In Revelation 16:19 "great Babylon was remembered before God to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath". The wrath of the Lamb is over with the pouring out of the seven last plagues (Revelaton 15:1 with 16:17). But now the "fierceness" of God's wrath is about to take place. See Appendix 1 entitled The Wrath of the Lamb and the Telescopic Concept where we see that the "wrath of the Lamb" and the "fierceness of His wrath" are two separate but subsequent events. In the chronological story-flow of the Book of Revelation "the fierceness of His wrath" takes place at Revelation 19:11. But before John continues with the chronological story we have a retro-prospective telescopic prophecy - Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 19:10. In this section we have the retrospective aspect which brings us up to date on just who and what is Babylon and why it is to be destroyed. In the prospective aspect there is the rejoicing over the fall of Babylon and the beginning of the reign of Christ, and the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb, before John returns to the chronological story of the book of Revelation.
"So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet covered beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns" (Revelation 17:3).
Following in the progressive revealing of prophetic detail Revelation 17 and 18 provides more information on the beast and the events of "the last days" - the end-time.
The beast is the main subject of chapter 17 as we see from the amount of material devoted to him in the interpretation. But we also see a woman sitting on the beast. In Biblical symbolism a woman may represent:
(1) a church:
In Ephesians 5:22-32 Paul reveals that the ideal relationship between a husband and wife is the type of the great antitypical relationship between Christ and the Church. By extension then a woman is a type or a symbol of a church. With the description of the woman as a harlot in Revelation 17:1, we conclude that the typical secondary interpretation of the woman is of a great false church; or
(2) a kingdom or its capital city (as a king and kingdom are used interchangeably so may a capital city and its kingdom).
Nahum in his "burden" (Nahum 1:1) against Nineveh the capital city of the Assyrian empire said:
"Woe to the bloody city! It is full of lies and robbery. Its victims never departs... the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, who sells nations through her harlotries, and families through her sorceries" (Nahum 3:1,4).
The primary interpretation of the woman is of a great godless city/kingdom, as we will see.
Revelation 17 is telescopic prophecy in that there are two woman telescopic together as if they were one and the same. (One woman is destoyed in Revelation 17 while the other is destroyed in Revelation 18.The great godless city is telescoped together with a great false church, the secondary interpretation of the woman, because of a close connection in character. (See also the two women of Revelation 12 - God's kingdom of Israel is telescoped together with His Church - the Israel of God).
"The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery:
Babylon the Great
The Mother of Harlots
And the Abominations of the Earth"
(This verse is a combination of the NRSV and NKJV of Revelation 17:4-5).
"Babylon" is the mysterious or figurative name for both the kingdom and the church, for their true nature is not recognised by the world as such. Though they may appear noble they are in fact the opposite. So we now need to know what Babylon stands for. Following the formula of retro-prospective prophecies we will now look at the city of Babylon retrospectively.
The Bible speaks of three ages. The age we are living in now extends post-flood to the return of Jesus Christ. Babylon, the first city in this age, is associated with rebellion against God:
"Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled their...Then they said, "Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens... The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them... So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. This is why it was called Babel - because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world" (Genesis 11:1-9, NIV).
"As early as Genesis 3, the author has shown his interest in marking the directions of travel taken in man's search for a home. When the man and his wife were driven from the garden because they had chosen the knowledge of good and evil for themselves, they were made to settle in a land "eastward"...from the garden (3:24). When Cain was cast out from the presence of God because he refused God's instruction, he dwelt in a land "east of Eden" (qidmat, 4:16). When Lot divided from Abraham and sought for himself a land "like the garden of the Lord," he moved "towards the east"...while Abraham remained in the land (13:10-12).
"In light of such intentional uses of the notion of "eastward" within the Genesis narratives, we can see that here too the author intentionally draws the story of the founding of Babylon into the larger scheme at work throughout the book. It is a scheme that contrasts God's way of blessing (e.g., Eden and the Promised Land) with man's own attempt to find the "good." In the Genesis narratives, when man goes "east," he leaves the land of blessing (Eden and the Promised Land) and goes to a land where the greatest of his hopes will turn to ruin (Babylon and Sodom)" (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 2, page 104).
In Genesis 10 we have an example of a ruler that mankind hopes will lead it to "Eden". The first post-flood kingdom was established by Nimrod, the world's first dictator. One of the chief cities of that kingdom was Babel or Babylon:
"Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh..." (Genesis 10:8-10).
Below are four views on these verses:
"Altogether, the Scripture account conveys the impression that he was a remarkable man, who, along with the possession of physical qualities, such as extraordinary strength and stature, which procured him the epithet of Hebrew Gibbor, the 'mighty'..., was endowed also with great energy of mind. It is a laconic and very significant account, and evidently implies that, like the apostles, who were first fishers, then fishers of men, Nimrod, from being a mighty hunter of beasts, became a mighty ruler of men, giving laws, maintaining military discipline, and establishing a political organization. In short he laid the foundation of his great authority and dominion in the same way as the Assyrian and Persian monarchs, at a later date, were trained to war and government, by hunting in the field. He impressed his own character upon the age" (Robert Jamieson, Genesis, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, by Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, Volume 1, Part 1, page 113).
"Nimrod looks out of antiquity as the first of 'the great men that are in the earth', remembered for two things the world admires, personal prowess and political power. The Bible does not underrate them: there is warmth in the reiteration before the Lord (9), marking God's estimate of his skill" <cp. Ezekiel 28:3-6> - "it is more than a mere formula. At the same time there is a tragic irony (that is, irony not yet apparent in the story) in the note of his further exploits: The beginning of his kingdom was Babel... The next chapter, and the further progress of Babel (Babylon) to the catastrophe of Revelation 18, add their comment to the tale of earthly success" (Derek Kidner, Genesis, Tyndale, page 107).
"Nimrod, the founder of the first imperial kingdom" (C. F. Keil, Genesis, Volume 1 - Pentateuch, Commentary on the New Testament, Keil and Delitzsch, page 104), is a type of the Beast and his empire.
"The deliberate association of Assyria with Babylon (vv.10-12) is also significant... By means of this narrative insertion, then, the author has not only introduced a key city, Babylon, but has taken Assyria out of its natural associations ... and given it a new identification with the city of Babylon. Thus the author has opened the way for an association and identification of any city with the city of Babylon. These appear to be the initial stirrings of a "larger than life" symbolic value for the city of Babylon, one known in the Book of Isaiah (chs.13-14, where Assyria is identified with Babylon) and fully developed in the image of "MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT" in Revelation 17:5). The prophet Micah can already speak of Assyria as the "land of Nimrod" (Micah 5:6)" (Sailhamer, pages 100-101).
"Babylon on the Euphrates...from the time of Nimrod downwards has been the symbol of the power of the world in its hostility to God" (Jamieson, page 105). The ancient city of Babylon has in effect symbolically reigned over this "world". Babylon has given birth to all God-opposing secular and religious systems of this age, hence she is "the mother of harlots and the abominations of the earth". As Eve "was the mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20), Babylon, as the first rebellious city after the flood, is the mother of all rebellion against God.
BABYLON THE GREAT
"When 10 new countries join the European Union on 1 May, they bring with them an extra nine languages to add to the EU's existing 11... with 20, Europe's tower of Babel is creaking.
"Twenty languages gives a total of 190 possible combinations (English-German, French-Czech, Finnish-Portuguese, etc), and finding any human being who speaks, for example, both Greek and Estonian or Slovene and Lithuanian is well-nigh impossible..." (Angus Roxburgh, Translating is EU's new boom industry, bbc.co.uk, April 8, 2004).
There is yet still one last system that Babylon will give birth to - "Babylon the Great". Babylon the Great refers to the Babylonian system fully developed in its most God-opposing extreme in the last three and a half years of this age. In Appendix 1
we developed the concept of a certain period of time followed subsequently by a short concentrated period of that time:
The wrath of the Lamb - 1 year
The 'fierceness' of His wrath - 1 day
The day of the Lord - 1 year
That 'great day' of the Lord - 1 day
So with Babylon. Post-flood to the last three and a half years of this age we consider to be the time of Babylon with the last forty-two months being the time of Babylon the Great. All empires up to the last 1260 days are 'Babylonian' in nature while the last empire is Babylon the Great fully developed in its most God-opposing extreme at the end of the age.
From Isaiah 24 we could say that the whole world is Babylon. It would appear that through the influence that Babylon the Great is able to project, the world comes together in a way that has not been seen since before the scattering at the tower of Babel.
The city of Babylon is associated with the Babylonian empire just as Nineveh was with Assyria, and Rome with the Roman empire. Through the figure of speech synecdoche the capital and the empire may be used interchangeably.
We see a related concept of the connection between a city and a nation in a figurative sense with the two witnesses:
"When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is caused Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified" (Revelation 11:7-8).
The great city is literally called Jerusalem but it is also figuratively or spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.
The city of Jerusalem is figuratively called a nation, that is Egypt. This concept may then be applied in reverse where a nation or empire may be figuratively called a city. Therefore we may conclude that 'Babylon the Great' may refer to the empire or the city that represents that empire in the end-time.
In the time of the near-future fulfilment of John's prophecies Rome and the Roman Empire were the contemporary representatives of the great city. This is reflected in the literature of the time: "Babylon was a term used by both Jew and Christians for Rome" (Alan F. Johnson, Revelation, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 12, page 554).
The final European kingdom during its final stage of three and a half years is in reality "Babylon the Great". But which city will be the capital of this empire?
From the Book of Daniel we interpreted that the "king of the North" will plant his tabernacle in Jerusalem (Daniel 11:45). The "king of the North" is the Antichrist. As we saw earlier Bullinger defined the 'Antichrist' as "an opponent of Christ; that which sets itself in the place of Christ, which appears as Christ in opposition to Christ..."
In another parody of Jesus Christ Jerusalem will be the Antichrist's capital city.
The city of Babylon, which represents rebellion against God since the flood, in its final 'great' stage supplants God's city Jerusalem. As the Antichrist opposes Christ as Christ so Babylon opposes Jerusalem as Jerusalem.
From Revelation we saw that Jerusalem is figurative called 'Sodom and Egypt' (Revelation 11:7-8) and by implication from Revelation 17 it will be a harlot city. In Isaiah 1 under the kings of Judah the city is also referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah (v.10) and a harlot (v.21). So Jerusalem as the capital city of the beast will display all these characters in its most God-defying development.
What city may be the capital of the seventh head, prior to Jerusalem? There are a number of possible candidate cities in Europe. We suggest three here. In the six heads or empires of the beast-system the capital cities of these empires were basically outside of Italy. With a German/Assyrian being the ruler of this final empire Berlin, because of its associated with Adolf Hitler, may or may not be disqualified. An alternative may be Vienna. Adolf Hitler said of that city:
"... Vienna presented an appearance which made one think of her as an enthroned queen whose authoritative sway united the conglomeration of heterogeneous nationalities that lived under the Habsburg sceptre" (Desmond Seward, Napoleon and Hitler, page 35).
Perhaps, following the desire of Otto III, Rome may be the capital until the beast-person transfers it to the Holy Land.
BABYLONIAN RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS
"... the great harlot who sits on may waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (Revelation 17:1b-2).
Wine, it could be argued, is a symbol for doctrines - both secular and religious. Babylon has been the fountain head for all political, economic, and religious systems that have seduced mankind. Babylon therefore has sat symbolically over all nations and empire ever since its rebellion. Babylon has symbolically sat on all the kingdoms that have come out of the Roman empire. One of the major conduits of these Babylonian doctrines has been another woman - the Roman Catholic Church. While the ancient city of Babylon has figuratively sat on the "beasts", the Roman Catholic Church, the other woman, has been carried by the fourth beast.
"I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus..." (Revelation 17:6).
With the city and the church being represented by a woman and the similarity in character and operation they are telescoped together as if they are one and the same.
The city of Babylon is the antitype, with the Roman Catholic Church the type. The Catholic Church is a subset of the city of Babylon. The Roman Catholic Church has wrapped the forms of paganism in Christian garb. The Catholic Church is the most important religious system through which the ancient city of Babylon has been able to project its influence in the world for at least the last fifteen hundred years. Why do we say that? The Roman Catholic Church has been Babylon's main religious vehicle used against God's true church and the Jewish people. (The Roman empire and its revivals have been the main secular Babylonian instrument). The Catholic Church is considered to be the mother of the Protestant Churches hence she can also be said to be a 'mother of harlots'. These two women have also been responsible for the death of the saints.
The Roman Catholic Church is the great Babylonian counterfeit of God's true Church and the Antichrist and Babylon the Great are the great counterfeit of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Just as the Catholic Church has taken pagan customs and transformed them into supposedly Christian forms so the Antichrist will present himself as the true Christ but his kingdom will be inwardly Babylonian.
Many believe that the Roman Catholic Church is Christ's true church. These people are unfortunately deceived. George Bailey succinctly points how this works:
"The Greek word...to slander, originally meant to deceive, literally "to throw across," that is, to take something out of its proper context and it put it somewhere else where it did not belong but would appear to belong" (Germans: Biography of an Obsession, page 426).
The Catholic Church and traditional Christianity have adopted pagan customs which they have dressed-up so that they appear as Christian. For instance:
"One of the best known festivals of ancient Rome was the Saturnalia, a winter festival on December 17-24. Because it was a time of wild merrymaking and domestic celebrations, businesses, schools, and law courts were closed so that the public could feast, dance, gamble, and generally enjoy itself to the fullest. December 25...<was>...the birthday of Mithra, the Iranian god of light and a day devoted to the invincible sun... On the Roman New Year (January 1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to the children and the poor... The day of Christmas was purposely fixed on December 25 to push into the background the great festival of the sun god, and Epiphany on January 6 to supplant an Egyptian festival of the same day. The Easter ceremonies rivalled the pagan spring festivals. The religious art of the Christians continued the pagan art of the preceding generations. The Christian representations of the Madonna and child are clearly the continuation of the representations of Isis and her son suckling her breast. The statue of the Good Shepherd carrying his lost sheep and the pastoral themes on Christian sarcophagi were also taken over from pagan craftsmanship" (EBritannica, Sacred Rites and Ceremonies, Christmas, Mystery Religions).
Even though people may have good intentions - "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" - and believe that they are worshipping God they have to get the form correct as well as the substance. There is a proper form to be observed in serving God:
"...take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way..." (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
"He <Jesus Christ> answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me, And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Mark 7:6-7).
So if around 950 million Roman Catholics believe that their church is the true church and that around 1.7 billion 'Christians' believe that they are worshipping God by keeping Sunday, Christmas and Easter, all of pagan origin, how much so will the Antichrist, who parodies Jesus Christ, be believed when the restraint is taken away (2 Thessalonians 2:6) and Satan the great deceiver is given relative free reign.
We saw earlier with Constantine that "while the emperor cult was continued, it was given a Christian interpretation and surrounded with Christian ceremonial". So the Antichrist is going to appear to be like Christ but the civil and religious forms of his kingdom will be pagan.
"Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord's hand, That made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; Therefore the nations are deranged" (Jeremiah 51:7).
The woman in the vision of Revelation 17:1-6 primarily describes Babylon the Great, the city as it represents the empire of the Antichrist in the last three and a half years of this age. (This is similar to Nineveh representing the Assyrian empire). This is in fact the ancient city of Babylon exerting its influence in its most God-opposing extreme at the end of this age. (The Roman system could be likened to the hardware of a computer and the Babylonian religious and secular doctrines to its operating system). In the secondary sense of these verses the woman pictures the Roman Catholic Church in type, though the Catholic Church will have ceased to exist around the beginning of the three and a half year tribulation, which closes this age.
"...And when I saw her, I marvelled with great amazement. But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? 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" (Revelation 17:6b-7).
When John saw the woman he "wondered with great admiration" (AV) The people who go along with this religious political-system will be enamoured of her because they will share in her prosperity (cp. Revelation 18:3). They are symbolic said to be "drunk with the wine of her fornication" (Revelation 17:2). The religious and secular doctrines of this system seem to underpin their own prosperity.
This Babylonian civil and religious system will not be seen by the world for its true character. The world in general does not realise that the Roman Catholic Church is a Babylonian counterfeit of Christ's true church nor will the world at large see the coming civil-religious empire as a Babylonian counterfeit of the kingdom of God.
Now that we have come to the explanation of the vision we need to keep in mind that in the chronological story flow of the book of Revelation we have come to the point where the beast and the kings of the earth have gathered together at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) and are preparing to fight the soon returning Jesus Christ. This is the time that "great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath" (Revelation 16:19). In the retrospective update on why Babylon is to receive God's wrath every event referred to in Revelation 17, except one, has already taken place.
"The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is" (Revelation 17:8).
In the explanation of the vision the angel uses the formula "that/which/whom you saw" to introduce four of the five subjects for interpretation.
So in verse 8 we have "the beast that you saw" which, from the context, we conclude is the Antichrist:
"..."once was, now is not, and will come out of the Abyss"...is an obvious parody of the Lamb, who was put to death yet came back to life and now is alive forevermore (1:18; 2:18). The description is also an intentional antithesis to the One "who is, and who was, and is to come" (1:4, 8; 4:8)...It is this incredible power of resuscitation that causes the inhabitants of the earth to stand in awe. He is the beast of chapter 13 who has received a death-stroke in one of his heads and yet survived (13:3, 12, 14)" (Robert H. Mounce, Revelation, New International Commentary on the New Testament, page 314).
(With the concept of 'king' and 'empire' used interchangeably the beast-person is also described by the system he represents - "the scarlet beast...having seven heads and the ten horns" (Revelation 17:3b). Satan, the "fiery red dragon", is also described as "having seven heads and ten horns" (Revelation 12:3). (cp. Christ, "the Lamb", being described as "having seven horns and seven eyes" (Revelation 5:6)).
In the explanation so far the beast-person has yet to recover from his deadly wound. Seeing that the saints are not given over to the beast till his reappearance and that three out of the four remaining explanations refer to events after the beast reappears it would appear that we are to interpret the vision of Revelation 17:1-6 as primarily picturing the Antichrist, and his Babylonian kingdom, in the last three and a half years of this age and persecuting the saints.
THE SEVEN HEADS
"Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition..." (Revelation 17:9-11).
In verse 9 we are introduced to the explanation of the 'heads' but there is a different introductory formula: "Here is the mind which has wisdom". Verse 9 also introduces another concept. Revelation 17:9-17 deals with the other woman, the Roman Catholic Church, and its relationship with the beast-system.
As with telescopic prophecy it is not readily apparent that there has been a change of subject. But we are alerted to the fact that there is more to this section than meets the eye by "Here is the mind which has wisdom". In this sense it has a cryptic formula as appeared to be the case with the "know therefore and understand" of Daniel 9:25.
We believe that verses 9-11 are in the form of a riddle such as the one posed by Samson (Judges 14:4). "Riddle" in Hebrew is "hida...an enigmatic saying, question, or story whose meaning must be determined by the audience" (Edwin Yamauchi, Riddle, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume 1, page 267). We saw this Hebrew word earlier in Daniel 8:23. Hence it requires a "mind which has wisdom". Earlier in Revelation 13:18 wisdom was also required to calculate the number of the beast.
Here is a mind (Greek = nous) which has
wisdom (Greek = sophia).
Here is wisdom (sophia). Let him who has understanding (nous).
We believe the explanation is an enigmatic way of saying that the seven heads/kingdoms are successive and that 'the' beast is associated with the seventh kingdom, which "must continue for a short time," but after his death and resurrection he forms a different type of kingdom.
The beast-person in verse 8, of this retro-prospective vision, is about to reappear on the political and religious scene as the eighth king. This eighth king belongs to the seventh kingdom, therefore the sixth, and the seventh head for all intents and purposes, is over. This is why we believe that the explanation of the heads is in riddle form.
The secondary interpretation of the seven mountains is the city of Rome. (Mountains being interpreted primarily as kingdoms/empires that came out of the Roman empire proper; (cp. Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 51:25; Daniel 2:35; Zechariah 4:7).
Rome during the monarchal period, which is considered to be from 753 to 510 BC, grew to where the city comprised seven hills on the left bank of the Tiber. According to tradition there were also seven kings who ruled successively during that period. There was also a "Septimontium or festival of the seven hills" (EBritannica, The Study of History: Ancillary fields: Chronology) which was associate geographically within the traditional seven hills which were surrounded by the so called Servian Wall.
Readers and hearers of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation through the centuries should have identified the seven mountains with the city of Rome and the false church that established its headquarters there. This would have been a source of encouragement to the true church of Jesus Christ down through the ages. The 'small flock' (Luke 12:30-32) has existed along side the fourth beast-system. With the true church trying to keep the Saturday-Sabbath, and other Biblical feasts as the best they understood them, they would have been encouraged to continue with the true faith when they associated the false church in Rome with pagan traditions.
THE TEN HORNS
The explanation of the ten horns is introduced by the same formula as the beast:
"The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them..." (Revelation 17:12-14).
We have seen from Daniel 7:24 that the little horn comes after the ten kings, and that in Revelation 17:8 he has suffered "the deadly wound". Therefore when it is said that the 10 kings have not yet received their kingdoms in Revelation 17:12 it is from the perspective of the reign of the sixth head. After the beast "ascends out of the bottomless pit" these 10 kings begin to work closely with him:
"...they receive authority for one hour ("one and the same hour" - Bullinger, Companion Bible, note on Rev 17:12) as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their authority to the beast (Rev 17:12b-13)... For God has put it into their hearts to fulfil His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled" (Revelation 17:17).
This is the time when Satan gives 'the beast' his power and great authority (Revelation 13:3). Now unrestrained 'the little horn':
"...shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done" (Daniel 11:36).
This will be the time when the 'image of the beast' is set up to worship the new god - the Antichrist. The Antichrist will not tolerate any competition and so he will destroy all religions including Roman Catholicism:
"And the tens 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. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfil His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled" (Revelation 17:16-17).
"The references to the prostitute being hated by her former lovers, stripped naked, and burned with fire are reminiscent of the OT prophets' descriptions of the divine judgment falling on the harlot cities of Jerusalem and Tyre (e.g. Ezek 16:39-40; 23:25-27; 28:18). The description of the punishment of convicted prostitutes who are priests' daughters (cf. Lev 21:9... is combined with the picture of judgment against rebellious cities (18:8)" (Alan Johnson, page 562).
(In modern vernacular to "eat her flesh" could be liken to "I will have you for breakfast").
All the kings of the 'heads' have used the Catholic Church for their own advantage. Hitler wanted to have a "great reckoning with the churches" but it is left up to the Antichrist to finally destroy Roman Catholicism and her daughter churches of traditional Christianity.
Napoleon's Italian campaign of 1796-97 is a mild forerunner of the final fate of the false church: "The churches were given up to indiscriminate plunder. Every religious and charitable fund, every public treasure was confiscated... The priests, the established form of worship, all the objects of religious reverence, were openly insulted by the French troops..." (Seward, pages 50-51).
The secular rulers will use the Catholic Church as the 'glue' to help hold Europe together until they are in position to do without her. Then the great false church, which has prostituted herself to paganism and to secular rulers so as to gain influence over "peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues" (Revelation 17:15) will receive her just reward. Then her lovers will replace the Catholic Church with the "image of the beast" as the unifying force for the reign of Babylon the Great. (See also the Old Testament typology of this latter event at the end of the section on Revelation 18).
"And the woman that you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (Revelation 17:18).
The prophecy telescopes backs here to the antitypical woman the city of Babylon - the primary woman of the vision. Ancient Babylon has exerted her influence on this world ever since she rebelled against God after the flood. Babylon the Great, the final manifestation of this God-opposing city in its greatest extreme, is now about to begin her three and a half year reign before she is also destroyed.
In the time of John and during the near-future typical fulfilment of the events of the Book of Revelation, the ancient city of Babylon's representative was Rome. The Roman Catholic Church, headquartered in Rome, has been involved with the seven kingdoms but now with the Catholic Church destroyed it opens the door for another city to be identified with the new religion of the Beast.
Satan has opposed the true church through the Roman Catholic Church, the Babylonian counterfeit headquartered in Rome. Now he does not need it because a counterfeit Christ and kingdom, headquartered in Jerusalem, will do it for him.
When the angel announces the Fall of Babylon (Revelation 18), two and a half years of the Tribulation has already passed. The year long day of the Lord is about to begin. In this retro-prospective prophecy the specific day of the Lord is described in only half a telescopic verse of this chapter.