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Revelation 17

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-18

In chapter seventeen, we now have the specific judgment of God upon the false religious system that has damned the souls of so many men through deception. Jesus warned us to "beware of false prophets who will come looking like sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" ( Matthew 7:15 ). And the false religious system, which traps the souls of men and its judgment, is coming. Chapter seventeen tells us of this judgment.

Babylon is used in the scripture as a symbol of confusion, because it was in Babylon where man, in rebellion against the living God, decided to build a tower whereby they could communicate with the universe. Ancient man was not as primitive and ignorant as we think him to be. They had tremendous means of communication. Perhaps even superior to ours, because there are indications that they had developed methods whereby they could communicate with other beings outside of the earth.

It is interesting Stonehenge in England, one of the communication centers, it was set up to match with the zodiac. But all through North America the Indians also had miniature Stonehenges, where it was just a miniature of what was that large finding in England where they would sit in the middle and communicate with the spirits. They were set exactly in alignment as is Stonehenge with the zodiac.

The large stones set on top of silicate, we know that to make a little receiver what you do is take a crystal, and by just through the crystal you can actually-Have you ever had a crystal set where you have tuned in and listened to the radio on a crystal set? When we were kids we used to always be making crystal sets and it was always exciting to hear the radio with the crystal. And with just moving the crystal a bit you could get different stations. We know that there is that communicating power within the crystal. We also know that energy is produced by the compression of crystal or silicate, and thus, these large stones were set upon crystal, compressing it and creating an energy force. Then the ability to transmit and to hear and communicate. It is also thought that that could be the purpose of the great pyramids, which again are in alignment with the zodiac.

So, in Babylon, they were going to build this tower to communicate with heaven, and because they had advanced and developed so in their science and in their capacities, God said, "Look what man is seeking to do now. If we don't stop him he is going to be delving into areas where he has no business being." And God brought the confusion of tongues, and thus, the word Babylon has become synonymous with the word "babble", it is unintelligible sounds. He is babbling. What did he say? I don't know he is babbling. So Babylon has become synonymous with unintelligible sounds. And God brought the confusion of languages as suddenly. They were not able to communicate with each other any more. And this confusion that resulted as their whole language patterns were changed, they began to get into groups and migrate away from that area into their language groups.

Now, we find that languages are based in groupings, but in many languages there is really no relation in the languages at all, as far as sounds are concerned. With many languages they are sort of basic. You have your romance languages where you have basic variations. You have languages that have been made up out of other language groups. But God brought that confusion in Babylon and thus it is always scripturally a symbol of a confused state.

Now, there is a tremendously confused religious state, as man has sought to take over and to establish a religious system for man. And I then study in the religious order and I become a religious man. And I become a go-between, because I am more righteous than you and I am more religious than you and I have a greater contact with God than you. I then become a priest and I help you to get to God: not so in reality. In truth, I am not more righteous than you. I do not have an in with God that you don't have. In reality God looks at all of us the same. He doesn't look at one as more righteous or holy than another. He sees us all the same. He sees us all who believe in Christ. He sees us all as righteous in Christ because of our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. And we are all equal in the eyes of God, and there is no ranking as far as God is concerned. We are one together in Christ Jesus. And He is the only mediator between God and man.

Now, God can set up a perfect order. All you need is man to make confusion out of it. And God set up in the church a perfect order, but man confused it before the church was twenty years old. There were those who began to vie for authority, power, position and lording and ruling over others, though that was specifically prohibited by Jesus. He said, "You are not to be as the gentiles who love to lord over one another. If you want to be chief than learn to be the servant of all"( Mark 10:42 , Mark 10:44 ). And He rebuked the church of Pergamus because they had brought in a priest system, the priest over the laity. The Nicolaitanes ruling over the laity. And Jesus said, "I hate that." Why? Because He died to abolish it. He died to open the door so that every one of us can come to God freely through the grace that is now ours in and through Jesus Christ.

So, man brought confusion, and that has developed through the years as the organization and structure has become so great and powerful. It began to rule over nations and kings, but God is going to bring it into special judgment and that judgment is declared here in the seventeenth chapter of Revelation.

And there came one of the seven angels ( Revelation 17:1 )

Now, John just saw these seven angels as they poured out their plagues. One of them came to John, and as you remember in the one plague, the sixth plague, Babylon was brought into judgment and so forth. It was the fifth vial, the throne of the beast and the kingdom was full of darkness and so forth. Then in the nineteenth verse, in the seventh plague Babylon was brought into remembrance before God and judged. So, no doubt the seventh angel, which specifically dealt with judgment on the city of Babylon and came to Daniel to give him further explanation on the destruction of that religious system of man that ensnared men's souls.

there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and he talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto you the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters ( Revelation 17:1 ):

And spiritually this would be a false religious system leading men to a trust in something other than Jesus Christ for their relationship with God, trusting in their works, their goodness or something other than Jesus.

In the Bible, in a spiritual sense, adultery is the worship of another god. And so God said the nation of Israel in the worshipping of Baal, Mammon and Molech and so forth were committing adultery. They had gone out in their whoredoms. So, false worship of God or the worship of other gods is spiritual harlotry. So the great whore that has lead so many people into a false hope because they are not worshipping God in spirit and in truth according to the word of God.

sitting upon many waters [or nations]: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman who was sitting on a scarlet coloured beast ( Revelation 17:1-3 ),

The scarlet colored beast of course being the antichrist.

full of names of blasphemy, [The beast itself] having seven heads and ten horns ( Revelation 17:3 ).

This is a description of the beast. Again, we go back to Revelation chapter twelve and thirteen for the same description.

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and she was decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARuth ( Revelation 17:4-5 ).

That is God's view of her, "Mystery Babylon". Why? Because she brought into the church many of the practices of the old Babylon religion that had been cursed of God.

Time does not permit us to go into the parallels that do exist in the practices that take place in many of the churches today, and those practices of ancient Babylon. Sufficient to say, that in ancient Babylon there was the worship of Nimrod also called Tammuz, and his mother Cymeramus also known as Ashtart. They were the mother and child, he supposedly born by a virgin. She was supposedly a virgin and he was born by virgin birth. He was worshipped by the people. He was a mighty hunter opposed to God according to the scriptures; called, "the mighty hunter" before the Lord. Actually, the Hebrew is "against the Lord".

According to the stories, while hunting he was gored by a boar and died, and his body lay out there for three days and he resurrected. And thus, the people began to celebrate his resurrection by coloring eggs and by the worship of the rabbit, which of course is known for its productivity. And they had a great celebration they called Ashtart in which they worshipped his coming to life with the colored eggs and all. And it was a celebration year by year known as Ashtart, from which of course we get our word Easter. It is interesting that we have adopted the custom of coloring eggs.

He was supposedly born on December twenty-fifth. His birthday was celebrated by decorating trees, bringing them into your house and decorating them with silver and gold and different decorations, because the tree, the evergreen tree, the symbol of life, the evergreen tree and thus brought into the homes and decorated; accompanied with a lot of parties, gift-giving and drunken orgies.

Now, of course we don't have anything in the church that we can liken unto that. These things were all of Babylonian origin. The Madonna and child with a halo about them; that kind of art existed a thousand years before Jesus was born as they worshipped Cymeramus, the mother and her virgin-born son Tammuz. "Mystery Babylon, the Mother of Harlots".

So, God identifies the woman who is sitting upon the beast.

And the woman was drunken with the blood of the saints ( Revelation 17:6 ),

Read Foxe's book of Martyrs.

and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered [not with great admiration], but with great wonderment. And the angel said unto me, Why did you thus marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carried her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns ( Revelation 17:6-7 ).

I will explain it to you the Lord said.

The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit [or abusso in the Greek], and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. Now here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits ( Revelation 17:8-9 ).

Or the city of Rome, the city of seven hills.

And there are seven kings ( Revelation 17:10 ):

Seven emperors that have reigns over the Roman Empire.

five are fallen ( Revelation 17:10 ),

Or are already dead at the time that John is writing.

one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue for a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven ( Revelation 17:10-11 ),

So, the beast is according to this, is one of the five previous Roman emperors prior to the writing of the book of Revelation by John. At the time that John was writing, he was no longer alive. He was in the abusso. He ascends out of the abusso. But the world will wonder at this man who once lived and was dead and is now alive again. Of the seven of the major Roman emperors, and of course the one that comes closest to fitting the description is none other than Caesar Nero whose name numerically in Hebrew totals to six hundred and sixty-six.

Caesar Nero was called by the early church the beast. That was the common name, because he wrecked so much havoc among the church. Quite apparent that he was possessed by demonic spirits. The things that he did could only be done by a mind perverted by Satan. The horrible atrocities that this man brought against the Christian church could only be done by a mind that was totally deranged by demonic forces.

And so the beast that was and is not,

even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and he is heading towards perdition [Gehenna]. And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have not received the kingdom; but receive power as kings ( Revelation 17:11-12 )

That means that they are not actual kings as such, but they receive the same kind of a power as a king.

for one hour with the beast. And they have one mind ( Revelation 17:13 ),

And that one mind is to make war with Christ and to destroy Him when He comes to set up His reign upon the earth. That is the one mind of these kings. So, they turn their power and strength over to the antichrist. He becomes the leader in the effort to thwart the establishing of God's rule upon the earth.

Now, as John said when he wrote this epistle, he said, "The Spirit of antichrist is already at work in the world"( 1 John 4:3 ). The spirit of antichrist is at work in our world today. There are already many powerful men who have dedicated themselves to the destroying of God: the humanist in their humanist manifesto. And many of our major congressmen and leaders are humanists and subscribe to the humanist manifesto.

And these men, such as Norman Lear, have tremendous power to influence our nation. They have dedicated their talents and their powers to the eradicating to the thought or the conscienceness of God from the minds of the people. They are out to destroy God. So, his programs put those who believe in God in sort of a weird funny category. There is an endeavor in the programming to make fun of strong beliefs, or faiths, or convictions, to make a man look like a fool, like a bumbling idiot who may have strong convictions on a particular subject. And the whole idea is to destroy by ridicule. For in the humanist manifesto, they are determined to eradicate once and for all the superstitious beliefs in a Supreme Being or in God by men. They are out to destroy God. Their goal is the destruction of God and the idea and concept of God, which they say, is archaic and belongs back in a past age of ignorance.

Now the purpose in destroying God is to free man so that he can live after his flesh without any kind of remorse or pangs of conscience. Thus, they want to get rid of any kind of a moral base that has its roots in the Bible. So that any of the prohibitions of the Bible, adultery, fornication and so forth are so obliterated from your mind that you can do these things without any conscience that would bother you or trouble you. Because, you see, that conscienceness comes from a biblical base and they are trying to destroy God and get rid of any feelings of guilt that man possesses, as a result of his past superstitious beliefs in a Supreme Being, and the Bible is His word to man. That is the goal of the humanist in their manifesto. And you can get the humanist manifesto and you can read point by point how they plan to bring to pass the destruction of God.

So, the spirit of antichrist is already at work and many of the powerful leaders have embraced the idea of the destruction of God. And we see that they have been highly successful. In Europe their job is just about complete. You go to Europe today and you are in a post-Christian era. You find out what the world is going to be like after the rapture has taken place. And you can see the hopelessness in the eyes of the people, the despair. And of course you see the other things that go along with such a society.

You see the degrading of womanhood as you see these poor girls standing in the windows beckoning to the men who walk by. They are displayed like merchandise, standing there like mannequins except that as the men walk by they try to entice them on in. And you can walk down the street and window after window see the degraded state of the women brought about by men whose minds are so perverted because of the absence of the conscienceness of God, that they have again degraded the woman back to the position that she was two thousand years ago before Christianity came on the scene and elevated her to a place of beauty and respect and honor. As they take advantage and as you see the nude pictures, as you see the pornographic magazines and all these things that attract the flesh, as you see people wholly given over to their own fleshly desires, you see the drunkenness and the hopelessness and you realize these men have been successful in their endeavor to destroy God from the minds and conscienceness of the people.

They are hard at work in the United States and they have come a long way here. They have petitioned the courts, which have allowed them to publish such filth, as we find in the girlie-type magazines that are open and available for the children to pick up and leaf through in the grocery store on the corner. They have been able to rule God out of the classroom in school. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is unlawful for the state of Louisiana to have the Ten Commandments written on the board in the classroom, even though it is written on the walls of the Supreme Court itself. They have declared that it is illegal to have the children sing Christmas carols in the public schools.

Thank God that we have courageous teachers who are Christians who are the salt of the earth, and in the public school system still shine as a glorious light in a dark place. And I thank God for everyone of you that are in public education and are putting up with the malaise of the broken society and these children who have come from this chaotic condition, and you are putting up with it in order to bring light unto them. And you are willing to go ahead and wherever you have opportunity share the true light of God. Thank God for you Christian teachers. You are the light of the world. Continue to shine until they kick you out.

And so these ten kings give their power to the beast in order that they might, through their combined efforts, destroy God once again to make war against Jesus as He returns, to stop the establishing of God's law and God's rule upon the earth. They don't want God to rule over them.

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them ( Revelation 17:14 ):

I like that. No big battle, no big deal. They make war with the Lamb, but He overcomes them. Actually just with the words that go forth from His mouth they are destroyed. I don't know what those words will be. I imagine that He will say you have had it man. He destroys them.

for he is King of kings, he's the Lord of lords: and they that are with him are called, chosen, and faithful ( Revelation 17:14 ).

God has called you to be His child. If you have responded to that call of God, He has chosen you to be a part of that eternal kingdom. And as we walk in faithfulness to Him, we have the promise that because you have been faithful, kept His commandments, He will also keep you from the hour of temptation, which is going to come upon the earth.

And he saith unto me, The waters which you saw, where the whore is sitting, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which you saw upon the beast, these shall hate the whore ( Revelation 17:15-16 ),

These kings that shall give their power to the antichrist, they take advantage of the church, but now they turn against this religious system.

and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will ( Revelation 17:16-17 ),

That is interesting, that is God's will against this false religious system. And so they do it, but they only do it as God has put in their hearts to fulfill His will. It is interesting to me that God uses many times very unrighteous persons to accomplish His will. He can plant His will in the heart of an evil person. That was the problem that Habakkuk had when God revealed to Habakkuk that He was going to use the Babylonians to punish His people by taking them into captivity. And Habakkuk said, "Lord, come on, that is not fair. We are bad. I know that, but they are worse than we are. Now would you allow a nation more evil than us to conquer us?" God said to Habakkuk, "I told you that you wouldn't understand that I told you that I would." So, God puts in their heart to do His will,

and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the eaRuth ( Revelation 17:17-18 ).


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Revelation 17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.