17 One of the seven angels who had emptied the bowls came over and said to me, “Come on! I will show you how God will punish that shameless prostitute who sits on many oceans. 2 Every king on earth has slept with her, and her shameless ways are like wine that has made everyone on earth drunk.”
3 With the help of the Spirit, the angel took me into the desert, where I saw a woman sitting on a red beast. The beast was covered with names that were an insult to God, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet robes, and she wore jewelry made of gold, precious stones, and pearls. In her hand she held a gold cup filled with the filthy and nasty things she had done. 5 On her forehead a mysterious name was written: I AM THE GREAT CITY OF BABYLON, THE MOTHER OF EVERY IMMORAL AND FILTHY THING ON EARTH.
6 I could tell that the woman was drunk on the blood of God’s people who had given their lives for Jesus. This surprising sight amazed me, 7 and the angel said:
Why are you so amazed? I will explain the mystery about this woman and about the beast she is sitting on, with its seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast you saw is one that used to be and no longer is. It will come back from the deep pit, but only to be destroyed. Everyone on earth whose names were not written in the book of life[a] before the time of creation will be amazed. They will see this beast that used to be and no longer is, but will be once more.
9 Anyone with wisdom can figure this out. The seven heads that the woman is sitting on stand for seven hills. These heads are also seven kings. 10 Five of the kings are dead. One is ruling now, and the other one has not yet come. But when he does, he will rule for only a little while.
11 You also saw a beast that used to be and no longer is. That beast is one of the seven kings who will return as the eighth king, but only to be destroyed.
12 The ten horns that you saw are ten more kings, who have not yet come into power, and they will rule with the beast for only a short time. 13 They all think alike and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These kings will go to war against the Lamb. But he will defeat them, because he is Lord over all lords and King over all kings. His followers are chosen and special and faithful.
15 The oceans that you saw the prostitute sitting on are crowds of people from all races and languages. 16 The ten horns and the beast will start hating the shameless woman. They will strip off her clothes and leave her naked. Then they will eat her flesh and throw the rest of her body into a fire. 17 God is the one who made these kings all think alike and decide to give their power to the beast. And they will do this until what God has said comes true.
18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over all kings on earth.
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