17 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me. He said, “Come, and I will show you the punishment that will be given to the great prostitute, the one sitting over many waters. 2 The kings of the earth sinned sexually with her, and the people of the earth became drunk from the wine of her sexual sin.”
3 Then the angel carried me away by the Spirit to the desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a red beast. It was covered with names against God written on it, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and red and was shining with the gold, precious jewels, and pearls she was wearing. She had a golden cup in her hand, a cup filled with evil things and the uncleanness of her sexual sin. 5 On her forehead a title was written that was secret. This is what was written:
the great babylon
mother of prostitutes
and of the evil things of the earth
6 Then I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people and with the blood of those who were killed because of their faith in Jesus.
When I saw the woman, I was very amazed. 7 Then the angel said to me, “Why are you amazed? I will tell you the secret of this woman and the beast she rides—the one with seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast you saw was once alive but is not alive now. But soon it will come up out of the bottomless pit and go away to be destroyed. There are people who live on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life since the beginning of the world. They will be amazed when they see the beast, because he was once alive, is not alive now, but will come again.
9 “You need a wise mind to understand this. The seven heads on the beast are seven mountains where the woman sits. 10 And they are seven kings. Five of the kings have already been destroyed, one of the kings lives now, and another has not yet come. When he comes, he must stay a short time. 11 The beast that was once alive, but is not alive now, is also an eighth king. He belongs to the first seven kings, and he will go away to be destroyed.
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet begun to rule, but they will receive power to rule with the beast for one hour. 13 All ten of these kings have the same purpose, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. He will defeat them with his called, chosen, and faithful followers.”
15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, races, nations, and languages. 16 The ten horns and the beast you saw will hate the prostitute. They will take everything she has and leave her naked. They will eat her body and burn her with fire. 17 God made the ten horns want to carry out his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until what God has said comes about. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
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