We concluded the last session with the unsaved masses having faced numerous extremely difficult situations. One quarter of the remaining population was killed by an unearthly army of 2 million creatures on horses unlike any that we are familiar with. Their hopes were for something better. A globalist leader was using force to pull the world under his control. He was a man who is to come in peaceably, no doubt promising world peace. But it just was not happening. Not only did he have other ‘kingdoms’ to bring under his control, he was facing resistance from God. The resistance came in the form of people who refused to take his ‘mark’. It came from 2 witnesses who had the power to stop rain from falling, strike the earth with fire and pestilence, killing those who tried to kill them. Resistance to his plan was increased through the witness and work of 144,000 Christian Jews who were preaching and convincing as many of the lost people as possible to refuse the mark and receive Jesus as Savior. As things reach a very frustrating level he rectifies a problem that had bothered him throughout his three and a half year ‘reign’. He has a woman on his back who has been holding the reins and making it difficult to do what he wants to do. He is about to take action against the woman, but to do so he needs even greater armed forces than what he already has. Ten additional ‘kings’ or countries join his army, and with that he proceeds. At that time two other things happen, the two witnesses are finally killed. But three days later they stand on their feet and ascend to heaven. At that time all the remaining believers ascend to heaven as well. Although the people of earth likely are not hearing the trumpet blasts by the angels, a seventh (and last) trumpet has just sounded. This, by the way, is called the third ‘Woe’ to the earth. What does this mean to the masses of unsaved people on earth? Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” This would not be good news for the antichrist, although I doubt seriously that he heard these voices in heaven making the announcement. As far as he is concerned, he is still king of the world. But in reality, in the timing of God’s prophetic calendar, his time is over and Jesus is getting his own army together. He begins by removing his people. After God has raptured his people and the two witnesses through an open window in the heavens, people on earth are able to see God on His throne. Rev. 6:12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, The level of fear by the people of earth will be immense. But instead of repenting, they seem to know it is too late. Along with their fear is great anger at God. The sounding of the seventh trumpet also mentions that the nations are not only fearful but angry. Rev. 11:18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, … but adds this as well …And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” God has come like a thief and has taken his children through a portal in the sky into His presence. Up in heaven it is judgment/reward time. This is the judgment seat of Christ for all believers from Adam to that present time. Prophets, saints (you and I) and all who fear His name, small and great, will be there. Meanwhile, on earth, God’s wrath, the great day of His wrath … the day of destruction is happening. God is about to destroy those who destroy the earth. Jesus is comparing this to what happened in Sodom years ago. He quickly pulled Lot and his family out of there and then destroyed the wicked. He put Noah into a boat and then destroyed the world. Here He calls believers up through the open window in the sky so that He can destroy those left on earth. This is described in the seventh and final bowl of His wrath that is being poured out onto the earth. Let’s read about it. Rev.16:17 ¶ Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. The opening of the sixth seal mentions the same phenomenon. That is because this is the same event, but now described in the pouring out of the seventh bowl of wrath. Rev 6:12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Joel prophesied of this event: Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. The people of earth have already experienced horrendous things from the hand of God, orchestrated through the actions of the two witnesses. Now they are gone. Now the Christians are gone. But now they see God in the heavens. I am supposing that the window in heaven closes as the last of the believers ascend into God’s presence. Let’s read on. Rev. 16:19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. I am ‘guessing’ that the great city refers to Jerusalem. Many other cities have fallen as well. This seems to be due to the tremendous earthquake. But now God turns his full attention to Babylon, the woman on the back of the Antichrist’s beast. 20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. So, just like that, Babylon is gone. But God wants us to have much more detail than that. He wants us to know the history of Babylon, the scarlet woman. Many bible commentators, especially those of previous centuries, have believed that this woman represents the corrupt Catholic church. And there is a fairly good reason for their thinking this. She ‘sits upon seven mountains’. Rome is built on seven hills. The controlling powers of the Roman Catholic church are quite extensive in the world. But these same bible scholars have indicated their belief that the pope was the antichrist. In that case, they are believing that the church (the woman) is on the back of the beast (the pope) and controlling him. I see a very different picture of who this woman represents. The 7 headed beast of Revelation 13 is the military might of the Antichrist. He leads (causes) the world to worship his power. But all the while there is something or someone that has the power to control the direction of the beast. The woman holds the reins. The information given to John regarding this woman, this prostitute, is quite lengthy. It is time to get familiar with it. Revelation 16.17 “The seventh angel poured out his bowl”. 16.19 …Babylon is the main focus, And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Revelation 17:1-18:24 Two full chapters have been devoted to exposing the wickedness and the far-reaching effects of this woman riding the back of the beast. To do this study justice we really need to look at all that is written about it. Very likely we will not be able to do it in one sitting. But let's begin. Rev. 17.1 ¶ Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 “with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Her identity is a mystery. We are expected to be familiar with the details surrounding the woman, so that if we determine that she already exists we can quickly go the other way. In a very real sense the ‘spirit’ of what she offers the world is present today and has been for a very long time. But we will read that she has fallen. She was not always this evil. First of all we are told about the extent of her influence. She “sits upon many waters”. We take this to mean nations of the world. She has been around for quite a while, touching all of our lives, to some degree. The charge against her is fornication, not physical but spiritual. Mystery Babylon, as she is described here, is at the core of this world system. John wrote, “1Jo 2:16 For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world. These are the things offered by the woman. These are things designed to take your eyes and focus off of Jesus and onto the things of the world. Small wonder that God reserves His very worst bowl of wrath just for her. For married men who are susceptible to the physical advances of a prostitute on a street corner, totally removing his devotion to his wife, so is the Babylonian influence of this woman. Proverbs 7:12 . . . now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. This is what we are putting up with in the free world. Years ago, it was just the ads and billboards. Then it was radio. Television has bombarded us, not merely with ads and commercials, but with stories of lust and crime. It has idolized human achievement, making sure to allow no credit to go to God. As a matter of fact, God is methodically and completely painted out of the picture. All of the things that God has made and called good, are twisted by modern science. Homosexuallity is an alternate choice … not a deviant sin to be confessed and repented of. Sexual ‘fluidity’, abortion, sex outside of marriage, infidelity in marriage … all are a slap in the face of God who said the marriage bed is holy. The harlot is all about excess and pleasure. Christians in much of the world have 'vexed their righteous souls' through this unholy spirit of desire. Much damage to the souls of Christians has been done by this 'evil spirit' and God will put an end to it. Rev 17.3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. God wants to tell us, warn us, about this 'woman', but it appears He wants us to understand how she fits into the whole endtimes picture. So He proceeds to do so in verse 3. First we note her position of prominence. She feels untouchable, secure, and in full control of the ‘Beast’ political system. Her ‘system’ is known for pleasure, affluence, self indulgence etc. We read, 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. In addition to her pursuit of happiness, contentment, fun, and self-ambition, she has an anti-God agenda. Godliness and Christ centeredness is seen as her enemy, so she does her best to rid the world of those who take a strong Christian stand. 6. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. John sees her 'drunk' with the blood of the martyrs. She, and her doctrine, encouraged the killing of Christians. 7. But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? 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. First God tells us about the Beast. 8. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. This presents a mystery of its own. The angel speaking to John says that ALL those dwelling on earth will be totally amazed. Conjecture has it that this is the revived Roman empire. At this point I am not certain about this beast. But when it shows up it will be truly amazing. In addition, the first beast of Revelation 13 came out of the sea. This one comes out of the bottomless pit. It is totally red like the dragon that tried to devour Israel's male child. But that dragon is called the Devil. So why is this one coming out of the pit? I don't know. But it is satanic. It is the Beast of chapter 13 dressed in red.
9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. From the previous verse is where some teachers have stated that the seven mountains refer to the seven hills upon which Rome is built. But we must include the following verse to help us in our ‘understanding’ of the woman/system. 10 “There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. In the writer, John’s day, five kingdoms, that is world dominating kingdoms were in the past. The world power that was in control in John’s time, was Rome. Prior to that, the fifth power would have been Greece. The fourth King would have represented the Medo-Persian empire, the third was Babylon. What are the previous two kingdoms? We have to kind of ‘guess’ at this point. Right after the flood, Nimrod got everyone together to build the tower. And before the flood? We have little to go on, but we have to assume there was some form of Godless government in place. That is my take on it. There are other explanations but exactly who they were is not important to the subject. Clearly there was a worldwide power in John’s time and he predicts another in the endtime. This last one is to hold power for a short time .. such as the last seven years of the age or even just the last three and half years. 11 “And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. The dragon or beast had seven heads, but an eighth one is mentioned because the seventh head, kingdom, was declared dead but somehow came back into being. Some have called this the revived Roman empire, but it was the sixth King, the Roman empire that was in power in John’s time and not the seventh head. So, this is a wait and see situation. One final suggestion is the Ottoman empire (Muslim,) which could be considered the seventh head. They have not been a world power for a long time, but if they were somehow to be the ones to make a covenant with Israel, they could be considered to be a power that miraculously was reborn. Before we reject that thought out of hand, Iran is at the point of becoming a Nuclear power. Should that happen, with their terrorist type radical mind-set, they could actually kind of hold the world hostage. Next we are given some information about the ten horns on the beast's heads. 12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 “These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. The ‘horns’ have no connection to the beast for the first part of the tribulation. As a matter of fact, not even for the last half of the tribulation. Their connection is only at the final hour. 14 ¶ “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” The narrative ‘jumps’ ahead at this point, skipping any further information about the woman. What we see in verse 14 is the battle of armageddon which occurs when Jesus returns to earth with His saints. But verse 15 will go back to the tribulation period and fill in the picture with the woman on the back of the beast. 15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. Here is another ‘clue’ to the woman/system’s control over the antichrist system. His system is supposed to be global. In other words, everyone globally is supposed to worship the beast … and yet we have the decked out pleasure seeking woman in control. 16 “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 “For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. The scenario changes drastically at this point. From this point forward, we have a beast in full control. The woman/system is gone. This change in the world scene will be verified quite clearly when we get to see it from Daniel’s perspective. God is in control of the destruction of mystery Babylon. He has poured out the seventh bowl of His wrath upon her, but the fulfilling of her destruction is done by human means. God can control human kingdoms. And in the next verse we are given a pretty big hint. 18 “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
Rome? Or something else? We need to read on into chapter 18 to find out more.