17:8"The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.

"The BEAST that you SAW

This is the same BEAST referenced in verse 3 and in Revelation 13:1.

Clearly this is visual imagery used to depict something spiritual. Recall the angel who is speaking here came from the temple (Revelation 15:6). Saying 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 island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9) as some commentators indicate).

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', but in Revelation 9:1, 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 DESTRUCTION (Daniel 5:22-28).

And those who dwell on the earth WILL WONDER, whose name has 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 of LIFE".

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 make the 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 right choice.

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.