As we pick up where we left off in the previous post, the angel explaining things to John tells him about the waters surrounding the woman and the beast so that she appears to be sitting on them.
Revelation 17:15–17 “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”
The waters are identified as representing the peoples and nations of the world. It is another picture of the fact that the kingdom of Antichrist and his false religious system will have worldwide authority.
Interestingly enough, the angel declares that the ten horns/kings that have been delegated authority under the Antichrist will hate the whore. I think it is because they will not like the fact that this religious leader is allowed to have such influence on world business practices. In fact, in accordance with God’s own purposes, they will bring about her destruction. I believe the following words of the prophet Jeremiah refer to this destruction.
Jeremiah 51:27–30 “Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers. Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion. And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken.”
Babylon was not destroyed by the Medes and Persians when they conquered Babylon in 539 BC as recorded in Daniel. Because of the statement of complete desolation, I believe this has to be referencing Babylon’s future destruction. The context in Jeremiah seems to be indicating that her destruction will come at the hands of those ruling the land of the Armenians and Medes and the area around the Black Sea (where the descendants of Ashchenaz settled).
The verses in Revelation seem to indicate that those who destroy the false religious system have the approval of the beast. Once she has served his purposes in getting all the nations to worship him, she becomes expendable. I am reminded that though the kingdom of the beast will be rooted in Babylon, he will eventually establish his throne in Jerusalem.
2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
John MacArthur makes a thoughtful observation in his commentary regarding the dissension in the kingdom of Antichrist.
“… Satan is finally going to wake up and realize that he can't do this thing to defeat Christ, he has no chance at all unless he pulls this division together. So he does. And he makes her desolate. That is, I believe, he robs the system of its wealth, its treasure, its power. Leaves her absolutely naked, he strips the system bare. Takes it all. The religious system of the world is left with nothing. And by the way, the False Prophet cooperates in this and moves over...this False Prophet isn't dumb, he wants a job and so the job left is to be the one who points to the beast.
"He eats her flesh." What does that mean? Everything is gone. Everything is consumed. There's not a vestige of the former false religious system left on the face of the earth. He is the new God, the new king, the new ruler, the new idol. There's nothing left. And even what may be the residue, the bones, if you will, of the consumed harlot are burned with fire.” [end MacArthur quote]
I think it is important to understand that God’s purpose for Babylon’s destruction will be accomplished by the actions of wicked people. As Christians, I think we sometime forget that truth. God is sovereign and will still be in control during Satan’s reign of evil in the person Antichrist. In His omniscience, He has ensured that His purposes be accomplished sometimes through the choices and actions of the wicked. Because these wicked men are acting in accordance with their own desires, they will still be held accountable for those actions.
It’s also important to note that Antichrist will be allowed to reign “until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (v17). I love the way God declares this truth through the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 14:24 “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand….”
Isaiah 46:9–10 “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure….”
This chapter closes with the angel declaring that the woman is specifically identified with a city, a great city that reigns over the kings of the earth—Babylon.
Revelation 17:18 “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”
(to be continued…)