Be sure to read the previous two articles (#1) — (#2) in this important series. Opponents of Covenant Eschatology commonly appeal to Revelation 13 and the identity of the Beast as proof for the late date of Revelation. This is untenable however, and in this, our third installment, we present some of the evidence to demonstrate that the early date is truly the only one that makes sense.
Notice now Revelation 17, where “Babylon” the “Harlot” sits on the beast, and the beast sits on seven hills. It is unfortunate that most commentators draw the conclusion that since Babylon sits on the beast, and the beast sits on the seven hills, that this demands that the Harlot be identified as Rome. However, as numerous scholars have correctly noted, “The real point is that Babylon sits upon the hills. To put it another way, the woman rides upon the Beast. Babylon is one entity, and the place of the seven hills is another.
As Smalley says: “The woman in 17:3 is closely associated with the beast (‘mounted on it’), but not equated with it” Ogden agrees, “Remember, the woman is not the beast or any part of the beast. So, the woman is not Rome. She simply sits upon and is carried by the beast. Since the heads are also seven kings, they also symbolize the kings of the empire carrying Jerusalem.” So, the woman (Babylon) is not the beast, the woman rides on the beast. Babylon sits on the seven hills. The seven hills equal the beast.
In support of Ogden’s (and a host of other commentators) posit that the beast was Rome and Babylon was Jerusalem, it should be noted that in Revelation 13 the two beasts come from two different sources, the sea and the land. Numerous scholars– non-preterist– have noted that throughout scripture, the sea represents the pagan, Gentile nations, while the land represents Israel. I believe this holds true in Revelation, but cannot develop it here.
So, just like chapter 13, Revelation 17 posits a partnership of persecution against the saints.
What is so critical for our understanding of Revelation 13 is that in Revelation 17, the beast turns on the woman and destroys her (17:15f). A once friendly relationship– the relationship of chapter 13– turns sour. Whereas the woman once rode on the beast, the beast now turns on her, and, “will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” So, if Revelation 13 and 17 are parallel, and this seems indubitably true, then we have some evidence that is quite powerful in identifying what is going on in Revelation 13– and this identity helps us eliminate most modern interpretations of Revelation. Here is why.
It is popularly claimed that Revelation was written under the Roman emperor Domitian, who was, ostensibly, the beast, the persecutor of the saints. This is untenable.