The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 136

The Ten Horns

Revelation 17:12.     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. 

     As discussed above, the ten horns on the seventh head of the beast probably constitute an end-time confederation of kingdoms arising out of the remnants of the sixth kingdom, the Roman empire.  This confederation is the seventh in the historical succession of empires extending from Babylon to Rome, and will endure for a brief time, probably three-and-a-half years.  Though the individual nations in some cases have existed for centuries (for example, nations such as the United States, England, France, Italy, and Germany in the west and Poland, Hungary, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Rumania in the east could satisfy the prophetic specifications here, particularly after the destruction of Russia and her allies in Israel as described in Ezekiel 38), they would not come to power as a united kingdom until this future federation is implemented.  The ten nations listed above are, of course, speculative and illustrative only; there is no way of identifying them precisely until world events lead to its formation, and this may well be after the rapture of the Church.

     At some time, however, this seventh great kingdom will be formed almost overnight.  The ten will receive power as “co-kings” in the kingdom “at one hour.”  It seems likely that some great event, possibly the sudden destruction of Gog and Magog, will bring to a climax previous political movements, appearing to facilitate the imminent solution to all world problems through the formation of such a confederation, and it will all be accomplished in short order.

     Prominent in these plans and negotiations will be the head of one of these ten nations, the man destined just a few years hence to be recognized as world dictator, the beast, the heir of the seven kingdoms of history and the ten kingdoms of the present.  He will attract much attention and praise for his efforts and, among other things, he will consummate a seven-year treaty with Israel, allowing the reestablishment of their temple and their ancient religious system in Jerusalem.  Initially, however, he and his kingdom will only be one of the ten, all of whom at the same hour will yield their individual sovereignties to the “United Nations,” a kingdom which presumably will be ruled by a ten-man security council (one vote for each nation) at the helm. 

Revelation 17:13.     These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

     Although these ten start out as equals, they will gradually come to acknowledge the superiority of the beast and will soon set about to cede all sovereignty to him.  The meaning of “mind” in this passage is “will” or “purpose.”  Whatever resistance they may encounter from their own or from other people, it becomes their set purpose to surrender all to him.

     This surrender will include both their armaments and their authority (“power and strength”).  This is an amazing phenomenon, that ten important and strong nations should all voluntarily yield their sovereignty and their military forces to one man!  He must indeed be a tremendously brilliant and intimidating individual, a man of extraordinary charisma and political insight, inspiring both awe and confidence in the ungodly men and women of the world.   

     This will not take place overnight, of course, as the ten-nation kingdom will endure for three-and-a-half years.  In fact, parallel prophecies in the Old Testament indicate that considerable resistance is encountered at first.  The “ten horns” of Daniel 7:7 are clearly the same ten kings as here in Revelation.  Apparently three of these need to be “persuaded” before they also have “one mind.”  “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings” (Daniel 7:24).

     While this internal dissension is being quelled, the federated kingdom also must battle against outside nations.  Daniel 11:40-44 apparently describes this period and indicates that there will be struggles with both “the king of the south” and “the king of the north.”  The first of these seems to be a federation of nations in northern Africa and the Near East (Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, Edom, Moab, and Ammon are mentioned).  The king of the north may include the remnants of the Russian confederation.  Also troublous “tidings out of the east” are mentioned, suggesting that the vast hordes of China and other far eastern nations are displeased at the formation of these western “United Nations.”

     While all of this is going on, however, it must not be forgotten that the great judgments of the seals and the trumpets are plaguing all nations, causing much distraction from their political goals and military pursuits.  The plagues are seen, humanly speaking, as emanating from God’s two great witnesses (Revelation 11:6), and there is tremendous persecution mounting everywhere against new Christian believers as a result.

     Then, suddenly, two events will take place which will galvanize all nations into rapid submission to the beast.  The first will be his amazing “resurrection” from Hades.  One of his enemies will stab him to death, and probably his funeral will be viewed via television all over the world.  Thus multitudes will be watching when he suddenly returns to life, recounting amazing stories of his supposed victory over death and Hades.  Then, he will be successful in overcoming and killing God’s two witnesses, who had previously been invincible and unapproachable.

     Such amazing events, occurring in a world already half irrational through pain, environmental cataclysms, drugs, and general turmoil, will be more than enough to silence all opposition to his assuming absolute power.  Not only the ten kingdoms of the western federation, but also all that dwell upon the earth, will worship him, except those whose names are in the book of life (Revelation 13:8).

Revelation 17:14.     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.    

     This is surely one of the great mountain-peak verses of the Bible.  The beast may, in his unprecedented triumphs here at the midpoint of the tribulation, deceive himself into thinking that he has now exhibited himself to be the greatest man in history.  He is the first world dictator, and all the world now worships him.  He has even conquered death, and has slain the two greatest servants of the God of heaven, men who themselves had lived in heaven for thousands of years.  With the help of his dragon master, he can now even plot to conquer the Lamb Himself, who he realizes is preparing to return to earth to claim His inheritance.

     But the old dragon has deceived the whole world, even his own man of sin!  He is not the greatest king after all.  The Lamb is King of all kings!  The Lamb is the Son of God.  As the Lord, He created all men (Revelation 4:11); as the Lamb, He died to redeem all men (Revelation 5:9).  The dragon is not a match for God’s Lamb.

     He may mobilize all these kings of the earth, and their armies, as indeed he will very shortly, but it will be only to their doom.  The Lamb will overcome them with only a spoken word.  The Lord Jesus is not only King of kings and Lord of lords, but also Conqueror of conquerors.  His is the great Overcomer and in Him we also overcome.  “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

     The beast has vast armies at his control, but the Lamb also has armies, with armor of fine linen, white and clean (Revelation 19:14), the righteousness of saints.  These are not the clamorous rabble of the earth, but the very elite of creation, carefully selected and proven, “called and chosen and faithful.”  The three Greek words are, respectively, kletos, eklectos, pistos.  God calls many according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and from these, He selects some for special ministry.  “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).  Then, sadly, only some of these are faithful.  Only some will hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).  There are some who are saved, but who receive no reward (1 Corinthians 3:15).  “My reward is with me, to give every man according to his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).

     Such judgments and discernments must be left to the Lord.  In any case, these who are with Him as He overcomes the armies of the beast are men and women who have been called and chosen and faithful.  Perhaps other believers remain regretfully at the heavenly throne while these, like Gideon’s 300, go to war.  As believers who have been entrusted with His service, we have been called and chosen.  May we also, as good stewards, be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). 

Revelation 17:15.     And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 

     The angel who carried John back, and then forward, through time in order to show him the great sign of Mystery Babylon (verse 1) and had then undertaken to explain its meaning (verse 7) now speaks again, this time to tell him the fate of spiritual Babylon, the scarlet-dressed woman in the sign.  The harlot had been seen as sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast, symbolizing political Babylon as energized by Satan, but this beast had previously been seen (Revelation 13:1) as emerging from the sea.  Thus the woman was also seen by John upon the waters.

     These waters are now explained as symbolic of the many peoples of the world.  The woman is also sitting, of course, on the seven heads of the beast, representing seven mountains and thus seven kingdoms.  The meaning apparently is that these great world empires are her immediate support, but also that, secondarily, she is further and ultimately supported by all the peoples of the world.  All nations have been deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9), worship the beast (Revelation 13:8), and are preparing to fight the true God (Revelation 16:14).

     The waters of the troubled sea symbolize the ungodly nations of the world in other Scriptures as well (Daniel 7:3; Isaiah 57:20).  The Lord Jesus, in fact, described the last days as a time when there would be “upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).

     There are several other scenes in Revelation where large numbers of people are mentioned (Revelation 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 13:7; 14:6) but this is the only one in which “multitudes” are listed as a separate category from “peoples and nations and tongues.”  The latter three all represent coherent groups of people – clans, nations, linguistic groups.  Perhaps this passage suggests that there are also large groups among the world’s ungodly people who will organize around other than tribal, ethnic, and linguistic criteria in these last days.  Unions, commercial and mercantile associations, cultic societies, secret political internationals, and other such groups might be examples of the “multitudes” which are included in the global milieu out of which the great harlot emerges.  She sits on these waters.   They support her and partake of her fornications and share in her guilt. 

Revelation 17:16.     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. 

     Then, suddenly, the ancient whore, right at the moment of her greatest triumph, reigning proudly over the peoples of the whole world, meets her end.  In every land have been erected great churches and temples and mosques and shrines and images in her honor.  In the schools and homes her philosophy is taught and her rituals are practiced.  Priests and monks and counselors in wide variety teach the people and receive their gifts.  Tax monies also accrue to the monstrous system, political Babylon amply supporting the opulence of religious Babylon, and the syncretistic union of all the world’s complex of humanistic religions is soon accomplished.

     With the departure of all believers in the true churches before the beginning of the tribulation period, organized religion will quickly be forged into a powerful tool for the support of the political power.  Religious Babylon has always been attached in some degree in an unequal yoke with political Babylon.  “Church and state” have only rarely in history been clearly and properly separated.  Each has always sought to use the other to attain it own ends, with considerable success on both sides.

     During the first half of the tribulation, while the beast is attempting to establish his supremacy over his colleagues in the ten-kingdom federated empire, he quickly realizes he can use man’s religious nature to help implement his own ambitions.  Through the special genius of his colleague, the false prophet (the second beast, announced in Revelation 13:11), he is able soon to gain a considerable following in many nations through promoting a cultic worship of himself throughout the world.  With the earth-dwellers already naturally inclined to humanistic man-worship, it is easy for the prophet, even using miracles as a means of persuasion, to seduce great multitudes into idolizing the brilliant and charismatic king who has so rapidly risen to world prominence.

     Then, when he finally attains his goal of global dictatorship at the midpoint of the tribulation, the members of the world’s religious hierarchy no doubt hope they will share richly in the fruits of conquest, continuing to exercise much power over the people and even over their leaders.  However, these religonists will no longer be needed once the beast becomes world emperor.  All men will then soon worship the beast, and his image will be seen and revered all over the world.  It will no longer even be necessary to use religious intermediaries of any kind, since men will openly acknowledge and worship Satan as well as the great super man (Revelation 13:4).

     The beast and the false prophet will quickly let it be known that they neither want nor need this vast humanistic religious complex any more, possibly serving as a rival to their own power.  The ten kingdoms in the federation, with their respective heads of state, will no doubt also have long resented the power and influence of the religious system.  The alliance of church and state, while always useful to both parties, has also always been resented by both parties, each side wanting all the power.  Possibly the ten kings also will develop a special antipathy toward this particular religious hierarchy as they have so recently seen it used to help bring the beast to power over themselves.

     Consequently, they will eagerly jump at the chance to destroy this despised harlot once the beast gives permission.  Already a persecution has been mounted against Christians and Jews – why not get rid of all religion at the same time?  No more vestiges of Buddha worship or veneration of Confucius, no more praying to Allah or appeasement of assorted angels and demons – certainly no more vestiges of pseudo-Christian or Jewish worship – are to be tolerated.

     Even though the masses have been persuaded to abandon their various religions and worship the beast only, the religious leaders will probably wish to hang on to their positions of eminence and influence, and so will try to resist these orders.  With that, the campaign of annihilation will be mounted in full.  All the riches of the temples will be confiscated, the buildings and accoutrements burned with fire, the leaders executed.  Soon the old whore will be left desolate and naked, and even her naked “flesh,” meaning presumably, whatever of real substance might have remained in her religious system after all its ornate trappings had been removed, will have been utterly consumed by the political powers who hate her.  The kings will mourn the later destruction of political Babylon (Revelation 18:9) but will exult over this destruction of her religious parasite.   

Revelation 17:17.     For God hath put it 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. 

     Herein is an amazing thing, that men should fulfill God’s will even while they oppose His will!  “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10).  When these ungodly kings consented to cede their kingdoms to the beast, their very motivation was that they could thereby more effectively aid Satan in his opposition to God.  Instead, however, they are really doing exactly what God led them to do!

     It was like the men who crucified Jesus.  “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:26-28).

     God used these ten kings, first of all, to destroy the age-old pseudoscientific system of religious Babylon, which had deceived and damned multitudes throughout the centuries.  They did this for their own utterly selfish and wicked motives, of course, but nevertheless they accomplished the will of God in the process.  One should note in passing that God’s decisions are not contingent on man’s will, not is His will contingent on man’s decisions.  Rather, men make their decisions in accord with God’s will, even when they intend otherwise.

     At this point, though the kings certainly do not have such a thing in mind, God is constraining them to unite in this way under the beast in order that His own words might be fulfilled.  In order for “all nations” to be “gathered together” for judgment and destruction at the day of the Lord (note Joel 3:2; Zechariah 14:2), as God had promised long ago, there must first be established a human agency to implement such a convocation.  Nothing could ever accomplish this except an all-powerful world government.  Hence, the kings of the earth must first yield their sovereignty to such a commander.  God’s Word must be fulfilled, whether men intend it so or not.

Revelation 17:18.     And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. 

     The final word of the angel to John is that the woman whom he had shown to John in the sign was to be understood as “that great city.”  And what city is that?  The woman herself had blatantly displayed the answer to this question on her forehead; she is “Babylon the great.”

     As a system, religious Babylon began at Babel, whence it permeated every nation on earth, maintaining its special character and influence not only in both ancient Babylon and later Babylon, but also in Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome, the others in the succession of great nations which transmitted the Babylonian heritage of heresy down through the ages.  It finally will reach its zenith of power in rebuilt Babylon, the capital city of the final world empire, the kingdom of the beast.  There the old harlot will again, though very briefly, become that great city which reigns over all the kings of the earth.  But it is also there that these same kings will turn on her and destroy her.

     Political Babylon must then, also quickly fall.  The two have been so entwined together through the ages that the fall of one can only presage the fall of the other.  And when the capital falls, the kingdom must also quickly fall.  The end of all things is at hand.

     But first it must be emphasized again that Babylon is a city.  Further, the city is Babylon.  It says so, plainly, in Revelation 18:10 and 18:21.  Commentators, even futurist and literalist commentators, seem strangely reluctant to accept this fact.  They argue that since Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesy of Babylon’s permanent destruction, it is impossible for Babylon to be rebuilt in the tribulation.

     Babylon, indeed, will be permanently destroyed, as recorded in the very next chapter (18:21), but this has not happened yet.  The prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah also refer to this future destruction, not merely to Babylon’s present-day condition, as is evident from the following considerations, among others: (1) The destruction will take place in the time that the stars and the sun are darkened (Isaiah 13:1, 9, 10).  (2) The city will become as desolate as Sodom and Gomorrah, burned completely, with no remains whatever (Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 50:40).  (3)  It shall become desolate forever, with neither man nor beast entering it any more (Isaiah 13:20; Jeremiah 51:62).  (4)  It will be a time of judgment not only for Babylon but for all nations (Isaiah 13:11-13; Jeremiah 51:49).  (5)  Its destruction will be followed by universal rest and peace (Isaiah 14:7, 8).  (6)  Its destruction is directly associated also with the casting of Lucifer into Sheol (Isaiah 14:12-15).  (7)  Babylon’s stones will never be used in future construction elsewhere, whereas the present-day ruins of Babylon have been frequently plundered and reused in later constructions (Jeremiah 51:26).

     It is true that these famous Old Testament prophecies of Babylon’s destruction (Isaiah 13:1 - 14:27); Jeremiah 50:1 - 51:64) contain many sections that deal specifically with the Medo-Persian conquest of Babylon and her eventual decline and desolation in the centuries following.  Like a great many other Old Testament prophecies, however, these have both a near fulfillment and a far fulfillment, with the first a type and precursor of the second.  From the prophet’s perspective, both were in the future and thus tended to merge together as he recorded his vision.  This is a very common phenomenon in the Old Testament, and the seven considerations above make it abundantly evident that this is the case here as well.  One can, by careful study, discern the two clearly as he reads the words of these visions with the advantage of a perspective between the two stages of their fulfillment.  He will find there are no contradictions, and since so many predictions have already been fulfilled in the past, he can be confident the rest will be fulfilled in the future.

     This, however, will require that Babylon somehow be restored to its former magnificence and prominence.  As noted previously, Babylon continued as a viable city for many years, even through several centuries of the Christian era.  Even today the town of Hillah is a substantial community occupying at least a portion of the area of ancient Babylon.  However, much of the ancient city is in ruins, and has been in a semidesolate condition for centuries.  It seems at first like a very improbable candidate for any kind of urban renewal program.

     Nevertheless, Babylon is indeed a prime prospect for rebuilding, entirely apart from any prophetic intimations.  Its location is the most ideal in the world for any kind of international center.  Not only is it in the beautiful and fertile Tigris-Euphrates plain, but it is near some of the world’s richest oil reserves.

     The nation of Iraq, which includes Babylon in today’s geography, is the wealthiest and strongest of the Moslem nations.  Its engineers, associated with top consultants from other nations, have developed the water supplies of the two great rivers through a series of dams and canals so that its agricultural and hydroelectric resources are rapidly expanding, as are its manufacturing industries.  Realizing the tremendous tourist potential in a restored Babylon, the Iraqis have already made considerable progress on its reconstruction.

     However, the instabilities of the Middle East situation, the radical nature of the Iraqi government and its Russian connections, plus the hostility of Iraq and other Moslem nations to Israel, all make this current venture uncertain.  The real potential of Babylon is in the more distant future and involves far more than tourism.

     Computer studies of the Institute for Creation Research have shown, for example, that Babylon is very near the geographical center of all the earth’s land masses.  It is within navigable distances of the Persian Gulf and is at the crossroads of the three great continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

     Thus there is no more ideal location anywhere for a world trade center, a world communications center, a world banking center, a world educational center, or especially, a world capital!  The greatest historian of modern times, Arnold Toynbee, used to stress to all his readers and hearers that Babylon would be the best place in the world to build a future world cultural metropolis.

     With all these advantages, and with the head start already made by the Iraqis, it is not far-fetched at all to suggest that the future capital of the “United Nations Kingdom,” the ten-nation federation established at the beginning of the tribulation, should be established there.  The idea of locating the capital in any one of the ten kingdoms would undoubtedly be resisted by the other nine, so that a “neutral” location would be needed.  With the defeat of Gog (Russia), along with its Moslem allies, including particularly Iran, Turkey, and Libya, plus Ethiopia and, probably, East Germany, as described in Ezekiel 38, as well as many other peoples not named, Iraq may well be sufficiently “neutralized” to make such a project politically desirable and feasible.

     Whatever may prove to be the exact sequence of events, Babylon will surely be rebuilt.  As the beast becomes more and more powerful, he will push the project vigorously.  He will have spiritual motives as well as political, in view of his alliance with Satan, whose center of earthly activities began at Babel and has apparently continued near there through the ages.

     With modern construction equipment and unlimited wealth at his disposal, the beast can rebuild mighty Babylon almost overnight once he gets approval to push the project in earnest.  By the end of the first half of the tribulation, there is every possibility that Babylon once again will be a city of great size and splendor.  Then, when the beast takes over as world dictator, Babylon will immediately become, if it isn’t already, the center of all kinds of government offices, schools, and communications networks, and will be the hub of world trade and finance.  It will also be a city of all kinds of vice and wickedness, proudly flaunting its godlessness for all in heaven and earth to see.

     But “great Babylon” will soon come “in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:19).

Website Builder