I think it is time that I share a very different understanding of the harlot riding the beast in Revelation 17. Some may already hold this understanding, but the majority of the Church does not. In fact, the majority of the Church will likely think what I am about to share is borderline blasphemy. None the less, this is what I have come to understand Revelation 17 is actually about.
My first post in this series can be found here, The Beasts of Revelation 13.
Let me start this post the same way I started my first one. This post is not meant to be exhaustive. I am writing this merely to outline my understanding of the beasts in Revelation 13. I beg the reader’s indulgence here. Do not start looking to pick me apart. Rather, simply read and consider what I have to share. We’ll get more into the details in later posts.
OK, let’s start by having a look at the parts of Revelation 17 we’ll be discussing:
Revelation 17:1-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Doom of Babylon
17 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, 5 and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” 6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly. 7 And the angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.
8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. 9 Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, 10 and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. 11 The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. 12 The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast.
Now, let’s start by identifying some of the symbology in this passage. I will only highlight a few of them this time. To make it easier to follow, we’ll take it a step at a time.
2 — Scripture uses ‘waters’ here in much the same way as ‘the sea,’ to represent inhabited areas, peoples and nations (Rev 7:15). However, it can also be used as a representation the Truth, Holy Spirit and everlasting Life (John 7:39, 4:14, Eph 5:25-26).
3 — The color, ‘scarlet,’ represents sin (Isa 1:18).
6 — A ‘head’ represents major powers, rulers or governments (Rev 17:9-10).
OK, now, the angel explains some of this to John, as is evidenced in the text of the Scripture. But there is more here than most understand. If you will indulge me, I will attempt to explain how I understand this part of Revelation.
MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE HARLOT RIDING THE BEAST
First, the woman is the same entity as the Beast from the Earth, or the apostate Church. I explained why I believe this in my last post. This then makes the seven-headed beast she is riding the same as the Beast from the Sea. This prophecy is the exact same picture as that in Revelation 13, it just uses different imagery and gives different details. In other words, we should not view them as two separate prophecies, but as complimentary versions of the same prophecy.
In this case, we are given additional details. The woman is drunk from the blood of the true believers. Well, historically, the Catholics and the Protestants have murdered believers who refused to bow to the dictates of each division of the Church (see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs). The kings of the earth are also drunk with the wine of her immorality. This is a depiction of the Church blending with government. When the Church starts from its true love (Yeshua), and starts to align with government, it provides all sorts of opportunity to the rulers of the world to use its influence for their own purposes. I am explaining this briefly, and in general terms, but the history of the material world lines up well with both the prophetic symbolism and the spiritual message in this prophecy.
As for the beast with seven heads, these are seven kingdoms. The seven hills are just another symbol for a kingdom. So, we have a beast with seven heads/hills/kingdoms. At the time the Apostle, John, is writing the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ, five of these kingdoms had already fallen (the three kingdoms before Babylon, Babylon and then Medo-Persia — 5 total). There is one that still is in John’s time. I believe this is the Greco-Roman kingdom (the bronze thighs/Leopard beast). This leaves one more kingdom that is still to come from John’s point in time. When it comes, it will remain a while, but is then killed, but will later come back to life. It is, will not be, yet will be again. In this way, it is both the seventh beast, but also an eight: the seventh beast come back to life (the beast with the mortal head wound). As I explained in my last post, I believe this last kingdom/beast/mountain to be Islam.
Now, there is one more passage in Revelation 17 we should look at before we leave this post.
Revelation 17:18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
18 The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
Scripture defines a ‘city’ as a religious government.
When we speak of God’s kingdom, or government, we are talking about the Shining City on the Hill. But, when we speak of Satan’s kingdom or government, we are talking about Mystery Babylon. Here is where I will upset a great many believers, but I do not care as I am convinced that this is true:
The Apostate Church is Mystery Babylon!
In other words, the Two-Horned Beast from the Earth, the Harlot, and the City on the seven hills are all depictions of the same thing: Satan’s rule on earth!
In my next post, we will have a little chat about ‘Wormwood,’ the burning mountain.