One of the Seven Angels who carried the seven bowls came and invited me, "Come, I'll show you the judgment of the great Whore who sits enthroned over many waters,
the Whore with whom the kings of the earth have gone whoring, show you the judgment on earth dwellers drunk on her whorish lust."
In the Spirit he carried me out in the desert. I saw a woman mounted on a Scarlet Beast. Stuffed with blasphemies, the Beast had seven heads and ten horns.
The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, festooned with gold and gems and pearls. She held a gold chalice in her hand, brimming with defiling obscenities, her foul fornications.
A riddle-name was branded on her forehead: great babylon, mother of whores and abominations of the earth.
I could see that the woman was drunk, drunk on the blood of God's holy people, drunk on the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
The Angel said, "Does this surprise you? Let me tell you the riddle of the woman and the Beast she rides, the Beast with seven heads and ten horns.
The Beast you saw once was, is no longer, and is about to ascend from the Abyss and head straight for Hell. Earth dwellers whose names weren't written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be dazzled when they see the Beast that once was, is no longer, and is to come.
"But don't drop your guard. Use your head. The seven heads are seven hills; they are where the woman sits.
They are also seven kings: five dead, one living, the other not yet here - and when he does come his time will be brief.
The Beast that once was and is no longer is both an eighth and one of the seven - and headed for Hell.
"The ten horns you saw are ten kings, but they're not yet in power. They will come to power with the Scarlet Beast, but won't last long - a very brief reign.
These kings will agree to turn over their power and authority to the Beast.
They will go to war against the Lamb but the Lamb will defeat them, proof that he is Lord over all lords, King over all kings, and those with him will be the called, chosen, and faithful."
The Angel continued, "The waters you saw on which the Whore was enthroned are peoples and crowds, nations and languages.
And the ten horns you saw, together with the Beast, will turn on the Whore - they'll hate her, violate her, strip her naked, rip her apart with their teeth, then set fire to her.
It was God who put the idea in their heads to turn over their rule to the Beast until the words of God are completed.
The woman you saw is the great city, tyrannizing the kings of the earth."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)