v1: The harlot is not a specific woman. It is an idolatrous, self-gratifying, religion that is connected to the beast empire. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes.
- Many waters speak of a great multitude of people (see 17v15).
v2 The world leaders use this religious system for their own gain and benefit. Those who dwell upon the earth (they have a worldly mindset) are Intoxicated – out of control. They refuse to live according to the standards, restraint or parameters of Almighty G-d.
v3: We need to understand our absolute dependence (like in a wilderness) on G-d – for all things.
The characteristic that really defines this evil empire, in the last days, is harlotry (idolatry). It will consist of improper worship. Its lifestyle will conflict with the laws/commandments of G-d.
- Scarlet relates to sinfulness (Isaiah 1v18).
- Names reveal identity and character. This beast’s character is blasphemous (he does those things which are against the character of G-d).
There is nothing new about this beast (a vast empire). It has already manifested itself six previous times. The seven heads relate to seven empires (17v9-10), the ten horns to ten kingdoms (17v12).
v4: Purple is associated with royalty. This kingdom will present itself as if it is royal.
- Cup has to do with consumption. What we consume we become. This cup looks good, valuable, but it is full of filth. This religion will look good and desirable, from an outside standpoint, but it is an abomination.
- Abomination means ‘in conflict with holiness’.
v5: Babylon, from a prophetic and Old Testament perspective, has to do with exile. Exile brings about pain and suffering.
v6: Blood has to do with death. This empire is driven by its unbridled desire for the blood of the saints (those who walk in the character of G-d). The Bible ties those who live holy and sanctified lives (saints), to those who conduct themselves, or behave, in the way that Yeshua did.
v7: This angel is going to give John a greater understanding of this beast. He conveys that this empire is related to the harlot, and to the seven heads and ten horns.
v8: This beast has a habit of appearing (“was”), at specific times in history, and then disappearing (“and is not”)
- Bottomless Pit/Abyss – it is a satanically inspired empire. G-d encourages us by telling us that this beast will be destroyed (go to perdition). The only hope that we have, in being victorious over this beast, is if our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
- Life is synonymous with redemption. Redemption is the means by which we become a Kingdom people.
v9: We need to have wisdom in order to discern this evil empire.
- A hill or a mountain, Biblically speaking, is a seat of government. These seven hills are seven different empires/seats of government.
v10: John gives us a rule to help us to understand what he is speaking about. Five of these empires had already come and gone (fallen) in John’s day (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medes and Persians, Greece). The Roman empire was the one “who is” in the time of John. At the time of John the final empire (out of which an eighth empire would very briefly spring) had not yet arrived.
v11: The seventh kingdom will come and go, and then return briefly as the final or eighth kingdom. Eight has to do with new beginnings. At the defeat of this final world empire the Kingdom of G-d will be established on earth. This is a new beginning for creation.
This is the second time (also in 17v8) where we are told that this beast is going to destruction. John is emphasizing this fact, in order to encourage us that there will be an end to this empire.
v12: These ten kingdoms, together, make up this eighth evil empire.
v14: All of the empires have been opposed to the plans and purposes of G-d. This final one is no different. This final empire is also opposed to redemption (the Lamb) and the Kingdom of G-d. The Lamb overcomes them because of His identity – He is G-d incarnate.
If we want to experience victory, we need to be “with Him”:
Called: this is an invitation, i.e. to be invited. This word demands a response and those who do respond are called…
Chosen: G-d places His Spirit within them, which enables them to be….
v15 These people are the peoples of the world. The religion of the antichrist, initially, is going to be a tolerance of multiple religions. But this is going to change. In the middle of the last seven years, the antichrist is going to go into the Holy of Holies, pronounce himself god and demand exclusive worship (Matt 4v9-10).
v16: There is a change in the relationship between the beast empire and the harlot – the false religious system. People will no longer be allowed to do whatever is right in their own eyes. This empire will want to rule over even what people believe. It will want the world to worship it.
This final empire will make her desolate – stamp out her false religion, to bring in a new false religion, that of worshipping the antichrist.
v17: This empire, these kings, will want to exalt themselves. G-d does NOT cause sin. But G-d will allow/permit them to do the evil deeds that they will do. These deeds are going to lead them to destruction and therefore fulfill G-d’s purpose for sin – evil/sin has to be destroyed. G-d limits how far they can go (unto the Words of G-d are fulfilled).