Author: Ron Graham
Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Final Visions >1st vision >The Atrocious Woman >Angel explains
An Angel gives some guidelines to John, to help him comprehend the meaning of the judgment visions that he has been seeing, and will continue to see, about the beasts and the kingdoms they signify. (Revelation 17:7-18). This is a valuable section to help us understand the judgment visions more clearly.
I'll tell you the mystery John’s wonder is great as he sees the visions. The angel, while allowing that John has the capacity to understand, does admit that the visions are a "mystery" (Revelation 17:7). We recall that part of the name on the atrocious woman’s forhead was "Mystery Babylon the Great" (Revelation 17:5). The word “mystery” is normally used in the scriptures for truths couched in signs and symbols, not something inexplicable. For example, the gospel is a "mystery" long ago seen in prophetic signs and shadows (Romans 16:25, cf Hebrews 10:1), but we are all able to understand it adequately.
the beast that you saw The dragon on which the woman rode "once was, now is not, and will come up" —a parody on the title of Jesus Christ, "who is, who was, and who is to come" (Revelation 1:8). The dragon, Satan, "was" that serpent of old, yet he "now is not" in the sense that he is not the One who has the power and the glory forever. The dragon "will come up out of the abyss" in a later vision, signifying that at times Satan seems to have the advantage as he seeks our ruin; but he's the one who'll be destroyed (Revelation 20:10). [See The Three Beasts]
foundation of the world The angel speaks to John of those "whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 17:8). We humans are born with our name written in God’s book of life, however Jesus can "erase" a person’s name who does not overcome through the power of Jesus (Revelation 3:5). And Jesus, the Lamb slain, can write that person’s name into the book again by such complete forgiveness that the name is once more considered to have been written from the foundation of the world.
Your intended destiny with Jesus Christ is eternal life. Satan’s aim is to rob you of that destiny and to corrupt you. Your destiny with Satan is eternal death. Your destiny with Christ is everlasting joy. Choose and commit yourself now. Which will it be?
the mind that has wisdom The visions John saw are understood by the mind endowed with wisdom —not one’s own wisdom, but wisdom from the gospel of "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1Corinthians 1:18-31). One important mystery revealed in the gospel, is that Jesus will destroy Satan and all his minions, when Jesus comes to bring judgment on the world.
seven heads... seven hills... seven kings The angel explains that the dragon’s seven heads signify seven hills and seven kings (Revelation 17:9-11). That shows that Satan has infiltrated and corrupted the high places of earthly rule. The angel describes him as an eighth king and king of the seven —meaning that he is not just a king at the end of a line, but is ruling through all seven kings. He, however, is not a legitimate king; Jesus is the true "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14).
Much effort is expended to identify which ruling city has seven hills, and who the seven kings might be. This is just another attempt to match specific points in history to the visions. That's not the point. The symbols mean that earthly kingdoms are deceived by Satan but "he goes to destruction" (Revelation 17:11) and any king under his thrall will go with him. For example, Herod Agrippa was such a king and an angel of God destroyed him (Acts 12:21-24). The world has always been full of such rulers and their strongholds; and will be till the end.
ten horns... ten kings... one hour The dragon John saw had ten horns representing ten kings in league with the dragon (Revelation 17:12-13). Yet these ten kings will turn upon the evil woman and devour her! (Revelation 17:16-17). Satan insanely creates confusion, conflict, and destruction among those who follow him; and, left to themselves, they devour each other.
one hour The hastening of the woman’s destruction is represented by the "one hour" of authority given to the ten horns (Revelation 17:12-13). That fall will be portrayed in the next vision where the phrase, "in one hour" is repeated (Revelation 18:10,17,19).
these will wage war The angel tells John that in his visions he will see a failed attempt to wage war upon the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14). We find these visions in later chapters (Revelation 19:19-21, Revelation 20:7-10). These signify a real war between the forces of good and evil, which goes on incessantly over the many centuries between the two comings of Christ
called, chosen, and faithful The angel encourages John that there will be victory for all those who are on the Lord’s side, "who are with him" who is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14). These were called and they answered; having answered the call they were chosen; having been chosen they were faithful (Revelation 17:4).
eat her flesh and burn her up The angel tells John that in his visions he will see evil destroy itself as God executes his purpose (Revelation 17:16). Among these visions are the supper for the birds who eat the flesh of the flesh of kings fallen in a failed battle against Jesus, and the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:17-21, Revelation 20:7-10).
many waters John had seen an atrocious woman who "sits on many waters" (Revelation 17:1). The angel explains that this indicates a dominion over many nations spreading accross the world from sea to sea (Revelation 17:15).
the great city The angel explains that this woman represents "the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (Revelation 17:18). This city is called "Babylon" in the next vision where her fall and destruction is pictured (Revelation 18:1-2). In John's day the great world empire overseen by Babylon was long gone; but another like empire was overseen from Rome, and this is most likely the city referred to. However, as we say repeatedly in these lessons, that empire, like Babylon, is a paradigm or pattern of the spirit of antichrist that remains in the world to this day.