THE WOMAN AND THE BEAST (Part I)
(6th article in a series based on the book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved, 666?)
To say the Book of Revelation contains some of the most apocalyptic revelations known to man would be the proverbial understatement. One of the most captivating of these revelations is found in Chapter 17 … John’s amazing vision of a woman sitting on a scarlet beast. Moreover, it is one of only two revelations found in Revelation in which an angel reveals the mystery of what John had just witnessed. That alone (the explanation) is enormously significant. As said in a previous article: a mystery revealed is no longer a mystery … we are meant to understand the meaning with a great deal of certainty. It’s just a matter of comparing Scripture with Scripture and Scripture with history and current events.
Let’s read it: “So the angel took me in the Spirit into the wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, and blasphemies against God were written all over it. The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality. A mysterious name was written on her forehead: ‘Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.’ I could see that she was drunk—drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement” (Revelation 17:3-6).
Who is the Beast? My book, Out of the Abyss, as well as the past few blog articles, answered this question: Nero. If you find that conclusion to be incredible or inconceivable then I encourage you to read the book and/or the articles. You will find Biblical and historical evidence to support this astonishing premise: The early Christians knew and so, too, can we know the identity of the beast of Revelation. The number and name of the Antichrist has been solved!
Who, then, is the Woman?
In the last sentence of Revelation Chapter 17, the angel discloses the identity of the woman: “And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:18).
Next Question: Who or what is the “great city.” It’s not as hard as you might think, because there are only two viable choices: Babylon and Rome. Some prophecy students speculate that the great city could be New York or possibly Moscow. Many scholars also maintain that the Antichrist will establish his headquarters in whichever location is selected as the actual real-life city that the image of the woman is representing.
The more contemporary, prevailing view is that the ancient (to be restored) literal kingdom city of Babylon is the proper choice, for the following reasons:
– The wording in Revelation 17:5: “A mysterious name was written on her forehead: ‘Babylon the Great…”
– The entire 18th Chapter of Revelation that describes in graphic detail the utter destruction of Babylon, beginning with verse 2: “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen!”
– Some Old Testament prophecies announcing the destruction of Babylon, particularly Isaiah 21:9 which reads, “…Babylon is fallen, fallen!” As noted this description is nearly identical to that of Revelation 18:2.
– The attempts of the late Saddam Hussein to rebuild Babylon during his dictatorship in Iraq (which came to a screeching halt with the capture, trial, and execution of this evil tyrant).
Let’s test the validity of Babylon as the correct choice. First, the mysterious name of Babylon the Great (verse 5) does not tell us that the woman (the great city) is, in fact, Babylon. Rather, it states that Babylon the Great was written (symbolically of course) on the woman’s forehead. And what or who is Babylon the Great? The text of Revelation 17 answers that question, “Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.” In other words, Babylon the Great is not actually a city at all in the context of the woman representing the “great city that rules over the kings of the world.”
Rather, the context of Revelation 17 explains that Babylon the Great is the “mother” that would bear children who would “prostitute” the very existence and truth of the true and living God and of his Messiah. This corruption and distortion of God’s everlasting truth is the core foundation of all non-Christian world religions, or religious organizations (systems) that are Christian in name only including cults, and anti-religious systems such as the occult New Age movement or communism. By contextual implication, the great city of Revelation would be the dwelling place of the worst of her children, as vividly depicted in Revelation Chapter 18 & 19. Thus, when the great city is crushed during the tribulation, Mother Babylon which birthed the woman riding the beast is also destroyed.
Another passage in Isaiah refutes the idea that a renovated modern-day Babylon is the great city symbolized by the woman (on the beast). As follows: “Babylon, the most glorious of kingdoms, the flower of Chaldean pride, will be devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed them. Babylon will never be inhabited again. It will remain empty for generation after generation…” (Isaiah 13:19-20). Then the last verse of that chapter tells us, “Babylon’s days are numbered; its time of destruction will soon arrive.” About 170 years later Babylon was, in fact, utterly destroyed by the Medes-Persians.
This devastation is a historical fact, and today’s Babylon is a virtual wasteland compared to the glory of ancient Babylon. Neither Sodom nor Gomorrah will ever be rebuilt, which is one reason the destruction of Babylon is equated to these two cities … neither will Babylon ever be rebuilt. To say that Iraq’s modern-day Babylon is the great city (the woman) is to say that God will twice destroy it; which contradicts the passages we just reviewed.
Both Isaiah and Revelation calls for the annihilation of Babylon. Of utmost impact is that both Isaiah Chapter 21 and the angel of Revelation Chapter 18 twice proclaim the fall of Babylon. Not announcing that Babylon will twice be destroyed, but that of repeating the stunning news. This is more than just repetition for the purpose of emphasis. The angel in Revelation is declaring that both the city is ruined (we will shortly discover that Rome is the great city represented by the woman and Babylon is used as an encoded reference to Rome); and the ungodly, unholy system of occult, astrological, man-made gods, and Satanic/demon-driven false gospels (of good works that mandates membership in a universal church) will also be completely shattered.
Thus, when the angel announces that, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen!” in Revelation 18:2, the “fall” includes both the great city itself (Rome) and the Satanic system that seeks to replace the everlasting truth of the true and living God with a corrupt, counterfeit, and rebellious apostasy (falling away) that was promoted by and flourished in the ancient Babylonia kingdom, led primarily by Nebuchadnezzar. And then continued by the great city of Rome during the glory days of the Roman Empire; only to reach its zenith by the time of the Great Tribulation, but in a different way and form.
Why is Rome the only feasible, legitimate choice as the great city of Revelation Chapter 17?
What realm had conquered and dominated most of the entire civilized world when the book of Revelation was written? Easy answer: The Roman Empire. And what city was the cultural, economic, and military center and capitol of this great empire? An even easier answer: Rome. And what would happen to Christians if a newly written scroll that contained some of the most astounding revelations ever witnessed and recorded had specifically mentioned Rome as the “Mother of All Prostitutes, drunk with the blood of God’s holy people (Christians), holding a goblet full of obscenities and impurities of her immorality…”
Or conversely, a city “hated by the scarlet beast and the ten horns (kings) who would strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire” (Revelation 17:16). To the Roman citizens, Generals, but particularly to Caesar, these would have been blasphemous, insulting words of disrespect and even treason. In short order, many more Christians would have been rounded up and executed. Thus, it was necessary to disguise the great city of Rome in another name or symbol, i.e. the woman or Babylon. The Christians were also protected in Revelation Chapter 13 when the angel and John encoded the identity of the Beast (Nero, the Antichrist) within the number six hundred sixty-six; then encouraged the Christians to solve the mystery of this number.
There are other verses to demonstrate that Rome is the great city that will “sit on the scarlet beast” (as a rider sits on a horse for both support and an attempt to control or direct the horse … only for the horse to buck the rider and trample him to death), but for sake of time/space, I will introduce just one other proof.
Returning to Revelation 17:18 we read, “And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world” (italics for emphasis). The word rules is a present tense verb, with the clear connotation that this great city was already ruling over other kings and their nations, as Rome clearly did when Revelation was written. As already discussed in previous articles, the beast, himself, had already died (Nero), but the woman who sits on the beast was very much alive—Rome and the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the tribulation period, the beast will reappear from the Abyss and, with the allegiance given to him by the ten kings (who had not yet risen to power—Revelation 17:12), the beast would turn on the woman and utterly destroy her.
Thus, Babylon (the city, itself) could not possibly be the woman of Revelation 17, for at least two reasons: (1) it had already been destroyed and, according to Isaiah, would never return again to any form of greatness, whatsoever. (2) When Revelation was written, Rome was the only city “that rules over the kings of the world.” But the present tense verb “rules” would also apply to the end times, as the woman (great city) would be alive and well during the onset of the Great Tribulation and would, at first, be in coalition with the beast. So this present tense use of the word, “rules” covers the entire scope of John’s vision–the existence and domination of Rome when the vision was given to John plus the end-times scenario of how the great city would interact with the beast.
But the Roman Empire was destroyed in the 5th century AD. How, then, can Rome qualify as the great city, with a present tense application since the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, i.e. through the Dark Ages, through the political and military prominence of European kings/queens, during the Protestant movement and Renaissance, right up to the present time? How can the present tense use of the verb “rules” be extended to the Great Tribulation? Or, putting it another way, “Just what will the woman (the great city) look like, signify, represent, or characterize during the end-times?”
Stay tuned. Next week’s article will answer this question and more! You will see what happened to the late, great Roman Empire and to the woman (Rome), who was the very heart of that empire. And, I’m not suggesting a Revived Roman Empire, because I firmly believe there is no such thing in Scripture. See Chapters 15 & 16 in Out of the Abyss, in which much evidence is presented to verify that the seven heads of the beast (Revelation 17) are kings, not kingdoms. (It is the 7th “kingdom” that many students of prophecy speculate will be what they have called, The Revived Roman Empire).
Rather, there will be a Revived Roman Emperor, called the beast in Revelation Chapters 13 & 17. Concerning the woman, you will see that it’s the same woman, but she has taken on a new appearance after the fall of the Roman Empire. At the outset of the Tribulation, the woman will be in alliance with and gain support from the beast-king, but will also attempt to manipulate the beast; just like this same woman has committed adultery (spiritual) with the kings of the earth in order to control those kings and their kingdoms since the fall of Rome.
Things to Ponder
– Can you find another verse in Revelation Chapter 17 that also conveys the rule of the woman in the (ongoing) present tense? Hint: if you can locate this verse, you will also find more evidence that the woman (both the ancient version and the modern version—because “rules” is present tense throughout) is Rome. Another hint: What city was built on how many hills?
– Now try to locate another verse that clarifies the on-going rule of the woman, this time in the context of ruling over (the meaning of as explained by the angel) “many waters” as first mentioned in Revelation 17:1. When you find that verse, do you see a difference in what or whom the woman is ruling over (many waters) compared to the last verse of Revelation 17 that tells us the woman rules over the kings of the world? This is the distinction between ancient Rome with its Caesars that ruled over kings and kingdoms and the subsequent form and substance of the woman beginning in the 4th-5th century and continuing to this very day. My next article will explain in more detail this difference.