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”

7-Nerva “OTHER TO COME”

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.

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