Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Revelation 17 -- The Harlot, Beast, and Kings

LINK: Revelation 17


The Final Judgment of Spiritual Babylon

The angel gives a full explanation of all the symbols in this chapter in 17:7-18.

Babylon, the Harlot - The woman is identified with a prosperous, powerful, and idolatrous city that pollutes the nations with filth and persecutes God's people. We heard a lot about the city of Babylon in the first two years of the Bible Book Club; but for those of you who have just joined us for the New Testament, we will review!  

Babylon was founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-11). Bab-el means "the gate of God." They attempted to build the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) which was an attempt to reach heaven and make a name for themselves. When God sent judgment by confusing their languages, this word came to mean "confusion."  Babylon became a great empire. Hammurabi (1728-1686 B.C.) and Nebuchadnezzar from the book of Daniel (605-562 B.C.) are two of its more famous rulers.  The final fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to Babylon occurred in 586 B.C. Babylon later fell to the Medo-Persians in 539 B.C. Babylon was always "anti-God" throughout history and trouble for the people of God.  It is believed that Babylon gave birth to all false religions. Some commentators believe this represents the early Roman empire with its many gods and persecution of followers of Jesus. Others believe it symbolic of all religious systems that are "anti-God." 

Seven Mountains - Ancient writers believed this symbolized Rome with its seven hills along the Tiber River. More recent commentators think it refers to rulers rather than mountains because 17:19-10 literally means, "the seven heads are seven kings."  In John's time, five prominent kings of the Roman empire had already reigned, and Domitian was currently on the throne. This left one more after John's lifetime. The eighth king is the world ruler who would head up the final world empire and be destroyed at Christ's second coming.

Ten (horns) Kings - It is thought they will be heads of countries who make an alliance with the Middle East that will support the world ruler.  They will only have power for a brief time and will support the beast (17:13). They will wage war with Christ who is Lord of lords and King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). 

Beast - Since it came from the abyss, which is the home of Satan and place from which demons come (11:7; 9:1-2,11), Satan controls this beast which is thought to be a world ruler.

Waters (17:15) - the waters where the harlot sits are the peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.

In the end, the harlot will be destroyed by the world ruler (beast) and the ten kings (horns). When this ruler takes power he will demand that everyone worship him or be killed (Daniel 11:36-38; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:8, 15). This world ruler is Satan's substitute for Christ. 

Here is the amazing thing: "God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled" (17:17).  These evil leaders will be brought to judgment in God's timing and plan.

No REFLECTION or APPLICATION because this post exhausted me!


Lord, I thank You that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Amen. 
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