REVELATION CHAPTER 17

THE FIRST BEAST (ANTICHRIST) AND HIS RELATIONSHIP TO MYSTERY BABYLON (ANOTHER KEY END-TIMES PLAYER)

Revelation 17 and 18 include some of the most profound, and difficult, prophecies in the Bible. In these chapters we are given some astounding information regarding Antichrist and another symbolic woman, a very powerful end-times city/nation called “Mystery Babylon the Great.”

Historical Babylon (Genesis 11) was a nation that was symbolized by the tower of Babel in Babylon (Gen 10:10, 11:4). Historical Babylon represented both a religious/political system that ultimately opposed God’s plan and purpose for mankind. In the end-times, there will be a similar powerful nation, much like Historical Babylon, who will ultimately oppose the purposes of God. The mystery that is being revealed is that Historical Babylon, during the end-times, will re-manifest itself as “Mystery Babylon”. Twice before in the Revelation John suddenly and without explanation introduced “Babylon the Great” into his end-times prophecy.

Rev. 14:8 - A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."

Rev. 16:19 - The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

In Revelation 17 & 18 John gives us clues as to the identity of Babylon the Great;   Mystery Babylon is symbolized by a “mystical woman” who will be guilty of committing heinous spiritual adulteries and abominations against God during Daniel’s 70th week. Her acts are identified as “adulterous” because she has broken her original relationship with God to pursue other “lovers” or idols. In the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, the Antichrist and his beast kingdom will find it necessary to temporarily align with this power-house nation while he develops his own 10-nation end-times empire and gains control of the world.

Mystery Babylon is symbolized by a “great city.” This city/nation is the most wealthy, God-forsaking nation on the face of the earth during the end times. Tragically, she did not begin this way. She was once a “gold cup in the Lord’s hand.” But over time she has become exceedingly arrogant, woefully independent of God and self-indulgent.   She is so powerful, she is convinced that she will never fall and views herself as “the queen” of the world.

At some point in Daniel’s 70 the week, Mystery Babylon will be destroyed by the Antichrist, but not before God calls his saints out of this mystery nation. Her complete destruction by fire will occur in a single day.

Biblically, a mystery is a truth that is only known by divine revelation. The identity of Mystery Babylon is a mystery that needs to be solved. We will refer frequently to Jeremiah 50 and 51 which reveals helpful information concerning the identity of Prophetic Babylon and additional clues regarding this key end-times city/nation that rules over the kings of the earth. I believe Mystery Babylon is a super power nation that will exist at the time of Daniel’s 70th week and helps pave the way for Antichrist’s rise to world power.

CHARACTERISTICS OF MYSTERY BABYLON

MYSTERY BABYLON IS THE SPIRITUAL HARLOT

John is summoned to witness the judgment of a great prostitute who will be identified as Mystery Babylon in v. 5.

1One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute (Mystery Babylon is a spiritual harlot. In the Bible, any nation that continually sinned against God was often described as a prostitute or harlot; the term describes spiritual unfaithfulness and idolatry.) who sits on many waters. (Mystery Babylon will be a nation that is associated with many different bodies of water and rules over the multitudes of the earth. Mystery Babylon will be a global power and the influence of her Kingdom will be worldwide. See Rev 17:15)

Note that Mystery Babylon is described as the great prostitute. Throughout the Bible, God refers to idolatrous nations as prostitutes or harlots, evoking the concept of spiritual adultery. See Isa 1:21, Jer 2:20, 3:1, Ez 16:15, Hosea 2:5. We will see that this ultimate sin against God - spiritual unfaithfulness - is embodied by the idolatrous Mystery Babylon.

Isaiah 1:21 “See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her-- but now murderers!”

Jeremiah 51:13 You who live by many waters and are rich in treasures, your end has come, the time for you to be cut off.

2  With her (Mystery Babylon) the kings of the earth committed adultery (Mystery Babylon is guilty of corrupting all the leaders of the Earth with her immorality. All the kings are joining her in acts of spiritual prostitution, and the result is world-wide moral corruption and ruin. See Rev 19:2) and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries." (Not only the kings, Mystery Babylon is using her influence to corrupt all the inhabitants of the world. Mystery Babylon is described as a seductress and an intoxicant; men will seek out her adulteries and revel in her sin. See Rev 17:7.)

MYSTERY BABYLON RIDES THE SCARLET BEAST

3Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. (John was caught up in the Spirit again – He is given another vision with new prophetic information.) There I saw a woman (Mystery Babylon – This is a new entity. This is an entirely different woman than the one who represented Israel in Rev 12.) sitting on a scarlet beast (Mystery Babylon is seen riding the beast - Antichrist, who is fully empowered by Satan. “Sitting on” suggests she has joined with the Beast in his ungodly agenda and that she exercises some form of control, at least in the beginning of the week) that was covered with blasphemous names (Throughout history, Satan’s beastly kingdoms have blasphemed God. Antichrist repeatedly is referred to as a blasphemer in the book of Revelation. See Rev 13:5,6.) and had seven heads (representing the seven historic kingdoms that attempted to destroy Israel. See Rev 12:3, 13:1.) and ten horns (representing the 10 kings of Mystery Babylon. See Dan 7:7,20,24, Rev 13:1, 17:12).

We see that Mystery Babylon is not operating alone - she rides the beast that is Antichrist. Antichrist is described here in the exact same way he was described in Revelation 13:1, as a beast with seven heads and ten horns. Now, however, the beast is scarlet in color, indicating that Antichrist is fully possessed by Satan - the Red Dragon of Rev 12:3. This occurs at the Abomination of Desolation and continues until the end of Daniel’s 70th week.

MYSTERY BABYLON HOLDS A GOLD CUP FILLED WITH POISON

4  The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls (Mystery Babylon is symbolically draped in rich apparel. She is rich and alluring; her promise of wealth and prosperity is designed to lure men away from God). She held a golden cup in her hand (her exterior is costly and beautiful), filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries (yet her cup is filled with the poison of idolatry).

Again, Mystery Babylon is described as a deceptively alluring. These descriptions of Mystery Babylon are designed to serve as a warning to believers. We are not to be fooled, for although Mystery Babylon is covered in jewels, by the time Daniel’s 70th week begins, she is evil to her core. Think of the Seven Sirens of Homer's Oddessy - their sweet singing lured sailors to their doom. Like Odysseus, we must spiritually tie ourselves to the masthead to avoid being seduced by the song of Mystery Babylon.

We also see another parallel between Historical Babylon and Mystery Babylon - both are described as golden cups full of intoxicant. Remember, many of the passages in the Old Testament that refer to Historical Babylon are double prophecies that apply equally to End Times Mystery Babylon. See Jeremiah Chapter 50 and 51.

Jeremiah 51:7  Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord's hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad.”

MYSTERY BABLYON IS BRANDED AS AN ABOMINATION

5This title was written (branded) on her (Mystery Babylon's) forehead:

MYSTERY

BABYLON THE GREAT

THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES

AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

In writing the Book of Revelation, John took care not to confuse Historical Babylon with Mystery Babylon. The woman’s identity is a mystery that needs to be solved. In the same way that Historical Babylon the Great was a world power and guilty of influencing men to turn away from God, Mystery Babylon the Great will somehow manifest itself again as a world power in the end-times, and will be the mother of much evil. The very fact that John calls her identity a “Mystery” ought to be enough to indicate that he does not intend us to take “Babylon” literally. But regardless, Rome, Babylon, Jerusalem, and False Religion have all been suggested as the answer to this prophetic mystery. I think the evidence points to a different conclusion.

TWO MYSTERIES TO BE REVEALED:

THE IDENTITY OF MYSTERY BABYLON & THE BEAST

6I saw that the woman (Mystery Babylon) was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. (During Daniel's 70th Week, Mystery Babylon, like Antichrist, will become drunk on the blood of the saints; she too will persecute God's Church and murder His people.   Key to her idolatry will include demanding that the world engage in the ultimate idolatry – worshipping the Beast.) When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. (We are not exactly told why John is astonished. Perhaps John is marveling at the cruelty of this woman, or wondering who she is, as he did with the Great Multitude in Rev 7.)

7  Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, (Antichrist) which has the seven heads and ten horns.

Here, we learn that there are two mysteries to be explained: (1) the identity of Mystery Babylon, and (2) the identity of Antichrist or the Beast. John provides us with the angel's explanations of these mysteries in reverse order. John spends the rest of Chapter 17 revealing the mystery of Antichrist, and in Chapter 18 John discusses Mystery Babylon.

THE MYSTERY OF THE BEAST

Here, John provides us with additional information concerning the beast that Mystery Babylon rides, which has seven heads and ten horns. The beast, Mystery Babylon’s companion, refers to both the Antichrist and his kingdom. See Daniel 7:17, 23.   This is the same beast John saw in Rev 13 – the beast that has seven heads and 10 horns. The angel begins to explain to John that the seven heads represent seven specific kingdoms. In other words, this beast is a composite of seven historical, identifiable empires in history, all who were Satanically inspired to have an unholy hatred of Israel.

But, in the end times, there will be a final beast kingdom, which will be composed of 10 kings/kingdoms, and will be more powerful and cruel in its hatred toward Israel than all the previous seven empires. And, the consolidation of the final beast empire - Antichrist’s kingdom, will take place with the help of Mystery Babylon. And, there will be a strong connection between the rise of the Antichrist and Mystery Babylon. Mystery Babylon is pictured “riding” the Beast, which might suggest in the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, she dominates and exerts some control over the Antichrist. It could be that the “foreign god” of Dan 11:39, is Mystery Babylon. This tandem team will violently attack and persecute true believers.

THE BEAST WILL DIE AND COME TO LIFE AGAIN

8The beast (Antichrist) which you saw, once was, (Antichrist was previously alive, and had an existence in the past) now is not (Antichrist died), and will come up out of the Abyss (Upon his death, Antichrist journeys to the bottomless pit – {See Rev 11:7} but then returns to life) and go to his destruction (but after he is resurrected, Antichrist will meet his death and ultimate destruction at the hand of Christ).

This is a difficult verse to understand, in large part because of the shifting tenses. Remember, John is constantly being shown different events of Daniel's 70th Week. Here, the Angel is explaining to John that Antichrist will come back to life - that he will come up out of the Abyss. This prophecy is also made in Revelation 13:3.

The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world (unbelievers alive during Daniel's 70th Week) will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come (unbelievers will be amazed at Antichrist's resurrection, and they will follow him. Try to imagine how mankind would respond if Adolph Hitler was cloned and appeared on the world scene again).

There are three stages of Antichrist’s existence: First, he existed in one of the Seven Heads. Second, He ceased to exist when he received his mortal head wound during the end-times. Third, He will have a future existence when he is healed from the deadly head wound.

THE 7 HEADS OF THE BEAST ARE 7 HISTORICAL KINGDOMS

9This calls for a mind with wisdom.(John recognizes that it is difficult to understand the mystery of the Beast. Great spiritual wisdom will be required to identify the Beast and his End Times empire. John is essentially saying, "Let me clarify - we need to get this right!" This expression is similar to that repeated to the seven churches, “He that has an ear, let him hear,” or the Lord's call in Matthew 24:15, “Whoever reads, let him understand.”)

The seven heads (of the Beast) are seven hills on which the woman sits.

The seven heads represent the first seven beastly kingdoms that Satan used to try to destroy Israel. Recall the discussion of these seven historic empires in Revelation 12 and 13. See also Dan 2:35 and Jer 51:25. Antichrist and his empire is both an amalgamation and ultimate manifestation of these seven beastly kingdoms - they are his predecessors, his evil ancestors.

10  They are also seven kings. (There were seven kings who each ruled over one of the seven beastly kingdoms) Five (kings or kingdoms) have fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece), one is (one is ruling now. John, who is writing in 94 A.D. is referring to the Holy Roman Empire, which rules the Earth), the other has not yet come (from John’s perspective, that was a mysterious unnamed kingdom that had not yet come. Remember, this seventh king and kingdom would have to rise and fall before Antichrist's rule. I believe that this prophecy was fulfilled by Hitler's Nazi Germany); but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. (This seventh king’s duration will be short. This is consistent with the rule of Hitler - he ruled for little more than a decade, which is relatively short compared with the longevity of the Roman, Egyptian, and Babylonian empires.)

THE EIGHTH KING WILL BE ANTICHRIST

11The beast who once was (Antichrist was alive), and now is not (Antichrist dies), is an eighth king. (Antichrist will rise from the dead to be the eighth king, the final and ultimate fulfillment of Satan's efforts to destroy Israel and overpower Christ).

The above verse can be read one of two ways. First, in Daniel’s 70th week, Antichrist will receive a deadly head wound and die. He will then be restored to life, astonishing the world. Second, in saying that the beast "once was, and now is not," the Angel is saying that Antichrist will come from one of these seven kingdoms, which once ruled, but are now destroyed. Stated differently, Antichrist could rise to power from Rome, Germany, Greece (Syria), Iran, Iraq, or any of the other areas ruled by the seven kingdoms. This provides us with some additional information concerning the identity of Antichrist. This interpretation finds support below.

He (Antichrist) belongs to the seven (John has two points here. First, Antichrist emerges from one of the seven kingdoms, which had as their goal persecution of the Jews and destruction of Israel. Second, Antichrist, the final beast, will be raised from one of the previous seven kingdoms - Antichrist will come from one of the lands ruled by the seven beastly empires) and is going to his destruction (Here, the Angel refers to Antichrist's second death, at the hand of Christ, and Antichrist's ultimate demise in the Lake of Fire).

THE TEN HORNS REPRESENT THE TEN NATIONS OF ANTICHRIST’S KINGDOM

12The ten horns you saw are ten kings (the ten horns represent the ten kings of Antichrist’s End Times empire. See Dan 7:7-8, 24. Each of the ten kings will come from the geographic area of the former Roman Empire. The ten kings will rule over the ten nations that will consolidate to form a ten-nation confederacy. This confederacy will be the final eighth beast empire under the leadership of Antichrist), who have not yet received a kingdom, (these are future kings - they have not begun to rule) but who for one hour (a specific, brief period of time, appointed by God) will receive authority as kings along with the beast. (Remember, authority is ultimately with God; He will allow the ten kings to rule for a brief moment, just as He will allow Antichrist to rise to power, as it is all a part of God's plan.)

13They (the ten Kings) have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. (The ten kings will exist to serve Antichrist. They will cede their individual power and the sovereignty of their kingdoms to Antichrist.) 14They will make war against the Lamb, (Antichrist will use the ten kings to fight Jesus) but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings (Christ will ultimately triumph) - and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." (At Armageddon, Jesus and His faithful followers will defeat Antichrist and the ten kings. See Rev 19:17-21)

THE SEVEN HISTORICAL "BEAST" EMPIRES

John explains that the 8th and final beastly empire, is a composite of the seven historical beastly kingdoms that were empowered by Satan and attempted to destroy Christ and the Jewish people. Each of these empires has outwardly opposed the purposes of God. Satan, the god of this world, has used these historical kingdoms to attempt to persecute and ultimately destroy God’s chosen nation Israel. In the Bible, these kingdoms are referred to as “beast empires.” There are seven historical kingdoms, which Satan has used to attempt to annihilate God’s people Israel. Each of these empires has had an unholy hatred of the Jew and has taken action to destroy the race. All of them have been intensely anti-Semitic, pagan and worshipped false gods. What is the reason for such hatred? God, in His sovereignty, chose Israel to be His special people, a nation of destiny. They were to be politically ruled by God. Jesus, the Messiah, was to come from that nation and in God’s timing; He is to rule the world in righteousness. Israel is the nation God chose to rule all other nations, and be the blessing to the Gentiles. Satan, in his attempt to thwart God’s purpose has attempted to wipe out the Jewish people several times and looking back we can see the historic evidence of his plan to destroy.

Who are these past seven kingdoms and the seven kings who ruled these 7 beast empires, with the goal of destroying Israel’s covenant with God? (Adapted from Marvin Rosenthal.)

(1) Egypt – Pharaoh (Thutmosis III) enslaved the Jews and he tried to destroy the race by ordering all the male children drowned. See Exodus 1

(2) Assyria – Exceedingly wicked kingdom, destruction of Israel was so severe, and we speak of the 10 lost tribes. In 722B.C. Tiglath-pileser (See 2 Kings 15:29) took the 10 northern tribes into captivity and they never came back to the land as 10 tribes (See 2 Kings 17:7-23).

(3) Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar marched on Israel on 3 occasions – 606, 589 and 586 B.C. He destroyed Solomon’s temple and took the two southern tribes into captivity, and put an end to the rule of King David’s royal reign. This empire was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as the “head of gold.” See Dan 2:31, 36-38.

(4) Medo-Persia – In 474 B.C. in the reign of Xerxes, the evil Haman of Persia plotted to kill all the Jews in 127 provinces in Persia. Esther interceded on behalf of her people – Esther 7:3-6. This empire was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as the “breasts and arms of silver.” See Dan 2:39, 8:20.

(5) Greece – After Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided among 4 generals. It was from one of these 4, Seleceus, who was given Syria to rule. Following him, a very wicked and prideful king, Antiochus Epiphanes ruled over Syria and he was a great persecutor of Israel. He was responsible for sacrificing a pig on the altar, desecrating the rebuilt temple and murdering a large numbers of Jews (Dan 11:31). This empire was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as the “belly and thighs of brass.” See Dan 2:39, 8:21-25.

(6) Rome – Several Roman rulers personified the evil persecution of the saints; Nero, Domitian…Titus was responsible for the utter destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. This empire was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as the “2 legs of Iron, representing West-Rome and East-Constantinople.” See Dan 2:40-43. Israel was dispersed and not to be restored again until 1948.

(7) A mysterious kingdom, likely Nazi/Germany - After the Roman empire, John reveals a mystery kingdom will arise before the final 10-nation empire. See Rev 17:10,11. I believe John was prophesying of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich, who had an unholy hatred of the Jew. The holocaust was a period of extreme anti-Semitism and of the most uncivilized acts in history toward the Jewish race. Hitler/Germany only ruled for a short span of time. This empire was NOT mentioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, because it was “hidden” and emerged during the church age. (However, God used this persecution to re-establish the Jewish nation in 1948!!!)

But the end is not yet. Seven beast empires have appeared in history, an 8th is yet to come – the most violent of them all. The 8th and final beast empire that will yet achieve worldwide control will be under the leadership of the Antichrist.

(8) Antichrist’s future 10-nation kingdom that will dominate during the 70th week of Daniel. Look for an unholy hatred of Jews, zealously anti-Semitic, with an obsession to destroy the Jewish people. This empire was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as the “ten toes of iron and clay.” See Dan 2:44.

MYSTERY BABYLON – DESTROYED BY THE BEAST

15Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw (John now turns his focus back to Mystery Babylon and begins to give us more information to help solve the riddle of her identity), where the prostitute (Mystery Babylon) sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. (John is referring to both the literal waters upon which Mystery Babylon sits - and the fact that Mystery Babylon is composed of many different peoples, nations and languages.)

Jeremiah 51:13-14  [13] You who live by many waters (Mystery Babylon) and are rich in treasures (financial wealth), your end has come, the time for you to be cut off. [14] The Lord Almighty has sworn by himself: I will surely fill you with men, as with a swarm of locusts, and they will shout in triumph over you.

16The beast (Antichrist) and the ten horns (Antichrist's End Times empire) you saw will hate the prostitute (Mystery Babylon). They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (At some point Antichrist will begin to hate the woman. We are not told why. The chapter closes with the dramatic destruction of the woman.) The beast (the world ruler, the Antichrist) and the 10 horns (10 kings) will grow to hate Mystery Babylon and will bring her to ruin. (Mystery Babylon will help the beast & the 10 nations rise to power, and, in the beginning of the week, she remains in control. At the middle of the week, Antichrist clearly takes control when all authority is granted to him.  The Harlot has a close affiliation with the Beast for a time, but this will change when the Antichrist and his ten-nation beast empire turn on her and attack her, burning her with fire. Mystery Babylon is overthrown by the Antichrist, because “no one can make war with the Beast” (Rev 13:4,7). He is simply too powerful.)

Jeremiah 50:3-4  [3] A nation from the north will attack her and lay waste her land. No one will live in it; both men and animals will flee away.   [4] "In those days, (The Day of the Lord) at that time," declares the Lord, "the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God.

Jeremiah 50:13 [13] Because of the Lord's anger she will not be inhabited but will be completely desolate. All who pass Babylon will be horrified and scoff because of all her wounds.

17For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. (God allows Antichrist to fulfill His purpose when Mystery Babylon is destroyed by the Antichrist.)

Jeremiah 51:41-44  [41] How Sheshach will be captured, the boast of the whole earth seized! What a horror Babylon will be among the nations! [42] The sea will rise over Babylon; its roaring waves will cover her. [43] Her towns will be desolate, a dry and desert land, a land where no one lives, through which no man travels. [44] I will punish Bel in Babylon and make him spew out what he has swallowed. The nations will no longer stream to him. And the wall of Babylon will fall.

Jeremiah 51:52-56  [52] But days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will punish her idols, and throughout her land the wounded will groan. [53] Even if Babylon reaches the sky and fortifies her lofty stronghold, I will send destroyers against her," declares the Lord.   [54] "The sound of a cry comes from Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians. [55] The Lord will destroy Babylon; he will silence her noisy din. Waves of enemies will rage like great waters; the roar of their voices will resound. [56] A destroyer will come against Babylon; her warriors will be captured, and their bows will be broken. For the Lord is a God of retribution; he will repay in full.

MYSTERY BABYLON – THE PROPHETIC “GREAT CITY” IS A NATION

18The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."

John now returns to his description of Mystery Babylon. Mystery Babylon is referred to now as the “great city.” We will see that the great city refers to a great nation, a super-power, who, in the end-times will control the nations and the rulers of the earth. Revelation 18 will reveal more about this great end-times city/nation that manifests enormous political influence, along with military and economic might. What the Lord is telling John (and us) in this verse is, the woman that you saw is ALSO a great city. Is prophetic Babylon a nation or a city? In Jeremiah 50 & 51, the parent verses for Rev 18, it is presented as a nation; in Rev 18 it is a city. But there is no contradiction, nations are frequently referred to by their capital city – Jerusalem, Washington, Moscow etc.

Jeremiah 50:23] How broken and shattered is the hammer of the whole earth! How desolate is Babylon among the nations!

Go to Revelation Chapter 18