Revelation 17:1-16 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk." 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations." 6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly. 7 But the angel said to me, "Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." 15 And the angel said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire,
A good way to understand this passage of scripture is to highlight the woman and the beast and write down what describes them and their surroundings. Today we will look at the woman and tomorrow the beast.
The woman is the head of a godless world system run by a world leader and prominent kings all inspired by the evil one. The world system and leaders are hostile to the saints. The blood of the Christians is on their hands. Please note the end result of this satanically inspired leadership is the desolation of the commercial center of the world and ultimately the entire world.
The woman is sexually immoral. This means more than just the physical immorality that describes the world in Romans 1:24-27. The sexual immorality is a way of expressing complete unfaithfulness to the Creator God by living in sin of all kinds, including the sins of physical sexual immorality.
The godless world system is called “this present evil age” by the Apostle Paul (Galatians 1:4) and it began when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. The book of Revelation takes us to the second world wide judgment of mankind. Revelation 17-18 gives us a look at the world system’s history up to the end and right before the second judgment of the earth is complete (the first worldwide judgment was the flood). The seven heads stand for seven nations that ruled the world, five had fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece), one is currently in power in 90 AD, the Roman empire, and one is yet to come, the one world rule of the Anti-Christ.
We need to be aware of this world wide judgment and warn people to take refuge in Jesus by repenting of their sins and believing the gospel. We need to obey Jesus’ commands of Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to the ways of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” so we will live lives that display Jesus to a sin darkened world.