The Great Whore and the Beast
1-2 One of the 7 angels of the 7 bowls offers to show John the judgment of a “great whore,” seated on many waters. Kings have fornicated with her, and earthlings drink the wine of those fornications. Horrific description. Judgment = condemnation. “Many waters” is interpreted in verse 15 as people, multitudes, nations, and languages. She controls those who belong to the earth.
3-6 The angel carries John into the wilderness, where he sees a woman in scarlet sitting on a scarlet beast, marked with blasphemous names, having 7 heads and 10 horns. She’s bedecked in scarlet, purple and jewels and holds a golden cup full of abominations. On her head is written “Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.” She is drunk with the blood of the saints and of witnesses to Jesus. The woman is in the wilderness, away from God, sitting on a beast – described the same as the beast of the sea (chapter 13). She represents the wealth of great cities that appear glorious and wealthy, seducing many to forsake God. She is the “embodiment of ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life’” (Vision of Victory, p. 131).
7-8 The angel questions John’s amazement. The beast “was, and is not” and will go to the bottomless pit. The earthlings will be amazed when they see the beast. In the first three centuries, this beast would have represented Rome. From Maxie Boren, quoted in Vision of Victory, “The beast manifests itself in whatever government or power there is that gives itself to Satan and the pursuit of worldly ends, and to the persecution of the Lord’s people, whenever and wherever in history that such occurs.” Whoever the beast is, it will be destroyed.
9-12 The 7 heads are 7 mountains who have 7 kings. Five have fallen, one is living, the other not yet come. The beast is an eighth that belongs to the seven. The 10 horns are kings who do not have kingdoms yet, but they will receive authority for one hour. Readers at the time would have recognized this description of Rome, which sits on seven hills. Rather than trying to assign particular kings to this number, Hailey comments that to be consistent, the number should be treated symbolically, as in the rest of the book. The beast represents the “total of forceful or anti-Christian or anti-theistic opposition, and the harlot represented that which is lustful, enticing, and seductive – all that appeals to the flesh. The seven kings…[represent] all kings or kingdoms…that would oppose the kingdom of God. ..Each continues for a little while, then goes into perdition….” (quoted in Vision of Victory).
13-14 They all unite in yielding authority to the beast, making war on the Lamb. The Lord will conquer them, for he is “Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Refer to chapters 4 and 5: The Throne Rules; the Lamb Reigns.
15-18 The waters (v. 1) are nations and languages; the horns and the beast will hate the woman and will destroy her. God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose and give their kingdom to the beast, until His words are fulfilled. The woman is the “great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” The interpretation of verses 1-6. Those who oppose God may think they are in control, but the sovereign God uses them instead to fulfill His purposes. The woman is clearly recognizable to the readers as Rome.