A Historicist Interpretation of Revelations – Part 2
The Twentieth Century and the End of the Age
Chapters 17, 18, and 19 of Revelations describe the downfall and judgement of the papacy. Alternatively, they describe the downfall and judgement of the world order. Chapter 17 deals with the ecclesiastical fall. Chapter 18 deals with the economic fall. Chapter 19 deals with the political fall.
Fall of Religious Babylon, the Papacy
Revelation 17:1. The “great whore” is the false harlot woman who symbolizes Babylon. The waters on which the whore sits are peoples, multitudes, and nations (Rev. 17:15). They represent the various European nationalities that constitute the prophetical Roman earth.
Revelation 17:2. Papal Rome has taken many of God’s sacred symbols and doctrines and has corrupted them with her false teachings. She has caused the European nations to “drink the wine of her fornication” (see also Jer. 51:5-10).
Revelation 17:3. The false papal woman sits on a seven-headed ten-horned beast.
Revelation 17:4. This verse describes the papal system with her priest in gorgeous robes. (This compares to the plain white robs of the saints.)
Revelation 17:5. The papacy has taken the truth and has twisted and corrupted it and has made it a mystery to men and an abomination to God. (While the Reformers corrected many papal errors, their work was not complete. They failed to complete the job, and most Protestant churches today still contain errors.)
Revelation 17:6. Having slain, directly or indirectly, 50 million saints, the papacy is drunk with blood.
Revelation 17:7-8. Pagan Rome, which ended in 476 A.D., is the beast “that was.” The “seven heads” of the beast are the seven hills of Rome. The beast that “is not” foretells the temporary disappearance, or fall, of Rome. The beast that “yet is” foretells the reconstruction of Rome. Previously the beast had only one center of rule, the seven-hilled Rome. Now the new beast appears as 10 separate individual kings or kingdoms. (The crowns have moved from the seven heads onto ten horns. Out of the ten horns, one arises “another little horn” [Dan. 7:8], which is the papacy.)
The papacy was not of God but from the bottomless pit.
Israel’s, God’s covenant people, (not Jewry) name is written in God’s great Book from the beginning. “Whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the order [cosmos, age, order]”: They are the noncovenant nations.
Revelation. 17:9. The seven mountains symbolize the seven-hilled city of Rome. (Some interpret this verse as depicting a complete sevenfold panorama of the leading pagan Empires of history, which were at the time of the prophecy being superseded by Roman papacy.)
Revelation 17:10. Some interpret the “seven kings”as the pagan empires that opposed Israel. Others interpret the “seven kings” as the seven governments of Rome. Five — kings, consuls, dictators, decimviri, and military tribunes — had past when John wrote: the five that were. Rome was in its sixth stage — the caesars: the one that is. The next, the seventh, was the despotic emperors: the other “is not yet come.”
Revelation 17:11. The “eighth,” which was “of the seven,” shows that this eighth ruling power would be practically the same as those preceding it. Pagan Rome reappears as papacy Rome. The papacy is the eighth.
Revelation 17:12. (See also Dan. 7:8, 24-25.) After pagan Rome’s downfall in 476 A.D., Western Europe came under papal influence. It was composed of 10 kingdoms: Bavarians, Franks, Burgundians, Alemanni, Suevi, Visigoths, Alans, Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Lombards. The Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Lombards were the three of the first horns plucked up by the “little horn,” the papacy (Dan. 7: 8, 24).
Revelation 17:13. All these kingdoms submitted to papal authority.
Revelation 17:14. These kingdoms sided with papal Rome and martyred the Christians. Both the Church and the chosen nation (Israel, not Jewry) have gained the victory over the beast. Both the Church and the chosen nation are “called” and “chosen” in God’s covenants and promises. Those who make war on them “make war with the Lamb.”
Revelation 17:15. The “waters” are the people, multitudes, nations, and tongues (see Luke 21:25).
Revelation 17:16. The European nations will strip the papacy of its power and influence. (This is being fulfilled by the movement leftward to Nazism, now mostly defunct, and, more completely, to communism and atheism — a movement toward various types of socialism and human secularism.)
Revelation 17:17. The 10 Kingdoms agree to submit to papal authority. However, in the last days they will rebel against papal authority — by that fulfilling God’s word.
Revelation 17:18. The “great city” refers to the papal system. It reigns over the beast (nations). The doom of the papacy begins.
Fall of Economic Babylon
Revelation 18:1-3. The angel proclaims the doom of Babylon. He proclaims that Babylon the great has fallen. Instead of bringing blessings and peace, it has brought chaos and turmoil.
Revelation 18:4. Israel (not Jewry) is called to come out of Babylon. (See Jer. 50 and 51 for a picture of the fall of Babylon and the deliverance of Israel.)
Revelation 18:5-10. (See also Jer. 50 and 51, Isa. 47) The destruction of the present economic system, i.e., fascism, socialism, crony capitalism, the welfare-warfare state, etc., is described.
Revelation 18:11-14. These verses describe an economic or financial cataclysm accompanying the fall of Babylon. Economic cataclysms are seen in the Great Depression and the inflations and hyperinflations that have occurred throughout the world during much of the twentieth century. These events have been worst in Catholic countries than Protestant countries. Over the last 40 years, a decline in real income in the Western world has occurred. Fiat currency and using debt as the primary source of money have been the primary cause of these catastrophes.
Revelation 18:15-19. These verses reemphasize the previous four verses.
Revelation 18:20-23. That which had made Babylon seem great disappears.
Revelation 18:24. The “earth” refers to the papal European prophetical earth. God now judges Babylon and its false doctrines.
Fall of Political Babylon
Revelation 19:1-3. “Heaven” symbolizes God’s chosen nation Israel (not Jewry), which the Great Whore had so bitterly opposed and sought to destroy. These verses may be describing the rejoicing of Israel when the military might and spiritual power of the papal European beast is finally broken. (They could also be describing the rejoicing of the angels, or perhaps the rejoicing of angels and Israel.)
Revelation 19:4-6. Heaven and earth are joined together.
Revelation 19:7. “Wife” refers to the elect “Body of Christ” or the true Church (see Eph. 5:22-32).
Revelation 19:8. The resurrection garments are clean and bright. They are given only to the Church — not the nation, Israel — when Jesus returns. This perfection is not granted to Israel until the end of the millennium.
Revelation 19:11-12. Jesus, who is coming to destroy the beast or dragon and to overthrow the harlot woman who rides the beast, is the rider of the white horse.
Revelation 19:13-15. The “winepress of the wrath of God” depicts God’s judgement on earth. The “vesture dipped in blood” depicts bloodstains from the treading of the age-closing “winepress” of God’s judgment (see Isa. 63:1, 3). The iron rod or scepter of justice and truth is the scepter of righteousness, the scepter of the Kingdom.
Revelation 19:16. Although the title of “Lord of lords and King of kings” intrinsically belongs to Jehovah alone, He has greatly exalted His Son, the slain Lamb, and permits him to take this title when the time comes to give him the throne of David.
Revelation 19:17-19. These verses describe World War I and World War II, and possibly another great war not yet fought, in which the beast (papal Europe) and the kings of the (Roman prophetical) earth fight against his army (Israel).
Revelation 19:20-21. “Mark of the beast” is the mark of the papal system. This is the end of God’s judgement on the papal system and the false prophet, the papacy itself. Casting the beast and false prophet into a lake of fire terminates God’s judgment of this age. The lake of fire is the European conflagration or conflict of the present generation.
The last three chapters of Revelations describe the Millennium and Post-Millennium Age. Chapter 20 describes the Millennium. Chapter 21 describes the new heaven and new earth. Chapter 22 describes the Post-Millennium Age.
The following table compares the time lines of three historicists: Fox, Neser, and Rand.
Copyright © 2011 by Thomas Coley Allen.