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 Revelation chapter 17

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PostSubject: Revelation chapter 17   Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:35 pm



Mystical Babylon

(Parenthetical, Rev. 17:1-18)

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns” (Rev. 17:1-7).

Revelation 17 is the eighth parenthetical passage and is an account in some detail of Ecclesiastical Babylon, her identification, character, power, wickedness, judgment and destruction by the Antichrist and the ten kings, as well as an explanation of the beast and its seven heads and ten horns. This passage is parenthetical for the following reasons:

1. It is dislocated from its proper place as to fulfillment and is inserted here as explanatory matter between the act of the destruction of Literal Babylon of the seventh vial (Rev. 16:17-21), and the complete description of that destruction in Rev. 18:1-24. The placing of it here is to show the contrast between Mystical Babylon and Literal Babylon, rather than show its sequence of fulfillment. Its fulfillment is not contained in the vials, and therefore, is not a part of them. The seven vials, and, in fact, all of the events of the last three and one-half years will be fulfilled after the destruction of Mystical Babylon. The doom of Mystical Babylon by the Antichrist and the ten kings will transpire in the middle of the Week that the beast and his image may be the only objects of worship for the last three and one-half years, Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:1-18; 14:9-11.
2. This Mystical Babylon will dominate the ten kings and even the beast himself for the first three and one-half years until they together will receive power sufficient to destroy her. They will burn her with fire in the middle of the Week. The Antichrist will have all power in the last three and one-half years because of her destruction. This event will happen before the vial judgments which fall upon the beast and his kingdom, rather than upon the great whore.
3. Rev. 17 must be parenthetical because no revelation concerning the beast could be given before the rise of the beast, nor could the woman ride upon the beast until it appeared.

Points of Contrast Between the Two Babylons of Rev. 17 and 18

1. One of the “seven angels” shows John the complete mystery of the woman (Rev. 17:1, 7), while “another angel” begins the other message, Rev. 18:1.
2. The woman and the beast are symbolic in Rev. 17:1-18. Nothing is symbolic in Rev. 18:1-24.
3. Everything is explained in Rev. 17:1-18. Everything is clear in Rev. 18:1-24, and therefore needs no explanation.
4. The woman and the beast are mysteries in Rev. 17:7. Nothing is mysterious in Rev. 18:1-24.
5. In Rev. 17 the angel talks to John explaining, while in Chapter 18 John simply hears various voices announcing certain facts, Rev. 18:1,2, 4, 10, 16, 18, 21. This would be entirely out of place if the two Babylons were to be the same, for the angel in Rev. 17 promised John this: “I will tell thee the mystery of the Woman.”
6. The Babylon in Rev. 17 will dominate the nations (Rev. 17:1, 9, 15, 18, while the Babylon in Rev. 18 will not.
7. One is called “the woman;” the “great whore;” etc. The other is not.
8. One is on a scarlet colored beast. The other is not, etc.

The woman and the beast are fully explained in Rev. 17 and the revelation of these things is completed before the description of Literal Babylon is begun. In Rev. 18 there is another separate and distinct description of another thing entirely. This is proven by the expression “after these things,” clearly referring to the things after the complete revelation of the woman and the beast. This does not mean that Rev. 18 is an immediate fulfillment after “these things,” but that it was received by John in the revelation after them. Most of the things that are spoken concerning the woman in Rev. 17 do not and cannot apply to a literal city, and the things spoken of the city in Rev. 18 cannot possibly apply to the same thing that the woman symbolizes. If the two Babylons were one and the same they would be destroyed together, but we have seen above that they are to be destroyed at different times, and by different persons and for different causes.

Points of Similarity of the Two Babylons

1. Both commit fornication with kings of the earth; one in a religious way, the other in a commercial way, Rev. 17:2; 18:3, 9; 19:2.
2. Both shed the blood of saints, Rev. 17:6; 18:24.
3. Both have a cup of abominations, Rev. 17:4; 18:6.
4. Both are called a city, Rev. 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19-21.
5. Both are made desolate, Rev. 17:16,17; 18:19.
6. Both are called “Babylon the Great,” Rev. 17:5; 18:2.

The Identity of Mystical Babylon

There are many marks of identification proving Mystical Babylon to be a great religious system. Scholars believe that Babylonianism will control the ten kings of Revised Rome and will dominate the beast for a short time during his rise over the ten kings and until the middle of the Week. Then, the beast and the ten kings will destroy her (religious Babylon) so that the beast (Antichrist) may be worshiped only the last three and one-half years of the tribulation period, Rev. 17:9-17.

The scholars point out that the “whore” is not a political organization, but a religious one with political aspirations. Having a present program to rule the world, she has always satisfied herself with the power of dictation through kings, rather than by the direct ruling of kingdoms.

Identified by Her Names

1. She has a name on her forehead, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,” Rev. 17:5. This name is surely appropriate as far as Babylonianism is concerned. Paul called the Church a “mystery” because it was unknown to the Old Testament prophets, Eph. 3:1-12; 5:23-32. So here this apostate religious system is called a “mystery” because she was not known before her revelation to John here.
2. She has a name on her forehead, “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” Rev. 17:4. This name is also appropriate to Babylonianism and means “one who has forsaken the true God and His worship, to follow idols and false gods.” The “HARLOTS” in this name no doubt refer to the many branches of Christendom who, in the last days, will affiliate themselves with Babylonianism and together make the “MOTHER” AND “HARLOTS” of this symbol in one religious system dominating the ten kings before and during the rise of the Antichrist to full power over the ten kings. When every believer “in Christ” is taken out of the world, it will not take long for this union to be made. All signs point more or less to a union of different denominations and when that is formed they will not be far from Babylonianism. Many churches of today are denying the gospel and its power and have only “a form of godliness,” as foretold in 2 Tim. 3:1-5. Upon becoming apostate and extremely liberalistic they become “HARLOTS” as much as their “MOTHER.” They become linked with the world and favorable with the union of many others who can lay aside all parts of the gospel that may prevent a common union of all churches. The spirit of the age is to depart from the faith and “get together” in one union, which will prove to the world that there is no difference among churches. This condition the most naive among us recognize. There is a widespread movement among leaders of the large denominations to unite all religions into one a step towards this by Satan to change things prematurely but will only happen in God's timing.
3. She has a name on her forehead, “THE MOTHER OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH,” Rev. 17:5. This, too, is very appropriate of the Babylonian religious system. The word “abomination” in Scripture means anything hateful and detestable. Here it seems to be the evil doctrines and practices of a great religious system. This name is easy to comprehend after we have examined her history. The many abominations of the earth today had their start in Babylon and are now practiced by this woman. She is the “MOTHER OF ABOMINATIONS” in the sense that she mothers and shelters the principles of doctrine and practice of ancient Babylon and of paganism.
4. She is called “the Great Whore”:

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:1-2).

The waters are explained in Rev. 17:3, 11, 15 as being “a scarlet colored beast” and the eighth kingdom made up of “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” These peoples are mentioned in this passage as “kings of the earth” and “inhabitants of the earth” whom the great whore will make drunk with the wine of her fornication. This shows the exercise of her future power over many nations and kings in holding them duped under her own power, as has been demonstrated for centuries in the past. But this influence will not continue long, for these kings and peoples whom she intoxicates will become sober and see her in her true light as a domineering, selfish religious system whose only purpose is to get rich from the ignorance and superstition of her adherents. Her bold, dictatorial manner will cause her to overreach herself in her greed for more power and the ten kings will suddenly turn on her and give their kingdoms to Antichrist that they may destroy her in the middle of the Week. The word “fornication” refers to her illicit practices and superstitious pagan ceremonies appealing to the religious nature of men which give her influence over the many peoples. She has long kept them in drunkenness of superstition and ignorance of the true teachings of Christ and held an unbelievable influence over the masses, who are afraid of eternal damnation without her blessing. This term not only refers to physical, but also to spiritual harlotry, Jer. 3:6-9; Ezek. 16:32; Hos. 1:2; Rev. 2:22. This woman is the peerless harlot, “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” This passage is for the purpose of showing John “the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.” The very one whom she has kept in superstition are to turn on her and destroy her; they will leave her and unite with Antichrist and his cause, Rev. 17:14-17.

5. She is called “the woman” which identifies her with the Revised Roman Empire religious system, Rev. 17:3, 4. This usage is closely akin to “the great whore” above, so needs no special comment.
6. She is called “That Great City”

“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18).

This is the last title that she is known by in this chapter and it brings out a different phase of truth about her in emphasizing her identification. It has to do with her headquarters from which she rules many kings and nations. This verse literally reads: “And the woman whom thou sawest is the city the great, which has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” This clearly shows that she is not a political power, but a system whose kingdom dominates political kingdoms of the earth, and the place of her headquarters is “the city the great.” Must we not look for a literal city according this one verse, since that is what is plainly stated and implied? This does not contradict all the above truths of a religious system, but merely shows the seat of the system. It would be necessary for for the woman to have a headquarters in some city. She not only represents a great city, buy she has a kingdom over other kingdoms. We must find a city which has a kingdom over all other cities and kingdoms. There is only one city which can possibly fulfill these criteria and that is Babylon, the seat of the whore. The Roman Church claims to be the kingdom of Christ on earth with power to rule the wills of men and dictate to kings of the earth but will not be the seat of the whore.

The Whore is Identified by Her Attire

“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Rev. 17:4)

This is a divine portrait of the colors and riches of this religious system. Scarlet is the color of religiousism. Scarlet color upon the woman is the same in meaning as upon the seven-headed beast, and symbolizes her murderous sins in bringing all under control, even by punishment by death. The woman is to drunk with the blood of the saints, Rev. 17:6. This religion is the richest in existence, as pictured here under the figure of a woman “decked with gold, and precious stones and pearls.” She is also seen as having a golden cup “full of the abominations and filthiness of her fornication.” We studied above.

The Whore is Identified by Her Drunkenness

“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman” (Rev. 17:6, 7a).

While this refers more particularly to the future persecution of the saints, who are saved after the rapture, still who does not know of the persecution of saints by religiousism in all ages past? These conditions will again exist when the beast comes and when the woman gets control of the nations of Revised Rome. She is the one who will cause the death of the martyrs of the fifth seal. She has almost stamped out Protestantism in Spain and Italy and is gaining influence and power in many other lands.

The Whore is Identified by Her Destiny

“And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (Rev. 17:16,17).

She is to be destroyed in the middle of the Week by the ten kings of the Revised Roman Empire and by the Antichrist who will rise to power over them by the middle of the Week. These will hate the whore, thus showing that the time of her future supremacy over the nations is to be short and that her policies and domineering attitude towards the nations will soon make them tire of her and cause them to turn on her, make her desolate, and burn her with fire.
The religion of Mystery Babylon will be anti-God; It must be remembered that, as we have so often emphasized, the “things” of Rev. 4-22 “must be here after,”-after the churches- therefore, we have to understand Rev. 17 as referring to the religion of Babylon in the future, after the rapture of the Church. What then could this religion possibly be?
The word “harlots” could very easily be understood as referring to the many branches of demonism that were practiced among many nations, beginning with Babylon. The word “abominations” is used many times in Scripture, and long before the times of Christianity, of idolatry and whoredoms associated with demon-worship and the sorceries and witchcraft of all kinds that were practiced by many pagan nations, Deut. 18:9-12; 29:17,18; 32:16,17;1 Ki. 14:24; 2 Ki. 16:3,4; 17:1-25; 21:2-11; Ezek. 16:22-58; etc.

The Beast That Carried Her

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters . . . So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns . . . And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (Rev. 17:1, 3, 7-17).

The symbol of the beast is mentioned in the eleventh to twentieth chapters of Revelation but explained fully in the seventeenth. The descriptions in all these chapters combine to give a thorough understanding of the beast, and its seven heads and ten horns. The Greek word therion,translated “beast,” is used thirty-seven times in this book in connection with this symbol, and designates a wild, untamed, and dangerous animal. It is a fitting symbol of the powers to be arrayed against Christ in the last days.
The purpose of the vision is not to reveal history, but to enable us to identify the eighth and last kingdom, which will be formed after the rapture. In order for us to properly identify the eighth kingdom of the future, the seven kingdoms that precede the eighth, are mentioned to show that the last one will reign over all the peoples and territories of the preceding ones.
The beast itself is entirely different from the seven heads and ten horns which are upon it. Failure to make a distinct difference between him and his heads and horns will lead to the wrong understanding of the beast. That which is represented by the seven heads and ten horns will have passed when the beast appears, for they are upon the beast when he rises, and shows the succession of the seven world kingdoms from the first to the last of the history of Israel, before the eighth kingdom comes.

The Beast Symbolizes Three Things:

1. A human being, the Antichrist, or beast out of the sea, as dealt with earlier. We have seen he is represented as a symbol. He is definitely called “a man,” so no true understanding can be had of the beast without recognizing this fact.
2. A supernatural being, the beast out of the abyss, as will be dealt with later. That the Satanic prince is seen in the symbol.
3. An empire, the eighth kingdom, which immediately succeeds the seven heads or kingdoms. A kingdom is also symbolized by the beast.
When all three things are seen in the symbol and the passages, which clearly refer to the one or the other are distinguished, then a clear understanding of all the facts are gained. Hence, the beast out of the sea, the beast out of the abyss, and the beast as the eighth kingdom are all different things, but all three are to be recognized in the one symbol, the beast.

The Beast Out of the Abyss

“And when they (Christ's two witnesses) shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them . . . And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev. 11:7; 17:7,Cool.

He (the satanic spirit) will be the ruling prince under the guidence of Satan, dominating the Antichrist and exalting him as the earthly king over the eighth and last kingdom at the end of the age. He has ruled a kingdom before as we shall see, one of the first five kingdoms, which had fallen before John's day, and is represented by the first five heads on the beast; that when his kingdom fell, he was cast into the abyss and confined there during the sixth kingdom (the Roman Empire), which is the one that existed in John's day; that he will still be confined there until the formation of the ten kingdoms as the seventh kingdom; that he will be loosed out of the abyss during the existance of the seventh, cause the rise of the Antichrist out of the ten kingdoms, and revive the kingdom of Greece he ruled before the sixth and seventh; and that this kingdom will become the eighth and last kingdom headed by the Antichrist, who will fight with Christ at Armageddon.
This is what the angel meant when he said that the beast "was (had existed on the earth before John), and is not (on the earth in John's day); and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit (in the last days to revive the kingdom he ruled before he was confined to the abyss) and go into perdition." This spirit will control the Antichrist through demons, thus making him the embodiement of wickedness and the manifistation of satanic power. It is represented by the symbol of the beast out of the abyss, which will cause the rise of the Antichrist, who in turn is sybolized by the beast out of the sea of humanity (a man), reviving and forming the beast, the eighth kingdom. All three things make up the powers represented by the one symbol.
It is the beast out of the abyss that will make war upon the two witnesses through the Antichrist. Thus we see the cruel operations of satanic powers through the Antichrist and his kingdom by the combination of human and supernatural powers. Kingdoms of this world have always been controled by supernatural powers and the things which transpire on earth are really the result of what transpires in heaven in the battles lost or won between the good and bad spirits of Satan and God. The Devil controls the kingdoms of this world. He offered them to Christ, who did not deny this claim of Satan, Lk. 4:5,6. God, during this present time, interferes with the plans of Satan in the kingdoms of this world to make possible the fulfillment of His prophetic Word, which Satan and evil forces are continually longing to see fail, hence the battles in the heavenlies. The battle between Satan and God can be traced throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God took advantage of Satan's efforts and used these same nations to chasten Israel when it became necessary to bring her to repentance. When one of them overstepped itself in God's plan for His people, God had to overthrow it by another, and in order to do this, had to deal with Satan in the heavenlies. These five kingdoms were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece with its divisions, making up the five which had already fallen before John's day. The sixth was the old Roman Empire which existed at the time of John and which scattered Israel to the four winds of heaven. The seventh will be that same empire in the form of ten kingdoms. It will also persecute Israel. The beast will be the eighth, immediately succeeding the seventh, and will become the greatest and most bitter persecutor of Israel of all the eight kingdoms. It will try to carry out Satan's original plan to destroy Israel and thwart God's eternal purpose concerning them and the earth as promised to their fathers.
In Dan. 10:1-11:1 we have a pivot passage concerning the supernatural princes under Satan who rule different kingdoms. Shows how and why the spirit of the abyss was confined there and gives his identity.
In Dan. 10:20,21 there is another indisputable reference to supernatural princes over kingdoms. These passages show that God ordains certain angels and sends them forth to cause the rise and fall of certain kingdoms in order to fulfill prophecy.

The Seven Heads upon the Beast

“And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition” (Rev. 17:9-11).

Then the seven heads are symbolized by seven mountains and the seven mountains, seven kingdoms.
We have in these verses the divine explanation of the seven heads, which are seven kings or kingdoms. The words "kings" and "kingdoms" are used interchangably in Scripture, Dan. 2:37,38 with 2:39; and 7:3, 23,24 with 7:17. We see that the seven heads are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome and the future Revised Roman Empire, and that the beast itself is the eighth and final empire, which will be the revived Grecian kingdom immediately following the Revised Roman Empire.
The seven kingdoms represented by the seven heads on the beast and the dragon are seven kingdoms which coexist with Israel from her beginning until the existence of the beast, or eighth kingdom. These are not only mentioned in conjunction with Israel as her oppressers, but without fail, the existance of every one of the seven, as well as the eighth, is foretold to be in the last days in connection with Israel. This further helps us to understand how all seven will be in the eighth as to territory and peoples.

The Ten Horns and the Beast Itself

“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings” (Dan. 7:23-24).

“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (Rev. 17:12-17).

The following deals with Revised Rome composed of ten kingdoms as the seventh head on the beast.

The Scriptures listed above show that there will never be a revived Roman Empire as a single empire ruled by one man, as in old Rome, but there will be ten seperate governments formed inside Rome as the seventh head on the beast. It could best be called Revised Roman Empire. These facts show that Rome is to exist in the form of ten kingdoms in the last days before the revelation of both Christ and the Antichrist. They will still be in existence during the appearence of both and will be overthrown by them, first by the Antichrist and then by Christ.

1. In Dan. 2:40-45 we have the first picture of Rome under the figure of two legs of iron and clay. Rome never existed yet as seperate kingdoms, as symbolized by the ten toes, so in order for all the prophecy to be fulfilled it must exist as such.
2. Daniel 7:7-27 shows that there will come out of Rome ten kingdoms. Given here is the prophecy that "another little horn," called "the beast" in Dan. 7:11, will arise "after them" and overthrow three others.
The revived Grecian Empire will engulf the whole ten kingdoms of the revised Roman Empire during the first part of the Week. Then by the end of the last half of the Week, it will engulf the countries of the east and north of the ten kingdoms. But before the Antichrist goes further in his world conquests he is defeated by Christ at Jerusalem, Zech. 14. Thus, the Antichrist's kingdom will be the greatest of all the eight Gentile world powers, but he will come short of total world conquest like all others before him.
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