scarlet beast. This prostitute rides upon a hideous beast, evidently the same beast as in 13:1–10. The beast, representing the Roman Empire, supports the city of Rome in its luxurious idolatry. It also spreads the practices of Rome throughout the empire. Eventually, however, the beast turns against the prostitute and destroys her (vv. 16, 17). The rapacious powers of Roman government and the Roman legions destroy prosperity, and eventually the military powers of surrounding tribes destroy the city of Rome completely. The lesson from Roman times can be generalized: idolatrous states end up destroying the very powers, riches, privileges, and people that they originally supported. False worship is self-destructive.
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