VATICAN, the smallest country in the world located entirely within the City of Rome.
Virtually all attention these days is focused on the coming Antichrist — but he is only half the story. Many are amazed to discover in Revelation 17 that there is also another mysterious character in the heart of prophecy — a woman who rides the beast.” The Bible says she is a city and gives remarkable clues to her identity.
A woman rides the beast, and that woman is a city built on seven hills that reigns over the kings of the earth. Furthermore, she is a city built on seven hills. That specification eliminates ancient Babylon. Only one city has for more than 2000 years been known as the city on seven hills. That city is Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined.”
As for “Mystery,” that name imprinted on the woman’s forehead is the perfect designation for Vatican City. Mystery is at the very heart of Roman Catholicism, from the words “Mysterium fide” pronounced at the alleged transformation of the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ to the enigmatic apparitions of Mary around the world.
WHO IS THE WHORE? The first thing we are told about the woman is that she is a “whore” (Revelation 17:1), that earthly kings “have committed fornication with her” (verse 2), and that “all the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (verse 3). Why would a city be called a whore and be accused of having committed fornication with kings? Fornication and adultery are used in the Bible in both the physical and the spiritual sense. Of Jerusalem God said, “How is the faithful city become a harlot!” (Isaiah 1:21). Israel, whom God had set apart from all other peoples to be holy for His purposes, had entered into unholy, adulterous alliances with the idol-worshiping nations about her. She had “committed adultery with stones and with stocks [idols]“ (Jeremiah 3:9); “and with their idols have they committed adultery” (Ezekiel 23:37). The entire chapter of Ezekiel 16 explains Israel’s spiritual adultery in detail, both with heathen nations and with their false gods, as do many other passages.
ROME EQUALS VATICAN: Some may object that it is Rome, and not that small part of it known as Vatican City, which is built on seven hills, and that the Vatican can hardly be called a “great city.” Though both objections are true, the words “Vatican” and “Rome” are universally used interchangeably. Just as one would refer to Washington and mean the government that runs the United States, so one refers to Rome and means the hierarchy that rules the Roman Catholic Church.
DRUNK WITH THE MARTYR’S BLOOD – John next notices that the woman is drunk — and not with an alcoholic beverage. She is drunk with “the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus…” (Revelation 17:6).
MORE BLOOD THAN THE PAGANS – Pagan Rome made sport of throwing to the lions, burning and otherwise killing thousands of Christians and not a few Jews. Yet “Christian” Rome slaughtered many times that number of both Christians and Jews. Beside those victims of the Inquisition, there were Huguenots, Albigenses, Waldenses, and other Christians who were massacred, tortured, and burned at the stake by the hundreds of thousands simply because they refused to align themselves with the Roman Catholic Church and its corruption and heretical dogmas and practices. Out of conscience they tried to follow the teachings of Christ and the apostles independent of Rome, and for that crime they were maligned, hunted, imprisoned, tortured, and slain.
Why would Rome ever apologize for or even admit this holocaust? No one calls her to account today. Protestants have now forgotten the hundreds of thousands of people burned at the stake for embracing the simple gospel of Christ and refusing to bow to papal authority. Amazingly, Protestants are now embracing Rome as Christian while she insists that the “separated brethren” be reconciled to her on her unchangeable terms!
Many evangelical leaders are intent upon working with Roman Catholics to evangelize the world by the year 2000. They don’t want to hear any “negative” reminders of the millions of people tortured and slain by the Church to which they now pay homage, or the fact that Rome has a false gospel of sacramental works.
The VATICAN is the only city which exchanges ambassadors with nations, and she does so with every major country on earth. Ambassadors come to the Vatican from every major country, including the United States, not out of mere courtesy but because the pope is the most powerful ruler on earth today. Yes, ambassadors of nations come to Washington D.C, to Paris, or to London, but only because the national government has its capital there. Nor does Washington, Paris, London, or any other city send ambassadors to other countries. Only Vatican City does so. Unlike any other city on earth, the Vatican is acknowledged as a sovereign state in its own right, separate and distinct from the nation of Italy surrounding it. There is no other city in history of which this has been true, and such is still the case today.
Only of the Vatican could it be said that a city reigns over the kings of the earth.
The HARLOT of unified world religion rules for a season, and the Antichrist waits in the wings, biding his time. During her short 3.5 years of rule she will try to mold all her subjects to her master’s wishes. She will be put under enormous duress to persecute the saints. This is just as she has done in the past.
When John sees the Beast in verse 13 the harlot is no longer riding. So we can reasonably assume that the harlot rules for the first 3.5 years of Daniel’s 70th Week. She rules during the first 3.5 years of the final seven years of this age.
Revelation 17:16—17, “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh, For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.”
“The deadly wound” of Antichrist is healed by the indwelling of Satan himself, simulating the resurrection of Christ, in the middle of the Tribulation.
From then on, the world does not worship mystery Babylon but the image of the beast. The False Prophet will do away with all religion except the worship of Antichrist Satan, which he will enforce. That begins in the middle of the Tribulation, that’s described in Rev. 13. This is the time when people will have to take the mark of the beast and swear their loyalty to the beast of face death. No middle ground, either accept Jesus or accept the beast.
Since the woman who rides the beast gets her authority from the beast, the Holy Spirit uses this description to show how religious Babylon and governmental Babylon are so intertwined they are presented together. However, they are destroyed at different times. The prostitute (religious Babylon) is destroyed by the “beast and the kings of the earth,” who “hate the prostitute” and kill her.
This clears the way for Antichrist to fulfill the lifetime dream of Satan to get people to worship him. She is destroyed in the middle of the Tribulation. Then Babylon the governmental system will be destroyed at the end of Tribulation, when commercial Babylon is destroyed (Rev. 18). With “Mystery Babylon the Mother of Prostitutes” out of the way, “all inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast, all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world”. (Rev. 13:8)