The Revelation of Hope
Introduction – In this Session we will conclude Revelation 17, and read through the angelic interpretations of verses 1-6 from the last Session. We will continue looking at the imagery that contrasts the Harlot/False Bride that is in agreement with the spirit of animating evil in the world, satan, to the true Bride, which is the Church of Jesus Christ, the shining, pure and white one who is faithful.
Since we have already introduced this Chapter in detail in the last Session; we will move forward in our study.
a) John was greatly astonished by the vision of the Woman on the Beast. The Greek word for astonish or wonder is THAUMAZŌ – to wonder, wonder at, marvel – to be wondered at, to be had in admiration. This speaks of the alluring deception of the power of the world, the deception of luxury, and the plastic beauty of societies that love decadence. It can seem impossible for the Bride of Christ to overcome these social structures and their power, but we know that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. It our birthright to overcome and influence the world for God’s greater glory as He is the legal possessor of all things.
b) The angel re-directs John’s gaze and explains the mystery of the alluring vision he just witnessed. Chapter 17 is very easy to interpret because the interpretation is given to us by the angel who will explain the symbolism of the woman, the beast, the heads and 10 horns.
a) We have 2 movements in verse 8. The first movement is in regards to the destiny of the beast, which is destruction. The second movement is in regards to the sure destruction of those who partner with the beast.
b) We must refer to Revelation 13:3 when we consider verse 8. Revelation 13:3 tells us that one of the heads of the beast suffered what appeared to be a mortal wound, and yet was healed and the world was astonished by this. This refers to the following political occurrences at that time.
c) Rome is easily identified as the beast. The Roman Emperor Nero committed suicide at the height of Roman dominance and power. We have discussed him in detail when we studied Revelation 13, so for the sake of time we will move on. When Nero committed suicide the Julian Dynasty was suddenly ended, as Nero had no offspring or bloodline heir to the throne. He had murdered all familiar opponents to his rule. It is important to mention that it was a common name to refer to Nero as a Beast by the Roman Senate and others in Roman culture. So it could be said that the Generic Beast, Rome, had suffered a fatal wound to its head.
d) At that time the Roman Empire went into a short period of political civil wars, and wars of rebellion that plunged the Empire into deep political upheaval. Vespasian was able to realign allegiances and put down rebellion and restore/revive the beast with the fatal wound, the Roman Empire and establish the Flavian Dynasty. Basically the beast came out the pit/abyss.
e) The second movement is in regards to those who joined themselves to the harlot. It is sure death to live for any system than the system of Life, the Kingdom of God.
f) When we look at the language, “from the creation of the world”, it would seem that eternal destiny is pre-determined. This is simply not the case. I cannot accept that a loving God would appoint a portion of His creation, made in His image, to an eternal hell. This phrase is easily understood when one looks at it in the context of God’s omniscience. As God is transcendent and outside of time and space, He know beginning from end, but does not control the outcomes of those who chose either to love Him or live in their Adamic rebellion.
g) We can be assured that when Vespasian consolidated power and revived Rome’s power and authority, the people of the land, especially those in the Jewish rebellion against Rome were amazed. A good knowledge of the history and context of the Scriptures that we are reading keeps us safe from speculative doctrines that draw conclusions from Scripture that are completely outside the people and the culture they were written to. We can be sure that these verses that declare the fall of Rome, would have been good news for an Apostle who was being exiled by the Beast of Rome.
a) The mind of wisdom – Mind – Greek – NOUS – the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining
b) Wisdom – Greek – SOPHIA – wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters
c) What is being communicated here is that when one looks at these prophetic symbols, one can understand. To the First Century Christians of the 7 Churches, they would have been able to interpret these symbols. We also have the witness of the whole of church history that uniformly agreed to the earliest interpretation of these symbols until the 1860’s.
d) The city of 7 hills is easily identified as Rome by a simple knowledge of the geography of the city of Rome. They were Aventinus, Caelius, Esquilinus, Palantinus, Quirinalis, Caitolinus, and Viminalis.
a) The list of kings in succession that are going to destruction. The ﬁrst ﬁve Kings/Caesars were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius.
b) The one is Nero
c) Galba is the seventh King/Caesar. He reigned for less than seven months and was murdered by the Military Commander Otho.
d) The eighth King/Caesar is understood to be the animating spirit behind the antichrist political system of the Roman Caesars until her fall (Constantine). The text itself; “The beast which was and is not (Rome), is himself also an eighth and is one (of the same type – Greek – EK – out of, from, by, away from) of the seven, and he goes to destruction.”
e) I will quote scholar David Chilton here to bring clarity – “the antichristian brutality of succeeding tyrants will mark them as being of the same stripe as their predecessors. Eight is the number of resurrection in the Bible; St. John is warning that even though the Empire will seem to disintegrate after the rule of the seven kings, it will be “resurrected” again, to live on in other persecutors of the Church. Yet the Empire’s comeback will not result in victory for the Beast, for even the eighth, the resurrected Beast, goes to destruction. The Church will have to exercise patience during the period of the Beast’s ascendancy, but she has the assurance that her enemies will not succeed. Their King will be victorious; His servants have been predestined to share in His triumph.”
f) The really good news is that we are NOT looking forward to a Modern Era where a revived Roman Empire will begin to persecute Christians and cause hell on earth. We have already defeated this beast by the power of our gospel thousands of years ago.
a) It is common knowledge that the Roman Empire had 10 provinces. These vassal kings pledged allegiance to Rome and the persecutions of Christians was Empire wide.
a) It is a manifestation of all political entities to wage war against the rule of God. See Psalm 2.
b) It is also the ultimate goal of those who choose a reprobate mind to war against everything that is godly. This struggle has been from the foundation of the world. From Cain against Abel, to Nimrod, and every world leader or common culture that has rejected the witness of creation that points us to God. See Romans 1:18-20.
c) Philippians 2 teaches us the same theme found in Revelation 17:13-14. This would have been very encouraging to the early church living in the midst of this.
d) Ignatius of Antioch said – “May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me. I pray that they would be found eager to rush at me, and I will also entice them to devour me speedily and not deal with me as some, whom out of fear they have not touched. If they are unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me; I know what is to my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple. Let no one, of things visible or invisible, prevent me from attaining to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocation of bones; let cutting off of limbs; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the evil torments of the devil come upon me; only let me attain to Jesus Christ.”
a) The waters are all of the people groups that the Roman Empire ruled. The
woman is the spirit of Babylon/Mystery Babylon that has influenced all world powers in every era of history.
b) The woman will be humiliated by the Scriptural symbols listed.
c) Naked – To be humiliated and uncovered – Isaiah 47:2-3, Jeremiah 13:26, Ezekiel 16:37, Hosea 2:10
d) Eat her flesh – We can reference the demise of Jezebel whose flesh was eaten by dogs in 2 Kings 9:30-37. Just as Rome persecuted the prophetic voice the Church, the spirit of Jezebel always seeks to silence prophets of God.
e) Burn her with fire – Jeremiah 4:11-13, 30-31 – Ezekiel 16:37-41
f) Rome and Jerusalem who were both spiritual adulterers, were both burned to the ground.
g) The great city who rules over the earth is easily interpreted as the Roman Empire. Rome ruled the most territory of any empire ever in world history.
As we conclude Revelation 17, we can see that not only was the Roman Empire destroyed by her political enemies, and the propagation of Christianity. So Jerusalem was destroyed by her rejection of Jesus and the New Covenant that He offered. All empires, nations and systems will suffer the same fate at the return of Jesus Christ. Spiritually by the conquest of the Church as she preaches the gospel of love, and in fullness when Jesus overthrows all systems at His return.
Source Material: Christian-History.org Don Walker – The Beast of Revelation White Paper Josephus.org David Chilton – Days of Vengeance The Apocalypse Code – Hank Hanegraaff G. Davis Dean – The Revelation of Jesus Christ Blue Letter Bible.com Preterist Archive.com Charles Taylor – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – The Gospel of the Kingdom Loraine Boettner – The Millenium Harold Eberle – Victorious Eschatology Holman Bible Dictionary Strongs Concordance NIV – Interlinear Greek New Testament- NASB – Interlinear Greek New Testament Jonathan Welton – Raptureless George Peter Holford – The Destruction of Jerusalem Wikipedia Rapture Fever – Gary North The Prophets Dictionary – Price Vines Expository Bible Dictionary