She Sits on The City

The Harlot, The Beast and The Believers

“And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. And when I saw her, I wondered greatly. And the angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. “The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. “Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. “And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. “These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast. “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. “And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. “For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled. “And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

And Now, We Waltz Because the Content is CAGED

Warning: This missive may cause massive migraines, waltz at your own risk. It is by no means exhaustive, yet it is exhausting. If your angst last more than times, time and half a time, seek medical attention.

“And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying…”

One of our seven familiar friends, even more familiar to John, says to John:

“Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot…”

Consulting our OTT: Hosea 4:12 “My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.” Psalm 106:39 “Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds.” Isaiah 1:22 “How the faithful city has become a harlot, She who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, But now murderers.” And another thousand, maybe more, references can be made.

who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality…”

Waters, kings, immorality, we’ve seen these images before but we will reserve judgement on their exact symbolism until we consider more of the context, remembering the genre and the apostle John’s aspirations to his first century audience. We’ll also examine examples using a proper exegesis and listen intently to the words.

“and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”

Remember, John is still listening to our familiar friend. Immorality is mentioned again, as is wine. We have seen in this apocalyptic book that wine often represents blood, as in the winepress and ​the blood of the saints. But again, we’ll continue to waltz considering the context.

“And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness…” 

To state the obvious, but by way of reminder, John is carried away in the Spirit into the wilderness. The imagery leaves little doubt about the symbolism. We see John carried into the wilderness the way we saw Israel in the wilderness and Jesus in the wilderness. But there is a twist; Israel failed, Jesus overcame, but John is simply an observer. The imagery isn’t intended to illustrate that John must go through the wilderness, he’s done that, but that he is there as an observer; Notice:

“and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names…”

John is not enduring the wilderness, he is observing. He sees, or rather; is shown a woman and a beast. The woman John is shown is not the beast, but is sitting on the beast. The beast is full of blasphemous names. Perhaps like, Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus? Again, a woman, no offense to women but we can immediately eliminate God as the woman, he’s never referred to that way. And a scarlet (blood?) Beast full of blasphemous names. Two separate, yet linked, identities. The description of both continues, starting with the beast.

“…having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality…”

The beast has seven heads and ten horns–this is familiar. We have discussed it briefly before and will discuss it again soon, because our familiar friend the angel, give us, misguided men with muscle-memory minds, a little clue, but gives the first century church an enormous earful. It will benefit us if we strain to see what they saw and hear what they heard. We read of the woman clothed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones. The symbolism to them, and to us, if we admit it, would clearly be alluding to royalty and privilege. This is given a boost by the gold cup, and it’s full of “her” immoralities.

“and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH…”

The forehead, as we have exhaustively examined, is imagery of one’s thoughts and mind. We do not want to read things into the text–we want to draw out what John intended to illustrate with the imagery to his first century audience of christians. The name Babylon the great, the mother of harlots is a mystery–we won’t speculate, yet. Though if you have been taking your Vitamin C. A. G. E. and D, you have probably figured it out. Two verses from our OTT; Ezekiel 16:15, “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” And Jeremiah 51:47, “For the time will surely come when I will punish the idols of Babylon; her whole land will be disgraced and her slain will all lie fallen within her.”

“And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus…”

We saw this last time. They kill the prophets and the saints. They killed Jesus. The context continues to build a case. The Old Testament tutor is helping. Keep in mind the first century audience.

“And when I saw her, I wondered greatly…” 

John wondered greatly… Actually, this is good news. John, the witness to the Lord, the author of the Gospel of John and the apocalypse writer wondered. That means he was pondering it, attempting to understand it, yet clearly didn’t because of what we read next. The angel asked him why he wondered? If we still disagree on the imagery, that’s fine by me. What I desire you to see, is the CAGED methodology. No I am not selling anything. I haven’t and won’t copyright the CAGED method, but the two of you can. Yes, I want the church to understand the imagery in Revelation. But more importantly I want the church to get all they can out of the Bible. I would love for us to embrace what is written in the pages of the greatest book ever written. I believe the best way is to use a hermeneutical method such as the CAGED method. If nothing else, remember that Context is King and Genre is His General. “This is the Antichrist,” and “This is the Rapture,” do little for the rank and file christians. “If you’re not learning for yourselves, you only know what you have been taught.” John Piper said, “The Bible is an ocean…Swim in it.”

“And the angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns…”

Even seeing the vision himself, while in the Spirit no less, John still wondered. Obviously it’s okay for us to wonder. But I love the angel’s response; “Why do you wonder?” I also love that John included it in his writing, and draws our attention to it. Based on the context it’s not a rhetorical question. The angel indicates that John should not wonder and then gives him an explanation. In turn, the first century church was given an explanation. And this is the explanation we also need to see. Taking a dose of Vitamin A:

“The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction…”

Only looking behind, without lunging forward, we understand that this is the beast from the sea or possibly the pit–we’ll see if the context clarifies. It was, is not and is about to come out of the abyss. Is this the Antichrist? I believe that to be a dubious dream, but we won’t rule it out, yet. Actually, I have and will, but you can come to your own conclusion. I am a Spiritual nobody, a worthless writer and most pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers agree that this is the Antichrist. Nevertheless, I believe the context and imagery disagree–in my lying eyes.

“And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come…”

Problem: I sure hope our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life–still we wonder, don’t we? However, that thought is not in accordance with the context, is it? This is another one of those, “don’t miss this” moments. Please see the context. Those who have the mark of the beast and not the Lamb wonder. As my poorly constructed quote about wonder was without contextual merit, the content and intent is understood that the Lamb followers understand, but those who follow the beast are full of wonder at the situation concerning this beast. The first century church was forewarned about the beast who was, is not and is about to come. It’s not because we won’t be here because we’re raptured that we don’t wonder and they do. That thought is thrust into oblivion based on the context. We must not miss this. Why else would it be worded in this way; “And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, (whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world), when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come?” A purposefully presented parenthetical phrase, of which the emphasis is mine, however the context is clear. And it’s about to become ever-clear to the first century church.

“Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.

Take a healthy dose of Vitamin A and suspend your disbelief. Indulge me for a mere moment. It only takes a minute, but by doing so, your mind may be moved to new heights. Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. I proposed this previously (which is why I believe I’m down to two readers), that the internal evidence of an earlier dating are substantial and Biblical, but the external evidence is turbid and tiny. Frankly, I don’t care what Irenaeus wrote–Irenaeus doesn’t care about what I write. His composition can’t compete with the internal evidence. For one more moment manipulate your mind to the possibility and see what they saw: The seven heads represent seven mountains, or hills. The transliterated Greek word is, “Oros.” It is usually translated as “mount,” or “mountain,” but also as, “hill.” Rome was the city of seven hills. The woman, also known as Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots, sits on the hills. We have seen Israel repeatedly referenced as a Harlot. The previous passages reverberate with remembrance; they are drunk with blood of the saints and with the witnesses of Christ. “Which one of the prophets did you not kill?” The harlot is Israel (apostate) and the beast on which she sits is Rome. Think about everything we have seen concerning this and remember this; written by the same author; “So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” They are condemned by their own words. The imagery reveals Rome more thoroughly; “they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.” I am not a history buff, but I try to be. The problem I have is remembering dates. However in the case of the early Roman empire, I do fairly well. It’s difficult even for me to forget numbers such as, 6 BC and 70 AD. If you are not a want-to-be history buff like me, I won’t bore you with specifics. If you are, read up on the history of the early Roman empire, you’ll be shocked by the similarities. Briefly, 5 kings have fallen, Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius. Nero is but is about to fall on his own sword. In June of 68 AD, Galba rebels against Nero, and there is civil war in Rome, it appears that the Roman empire could be finished. Nero kills himself and Galba is made emperor. The crisis is averted, however the Julio-Claudian dynasty is finished. But the prophecy states that the 7th king would only remain a little while. It fits–Galba is dead by mid-January the following year–about a seven month reign. Then there is what is known as, the year of four emperors. It all fits.

“And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour…”

The people expected Nero to return. Of course he didn’t but the eighth followed in the footsteps of Nero. The ten kings, who don’t have a kingdom but will receive authority as kings for an hour are more difficult to discuss in detail, 2000 years later. We must place ourselves in the shoes of the early church, ruled by the Romans. Let’s see if the context clarifies:

“These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast. “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them…”

Without all the specific information the early church had, we must pay even more attention to the details in the context. For instance, the one purpose they have–to give their power to Rome. Everything else points to the Roman emperor, keep that in mind. And Rome did wage war on the Lamb. When one waged war on Christ’s church, he considered it war on himself–Saul in Acts 9. Also, from Julius Caesar to Vespasian, from the rebuilding of the temple to the destruction of the temple, there were 10 emperors. Rome had 10 Senate districts and the rest of the context tactfully and truly illuminates Rome’s, juxtaposition to Israel and the church. They wage war:

“because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful…”

This is hope–hope to the author’s audience. They have the mark of the Lamb and although persecution prevails, the promise is more powerful. They are called, chosen and faithful, and they know where their reward is stored.

And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. “And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. “For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled. “And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

In conclusion, God wins. And evil swallows up evil. Good night. I know that you must be tired from reading this because I am tired from writing it, which rarely happens–especially in exciting exposition such as this. Nevertheless, we’re almost finished but we will now see the culmination of imagery. The waters are the nations, the angel explains. Nero and his governor’s and his predecessors especially, hate the Harlot, or I believe, those that call themselves Israel. Those who denied the Messiah and aligned with Rome in putting him to death. Rome will destroy them, make them naked and burn with fire. Which happened in 70 AD by the last of the ten. Do we remember what Josephus wrote?

Apostate Israel hates the Lamb and Rome hates the Lamb. But since evil swallows up evil, God refocuses Rome’s wrath from the followers of the Lamb to the Apostate Israel, for about an hour. Jesus wasn’t who they wanted him to be, so they killed him. They said it was for blaspheme, but it was immorality. They played the harlot with other nations for a millenia and their judgement came. “We have no King but Caesar!” Less than 40 years later, with some in that generation, that proved more-than-true. We do notice though, that the woman is called the Great City. That would seem to indicate Rome rather than Jerusalem. Nevertheless, with all the other evidence and consulting our OTT, and learning from history, I believe the woman to be the people who claim to be Israel. This will continue to be compared and contrasted as we waltz. Either way, whether the harlot is Rome or Jerusalem, we know the two were aligned with each other in the blood of the Lamb. We also have seen that evil swallows up evil.

With the mirror of Revelation to my entire being, I want no other king but the Lamb. However, the woman has purple linen and a gold cup, she’s so seductive and sexy. And the beast has so much power that he destroys the woman. Who can stand? The called, chosen and faithful, they followed the Lamb wherever he goes. Rapture; Really? While the woman and the world are seductive and sexy, nothing is more sexy than to be whisked away into a paradise, leaving the trials, temptations and ​tribulation of tomorrow behind. I may be a woeful writer and a wayward prodigal son, but no one will ever accuse me of tickling one’s ears.