Read: Revelation 17
I have to eat my hat. I have to take back some of what I wrote earlier. I counseled you not to get too caught up in trying to decode everything. I still maintain that advice in general. But in the 17th chapter some decoding is done for you; although whether such decoding is ultimately all that helpful or illuminating is questionable.
The angel who holds the 7th bowl tells John what some of the figures that he has seen mean. Nevertheless, connecting these figures with any exact historical characters remains a mystery. Who are the ten kings?
Some of the figures are more accessible. The seven heads of the beast upon which the great whore of Babylon sits is explained as seven hills; undoubtedly the seven hills upon which the city of Rome is built. But, is Rome the great villain of all of human history, or merely the opponent of the day; in John’s time? Does Rome, then, represent and encompass a bigger idea?
Perhaps it’s best simply to say these figures are representative of worldly powers and kingdoms, and that there are different manifestations of such in every day and age. This way the book can speak to all times.
The most interesting figure to me is the great harlot who sits on many waters. What does she represent? The many waters are tantalizing as a clue. Water-ways were the highways of commerce in the ancient world. Every great commercial city sat on the shore of the sea or on the edge of a river. Might the harlot represent the activity of commerce itself? It is she who leads us to believe that money makes the world go round. She seduces kings and the people of the world. Everyone buys into her sales pitch. Everybody wants to get rich.
In an earlier chapter we were shown that the mark of the beast became a requirement in order to conduct business; in order to play the game of commerce. I’m not making any definite assertions here, but I just wonder if anyone has thought about, in connection with this, the requirement to be vaccinated for covid in order to be allowed to go to work.