In previous installments, we showed that the final resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire has already begun in Europe. We saw that core member states of Europe—ten nations or groups of nations—will unify and give their power and authority to a charismatic political personage—the “beast” (Revelation 17:12-13), who will work together with a religious figure, called “the false prophet.”
In this installment, we will discuss the biblical revelations about the religious organization that the “false prophet” will represent. A future installment will address the “false prophet” himself—also in light of historic forerunners.
We have seen that the last seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire constituted a collaboration between religion (the Roman Catholic Church) and state (the political empires under military leaders), while the first three revivals of the ancient Roman Empire were not supported by the Catholic faith.
In our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy,” we explain:
“In Revelation 17, the Apostle John is given a vision of a… scarlet beast… having seven heads and ten horns… the scarlet beast is ridden by a woman—a harlot. Revelation 17:5 identifies the woman as ‘mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.’ This woman is depicted in verse 6 as drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. In verse 18 the woman is also identified as that great city that reigns over the kings of the earth, the city that sits on seven mountains (v. 9). Though here called Babylon, the famed City of Seven Hills is the city of Rome!—successor to ancient Babylon politically, militarily, economically and religiously. It is this city that rides the scarlet beast with the seven heads and the ten horns. The seven heads of the beast are seven kings or seven kingdoms (v. 10). These are successive kingdoms, one following the other…
“… the heads of the beast in Revelation 17 depict the seven last resurrections of the Roman Empire… The woman sits on these last seven resurrections of the beast. That is, the woman was only instrumental in the last seven revivals of the Roman Empire—not the first three.
“This woman or city is described as both an economic power and a religious power. The Ryrie Study Bible comments in a footnote to Revelation 17:5, ‘Though the famous city of Babylon was on the Euphrates River, the name seems to be a symbolic reference to Rome. In chapter 18 it represents more the political and commercial aspect of the revived Roman Empire. Thus the term stands both for a city and for a (religious and commercial) system related to the city (much like “Wall Street,” which is both a place and a system).’
“An interesting statement in Halley’s Bible Handbook agrees with this assessment: ‘The description of Babylon the great… exactly fits Papal Rome. Nothing else in world history does fit.’ Unger’s Bible Handbook states, ‘The great harlot denotes a religious system that compromises truth for worldly power. She is guilty of prostituting truth and purity, intoxicating men by her doctrines and practices which violate the Word of God. She heads up the corrupt religious system of the end-time. It represents in fullest scope all apostate religious movements—from the inception in the ancient Babylon of Nimrod to the terrible consummation and apostate Christianity and other evil religious forces of the last day. The revived Roman Empire, with its end-time emperor—the Beast—appears as the agent of the harlot’s destruction. The woman has her headquarters in the Beast’s capital, which is the seven-hilled city of Rome’ (p. 870).
“Note that it is the seven last revivals of the Roman Empire that are ridden by the woman, a religious power. The first three were not. The first three revivals occurred under leaders with a different religion, that of Arianism, which was labeled a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. But the last seven occur under the control and with the approval of the Church of Rome…”
Remember that the first of the seven last resurrections of the Roman Empire occurred under Justinian in A.D. 554; the second occurred under Charlemagne or Charles the Great; the third occurred under Otto the Great; the fourth under Charles V Habsburg; the fifth under Napoleon Bonaparte, and the sixth of the last seven resurrections occurred under Hitler and Mussolini. As with the previous six resurrections, the woman—the papal city of Rome—will “ride,” or direct the activities of, the seventh resurrection as well.
Referring to the “little horn” in Daniel 7:8, 24, we point out in the before-mentioned booklet that the “little horn, the religious power synonymous with the woman riding the scarlet beast, would change times and law, or rather, change the law regarding holy times,” which it did. As you will recall, it transferred religious services from the weekly Sabbath to Sunday (the day of the sun god), and abrogated God’s annual holy days and adopted instead pagan days such as Christmas and Easter.
In chapter 19 of our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation,” we shed additional light on the woman riding the beast:
“In Revelation 17, John sees a fallen woman who sits on a scarlet-colored beast with seven heads and ten horns… The woman is called, in verse 5, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth.’ This fallen church is called the ‘Mother Church,’ which has ‘daughter churches’… Revelation 17:9… says: ‘Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.’
“According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the Greek word for ‘mountain,’ ‘oros,’ means ‘mountain’ or ‘hill’ (see Strong’s No. 3733). Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible agrees, defining the Greek word used in Revelation 17:9 as ‘mountain, mount, hill.’ This same word is used in Matthew 5:14, where Christ says: ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a HILL cannot be hidden.’ It is also translated as ‘hill’ in Luke 4:29. The New English Bible translates Revelation 17:9, as follows: ‘The seven heads are seven HILLS…’ So do the Revised English Bible; the New International Version; the New American Bible; the Moffat Translation of the Bible; the Jewish New Testament, by David Stern; and a German Bible translation, ‘Die Gute Nachricht.’ The New Jerusalem Bible states: ‘The seven heads are THE seven hills…’ The Living Bible gives the following interpretation of the verse: ‘And now think hard: his seven heads represent a certain city built on seven hills where the woman has her residence.’
“Verse 10 explains that the seven mountains or hills symbolize seven kings—seven military and political rulers. They describe the seven last resurrections of the ancient Roman Empire—with the last king or revival of the Roman Empire still to appear in the near future. But remember that the woman is also identified as a CITY, which sits on seven mountains or hills…
“John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains: ‘… this confirms that the beast before spoken of, on whom the woman sat, is the Roman empire, since she is here said to sit on the seven mountains, on which Rome, the metropolis of that empire, was built…’
“Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible states: ‘Seven mountains—the seven hills on which Rome stands…’ Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible agrees: ‘The seven heads are seven mountains—Referring, undoubtedly, to Rome—the seven-hilled city…’
“Lehman Strauss writes in ‘The Book of the Revelation,’ pages 295–301: ‘The Babylon of the Revelation is an apostate religious system clearly identifiable with all of Christendom, with papal Rome taking the lead in its formation… the world might applaud such a union, but we may be certain God is not in it… We are not surprised, then, when we see men and women of various religious faiths making pilgrimages to Rome to see a man who has been exalted as “the holy father,” “the voice of God,” and then bowing down to him as though he were a god… Rome is known as the seven-hilled city… Here then is a prophecy referring to papal Rome, not history referring to pagan Rome… The wealth of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations combined adds up to many billions of dollars…’
“Therefore, the Bible does reveal that the final revival of the ancient Holy Roman Empire in Europe will again be guided by the Church of Rome. In addition, the Bible speaks in several places of a ‘heavenly queen,’ which is being worshipped (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17–19, 25). However, Scripture condemns such practice. In fact, modern Babylon identifies herself as a ‘queen’ (Revelation 18:7; compare Isaiah 47:1, 5, 7, referring to the ‘daughter of Babylon’ as the ‘Lady of Kingdoms,’ verse 5). It is therefore no coincidence that the design of the European flag was allegedly ‘inspired’ by an image associated with the ‘Virgin Mary,’ who is described by Catholics, directly or indirectly, as ‘our Mother,’ the ‘queen of heaven,’ ‘our Lady’ and ‘the queen of Europe’…”
We read in Revelation 17:11 that the beast “that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.” We explained in our fifth installment that the phrase, “is not” refers to the short-lived ninth resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire. Even though “it was” (verse 8: “… is not, and yet is”), it really was not, by comparison, such an all-encompassing and consequential revival as the previous ones, and as the tenth and last revival will be.
In regard to the statement in verse 11 that the beast himself is the “eighth, and is of the seven,” the New Unger’s Bible Handbook offers this explanation:
“The last ruler of the revived empire is specified, 11: ‘And as for the beast which was and is not [the revived empire, 8a], even he [autos, ‘he himself,’ the personal beast-emperor now coming into view] is the eighth, and is of the seventh [the imperial government, 10] and he goes into perdition.’… This diabolical head is unique… He rules over a ten-kingdom federation… unknown to imperial Roman government, and makes war against the Lamb… in the gigantic conflict for sovereignty over the earth…”
The Nelson Study Bible states: “The beast is related to the 7th king, but also has a separate identity.”
Verse 11 could therefore be a reference to the individual beast—the end-time military leader, ruling and being part of the seventh revival. It could also refer to the Catholic Church or the false prophet riding on and collaborating with the ten-nation federation and their political leader. The Roman Church and its final pope would be the “eighth,” but “of the seven,” as being a part of the seventh revival.
The woman riding the beast is also mentioned, as a separate beast, in Revelation 13. After having described a first beast with seven heads and ten horns—the Roman Empire with its ten revivals—John proceeds to introduce us to a “second beast,” which he also associates with the “image” of the “first beast.”
We state in our booklet, “Europe in Prophecy”:
“In Revelation 13:11-17, John sees a second beast that has two horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. It is a religious power, claiming to be the Lamb or Jesus Christ, but is influenced by the dragon, or Satan. The second beast, we are told, exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence… This [second] beast performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven in the sight of men…”
We make the following additional comments in our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”:
“This second beast had two horns. It looked like a lamb (Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lamb of God throughout the New Testament, compare John 1:29), but it spoke like a dragon (Remember that Satan is identified as a dragon in Revelation 12:3, 9). This second beast is obviously a religious power, which is influenced by Satan, while pretending to speak on behalf of Christ. We read in 2 Corinthians 11:15 that Satan’s ‘ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.’ Jesus warned that many would come in His name, admitting that He was the Christ or Savior, and deceive many through their wrong teachings (compare Matthew 24:4–5)…
“We read in Revelation 13:14 that the second beast will make an ‘image’ to the first beast, which we identified as the Roman Empire. This passage found its fulfillment, historically, when the religious power of the second beast patterned itself after—made an image of—the governmental and political structure of the worldly power—the first beast—when it became a state in Rome, called the Vatican State, which would make contracts or treaties with other worldly governments; which also would send out their ambassadors and emissaries; and which would even have an army, including the Swiss guards, which fought against ‘heretics’ under the leadership of the Pope. It ultimately influenced and ‘inspired’ the first beast to put to death those who would not worship and follow the dictates of the Catholic Church.
“Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible agrees, stating the following regarding the nature of the ‘image’: ‘… In the empire which then sprung up, and which owed much of its influence to the sustaining aid of the papacy, we discern the “image” of the former Roman power; the prolongation of the Roman ascendency over the world.’…
“However, this passage is not just of historical application, but it also contains a prophecy for the immediate future. Many commentaries suggest, therefore, that the ‘image’ might very well point at an ultimate literal fulfillment…
“We read in Revelation 13:15 that the image will speak and cause those to be killed who will not worship the image of the beast. In applying this statement figuratively and quite literally, John Gill writes: ‘[This] may be understood either of the images of the virgin Mary, and other saints, which it is pretended, and the people are made to believe, that they do at times actually speak, and really weep and laugh, as it may serve their different purposes; or this image may be said to speak by the decrees, canons, anathemas, curses, threatenings, persuasions, doctrines, and blasphemies of the pope and his clergy… these are the known orders and decrees of the Papacy, which have been executed by the Inquisition, and other hands, in innumerable instances…’
“The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown adds the following: ‘Charlemagne’s image was set up for homage; and the Pope adored the new emperor… Rome’s speaking images and winking pictures of the Virgin Mary and the saints are an earnest of the future demoniacal miracles of the false prophet in making the beast’s… image to speak.’
“Lehman Strauss writes in ‘The Book of the Revelation’: ‘The false prophet [the second beast] will attempt to lead the people to finance the erection of a great image in Jerusalem, thereby making Jerusalem the center of a world-wide religious system… How the image is made to speak, or what it says, is not revealed… When the image speaks, Jews and Gentiles, Roman Catholics and Protestants, wherever they are, will worship the image or be killed if they refuse.’”
In this context, we might think of our discussion in the ninth installment about Christ’s warning that an abomination of desolation will be set up at the holy place in the near future.
In the next installment, we will discuss the person identified as Simon Magus along with other historical forerunners of the future end-time religious figure, called the “false prophet.”
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link