717. REVELATION: CHAPTER 17
1. Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
2. with whom the kings of the earth committed whoredom, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her licentiousness."
3. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her licentiousness.
5. And on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of the Whoredoms and Abominations of the Earth.
6. 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 with great wonder.
7. But the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.
8. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, those whose names have not been written in the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9. This is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
10. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must remain a short time.
11. And the beast that was, and is not, is itself the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to destruction.
12. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings that have not yet received a kingdom, but receive authority as kings for one hour with the beast.
13. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.
14. These will do battle with the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful."
15. Then he said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes, nations and tongues.
16. And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
17. For God has put it into their hearts to carry out His purpose, and to be of one mind and give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.
18. And the woman whom you saw is the great city which holds sway over the kings of the earth."
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING
The Contents of the Whole Chapter
The subject is the Roman Catholic religion. Described is the way in which it falsified the Word and so perverted all the church's truths (verses 1-7). How it falsified these and perverted them among peoples subject to its dominion (verses 8-11), but less among peoples who had not so subjected themselves to its dominion (verses 12-15).
Regarding the Protestant Reformed, that they had withdrawn themselves from the yoke of its domination (verse 16, 17). Its continuing domination anyway (verse 18).
The Contents of the Individual Verses:
|Verse Contents||Spiritual Meaning|
|1. Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me,||Influx now and a revelation from the Lord from the inmost of heaven about the Roman Catholic religion,|
|saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,||a revelation about that religion as regards its profanations and adulterations of the Word's truths,|
|2. with whom the kings of the earth committed whoredom,||that it adulterated the church's goods and truths that it had from the Word.|
|and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her licentiousness."||Its insanity in spiritual matters owing to the adulteration of the Word among those immersed in that religion.|
|3. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness.||John's being carried away in a spiritual state to people in whom everything of the church had been destroyed.|
|And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy,||That religion resting on the Word that they profaned.|
|having seven heads and ten horns.||Their intelligence gained from the Word, at first reverent, later abandoned, and at last irrational, and their continued great power drawn from the Word.|
|4. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet,||The celestial Divine good and truth contained in the Word among them.|
|and adorned with gold and precious stones||The spiritual Divine good and truth contained in the Word among them.|
|and pearls,||The concepts of goodness and truth contained in the Word among them.|
|having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her licentiousness.||That religion derived from the sacred contents of the Word profaned, and from its goods and truths defiled by dreadful falsities.|
|5. And on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of the Whoredoms and Abominations of the Earth.||The Roman Catholic religion such as it is interiorly, which is concealed, that from its origin, springing from a love of exercising dominion from a love of self over the sanctities of the church and over heaven, thus over everything connected with the Lord and His Word, it defiled and profaned things having to do with the Word and so with the church.|
|6. And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.||That religion irrational because of its adulterating and profaning the Divine truths and goods of the Lord, of the Word, and so of the church.|
|And when I saw her, I wondered with great wonder.||Astonishment that that religion is of such a character interiorly, when indeed it appears otherwise outwardly.|
|7. But the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.||A disclosure of the symbolic meaning of the preceding events and scenes.|
|8. The beast that you saw was, and is not,||The Word among them acknowledged as holy, and yet really not acknowledged.|
|and will ascend out of the abyss and go to destruction.||The laity's and common people's being given the Word and reading it deliberated several times in the papal Consistory, but rejected.|
|And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, those whose names have not been written in the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.||The astonishment of those who belong to that religion, of all those who from its commencement strove for dominion over heaven and earth, that even though the Word had been thus rejected, still it endures.|
|9. This is the mind which has wisdom:||This is the interpretation in the natural sense, but intended for people who have the spiritual meaning from the Lord.|
|The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. 10. They are also seven kings.||The Divine goods and truths in the Word on which that religion was founded, in time destroyed and finally profaned.|
|Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must remain a short time.||The Word's Divine truths have all been destroyed but this one, that the Lord was given all authority in heaven and on earth, and a second one, which has not yet been called into question, and when it is, will not survive, namely, that the Lord's humanity is Divine.|
|11. And the beast that was, and is not, is itself the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to destruction.||The Word, as mentioned previously, is Divine good itself and Divine truth, and it has been taken from the laity and common people to keep the Roman Catholic hierarchy's profanations and adulterations of it from appearing, and the people's turning away on that account.|
|12. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings that have not yet received a kingdom,||The Word as to the power it has from Divine truths among Roman Catholics who live in France and are not so much under the yoke of papal dominion, who nevertheless have not yet formed among them therefore a church separate from the Roman Catholic religion.|
|but receive authority as kings for one hour with the beast.||The Word has force with them, and through the Word they prevail, as though they possessed its Divine truths.|
|13. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.||They unanimously acknowledge that the only means of government and dominion over the church is through the Word.|
|14. These will do battle with the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings;||The Lord's battle with them over an acknowledgment of His Divine humanity, because the Lord in that humanity is God of heaven and earth and also the Word.|
|and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful."||People who turn to the Lord and worship Him alone are those who go to heaven, both those concerned with the external elements of the church and those concerned with its internal and inmost elements.|
|15. Then he said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes, nations and tongues.||Under papal dominion, but caught up in various ways in that religion's adulterated and profaned truths of the Word, are peoples of a varying doctrine and discipline, and of a varying religion and confession of it.|
|16. And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot,||The Word as to the power it has from Divine truths among Protestants, who have thrown off entirely the yoke of papal dominion.|
|make her desolate and naked,||They will rid themselves of its falsities and evils.|
|eat her flesh and burn her with fire.||They will with hatred condemn and destroy in themselves the evils and falsities inherent in that religion, and will renounce the religion itself and expunge it in themselves.|
|17. For God has put it into their hearts to carry out His purpose, and to be of one mind and give their kingdom to the beast,||A judgment among them from the Lord that they should utterly repudiate and renounce the Roman Catholic religion and expunge and eradicate it in themselves, and a unanimous judgment that they should acknowledge the Word and found the church on it.|
|until the words of God are fulfilled.||Until all the things foretold about them have been fulfilled.|
|18. And the woman whom you saw is the great city which holds sway over the kings of the earth."||The Roman Catholic religion will reign as to doctrine in the Christian world, and to some extent still also among the Protestant Reformed, even though the latter are not under papal dominion.|
The Protestant Reformed were the subject before this in chapters 7-16. The subject now in this chapter and the next is Roman Catholics, and those among them who claim for themselves the power of opening and closing heaven are meant by Babylon. We must first say here, therefore, what Babylon means specifically.
Babylon or Babel means a love of ruling over the sanctities of the church stemming from a love of self, and because this love increases to the degree it is given free rein, and the sanctities of the church are also the sanctities of heaven, therefore Babylon or Babel symbolizes dominion over heaven as well.
Moreover, because this love thus plays the part of the devil, who aspires to similar ends, it cannot help but profane sacred things by adulterating the Word's goods and truths. Consequently Babylon or Babel also symbolizes the profanation of what is sacred and the adulteration of the Word's goodness and truth.
These are the symbolic meanings of Babylon here in the book of Revelation, and of Babel in the following places in the prophetic and historical Word:
(Regarding) Babel... Behold, the day of Jehovah is coming, cruel...., ...the stars of heaven and their constellations do not give their light; the sun has been darkened in its rising, and the moon does not cause its light to shine....
"I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the violent...."
Babel, the glory of kingdoms..., will be as God's overthrowing of Sodom and Gomorrah... Ziyyim 1
will lie down there, their houses will be full of 'ochim, 2
and the offspring of owls will dwell there, and satyrs will caper there. 'Iyyim 3
will reply in her palaces, and dragons in her pleasant palaces. (Isaiah 13:1, 9-11, 19, 21-22)
 Not to mention many other declarations throughout that chapter.
...you will take up this parable regarding the king of Babel...:
"Your magnificence has been brought down into hell....
."..you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer... ...you have said in your heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God...; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High." Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol....
...I will rise up against them... and cut off from Babel the name and remnant...." (Isaiah 14:4, 11-15, 22)
 Not to mention many other declarations throughout that chapter.
...Jehovah spoke against Babel...: "Your mother was deeply ashamed; she who bore you was ashamed. Behold, the last of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land and a solitude....
"Put yourselves in array against Babel all around..., shoot at her, spare no arrows....
"How Babel has become a desolation among the nations!
."..she has behaved insolently against Jehovah, against the Holy One of Israel....
"A drought is against her waters, so that they are dried up. For it is the land of carved images, and glories in shocking things.
"Therefore ziyyim shall dwell there with 'iyyim, and the offspring of owls shall dwell in it..., as in God's overthrowing Sodom and Gomorrah...." (Jeremiah 50:1, 12, 14, 23, 29, 31, 38-40)
 Not to mention may other declarations regarding Babel in that chapter.
"Babel was a golden cup in Jehovah's hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank of her wine; therefore (they) are demented....
"Forsake her..., for her judgment reaches to heaven and rises up to the clouds....
"Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, that destroys all the earth... I will... roll you down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain....
"I will visit judgment on Bel in Babel, I will take the chewed food out of his mouth, so that the nations do not stream to him anymore. The wall of Babel also shall fall....
."..behold, the days are coming when I will visit judgment on the carved images of Babel, so that her whole land is ashamed....
"If Babel were to mount up to heaven, and if she were to fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me would come destroyers....
"Indeed, I will make drunk her princes and wise men, her leaders and her prefects..., so that they sleep the sleep of an age and do not awake...." (Jeremiah 51:7, 9, 25, 44, 47, 53, 57)
 Not to mention many other declarations throughout that chapter regarding Babel.
"Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground, without a throne... Take a millstone and grind meal... Uncover the thigh, pass through the rivers. Your nakedness shall be uncovered..., your shame will be seen....
"You said, 'I shall be a lady forever,' ...you did not remember the end....
"You trusted in your wickedness; you said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, when you said in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one else besides me'....
"Ruin shall come upon you suddenly, without your knowing.
"Persist... in your enchantments, in the multitude of your sorceries, in which you have labored from your youth. Perhaps they will possibly be of some use, perhaps you will become fearsome." (Isaiah 47:1-3, 7, 10-12)
Not to mentioned many other declarations regarding Babel in that chapter.
 Similar qualities are symbolically meant by the city in Genesis 11:1-9 and by the tower whose top was in heaven, which the people coming from the east into the valley of Shinar began to build, people whose languages Jehovah, descending from heaven, confused, because of which the place was named Babel (confusion).
 Similar qualities are symbolically meant by the following things in Daniel:
By the statue that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babel, saw, whose feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, which the stone cut without hands struck and broke in pieces, and all the pieces of the statue became like chaff on the threshing floors, and the stone became a great rock (Daniel 2:31-47).
By the great statue that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babel, made, and commanded that people fall down before it and worship it, and that whoever did not do so would be cast into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-7ff.).
By the tree growing until its height reached heaven and it was visible to the end of the earth, which a watcher and holy one, coming down from heaven, ordered to be chopped down, stripped, cut up, and scattered; and because it represented the king of Babel, it came to pass that he was driven from mankind, dwelled with beasts, and ate grass like an ox (Daniel 4).
By Belshazzar, king of Babel, in company with his lords, wives and concubines, and his drinking wine from the gold and silver vessels of the temple in Jerusalem and praising the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron and stone, on which account the writing appeared on the wall and on that very day the king himself was slain (Daniel 5).
By the edict of Darius the Mede, king of Babel, that for thirty days no one petition anything from God or man, but from the king alone, or else be cast into a den of lions (Daniel 6:7-28).
And by the four beasts that Daniel saw come up from the sea, the fourth of which was dreadful and strong, and having huge iron teeth, it devoured and broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and judgment was set then, and the books were opened, and the beast was slain and its body given to the burning flame; and then one like the Son of Man was seen, coming with the clouds of heaven, to whom was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, and all people, nations and tongues will worship Him, His dominion being an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:1-14).