1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” [Rev 17:1-5 ESV]
In Revelation chapters 15 and 16, we saw the stage being set and the judgments to be made at the end of this era. John continues with this all the way through chapter 20. All six chapters depict some aspect of these final years.
The mistake many make is in trying to read these in a linear fashion. However, when one understands the Old Testament sources of the imagery in these chapters, you gain a different perspective. Ezekiel is the most obvious, but Isaiah (14 & 33), Daniel (2 & 7), Psalms (48, 74, & 82), and even Zechariah 14 are all used by John in these chapters. Seeing John’s references to these Old Testament prophets helps understand how to read these chapters. [Isaiah 66 becomes important later in presenting the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21,22).]
John’s prophecies in Rev 16, specifically vs14-16, clearly reference Ezekiel 38-39 and the war of Gog and Magog. In Rev 17:14, the beast and its kings make war on the Lamb, another Gog/Magog reference. There are multiple references to the end in Rev 18. Likewise in Rev 19:11-20. And then in Rev 20, Gog and Magog are explicitly mentioned after the mention of a thousand years. To read these in a linear way requires three Gog/Magog events. In reality, John’s visions are centered on one brief series of events with only one final ending, Armageddon. He’s showing us different aspects of that period.
Similarly, people stumble over the number 1,000 by reading it literally. Early on in this blog series, the first post actually, I talked about numbers as symbols in Revelation. Ten is symbolic of law and government, while three was first symbolic of the vertical “axis” of creation (underworld, the earth, heaven) and later for the Trinity. Instead of looking at 1,000 literally, as 103 it simply represents a large number, not a “millennial” or 1,000-year imprisonment of Satan or reign of Christ. Traditional amillennialism says there is no reign of Christ on earth, but that He reigns in some heavenly realm. My “amillennial” perspective is that there is no separate 1,000-year earthly reign prior to Armageddon and the judgment seat of Christ, but that He will reign on earth, the new earth, forever after His return. As for the “millennium,” we’ve been living in it—the Church Age.
So, if Rev 16-20 depict events and symbols over a brief period prior to His return, what are we seeing in these chapters? We looked at the Bowl Judgments of Rev 16 already. Rev 17-18 bring us the great harlot riding a scarlet beast full of blasphemous names and having seven heads and ten horns. This beast is the same beast from the sea that we saw in Rev 13. Its characteristics are those of the four beasts in Daniel 7, with the last of those four beasts being Rome, which became the primary persecutors of Christians in John’s time. We see other references to Rome, as well, such as being a city on seven hills. However, just as Rome was the global power of John’s day, the Deep State is the global power of our day.
I talked about this beast in Countdown: Revelation #15-The Beasts, the Mark, and 666. With seven heads and ten crowns I see this as the global “government,” the Deep State. Rev 16 states that the seven heads represent seven kings, with five already gone, one in place, and one to come. There’s also an eighth king that lasts very briefly. The ten horns also represent kings. So, that’s a total of 13 kings at some point. A lot of people spend too much time speculating on who these “kings” might be. Few expect these to be individuals. They could be angelic beings “ruling” over various nations or regions. More likely they represent nations. I suspect we’ll know when we’re in the midst of that trouble, or perhaps only in hindsight.
That said, if I were to throw my hat in the ring and try to identify those nations, I’d likely link them to the nations and regions listed in Ezekiel 38. I talk about this a bit in Countdown:Revelation #11-Armageddon where I discuss the areas mentioned in Ezekiel 38 and why Russia is unlikely to be part of the confederation. Since writing that post I’ve done a bit more research. The Top Ten in military spending in the Middle East are Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, and the UAE, not necessarily in that order. Israel clearly isn’t going to attack itself. Jordan and Egypt have treaties with Israel, and Saudi Arabia is in talks for a treaty.
Eze 38 explicitly mentions Persia, Cush, and Put, as well as Gomer and Beth-togarmah. Meshech and Tubal were sons of Japheth, whose descendants settled in Gomer, Beth-togarmah, and other areas north of Israel around the Caucasus. Persia is today’s Iran, while Cush included parts of Sudan and Ethiopia. Put’s identity is a bit problematic. Many associate it with today’s Libya, but a Babylonian tablet fragment from Nebuchadnezzar’s time identifies it as what today would be Somalia and Yemen, on both sides of the Red Sea. Also mentioned in Eze 38 is Beth-togarmah, usually identified as the region around Armenia—today’s eastern Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and northern Iran. Azerbaijan is closely tied to Iran already. The central part of Turkey (Cappadocia) was part of Magog, from the descendants of Meshech. Other parts of Turkey, as well as much of Iraq are identified as Gomer by some sources.
So, what can we make of this in light of current events? Yemeni rebels are already attacking Israel with rockets. Somali fighters have been known to fight alongside other Middle Eastern terror groups and were part of ISIS. Iran is a sworn enemy of Israel. Turkey is champing at the bit to fight Israel. Only their NATO membership seems to be holding them back, but there is political pressure on President Erdogan to pull that country out of NATO. Sudan, Libya, Lebanon (Hezbollah), and Syria, too, would readily join in the fight. Iraq, while at odds with Iran (Shi’ite vs Sunni), could become part of this confederation. These countries have armies, but others could provide financing. Qatar already funds the Hamas terror group, and if the Saudis don’t finalize a treaty with Israel, they, too, would help finance if not provide troops to the cause. Finally, although Jordan and Egypt have treaties, the people of Jordan and the Muslim Brotherhood controlling Egypt all want to eradicate Israel. Treaties will mean little, push come to shove. This comes to 13 nations, and should the Saudis, Jordanians, and Egyptians opt out, Oman, Kuwait, and the UAE could readily jump in with funding and/or men. Rats. Just spent a lot of time speculating on who those “kings” might be. As I said, we likely won’t know until it happens.
So much for that rabbit trail. Let’s get back to Rev 17-20.
Who or what is the great harlot then? It is the immoral culture of the world. Why a harlot? Throughout the Old Testament, the prostitute image was commonly used to symbolize those who turned to idolatry, while the righteous were described as a bride. Why Babylon? Babylon was considered the “mother” of idolatry in that it seduced other nations to follow its immoral ways. Israel/Jerusalem was seduced into idolatrous ways, but they never seduced other nations. So, the “mother of” moniker doesn’t fit them. Babylon was the first of the four beasts on Daniel 7, followed by the Medo-Persians, Greeks, and finally Rome. All of these were the “global” powers of their day. The last three followed in the footsteps of Babylon. None worshipped God, the Creator.
The relationship between the idolatrous culture and the government is tenuous at best. The culture and its merchants hold great wealth (Rev 17:4), but the government hates the people (Rev 17:16-17). Are we not seeing that in the Deep State’s desire to depopulate the world? No, that’s not a conspiracy theory. That goal is well-documented in publicly available papers from the U.N. and WEF (World Economic Forum), aka Deep State. In the U.S., our government lies to us all the time, thinking we’re brainless puppets here to support them when they’re supposed to support us. In a like vein, members of the “Deep State” seek power, control, and wealth, all of which come at the expense of the general population.
In Rev 18, we now see the fall of Babylon. This is the demise of the idolatrous culture, which comes about as a result of the battle of Armageddon. “She” is paid back double for her deeds (Rev 18:6). The plagues come in a single day, and she is burned up by fire, judged by the Lord (Rev 18:8). The merchants of the world and the kings of the beast mourn her passing, but they, too, are ultimately consumed.
So, in Rev 17 & 18, we see what happens to the culture, and to some extent, the global elites and government. In Rev 19, we see rejoicing in heaven at the end of the beasts. We also see Christ’s glory and His role in all of this. With this, we see two suppers. For righteous believers, we see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. For the followers of the beast, we see a more gruesome “great supper of God,” in which the birds are called to feast on the corpses of those killed in the battle. The beast and false prophet are captured and thrown into the lake of fire, while their followers are killed, and the birds are gorged with their flesh. This chapter is showing us Christ’s victory.
Rev 20 is the point in which much of the futurist theology goes astray by being taken both literally and linearly. Instead, we step back in history here to see Satan bound and thrown into the abyss so as not to be able to confuse the nations. As stated earlier, this “thousand years” is the Church Age. Satan is imprisoned to enable the church to flourish, but at the end, he is released for “a little while.” I believe that short time is the same 42 months in which the church is called to be the final witnesses. If, as I suggested in Countdown: Revelation #15, this 42-month period started at the end of Passover in 2021, we have certainly seen great confusion, a rise in immorality, and growing persecution of the church since. The Hamas attack on Israel could easily be the starting point for gathering his troops “from the four corners of the earth.” However, Satan is also caught and thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where, along with the beast and false prophet, they “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10).
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. [Rev 20:11-15 ESV]
The remainder of Rev 20 shows us the culmination of current history. Christ is seated on His throne and the final judgment of mankind occurs. We see the end of Death and Hades as they, too, are thrown into the lake of fire. At this point, a new earth and a new heaven are created, and His followers will live for eternity with Him.
Obviously, there is nothing happening in the world today that can point us to this last event, and yet, everything happening in the world today is leading us there. The point of this blog is to look at Revelation through the lens of current events. I hope I’ve succeeded in doing so, to the extent that I could . . . as well as according to how I personally am seeing things play out. I offer no “Thus saith the Lord” assurances that I’m perceiving all of this correctly.
As new occurrences arise, I hope to provide updates, but next week I plan to provide a summary of where we are . . . and where we might be headed in the near future. After that, time for a holiday break and work on my next novel.