Revelation (18 of 24) The Seven Vial Judgements

17:1-18 The Great Whore

Memory Verse: Revelation 17:14

17:1-6 The Angel’s Vision

  • 15:1-16:21, 17:1 John saw seven angels with the seven last plagues. These angels were given seven golden vials full of the wrath of the eternal God and they poured out all seven of the vials upon the earth. Now, we move on to the next chapter and one of the angels stops to explain more about what happened during that time. Therefore, the following is a description of what has happened in the pouring out of the vials and not something that is yet to happen (except for the battle).
  • 17:1-2 One of the seven angels who had one of seven vials talked with John, telling him to come so that he can show John the judgment of the great whore. The great whore is not an actual woman or prostitute but a metaphor that represents false religion—a religion that engages false worship for the sake of influence and misleading people. This whore sits on many waters which represent the entire world—the influence of this false religion will be spread world-wide. The kings of the earth (governments) have committed fornication with this great whore—meaning they are engaged in this false religion. Also, the unbelievers (inhabitants of the earth) have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication—meaning they are so influenced by this religion that they are controlled by it.
  • 17:3-6 Then this angel carried John away in the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. Here John saw a woman (the great whore), and when he saw her, he wondered with great admiration (wonder, marvel). He describes what he saw: (1) She was sitting on a scarlet colored beast full of names of blasphemy and having seven heads and ten horns. It seems clear from the description that the beast is the Antichrist. Her siting on the Antichrist represents that he will support this false religion. (2) She was arrayed in purple and scarlet color—just like a prostitute dresses in a way that is attractive and deceptive, this false religion will do the same. (3) She was decked with gold, precious stones and pearls—this false religion will have obtained wealth. (4) She has a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication—no doubt she will use her influence to cause others to drink and participate in all her wrong doings. (5) She had a name written on her forehead, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”—this false religion is identified as Babylon. (6) She is drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus—this false religion will kill believers.
    Revelation 13:1, 4; 14:9; 16:10

17:7-18 The Angel’s Explanations

  • 17:6b, 7 John was confused at the scene he saw. What he saw was beautiful yet bloody. Then the angel questioned John why he was confused and said that he will tell the mystery of the woman and the beast with the seven heads and ten horns that carries her.
  • 17:8 The First Explanation (The Beast): The beast that John saw is the Antichrist and is described as he who “was, and is not, and yet is.” This refers to the lying wonder the Antichrist used to deceive people by trying to imitate the death and resurrection of the true Christ. The Antichrist came on the scene (was). He received a deadly head wound and appeared to die (is not). Then he will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition (yet is). This will cause the unbelievers to wonder when they see him. The unbelievers are those that dwell on the earth and whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. True believers will not be deceived.
    Revelation 13:3, 8, 12, 14
  • 17:9-11 The Second Explanation (The Seven Heads): The next explanation the angel is going to give John is confusing, therefore wisdom is needed to understand it. This might even be something that can’t be fully understood until it actually happens. The angel goes on to explain that the seven heads that John saw are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. They are seven kings. The mountains and kings together represent seven world empires and their leaders. These world empires would be interpreted as the empires of that time. The angels said that five of the seven are fallen, thus this should represent Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. Then he says that one of the seven is currently reigning, which at the time of this writing would have been Rome. Finally, he says one of the seven has not yet come, which represents the world empire of the Antichrist. When the final king comes (the Antichrist) he will only continue a short time (3.5 years). Finally, the Antichrist (the beast) “that was” (before his deadly head wound and appeared to die) reigned as the seventh king. Then he “will come” as the eighth king (after his resurrection from the dead) and he will go into perdition—condemned by God to eternal damnation in the lake of fire.
    Revelation 13:5; 19:20; 20:10
  • 17:12-14, 16-17 The Third Explanation (The Ten Horns): The ten horns that John saw are ten kings which are described as follows: (1) They have received no kingdom as yet—these are future kings that will reign at the same time as the Antichrist who gives them power to be kings for a short time (one hour) and thus will be devoted to him (the beast). (2) These kings are united for one purpose (one mind): to make war with Jesus (the Lamb). The Antichrist will assemble all these kings together (they will give their power and strength to him) to try and defeat Jesus. (3) These kings and the Antichrist will be utterly defeated. Jesus will overcome them because He is the Lord of lords, and the King of kings. Believers (the called, chosen and faithful) will be with Jesus when He returns to defeat them. (4) The kings of the earth will eventually hate the false religion (the whore), and they will completely obliterate it (desolate, naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire) so that everyone turns from it to completely following the Antichrist. (5) These kings will do the will of God. God will put in their hearts to fulfill His will and therefore they will agree to give their kingdom unto the Antichrist (one-world rule) who will war against God and be destroyed thus fulfilling the words of God.
    Revelation 19:14; Matthew 22:14; 24:30–31; Ephesians 1:4; John 6:44; Romans 8:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7
  • 17:15 The Fourth Explanation (The Waters): The waters that John saw the whore sitting on are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues. This shows the world-wide influence of this false religion (the whore).
  • 17:18 The Fifth Explanation (The Woman): The woman that John saw is that great city, Babylon, that reigns over the kings of the earth. Babylon is the city if the Antichrist.
    Revelation 18:10, 18, 21

Review Questions

  • Who talked with John?
  • What did John see?
  • Why was John confused?
  • What are the five explanations?
  • Will Jesus be defeated? Why?

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