It is time for the brief death notice and a short biography of the deceased.
This obituary will cover 2 chapters…but today we will cover just the first half of it.
17:1 And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
First you have to ask “who is this great harlot?”
John tells us…look at verse 18. John says: "And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth."
Now, in verse 5, John is going to speak of the harlot as being “Babylon the Great.”
But this cannot be the literal Babylon that is way over on the Euphrates River.
Notice, John says that this “woman or harlot…is the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
John is talking about a “city” in his day…in the time period of 79 A.D.
Babylon didn’t rule over the kings of the earth…Rome did.
In fact, in 330 BC, when the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great, the city of Babylon was destroyed.
And the last time it was even mentioned on a Babylonia clay tablet was in 10 B.C…89 years before John wrote this.
At the time John receives this Revelation, Babylon didn’t rule over anything.
Rome did…so his reference to Babylon is to draw a parallel…that just as Babylon was a harlot in its day…and just as Babylon was destroyed…so to is Rome.
Notice verse 1 again. John says that the “great harlot sits on many waters.”
The word “sits” here can mean “dwells”…where she resides.
Now, look at this…this is a map of the Roman Empire during its peak.
Notice, she sits on the waters.
But there is another meaning behind this phrase “sits on many waters.” Look at verse 15:
15 And he said to me, "The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.
In this context the word “sits” infers “rule”….”control.”
Rome ruled over many different people.
And that is true.
One of the things that Rome did in order to become such a great empire is it made many alliances with other nations.
And in some instances Rome would offer those who were potential enemies inclusion into the Roman Empire if they would pledge loyalty to the Empire.
For example, the Romans conquered the region of Palestine.
But what they did in order to minimize the cost and conflict of securing that area by military force…and to control the area…they appointed someone from that area to be king…and he was given rule over the area…just as long as he did what was best for Rome…and as long as he remained loyal to Rome.
So Rome did this in many regions…and that is why she “sits” on all these nations and peoples.
So the harlot here is Rome…and there is another reason why the angels speaks of her “sitting on man waters.”
This angel is going to show Rome’s beauty, her place of prominence, her influence, her power first.
The angel is saying, “this is how magnificent she was.”
“But now she is destroyed.”
In doing this he is showing how great her fall is because she fell from such a lofty place…all the way to nothing.
So, lets read it again: Rev 17:1-2
And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality. "
Verse 2 speaks of Rome’s alliances.
All the nations not only participated in Rome’s wealth and power…but also in her ungodliness.
They laid down with the dog and came up with fleas.
3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.
We do not have to speculate about who this beast is…or what the seven heads and ten horns are…he will tell us.
4 And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet(these are colors of royalty. She is royal on the outside…but inside she is disgusting. She is nothing more than a well dressed tramp.)
4 And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality(she was quick to share these things with any who wanted to participate with her. However, those who participated with her…would be destroyed like she was)
5 and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS(she teaches all the other little harlots how to be big harlots like her.)
5and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." 6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.
See how disgusting she is…she has thrived on the blood and tears of fellow humans.
And when I saw her, I wondered greatly.
In other words, “who is this harlot…who is this that had drunk the blood of the saints?”
7 And the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 "The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. 9 "Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits,
Notice this map…there are seven hills on which Rome sits.
Rome has always been known by this identifying feature.
9 "Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, 10 and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. 11 "And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. 12 "And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.
We covered this back in chapter 13…so we won’t get into as much detail as we did then.
But here is the list again:
3. Caligula These 5 have fallen; vs. 10
Galba (7 mos.)
Otho (3 mos.) These three were victims of a horrible civil war. They made no
Vitelius (9 mos.) contribution to the Empire.
6. Vespasian “One is”; vs. 10
7. Titus (He ruled for 2 years, 2 months, 20 days) “The other has not come yet; and when he
comes, he must remain a little while” vs. 10.
8. Domitian (the son of Vespasian…”one of the seven”; vs 11).
Under Nero the saints were severely persecuted. When Nero died the persecution ceased.
Then, when Domitian came to power the persecution returned.
That is why verse 11 speaks of Domitian as “the beast which was and is not.”
He is Nero Redividus…Nero revived.
The beast reared its ugly head through Nero…after Nero died Galba, Otho, and Vitelus were too busy trying to save their own lives to persecute the saints.
Under Vespasian, the time when John is writing, there was some persecution but it was not national policy like it was under Nero…so the “beast was not.”
But then the beast reared its ugly head again in Domitian and the persecution lasted until the year 3:11.
The beast had shown itself in Nero…died…and resurrected in Domitian.
12 "And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.
These are 10 client kings or future kings who have not come to power yet…but when they do they will persecute the saints.
This would be Trajan to Diocletian.
13 "These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 "These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful."
Here is the reason that the victory is sure: He is Lord of lords, King of kings.
And every man, woman and child that refused to give in to this ungodly nation will be victorious with Him.
Now, notice the word “chosen”…that does not speak of “election.”
That word speaks of “choice”…the “best.”
15 And he said to me, "The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. 16 "And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.
This is inner strife…and this inner strife helps aid in the fall of Rome.
17 "For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose,(they are God’s too of judgment and don’t know it.) and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled. 18 "And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth." Again, this is the beginning of the obituary…or the announcement of death and a brief biography of the deceased.
The most powerful nation on the face of the earth…a nation who boasted in its wealth and power…a nation that had climbed higher than any other before it…is destroyed…all because of its rebellion against God, its failure to honor God, and because of the way it treated God’s people.
If it can happen to Rome…it can happen to the US…or any other nation.