One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven bowls came over and spoke to me. “Come with me,” he said, “and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who rules over many waters. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality.”
So the angel took me in the Spirit into the wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, and blasphemies against God were written all over it. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet clothing, and had beautiful jewellery made of gold, precious stones and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality. A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.”
I could see that she was drunk—drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement.
“Why are you so amazed?” the angel asked. “Let me tell you the mystery of this woman and the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. This beast, which you just saw, was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to his own destruction. And the people of this world, whose names were not written in the book of life before the world was created, will be astonished at the reappearance of this beast who was previously dead.
“This calls for a mind with understanding: the seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills where the woman rules. They also represent seven kings. Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, though his reign will be brief.
“The beast that was, but is no longer, is an eighth king. He belongs to the other seven, and is headed for destruction. The ten horns of the beast are ten kings who have not yet risen to power. They will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast. Then they will all agree to give him their power and authority. Together they will wage war on the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
Then the angel said to me, “The waters where the prostitute is ruling represent masses of people of every nation and language. The beast and the ten horns you saw hate the prostitute. They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains, for God has put a plan into their hearts that will fulfil his purposes. For it is when they agree to give their authority to the beast, that the word of God will be fulfilled. And the woman you saw in your vision represents that great city which rules over the kings of the earth.”