|The Mystery of the Harlot and
Explained, Revelation Chapter 17
Verses 7-18 (NASB)
And the ANGEL said to me, "Why do you WONDER?
This is the angel (verses
) who came from the temple with one of
the seven bowls. I point this out because this implies that what is
to be shown to John (and us) is spiritual in nature. To be sure, there
are physical attributes portrayed, but they have spiritual meaning.
That this angel is going to 'coach' John is not unusual. This is what
angels do (Psalm
104:1-4 (see footnotes) and
Hebrews 1:4-14). However, it is curious how
the angel knew that John was WONDERing. Either John verbalized his
'spirit thoughts' (verse
or the angel
read John's thoughts. Less likely, John's facial expression showed
his WONDERment. We probably have no idea what our guardian angel knows
One could read this to be a mild rebuke. It's like saying,
"John, aren't you aware of spiritual events around you?" More than
a few times, people have told me, "I study the Bible but I skip the
Revelation because it's too hard to understand". If you are reading
praise God, you are making an attempt to be spiritually alert.
I shall tell you the MYSTERY of
See verse 5
of MYSTERY in the Bible.
Part of John's WONDERing may be that the BEAST is carrying
her (instead of devouring her). This may be the first time that John
realizes the WOMAN, the immoral and idolatrous religious system during
the tribulation, is directly involved with the BEAST, the dictator of
a unified church-state totalitarian regime - the devil's twisted
(2) of the BEAST that carries her, which has the
seven HEADS and
the ten HORNS.
The BEAST is introduced to us in Revelation
11:7 . We see him described in similar terms in
Revelation 13:1-8 . Lastly his destruction
is told in
Revelation 19:19-20 .
The angel now proceeds to try to unravel the MYSTERY starting
with the BEAST.
This is the same BEAST referenced in verse 3
and in Revelation
Clearly this is visual imagery used to depict something spiritual.
Recall the angel who is speaking here came from the temple (Revelation 15:6).
that John "SAW" this, denotes that these predictions are taking place
in the time frame of the vision (not during John's lifetime on the
of Patmos (Revelation
This is the believer's view of how Satan is trying to emulate the TRUE
MESSIAH. Apparently, Satan believes if he is successful, he can make
himself God since he, Satan, has given his power(s) to the BEAST (Revelation
13:1-4). Normally the ABYSS is 'locked',
Satan is given the keys to the ABYSS. The way this verse puts it, there
isn't much time for the BEAST to leave the ABYSS and then go to
- WAS and
- IS NOT, and
- IS ABOUT TO come up out of the
ABYSS and to go to
And those who dwell on the earth WILL WONDER,
not been written in the BOOK of LIFE from the FOUNDATION of the world,
Satan's purpose is to deceive, first, God's chosen people to
believe that the BEAST is their long awaited Messiah. The deception
is so good that, second, many non Jews will be caught up in this too.
This is what is meant by "whose name has not been written in the BOOK
Also, this portion of scripture is NOT proof that you are predestined
for heaven if your name IS written in the BOOK of LIFE from the
FOUNDATION of the world. Scripture clearly teaches that mankind has
made and can make choices. Rather, this portion shows that the eternal,
all-knowing God knows what your choices will be. By God's grace, you and I still can
choice to follow
Jesus Christ as the TRUE Messiah. Sadly, those 'who dwell
on the earth' at the time of this vision WILL WONDER if they made the
when they see the BEAST, that he
This is a restatement of the first part of this verse but this time it
is from the non-believers viewpoint. These people have a nagging
suspicion that they have been deceived. They HOPE upon HOPE that the
BEAST WILL COME to set up the ultimate kingdom. But the BEAST is
destined for DESTRUCTION.
IS NOT and
"Here is the mind which has WISDOM.
Wisdom and understanding in end time visions require awareness or the
ability to calculate (Daniel
12:5-10-13 and Revelation
is placed here to say, in effect, "Don't predetermine what the content
of this triplet of verses (verses
9-11) may mean." (Romans
Ever since the seven angels came from the temple with the seven bowl
the context of this
scripture is spiritual. To try to place this triplet into geopolitical
terms (mostly Rome) is not demonstrating WISDOM in my viewpoint.
we must continue to be alert to current events to recognize when these
will come to pass (perhaps within our lifetimes???). This is equivalent
to having oil in the lamps in anticipation for the wedding (Matthew
The seven HEADS are seven MOUNTAINS on which
MOUNTAINS in prophetical writings have referred to world powers (Isaiah
Jeremiah 51:24-26 ;
Daniel 2:31-35 ;
Zechariah 4:1-7). In this context, these are worldwide
Consistently throughout Revelation, the number seven indicates
completeness. Then this portion means that the seven HEADS are the
complete organizational embodiment of the evil power of the beast.
Also, the woman,
the socioreligious organization in power at this time, is freely
worldwide by the beast. That is, there will be no travel restrictions
on those who have taken the mark of the beast. Note, though, that the
beast puts up with this arrangement as long as the woman is useful to
With the hindsight of September 11th, one could argue this represents
seven major terrorist cells operating worldwide. What little we do know
of al Quaida, it has strong religious overtones and is well funded with
"oil money" (Revelation
and they are seven KINGS;
Nearly all commentaries try to identify these KINGS as either great
empires or great leaders. Many try to name specific empires, but, this
is risky in light of the first sentence of the
The most that should be said is that seven is the number of completion
in Revelation. Therefore, this should be interpreted as being the sum
of the "character" of the beast. Furthermore, since the Bible is
primarily an "Abraham" book, the Jewish and Arabic viewpoints should be
At the time this vision/explanation is happening, five spiritual eras
or entities (this verse doesn't distinguish) that have tormented
the Jews will have disappeared. While they could have been empires in
the distant past of Jewish history, they could also be abstract
which have spiritual impact. For example, they may be humanism (Genesis
3:1-7), naturism (Romans
1:24-25), atheism (1
5:6-10-12), polytheism (1
8:1-6), or materialism (Revelation
18:9-16). After the 7 seal judgments, the
7 trumpet judgments, and the 7 bowl judgments, these KINGS (kingdoms)
are likely to be greatly diminished.
We know that the beast (devil) has kingdoms. He tried to give them to
Jesus if only Jesus would worship before the devil (Luke
4:5-8). Apparently, at this point in the tribulation,
five of these kingdoms, whatever they may be, are done away with.
Relative to our lifetime, this probably is the Moslem world. However,
this also could be hypocrite Christianity (Matthew
the other has not yet come;
Since this is beyond our relative horizon, we cannot know what
this seventh KING (kingdom) is. We do know that the Antichrist is part
of it (next
and when he comes, he must remain a little
This final attempt at suppressing or exterminating God's chosen people (see verse 14)
short time (as in
What is striking about this phrase is its indefiniteness. Normally,
earlier in the Revelation, times are very precise (Revelation 9:5
9:15 , and Revelation
it is written
this way so that the devil will not know how much "little while" he
He can read or hear scripture, too.
"And the BEAST which was and is not, is
himself also an
This verse restates verse
. This is
the same BEAST described in
Revelation 13:1-8 . The conclusion then is that this
is the antiChrist himself.
"which was" refers to his mortal life, "is not" refers to his apparent
dearth, and "is himself" denotes his 'resurrection' into his
supermortal life. To Jews still looking for the Messiah, the antiChrist
through his imitation of Jesus' life, crucifixion, and resurrection is
very convincing. Jesus himself had warned this would happen (Mark
13:14-23). Ironically, for Jews to accept the antiChrist
as the Messiah, the antiChrist must either be a Jew or an exceptional
To be the EIGHTH means that not only does the antiChrist wholeheartedly
participate in the wickedness of all the seven kingdoms, but also is
the embodiment of this wickedness in superhuman form. The dragon (Revelation 13:4)
him a personal pride and arrogance which will set him apart from all
other mortals. See the "little horn" of
Daniel 7:8 .
In the previous verse, we defined the SEVEN as abstract concepts. They
could just as easily be socioreligious entities such as Protestants,
Catholics, Moslems, Buddhists, Jews, and such. We are not given a clue
what the seven "kingdoms" are; so the reader/student of the Revelation
MUST ever be aware of the world's religious landscape. Since the Bible
so closely tied to the Jews, God's chosen people, true believers must
ever watch events in Israel. Interestingly, even the secular press
instinctively knows this and gives disproportionate news coverage about
and he goes to DESTRUCTION.
After "remaining a little while" (previous
this simple sentence marks the end of the BEAST. Revelation 19:20
the location of this DESTRUCTION.
"And the ten HORNS which you saw are ten
KINGS, who have
yet received a KINGDOM,
Was this what Daniel saw (Daniel
"who have not yet received a KINGDOM" could be interpreted as:
- during John's lifetime
- until the tribulation period
- until the brief "loosing" of the Devil (Revelation
- without geopolitical boundaries but nonetheless an
unit, e.g. al Quada.
but they receive AUTHORITY as KINGS with the
If you take the
Daniel 9:27 one week as the seven years of tribulation
as most scholars do, then this one hour is roughly 15 days. On the
hand, if you take
2 Peter 3:8-13 , then we have a time range of a hundred
of a second to 41+ days. Given these large time conversion differences,
many scholars take this to mean for a brief period of time.
Due to the precision of time in the rest of Revelation, this probably
is a literal one hour. The 9/11/2001 initial acts took place within one
hour so this is plausible. One cannot be sure how long one hour is,
though, at this time in the tribulation given the "time changes" that
may have occurred during earlier judgments (for example, the fourth
Usually political kingdoms can't agree. Consider how many countries
have been formed due to ethnic differences alone. Even in the Mideast
where one would hope to find unity among ethnic lines, we find many
splinter (often violent) organizations. So something unusual has taken
place to cause
this oneness of purpose.
and they give their POWER and AUTHORITY to
Strange way to put this since the BEAST is a "puppet" regime too (Revelation 13:2).
the devil uses these 10 short-term rulers, powers, and world forces of
this darkness (Ephesians
6:10-20) to fulfill Revelation
"These will WAGE WAR AGAINST THE LAMB,
This is just a statement of what actually happens in
Revelation 19 . This is a spiritual WAR
and fulfills the prophesy given in
Zechariah 14:1-2 .
and the LAMB WILL OVERCOME THEM,
This fulfills the continuation of the prophesy in
Zechariah 14:3-8 . The details of how this will be
are given in
Revelation 19:11-21 .
Recall that the sword comes from Jesus mouth (Revelation
1:16) which means this WAR
is a war of words of TRUTH (John
14:1-11). The words will be spoken by One who has AUTHORITY
(verses physical control of the earth; although the Lamb has that
It is the same AUTHORITY
HE is LORD of lords and KING of kings,
This is confirmed in Revelation
Apparently these titles were commonly used among the New Testament
6:11-15-16). In the Old Testament, the title was "God
of gods" (Deuteronomy
and those who are with Him are the
Those who are with Him are not spectators but active combatants (see
Matthew 10:24-33 ;
Jude 1:14 ;
Daniel 7:9-10-11 ; and
This most likely is the same angel speaking in verses
7 . Most
often throughout the
are talking with John. The major exception, of course, is the original
to write the book of the Revelation (Revelation
"The WATERS which you saw where the HARLOT
This expression seems a bit odd. When one sits on water (unless it is
ice), one sinks under. However, read how Jesus describes the last days
Luke 21:25-28 and His use of the sea and the waves. While
the literal sea and waves may be "roaring" causing perplexity, if water
is the container of spirit(s), then this verse here in Revelation
that the HARLOT will control or suppress any of the raging opposition
the beast (and the 10 kings). As a sidelight, look how much the 10
appreciate what the socioreligious organization (HARLOT) did for them (next verse).
Finally, the way this angel talks about "the WATERS", he may well be
the angel of the WATERS (Revelation
16:4-7). The use of the past tense "SAW", indicates
that the third angel has poured out his bowl already.
It is clear that this includes every being with a
soul. Considering the major calamities the earth has gone through with
the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments, it is amazing that these people
are not dispersed and off seeking their own revenge or salvation.
However, these people are under the total control of the Babylonian
HARLOT (socioreligious empire).
MULTITUDES (groups of
within physical boundaries)
One should be aware that from these same WATERS, we, the redeemed, have
Praise the Lord
that we are FROM these WATERS and not IN THEM (John
"And the ten horns which you saw, and the
This is a reference back to verse 12
"evil" horns as they are on the BEAST. But there are "good" horns too (Revelation 5:6).
we see the
between "good" and "evil" (Genesis
2:15-17). This conflict has kept all of us from the tree
of life (Genesis
Revelation 22:1-2,18-19 ). Since these horns are located on
where "thinking" takes place, this indicates that the four steps below
a CONSCIOUS effort.
1) will HATE the HARLOT and
The ten leaders will openly start showing contempt for the
socioreligious consortium (harlot) now in control of the earth.
However, because the BEAST wants everything, even this consortium must
go. He, the BEAST, wants to control the entire earth himself. This
implies that the ten leaders are puppet regimes.
Throughout history, it is not unusual for political organizations to
tolerate or even embrace religion when it deems it convenient or
expedient. Yet underneath, one gets the sense that there is a mistrust
between both parties. Hatred and envy work like that.
2) will make her DESOLATE and NAKED, and
After the hatred comes the conscious effort to deprive the consortium
of its wealth. With the funding removed, the supporters will quickly
leave, leaving the consortium NAKED. At this point the religious part
of the consortium has nothing to offer, and the consortium loses its
power to rule.
3) will eat her FLESH and
Just as the flesh is the outward appeal of our physical body, so, too,
the appeal of the consortium disappears. The consortium is taken over
(eaten) by the ten leaders and the BEAST.
The FLESH here is used in similar manner as Micah (Micah
3:1-4) and David (Psalm
27:1-6) used this expression. It is the deliberate consuming
of life sustaining organization.
4) will burn her up with FIRE.
This is consistent with the Old Testament punishment for Levitical
21:1-9). The socioreligious consortium will be totally
eradicated. The ten leaders do not want this alliance to ever become
again. Be aware however, that this is one of the ways a strong God
"For God has put it in their hearts to
EXECUTE HIS PURPOSE
Even in judgment, God's plan ALWAYS is executed. Mankind may believe
that they control a 'KINGDOM' (Psalm
75:6-8), but, at best, they
only make choices for themselves individually . This is
true in spiritual matters. God doesn't accept the notion of 'power of
or 'class actions'.
Compare how Paul describes this as a 'deluding influence' (2
a) by having a COMMON
This phrase echoes verse
b) by giving their
KINGDOM to the BEAST,
The transfer is complete. In verse 13
power and authority were given. But now these 10 horns give their
(singular, implying they were only governors in a larger KINGDOM) to
until the WORDS OF GOD should be fulfilled.
While these WORDS may be taken to refer only to those spoken here in
the Revelation of Jesus Christ, in a broader sense, they are those
spoken throughout eternity (that we know about through the Bible). They
would include the
Genesis 3:22-24), and correlate with the redemption process (Revelation 5:1).
the "sin curse" was
placed on the earth, God spoke and saw that "it was GOOD" (physically
spiritually). God now is using evil leadership to separate evil from
or the tares from the wheat (Matthew
13:24-30). Once the tares are burned, the earth can be
to its "GOOD" status. Interestingly, it doesn't matter what status in
a person has attained. Whether primitive native or sophisticated
politician or common citizen, highly educated or intellectually
one always struggles with spiritual/moral values. See the
of those persons
the wrong values.
From a prophetic viewpoint, this verse will confirm Revelation 14:8
Jeremiah 25:8-14 , and
"And the WOMAN whom you saw is THE GREAT CITY,
Several times Babylon (the name of the WOMAN), is referred to as GREAT (Revelation 17:5
14:8 , Revelation
16:19 , and Revelation
18:10). One senses that THE
CITY is not a specific city but rather refers to a large collection of
(that really is what cities are). In particular, these are people whose
are NOT written in the book of life (verse 8).
openly and angrily directed their hatred at believers (names written in
book of life) to the point of spilling the believer's blood (verse 6).
Most often in the past, scholars have placed the GREAT CITY as Rome
with its papacy or Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8).
one considers that since the bowl judgments, most of the Revelation
spiritual in nature, then Jerusalem makes good sense. Both Jews and
Arabs, religously, uphold Jerusalem as one of their most sacred cities.
which reigns over the KINGS of the EARTH."
Since the 10 kings/horns are not mentioned here specifically, this has
a broader meaning. It means all the world's leadership at this time of
Most likely there will only be one worldwide government which will have
organized religion (see
verse 16). With
now the only one left to worship, the only things remaining to be
from the earth are the evils of idolatry and its friend, greed. As we
see in the next chapter,
verses 8 and
11-19 , this economic structure too will be gone.
The difficulty we have in interpreting this verse is that we have a
hard time imagining what will be left of this earth after the seals,
trumpets, and bowls judgments. Certainly the population will have been
severely reduced (Revelation
6:8 and Revelation
and flattened (Revelation
World Health Organization will be backlogged trying to catalog and
all the new medical plagues being experienced by the people (Revelation 16:2).
be wiped out in favor of only worshipping the AntiChrist/Devil. One has
ask, what are the KINGS of the EARTH really controlling.........and
is the WOMAN controlling when she/they are reigning over the KINGS of
from the NEW
AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The
Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975,
1977, 1995 Used by permission."
References to the Revelation of Jesus
Christ are in bold italics. All
other references are in bold