The Harlot of Rev.17 exposed (Bible study)
Many in our world today would like to know what certain symbolisms in the Bible mean or point to—yet are unwilling to put any effort into studying and believing the word of God! Even though someone makes an effort to explain this, most will remain in doubt, because of preconceived notions of their own. One of the symbolisms of the book of Revelation is of two women, one mysterious and riding a beast, also called a Harlot. Who is this mysterious “woman” called a harlot in chapter 17 of the book of revelation?
As an introduction to this study, we find written in Rev 17:5 “And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” There are many aspects of this to consider, and several Scriptures relate to this subject that the average person with common religious concepts might not know and even become offended by. So before going too far; what is the meaning of the word “mystery” and why is she called by that word. To understand what the Bible reveals, we must consider every aspect about this statement “mystery” and also the character of this woman. How does the Bible use this word in other areas and what does it mean? Is she a mystery to the majority in what is believed to be the “Christian” religion today and if not, then why are so many confused by this? Believe it or not, there are many today that do not want to acknowledge who this symbolic woman is and would rather she remain a mystery to the rest of the world! Why is that? That will probably be easier to explain and become clearer later on in the study, so we will re-visit this question later.
On the other hand, there are some who have been taught this understanding from the Bible, even had their eyes opened to what is revealed in the Scriptures about this, through the COG in the mid-20th century. Some of those who were in the ministry, along with many members are now trading this truth for falsehoods—figments of their own human reasoning’s along with twists and taking things out of context— now being presented as Scriptural revelation. Individuals who do this with this subject and many others, are allowing themselves to become deceivers and agents of Satan the devil—confusing the minds of their unstable followers and newer people that don’t yet know any better. Satan is behind this in order to deceive the elect or potential elect, who might be prone to follow these misguided men. Another thought is that this woman herself might want to stay a mystery to the world around her, deceiving her own followers—but whatever the case may be—she can be exposed honestly by the Word of GOD! Get your Bible and see for yourself—prove these things for yourself! (I will be using the NKJ unless otherwise noted.)
First, as we begin this Bible Study, let us understand the use of the word “mystery” and how it is used in NT Scripture. The apostle Paul uses this word several times in his writings, as well as John does in this book of revelation. We find this meaning in Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, under MYSTERY; “musterion ^3466^, primarily that which is known to the mustes, "the initiated"--- In the NT it denotes, not the mysterious (as with the Eng. word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, - to those only who are illuminated by His Spirit. In the ordinary sense a "mystery" implies knowledge withheld; its Scriptural significance is truth revealed. Hence the terms especially associated with the subject are "made known," "manifested," "revealed," "preached," "understand," "dispensation."
So the definition given above may be best illustrated by the following passage: "the mystery which hath been hid from all ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to His saints" <Col. 1:26>, RV.”
We see this very thing being verified by other passages of Scripture; Rom 16:25-26 “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began (Other places the margin renders this as “hidden truth”) V.26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith”--
So the COG is no longer in the “dark” concerning these things. The very book where we find this Harlot or great “whore” is a book of revealing or Revelation! Check the words in Daniel 12 about how some prophetic events were to be closed and sealed until the time of the end, which we are now living in. These “mysteries” began to be opened to HWA in the early to mid-20th century, in preparation for the very time of testing we are living in today, and so it is fitting and intended that this harlot be exposed through the COG, down thru time and still today! Notice this passage, cutting into the context; Eph.3:9-10 “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,”—so that should give us enough information to be able to continue with what the Scriptures reveal about this harlot of Rev.17. She is no longer a mystery to the true COG and has been exposed.
Remember that this book of Rev. was written by the apostle John around 90 to 100 A.D. It was put into our English language in the form of the Bible as we know it in 1611, (KJV) a little over 25 years after the protestant reformation and freedom from Catholicism. Rev 17:1 “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,”—so this was inspired and written centuries before the translation of the KJV bible.
What does it mean—she sits on many waters?
We have to remember as we go through the book of revelation that it is a book of many symbols and speaks in symbolic language. However, the Bible is of no private interpretation (2 Pet.1:20-21) and so it interprets itself. We find this interpreted for us in the same chapter and V.15 “Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” Now, I bolded the words “waters”-“sits” and “nations” for a reason because this harlot has been around long enough that she could have symbolically sat on many peoples, even nations down through time, meaning she has been around for centuries!
So who is this harlot of Revelation 17, according to Scripture? Is it a church, as some believe and the COG has taught in the past? Let us notice verse 2-3; first V.2 "with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Let us look at a definition of earth; EARTH 1. ge ^1093^ denotes (a) "earth as arable land," ---(b) "the earth as a whole, the world," --- (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Now we know that the word “inhabitants” refers to those who dwell on the earth and the definition above applies to the whole earth and can be applied at various times—keep this in mind as we read and connect verse 3 “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” (John was allowed to see these things as they stretched down through time, but many of the symbols he did not understand.)
Now we saw earlier that she sat on many waters—meaning many peoples and nations. If this woman is sitting on the back of a beast, where and when did this “beast” come into being and when did the harlot begin to ride this beast? What is this beast? Is this beast considered the head over many nations? To get enough details to come to a right understanding of the beast and this harlot, this has to be explored in the Scriptures as well. We need to go back to Daniels prophecies now and fill in some blanks about this beast the harlot rides. We find this in Dan 7:7 "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” By putting many other pieces of the puzzle together, (Prophetic Scriptures) we find that this beast is a kingdom with dominion over many nations. We can jump ahead now to Rev.13 and find John explaining a similar beast in the first few verses, that covers well over 500 years—which ends up being one and the same beast—the Roman Empire! HWA produced a booklet in the early 1950’s explaining who this beast is, so I will not take the time and space for that. It will become more apparent as we go.
The Roman Empire, as most Bible students will know, was in place at the time of Christ and was instrumental to Satan in trying to destroy the Christ child. Some of this information is found in the 12th chapter of Revelation and elsewhere. After Christ was caught up to heaven Satan went after the “woman” mentioned there in the hope of being able to destroy her. What was the instrument that he used to do that? In order to keep this study from being overly long, we will have to forgo giving the tremendous amount of detail that can be found on this, by just referring you to other materials, such as the “Beast” booklet above and another that is found on this web site. (See the booklet titled; THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST, which also explains more about this harlot and the mark of the beast.)
As you may recall, found in the book of Daniel, the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had about a great image and how Daniel had interpreted its meaning? It was the first of the four great empires. Now which great empire did Nebuchadnezzar rule over and what was its name? (You might want to go back and read that history, found in the second chapter) Dan 1:1 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” This king was the king of Babylon, which came to be the first great kingdom mentioned by Daniel! One could say (to skip many details and shorten the story) this Babylonian and pagan system continued on thru many other rulers of those empires until it settled in the Roman Empire or the fourth beast that Daniel saw in his visions. The emperors set themselves up as gods and required homage to be paid them as such. They also worshiped many other man made gods. Even Nebuchadnezzar did this, by building this golden image (probably a representative of himself) to represent his authority and required all under his rule to bow in worship to this image. (Dan.3:1-7) Most people do not realize that this very thing was a physical type of what was to come in the future—the very thing we are looking into in this study!
It has also come on down to our time today as a system that has engulfed the majority of the world, keeping them deceived to the fact that they are worshipping idols. Scripture tells us it is Satan the devil who deceives the whole world, (Rev.12:9) and blinds people’s minds to the truth, (2 Cor.4:3-4) so this harlot is one of his instruments to deceive. The 1st beast on the other hand is the power that forces that belief on the world. This power also comes from Satan. (Rev.13:2-4) Satan does not want the great whore to be exposed for who she really is! With that in mind we can continue on.
Let us go back now to Daniel seven and pick up the story, because these prophecies revealed to Daniel are some of the same prophecies explained to John by Jesus Christ. However, Daniel fills in some details that Revelation does not have, dealing with this great harlot and the second beast of Rev.13, which also has something to do with her! Daniel’s prophesies reach from his time into the far future and the return of Christ; the angel Gabriel tells Daniel to seal up the words until the time of the end. (Dan.12:4) That means that the majority of this prophecy would not be understood until our time today, as we also explained earlier—how HWA was given much understanding on end time prophetic events. Daniel tells us this; (Dan 7:8) "I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.” This is not the head of an empire, but a human religious office devised and put in place by man, as we will see. When one continues to trace this prophecy thru the Scriptures, it reveals many things to happen through time to our day and beyond—into the very near future—so it is imperative that we understand the truth about this great harlot! What we just read there in verse 8 gets into the beginnings of this religious system that developed into the great whore, as she is called in the 1611 edition of the KJV Bible. Here is a quote from an old Bible study, given by the late John Ogwyn, dealing with this little horn; (Some emphasis mine)
“And then there was a “little horn” that came up out of it that had the first three horns plucked up (Daniel 7:7-8). The “little horn” was the papacy, which at his (POPE) behest had the first three successive states, the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths, “plucked up” because their brand of “Christianity” was a different brand.” (Bible Study # 99 December 8, 1992 Mr. John Ogwyn—WWCG, GCOG then LCOG)
This is in agreement with the understanding given much earlier to HWA and gets us back to the second beast of Rev.13. Let us pick that up now and include that in what we are seeing about this harlot of Rev.17.
Rev 13:11-12 “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he (this office) exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” This is the “little horn” that Daniel speaks of, which later became known as the papacy. At this point, let us note; Rev 17:4 “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.” Do you remember there being two churches mentioned earlier and in the book of Revelation? This is the one that became great, rich and powerful and the 2nd beast of chapter 13 is the head of this “woman” (church) which also turns out to be the “image of the beast”! So when you read about the image of the beast in Scripture, you are also reading about the harlot of revelation 17. What eventually became the Catholic Church was first spoken of in Paul’s writings, and then mentioned by John as “antichrists”, in his epistles, so we should read those passages. (We will have more to say about the other church mentioned in the conclusion.)
Paul exposes these false leaders that counterfeited themselves as apostles of Christ, to be agents or ministers of Satan scattered into the false Christianity of the day! This is found in 2 Cor. 11:13-15! “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! (Paul makes clear what Satan is doing, even today.) For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
These ministers are deceivers and they want to go after the elect with their deceptions, as Christ warned! It is our responsibility to expose them for what they are as Paul tells us in Eph 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Any clever deception is the unfruitful work of darkness and comes from Satan.
Notice what Christ says to His disciples in; Matt 24: 4-5 and 24-25—V.4 “And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.” Now to V.24-25 "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 "See, I have told you beforehand.” (In other words—be prepared and watch out for deceptions!) We are seeing this again today, right in the COG groups by some of the leaders and we have to be honest about it! We have to be watching and willing to acknowledge this or we will end up deceived and following subtle falsehoods! Paul warned about this happening in the COG and this warning is for us as well! Acts 20:29-31 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. (Could HWA have said this as well?) 30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 "Therefore watch, (Luke 21:36) and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Back now to what John called these false ministers that were actually against what Christ really taught and were working parts of the harlot! Please notice it in I Jn 2:18-19 “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” What we have seen described above as actions of these false leaders is not the workings of true Christians led by the Spirit of God—but the works of harlotry and deception coming from Satan the devil through his agents!
These individuals were not true Christians at all, as the apostle John makes clear! They actually taught against the Law of God and the commanded Holy Days, saying Christ did away with the Law and these days! Their “gospel” was focused more on Christ’s person and His crucifixion—because they also do not teach about the coming kingdom of God, the very Gospel message Christ brought! This was all initiated by Simon Magus, the sorcerer who tried to buy the Holy Spirit and was rebuked by the apostle Peter! (Acts 8) Over the years as Simon Magus recruited others and moved to Rome, this system grew into what was known as the universal church and later the Catholic church. When the deadly wound (in 476 AD) was healed in 554 by Justinian, (Rev.13:3-4) this image of the beast/harlot was in place and the papacy was already very powerful. It had made itself into the image of the Roman beast power, (Roman Empire) with the pope set up as an image of the emperor—but he claimed to be one in place of Christ—having the very backing of GOD. This passed in succession (Sanctioned by the Vatican) to future popes right on down to our time today. At this time the harlot began to “ride” the back of the beast. Each time a revival of the Roman Empire occurred, this harlot was there to ride or steer the beast power to force her religion on those in that domain and time frame!
But even before this time, this false system of idol worship/sun worship; later to falsely claim “Christianity”, was persecuting the true Christians—saints—and counterfeiting false doctrines and beliefs for the truth! Paul talked about the “Lawless” one to come and said lawlessness was already working in his day. (2 Thes.2:7) Many years later, under Constantine and after the 325 AD Nicene creed or council, persecutions became even greater and the true COG had to go into hiding, fleeing from these agents of Satan. It is recorded that the second or Smyrna era of the COG had ten long years of this persecution at which time saints were also martyred. (Rev.2:8-11) So this was happening early in Church history. We have seen where the harlot is called the mother of harlots in Scripture and this came about after the protestant reformation. After 1585 many other differing religious denominations began to come on the scene, ending 1260 years of persecution to the true COG. (Rev.12:6) To this day and under the now “retired” pope, the claim was made that all these protestant churches are not really churches, but “daughters” of Rome—Catholicism—making her also the mother of harlots by this statement and as Scripture reveals.
WHY are they considered harlot daughters?
The revelation is that these other protestant churches, even though they went out in protest, have not changed their Babylonian or pagan belief system nor have any turned back to the true ways of God, kept by Christ, the disciples and the NT COG. Many of these pagan beliefs are “marks”, along with the pagan weekly observance of “Sunday”! There is one more revival of the beast to force this hellish system once again on the world and this harlot will once again ride the back of the beast for one more round of persecutions and martyrdoms! Her Babylonian and pagan system will end up being burned with fire and utterly destroyed, (Rev.18) along with the beast and the false prophet, at the return of Christ. (2 Thes.2:8 & Rev.19:20) She will once again try to force her “mark” causing another martyrdom of saints, symbolically drinking once again of the blood of the saints! It seems that many of these “harlot daughters” may return to the original fold! Rev 6:9-11 says; “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”
The harlot of Revelation 17 is the great false church and the promoter of this Babylonian system of false religion and pagan beliefs that permeate the nations today, including modern day Israelites. The very calendar that we in this country go by, as well as most of the world, is of Roman origin. All of the pagan holidays on that calendar are of Roman and Catholic origin which goes all the way back in time to ancient Babylon and is part of the Babylonian system of false worship of idols and human beings who set themselves up as gods. The popes down through time have taken on a blasphemous title and are wrongly called father and holy father—which fulfills what Paul wrote about the man of sin, who is yet to come. II Th 2:3-4 “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
According to Scriptural revelation, this harlot church is still referred to in some places of end time prophecy in the book of Revelation as the “Image of the beast”, so it is my hope that you will take the time to learn more about this harlot and not be deceived by those who would steer you wrong. The word “mystery” involving her simply means “hidden truth” and can be searched out and known by all who would do so today, relying on the Spirit of God to guide them. It is impossible for the Israelites in Britain (Ephraim) or the USA (Manasseh-the two birthright holders) to be this harlot, (some claim this today) as the harlot was shedding the blood of saints long before America was even discovered by Columbus! The first 1260 years of persecution to the COG, starting at 325 AD, was already over (1585) before the USA ever came into being as a nation! (Rev.12:6) The second 1260 years that began in 554, at which time the harlot/image of the beast rode the back of the 1st beast, was already over (1814) before USA became a great world power! The USA and Great Britain did not even begin to receive their greatest blessings until after 1800 and the harlot had ridden all five revivals of the Roman Empire before that time. It should be clear who this great whore or harlot of Rev.17 is today, to those with an open and understanding mind!
In conclusion then, let us look at Rev.12 and determine if it is talking about this harlot woman we have been seeing and if what is mentioned there deals with the physical Israelites in the USA or spiritual Israel today, which is the COG—the “other woman”. We should be able to lay to rest once and for all what to believe in these matters, if we are honest with Scripture, and believe what it reveals!
In Revelation12:1, we find symbolism with the dream of Joseph, concerning Israel in relation to its beginning. They were later brought out of Egyptian captivity—given land—called the “congregation (or church) in the wilderness”—Acts 7:38. We see by many other Scriptures that physical Israel was taken captive by the king of Babylon—part of which has been revealed herein. Rev.12:2 jumps ahead to the time of Christ’s birth. V. 3-4 explain that it is Satan—not Israel—that has these “seven heads and ten horns”—but symbolically is referring to Satan’s beast and the harlot who rides it. V.4 also shows that it is Satan (Using human instruments) who tried to destroy Christ, the head of the true COG—but was unsuccessful. V.5 again reveals that Christ was the Child born and is now at the right hand of the Father, as other earlier passages reveal. Now the scene shifts from physical to Spiritual Israel, the true COG founded in 31 AD on the day of Pentecost. Remember in Matt.16:18, Christ said “I will build my Church”, so this is now talking about Spiritual Israel! V.6 We have already seen as the beginning of persecutions to the true COG and for the duration of 1260 years. We see in the next few verses a symbolic battle and Satan’s attempt at overthrowing God, but is cast out and back to earth—realizing now or the near future that his time is short— he goes after the “woman” (The true COG) but she is protected.(V.14) He is going to try to destroy her (True Church) thru the beast and the harlot. If Israel in either sense were involved and was even part of this harlot—(as some insist today) she would be persecuting herself! That hardly makes any sense. V.14 reveals that a woman, the COG, has finished her work and goes to a place of protection to be kept from Satan’s presence for 3 & ˝ years. V.15-17 shows us that Satan goes after those not yet a part of the Church and/or ones “vomited out” because of being to lukewarm and compromising and he tries to destroy them during the great tribulation.
Clearly there is nothing in this chapter that proves Israel—physical or Spiritual—is the same woman as the harlot of Rev.17! She is the Catholic Church and all her now harlot daughters with their pagan beliefs and traditions! Some will repent and become martyrs during this time of being persecuted by the harlot and Satan, as they will not take her mark. Those who die in the faith, even thru serious trial and perhaps even martyrdom once again, before the return of Christ, will be a part of the Bride. Many passages of Scripture reveals this truth—but one thing is for sure—the woman in chapter twelve is not the harlot of Revelation 17 and anyone being led by the Holy Spirit will come to see this truth. That “woman” is what became true Christianity and is the symbol of the true COG. The harlot is sinful, as the word indicates and will persecute the true Church once again as she has done in the past, as false Christianity! Let no one deceive you on these points of truth or take your crown—study your Bible and prove the truth about this Harlot of Rev.17, along with rejecting every other subtlety and subject that might be used to deceive. Be on your guard in the days ahead!
(Editor for TCOGMSO)