Revelation chapter 17 is an interesting chapter. We have been guessing at its meaning for several years much like we have done with Daniel chapter 11. It is best not to be dogmatic in our views on chapters like these. But it is certainly worth our time to study them and compare what they say to what is happening in our world.
One thing I believe I can say with 100% certainty is that this chapter cannot be explained like we have done for the past hundred years plus. Theologians and evangelists have concluded that the heads and kings that are talked about in this chapter refer to nations. Not all have agreed to which nations they refer to, but most everyone conclude they represent nations.
This is an impossibility for the simplest of reasons. It is a matter of grammar, grade school grammar actually. Let me explain.
In verse one an angel came and talked to John telling him that he was there to show him the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters. One thing we can all agree upon is that this entity is the papacy. Each succeeding verse gives us identifying marks that can only fit the Roman Catholic Church.
The angel leaves no stone unturned in identifying the subject entity of this message. Just listen to the descriptions from verse two onward. Kings of the earth have committed fornication with her and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
Verse three John is taken off into vision seeing a woman sitting on a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. Verse four gives a clear picture of what this woman looks like. Verse five she is called Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.
Again the language is so clear to who is being referred to in these verses. But that isn't enough yet. Verse six tells about how the woman was drunken with the blood of the saints. A persecuting power she has been above all other powers.
As we get to verse seven we must begin to think grammatically. The angel tells John not to marvel for he is going to tell him the mystery of this woman. There is no shift in the subject entity of this message. We know that we are still talking about the papacy. The angel is going to reveal some things about the papacy.
And if that isn't enough verse eight gives us more information about this entity and does it twice. He tells about how the beast was and was not and yet is again. This of course is telling us about how the papacy came into existence officially in 538 A.D and how is received a deadly wound in 1798 A.D. with the pope taken captive. It looked like the end of the papacy. But it would come back to life in 1929 when a pope was reinstated to his throne, but not only as head of the Catholic Church, but also as king of a nation the Vatican.
Verse nine continues with no shift in subject matter. It starts out by saying, "And here is the mind which hath wisdom." It is as if the angel is telling John and us, pay attention for I am now going to give you the information about this entity I told you I was going to. Grammatically there is no shift to let us know that we will now talk about the rise and fall of nations.
Anybody who has ever been given his first writing assignment will have to have had enough training grammatically to know what is happening here.
Whatever we want to believe about this chapter we must know that these heads and kings in verses nine and ten cannot refer to kingdoms, especially to kingdoms that existed long before the Vatican ever came into existence. It is a grammatical impossibility.
Once anyone finally accepts that FACT it tells us we must look at this chapter in a different way that we always have.
Anybody who has heard me preach on this chapter knows that I believe that the kings and heads actually refer to the popes that have reigned at the Papacy since 1929.
And so let's go back to verse 9 where it says, "And here is the mind which hath wisdom…." That's one of God's way of saying, what you are about to hear is really important. In this chapter it is the information about the Papacy that the angel had come to share.
And he first says, "the seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth." And there have been some concerns that heads and mountains and kings relate to nations rather than to human beings.
First of all I disagree, but it doesn't really matter in a way to which we will see in a little bit. But first of all, mountains; how are mountains referred to in the Bible? Take a concordance and look up mountains and most of the time the Bible is just referring to some real mountains some place.
Some places such as Ezekiel 6 verses 2 and 3 where mountains are used symbolically all commentators agree that they are used to direct a message to people, thus mountains representing people. Such as where it says, "Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord…." Pretty clear mountains are used this way symbolically.
I didn't find any place where mountains refer to nations, though if such a text does exist it doesn't matter as we shall see.
Next heads are referred to as people in Daniel chapter 7 in describing the leopard beast it said it had four heads which we have always recognized as 4 genuine Generals to which we know by name. And then in Revelation we know of the verse where it says of the Papacy that one of its heads would be wounded. And we have always equated that to the pope who was taken captive and died in captivity. So, yes heads do equate to people in the Bible.
Some will say that heads equate to nations and for an example is found in Daniel 2 where Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar in verse 38 that "thou art this head of gold." I think our Adventist Commentary says it best when it says that Daniel was saying that King Nebuchadnezzar "personified" the nation of Babylon.
Such as many Republicans might say of Ronald Raegan that he personified the United States, that He was America. But of course Reagan was not America, he only stood for what many think America should stand for etc.
But again, whether you can find where heads equate to nations and people it really doesn't matter. And the same goes for kings. Kings always relate to people in the Bible.
One time it seems to not do so and that is found in Daniel chapter 7 verse 17. It says that "these four beasts earlier described in this chapter are which are four, are four kings….." The original word in the Aramaic or Hebrew language seems to say kings, whereas in the Septuagint it is translated kingdoms into Greek and into English. Whether the translators here were working off a different early manuscript or they just looked at the chapter and realized that the four beasts earlier and later in this same chapter are always referred to as nations and just made the correction I do not know. But again it doesn't matter because Revelation chapter 17 DEFINES how these words should be used.
Can I say that again? If mountains, heads and kings are used in a dual way in the Bible, which I do not believe they do, but if they are it doesn't matter because chapter 17 DEFINES their use here. Let me explain.
The first 11 verses the angel painstakingly makes sure that we know the main subject of these verses is the Papacy as we have made clear earlier. She describes it as the whore or prostitute, the Mother of Harlots and the Beast. We know it is the Papacy.
And the angel is here to tell us something new about this power. And when the angel gets down to the nitty gritty of the message he lets us know by saying in verse 9 "and here is the mind which hath wisdom."
So he says of this entity, the Papacy that the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth. And verse 10 "there are seven kings."
The angel is explaining something about the Papacy. That sentence is important. Let me say it again. The angel is explaining something about the Papacy. Is that clear? There is nothing in these two verses about changing the subject matter of his message, it is still the Papacy. I mean I would pause as long as it takes if someone could share with me where in these few sentences there is a shift in who we are talking about.
The angel is going to share something about the Papacy.
So let me ask, does the Papacy have 7 nations? Does she possess 7 kingdoms? No. The Papacy is one nation, the smallest nation on earth.
Revelation 17 defines how these words need to be translated or what they relate to and I can assure you it is not ancient kingdoms.
Grammatically in the English and the Greek languages it cannot be explained that these heads and kings equate to ancient kingdoms. I know enough about grammar to realize that. So grammatically it is impossible little lone hermeneutically.
The Papacy has 7 heads or kings. Let me know if you can see anything in these verses where all of a sudden the angel shifts his message to ancient kingdoms, the rise and fall of nations. It is just not there. I've read and re-read these verses over the past 30 some years and it's just not there.
Again the time frame is given to us in verse 8 just before the angel tells us that here is the mind which hath wisdom. For he describes the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. When is the beast yet is? 1929 a pope was reinstated to power and the deadly wound was healed.
From 1929 there will be 7 heads or kings. Popes have always been the head of the church. One of its heads was wounded.
But it was only in 1929 that the Pope became a king. In the Lateran Treaty the Vatican became a nation and the pope became a king. He is head and king of a religious/political power.
Now here is something that blew me away. I cannot explain why I hadn't looked at this before except I just accepted how it read in the King James Version and other versions also.
If you are starting to nod or lose attention, please watch this. It is amazingly important. Verse 10 reads in the King James version "And there are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space."
This is one of the major reasons that interpreters have tried to say that we need to relate to this chapter from the time that John is writing this for they say that at that time 5 have fallen.
Listen, watch this, don't miss it. The Greek does not say that. Literally it says "THE FIVE FALL."
Not have fallen, or fell, but THE FIVE FALL. From when do they fall? Well, we could add the word have and change fall to fallen, but that would change the literal rendition of this text and we must not do something like that. We could add the word will fall. The five will fall. That doesn't change the literal word that is used. And we can also know it is future by the rest of the verse itself.
First of all we know because the angel gives us a time reference when he says I'm getting ready to tell you something very important about this beast that was and is not, and yet is. When the beast yet is, now I'm telling you something about it.
The five will fall starting from 1929.
And the rest of this verse bears that concept out. For it says next that after the five fall there will be one that IS. The first five popes starting with 1929 came and went with not a lot for us to remember.
But the sixth one, the one that IS, is the one that is and is and is, he lasted for such a long time, a greater portion of my adult life did Pope John Paul II reign and he reigned as the most world- wide influential popes of all popes. I don't think there will be any argument against that.
And then after the sixth that is listen to how God's amazing masterpiece of words tells it. The one after that one that is the Greek literally says "whenever" he does come, whenever he finally comes he will only be for a brief time period or a short space.
Again amazingly applicable to Pope Benedict, even touted as the pope that would reign only a short time when he was placed in his position as pope. Even when he resigned it was again mentioned again and again that he reigned only a short time in regards to papal reigns. There have been other popes who reigned shorter times but in comparison to his predecessor his was a very brief time and this point is emphasized I believe in the fact that he resigned and didn't reign until he dies.
But that is not the end. There is an eighth. Only the eighth is not described just as a king, but as the beast.
Verse 11 says, "And the beast that was, and is not, …. What? It stops, doesn't go on to say the beast is again.
So it describes the eighth as the beast in its state when it had received the deadly wound. There was no head or king officially in the position of a pope during that time from 1798 to 1929. And again I say who was manning the ship during this time? The beast, the old dragon kept the papacy alive to where the deadly wound would be healed.
This dragon will be the eighth, but also out of the seven. Literally says out of the seven, not of the seven. So the eighth will not only be like the dragon, but he will be one who comes out of the 7. He comes out of the 7 just as the 7th came out of the six and the same as the sixth came out of the five. They had their elections and when they chose a pope the smoke went up the chimney as usual.
The eighth is a dual being in essence. And I wondered for over 30 years, how in the world will this happen.
I remember it somewhere around the noon hour and several of us in the office were dispersing, going different directions and Melissa our secretary had gone out to her car.
She pops out of her car and says the news just said that there has been a new pope chosen.
And I thought, well, it did seem like a very normal election just like I thought it would be and said it would be. Nothing unusual about it. UNTIL
Until I heard her say next, the new pope is a Jesuit priest. And I ran to my computer and looked up Jesuit priest and my legs began to shake. What an amazing fulfillment of God's Word here in chapter 17.
Jesuit priests commit themselves to doing the will of the dragon fully. They yield themselves so fully to this end that it says they become as a corpse, so as to have no mind of their own.
All I could say to myself over and over is how amazing you are God, how amazing, to such detail and each detail being fulfilled to a T.
Now, does Pope Francis act like the dragon? Well, not if you buy into the way the world projects him to look with pitchfork in hand and long tail and horns in his fancy red jumpsuit.
But he does act like the dragon did when he came to Eve in the garden of Eden. "Did God say you cannot eat of this tree? Oh you poor thing, I am come to help the poor, I am come to help you. You can become as God when you eat, look at me, how beautiful I am, a flying serpent and able to speak. I'm here to help you, you poor thing.
He comes the same way the dragon came to Jesus in the wilderness, to help the poor. Coming to Jesus he says, in essence, "oh you poor man, look how hungry you are, almost unto death. I have come to help the poor and you need my help.
Then he says, If you are the Son of God. No, he doesn't say IF…. You are the son of God like we often hear preachers say it. But I'm sure rather casual, If you are the Son of God just command these stones to be turned into bread and think how that will impress the people of your power. I have come to help the poor and you are in a poor state.
Does it sound a bit familiar? Pope Frances has come to help the poor seems to be his forte.
The oath that Jesuit priests take doesn't tell them to come onto people in a militant fashion, but infiltrate all these different groups of people by becoming one of them as much as you can until you can influence them the way the church wants them to be influenced.
And once you have them, wham the cast iron gate will close forever able not to be opened.
Listen to a portion of the commitments Jesuits make. "My son, heretofore you have been taught to act the dissembler: among Roman Catholics to be a Roman Catholic, and to be a spy even among your own brethren; to believe no man, to trust no man. Among the Reformers, to be a reformer; among the Huguenots, to be a Huguenot; among the Calvinists, to be a Calvinist; among other Protestants, generally to be a Protestant, and obtaining their confidence, to seek even to preach from their pulpits, and to denounce with all the vehemence in your nature our Holy Religion and the Pope; and even to descend so low as to become a Jew among Jews, that you might be enabled to gather together all information for the benefit of your Order as a faithful soldier of the Pope."
One more little section. As I read this you decide if you think they are surrendering to the higher power that is God or that of the old dragon. "I furthermore promise and declare that I will, when opportunity present, make and wage relentless war, secretly or openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Liberals, as I am directed to do, to extirpate and exterminate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex or condition; and that I will hang, waste, boil, flay, strangle and bury alive these infamous heretics, rip up the stomachs and wombs of their woman and crush their infants' heads against the walls, in order to annihilate forever their execrable race." Oh it goes on and on believe me.
It is my firm belief that the eighth is here and in place. You can believe what you want to. I won't tell you that you have to believe everything I've just shared.
Weigh the evidence for yourself and then choose. Don't take any preacher's word for it; surely don't take my word without studying it out for yourself. Just think how many thousands of preachers have read this text, probably into the hundreds of thousands of times that says "five have fallen," and state something like that is the way it is. When in actuality it isn't the way it is.
We've been rather dogmatic in the past that this chapter can only be explained by going back to explain these kings and heads starting with ancient kingdoms.
It's kind of been like the world before Columbus. The world is flat. But someone comes along and says no I don't think the world is flat. Of course many would no doubt have said, but we have always believed the world is flat and that's the way it is.
I am just saying, I think we need to weigh the evidence to see if that is the way to explain this chapter. I personally find no evidence to do that, but you need to decide for yourself.
Are we getting closer to the coming of Jesus? You don't need Revelation chapter 17 to tell you that.
Look at the world around us; is it kind of like screaming to us that the end is near? Almost every week another country gives way to gay rights.
Were gay rights the issue of the day when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed?
What about our church; does it give evidence that we are nearing the end? You know I just heard last week from a pastor who was talking with some young workers in our conference, people getting paid by the NCC who do not believe the Bible bans homosexuality.
I'm sure I mentioned this once before but within 10 years half of the ministers in the SDA Church will have retired. Now, normally that wouldn't be anything to be concerned about. In fact it would be great to have a whole new force of young and vitally energetic workers for the Lord in the field.
But many of our new workers and ministers come with a drum set strapped to their hips for their church sanctuary. Too many come with the idea that it is okay to go to Starbucks on Sabbath and the like. Too many come on board that do not believe that the world was created in 6 days, because of what they have been taught in our schools. And of course all too many don't hardly know anything about the spirit of prophecy.
Do we possibly think that even our own church will last another 20 years at this rate? The good news is though that it will go through to the very end and be victorious.
I kind of think that if the prophet Daniel could come and speak in many of our churches he would look around and say, why aren't you asking me the question of what does this mean. I can tell you why you aren't asking me the question because you don't even see it, the handwriting on the wall.
I believe the handwriting on every wall is telling us get your lives in order for Jesus is coming soon. No, we don't know a day or hour and not even a year or even a decade, but we better begin to realize it will be soon.
When the Sunday laws are passed will we know that we are really getting close? I would imagine most of us at least in the back of our minds have thought when the Sunday laws come there is probably less than 5 years left until Jesus comes. God does try to let us know how close we are getting.
How do we prepare? It isn't by seeking a religion where we follow God with any self-centered ideas still dominating our lives.
And I think we had better stop being so political that we are blinded to the issues. I hear so many people who express their thoughts that they believe this president is going to inflict martial law on us and become like a dictator and Sunday laws will immediately follow.
That's not how we have been told it will happen. Elder Frazee in his book "Coming Events and Crisis at the Close" rightly points this out by saying, "As the Sunday Law is passed, it is going to be passed by U.S. Legislators, not by a dictator seizing power. It is going to be an actual legislative act. The legislators are going to be called upon to take their position, and it will be by pressure." And then he quotes Testimonies for the Church Vol 5, p. 450 "To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday Law."
Yes friends, I think we had better begin to be very serious about our relationship with God. Is it one like the antediluvians had before the flood or those living in Sodom before its destruction, or even like the disciples had before they were really converted? If it is any way like that, instead of us weighing the evidence and coming to the right conclusions, we will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.
We should be asking what must we do to be saved? What should we be looking for, pomp and pleasure? Listen to the Word of the Lord in D.A. p. 354,"But under loss and suffering, even unto death, the Lord's children are to reveal the meekness of their divine Example."
A religion that only looks to be blessed instead of asking what we can do to be a blessing is lacking. Jesus will come soon. What should we be doing?
Whenever we took a trip when our children were little they of course like all children they would ask, are we getting close yet?
When we would finally get pretty close to our destination Dorreen would tell them that we are getting close enough that they can start getting excited.
That's where I think we are with the world and the second coming of Christ, we had better realize it is close enough to start getting excited. May God help us to that end is my prayer.