Peeling the Onion: Revelation 17:9-18

Keep making links, today more for the beast –

What ‘transpersonal entities,

bigger than us, smaller than God’

might you associate with this code?

(the opening phrase telegraphs a ‘wink’)

Imperial, a ‘military-industrial complex’,

Syndicates of big money with big guns,

The woman just the metropolis that steers it

A parody of God,

who is,

and who was,

and who is to come

If the series of tyrannies is whole at 7,

Then 5 are history

The current one is not the last –

Placing our experience as penultimate

This is the 8th such empire,

With many kings, nations and rulers

subordinate to it

Including our own,

till conflict resolves –

War against the Lamb,

but also civil war against the whore

If we were John’s contemporary audience,

We might decode 10 provinces of the Roman Empire

We might see the famed 7 hills of Rome

The imperial capital located in that city

But in our age, as a-millenialists,

For whom this stuff is always and never here and now

What are the tyrants, within what empire –

Transnationals in late capitalism?

What’s your hierarchy of evil entities?

What unholy alliances

of ‘-isms’ and ‘-ologies’

do you recognize?

NJB Fall of Babylon/Rome

11 The beast, who was alive and is alive no longer, is at the same time the eighth and one of the seven, and he is going to his destruction.

12 'The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet been given their royal power but will have royal authority only for a single hour and in association with the beast.

13 They are all of one mind in putting their strength & their powers at the beast's disposal,

14 and they will go to war against the Lamb; but because the Lamb is Lord of lords and King of kings, he will defeat them, he and his followers, the called, the chosen, the trustworthy.'

15 The angel continued, 'The waters you saw, beside which the prostitute was sitting, are all the peoples, the populations, the nations and the languages.

16 But the ten horns and the beast will turn against the prostitute, and tear off her clothes and leave her stark naked; then they will eat her flesh and burn the remains in the fire.

17 In fact, God has influenced their minds to do what he intends, to agree together to put their royal powers at the beast's disposal until the time when God's words shall be fulfilled.

18 The woman you saw is the great city which has authority over all the rulers on earth.'

NSRV Interpret the Beast and Woman

9 ‘This calls for a mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; also, they are seven kings,

10of whom five have fallen, one is living, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain for only a little while.

11As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.

12And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.

13These are united in yielding their power and authority to the beast;

14they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.’

15 And he said to me, ‘The waters that you saw, where the whore is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

16And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the whore; they will make her desolate and naked; they will devour her flesh and burn her up with fire.

17For God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by agreeing to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. 1

8The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.’