Cover to Cover
THE HARLOT: Rome
One of the bowl angels shows John the judgment of the harlot. The harlot is Rome, perhaps a literal place. Others believe it is symbolic of God’s judgment on all nations that have risen and fallen. In verse 4 she is arrayed with wealth and power. She holds a golden cup of abominations, representing her wickedness. She was drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. In verse 5 she had a name on her forehead. In ancient Rome, a prostitute would wear a label with their names on their forehead as a way to identify them. Rome was identified as Babylon, kingdoms that came against God and His people.
In verse 10, this kingdom has seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. When he comes, he will continue a short time. Some believe the kings are emperors over Rome. Others believe they are kingdoms that have ruled over the Jews. If they are kingdoms, the fallen are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and the Greeks. Rome was the kingdom in power in John’s day. In 70 AD the Jews dispersed and were not allowed to enter Jerusalem. People debate over who the seventh kingdom would be, but many say it will be the 10 kings, or what some called a revived Roman Empire.
The eighth king is clearly the Antichrist, the beast. He takes over 3 of the 10 kings. We know the Antichrist is the eighth king, who comes from Roman descent (Daniel 9:26).
The harlot sits on many waters, representing the many people she is over. Her lovers are those kings that have committed fornication with the harlot (verses 1,15).
Then the angel carries John in the spirit to the wilderness. Here the woman rides on a beast, the Antichrist, with 7 heads and 10 horns.
The 10 horns are 10 leaders that we read about in Daniel 2:41-43, the 10 toes that are partially strong and partially weak. We know the Antichrist overtakes 3 of the leaders, probably the weak ones (Daniel 7:7, 20, 24). In addition to chapter 17, the ten horns are also mentioned in Revelation 12:3 and 13:1.
In Daniel 2:43, there is a reference to the leaders intermingling but not adhering to the seed of men. Perhaps this shows there is a shared bloodline of leaders.
In Revelation 17:12-13, the horns are ten leaders without a kingdom. They receive authority for one hour, or for a short time, as kings with the beast, the Antichrist. They hate Rome, and they come against her to make her desolate and naked, eating her flesh and burning her with fire (verse 16). My father has suggested that the Harlot could be the Vatican City, a symbol of Christianity.
Jesus is the Lamb. The Antichrist will make war with the Lamb at the battle of Armageddon.
Zechariah was a postexile prophet from one of the priestly families of Levi. He writes about the Lord remembering Zion. Zechariah uses the phrase, “The Lord of Hosts” 53 times in this book, referring to God’s authority over spiritual and natural armies. In addition, many of His prophecies are Messianic.
In chapter one, Zechariah recalls the Lord’s anger with previous generations that went into captivity, then calling on this generation to surrender to the Lord. Zechariah shares of 8 visions the first one in chapter one is of a man with four horses with a message of God’s mercy on Jerusalem. He also has a vision of four horns and four craftsmen with a message of casting out those who scattered the Jews.
Zechariah’s third vision is in chapter 2, a vision of the measuring line, a message that God would protect Jerusalem. Then he gives a prophecy of a future joy of Zion and how many nations will be joined to the Lord in that day.
Zechariah’s fourth vision is in chapter 3, a vision of the high priest, Joshua, a prophecy of Christ, the Branch, coming to save. In prophecy, a branch signified another leader coming to power in the lineage of the Jews.