Reflections on Revelation #295

‘Day 295

“This will be the last challenge of earth’s history for the people of God. Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains upon 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. The beast which was, and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction.” Revelation 17:9-11. (NASB)

In Greek, the word for hills and mountains is the same. So, the author may have had Rome, the city of seven hills, in mind as a model for this beast. The hills in our text represent secular and political power in support of Babylon. With these “kings” behind her, the Babylon woman will have great power in the End.

The pedigree of this end-time beast is in the seven kings. The basic principle to follow here is that God meets people where they are. When a prophet gets an explanation of a prophecy, it is always given in terms of his time and place (Dan 2:37-40; 7:19-25). The one who “exists now” would, then, be the Rome of John’s day.

The five who “have fallen” were the great empires of the OT: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Each of these functioned as an enemy of God’s people for a time. The “king” that is “yet to come” from John’s perspective, would be a future power that would become an enemy of God’s people after the fall of Rome. But the seventh “king” is not the last. Beyond the seventh is an eighth, who is from the seventh!

The seventh head is the sea beast of Revelation 13. It too came up after the time of John and the Roman Empire (Rev 13:2). It too is resurrected for the final conflict (Rev 13:3, 12). The “eighth head” then would be the final manifestation of political power in support of Babylon at the End (17:3). The “was & is not and is to ascend” 7th(V:8) is resurrected as the 8th.

What we have in this passage is the pedigree of a world-wide end-time political power. It functions at the End the way the seven previous powers in earth’s history did. Worldwide political union was a reality in John’s day and previous to it. Such a worldwide union is not a reality at the present time but will be restored in preparation for the battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:14-16). This will be the last challenge of earth’s history for the people of God. 

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