Revelation 17:9-18

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

THE DESTRUCTION OF ECCLESIASTICAL BABYLON

INTRODUCTION:

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17 and 18 describe the final destruction of Babylon in both its ecclesiastical and political forms.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17 deals with the destruction of ecclesiastical Babylon. This occurs just before the middle of the tribulation. It is at the end of the first half of the tribulation.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18 deals with the destruction of political and commercial Babylon. This occurs just before the second coming of Christ.

In Revelation of Jesus Christ 17 , verses 1-6 deal with the vision; whereas, verses 7-18 deal with the interpretation of the vision.

We have already seen -

I. THE INVITATION TO VIEW THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT HARLOT - 17:1-2

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:1-2 - (1) And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: (2) With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

We have also already seen -

II. THE VISION OF THE WOMAN ON THE BEAST - 17:3-4

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:3-4 - (3) So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. (4) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.

In addition, we have already seen -

III. THE NAME OF THE WOMAN - 17:5

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:5 (5) And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Next, we have already seen -

IV. THE WOMAN DRUNKEN WITH THE BLOOD OF MARTYRS - 17:6-7

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:6-7 - (6) And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (7) And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

Finally, we have already seen -

V. THE ORIGIN OF THE BEAST - 17:8

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:8 (8) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

We move on to -

VI. THE SEVEN HEADS OF THE BEAST - 17:9-11

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:9-11 - (9) And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. (10) And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. (11) And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

The phrase, Here is the mind which hath wisdom, anticipates the difficulty and complexity of the revelation which follows. Spiritual wisdom is required to understand what is revealed.

The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth is referred to by many to be city of Rome because seven hills formed the nucleus of Rome. Therefore, they have concluded that this passage indicates that the seat of the ecclesiastical power will be in Rome geographically rather than in Babylon.

Throughout its history Rome has been described as the city of seven hills as indicated by coins which refer to it in this way and in countless allusions in Roman literature. However, the use of the word mystery suggests that a literal city is not in view and that there is a better explanation.

And here is is simply here and is used in the sense of in this case (is) or at this point (is).

The mind which hath wisdom is the understanding, the one having wisdom. The angel is about to give a hint regarding the identity of the beast.

The seven heads refers to the seven heads of the beast, and are suggests an existing fact.

Seven mountains or seven hills is described by on which the woman sitteth, literally where the woman sits on them, suggesting that she reigns there. It is because of this phrase, seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, that many have identified the woman with Rome, which has been known as the city with seven hills. This would be a literal understanding of mountains.

However, the next verse makes it clear that it is better, to understand the place where the woman is sitting as referring to the seven heads of the empire on whom the woman has sat at various times in history.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

In verse 9 it was revealed that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains, and in verse 10 these seven mountains are said to be seven kings or kingdoms of whom five have already fallen and a sixth one is presently in power. In addition a seventh king or kingdom is yet future.

There are seven kings is seven are kings.

The king not only represents himself as an individual but also represents the kingdom itself. In this verse the reference is to imperial kingdoms rather than to individual kings.

Five are fallen is literally the five have fallen or the five fell. Five kingdoms have already fallen by the time John lived. They are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece.

One is suggests that one kingdom is in power during John's lifetime. It is Rome, the sixth kingdom or imperial power.

And the other is not yet come suggests that there will be a seventh empire or imperial power which is not yet in existence at the time Revelation is being written. Even today it has not yet come into existence and is still future.

And when he cometh is and whenever it comes, i.e. whenever this seventh empire comes. It is not in doubt that this seventh empire is coming; only the time of its coming is in doubt. It is coming, but it is not clear when it will arrive on the scene.

He must continue a short space is literally that it remain a little (while) is necessary. He or it is this seventh kingdom which will be in power during the first part of the tribulation. The seventh kingdom will reign for a while, but its reign will be of short duration. It is the revived Roman Empire which is controlled by ecclesiastical Babylon, i.e. by false religion or by apostate Christendom, until the middle of the tribulation. It is headed up by the antichrist.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

In verse 11 the first beast from chapter 13, the antichrist, is identified as the eighth king or kingdom; yet he is of the seven in that all these kingdoms or imperial powers ruled the then-known world. This eighth king, the beast, will eventually go into perdition. Hints are given by the angel in order that John might understand the identity of the woman.

The beast that was and is not refers to the comments made by the angel in verse 8. It suggests that the beast, i.e. the imperial system, existed for a time and then apparently ceased to exist.

Even he is the eighth reminds the reader that the beast shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and that he yet is. Even though the beast appeared to be dead, the beast will come back. He, i.e. the beast out of the sea, the antichrist, is the eighth king, i.e. his kingdom is the eighth kingdom or imperial power. He will be the world dictator. The antichrist's empire will be formed when the ten kings submit themselves and their kingdoms to the antichrist and overthrow the harlot. From that time on the false prophet establishes emperor worship and requires that all people worship the beast or his image and receive his number on their foreheads or right hands.

And is of the seven is literally and is out of the seven, suggesting that he is (one) of the seven or that he belongs to the seven.

Furthermore, the beast goeth into perdition. The tense of goeth suggests that the beast and his imperial empire are already on their way to perdition. Similarly it was stated in verse 8 that the beast (shall) go into perdition.

His imperial empire will be destroyed, and he himself will be cast into the lake of fire. This occurs in Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:20 .

Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:20 - And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Next, we see -

VII. THE TEN HORNS OF THE BEAST - 17:12-14

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:12-14 - (12) And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. (13) These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. (14) These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

In verse 12 the ten horns are seen to be ten future kings who are contemporary with the antichrist. They will reign for a very short time at the same time he reigns. The time of their reign will be the great tribulation.

The ten horns which thou sawest refers to the ten horns which are seen on the beast. According to verse 3, the beast is a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. It is these ten horns, which the beast had, about which the angel is speaking.

Which thou sawest is simply which you saw and refers to John's having seen them in verse 3.

Are ten kings suggests represent ten kings. It is not revealed who these kings are; but they are contemporary with the beast, the world ruler of the eighth kingdom or imperial power, i.e. they are contemporary with the antichrist.

Which have received no kingdom as yet indicates that they are yet future at the time John sees this vision recorded in chapter 17, and they are still not reigning today.

But introduces a strong contrast with the fact that these ten kings have received no kingdom as yet.

Receive power as kings one hour with the beast is speaking of the ten horns or ten kings.

Receive is get or obtain.

What they receive, get, or obtain is power, i.e. ruling power or official power.

As kings indicates what kind of power they receive. They are rulers in conjunction with the beast (or antichrist). Together they unite their kingdoms under the supreme ruler, the antichrist.

One hour indicates the length of time they will reign with the beast. It likely refers to a reign of short duration rather than to a literal sixty-minute period.

With the beast suggests that they reign together with the beast. Most likely, they are rulers over a limited portion of the beast's (or antichrist's) worldwide empire and under his authority.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

In verse 13 these ten kings place their power and strength at the disposal of, and in support of, the antichrist.

These refers to the ten kings.

Have suggests that they hold or possess the same thing: one mind.

Mind is used in the sense of purpose or intention. They are united in their thinking with each other and with the beast.

As the result or consequence of their having one mind with the beast, the ten kings shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

Shall give is will distribute and is predictive of a future event which is definitely going to happen.

What they will give or distribute is their [i.e. their own] power and strength.

Power is a term which means might, strength, or force; and strength is a term which was translated power in verse 12, meaning ruling power or official power.

They will submit themselves and their military might unto the beast, i.e. to the beast (or antichrist). They will form a coalition in support of the beast or antichrist.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

In verse 14 these ten kings will make war with the Lamb Who will defeat them.

These refers to the ten kings who give their power and strength unto the beast.

Shall make war is predictive of something which will definitely occur in the future. It means shall fight or shall battle. It is a military encounter, but it will not last long.

With the Lamb indicates the One against Whom they will go to war.

The Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the battle will take place at the second coming. It is the battle of Armageddon.

As a result of their going to war with the Lamb, the Lamb shall overcome them, which means The Lord Jesus Christ will conquer them (or will vanquish them). They will be utterly defeated in battle by the Lamb.

For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings provides the reason Christ will defeat the ten kings.

For is the word ordinarily translated because and is to be understood in this sense here.

He is Lord of lords means that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all lords in existence, whether they realize it or not. He is supreme over all of them.

The Lamb is also King of kings. He is the king or ruler over all kings or rulers in the world, whether they realize it or not. He is the supreme King in all the world.

In addition, they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

They that are with him refers to those with Christ, and the context suggests that it is those with Him at the time the ten kings and the beast make war with Him and He overcomes them.

They are described as called, and chosen, and faithful.

Called suggests not only invited but also effectually called by His drawing them to Himself.

Chosen is elect or select. It is especially used of those whom God has chosen from the generality of all humanity and drawn to Himself.

Faithful can mean believing, but it can also mean dependable, reliable, trustworthy, or inspiring trust or faith.

Following an explanation of the ten horns of the beast, we see -

VIII. THE EXPLANATION OF THE WATERS - 17:15

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:15 (15) And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

In verse 15 the angel explains to John that the waters which John had seen in verse 1 on which the great whore sat were peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

He saith unto me indicates that the angel says to John.

What the angel was saying is the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

The waters which thou sawest is the waters which you, John, saw.

Where the whore sitteth likewise refers to what John saw in verse 1 where the angel said to John, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.

The whore is the harlot or the prostitute.

The waters . . . are suggests the waters represent.

Peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues is a phrase which has been seen previously in Revelation.

Peoples refers to various groups of people.

Multitudes is crowds.

Nations also refers to peoples, and tongues is languages.

The combination of the four terms suggests that the great whore sits upon the various nations and peoples of the world. The fact that she sits upon them suggests that she controls them.

Following the explanation of the waters, we see -

IX. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WOMAN - 17:16-17

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:16-17 - (16) And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (17) For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

The ten horns which thou sawest refers to the ten horns which John saw in verse 3 upon the beast, which are ten kings who receive power with the beast for one hour (verse 12), who have one mind, and who shall give their power and strength unto the beast (verse 13), and who shall make war with the Lamb and be overcome by the Lamb (verse 14).

Upon the beast indicates where the ten horns John had seen were located.

These refers to the ten horns and is used for emphasis.

Shall hate means will detest, will abhor, or will persecute in hatred and is predictive of a future event which is definitely going to happen.

The whore is the harlot or the prostitute, the woman seen sitting on the beast. This is ecclesiastical Babylon, the one world church which exists during the first half of the tribulation.

As a result of the hatred of the ten kings for the whore, they shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

Shall make is predictive of a future event which will definitely occur.

Her is the whore.

Shall make her desolate describes how the whore will be after they finish with her, and it means will lay her waste or will depopulate her. They will lay her waste and depopulate her in the process. By the time they finish with her, she will have no supporters.

They will also make her naked, i.e. devoid of clothing. They will take her expensive possessions and leave her with nothing. She will be stripped or bare; whereas, she was seen in verse 4 to be arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand. She will have nothing left.

Furthermore, they shall eat her flesh. Again this is predictive of an event which is definitely going to happen. Shall eat her flesh suggests will eat her.

The word translated shall burn is intensive and means will burn up, will burn down, or will consume. They will burn her up with fire. It also indicates an action which will definitely occur in the future.

By the time the ten kings are finished with the whore, there will be nothing left of her. These graphic words clearly picture the downfall of the apostate world church of the future. The destruction of the harlot, i.e. the one world church, will occur near the end of the first half of the tribulation before the antichrist sets himself up as god in the temple of God and demands to be worshiped.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

For introduces the reason the ten kings will hate the whore and destroy her.

God is seen as being in total control even to the point of using the ten kings to accomplish His will.

God hath put in their hearts is God gave (or has given) into their hearts (i.e. into the ten kings' hearts). It means that God will work in the ten kings with the result that they will desire to destroy the harlot; yet, it will be their own choosing.

Similarly, according to Philippians 2:13 , God works in believers to will and to do of His good pleasure, but they are the ones who will and do of His good pleasure.

To fulfill his will [i.e. to fulfill God's will] is literally to do His purpose, to do His mind, or to do His intention. Although they have no intention of doing God's will, these ten kings will actually end up doing His will; yet, they are not forced against their own wills to do God's will. They will do what they choose to do.

To agree is to make one purpose, to make one mind, or to make one intention and represents a second thing which God will work in their hearts to do. These two phrases taken together suggest that the ten kings will not only do God's will but will also be united in their purpose in doing it.

And give their kingdom unto the beast reminds the reader of what was said in verse 13, These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. In return for some power and, perhaps, protection which they will enjoy for a short period of time with the beast, each of the ten kings will submit his entire kingdom to the beast as the world ruler.

Until the words of God shall be fulfilled indicates the length of time God will put into the hearts of these ten kings to fulfill His will.

The term translated words is usually used of spoken rather than of written words.

Of God indicates that these words are God's words; they have been spoken by Him.

Shall be fulfilled is used in the sense of shall be brought to an end, shall be finished, or shall be completed.

Finally, we see -

IX. THE IDENTITY OF THE WOMAN - 17:18

Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

The woman is the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.

Which thou sawest is literally which you, John, saw.

Is suggests represents.

That great city is literally the city, the great one.

Which reigneth suggests the city which has kingship, the city which has royal power, the city which has a royal rule, or the city which has a kingdom.

Over the kings of the earth suggests that until her destruction, the great whore dominated the world through various empires.

A question arises regarding which reigneth over the kings of the earth. Does this refer to the city reigning over the kings of the earth in John's day? If so, then it refers to Rome. I personally believe that it refers to Rome.

Or does this refer to the city reigning over the kings of the earth in the antichrist's day? If so, then the city is Babylon. Expositors are not agreed regarding what is meant by Babylon. Some regard Babylon as meaning Rome; whereas, others regard it as a rebuilt Babylon on the site of ancient Babylon. Still others regard Babylon, not as an actual city, but as symbolic of the Satanic world system.