Revelation Chapter Seventeen Part II

whore babylon jpg

Burning of Mystery Babylon


Revelation 17:6 “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.”

She was intoxicated and delirious with that blood. In other words the abundant blood shed by saints and martyrs was on her hands, and she ecstatically reveled in it; she was euphoric. Hers is a system that greatly reveres the shedding of the blood and desires to kill all saints. This is the unyielding desire of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. The Dragon, or Satan desires to kill as many of God’s people as possible (Joh 8:44; 1 Pet 5:8).

John’s great admiration (KJV) was not of a positive type. It is more that he marveled at her ability to so deceive the peoples. Other translations state he was greatly amazed, astonished, surprised, perplexed, etc. It was unbelievable to him and so a marvel. As we can see by the next verse, John did not completely understand the woman.

Revelation 17:7 “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.”

The angel apparently noticed John’s astonishment when he observed this incredible spectacle. Therefore he wanted to know why John did not understand. After all the angel was fully knowledgeable, and was specifically there to reveal the truth of the mystery to John.

Revelation 17:8 “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.”

This is a recapitulation of Revelation 13:3, “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed.” We are seeing this event from another perspective. Remember that, in Rev 4:1, John was taken in the spirit and was shown things that will take place in John’s future: “I will shew thee things which must take place hereafter,” that is, in John’s future.

When the angel gave John this explanation John was seeing this vision of the beast in the spirit in his future. In other words John was in the future, in the spirit (Rev 4:2), when seeing this. As we discussed above the explanation is this:

In John’s future, where he was in the spirit, this beast in his vision is the one that was. In other words, John is looking at the beast at and it was existing in John’s vision of the future. The beast that was is the one John is observing, then it is not, meaning it suffers a grievous wound and ceases to exist. It will ascend out of the abyss (bottomless pit), indicating the fatal wound is healed and it will revive. The bottomless pit is the place where evil beings exist, thus it is an evil place (Rev 9:11). At the end of the age, the beast will finally go into perdition. That is, it will finally be destroyed by the sword out of the mouth (the Word) of Jesus Christ (Rev 19:15, 20, 21).

Revelation 17:9 “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.”

Many have assumed that since the city of Rome was on seven hills, this must be Rome. There is a problem, however. Rome currently sits on ten hills. They are, Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Janiculan, Palatine, Pincian, Quirinal, Vatican, and Viminal.

It is a status symbol for a city to be built on seven hills. There are other cities on seven hills. Among them are San Francisco, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Seattle, Edinburgh, Brisbane, Kyiv, and Moscow. Wikipedia has a list of over seventy cities in the world claiming to be built on seven hills. However, the major problem with that theory is, as the angel explains in the following verse, that the mountains are kings, not real mountains.

Revelation 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.”

The English Standard Version, reads: “they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.” Many modern versions, either use the phrase “they are also seven kings” or an equivalent phrase. Some older versions such as Tyndale, Wycliffe, Weymouth, American Standard Version, Moffat, etc. also use such an equivalent phrase.

About the mountains, many translations state, “and they are seven kings” instead of “and there are seven kings”. The KJV is one of several versions that state, “there are seven kings.” The lexicons tell us that the verb form the KJV translates as “there are” actually means “they are.” The context and many translations indicate that the seven mountains are not actual mountains, but seven kings. This follows the rule that the Apocalypse is a symbolic treatise and consists of many symbols.

When there are kings, then there are kingdoms. A king with no kingdom is not really a king. Thus the seven kings must have kingdoms otherwise they are not truly kings. What we have here, then, are seven kings and their kingdoms.

The five that are fallen are kingdoms that have flourished and then faded into history. The five here that are fallen are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia (later just Persia), and Alexander’s Grecian empire. All of these empires were anti-God and enemies of Israel. They persecuted, conquered and ruled Israel.

The one that is, was Rome, the anti-God enemy of Israel that ruled over Israel in John’s day. The other that had not yet come in John’s day, was the Islamic Caliphate, which later became Ottoman Empire. It came into being some 600 years after Revelation was written. The Islamic Caliphate began with the Rashidun Caliphate in 632 AD and subjugated the Roman Empire in 1453 AD That ended the Roman rule over Israel. The Caliphate was then conquered in 1516 by the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire was also the enemy of Israel and ruled over Israel for a little over 400 years, from 1516, until 1920 when World War One allied forces conquered the Levant. According to the angel, this empire would exist for a while (a short space), then would cease to exist. To repeat, it ceased to exist in AD 1924 went the empire was abolished by the Republic of Turkey. That was the deadly wound of Rev 13:12. The Ottoman Empire is currently moving toward a revival. Much of this is discussed in verse five and is reiterated here.

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

Rome was the ruling Empire in John’s day; it was the sixth empire in our study. A seventh Empire that ruled after Rome fell was the Islamic Caliphate which became the Ottoman Empire. It ceased to exist when the Ottoman empire was dissolved in 1924. This beast is both the seventh and the eighth, thus they are the same empire that rules twice. It is the Islamic Caliphate/Ottoman Empire that ceased and will revive.

At the time of this writing there are forces in Turkey that are attempting to revive that Caliphate. It will be the final earthly empire that will exist at the end of the age; it will be eternally destroyed. It is the kingdom of the first beast in Chapter 13, which is the kingdom of the Antichrist. There is no way to ascertain when these events will happen. Therefore this is not an attempt to set a date or to determine when these events will occur.

Revelation 17:12-13 “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.”

These ten are obviously connected with the Beast’s empire, which is the empire of the Antichrist. It is represented by the mysterious city known as the end-times Babylon. They are the same ten kings from Daniel 7:24. These ten rulers had no kingdoms in John’s day. They will not remain in power for long. One hour is a way of stating that their power will be short-lived. These kings will support the Antichrist and his kingdom as allies, or perhaps as vassals.

Psalm 83 gives us a list of possibilities indicating who those ten may be. The psalm starts off asking Yahweh to cut off those nations before they could come against God’s people and then elaborates on the desires of those nations:

Psalm 83:1-5  “Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.  (2)  For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.  (3)  They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.  (4)  They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.  (5)  For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee.”

Then the psalmist (Asaph) lists those ten nations: Psalm 83:6-8, “The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;  (7)  Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;  (8)  Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.”

Obviously those are the names of the nations when the Psalm was written, and their modern names are different. The boundaries of those nations have also changed. Those things may change again in the future. Nevertheless this is something to consider when discussing the scarlet colored beast of Revelation 17:3. We have already discovered the identity of that beast in Revelation chapter 13. It is the beast out of the sea, or the Antichrist.

Ancient Names:
1. Edom
2. Ishmaelites
3. Moab
4. Hagarenes
5. Gebal
6. Ammon
7. Amalek
8. Philistines
9. Tyre
10. Ashur
Possible Modern Equivalents:
1. Southern Jordan
2. Arabs
3. Central Jordan
4. Descendants of Hagar
5. Northern Lebanon
6. Northern Jordan
7. Sinai Peninsula
8. Palestinians, Gaza
9. Southern Lebanon
10. Northern Syria

All of these, the seven and the ten, are connected with the beast and its capital, Babylon. That is why the harlot sits on them. They support her with one mind. In Rev 17:18, the angel reveals that the woman riding the beast is the great city that has power over the kings of the earth. She is the capital city of the Antichrist.

The Ottoman Empire/Islamic Caliphate was dissolved in 1924, but will revive again as the last empire before the end of the age. The revived empire is that of the Beast or Antichrist of Revelation 13:1. See the notes on the Ottoman Empire at Revelation 17:5, 10.

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue in Daniel chapter 2, was a dream about the empires that would succeed ancient Babylonia. The statue had two legs of iron and ten toes of iron and clay mixed (Dan 2:33). The head, chest, belly, thighs, and legs were made of several metals, each representing a successive empire in this order: The head is Babylon, the chest, Medo-Persia, the belly, Macedonia, the thighs, Rome, and the legs represent a single empire with two distinct phases1. (Dan 2:31-45).

The phases represent the historic Ottoman Empire/Islamic caliphate that was dissolved in 1924 that will be the revived Ottoman Empire/Islamic Caliphate in the future. Revelation 13:3 prophesied that this empire would suffer a deadly wound that will be healed. The deadly wound was Turkey conquering the empire and dissolving it in 1924. It will be revived (or healed; Rev 13:3) in the future as the empire of the Beast, which is the Antichrist.

The ten kings of Daniel 7:24 and Revelation 17:12 are represented by the ten toes of iron mixed with clay2. As the mixture of iron and clay is not a strong one, neither will the alliances of the ten kings be a strong one. They will attempt to get along but their alliances will not be durable. These are ten Islamic rulers that will come together in alliances and will join the empire of the Beast. This will form a powerful, though short-lived coalition. They will receive power from the beast, and will give their power to the Beast.

Revelation 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.”

This verse tells us that the ten kings are those gathered together at Armageddon (Rev 16:16). They will be defeated by the Lamb. The saints, the called, chosen, and faithful will be with Him when He defeats the kings (Rev 19:14). They are the church, that is, Christians, because committed Christians are called, chosen and faithful.

Revelation 17:15 “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”

The “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues ” can be descriptive of the entire human race; it can also describe just the portion of the human race that existed in the days of John.

Will Mystery Babylon be the ruling city of all the peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues of the entire world? It appears to be. However, we must remember that the entire world of John’s day was centered around the middle-east. If we keep this in mind, we cannot, of a certainty, claim this is the whole globe, for those in John’s day they unaware of the global world of today.

Perhaps this will remain a middle-east conflict and not directly affect all the countries in our modern world. Even so, all the world’s peoples will be indirectly affected just as today when middle-eastern politics and wars do indirectly affect the entire world. However, the enemies of Satan are all Christians and Jews all over the earth. Thus this could indeed be an all-encompassing one-world government of the beast.

As we have already stated in Revelation 10:11, “John has already spoken to many peoples and this got him banished to Patmos. He is currently prophesying to the world through this book of the Revelation of Christ he has written.”

Revelation 17:16-17 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.

Other translations state that the beast and the ten kings will hate the woman. As time progresses the kings will cause Babylon to be destroyed from within. God has put this in their hearts. The vials of the Wrath of God take their toll on the beast and the combination of calamity from without and foment from within finish off the beast. They will destroy Babylon when this happens.

Because of their dedication to strict Islamic law, these kings along with the beast will tire of the excesses of their capital city, the whore of Babylon, which is the whore with which “all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Rev 18:3; see Eze 16:37).

Her delicacies will likely be things like drug and alcohol abuse, orgies, lusts, pleasures, delights of all sorts, and as many such hedonistic excesses of the flesh as one can imagine. This will cause unbridled hatred against those excesses in the hearts of Islamists. Islamists already hate the West because of such hedonism. Then they will destroy the city with fire. “Eating her flesh” refers to destroying her carnality and her carnal possessions and riches. “Burning her with fire” can be literal but can also attest to their hot hatred of her carnality that compels them to destroy her; likely both.

Remember What God said to the King of Tyre (and to Lucifer or Helel ben Shachar3) in Eze 28:18-19:

“By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”

God destroyed Tyre with fire from within. When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Tyre, he burned it with fire, just as the prophets foretold (Amo 1:6-8; Zep 2:4, Zep 2:7, Zec 9:4).

When Alexander finally conquered Tyre after a long fight, and after using the ruins of the city Nebuchadnezzar destroyed to build a long causeway to the Island of Tyre, he killed the remaining soldiers and sold the surviving inhabitants into slavery. He razed the city, destroying it totally, further fulfilling this prophecy. 

Though there is a modern city of Tyre, it is not built over the ruins of ancient Trye. The modern city was built to the south of the ancient city, whose ruins lie to its north mostly under water4.

Just as God did to ancient Tyre, so He will do with Lucifer, the Devil, or Satan at the end of the age. He will destroy Babylon, the city of the beast from within with desolation, nakedness, and fire just as He used Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander to destroy Tyre. 

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

This corroborates that the woman, the harlot, the great whore, Babylon, is that great city that is the capital city of the beast system. This harlot city will be utterly destroyed just as the original Babylon was. See Jeremiah 51:1-64.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks,  Updated May 25, 2023

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  1. “The final two sections of the statue, the legs of iron and the feet of mixed iron and clay, represent two distinct phases of the same kingdom.” Richardson, Joel, Mystery Babylon: Unlocking the Bible’s Greatest Prophetic Mystery, WinePress Media, Leawood Kansas
  2.  Dan 2:44a, “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.”
  3. Lucifer, Morning Star, Day Star, Star of the Morning, Son of the Dawn = Helel ben Shachar הילל בן־שׁחר (literally, shining one, or light bearer, son of the dawn) This not the Christ, but the “Anotinted Cherub who Covers” (Eze 28:14 NKJV), who is the adversary, Satan, the Devil, the Dragon, etc.
  4. Because there is still a city of Tyre, though south of  the ancient site, it is possible that Tyre may suffer further future destructions to fully fulfill the prophecies of its destruction. Of course, the Scripture could be using hyperbole when describing its total destruction. However, since Alexander’s destruction still stands, further destruction is less likely
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