected by color (as well as by many other things).  And it all attests to the perfection of the Word of God – for it is One Word; and it all agrees.


Now, as is almost always the case in our covenantal approach, there is no way that we can go through the entire Scripture and mention, with explanations, all of the instances in which colors appear purposefully in the mind and intent of God.  We’re talking about a book there… it would be a really fine book, and a large one!

There are no instances that are insignificant… none that are “incidental”; and certainly none are there by “accident”!  But in all cases in which we look for the connections, we choose two or three that will provide us with understanding and build our faith and our faithfulness, and that will cause us to be in awe at the wonders of our Lord’s Revelation.

The beast that is shown to John (verse three) is specifically mentioned by him as being crimson in color.  As you can see for yourself, that’s a purposeful description.  There is no way, here in the capstone of the Word of God (which is the fullness of the prophetic Word), that the fourth great beast of world history would be shown to John as “crimson” in color unless there was perfect, Divine reason involved!

The beast has already been described in other places as having the attributes of the three former predator animals, and having seven heads and ten horns, and being strong as iron and having iron teeth with which it can rip and tear and consume its prey.

So an addition here to the description of the beast (along with the colors with which the harlot is adorned) is a purposeful one, and one which requires some inquiry.  And we find that its color, and John’s reference to its color in order for the Churches to read it, is very significant – both as to the color itself and to the contrasts of colors.


First I want to take you back to the passage of Scripture having to do with the planning for the temple to be built on the dome of the rock in Jerusalem.

It’s too long to read, so I’ll just tell it to you.  David’s son, Solomon, had succeeded his father as king of Israel; and he longed to build a great “house” for YAHVEH at the top of the mount.  This comes at the beginning of Second Chronicles.

After much planning, and after numbering the men that would be needed for the construction of the temple, Solomon contacted the king of Tyre (who had earlier provided the timbers for king David’s house); and they agreed on a bartering price for the timbers and for one man who was skilled in working with gold, and engraving, and working with highly prized and valued linen.

With the foundation of the whole complex having been laid, Solomon began building the temple to the exact specifications of the tabernacle itself – revealed to Moses at Sinai.

The “holy-of-holies” (the inner room of the temple) was overlaid with gold (sides, top and floor); and the wings of the cherubim over the ark of the covenant extended to the complete width of the room, which was twenty cubits by twenty cubits by thirty-five cubits high – all of this after the “pattern” which was shown to Moses at Sinai.  Moses was in the tabernacle of YAHVEH, remember; and he saw all of this.

The holy-of-holies in the tabernacle – and then in the temple built by Solomon – was to be a “picture”, an “image”, a “simulation” of YAHVEH’s tabernacle in the glory cloud.  And as we read the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the apostle John is in that glory cloud and he sees all the same things that Moses saw! 

The bright gold overlaying everything built by Solomon was there to reflect the gleaming glory of Almighty God.  The mighty cherubim-creatures were solid gold – also reflecting YAHVEH’s glory.

However, there was one item in the earthly structure that wasn’t there when John was called up into the tabernacle in the heaven; and that was the veil.

The skilled worker that was sent to Solomon was to form a great veil before the holy-of-holies, thirty-five cubits high and twenty cubits wide, made of prized linen, engraved with cherubim and trimmed with purples; and its color was crimson.

You also remember that when our Lord was crucified, He entered, once, into the tabernacle in the heaven; and the veil in the temple on the dome of the rock was ripped from top to bottom, indicating that no longer is there a separation between YAHVEH and His people; for all of us, in Christ, have direct access to the Father in Him.  There was no more crimson veil; and the temple (with all of its utensils and ceremonies) was rendered obsolete.  John has already seen all of our Lord’s people from the tribes of Jacob standing with the Christ in the Presence of the Lord of Hosts!  There was, therefore, no more need for them to worship in an earthy, man-made temple!


Now, just for a minute, let me take you to the second letter of the apostle Paul to the Churches in Thessalonica.  This letter was written maybe twenty-five years before John’s Revelation; and he prepares the Churches for what is about to happen at the Parousia of Jesus Christ.

Listen to these few verses from chapter two:


1)    Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the Parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him;

2)    to the end that you be not quickly shaken from your mind-set, nor yet be troubled either by spirit or by word or by letter as if it was from us… since the day of the Lord is just at hand,

3)    let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,

4)    he that opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.


This crimson beast that John is shown in this sign, atop which sits the harlot which is adorned in fine crimson and purple linens, will enter Jerusalem and proceed to the dome of the rock and enter the holy of holies in the temple (which no longer has a crimson veil); seat itself on the ark of the covenant beneath the wings of the cherubim, laughing and ridiculing and blaspheming the God of heaven and earth and His only Son Jesus Christ.

The only problem with this is that there is no longer a crimson veil… there’s only a crimson beast!  The last “laugh” is YAHVEH’s!  The veil is gone; the promised seed are gone… they are already in the Presence of Almighty God in Christ; the man-made replica of God’s holy tabernacle is obsolete!

So it’s then stripped of all its gold and precious stones and jewels and engravings, and disassembled stone by stone and burned to the ground.

The blasphemous ravings of the beast have been emptied of any meaning; for it has been deceived into destroying that which is already devoid of value in the worship of the Lord of Hosts!

The blood of the Lamb of God has already been poured out in sacrifice for all of His people.  The One Who became sin poured out crimson on the land.  The lost sheep of the house of Jacob have all been found, marked and sealed and rescued before the full and final wrath of God is poured out on the land.  The promised seed has again been preserved by God.  So Jerusalem and all of Israel has been emptied of true Israel; the veil in the temple is gone, so the temple is emptied of the glory of God and left vacant in advance of its destruction.  It’s no longer of any use!

In God’s perception, you see, the beast takes on the color of the veil and the color of the blood of redemption.  In all its arrogance, it sits down upon the ark of the covenant beneath the wings of the cherubim.  Taking the place where God made his Presence known in Israel, it reviles and slanders and denigrates all that was holy.  And in all of its vile vengeance, it declares itself “god”.  It declares itself the “overcomer” – the victor… the one who has cut off the seed!  And all of these names are blasphemous names that John sees (verse three).  But it is deceived; for it doesn’t know that the temple is obsolete!

Then the beast takes the gold-overlaid table of showbread and the gold-overlaid altar of incense and all of their utensils, and the golden lampstand and the golden cherubim, and the gold-overlaid ark of the covenant; and he strips all the gold and precious stones and jewels from the temple, and burns everything else; and then disassembles the stones of the temple so that not one remained on another… all with vengeance and desire to cut off the Kingdom of God’s Anointed.

But, once again, the beast was at extreme disadvantage!  For God was deceiving it and using it for His Own purpose.  The temple was barren of any further use!  And the vile envy and vengeance of the beast was empty – void!  Vengeance belongs to God – not to the beast!

YAHVEH’s purpose, from the beginning, was that this harlot was to cease to exist.  And the instrument of her execution was the crimson beast.

The harlot that John is shown sits atop the beast in all her glory, bedecked with those precious stones and jewels and all the costly linens of purple and crimson – having been paid for her illicit favors, and having lured all of the nations with the wine of her fornications, displaying that golden cup filled with all of her abominations. 

She is worse than Sodom – worse than Gomorrah; she is the epitome of Babylon (which was before given YAHVEH’s “golden cup”); she is the greater Babylon!  Because of her favors, she has wielded great power over the nations for generations (verse eighteen of our text).  At the beginning she was filled with the glory of YAHVEH!  She was made the very center of the nations.  And all the kings of the nations came to her because of her great beauty.

But now John is shown that beautiful cup of golden glory filled with the harlot’s abominations – she herself adorned with jewels and precious stones and costly purple-and-crimson cloth – all of it payment for her “favors”.  Rather than glorying in all that YAHVEH had given her from the beginning, she had “whored” herself out for the favors of the foreign lovers.

But, once again, the dragon is deceived.  Because mankind is cursed and corrupt, it is deceived; the beast is deceived; the kings of the earth are deceived – as are all those remaining in the land.  And the vengeance of God is poured out upon the land by instrument of the sword of the beast.


Finally now, the very first words of YAHVEH through the prophet Isaiah prophesy the full intent and purpose of God with regard to this harlot and, with the same opening words, provide us with His perception of the contrast in the colors “crimson” and “white”… the colors of sin and corruption contrasted with the color of salvation and faithfulness… the colors of the seed of the dragon as contrasted with the seed of the woman… the colors of corrupt mankind in rebellion as opposed to the remnant of the tribes of Jacob (as John is shown in chapter fifteen)… the crimson color of the beast here in our text, as contrasted with the color of the Christ (as described in chapter one by the apostle John).

Here are the opening words written by Isaiah seven hundred years BC.  In these words are prophesied the terrible end of the harlot; and we hear the color “crimson” as the color of sin.  And we hear the color “white” as the color of repentance and faithfulness… the color of the coming Christ – the promised seed and all who are In Him through the gift of faith.  Listen now to Isaiah chapter one:


1)    The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem….

2)    Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for YAHVEH has spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.

3)    The ox knows its owner; and the ass (knows) its master's crib.  But Israel does not know; My people does not acknowledge (Me).

4)    Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers (the seed of the dragon), offspring that deal corruptly!  They have forsaken YAHVEH.  They have despised the Holy One of Israel.  They are estranged and gone backward (from birth).

5)    Why will you be further stricken that ye revolt more and more? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

6)    From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and fresh stripes; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil.

7)    Your country is desolate; your cities burned with fire; your land – foreigners will devour it in your very presence, and it will be desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.

8)    And the Daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a lodge in a cucumber field, as a besieged city.  (The daughter of Zion is the prophetic designation of the promised seed to be birthed out of Israel in great travail.  But all through history the daughter has been left in the fields with no shepherds.)

9)    (Isaiah continues) Except YAHVEH of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we would be as Sodom, we would be like unto Gomorrah.

10) Hear the word of YAHVEH, you rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah (Isaiah says… ascribing the degradation of those two cities to the city of Jerusalem).

11) What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says YAHVEH.  I have had enough of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.

12) When you come to appear before Me, who has required this at your hand – to trample my courts?

13) Bring no more vain oblations; (your) incense is an abomination to Me; new moon and Sabbath – the calling of assemblies – I cannot; away with iniquity with (your) solemn assembly!

14) Your new moons with your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary of bearing them.

15) When you spread forth your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16) Wash, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil;

17) learn to do that which is good; seek justice, correct the oppression, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

18) Come now, let us reason together, says YAHVEH (and here’s the reasoning with which they must reason): though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool;

19) if you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;

20) but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of YAHVEH has spoken it.

21) How is the faithful city become a harlot!  (There’s the prophetic Word concerning Jerusalem by which John is now shown the great harlot sitting atop the beast).  She that was filled with justice; righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.

22) Your silver is become dross, your wine mixed with water.

23) Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loves bribes and follows after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come unto them.

24) Therefore says YAHVEH LORD OF HOSTS, the Mighty One of Israel: Ah, I will ease Me of My adversaries, and avenge Me of My enemies;

25) and I will turn my hand upon You, and thoroughly purge away your dross - taking away all the alloy;

26) and I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning; and afterward you shall be called The City of Righteousness, a faithful city.

27) Zion shall be redeemed with justice, her converts with righteousness.

28) But the destruction of transgressors and sinners shall be complete, and they that forsake YAHVEH shall be consumed.

29) For they (the converts) shall be ashamed of the oaks which you have desired, and you shall be confounded for the gardens that you have chosen. (The great trees and the beautiful gardens are places where the people of Israel committed idolatry and offered sacrifices.)

30) For you shall be as an oak whose leaf fades (great when planted; but now a dead tree), and as a garden that has no water (once a beautiful and lush garden, but now an arid wasteland).

31) And the strong shall be as tinder, and his work a spark; and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.


So John is shown the crimson beast and the harlot adorned with costly purple and crimson linen.

As God purposed and viewed these things, the crimson beast is cursed and corrupt man, agitated by the vengeful dragon to rise up against YAHVEH and His Anointed; and the beast arrogantly and blasphemously takes the place of the One who ripped the crimson veil from top to bottom in order to grant the promised seed direct access to the Father in Him.

And the woman atop the beast is draped in the purple-trimmed crimson that the beast and the kings of the earth have paid her for her favors.  All that YAHVEH had given her, she wouldn’t acknowledge – including the crimson blood poured out by the Lamb of God.  Rather – she preferred to be paid in gold and jewels and costly crimson clothing by her blasphemous foreign lovers.

We’ll continue this next Lord’s Day and look at some more of the explanation spoken to John by YAHVEH’s messenger.