Verses 15 through 18 of Revelation chapter 17 is a very specific prophecy about the disunity of the forces of evil, and the certainty of the fulfillment of God’s promises to His persecuted people. Here the ‘waters’ are interpreted as being multitudes peoples over whom she rules. And the ‘wild beast’ has ‘ten horns’, and these ‘ten horns’ are going to attack the ‘prostitute’. Now if you know Roman history, Roman power fell, and she was attacked by some of her vassal kings. This seems to be an emphasis on internal strife, or evil divided among itself, which seems to be an allusion back in Revelation 16:12. So evil seems to be divided, the particular imagery of which is found in Ezekiel 16:39-40; 23:25-27; 28:18.
Now verse 17, “For God has put it in their hearts…” – notice God is in control of history. God uses the demonic frogs back in chapter 16:13-14, and He’s going to use these 10 vassal kings to bring judgement on this Great Whore. It seems here in chapter 17, God brings judgement through circumstances, and then in chapter 18 it seems God brings judgement Himself, which i think they’re complementary and not two different things at all. It’s obvious that 17 and 18 form a unity, and talk about the very same thing from two different angles.
Now verse 18, “The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.” – that ‘great city’ goes back to its use in chapter 11:8 where it seems to be Jerusalem but is far more than that in chapter 16:19 where it obviously is Rome. It’s going to be used several times in chapter 18, also that ‘great city that has domination over the kings of the earth, implies the political rule current in John’s day. So, I think there’s no way we could say this is not Imperial Rome, but at the same time refers to the organized end-time government of man against God.
(TO BE CONTINUED)