17:12-18 TEN HORNS AND THE HARLOT
“And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not received a kingdom yet; but receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one mind, and shall give their power and authority to the beast” (Revelation 17:12,13).
In chapter 16 the beast (along with the dragon and the false prophet) sent the “spirits of devils” to “the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). The ten kings of chapter 17 represent the kings which responded. Their response is depicted in Revelation 19:19, “The kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [Jesus] and against His army.” In chapter 17 the same scene appears, but instead of using the terms “Him who sat on the horse” and “His army” it calls them “the Lamb” and “those who are with Him”—“These [the beast and the ten kings] shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). The number ten is probably symbolic, as this is a highly symbolic chapter, and ten represents a full and complete number.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
There is an obvious connection with the fourth beast of Daniel 7 which also had 10 horns. The horns of the fourth beast represented the barbarian tribes that took over the Roman Empire and later became the countries of Europe that were used by the Papacy to assert its power. Although the ten kings of chapter 17 are obviously not the same entities as the 10 horns of Daniel 7,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> the European alliance of diverse nations held together by a common glue of religion appears to be the model for the final alliance. The ten kings most likely represent a one-world government headed by the beast/antichrist and consisting of the major powers of the world, united to fight the Battle of Armageddon.
Apparently the harlot riding the scarlet beast is the last-day manifestation of the religio-political entity that was symbolized in chapter 13 by the beast arising from the sea. In chapter 13 there was no distinction between the religious and the political; they were blended together sea beast, representing the integral union of church and state in the medieval papal system. But the distinction is emphasized in the end-time version of Babylon because of the falling out which now takes place— the political scarlet beast and the ten horns will turn against the religious harlot.
Through most of the time of trouble, the harlot (the religious system) will be fully supported by the masses of people—“The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues” (Revelation 17:15). Chapter 16 made it clear that these “waters,” symbolized by “the great river Euphrates,” will be dried up (See 16:12 The Kings from the East). The deceived masses, disillusioned by empty promises and the grief they have suffered during the time of trouble while following their religious leaders, will finally turn against them. Satan, master manipulator that he is, will “go with the flow,” and as the beast-leader of the Babylon political system he will turn the political leaders against the religious leaders—“And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (Revelation 17:16,17).
At the beginning of the chapter the harlot was sitting on the seven-headed beast, obviously in control, but by the end of the chapter she is being destroyed by the antichrist beast and his allies, the ten kings. This does not mean that they have had a conversion experience; their major focus is still to “make war with the Lamb,” but that story is not told until chapter 19. Chapter 18 gives the details of the miserable and total fall of the harlot.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> The clearest example is the Ten Commandments. See also Genesis 18:32, 24:55, 31:41, Ruth 4:2, 1 Samuel 1:8, Daniel 1:12, 20, Zechariah. 8:23, Matthew 25:1,28, Luke 15:8,19:13, Revelation 2:10.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> The main difference is that three of the ten horns of Daniel 7 were rooted out to make way for the little horn, whereas the ten kings of chapter 17 remain an integral unit. There is also the difference of the time frame. The horns of Daniel 7 appear in the sixth century AD, but the horns of Revelation 17 have a last-days context when the beast ascends out of the bottomless pit.