A Beauty and the Beast
The Truth really is more remarkable than fiction—especially the powerful truth of Bible prophecy! In recent decades stunning events have appeared in the news that prove the Scriptures are not fables composed by men, but are inspired revelations of an Almighty God. Human forecasters know the folly of trying to predict the future, yet God told the prophet Isaiah: "I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done…I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass" (Isaiah 46:9–11). Bible prophecy is history recorded in advance—by a God powerful enough to make it happen! Today, ancient prophecies are unfolding—right before our eyes! The future is sobering; it is not a fairy tale!
In the book of Revelation, we are introduced to a "woman" of dazzling beauty dressed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and jewels (Revelation 17:4). The woman is a great "harlot" who has made the nations drunk with her false teachings (Revelation 17:1, 2, 15). She has committed fornication (had intimate political relations) with the kings of the earth. She rides a scarlet beast and is given a name: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth" (Revelation 17:3, 5).
The identity of this mysterious woman has long fascinated and puzzled Bible readers. For centuries numerous theologians have linked the woman with the Church of Rome—yet our politically correct age deems this unsuitable and accusatory. However, to reject this connection is to ignore the obvious. The Bible often uses the term woman to refer to a church (see Revelation 12:6, 13–17). The woman of Revelation 17 is a church having great pomp and splendor, which disseminates doctrines that are contrary to Scripture and meddles in the politics of this world. These features have marked the Roman Church from its inception. The scarlet color of the woman and the beast is also the color of the Papacy: "the Papal Throne is Scarlet. It is borne by twelve men in Scarlet. The Cardinal's hats and robes are Scarlet" (Halley's Bible Handbook, p. 732). Scarlet is also the predominant color of the Vatican's Swiss Guards. Vestment robes worn by priests and popes are studded with gold and jewels.
This dazzling woman is also described as the "mother of harlots" (Revelation 17:5). Vatican press releases stress the Catholic Church is the "mother" of all churches and that other Christian churches are not "sisters" but "daughters" that emerged from the Roman Church during the Reformation. The real source of many Protestant and Catholic doctrines (i.e., Christmas, Easter) is not the Bible; their source is paganism. Rome, site of the Vatican, is called "the Eternal City." The Bible refers to the home of the woman as "that great city" and as a modern day "Babylon" (Revelation 17:18; 18:1–2). The seven heads of the beast ridden by the woman are seven mountains (Revelation 17:9)—Rome sits on seven hills. The connection between the woman of Revelation 17 and the Roman Church is hardly fiction.
The book of Revelation also mentions an aggressive war-making "beast"—revived after being mortally wounded—that makes war with the saints (Revelation 13:1–10). This resurrected beast will ultimately include ten kings who yield to the beast their sovereignty just before the return of Christ (Revelation 17:11–14). This end-time union or federation will be tenuous and short-lived, and will perish at the Second Coming of Christ (Daniel 2:41–45). Current efforts to create a European Union closely resemble these prophecies—as does the difficulty European powers have working together.
The Apostle John, author of the book of Revelation, describes a second beast that appears like a lamb yet speaks like a dragon (Revelation 13:11–18). This lamb-like beast deceives people by great signs, promotes devotion to the first beast and causes many to receive the mark of the beast. The lamb-like beast has a number—666. Halley records: "Irenaeus, a pupil of Polycarp, a pupil of John, understood the 666 to be the Greek word Lateinos…[which] means Latin Kingdom. Papal Rome made Latin its official language" (Halley's Bible Handbook, p. 726). Papal decrees and official Vatican documents are still issued in Latin. It is no coincidence that the symbolism of the lamb-like beast of Revelation 13 includes the dazzling woman of Revelation 17.
The central role that Rome and the Catholic Church are playing in the effort to unite Europe fits remarkably into prophecies about the rise of an end-time beast power from the ashes of the old Roman Empire. The treaty that created the European Economic Community was signed in 1957—in Rome—by largely Catholic countries. In 1982 the Roman Catholic pontiff delivered a carefully crafted statement to promote European unity at the climax of his tour of Spain.
In an impassioned appeal to all Europeans, the Pope stated: "I John Paul, bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal church, from Santiago [de Compostella] issue to you, old Europe, a cry full of love; Find yourself. Be yourself. Discover your origins. Give life to your roots" (International Herald Tribune, November 10, 1982).
While the Pope's words were primarily a call to Europeans to rediscover their Catholic Christian heritage, his statement rings with prophetic significance. Daniel records a prophecy about a tree (picturing the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar) that was to be chopped down, but its stump and roots were to remain—bound by a band of brass and iron until seven times had passed (Daniel 4:14–25). The king's seven years of insanity partially fulfilled the prophecy. However, the Bible also reveals that a prophetic year of 360 days is the equivalent of 360 years (see Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:4–6). Seven prophetic years (of 360 days) amount to 2,520 years. Babylon fell in 539bc (see Eerdman's Handbook to the Bible, p. 432). Seven prophetic times from 539bc brings us to 1982—the date John Paul urged Europeans to "give life to their roots."
Since 1982 the modern Babylon emerging in central Europe from its ancient roots has seen dramatic growth. In 1989, seven years after the Pope's statement in Santiago, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down—uniting 80 million Germans in the heart of Europe. In 1994 the Treaty of Maastricht created the European Union with a central bank and a common currency. In 1996, the European Parliament passed a law calling member states to respect Sunday—a law that has yet to be enforced. However, Pope John Paul continues to stress the importance of Sunday worship. The enforced observance of Sunday instead of the biblical seventh-day Sabbath would fulfill another prophecy—that an end-time religious leader "shall intend to change times and law" (Daniel 7:25). Legislated Sunday observance could become the mark of the beast that John mentions in Revelation 13:16–18!
The years just ahead will see an increasingly intimate—yet antagonistic—relationship between the developing European Union and the Roman Catholic Church—as the woman maneuvers to ride the beast. However, unlike the movie, this deceptive beauty and increasingly assertive beast will not live together happily ever after! To learn more about this vital subject request our free booklet The Beast of Revelation. Bible prophecies are sure and are coming alive today!
—Douglas S. Winnail