Revelation  ◦   Chapter 17

1One of the seven angels, who had one of the seven bowls, came to me and said, "Come with me and I will show you the damning end of the great prostitute who sits upon the many waters–symbolic of false religion that misrepresents God.2The leaders of the world took their governments into bed with her, sharing in her plans, plots and methods, and the people of earth had their minds so filled with her lies about God and his methods that they were like drunks–stuporous and unable to be reasoned with or embrace the truth."

3Then the angel led me in vision into a desert–symbolic of spiritual desolation with lack of love and truth–where I saw the woman riding upon a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns and was covered with blasphemous names. This symbolized that false religion would be supported by the power of the state.4The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was heavily adorned with gold, pearls, and jewels–symbolic of her vanity and self-promotion. In her hand, she held a golden cup filled with her intoxicating brew of lies, distortions, and false presentations about God.5The title written on her forehead, descriptive of her character and methods, was:

Mysterious BABYLON THE GREAT–the confusing system of religious tradition, fable and falsehood that obscures the truth about God; THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES–the many diverse religious sects who sell their virtue for earthly advantage and seduce others into their bed of lies about God; THE ABOMINATION OF THE EARTH.

6I saw that the disgusting woman was intoxicated with destroying the lives of the healed–those whose lives bear the testimony of Jesus. Seeing her, and what she was doing, shocked me.7The angel asked, "Why does this shock you? Let me explain to you the mysterious woman and the beast with seven heads and ten horns upon which she rides.8The beastly power is the unification of religion and state, which persecutes and coerces. It has power on earth for a period, then doesn’t have power for a period, and then arises out of the abyss to menace the world one more time before going to its destruction. The people on earth whose names have not been recorded in the book of life from the creation of the world will be amazed by this beastly coalition of religion and state, as it had power for a time, then lost power, and yet it gains power again.

9"To understand this, it requires a wise and discerning mind: The seven heads represent seven false theories or theological systems that fill the minds of human beings, and are represented as seven mountains or high places of worship on which the woman sits.10They are also represented as seven false kings who try to usurp the place of Jesus, the true King. Five of them have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does, he will remain for only a short time.11The beastly power of coercion, which was on earth for a period but then lost power, is going to arise as an eighth king. The first seven were the set-up for him–preparing the world for the arrival of the eighth–but he is going to his destruction.

12"The ten horns you saw represent the kingdoms of the world that exist when the eighth king finally appears, and will be in power with the beastly system for only a short time.13Their one purpose is to give their political and national power and authority to the beastly system of coercion.14They will war against the Lamb by misrepresenting him and coercing people to accept lies about God, but the Lamb–along with his called, healed and faithful friends–will overcome them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings."

15Then the angel explained to me: "The waters you saw the prostitute sitting upon represent peoples, multitudes, races, and cultures.16The beast and ten horns, which represent political powers, will end up hating the prostitute–the false religions of the world. They turn on her, exposing her as false, then confiscate her properties and holdings, and burn down her lies with fiery truth.17For God accomplished his purpose of revealing the results of that beastly system when the ten horns chose to give the beast their power to rule.18The woman you saw is that great city, the distorted imposed law construct of force, intimidation and coercion that governs all the kingdoms of earth."