“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of Lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” – Revelation 17:9-18
This passage is really a continuation of yesterday’s passage about abominations and soul skirmishes. It provides an explanation of the odd imagery and some of the fantastic creatures. I am not sure it really helps me understand that passage any better but lets run this reach and see if there is more to this explanation than meets to the eye. Paddles up….paddle.
So the seven heads of the strange beast the woman is riding are seven hills. What immediately comes to my mind when I read this is the seven hills of Rome. Apparently these hills were the location of small settlements that merged to become the great city of Rome and eventually home to the Roman empire. There are many who think this reference refers to these seven hills around Rome. I think this has led to the interpretation or understanding that revelations was referring to events that took place in the Roman empire after the time of this prophecy. That is possible, although I think there is also the possibility that this account has layers of meaning that may refer to more than one set of events.
One could argue that many of the Roman cultural practices, political structures, and conquering colonial mindset is alive and well in many countries today. The U.S. has coliseums for armed combat (football); a senate; and we still approach many international relations with a colonial mindset. So perhaps the “fall of Rome” was more a dispersal than an actual destruction – kings without a kingdom?
The ten horns are described as kings without a kingdom. I am not sure what this would look like. Perhaps leaders of some international body like the United Nations? I do not know. They will be given power as a king, but oddly for only one hour. Their only reason for existence is apparently to cede their power and authority to the beast so it can fight the Lamb. Those who belong to the Lamb will fight along side Him and ultimately defeat the beast in this war between worlds.
The angel goes on to explain the many waters where the prostitute is residing “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages”. This is somewhat different than my interpretation of the “many waters” from yesterday. I guess the list provided could be read to mean all the earthly constructs we as humans have created, many of which separate us from God and one another.
It seems there will be infighting in the beast’s camp with the ten horns and the beast rejecting the prostitute. This sounds to me like the hopelessness and despair that will fill all the empty souls that are willingly following and marked by the beast.
Prayer: God this coming time of conflict will be hard. Help us to prepare our hearts and souls.