In Gleanings from Wrong-Headed Debates – Part I :: by Wilfred Hahn

Over the past several years, we have received a large amount of correspondence on the topic of the last-day 10 kings, as well as the seven kings and eighth king (that are heads) mentioned in Revelation 17. Ten kings are shown as “horns” or heads. To help keep these many kings sorted out, we call the 7 historical kings that are heads the Ruler Kings (RK), and the 10 contemporaneous kings, shown as horns, as the 10K. A 4-part series on this very topic was produced here (in MCM July to October 2012), as well as other articles over past years.

Readers will likely already know that, inclining to a “literal interpretation” of Scripture, we believe that the rule of the 10 kings—short as it may be—still lies ahead. For a brief time, ten nations will emerge as a confederacy. We have dubbed this group the Endtime Global Power Coalition. They then will give their authority to the Antichrist, who takes power as a world-ruling autocrat. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, the next phase of world rulership will take the form of these “10 kings,” not the Antichrist. It is a post-globalism era, followed by the autocracy of the Antichrist.

In this two-part series, we reproduce some of the questions and comments we have received on the kings of Revelation 17. As this is a challenging topic requiring much Bible study, quite a few viewpoints exist that frankly are “wrong-headed.” It is a subject relevant to our time. Why? Because very likely, a change of regime is at the doorstep.

READER: I watched a video on YouTube that claimed that the 7 kings were the [Roman Catholic] popes from 1929 until today. The reason the inception point of 1929 is chosen is because that was when the pope was first called a king. The 8th king is interpreted as a resurrected pope, John Paul, who would be possessed by Satan. There are so many theories around today. – B.P.

EVR: There are [indeed] countless speculations about the identity of the 7 ruler kings (RKs), as well as the 10 kings (10K) shown as 10 horns. The vast majority of these interpretations appear to willfully ignore Scripture.The terms and times of the reigns of the 7 RKs and the 10K are commonly misinterpreted. The 7 Ruler Kings (also representing kingdoms) have their dominant hegemonic reign sequentially (one after the other). On the other hand, the 10 Kings are in power all at the same time. How do we know this? Accepting that the prophecies of Revelation and Daniel are aligned, both referring to the 10K and RKs, we see in Daniel that the RKs follow one after the other. The beasts in Daniel 7 are specifically stated to appear in order. Greece is clearly shown to follow Persia, and then comes the 4th beast. Also in Daniel 2, the RK kingdoms are said to follow sequentially. None of the RKs are world hegemons at the same time. On the other hand, the 10 kings shown as 10 horns […] do reign at the same time. They are a group that collectively will have much power, though not necessarily on an individual level. If that were not the case, they likely would not be shown as a horn on one of the heads, but rather as a head. We can easily deduce the conclusion that they exist contemporaneously from the literal statements of Scripture. Here are just five of the passages that support this conclusion:

1.         Daniel 7:8 states: “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them.” This “little one” can only emerge “among them” if they are all in existence at the same time.

2.         Also, Daniel says that 3 kings fell to the “little horn” (Daniel 7:20). If 3 of the “10 horn” kings are to fall by the hands of the Antichrist, then it is reasonable to presume that they must be reigning in the same era.

3.         Revelation 17:12 says that the 10 kings “[…] for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.” Does it make sense that these 10 kings would take their turns doing so over such a short period of time? A literal, common-sense reading would indicate that the 10 kings collectively will receive authority.

4.         Moreover, verse 13 states, “They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.” What point would there be for these minor 10Ks to individually and sequentially give their power to the beast? If this were the case, it would not be possible that the 7th stage of the world-ruling beast could be powerful enough to reign over the world. Daniel clearly states that the final beast and its following 10 kings and little horn “[…] crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left” (Daniel 7:19). It “[…] will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it” (verse 23).

5.         Revelation 17:16 says, “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.” The beast mentioned here is the Antichrist. (Every reference to “beast” from Revelation 17:8 onward refers to the Antichrist.) In any case, it does not make sense for the Beast and the 10 kings “to burn” the whore sequentially rather than together.

In conclusion, the 10 kings come on the scene contemporaneously and not sequentially. They all exist at the same time. As such, there is no serial authority given to the Antichrist by the 10 kings as is sometimes claimed. Besides being refuted by Scripture, this interpretation would not make common sense in any case. If only one king had enough power to give to the Antichrist that would be sufficient to stamp upon and subdue the entire earth, wouldn’t he then qualify to be the Antichrist?”

READER: [Only a small portion of this letter has been excerpted.] Thank you for your series on prophecy in Midnight Call, laying down your formulation proofs for your understanding of Revelation 17. Thank you for your love of the Lord, for your love of His Word and His truth, for your diligence and care with reference to the literalness and detail of His work, and for all the time and energy you’ve invested in your study. I was very blessed by an uncle, a graduate mechanical engineer with the same love. He’s now with the Lord. I love him for teaching me how to study God’s Word myself, as I would not accept his views as binding, but would continue to grow in God’s Word and truth myself. All that to say that he and I agree completely on the first six historic kings and kingdoms, with the 6thbeing Rome in John’s day. Circa 1700, Sir Isaac Newton listed the “10 kingdoms” of the 10 kings: 1. Vandals and Alans; 2. Suevians in Spain; 3. Visigoths; 4. Alans in Gallia; 5. Burgundians; 6. Franks; 7. Britons; 8. Huns; 9. Lombards; 10. Ravenna. – A.Z.

EVR: Thank you for your very dear letter. As you yourself suggest, we should not simply accept anyone else’s view without the validation of our own study. Of course, we all must be open to change our views if we are wrong. All Christians today are indebted to Isaac Newton for the example that he set. He was one of the greatest scientists of all time and a devout Christian. He is said to have written over one million words on Bible prophecy. Even though we may all strive to diligently study the Word, different opinions on certain matters do prevail. With respect to the interpretations of the identities of the 10 kings (those shown as horns in both Revelation and Daniel) that you quote, we must state that there are innumerable versions listing different peoples and nations, and in different orders. These theories have continued to change down through the centuries. All have two basic flaws. Firstly, they are speculative interpretations that the Bible does not validate. Not one of these 10-horn kings is identified (either deductively or by name) in the Bible. Were we to list 10 candidates today (which we cannot), it would be sheer speculation.

On the other hand, it is possible to deduce from the Bible alone, the identities of the 7 heads (RKs). These kings (kingdoms) are indeed sequential. Secondly, many of the 10-king theories have the fatal flaw that they assume the 10 horns represent sequential kings or nations. This is a clear error. We have shown that the 10 kings exist contemporaneously, not successively. Moreover, it can be conclusively shown that these 10 horns must be on the 7th head shown in the image of Revelation 12, 13 and 17. It may very well be possible that some of the nations that will be part of the last 10-member global power coalition are already on the scene today. Their joint era, in which they give their authorities to the Antichrist, still lies ahead.

READER: [Re: Daniel, Revelation, and endtime theory] Hi, I would like to say the harlot of Revelation 17:18 is America. The five kings in Daniel (4thvision) would start with Ronald Reagan as the goat with one horn. Oman has taken out two kings and needs to take down one more before November 20th. He is the liar and will fade away. Bush 1 and Bush 2 would count as the same. Romney is the divider and will bring in tribulation, six and seven kings. So I have no idea. It is just to give you guys something to think about. I have no proof of any of this. The white horse will ride out from Middle America, because both coast lines will be gone when the Church is taken. There will be massive chaos in this event. Anyway, [I’m] still trying to put the pieces together myself and just wanted you to consider these thoughts and look at it from this angle. You’re right about the 10 kings not being formed yet. God needs to judge America first, which will form Rome back together. Anyway, I hope this points you in a direction you are not considering. This is just a brief outline, and there are other things to consider. Shoot me an email if you are interested after your research. – B.

EVR: As you yourself say, you have no idea and you have no Biblical proof for any of your views whatsoever. Never should we go beyond what Scripture actually says. The intended meaning of Scripture must be observed; a courtesy we would extend to words of anyone that we have discourse with. “Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written’” (1 Corinthians 4:6). To do so, and to represent the Bible in such a dishonest way, only serves to discredit the Word and makes a mockery of the entire reason that God moved upon prophets and apostles through His Spirit to write down “words.” In that sense, your speculations are unfortunate, because they are harmful.

READER: [Re: Prophecy: Right- or Wrong-Headed?] […] Can having preconceived ideas hinder us from seeing clearly that which stands before us? Being the world’s greatest superpower, to what nation will America buckle under? When the Church is gone, will America be awakened or be bloodthirsty in light of the fact that we as a nation have two unbelieving presidential contenders? Couldn’t the apostle John have said Babylon if he had meant Iraq? Why the need for “Mystery”? If I say, this will happen in Mystery Damascus, wouldn’t you be inclined to search for another Damascus? These are some of my arguments toward America being that “Mystery.” The following are additional components. [For the sake of limited space, we do not here reproduce the supplied list of claimed parallels and proofs.] – J. K.

EVR: Your views are not rare. There are many who do and have claimed that America is Mystery Babylon the Great. However, the arguments in each case are speculative and dependent upon ignoring some Scriptures while twisting others. There have been countless books written on this and related topics over the centuries. As Dave Hunt used to say, “America may be the new Sodom; but Mystery Babylon it is not.” Yes, it is clearly possible to draw parallels to America, and for that matter, to other countries. It would not be surprising if there were close parallels. Why? Because the whole world has gone astray. In this sense, there are bound to be similarities between many nations down through the centuries, and therefore, there will be similar parallels to conditions mentioned in Bible prophecy. As such, every age has been able to produce its candidates for the Antichrist and Mystery Babylon. But, a few parallels alone do not produce an air-tight case for prophetic fulfillment that is backed by Scripture word for word…namely, the whole of Scripture down to the iota. All the points you make are either not conclusive or contradict both the balance and specifics of Scripture. One single verse alone is sufficient to invalidate all claims that America is Mystery Babylon (this also applying to the Roman Catholic Church, for that matter). “In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of ALL [our emphasis] who have been slaughtered on the earth” (Revelation 18:24). America is a relatively young nation. It could not have been responsible for “ALL who have been slaughtered on earth.” Every translation of this verse that we have reviewed uses the word “ALL.”

READER: I read your article, “Europe & Germany in Prophecy: Are the Armstrongites Right?” Where are Assyria and Egypt mentioned in Rev. 17:10? One should always examine the Scriptures for oneself to test all views, whether from the Philadelphia Church of God Trumpet, or EVR or any other publication. This is true. Anyone can guess at what some verses mean. Their theory, your theory, or my theory may all be wrong, but they cannot all be right. I have been taught all my life that the Bible is talking about Rome. But about 20 years ago, I finally read the Book from start to finish. I did not find one verse that says Rome is the bad guy of the end time. It seems to me that you are doing just the same thing as the Armstrong group has done. If one takes Daniel 2 and reads it carefully, you may come to see that Rome is not mentioned and that the fourth empire is not named.– R.R.

EVR: We accept your challenge for the proofs behind our opinions. That said, kudos to you if you were able to “finally read the Book from start to finish” and so easily draw such emphatic conclusions as you state on such complicated matters. The Book of Revelation was never meant to open up so effortlessly, nor for that matter Daniel 2 and a substantial amount of other prophecy in the Bible. In fact, we are told by Daniel, that when the Jews finally come into the “knowledge” of Jehovah’s plan and their Messiah at the end, it would require a lot of “running to and fro” searching the Scriptures anxiously. The fact is that the Bible, though it is a compilation of 66 separate books, is one cohesive, interconnected document. It does not give up all of its deeper-hidden pearls capriciously, choosing instead to reward those that diligently seek.

Some things in the Bible are deductive. Though things may not be specifically identified by name, this does not mean that they do not exist, whether named or not. For example, the Trinity is never mentioned as a term. Does that invalidate this concept? Some Bible prophecy certainly falls into this same category. Of the hundred and more prophecies about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, not one mentions His civil name in advance other than His being called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Yet, He did come and fulfilled many of these prophecies (others yet in the future).

You claim that no names of the kings are mentioned in Revelation. Neither are four of the five “kings/kingdoms” depicted in Daniel 2 identified in name. Only if you connect OT and NT prophecy could you conclude that Nebuchadnezzar is specifically named as being the founder of the 3rd kingdom of the seven heads shown in Revelation 17. Additional sleuthing would also show that the kingdoms of Medo-Persia and Greece are directly named and can be conclusively identified as the 4th and 5th heads on this same image. With a little more deduction, it can be proven that the Roman Empire is the 6th. As for the 10 kings (10 horns), they are mentioned or depicted 10 times in the Bible. Is this coincidental? We definitely do see them corroborated and connected in Daniel 2 and 7 and Revelation 12, 13, and 17.

As for all the 7 heads shown together on the beast in the Book of Revelation (nowhere else in the Bible are they shown in this manner), the Bible calls them all “kings.” This word “king,” both in Greek (basileau) and Hebrew/Aramaic (melek), is used more than 2800 times in the Bible. Virtually in each and every case it refers to a human being … a male sovereign … a person who has a role in the flesh. According to Revelation 17, a total of 17 kings [18 kingdoms] are mentioned—real, literal, in-the-flesh men—that play a prophetic and geopolitical role. Who could they be? For the seven kings [kingdoms] shown as heads, the Bible provides a conclusive identification if you read it consistently and follow all of its clues. No speculation is required, just some deduction and humility.

We continue in Part II.