America is very worried about the development of nuclear weapons of two countries, one is Iran and the other one is North Korea. In the last twenty years the army has been training its troops to learn two main languages, Korean and Arabic. But take careful notice that the only country which Israel is concerned about is Iran. North Korea has no place in the Bible, Iran takes up the whole stage during the end times.
In chapter 13 we have already seen how brutal the empire of the beast is; but here in chapter 17 and the later part of chapter 19, this empire enemy of God will continue to hold a very important position; in the near future, we will see that its influence in this world will continue to expand. Because God has told us beforehand its future and its outcome, we will not be deceived.
THE EMPIRE THAT THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD WILL ADMIRE
8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
The inhabitants of the earth will be astonished when they see the beast. In chapter 13, it could make the whole world to be filled with wonder, follow and worship the beast. It could make those inhabitants of the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life, to worship the success of this empire and to follow its manner of investment.
Here its description is very particular, it says that it “once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss.” The angel is describing the head that became alive later on. At the end of the world, Satan and the most evil of the spirits will be set free and will be coming out from bottomless pit.
AN EMPIRE OF SHORT DURATION
9 智慧的心在此可以思想，那七頭… 10 是七個王朝，五個已經傾倒，一個還在，一個還沒有來到，牠來的時候，必須暫時存留。11 那先前有，如今沒有的獸，就是第八個，牠也和那七個同列，並且歸於沉淪。
9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads… 10 they are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
The Bible does not mention the specific name of a nation; therefore, we can only come to a reasonable conclusion by examining different passages in the Bible. Remember that the beast is not a specific person; it is not the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness , because no one can come back to life. Satan does not have authority over life; he can only kill, he cannot give life to anyone. The beast is the nation that is against God; therefore, it can come back to life.
From the empires that have fallen, Egypt has lost its culture and language, Assyria and Babylon are extinct, Greece and Rome have also lost their culture and their status, only their alphabet is left and they have become a weak nation, they could never flourish again. Only Persia came back to life in the fourth century, Persians are the Iranians of today; their language and their culture is still rich and powerful that distinguishes it from the other Arab countries.
We have heard a lot about the seven heads which are seven empires; they represent seven eras of empires that are enemies of God. We already know which seven they are, the first six have already passed.
These previous empires oppressed God’s people for a very long time. When we look at how long these empires have lasted we do not take into consideration how long they ruled but how long they persecuted God’s people. Egypt, for example, has a history of thousands of years but they oppressed God’s people only for about 400 years. The Roman Empire also had a history of more than a thousand years but they only persecuted God’s people for about 300 years. But this empire that appears later on is very short. Furthermore, during this very short time, there are unexpected changes among these two reigns, because an eighth one appears which belongs to the seven.
That is why verse 10 says, “He must remain only for a little while”. That means he will only exist for a very short time, only for a few years.
12 你所看見的那十角，就是十王。他們還沒有得國，但他們一時之間，要和獸同得權柄與王一樣。13 他們同心合意，將自己的能力權柄給那獸。
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.
Here there are ten leaders; they are a country’s head-of-state. They will rule ten small nations at the same time. This is the meaning of “one hour”. But when the time comes, they will reach an agreement and the ten nations will get together and form an alliance. Take a look at the European Alliance of more than thirty countries, the citizens of those countries come and go without the need of a visa and they use the same currency. Although this ruling system doesn’t seem very successful, it is much better than the communist regime used by the Soviet Union. It is a model which they could use as a reference. Their union will have stronger ties.
Taking another look at the territory of the Persian Empire in ancient times, at present, it contains ten countries, which corresponds exactly to the “ten horns”, which are the ten kings. The ten horns are the ten kings that appear at the time that the last empire emerges. In modern terms, they could be called the president of a country, or they might have another title. According to the explanation in the Book of Daniel, the ten horns are ten individuals.
According to chapter 16, verses 12, during the battle of Armageddon, the kings come from the east of the River Euphrates. This corresponds exactly to the location of the ten countries of the ancient Persian territory.
ONE EMPIRE – THE UNION OF TEN POWERS
17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled.
They willingly and by mutual agreement gave up their authority to the Empire Union, giving opportunity for the “man of lawlessness” to rise.
There are two words here that have the same meaning, “to give” and “to hand over”. The word “give” appears in verse 13, it says that they will give their power and authority to the beast. The word “hand over” appears in verse 17, they “agree to hand over to the beast their royal authority”. The seventh and eighth empires are so short that they could be considered as one. At any rate, their ending will be the same, God’s word will be fulfilled, and they will all be destroyed.
It is very difficult for countries to unite. There are some small churches that are having trouble surviving due to the lack of manpower and financial resources. In large cities there might be some small churches that are near to each other and are struggling to survive. If two or three of these small churches would join forces into one church, their resources would be more abundant. But this scenario is unlikely to happen as they prefer to retain their individuality no matter what they are going through. Jesus once commented about Satan’s kingdom saying: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Implying that in Satan’s kingdom there are no internal struggles, everyone works together in one accord towards a wicked and evil target. I wonder when we will learn the lesson.
THE EMPIRE DOOMED FOR DESTRUCTION
14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
This new powerful empire had the allegiance of the people of the whole world, the unbelievers; but this empire is not friends with everyone because it waged war against the Lamb, it is Christ’s enemy, it spares no pain or effort to blaspheme God, persecuting the church of Christ, the children of God. It will not show mercy to the “great prostitute”, which is the Catholic Church that worships idols. It will not let go of anyone who stands on its way, no matter if they are loyal to God or not.
16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
If the people did not know about the many identities of the beast, they wouldn’t truly understand why, for a time being, the beast permitted the great prostitute to sit on her, and suddenly turn around to hate her, actively oppose her, isolate her, attack her, burn and destroy her. So, actually, as it turns out, during the time that the beast represented Rome, it supported her and put her on high. During the end times, it will represent another empire, the Persian Alliance; its attitude will change completely, it will absolutely be against any nation that teaches Christian doctrines.
But in God’s plan, it will only have authority for a very short period of time. Though this ambitious and ruthless character may seem very successful; inwardly, unifying all the Islamic nations; outwardly, getting the admiration of all the unbelievers of this world, handling the great prostitute in an unusually successful way, bringing the Vatican to its total collapse and ultimate destruction. In reality, it will ultimately be defeated in the hands of God, overpowered by Christ’s faithful followers.
MAN PROPOSES BUT GOD DISPOSES
7 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled.
We can see that “God has put into their hearts to accomplish his purpose…until God’s words are fulfilled”. Actually, the decisions made by these ten leaders had to do with God’s will, fulfilling God’s words. Many people in this world who are unbelievers have helped accomplish God’s plan without knowing it; naively thinking that they were the ones who had the power to control their own future, they believe they could conquer nature and change the people of a nation using their own abilities and intelligence and change their destiny .
The number of the beast is 666, which is the number of the elite. The leader of this nation is very clever, more able than any other person; he is proud and arrogant and thinks that no one in the world could resist him.
誰知｢王的心在耶和華手中如隴溝的水，隨意流轉。｣( 箴21:1) 溝裡面的水，以為自己怎樣轉就怎樣Who would have thought that, “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.” (Proverbs 21:1) The water in a ravine thinks that it can flow whichever way it wants to but it is actually just following the way the ravine is formed.
It is like going on a cruise, you can do whatever you like on the ship. You can go to the gym, or you can lie by the pool to get some sun, you can eat ice cream or you can just drink hot tea. You can truly follow your heart’s desires. But no matter what you do, you will be arriving to your destination and will have to get off the ship.
看起來好像是我們所說的｢命運｣。有不相信命運，那要看說的命運跟聖經說的命運是不是一樣。中東這個國肯定要滅亡，那個宗教肯定要丟進火湖里。這就是牠的命運。不單這樣，全世界的人都命定要死，因為｢按著定命，人人都有一死，死後且有審判。｣( 來9:27) 這是每個人的命運。因為世人都犯了罪。｢信祂的人不被定罪，不信的罪已經定了。｣不是將要被定罪，乃是罪已經定了。不信者的命運就是等死。
It is like the “fate” we talk about. Some don’t believe in fate, in that case we have to look to see if it is the same thing as what the Bible says. This Middle Eastern nation will definitely be destroyed, that religion will for certain be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, which is its fate. Not only that, the whole world is destined to die, because “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Hebrew 9 :27). That is the fate of every human being, because all have sinned. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already.” It does not say that whoever believes will be condemned in the future but that whoever does not believe stands condemned already. The destiny of the unbeliever is death.
This elite character that belongs to the beast empire, who will never repent even at death’s door, will believe that he can change his destiny by relying on his own intelligence and wittiness. People believe that as long as they work hard on something and become successful they will die without any thing to regret. They don’t know that the only action that can change their destiny is to repent and to believe in Jesus Christ.
Repentance indicates true humility, acknowledging that you are helpless, turning to God and trusting in Him alone. Believing that you are self-righteous will bring dreadful consequences. Our first ancestors sinned because they believed they could become as wise as God and that they could cope with being cursed.
Nowadays, there are many white collar criminals who have to do time in prison. They know the dark side of what goes on in the jails so they hire a lawyer to arrange for them to live in a higher class prison. Hospitals and prisons can be like hotels as long as you are willing to pay large amounts of money you will have five-star accommodations. The sons of the world know how to plan ahead for the future. If people were wise, they would humble themselves, and make preparations for the future, receive Jesus’ salvation, and change their destiny. Do not wait until after death to find out that whatever was written in the Bible is true, because by then it will be too late.