Ten horns for the beast power
"And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast." (Rev. 17:12, 13)
Seven kings, ten
The seven and the ten are two different sets of kings. Let's see if we can discover how they are basically different. Then we can identify the ten. Looking back at the seven 1710 we read:
"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." (17:10)
The seven rule their kingdoms (or mountains) one after the other. The ten reign together without a kingdom — at least not in the sense that the others had kingdoms.
See Daniel's description da0711,2.
I do not take this to be a literal number, at least not in its ultimate meaning. In Daniel 2 the prophet shows us a big statue, the subject of Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Dan. 2). As Daniel explained to him, he was the head of gold. Below this head followed silver, then brass, then iron (as Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome). Finally the feet and toes of the image were iron mixed with clay representing the Europe as divided into various kingdoms after Rome fell. A normal pair of feet has ten toes but the number is not stated in the text.
We turn on to Daniel, chapter 7. There we see the same succession of world powers but as beasts rather than parts of an image. The fourth, corresponding to the iron legs of the image, was a terrifying animal with big iron teeth and ten horns da0707. This again is Rome. From among the ten horns came the blasphemous horn of a different type which took dominant central power da0809ff, da0825. The ten, corresponding to the feet and toes of the image, may likewise be seen as ten kingdoms of Europe in the breakup of the pagan Roman Empire. And since this is the final political situation of history (before the image is smashed) these are all the countries of earth today, which are far more than a literal ten.
When the Holy Spirit showed the kingdoms to John the symbols were different, but drawn from the beasts of Daniel 1302 which described the same line of kingdoms as had the image.
Here in Revelation 17, we see ten kings who serve the beast. Chapter 13 pictures two great rebellions of the Christian era. As we saw, we live in the latter period under the beast from the earth. In that chapter, the lion (character of Babylon) arose from the sea with ten horns, bringing to view the time the Roman empire had been fragmented.
Currently we are waiting for the fulfillment of the earth beast's setting up the image. The number of the kings — ten — identify the political powers of earth. Here, they have given up their autonomy to be controlled by the beast the woman rides on. This is still future as I write. The kings are the powers of the world which serve the beast that carries the woman as the powers of Europe served the beast from the sea which we saw to be the apostate church of the Middle Ages 1305a.
From the various forms of the beast of Revelation, we find ten horns which represent the military power directed by the heads 1703b.
"And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. . . . . And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire." (verses 12-16).
After the ten kings have been induced by the beast to make war with the Lamb and are overcome (verse 14), they turn on the woman the beast was carrying and devour her (verse 16). This independent action occurs when they finally receive their "kingdoms." They then take matters into their own hands to destroy the woman. In this they fulfill the will of God.
Power for an hour
"These [ten horns or kings without a kingdom] have one mind and give their power and strength unto the beast." Rev. 17:13.
Their power for one hour (or a brief time) is a clue that they are somehow associated with the last of the seven kings who would "continue a short space [of time]." This time of the horn power then represents the seventh of the series of kings. We said that the last of the seven kings would be the three-part coalition 1710 described under the sixth plague. Let's look at the coalition again 1613 and see if this makes sense.
The ten who serve the beast here are the "kings of the earth and of the whole world" who are gathered under the leadership of the coalition.
How then does the dragon – the beast the wicked woman is riding – fit into the picture? He controls the "unclean spirits" who gather the kings by deceptive miracles. Remember that the dragon (Satan) was cast out of heaven with the angels who accepted to be part of his rebellion 1204a. The unclean spirits then are the evil angels working for the three factions of the coalition to induce the kings to destroy those who fail to bow to their religious leadership 1315a.
They give their
power to the beast
In verse 13, the kings give their power and strength to the beast. They thus act as instruments to fulfill its purpose.
"And [the beast from the earth] deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast . . . [ordering them to] make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he [the beast from the earth] had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." (Rev. 13:14, 15)
Attack and immediate defeat
"And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." (Rev. 17:12-14)
War with the Lamb
The basic object of Satan's wrath has always been Christ, arising from his envy of the Lord in heaven. In our text here, the kings think they are fighting the Lamb. Indeed, the counterfeit religious system would claim to be supporting the Lamb. The woman on the beast claims to be the bride of Christ. "How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously [in luxury], so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day." (18:7, 8). This final attack on the Lamb is directed toward Christ's remnant people 1217.
This is an interesting battle. Apparently the kings attack and are overcome before having inflicted damage. We find the same picture in the story of pouring out the plagues. During the time of the 6th plague, the kings are gathered 1616. There we don't even read of their attack. The 7th plague shows God's power of taking over. ". . . and the Lamb shall overcome them. . . ."
For he is Lord
of lords and King of kings
In chapter 19 we find a similar encounter. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. . . .and on his head were many crowns. . . . And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
"And I saw the beast [from the sea], and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." (Rev. 19:11-16, 19, 20) More on this when we study chapter 19.
Called, chosen, faithful
Note one significant difference between the two descriptions. In our verse, "they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." These are the righteous who are his brothers. In chapter 19, he is seen with "the armies which were in heaven," those angels who fought with Him in the original battle with Satan 1207. We might argue that these angels were also chosen and faithful, but it is harder to classify them as "called." We are called because we are lost and need to come to the banquet. The faithful angels must have struggled with the issues but did not fall so were already home and, it seems to me, didn't need to be called.
In the actual situation, Christ identifies Himself with His faithful ones who have come under attack while the armies of heaven accompany Him on the rescue mission.
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." (Matt. 25:31, 32)
Let's determine to be among the chosen
and faithful ones, by the grace of our Lord who has called us.
The waters are people
"And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are people, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."
Different pictures are shown
in our chapter to describe where the whore (prostitute) sits. She sits
on waters as did Babylon with the Euphrates running through it 1701b.
We saw her dominance over people again in verse 2 with the inhabitants
intoxicated by the wine of her fornication 1702.
This concept is important in understanding the rise of the beast from the
in contrast to the rise of another beast from the earth 1311a.
In that connection, we also discussed why the waters would mean peoples.
Also see ps06507.
Lists of people are given several times in Revelation. A chart compares them 1406g2.
The horns turn and destroy the woman
"And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." (Rev. 17:16, 17)
This same surprise is seen in chapter 18. "How much she hath glorified herself . . . for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Rev. 18:7, 8). And compare hab0207.
The river stops
The turn of events for the woman who sat on many waters was also seen in ancient Babylon and predicted by the 6th plague 1612a. The army of Darius broke up a big party when they marched under the walls after diverting the river 1408d. Babylon was taken by the Medes and Persians.
In the language of the seventh plague, "And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath." (Rev. 16:19)
Desolate and naked
We recall that she sat on many waters or people (verse 1), and that she was "arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold." 1704 Her priestly attire is stripped off. The "people, multitudes, nations, and tongues" she dominated now see her naked and turn away from her (leaving her desolate). See je5003.
Eaten and burned
"And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire." (Rev. 17:16)
Notice the law which the burning recalls. Lev. 21:9, Jer. 51:25.
Symbols from a description of the apostasy of God's people
of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations. . . . And thy renown
went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through
my comeliness [good appearance], which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord
GOD. . . .
"But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. . . .
"Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger. Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way. Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.
"Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD: Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare. They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords." (Ezek. 16:2, 14-16, 26-28, 35-40)
Under God's Control
"For God hath put in their [the kings'] hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." (Rev. 17:17)
This is not to say that the
kings are acting righteously when they give their power to the beast. The
idea is that they are playing out the evidence of wickedness according
to divine providence. Of course their work in eating and burning the false
religious system will reveal its wickedness in the eyes of the world and
the universe. We may expect the wrath of the nations to be directed toward
the system's leaders as well as the system itself. We recall that the beast
from the sea was permitted by God to persecute the saints for 42 symbolic
months (1260 days) 1305a
as saints were given into the hand of the horn power (Dan.
7:25). In the end time apostasy, the beast from the earth is permitted
to make an image and to empower it 1315b.
Tough times are coming but God is in control and will give us the strength
Let's remember that the end-time religious system of the majority will appear sacred like a priest with garments and precious stones, but it will be working against the glory of God and against his remnant people.
Until God's words
We read a similar statement in connection with the seventh trumpet 1007a: "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." (Rev. 10:7)
What very significant words of God could the angel be talking about? He assumes we know. I believe it is the promise of redemption that must have been very precious to our first parents. After Eve and Adam sinned, God met them. Here is part of what He said:
"And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? . . . And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle. . . . And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen. 3:9-15)
"Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Peter 3:13)
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:14-16)
It's the big promise, the grand hope of the righteous through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour! The forces of evil will be crushed. Of course the resolution of the sin problem is not complete until after the end of the thousand years, but from the time the adulterous, powerful end-time religious system is ended, the righteous will no longer suffer the wrath of the dragon. The judgment of the woman on the beast and the end of the preadvent judgment come at the same time, at the beginning of the time of trouble.
The great city
"And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Rev. 17:18)
This final summary statement
clarifies that the woman is Babylon. She is the religious power that takes
over the kings — a counterfeit "king of kings." (Compare vs.
The apostasy is resolved by Christ at the time of the seventh trumpet, which is the time of the judgment of the evil woman: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 11:15)