A Study of Revelation 17:16
The Mystery of the Ten Horns
In Revelation 13:1 we see the beast rise up out of the sea. This beast has seven heads and ten horns, just like the dragon.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
This beast rises up out of the unsaved of mankind, like we read in:
"But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."
This beast is going to be powerful all over the earth, for we read in verse 3, “And all the world wondered after the beast”. And therefore this cannot be one individual, for his influence is felt all over the world. Last week we looked at the seven heads of this beast. Today we will look carefully at the ten horns of this beast. Therefore the title of this article is “The Mystery of the Ten Horns”. Before we turn to Revelation 17 we should read again the words of verse 11, which describe the appearance of a second beast.
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.”
What is the difference between the first beast and the second beast?
The 1st beast represents the incarnation of Satan and his demons in humans who will be in control of political governments, governments who have formed a confederation to bring peace on this earth, but decidedly without Christ, or the God of the Bible. The 2nd beast represents the incarnation of Satan in humans who will be in control of religious organizations, who have formed an ecumenical bond to bring peace in the churches, but decidedly without the true Christ, or the true God of the Bible. They are “the rulers of the darkness of this world, harboring spiritual wickedness in high places.” The second beast exercises all his spiritual powers in favor of the first beast. Therefore, several times in the following chapters only the first beast is mentioned. And by this is implied that both the 1st and the 2nd beast appear united as one.
And here we see:
1. A Woman Sitting on the Beast
We have seen this woman two weeks ago, and thus we can be short on this.
And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
And when John saw her, he marvelled with great marvel, because he had seen this woman before when God protected her and nourished her in the wilderness of this world. At that time she was the church, the Bride of Christ. But now she has become the counterfeit church, the bride of Antichrist. She has abandoned her Bridegroom, Christ, and has begun to worship other gods in the place of Christ. Verse 1 says that the woman sitteth upon many waters. This is further explained in verse 15,
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
It means that the many waters where the woman sits are identical to the sea where the beast came out of. The sea represents the wicked of mankind, not from one nation, but from many peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And since we know that Satan rules over many people, we can conclude that the beast also rules over many people. And since the harlot sits on the beast, the harlot also rules over many peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. This woman, the harlot, is symbolic for the kingdom of Satan, and is called Babylon because the ancient city Babylon was also a symbol for the kingdom of Satan. That is why we read in verse 18,
“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”
Let us now look at:
The Beast Out of the Bottomless Pit
We have studied this beast one week ago, and thus we can be short on this.
And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
Why does the beast now ascend out of the Bottomless Pit?
It is because the 1st beast and the 2nd beast are now combined into one beast. The first beast consists primarily of the officials in regular instituted government, which has become the beast. The second beast consists primarily of officials in the churches where false doctrine is taught, for the second beast is also called, the false prophet. The first beast is the authority on the political front, whereas the second beast is the authority in religion. The first beast came out of the sea of the unsaved masses of mankind, both from within the organized church as well as out of the masses of unchurched people. The second beast came out of the earth, or the land, pointing to the elite of the churches. All these people were never saved, and that is why they could be so thoroughly deceived by Satan, the master-deceiver. Both the sea and the land belong to the Bottomless Pit where Satan was cast into, for we can see that in:
“Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath”.
That is why in Revelation 17 the beast is said to ascend out of the Bottomless Pit. In the text of Revelation 17 these two beasts are spoken of as if they were united into one beast. This beast has 7 heads and 10 horns, and now the heads and the horns are addressed separately. We have already seen that these numbers 7 and 10 should be considered symbolically. The number 7 represents perfection according to God’s plan and the number 10 represents completion according to God’s plan. The 7 heads represent 7 kingdoms. According to God’s plan it is the perfect number of kingdoms which span a length of time from the beginning of creation until Judgment Day, where the last of the 7 kingdoms is Satan’s kingdom during the Final Trbulation Period. On the other hand we should see the ten horns all at one moment in time, all simultaneously occurring during the Final Tribulation Period. According to God’s plan it is the complete number of kingdoms in the confederation of governments represented by the beast at that time. If the seven heads are envisioned on a timeline, then the ten horns should be envisioned on a line perpendicular to that timeline, at the time of the Final Tribulation Period. Furthermore we should see the dragon, the beast and the false prophet as three distinct persons. Satan cannot perfectly imitate God in His holy Trinity. The beast and the false prophet are conceived by Satan. They are human beings who are indwelt by Satan and his demons.
The Ten Horns on the Beast
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 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.
These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
¶ 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.
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 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. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
Why is the beast here called the eight king?
God derives this from Dan 7 where Daniel was given a vision in which he saw four wild beasts, all four pointing to the beast of Revelation 13:1. But the 4th beast was exceedingly dreadful and terrible, and it had ten horns. But then horn number 11 sprouted up. I read in:
I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Three of the ten horns were plucked up by one new little horn which came up after them. God gave us this parable to let us see the analogy between the little horn and Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. In the 7th year and in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar he uprooted three kings of Judah, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.
From the actions of the little horn as described in Daniel chapter 7 and chapter 8 we know that the little horn is representing Antichrist. He is called a little horn, because Christ is the Big Horn. But by this we know that the king of Babylon represents Antichrist; not Satan but Antichrist, for Antichrist is called a man in 2 Thessalonians 2, and the king of Babylon is a man.
But this is why the beast is called the 8th king in Revelation 17:11, and yet in another framework he is the king in the last of the seven kingdoms, the Final Tribualtion Period. When God says in:
“he is the eighth, and is of the seven”
God is referring to two different vantage points: one in which Antichrist is reigning over Babylon, the harlot, and the other one in which Antichrist is reigning during the Final Tribulation Period.
The ten horns were crowned in Revelation 13:1. By this we understand that the ten horns symbolize the completeness of Antichrist’s rule over all the earth during the Final Tribulation Period. The people ruled over by the ten horns shall make war with the Lamb, but that is the spiritual warfare going on during the Final Tribulation Period. God has given Satan the privilege to continue his rule over the hearts of unsaved people as long as this world continues. But when the last of the elect has been saved God has no reason to prolong the life of the rest of mankind, for all God’s purposes will then be fulfilled, and the life of the ten kings will have come to an end. Victorious along with Christ are those that are called, and chosen, and faithful.
But here in Revelation 17:16 we see a new event in the scenario of events near the end of time. It seems that before Christ returns to bring judgment on the unsaved of the world, first the church, the false church, will be wiped off the map.
Is this really so?
Is this going to come to pass before Christ returns?
It seems that the harlot, who sits on the beast, is in competition with the ten horns on the beast, and she will be destroyed by the ten horns, the complete confederation of governments at the end of time. First we must come to grips with the Question:
2. What Is the Church?
The true church of Christ is not defined by her building, but by her relationship to Jesus Christ:
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Those who have received saving faith from God have received it by grace, and have become fellow citizens with all the saints.
And what is that faith that we must have received?
It is the faith to believe all that the Apostles and Prophets have written, especially those writings where Jesus Christ Himself is portrayed as the chief cornerstone of the foundation of our faith. In Christ the saints are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Individually they are temples of God, for God has come to live in their souls. But they are also fitly framed to grow together as one holy temple in the Lord. Through the church as an organism for which Christ died the saints manifest themselves as the body of Christ, worship and glorify their God and King, and reveal His glory in the midst of this world. Their meeting together has a twofold purpose: First of all for the upbuilding of the saints in Christ Jesus so that they may come to a fuller and clearer knowledge and stronger faith concerning the grace that is in Christ, so that they may know the true Christ of the Bible and Him who has sent Christ into the world. Secondly, the saints come together for the propagation of the Gospel in every land, for together they can do greater works and are more efficient than individually. Thus the task of the church is definitely circumscribed. The task is an open ended task; it never ends. This is the internal condition of the true church.
What is in general the outward appearance of the church?
The woman of Revelation 12 and Revelation 17, we must remember, in her outward appearance is the church of Jesus Christ on earth. Externally in every respect she looks like the true church. She calls herself the church of Jesus Christ. She has church buildings, just as the true church has had through the centuries. In those buildings we find the sanctuaries where worship services are held, and where congregations meet at least once a week on the Sunday. On the pulpit we find the Bible, which supposedly is the foundation of the church. Behind the pulpit we find an ordained minister, preaching, or pretending to preach, the Word of God. The congregation sings, and prays, and confesses, and listens to the preaching. The sacraments are administered, by which we understand Water Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
And as they go, they receive the benediction in the name of God. Regardless now of what use there is made of that Bible on the pulpit, regardless too of how the minister accomplishes his task of administering the Word, and regardless of the nature of their worship, the fact is that outwardly there is no difference between the true church and the false church. The woman of Revelation 12 is the church as we know her. The harlot woman also represents the church of Jesus Christ. Just as well as any harlot outwardly looks like any other woman, so does the harlot church look like the true church of Christ on this earth.
What are the actions of the church in general?
What are her works?
At least once a week both the true church and the harlot church meet regularly to be fed spiritually. They evangelize, for both the harlot church and the true church must go out to win converts. Both the harlot church and the true church have their programs to minister to the needy, and both the harlot church and the true church are actively involved with internally socializing among their members. But there is where the similarity ends. The question before us is now:
How does the true church become a harlot church?
Before we answer this we must first consider the other rend of the spectrum, and inquire about the origin of the beast.
What Is the State?
The state is the regularly instituted government, as we all believe in the legality and necessity of its existence in this day and age. State government is necessary to hold the sinfulness of man in check. State government exists by the will of God, and God commands from us that we obey the government. The state is clearly defined in the Bible by the words we find in Romans 13:1-7.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Do people receive damnation because they disobey the state?
No, this is not the only reason why they receive damnation. Generally the people who resist the state are people who are unsaved, and their disobedience to the state only adds to their condemnation. But people are not condemned just for disobedience to the state, just as we are not saved for obedience to any commandment. When God saves us we also receive a second nature to obey the commandments of God, including the command to obey the government. Therefore, when we pay our taxes we should pay them joyfully, for this is what God commands us to do. And thus from Romans 13:1-7 we can conclude:
1. The state is an institution of God; it is ordained by God to bear the sword power, to punish evil-doers and to protect the law abiding citizens.
2. The state is a temporal institution, to maintain law and order in the midst of a corrupt world.
3. The instrument God has given the state is not spiritual, but material: It is the power of the sword and all that this implies.
4. For these reasons we must bring honor to whom honor is due, which implies that we must obey the authorities, we must pay taxes to who taxes are due, and we must respect and honor the office of the authority who has the charge over us.
This is the purpose of our government, and this is the Scriptural concept of government. And for conscience’ sake the Christian can never become a rebel or even a traitor in time of war or of peace, unless that government should demand of the Christian that he would act contrary to the will of God. Now we should ask the question:
3. How Does the State Become a Beast?
In Isaiah 14 God addresses the king of Babylon in a proverb, which means in a parable. We read in Verse 4, “Thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon”. We will pick up this parable in verse 12.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
It seems that God is addressing the angel Lucifer, who became Satan. We must realize that before the fall of Adam God has created everything good, and thus the angel that rebelled could not have the name Satan, for Satan means “the Adversary”. Here in Isaiah 14:12 God is addressing Satan by speaking to his Antichrist; just as in the Garden of Eden God was addressing Satan by speaking to the serpent. God addresses him here as Lucifer, “light-bearer”, which explains the warning in 2 Corinthians 11 that Satan shall come “as an angel of light”, or that Jesus said in Luke 10, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven”. Lucifer has said in his heart, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God”, which means that Lucifer had a plan to exalt his throne above the stars of God. We know what that plan was. It was the plan to tempt Eve and then Adam into sin, by which Adam and Eve would lose their favorite position with God. It was a plan to promise Adam and Eve “Your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”. It is a hollow promise of godlike wisdom. And likewise, when Satan tempts the magistrates to take actions that exceed their mandate, and promises them godlike wisdom, then the state will not be satisfied with their task of maintaining law and order. Then the state will strive for worldwide power, in order that through her agency the world may become like a kingdom of God. Then the state will be in the business of rooting out evil, for the state has defined what good and evil is. Then the state will for example persecute parents who spank their children, and persecute preachers who preach against homosexuality and abortion, because the state has defined what is good or evil. Then the state will tell us that the purpose of the state is not temporal, but eternal, and they will try to imitate the Kingdom promised by God. Then the state attempts to establish a kingdom of righteousness and peace without the Word of God and without the blood of Christ, and then it has become antichristian, and it has become the beast. Then the state dictates which gods are acceptable to worship, for we must not antagonize other worshippers in their religion. Then the state will declare ecumenical principles which may not be violated, which means that we must tolerate other religions, and we may not evangelize them, for that would be an insult to thee other religions. This is how the state becomes the beast. This is how the state presumes to represent the Kingdom of Christ, but without Christ or the Bible. This is how the wrong relationship between the church and the state comes into being.
How Does the Church Become a Harlot?
Outwardly the woman and the beast, the church and the state, are both institutions of God. But they were designed to be separate institutions, not be united like is shown in Revelation 17:3, where the woman sits upon the beast. It means that the church and the worldly state have become intimate allies. It means that the beast is the support and strength for the woman, but it also means at the same time that the beast employs the woman for his own purposes. This intimate union of church and worldly government means that both are united in character, are united in purpose, are united in aim and effort, and are united together to strive for a common goal.
And how can the woman please the beast?
First she becomes one in mind with the beast. Then she will deny that the blood of Christ is necessary to establish the Kingdom of God. Then she will seek her hope in this world and will work with the state to form that great state where everyone is happy and well. Then she will be busy with all kinds of causes such as establishing study committees to study the acceptance of women and homosexuals in the ministry, to study the acceptance of people with bare feet in the sanctuary, to study the matter of unwed mothers, and so on. Then she will no more preach of sin, or of total depravity, or of regeneration, or of the atonement of Christ. Instead she will be preaching moralizing messages to make this world a better place. Then she will preach on war and peace, on all kinds of legislation, on prohibition, on women’s rights, on hygiene and health ordinances, on wages and labor, and so on. Then she will try to tell her members how through all these things we will have a great and glorious kingdom here on earth. The woman has become a harlot. Lucifer has said in his heart, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation”, which means he is going to take his place behind the pulpit in the sanctuary. God speaks about this in:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-6
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2 Thessalonians 2:7-9
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe THE lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe THE lie, for they will rather believe
THE lie than believe the truth. Thus God’s wrath rests upon the harlot church.
4. How Will the Harlot Be Judged?
The harlot church preaches a religion that is acceptable to the world. She enjoys the favor of the world; they lavish her with gold, pearls, and purple raiment. But she also persecutes the saints who refuse to join her. It is all abomination to God, and as soon as her work is done God will put an end to this:
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.
For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
In other words, one part of the kingdom of Satan shall fight against another part of the kingdom of Satan. This self-destruction of the kingdom of Satan shall intensify as we approach the end of time. Just as the true church shall disappear when her work is done, so the harlot church shall disappear when her work is done. The kings in charge of the government during the Final Tribulation Period will see to it. The false church shall be abolished, and finally the beast, Antichrist, shall reign without any church. This is something that shall not come to pass suddenly, but very gradually, so as not to cause alarm among people who still remember something out of the Bible. We see it has already come to pass in Europe. Churches are closing, or are converted to museums, or restaurants, or are demolished entirely. Then shall the kingdom of Antichrist be complete. The shadow of Christ has been erased. The beast, the ten horns, and the false prophet have done their work, and now it is their turn to be done away.
Where Should We Be to Get Out of the Way?
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Watch therefore that ye fall not into the temptation of joining her. When we know of churches who do not preach the true Gospel, we should be careful not to join their worship services. God’s command is very clear: We must come out of her; not just by erasing our name from the membership rolls, but physically come out of her when she engages in proclaiming her heretical religion.
We must be careful when we join a Bible Study group from one of those churches that we are there only to let people listen to our Gospel from the Bible, but that we do not let others tell us what their gospel is. We do not want to be evangelized by them. God forbids us to be in such a position. God says in:
2 John 10-11
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
Therefore, where should we be and how should we get out of the way?
God is about to drop the BOMB on planet earth.
When that comes to pass, where do we want Him to find us?
Certainly we do not want Him to find us in a movie theater watching the Davinci Code, and neither in a false church listening to blasphemies.
By Alfred Chompff