Discover the Book - Apr. 18, 2007

This devotional is one day of a 365 days devotional book entitled Living Hope for the End of Days that explores Revelation, the final book of God's Word; and is available at



Understand the True Bride of Jesus

(Revelation 17)

As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you understand the true bride of Jesus!



WEDNESDAY: Who Is the Woman on the Beast?


Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.”

— Revelation 17:1, emphasis added


The woman of chapter 17 is in great contrast to the woman of chapter 12, who is of God. There are several clear identifying marks of the harlot bride of Satan in Revelation 17. If you think with me, you will understand what the apostle John is talking about. As we compare current events to the Scriptures, it gives us a good illustration of what may be the Revelation 17 scenario.3

The harlot is the apostate church. I personally believe that the apostate church will be the Roman Catholic Church merged with all the world religions. You may not believe that they would ever do that, but they already are. That is the horror of this. Most Americans don’t pay any attention to this fact, but everyone else in the world knows.

The woman is a harlot: Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters …” (Revelation 17:1). A harlot (prostitute) is a woman who has promised, but not kept her promise. It is a woman without faithfulness in spiritual worship. She is a spiritual fornicator—the great whore “... with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication ...” (17:2).

In verse 3 we see that the woman of chapter 17 is ungodly: … I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The only thing that conspicuously qualifies here is the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church. A newspaper article reported that in 1986 the leaders of the world’s major religions gathered together with Pope John Paul II in Assisi, Italy.4 In addition to an immense group of protestant religious leaders, those present with all their objects of worship included snake worshipers, fire worshipers, spiritists, animists, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and North American Indian witch doctors. They all came to pray for peace. The Buddhists were allowed to place a drape over the altar of the Catholic church, add their little idols of Buddha, and worship. After the Buddhists took that down, the witch doctors were permitted to come in and dance around in their trance as they called out to their great spirit god. Next were the fire worshipers, the animists, and then all the pagan worshipers with the Dali Lama. The gathering allowed every religious group to come and worship as they saw fit because they said, “We are all seeking the same god.”

This is the only thing that was true in the whole article: they are all seeking the same god—and that is the problem. The god of this world is not sought on an altar that is given over to snakes, fire, images, great spirit gods, and occult trances. There is only one entity that has continuously sought and conspicuously promoted spiritual fornication, and that is the ecumenical movement that shows up in many world religions, including the Roman Catholic Church. After 1986, Pope John Paul II sought to gather every religious leader of the world, and he found them all willing to make a pilgrimage to his doorstep.

The harlot wears purple and scarlet. This woman is not only a harlot and a woman, she was arrayed in purple and scarlet … (17:4a). If you have ever watched any of these religious enclaves on the news, purple and scarlet is another identifier pointing to Rome whose external precious treasures of spiritual trappings are to make her beautiful. Purple and scarlet are the colors of the cardinals and the Roman religious system; they are also the two colors of the Roman Empire.

In the ancient world, purple was the most valuable and exquisite material for making clothing. Because it was so costly, only the Caesars and the very wealthy could afford it. That is why they threw a purple robe on Jesus—to make fun of Him; they hit Him with a stick because they knew He could never afford such a robe. It was all a big joke to them. The Roman Catholic Church is conspicuous in the external precious treasures—the spiritual trappings. The first floor’s artwork in St. Peter’s Cathedral is incalculable in its value. Some of those sculptures are forty feet high and twenty feet wide. They are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and St. Peter’s Cathedral is just one of thousands of buildings and businesses owned by the Roman Catholic Church around the world.

The harlot is wealthy beyond calculation. She is … adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls … (17:4b). No religious institution, past or present, even comes close to possessing the incalculable wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, which is estimated in the trillions of dollars by some Italian newspapers. Do you remember what Peter said? “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus [I come] …” (Acts 3:6). In contrast, the Roman Church says, “Silver and gold? I have lots of it! And you can’t come in the name of Jesus anymore!” See how things have changed? This woman, the harlot, is wearing purple and scarlet and has wealth beyond description.

The harlot is a city that sits on seven hills: “… The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits” (17:9). John was shocked at this. Perhaps it was because he saw it was a form of the church. (Or maybe that he also recognized Mary. It is interesting that Jesus commissioned John to take care of Mary until she died, which he did.) It really doesn’t matter what shocked John, but rather that nothing else in Revelation had shocked him until now. Rome, often called the Eternal City, has always been known as “the city on Seven Hills” (the Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Quirinal, and Viminal Hills). This city is the home of a church that is intolerant of biblical truth, gives birth to much religious error, is the center of a mystery, is guilty of spiritual adultery, and has a golden cup. It is wealthy, clothed in purple and scarlet, and is a woman and a harlot.

The harlot rules over the kings of the earth: … “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues’ ” (17:15). In verse 3 she is first seated on the beast, which means for a time that she directs the beast. This global political influence where she “sits on waters” stands for all peoples, which has often been wielded by the Roman Catholic Church in both European and present world history. There is only one religion that has ruled over the kings of the earth. Yes, the Muslim religion enslaved a lot of people. Yes, there are different religions that have political connotations, but there is only one church that has “sat” to raise up and put down kings. There is only one church that has determined the fate of the nations. If you read history, you will know that church—the Roman Catholic Church. She is sitting on the beast when we first meet her, and then the beast will consume her.

But what does that mean for our lives today? This truth prompts me to want to follow the disciplines that Paul charged Timothy to follow in 1 Timothy 4: nourish my soul in the Word of God daily (v. 4:6b), meditate on God’s Word (v. 15), plus take heed to doctrine and hold on to it (v. 16). When we live in the end times, and the world is filled with deceiving spirits (v. 1), our only hope is in God, through His Word, and by His Spirit!








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