Revelation 17

“The Great Harlot” v1, Both Jerusalem, Tyre & Nineveh are all referred to as ‘whores’, 2nd Chron. 21:11-13, Isa. 23:13-18 & Nah. 3:4. Because they made financial alliances for power. In Jerusalem it is an alliance for earthly power, rejecting God’s power. But for other nations, it is making money via slavery & bribes for earthly power. Rome was guilty of this on the grandest scale, the rich ruling city on earth in John’s day was Rome, the center for ruthless commercial power, it was built on seven hills. The description of the “Mother of Harlots” v5, describes Rome because in every province, large cities would copy Rome’s tax policies and form of local government in promoting commercial enterprises. To strengthen their own ruling forces which in God’s time would turn on Rome itself. God saw the end of Rome, as lots of “kings” (little daughter prostitutes) eating their mother up. That is exactly how the Roman Empire fell, from within.

“Cup of Gold…Impurities of her Lewdness…Drunken with the Blood of the Saints” v4-6. This is first mentioned in Jeremiah 51:7 in reference to Babylon. But Rome and her provincial cities boasted in two things. Riches and Supreme Power which were credited to the Deity of Roman Emperor’s over any other god, which meant persecuting Christians to death because neither Christians nor Jews would bow to the Lordship of Roman Emperors, and the city of Rome’s population supported and propagated the rich economy from which they drew their strength. This kind of victory over the Christian martyr’s blood, was to God, like watching insanity. The City’s economy (harlot) on 7 hills controlled the beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. Remember Daniels vision where three horns were plucked up. In John’s vision the horns are heads,  One analogy might be as follows:

1-Galba, 2-Otho, 3-Vitellus, 4-Vespasian, 5-Titus ) FIVE FALLEN, v10

6-Domitian “IS”


8-Trajan “THE EIGHTH” v11, (Executed Bishop in Jerusalem & Bishop in Antioch)

2nd Century writers, Tertullian & Eusebius imply that Domitian was the second to persecute Christians, If John was writing during Domitian’s reign, the Beast is poised to persecute at this time, and the worst is to come.

“Ten Kings who have Received No Kingdom as of yet”, v10, The Roman provincial client kingship. Modern historians Perowne and Unger believe Herod was a client king of Judea and it was not a new institution in Rome’s expanding government, existing two centuries before Christ. There were many client-kingships which were in servitude to the Emperor’s, if imperial favor was offended, the client king could be dethroned at will.

“For He is Lord of lords” v14, The present tense in this is deliberate. To let the Christians know that before any of this happens, Jesus is in charge! This victory doesn’t constitute Jesus as Lord, this victory is because Jesus is Lord, Colossians 1:13. As far as God is concerned, the Church defeats Rome and the Lord will destroy the Beast, God chose us (choice) and made us faithful (disciples).

“Shall Eat Her Flesh” v16, The historian Edward Gibbons lists four reasons why the Empire fell.

  1. External Invasion (Client Kings allied with Foreign Forces)
  2. Inner Decadence (Legions dictated authority and imperial favor was corrupt financially & morally)
  3. Inner Strife (Morals were very loose in entertainment and the family unit decayed)
  4. The Seat of Government was Divided rather than Removed.

Notice three of the reasons are from within. The little prostitutes had a meal on their mother. The picture of flesh being eaten is common in apocalyptic literature, Ezekiel 39:17ff.

“God Did Put It Into Their Hearts” v17, He gets the glory for the victory because He purposed it and motivates us to follow him, even when it hurts. Because the victory is always written in the present tense, it’s as good as done, even though they must endure pain & even martyrdom, see Isaiah 10:5.

Revelation 16

God’s fierce anger is connected in thought with the Trumpets from Chapter 8-11, and in Chapter 14:8 we have the statement that “Babylon” or Rome has Fallen, not falling.

1st Trumpet (Fire) = 1st Bowl (Blistering Sores)

2nd Trumpet (Seas) = 2nd Bowl (Seas)

3rd Trumpet (Rivers/Springs) = 3rd Bowl (Rivers/Springs)

4th Trumpet (Sun) = 4th Bowl (Sun)

5th Trumpet (Pit & Locusts) = 5th Bowl (Beasts Throne & Sores)

6th Trumpet (Euphrates) = 6th Bowl (Euphrates)

7th Trumpet (Voices) = 7th Bowl (Voice)

Note the “hail” from the 1st Trumpet is shown in the 7th Bowl, the clear message is this: Total Annihilation against every facet of the Roman Empire, remember, what the Trumpets were warning against. 1-Agriculture, internal commerce. 2-International trade. 3-Worship of Emperors. 4-Emperors Edicts Themselves. 5-Cultural morals/ethics. 6-Military. The 7th trumpet warned the church of the enemy in the ultimate victory and recognition of Christ. The total annihilation of God’s enemy is stated in literal terms using symbols, but this is an example of how symbols don’t mean exactly what they literally say. Zechariah and Isaiah both used symbolic language to prophesy total annihilation, but did the enemy literally get total annihilation, yes, but not in the way that the symbol was used. God spoke of coming doom on Judah in Zec. 1:2-4, but after you read the details, his language pointed to total destruction, but didn’t mean literal total annihilation. We might ask, “If God doesn’t mean total annihilation, why does He use that kind of language? The answer: He’s promoting horror, symbolic and apocalyptic language is truly emotional, this is a visual description of the horror the enemy would feel. Read Isaiah 13:17 concerning Babylon, falling to the Medes and it did. The Medo-Persian King Cyrus took Babylon down and it hasn’t come back up to this day. The description of this fall is in Isaiah 13:10-13, 17-22, and none of it LITERALLY happened because Babylon fell with out a single shot being fired, the gates were opened by her own priests to let Cyrus’ troops in after some had sneaked in by a river bed, and had slain Belshazzar. Babylon was not destroyed by the Greeks either, Alexander the Great made it his headquarters, and died there. In fact, people live in and around ancient Babylon today, so has it really fallen? Yes! It remains weak, torn and will never rise to it’s former glorious power, size or influence to this day.

“Euphrates” v12, This river has always symbolized military might forthcoming, Assyria came from this river to pounce on Israel. Babylon came from this river to pounce on Judah. In the advance of armies, it is said to rush or overflow, Isa. 8:7-8 & 17:12. Now it’s drying up, why? Because Roman armies must retreat and will be defeated, when God angrily uses our prayers and his tools to exercise his justified wrath. The drying up of water has always been a way of escape or deliverance for God’s people, remember the Red Sea and twice on the Jordan, Ex. 14:21-22, Josh. 3:15-17 & 2nd Kings 2:7-14.

“Har-Magedon” v16, See Joshua 17:11 where Meggido is an area which had 3 towns and a large valley, hills and towns around it are what the Hebrew language refers to. Judges 4-5 (Jud. 5:19) show Israel thrashing Jabin into oblivion and where Sisera was blistered and stars in their courses fought against God’s enemies. The consistent message from Meggido is this: If you are obeying God’s word you are on God’s side and win a victory that LASTS. Even Pharoah Necho who had a message from Jehovah descended upon the Judean King Josiah in Meggido, defeating him and leaving Judah never to laugh at Egypt again, 2nd Chron. 35:20-27. To the Jews of Johns day, the very place-name reminded them of this: whoever was on God’s side, wins forever, they have the last word.

“Accomplished” v17-21, Rome and her allies are as good as buried. Some elements of the bowls have yet to be developed, such as Rome’s burial in Rev. 17 & 18 and the battle of Armageddon in Rev. 19 and the Devil himself defeated “in the air”, and it is fully described in Revelation 20. The three divisions of Rome may be pointing to the permanent disunity of Economy, Religion & Military power, which Rome once had united.

Revelation 14:14 – 15:8

“Like a Son of Man…Sharp Sickle in His Hand” v14, The last time we saw a weapon in the hand of anyone that could represent Christ is when the Lamb opened the seal and the Horse-rider came with a bow & arrows, 6:2. Here God is announcing the final judgment will be enacted when the Roman Empire finally does fall, in violence. Those who die without Christ face the harvest into condemnation. Angels have a role in the final judgment everyone experiences, 2nd Thes. 1:6-8 & Mat. 16:27. The Harvester (Christ) wears a “stephanos” crown which is GOLD, this is an obvious reference to the Messiah in Daniel 7:13 and Luke’s reference to Christ in Acts 7:56.

into the Earth and gathered” v19-20 The end of the matter God’s judgment is conclusive with a unique number symbolizing the last Judgment on the final Day of the Lord. 1600 stadia is a strange number and represents an unheard of amount of loss of life. As the Roman Empire falls, there will never be another Kingdom to overwhelm Christ’s Kingdom, it is victorious to this day and growing larger in heaven and on earth. Of course there are earthly empires since, but none of them are successful without recognizing Christ as Lord. Peter instructs them and us to honor the King, no matter who that is, Caesar or President, 1st Peter 2:17, and likewise every Government should acknowledge The Lord for who He is, Romans 13:1-2 & Proverbs 3:5-10.

“7 Angels with 7 Plagues” 15:1-3, There is nothing incidental about God’s judgment, it planned, prophesied and executed with precision, Angels are plenteous in the Revelation, consider this list:

An Angel for the Revelation Itself, 1:1

Seven Angels for each of the Churches, Rev. 2-3

An Angel for the mission to find someone worthy to open the seals, 5:2

Angels for the announcement of Judgments, 7:1-11

Seven Angels for the protection of the Saints through the Judgments, Rev. 8-9

An Angel for John’s responsibility in the Prophecy to make it’s deliverance, Rev. 10

Angels for the climatic battle between Jesus & Satan, 12:7

Angels for the certain consequential judgment of God against Rome itself, 14:6-20

Moses and the Hebrews had this in common with 1st century Christians. The last plague upon Egypt heralded the same anticipation and importance for everyone in the land. God struck dead the firstborn in Egypt and the Angel of the lord initiated Moses’s work in the burning bush where God spoke, so we can see here the similarity of God using angels when He Himself issues execution of Judgment, Ex. 3:2 & 11:1-4. The Christians caught in the crossfire get great comfort from the words, “IN THEM IS FINISHED THE WRATH OF GOD”. Today, if we Christians can face enemies, we should remember martyrdom brings THE end, just as when Ezekiel saw it, Ezekiel 7:1-6, Remember the words of Jesus in Mat. 5:10-12.

“Who Will Not Fear You O Lord” v4, Global salvation is not the Lord’s purpose in this passage, Fearing God is only part of humanities responsibility, but to act in faith upon that fear is what counts towards God dispensing grace to save us, Galatians 5:6. The Canaanites were frightened half to death upon getting news of the Israelites arriving, but see what happened when they did, Ex. 15:14-16, bringing God’s glory via a pagan government but it won’t move God to save the government.

“Angels…Arrayed…With…Golden Girdles” v6, The priestly dress of angels for the deliverance of God’s judgment are performing a holy duty of sacrifice. THIS JUDGMENT WAS A SACRIFICE FOR THE PERSERVATION OF THE CHURCH. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was for personal salvation, but without suffering we can not enter the Kingdom, and enlarge it’s establishment on earth,  likewise without sacrificial judgment God can not maintain and preserve the Kingdom, Acts 14:22.

“Seven Gold bowls” v7, Cherubim give bowls representing the creatures from the Throne scene of 4:6-8, we aren’t dealing with cultural upheaval, but rather outright rebellion against God’s. When David confronted Goliath he never viewed the conflict as anything other than an insult against God!

“Temple filled with Smoke” v8, The solemnity of the this event is noted in Ex. 40:34ff, 1st Kings 8:10-11 & 2nd Chron. 5:13-14. It ensures the seclusion of God’s eternal holiness being exalted, which Rome threatened.