The Beast and the Ten Kings, (Continued from previous post).
Verse 14 ended one part of the narrative. The story, in a sense, is complete at this point. The Lamb has overcome the enemy. But we need more detail; so, in the following verses, the angel supplies it.
“Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”
AND HE SAID TO ME: From here to the end of the chapter we again have evidence of the angel’s commission toward us. He is saying, “Here are the symbolic tools for interpretation. I can’t give you the answers directly, but I’ve given you all you need.”
THE WATERS WHICH YOU SAW WHERE THE HARLOT SITS: (Compare with Verse 1) Here is the first ingredient for the final revolution. The harlot controlled the people and the people (consciously or unconsciously) didn’t like it. These people (waters) will be the multitudes who form and constitute (as they did in France) the beast which comes up out of the abyss, the Lord’s Great Army.
ARE PEOPLES AND MULTITUDES AND NATIONS AND TONGUES: — the sea-class of humanity. It will not be “those who dwell on the earth”, (those with vested interest in the present order) which form the ascending beast. They will be with the “kings” and will cooperate with the beast only for expediency.
“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.”
AND THE TEN HORNS WHICH YOU SAW: In Verse 12 they were re-named “kings;” But now, they have something new to support and can again be called “horns” on the “beast” which they support.
AND THE BEAST: This is the correct reading (See your margin). (Brother Shallieu however insist that in order for this to make sense it should be read as “upon the beast” rather than “and the beast”, however as his interpretation differs widely from that which we are presenting it would but seem natural to him that the first rendering be the more appropriate.) However it is important to remember that the ten horns and the beast cooperate but do not amalgamate. (See notes on Verse 13.) This is the beast (a people’s revolutionary republic) which has ascended out of the abyss of inactivity.
THESE: The nations and the odd “republic” with which they are in league
WILL HATE THE HARLOT: — even as the (partial) beast of 11:7, 8 hated her (along with all religion!) WHY? Isaiah 23:15- 17 may answer this. The woman will TRY to MOUNT THIS BEAST as she did mount the beast with seven heads. But, apparently, this beast won’t want to be ridden!
AN IMPORTANT ASIDE: Having studied Chapter 13 and having studied the Sixth Plague (Rev 16:13 in particular), we are all aware that RELIGION will have some sort of part in the persecutions on the final members of the Church and Great Company. Chapter 17 seems NOT to be focusing on this factor. We must read between the lines to see the connection between the confederacy of Rev 16:13 and the confederacy shown in Chapter 17 which seem NOT to include the beast and false prophet of Rev 16:13. But reading between the lines IS ENCOURAGED by the context of Rev 17:16.
It does NOT SAY why the horns and beast HATE THE HARLOT. The fact is, however, that we KNOW why they hate her because we have the prototype of this hatred in the French Revolution when the first tenth of the city fell. We can justly reckon thus: When ten horns and people’s revolutionary republic form their cooperation, the apostate church will “volunteer” to assist. She will go too far and wear out her welcome by showing her old schemes, characteristics, and intrigues. But the people’s revolution will be tired to the bone of political and ecclesiastical lies. When the harlot tries to mount, ride, or “sit on” THIS beast, she will get the surprise of her life! She will be trampled to death! Thus, Chapter 17 only “suggests by way of memory” the inclusion of apostate religion in the confederacy which will oppose the saints. It is more interested in focusing on how the people and rulers will turn on religion and destroy it even as the French did.
AND WILL MAKE HER DESOLATE: — empty, without form for expression (even as the house of Israel was in A.D. 33 — See Matt. 23:38, 39.)
AND NAKED: — exposed for what she is.
AND WILL EAT HER FLESH: — consume her polity; take away any power or influence she might have had.
AND WILL BURN HER UP WITH FIRE: — cause events which totally destroy her.
“For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.”
FOR GOD HAS PUT IT IN THEIR HEARTS: Somehow God will so arrange matters that the desires of men will be so strong toward this confederacy that it will be easy of accomplishment.
TO EXECUTE HIS PURPOSE (MIND) — See Psa 76:10 KJV. God’s plan WILL be accomplished. The instrumentalities are always there, willing or not.
BY HAVING A COMMON PURPOSE: (Literally – “even to do one mind.”) This, in today’s world is remarkable, indeed! All ten kings agree! (It may be of interest to us to note the past agreement of U.N. and NATO forces in Bosnia to take united action in attempting to stem the slaughter which was taking place there. This action is basically unprecedented. Perhaps it is setting the stage for future ideas of international cooperation.)
BY GIVING THEIR KINGDOM TO THE BEAST: Note carefully: the kings of Verse 12 have by Verse 17, received the “kingdom” which they did not earlier have. They will share their federated alliance with the people which have risen up. This, according to this verse, executes God’s purpose. We KNOW what His purpose is: it is the burning of the tares, the crushing of the grapes of wrath, the destruction of Babylon. Seeing the kings and beast cooperating should be, in a sense, a great joy for all saints who behold it! Unfortunately, (Verse 14) they will also be waging war against the Lamb. It is important to us to remember this TWO-FOLD work of this confederacy: (1) it is against the spirit-begotten and the spirit-born. (2) But it is also against Babylon. This same beast in Chapter 11 had the same indiscriminate hatred of all things religious.
UNTIL THE WORDS OF GOD SHOULD BE FULFILLED: The confederacy will not last a moment longer than is necessary.
“And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
AND THE WOMAN WHOM YOU SAW: — the harlot who had controlled the age.
IS THE GREAT CITY: — antitypical Babylon, the capital of Christendom.
WHICH REIGNS: (Literally = “has a kingdom”) She is an apostate church. She reigned too early and improperly. It is in the present tense because it is the angel speaking in his day.
OVER THE KINGS OF THE EARTH: — a church over the state: harlotry.
One Final Receptive Thought
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” who came and spoke with John COULD HAVE BEEN introduced earlier in Revelation with some benefit. There seems, however, a very special reason why the introduction was postponed to Rev 17:1. Chapter 17 concentrates on the subject of the judgment of the great harlot. It was through Brother Russell that we learned the enormous particulars of this subject and the great emphasis which Scripture places on it. The fact is, Chapter 17 opens with this angel because this chapter cannot be interpreted without knowing who this angel is and without having had the benefit of his counsel. Just as Brother Russell wrote in THE TIME IS AT HAND, prophecy has a combination-time lock, like a vault. Until the set time has arrived, it is useless to try to open the door. The COMBINATION of symbols MAY well have been available before Brother Russell. But the TIME setting (five are fallen, one is, etc.,) can be understood from one standpoint ONLY. We MUST KNOW when the angel is speaking. To know WHEN, we must also know WHO. We are blessed, indeed, to be privy to the knowledge of the harvest message which helps us unlock the mysteries of his chapter. We NEED the information contained herein for our soon-to-come experiences. We are grateful to God for providing it and for opening our eyes so that we can accept the messenger who delivers the information. We do not in any way wish to be inappropriate in our use of the messenger. (Rev 19:10; 22:8, 9) But we DO want to know who he is so that we can receive what he has to deliver.