One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven bowls came over and spoke to me. "Come with me," he said, "and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.
The rulers of the world have had immoral relations with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality."
So the angel took me in spirit a into the wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, written all over with blasphemies against God.
The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. She held in her hand a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality.
A mysterious name was written on her forehead: "Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World."
I could see that she was drunk -- drunk with the blood of God's holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her completely amazed.
"Why are you so amazed?" the angel asked. "I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns.
The beast you saw was alive but isn't now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life from before the world began, will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died.
"And now understand this: The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills of the city where this woman rules. They also represent seven kings.
Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief.
The scarlet beast that was alive and then died is the eighth king. He is like the other seven, and he, too, will go to his doom.
His ten horns are ten kings who have not yet risen to power; they will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast.
They will all agree to give their power and authority to him.
Together they will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because he is Lord over all lords and King over all kings, and his people are the called and chosen and faithful ones."
And the angel said to me, "The waters where the prostitute is sitting represent masses of people of every nation and language.
The scarlet beast and his ten horns -- which represent ten kings who will reign with him -- all hate the prostitute. They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire.
For God has put a plan into their minds, a plan that will carry out his purposes. They will mutually agree to give their authority to the scarlet beast, and so the words of God will be fulfilled.
And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)