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.
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. Revelation 17:7-13 (KJV)
In verses 1-6 we have had revealed to us the mystery. In the following eight verses the angel gives the interpretation.
The Beast 1) “Was” that means, had lived prior to this day [John’s], 2) “Is not”, that is, was dead during the time of action involved, 3) “Shall ascend out of the bottomless pit”, that is, to come to life and appear on earth [at the time of God’s appointing], 4) “To go into perdition”, that is, to be appointed to death and confined to eternal torment.
The beast comes out of “the bottomless pit”. There are several references to this pit in the Revelation – 9:1-2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3.
The Beasts’ destiny is to perdition. Eternal torment awaits him and all those who follow him. Remembering the “Beast” as a government; governments are represented by leaders and, of course, it would be these leaders of whom this would be speaking.
In these verses, we have the interpretation of the “seven heads”. Rome is often called, “The city of seven hills” and may be somewhat implied.
Sometimes mountain also refers to a kingdom, this seven kingdoms. Since “seven” is the number for completion, this is quite likely a reference to world government, all Gentile governments, and most likely they have reached the end.
Prior to John’s day, five empires had fallen [five kings]: 1) Egypt, 2) Assyria, 3) Babylon, 4) Medo-Persia, and 5) Greece. One king was then present – Rome. The seventh was yet future, and an eighth comes out of the seventh.
The last world ruler could be the seventh and the eighth. When he begins at the beginning of Daniel’s “seventieth week” he is a man greatly influenced by Satan. However, in the midst of the week, he is killed, ending his rule, only to be seemingly raised from death as the incarnation of Satan, totally possessed by him, thus, making the eighth king. This is a possibility, however, there is no way to be dogmatic about it. Only God truly knows.
One thing we can learn from these prophecies of the beast is that the end will be a time of deception, drugs – to bind, blind, and control the minds of men. I do not know about the rest of you but we can see this beginning to take place with the legalization of many mind-altering drugs, and it began with alcohol.
O, soul, will you, rather than trusting in the governments of men; will you call on the One who has come and taken on Himself all the sin of the world, and died for us, was buried and carried our sin, shame, guilt and condemnation away and left them there, and He rose from the dead? He forever lives interceding for us. Call on Him and He delivers you from the wrath to come unto Himself.