Revelation 17:1-18 Part 8

REVELATION 17:1-18 Part 8


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.


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis chapter one, verse one).  That’s what Moses writes first, after having been in God’s tabernacle for forty days and forty nights while at the top of Mount Sinai.

No matter what astronomers say about the location of our planet in this big “universe”, in YAHVEH’s perception (as recorded by Moses), this earth is the “center” of the creation – a creation which was brought into being to “resemble” His tabernacle in the heaven.  The brightness of His tabernacle – bright with the glory of His Person – is “reflected” in His creation that He called: “the heavens and the earth”.  Although astrophysicists might blanche upon hearing the term “geocentric”, in God’s view earth is the focal point of His creation… its very center!


And now listen to Ezekiel chapter five and verse five:


"Thus says YAHVEH: This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with nations all around her.”


It was YAHVEH’s purpose – His intent from the beginning – that Jerusalem be the center of the earth, which is, itself, the center of the creation; for the dome of the rock above Jerusalem was made to “resemble” the firmament under which exists God’s tabernacle in the heaven.  And over the dome of the rock, above the city of Jerusalem, was to be built a “replica” – an “image” – of the heavenly tabernacle over which The Lord of Heaven and Earth reigns.

Abraham was caused to see these things; Moses was caused to see these things; the prophets were caused to see these things.  Paul said that he was enabled to see these things.  And then John, the last prophet, was himself called up into the heaven to see them.

And now we, by Word and Spirit, are endowed with the gift of faith in order that we, too, might see them!  And one day, by the blood of the Lamb of God and the work of Holy Spirit, this earth will be the bright and shining reflection of the glory of God in all His cosmos!


You will have noticed that, in the quote that I read from Ezekiel five, YAHVEH spoke of that city – Jerusalem; and Ezekiel wrote the third person singular pronoun in the feminine gender: “I have set her in the center of the nations”.

So, she – the city of God, the capitol of Israel, the center of the nations, on the earth which is the center of all creation, all of which is the image of God’s heavenly tabernacle, over which is the firmament, over which The Lord of Hosts reigns, (Jerusalem) is the harlot that John is shown in verses three, four, five and six!

Just as Babylon before her, she has caused all the nations to drink of the wine of her fornications.  But SHE – being the capitol city of the universe (the very “center” of God’s creation) – is the “mother” of all harlots and all of the promised land’s abominations (verse five).

As John is shown God’s perception of her, she has not acknowledged the Creator of this heaven and earth; she has refused to be the image of His tabernacle in the heaven; she did not reflect His glory; she has hated the Revelation of His holiness (i.e. His Law-word); all the wealth and beauty of the nations were brought into her, and she shone with the glory of the gold and the precious stones and pearls and jewels and costly garments of the earth (all given to her freely); but she chose instead to prostitute herself with heathen idolators.

Rather than be adorned with the reflective glory of Almighty God, she sold her favors to pagans!  On the one hand, she was gloriously beautiful from all that her Creator had given her (and all of that beauty and wealth had endowed her with great power over the nations); however, she sold herself for gold and stones and jewels and costly garments!

More concise: she had everything from God – for free; but she lusted after that with which she could be paid!

The “woman” that John is shown sitting atop the crimson beast is adorned with the remuneration of her harlotry.  Jerusalem, the capitol of Israel (the land of promise), the center of the nations and the “axis” city of God’s creation is therefore the “mother” of all harlots and all of the abominations in the land.

And because she is the mother of all the land’s abominations, John saw her “drunkened” with the blood of the saints and the blood of Jesus’ martyrs (verse six).

As John “wonders” at all of this, he sees that the woman is so “high” on her whoredom and what she was being paid for her favors, that she had pursued and oppressed and persecuted, and killed and killed and killed some more, in order to preserve her ways and to persist in chasing after her foreign lovers.

For fifteen hundred years, each and every time YAHVEH sent His Word to her (via the prophets), she ridiculed and persecuted and killed the messenger… ignoring YAHVEH’s call for her repentance and pouring out righteous blood on the land!

And having sent three great beasts from the raging sea of humanity against her, YAHVEH punished her and put her under subjection to foreigners and brought her low; but she just went right back to her whoredom.

Just before He was crucified, Jesus confronts the shepherds of Israel about the blood of all the righteous and about the prophets and about those He would send to find the lost sheep of the house of Jacob.

Listen to Him from Matthew chapter twenty-three:


“Woe to you scribes and pharisees hypocrites, you repair the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

and you say, ‘If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers of them in the blood of the prophets.

So you are witnesses to yourselves that you are sons of those who killed the prophets;

and you, you fill up the measure of your fathers.

Serpents, brood of vipers, how shall you escape from the judgment of Gehenna?

Because of this, Lo, I send to you prophets and sages and scribes (i.e. the apostles and elders and deacons of the Church); of them you will kill and crucify, and of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and you will persecute them from city into city,

in order that all righteous blood shall come upon you which has been spilled upon the earth from the blood of the righteous Abel until the blood of Zacharias Son of Barachias, who you murdered between the temple and altar!

Amen I say to you, these things shall come upon this generation.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, she who kills the prophets and stones the ones who were being sent to her, how many times I wished to gather together your children (even as a bird gathers her brood under her wings) and you would not.

Lo, your house is left to you a desolation.”


John, (here in verse six) is shown “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, she who kills the prophets and stones the ones sent to her”.  He sees her! She is drunkened with their blood!  She has pursued them and persecuted them and scourged them in her synagogues and stoned them and cut off their heads.

She has refused to hear God’s words of coming judgment should she not repent.  But she would rather pursue her harlotry!

With great patience, YAHVEH had protected the seed; and He had sent prophet after prophet to call this harlot to repentance and obedience.  Should she pray and repent He would forgive her and heal her; but she would not.

She persisted in her way; she shut up her ears and killed the prophets and poured out the blood of her Creator’s Son and persecuted and killed the ones sent to find His lost sheep – the promised seed.  And she did that in order to preserve her pursuit of pagan lovers!

Rather than being adoring and thankful to YAHVEH for being made the glorious reflection of His tabernacle in the heaven, she wished only to continue to sell herself to pagans for gold and jewels and purple and crimson… to have and to be her own glory rather than to reflect God’s glory.

And our Lord told the shepherds of Israel that “she” – Jerusalem – would be made desolate during this generation.

Jesus was prophesying to the shepherds of Israel!  And He was telling them that HIS Kingdom was at hand.  The glory that was given to Jerusalem, which was the “center” of the nations, in the center of the cosmos, did not reflect the glory of The Father; it was “dross”!  It had all kinds of impurities, and it reflected no glory.

But His Kingdom – from the heaven – would, indeed, be the reflection of the glory of God in all the cosmos!  Because of His sacrifice the earth would be the shining brightness of the Father in all His creation!

And John – the last prophet of God – was looking on in wonder as all the nations with which she had fornicated turn on her.

The dragon – Satan – was full of vengeance from having been cast down from the tabernacle.  Out of vengeance and self-preservation, this creature sought to cut off the seed that God had promised, in order that there would be no kingdom to reflect the glory of Almighty God.

And in its rage and failure, it raised up great beasts full of envy at the glory that God had freely given to Jerusalem and all the promised land.  But each of the beasts failed to cut off the seed, for God had preserved His Own throughout; for the “Seed” was Christ and those for whom He had poured out His blood.

By the love and grace and mercy of God, the harlot had already given birth to the Daughter of Zion; and she was already in the nations spreading the Gospel of God and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  His work, through Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost, would be completed; and the earth would one day be that shining reflection of the glory of God in all His creation.  The SON would see to it that His Father was glorified in all that He had made.


But here at the end of the age, the latter days, the harlot’s execution was at hand.  And all the nations with which the harlot had been promiscuous were turned on her through the vengeance of the dragon and the envy of the beast.

The dragon, in all its vengeance, provoked this fourth beast – even greater and more terrible than the first three – to envious rage against the great city that had been made the center of all the nations.

And the beast, with all of its global might, enlisted the nations to rise up against Jerusalem and destroy her – to make her desolate.  It wished to have no other nation – no other city – to have its glory… to have no other city to be dominant in all the earth… to have no other city to exert prominence in the earth… to have no other city to be the kingdom of the world (only itself!).  So this beast, in demonic rage, employed all its military might to utterly destroy this “competitor” to its glorious kingdom.

But what John is watching here, and what he hears from YAHVEH’s messenger, is that the dragon and the beast and the nations are doing exactly what God had purposed for them to do!

You see, the harlot was no threat at all to the dragon; she was no threat at all to the beast’s kingdom; she was no threat to the ten kingdoms conscripted by the beast!

They were all deceived.  As John writes (verse seventeen) “God put it into their hearts to do His purpose….”  God put it into their hearts – all ten of the nations – to be of one mind… to give the power of their individual states to the beast until the words of God are completed.


And as the messenger continues the explanation to John here in verse eight, we read something that is rather strange to our ears, don’t we?  Here it is again:


“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!”


The first thing that we have to remember when reading this is that the beast is the very image of the dragon.  When the earlier text of John’s letter read that the image of the beast was raised by the pseudoprophets of Israel for all to see and worship, the beast was adored by all, for it was the very image of the dragon!

So, in God’s perception, there is a very close correspondence between the serpent of old and the Roman empire.  They are, in His perception and for all intents and purposes, one and the same.  So, when the messenger speaks of an “emergence” of the beast from the abyss, they are one and the same!  It speaks of the beast as if it were the dragon rising up out of the abyss.

The messenger says to John that the beast “was, but isn’t”.  And it is “about to go up from the abyss….”  This is the “pseudo-resurrection” that we touched on previously that so amazed those remaining in the land – the ones having not had their names written in the Lamb’s book of life.

As I said, it is strange-sounding to our ears; but if we remember the description of our Lord that John wrote earlier, it becomes more clear.  It was written of Him that He IS “Is”; He IS “Was”, and He IS “Coming”; so when reading about the beast, then we will better understand this imitation resurrection!

There has already been a resurrection – a “rising up out of death” – by Jesus the Christ of God.  But the priests and the elders and the pharisees and the scribes of Israel denied that.  However, as John writes here, they were “astonished” that the beast (the image of the dragon) had arisen – a pseudo-resurrection – after having appeared as dead.  And they worshiped the beast all the more!

However, the pseudo-resurrection of this fourth beast had been prophesied by one of their own prophets!

If we were to read the entire explanation of the messenger to Daniel in chapters ten, eleven and twelve of His prophesy, we would see that this explanation of the messenger to John is the same as that of the messenger’s speech to Daniel!

The explanation to Daniel of all that he was shown begins with Darius the Mede, proceeds to the third beast (Greece), and then to the fourth one.  And there is a lengthy account there in chapter eleven of the “coming” history of the Roman empire – all the way to the “abomination of desolation” – the utter destruction of Jerusalem.  It’s all right there in the prophecy!

In that explanation to Daniel is a period of time when the Roman empire (the fourth beast) would fall into ruin; but then it “arises” once again into a strong and terrifying power!  And as the messenger explains to Daniel, its heart was “stirred up against the holy covenant”.

So, once again, what John hears from YAHVEH’s messenger to him, is the same as what Daniel hears from the messenger that was sent to him!  This beast, in God’s perception, “dies”; and (to those whose names weren’t written in the book of life) there was a resurrection of the beast to great power over the earth!  It was, in the messenger’s language, an “arising from the depths of the abyss”!  The beast “was”, but “isn’t”; and it arises once again (verse eight).

This explanation to John can be illustrated with just a brief history of what we know about the Roman empire during the forty years between the crucifixion and our Lord’s Parousia.

We won’t go into too much detail here… it’s not our purpose.  The purpose is to show that the prophecy to Daniel is the same as the prophecy to John; and that there is reason to believe that what little has been written of the history is correct.  The Scripture confirms it!

Although the written history of the “end of the age” is sketchy at best, the historians got it basically correct.  They just didn’t make the connections to the written prophetic Word!

Historians concentrated their attention on Rome and its caesars.  They took a wider, earthy perspective.  To them, the military operation in the little nation of Israel was only one of many during the first century.

Looking at all of the turmoil in the Roman empire during that period of time, the writers of the history viewed the conflict in Israel as just one of many, and of no greater importance than others; and they recorded it as such!

But from the perspective of God’s Revelation, nothing like it had ever happened previously and would never happen again.  It was the end of an age!  It was the end of the reflected glory of God in all His creation!  It was the termination of a covenant with a peculiar people.  The city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel – the very center of God’s created cosmos – ceased to exist (the harlot was executed); and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ was established over all the nations of the earth; and IT would, indeed, reflect His Father’s glory!

All of the authority over the heavens and the earth was given to the “Overcomer”; and the entire creation was the beneficiary by the grace and mercy of God; for the Covenant would now be inclusive of all the nations and tribes and tongues of the earth – heretofore left in their own sin and depravity!

God had provided Himself with a Seed!  And He had preserved that seed though it all.  And, by that seed, the Church of Jesus Christ was planted in all the earth – to grow into a mighty tree under which the beasts of mankind would be tamed and lie down with the Lamb of God.

It was the grace of God toward all that He had made.  And by His Strong Right Arm, it would all one day be the reflection of His glory!


The historians of old provide a global account of the time… with Rome being the center of their attention rather than Jerusalem.  Although the account isn’t written in the words of YAHVEH’s revelation, it proves to be a (generally) correct broad outline that fits well into the revelations to Daniel and to John.

The Scripture provides the proof that what history records of the time is correct, although (as I said) there was no attempt whatever to connect it with the prophets Daniel and John.

But I can tell you with certainty that the Churches knew what this letter meant!  They had the older Scriptures in both Hebrew and Greek; and, having read this seventeenth chapter, they would have recognized this messenger’s reference to what Daniel was shown before.

And they had the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  They had the thirteen letters from the apostle Paul.  They had the two letters from Peter; they had the three letters previously written by John… they had it all!  And when this letter was received they were enabled, by Holy Spirit, to clearly see all of that which was about to be!

They knew from Daniel, and from this messenger to John, that this beast would appear to die and would appear to arise again, stronger and more terrifying than ever.  And that all those remaining in the land – the ones not written in the book of life – would be amazed at this pseudo-resurrection.   The image of the beast raised up high by Israel’s pseudoprophets was the very image of the dragon; and they all believed that this was the “real” resurrection – having already denied the resurrection of the Christ.  It was an “imitation rising” from death – the abyss.  And with their “faith” in the resurrection of the beast, their idolatry was complete.  They worshiped the beast of depraved mankind; and they rejected and killed the Savior of mankind.

Finally this morning, I’m going to give you a brief (very brief) “overview” of the forty years between the crucifixion-and-resurrection of our Lord (in about 30AD), and His Parousia at the end of the age (in 70AD).

The overview will be from the historians’ perspectives; and it has to do with the Roman empire and its caesars.  And you’ll see that it fits pretty well into God’s perspective of His Own history (as shown to Daniel and to John here in Revelation seventeen).

And remember what we’ve said before about the caesars.  The first emperor of Rome to declare himself “caesar-god” was Augustus in about 47BC – the descendant of Julius caesar.  And thereafter the caesars of Rome thought of themselves as the god-intermediary between earth and heaven.  And so they declared themselves thus!

Being creatures of God, they knew of God’s power and glory; and they even knew that an intermediary was required between man and God.  But they, being cursed and depraved, interpreted it all from their own perspectives rather than from God’s!

And get this:  They even knew that there was a promised seed!  The caesars that could prove that they were from the blood-line of Julius and Augustus were especially revered and worshiped!  And when that blood-line came to an end, it was as if the seed of the empire died!  So you can see how important it is, from God’s perspective, that there was an amazing imitation death and resurrection of the beast whose image was worshiped by all who remained in Israel!


The emperor that came to power shortly after Jesus’ birth was Tiberius caesar; and he was caesar when Jesus was crucified.  But the seven-headed beast that both Daniel and John were shown came up out of the raging sea of humanity during the “latter days” – the forty-year period between the resurrection and Parousia of Jesus Christ.

As the Churches were being established in all seventy nations, and as the lost sheep of the house of Jacob were being found and sent out from Israel, the first “head” of the beast emerged.  It was Caligula caesar… of the family of Julius and Augustus.

Caligula was emperor until 41AD.  He was said to be insane.  Human life meant nothing to him; and the sands of the Roman forum ran deep with the blood of men and animals.  His promiscuity included all the wives of the Roman senate and forum.  And he hated anything Jewish.  Jerusalem itself, and all of the Jewish enclaves around the empire were always in grave danger from this man who declared “himself” god.

Caligula was assassinated in 41AD, and Claudius caesar assumed the throne.  Claudius greatly expanded the empire and centralized power in Rome.  And during his thirteen-year reign there was a great increase in the number of Christians flowing into the Churches.   Finally Claudius even banned all Jews from the city of Rome, and the Church had to go underground.  All religious proselytizing in the empire was forbidden. Tensions rose sharply between Rome and the province of Judea.

Claudius was said to have been poisoned by his wife in October of 54AD.  And Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus assumed the throne as caesar-god of the Roman empire.  As we’ve noted previously, Nero was a crazed, sadistic and perverted creature who was so paranoid that he killed anyone who was even suspected to have opinions opposite to his.

It was during his rule that a good section of the city of Rome burned; and it is said that he had the fire started himself in order to blame it on Christians!  He hated Jews and Christians; and sometime before his death by suicide in late 67AD or early 68AD he had ordered the complete destruction of the city of Jerusalem and all Israel, and an empire-wide persecution of Jews and the new sect of “chrestus” (Christ).

Now.  At the death of Nero (who was the third of the seven-headed beast), the dynasty begun with Julius caesar – through Augustus caesar – ended!  There were no more in the family line to succeed Nero.  And it looked to the world as if the Roman empire had expired!  Using the words of Scripture, the “seed” was cut off!

Three men (the fourth, fifth and sixth heads of the beast), Galba, Ortho and Vitellious, seized power and lasted only a few months before being murdered or committing suicide.  And there was a great civil war between the provinces of the empire in which the northern provinces and southern provinces were invested in taking their parts of the remaining carcass of the empire.  The family of Julius and Augustus had ended; and the empire was in disintegration.

And as that civil war raged, Vespasian, who was getting ready to besiege the city of Jerusalem at the orders of Nero, was named emperor by the Roman legions; and he was able to end the civil war and resurrect the empire and put it all back together while his son Titus completed the destruction of Jerusalem and the wholesale slaughter of Jews wherever they could be found.

Although Vespasian was the seventh head of the beast, and the one through whom the beast was raised up again from the abyss, it was his son Titus who purposed to follow Nero’s order, and who conscripted the ten kings to join him in making all Israel a wilderness.  It was Titus who flooded the promised land with blood, and who made the streets of the cities of the empire run with the blood of Jews.

So, you see, even the historians can’t get away from the prophetic Word of God.  God’s purpose was brought to pass six hundred and sixty six years after Nebuchadnezzar – the first beast - came to power in Babylon; and Daniel was shown all of it.  And John sees the same things here in the text of chapter seventeen of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

We’ll try to finish up the explanation of the messenger – and the chapter – next Lord’s Day.  To God be the glory, great things He has done!