Brit Hadashah Reflections 39
Hebraic understanding Hebrews and Revelation
Revelation 17 : 9 - 18
This is a part of Scripture which is avoided by many people because of its seeming complexity. It is the only book in our Bible attributed to Yeshua Ha’mashiach Himself. Written by the Apostle John late in his life during a visionary encounter with the Holy Spirit of God. At times John is prompted, even directed, by the Lord to write what he is witnessing. One can only guess at the amazing spectacle of being so directed. What he describes is sometimes very difficult to imagine. There are quite unusual events and situations, such as have never before been encountered by mankind, to be considered, evaluated, and reckoned with. But it all comes with a promise!
Last week we identified the characters the angel showed John when he took him into the wilderness. We ended last week as John was being given much detail of the beast (the Anti-Christ), and the meaning of the vision of the woman riding on that scarlet beast.
All the speculation in the world will not identify any of these people until the final seven years of this age unfolds. And we are not yet at that point. But the wise among us WILL know their identity when these things happen, because this is what this visionary visit into heaven is all about.
“Here is the mind that has wisdom” the angel said. In paraphrase. ‘put on your thinking cap and pay attention.’ “The seven heads (of the beast) are the seven mountains on which the woman sits.” So this fierce looking beast is representative of a geographical place (or places). And in large measure, this woman exercised control over that area(s). “There are also seven kings (rulers, emperors, dictators, men in charge).” Now here again, commentators have exercised their imagination, but we need to be clear that while this prophecy is intended for our edification, it also had to be within the scope of John’s understanding. And then John is given some information which, to the wise, should be quite clear. Referring to the territory of the kings, “five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when HE comes (the next king) he must continue a short time.” So, the seven kings now have their term of office explained. Most, if not all, people would agree that this is a reference to the various “Empires” which have been a fact of history, and would be well within John’s understanding. (Some also see them as the period of rule of specific Emperors of Rome, and thus neatly leading to the identity of the last as part of the Papacy of Rome! That popular identification declares that the present Pope Francis (2018) will in fact be the last) But actually identifying the “five fallen” is not that easy. The statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the Book of Daniel would seem to provide three candidates, FOUR if we include the “which is”. So we need to identify another TWO which have fallen.
The most general consensus considers the “five fallen” to be the reigns of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian, and Greece. Of those, only the last three are part of Daniel’s statue. And the sixth one ‘which is” would be Rome. The seventh, who will be around ‘a short time’ (seven years) would be the Anti-Christ (also called ‘the beast’). The eighth, will come from the list we have already, and the fact that ‘he is going to perdition’, identifies him as Anti-Christ because both he and ‘the false prophet’ are destined for that end., as indeed are Satan, Death, and Hades, together with those whose names are not inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
My turn to speculate! I find myself pondering the thought relating to verse 11 of our text, that IF Anti-Christ, who will appear as the man of peace, is Satan incarnate, who presents himself as a clever, wise human being, he will be locked in the ‘bottomless pit’ for 1000 years after this ‘end of the age’ vision. Then he will be released for a short time on the earth again. Could that be the time of this eighth king? Well of course, I don’t know. Perhaps I have not gained sufficient wisdom! But what I do know is this. Everyone who takes heed to this prophetic vision of John will know, as these events occur, because the evidence will be overwhelming..
The ten horns are another ten kings. But they will not be identified until the Anti-Christ is known, because they will be ‘puppet kings’ operating under his authority. He will set them up and they will be beholden to him as a result. But their reign will be short also, but they will rule the kingdoms which will make war with “the Lamb”. There surely is not a Christian alive who isn’t acquainted with Armageddon. (I recall on my very first visit to Israel about 1976, on Mount Carmel, having Megiddo pointed out to me by my host. There in the middle of the large plain below was a huge military airfield) So the place is set, the time is set (but we do not have that information) and the result of that war is already determined. The Lamb will overcome. Triumphant again. Having already conquered death and hell, now triumphant over the hordes of Satan.
But there is one last detail. The ten kings, impotent in relation to the beast, are also part of God’s plan of judgement, Read it in verses 16-18. God uses them to bring His judgement on the harlot, she who is the representation of Babylon. That ‘great city’ which corrupted the kings of the earth.