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Revelation 17 : The woman on the red strange animal

v1 One of the 7 *angels who had the 7 cups came to me. ‘Come with me’, he said. ‘I will show you how God will *punish the powerful bad woman. She sits upon many rivers. She is bad like a woman who sells herself to men for sex. v2 The rulers of countries on earth have done bad things because of that woman also. They are just like men who have sex with bad women. The people who live on the earth have done bad things. They have learned to enjoy what is bad. They have copied that woman’s example. They are like drunks from the bad *wine that she gave them.’

Verse 1 The bad woman is like a picture of the bad city called Babylon. (See verses 5 and 18, and 14:8, 16:19, and chapter 18.) Many years ago, there was a Babylon city in a place where many rivers came together. But verse 15 of this chapter explains what these rivers mean.

Verses 1-2 The Bible tells us many times about people who have sex with others than their husbands or wives. In the Bible, this idea often means more than wrong sex. It means that people were *worshipping false gods. Many years ago, God told his people that he wanted to be like a husband to them. If they chose to *worship other gods, they were like a bad wife to him. The people in Babylon *worshipped many false gods.

v3 While God’s Spirit was causing me to dream, the *angel carried me away. He carried me to a country place where nobody lived. There I saw a woman who was sitting on a red strange animal. All over this strange animal, someone had written names that were not polite to God. The animal had 7 heads and 10 *horns. v4 The woman was wearing *purple and red clothes. She also shone with the gold, valuable stones and *pearls that were all over her. She held a gold cup in her hand. The cup was full of the results of the very bad and dirty things that she had done. v5 Someone had written this secret name on the front of her head:

Powerful Babylon

Mother of all the bad women

and mother of everything that is bad on the earth.

v6 I saw that the woman was a drunk. She was like someone who had drunk the blood of God’s people. She had killed God’s people, because they had told other people about Jesus. When I saw her, I was very surprised. v7 Then the *angel spoke to me. ‘Why does she surprise you?’ he said. ‘I will explain the secret of the woman to you, and the secret of the strange animal that she rides. The strange animal that you saw has 7 heads and 10 *horns. v8 This animal was once alive, but it is not alive now. Soon it will come up out of the deep hole again and God will destroy it completely. This will surprise many people who live on the earth. They know that the animal was alive. And they know that it is not alive now. So, it will really surprise them when it appears again. They are the people whose names are not in God’s book. That book says who will live with God always. God wrote people’s names down in his book before he made the world.

v9 Here is a problem that you need to think about carefully. The animal’s 7 heads are like a picture of 7 hills where the woman sits. v10 They are also like a picture of 7 kings. Five of these kings have stopped ruling. They are dead and another king is ruling now. The last king has not yet come. When he does come, he must rule only for a short time. v11 The strange animal is another (eighth) king that belongs to this group of 7 kings. The animal was alive, but it is not alive now. And God will destroy it completely.

v12 The 10 *horns that you saw are like a picture of 10 kings. They have not yet received anywhere to rule. But they will receive authority as kings for one hour with the strange animal. v13 They all have the same purpose. They will give their authority to the strange animal and they will make him strong. v14 Together they will fight a war against the *Lamb. But the *Lamb will beat them because he is the most powerful *Lord. He is the King who rules over all other kings. And the people who go on believing him will be with him. He has asked them to follow him. He has chosen them.’

v15 Then the *angel spoke to me again. ‘You saw that the bad woman was sitting on many rivers’, he said. ‘Those rivers are like a picture of many countries and crowds of people from different family groups and languages. v16 The strange animal and the 10 *horns that you saw will *hate the bad woman. They will destroy her and they will take away her clothes. They will eat the meat on her body. Then they will burn what remains of her with fire. v17 God has given them their thoughts and he has caused them to agree. So, they will do what he wants. They will give all their authority as kings to the strange animal. The animal will continue to rule until everything has happened. Everything that God has said will certainly happen. v18 The woman that you saw is like a picture of the powerful city. That city rules the rulers on the earth.’

Verses 9-13 We do not really know what the ‘7 kings’ and the ‘10 kings’ mean. Different people have different ideas about them. There is one important thing for us to understand. The city (the ‘woman’) may not be only one city in only one place at only one time. It is the *Devil’s city. And he rules everyone in the world who does not love God. John wrote this book because God told him to. God wanted people of all time to read it.

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