The most astounding prophecies in the Bible are found in its last book, known as "The Revelation" or "The Apocalypse" and recorded by the apostle John about A.D. 95. He claimed to have received from the resurrected Christ Himself this series of visions of God's final judgment upon mankind which would close human history. This, the Bible's last and most awesome panoramic view into the future, embodies revelations of climactic events-some already fulfilled, most still future, but all both incredible and terrifying.
Of all the glimpses of "things which must shortly come to pass" (Revelation 1:1) which John reveals, none is as intriguing and staggering as the vision recorded by John in chapter 17. There we see a fearsome, scarlet-colored beast with seven heads and ten horns. This is not the first time it has appeared to biblical prophets. From the description, it is obviously the same terrifying creature whose description has already been recorded three times. John himself had seen it twice. Daniel saw it as well, 600 years earlier. But in this last glimpse, suddenly something has changed.
In its previous appearances in Scripture the beast has always been the total focus of attention, and invariably presented alone. Now, however, it appears with a rider on its back. That anyone would dare, much less be able, to mount such an incredible beast seems beyond imagination. Yet there she sits, quite at ease and obviously in control, astride a world-devouring creature defying description. She? Yes, she. A woman rides the beast!
For 1900 years the beast itself has been a major focus of attention for students of prophecy.
Its identity, the frightening role it will play in the last days, and its ultimate end have been debated through the centuries. In the last 200 years, however, many evangelical Christians have held to a fairly clear consensus: The beast represents both the revived Roman Empire (Satan's worldwide counterfeit of God's kingdom), and the satanically empowered Antichrist who will rule it. Whether that interpretation is correct or not will become apparent in the following pages.
A Woman Who Can't Be Ignored
The woman is a far more enigmatic figure. The leaders of the Reformation were certain that she represented the Roman Catholic Church in general and the pope in particular. That belief, however, has been rejected lately by most Protestants as provocative and demeaning to a body of fellow Christians with whom evangelicals desire to work together in the task of winning most of the world for Christ before the year 2000. In fact, the subject of the woman is generally avoided today as too divisive to discuss.
Still, the woman, so vividly portrayed by John, cannot be dismissed so easily. There she is. Two of the final chapters in the Bible are devoted to her. What will we do with her? It would be dishonest to ignore such an important prophetic figure. The entire Bible is God's Word. We have no more right to close our eyes to Revelation 17 and 18 than to John 3:16.
Unquestionably, the woman is the central figure in these two important chapters, a major player in the drama of the last days. John gives far more attention to her than to the beast she rides. And the fact that she rides the beast-a beast of such importance that it literally holds the central position in Bible prophecy-demands our special attention. It could not be clearer that the secret of this woman's identity and the role she will play is a major key to understanding biblical prophecies concerning the reign of Antichrist and events leading up to Christ's second coming.
The Most Stunning Prophecy in Scripture
In the following pages we will show that the woman's identity is established meticulously and beyond any reasonable doubt by John himself. We will see that the vision of the woman is one of the most remarkable and significant prophecies in Scripture. The insights John was given by the Holy Spirit concerning this woman staggered him. These insights are no less breathtaking in our day.
Much of John's vision has already been fulfilled in history and can therefore be verified beyond question. Based upon the insights John provides, our identification of the woman will be determined carefully and unequivocally. Although many readers may denounce our conclusions, no one will be able to refute them.
The truth about the woman astride the beast is one of the most stunning prophecies in Scripture. We say specifically "in Scripture" because significant prophecies which have been on record for centuries and were later fulfilled are unique to the Bible. These are not cheap guesses by psychics but involve major world events of sweeping importance and irrefutable historic record.
The vision of the woman riding the beast, as we shall see, provides insights into occurrences which have shaped world history in the past and which will profoundly determine human destiny in the future. She sits, in fact, not only astride the beast but upon the culmination of centuries of related Bible prophecy.
A Question of Credibility
Are we simply sensationalizing John's vision? Why should anyone today be concerned with its interpretation? The question of validity can be settled quite easily. Most prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled. It is therefore a rather simple and straightforward matter to examine that record. For the sake of any doubters and to strengthen the faith of those who already believe, we must take a brief excursion into the amazing world of biblical prophecy. We will prove that past prophecies have been impeccably accurate, and that their fulfillment could not be explained by chance. That evidence will assure us that we are not wasting our time by examining prophecies concerning the future. And the woman on the beast does indeed have much to tell us about the future.
That goal accomplished, we will turn our attention to Revelation 17 and 18 and address the question of the identity and future role of the woman riding the beast, confident that the vision will be fulfilled exactly as John reveals it.
Much of the information we will present will not make pleasant reading. Disturbing, stretching the reader's credulity, denied by many, it will nevertheless be the fully documented truth. Moreover, it is a truth which every person on planet Earth, and especially all who consider themselves to be Christians-and most of all, Roman Catholics-need desperately to understand.
Our sympathy is particularly with sincere Roman Catholics who have such confidence in their Church that they have accepted what the hierarchy has told them without studying history to learn the full truth. It is our hope and prayer that the historic facts we present will be thoroughly checked against the record so that many devout followers of Rome will be able to face the evidence.