John tells us that he saw the woman, i.e. the great harlot of the seventeenth chapter of the Apocalypse, and she was drunk (Revelation 17:6).The state of drunkenness is usually caused by an over consumption of alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol impairs one’s speech and one’s mobility. Yet, this doesn’t completely describe the state of intoxication. One doesn’t behave normally, while intoxicated, but this isn’t simply a matter of one’s normal speech being impaired, or one’s normal activity being impaired. Drunkenness also emboldens one to act differently and to say things one normally wouldn’t say. Drunkenness often removes the barriers one normally uses as a guide, concerning what is customarily accepted in civilized society.
John tells us that the great harlot was drunk with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6), so it wasn’t alcohol that impaired the woman’s speech and behavior. It was blood, not meaning to say that she “drank” blood and was drunk, but she was drunk with power. Her power enabled her to do what she normally couldn’t do, and to say what she normally had no power to say. Her power authenticated what she said and what she did. Jesus claimed that he was the Truth (John 14:6), but in the 2007 movie, The Shooter, the senator, played by Ned Beatty, said just before he was killed: “The truth is what I say it is!”
Power will corrupt men, causing them to act differently than they normally would, and when one has absolute power, it is a foregone conclusion that power will corrupt the man who has it. In the first century AD, the reigning high priest had absolute power over the Jews, both in Palestine and in the Diaspora. His word prevailed over all the other Jewish voices throughout the world. The high priest was against the Gospel, and at his word the Gospel was outlawed, and Jesus’ disciples were hunted down and killed. He was drunk with power, which manifested itself in the blood of the saints, who were persecuted at his word. His was the voice of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem, when personified in the Scriptures, is always seen as a woman, and in the context of Revelation 17, she would have been the great harlot.
When John saw the woman, he marveled with great admiration. Why would John do such a thing, if the woman represented the corrupt church in a future era? John’s wonder and admiration makes sense only in the context of the woman representing first century AD Judaism in some manner. John recognized what he saw. It was familiar to him, but it was presented in such a manner that there was a temptation to comply with or to endorse what the woman said and did. A society will usually follow its leaders. Society usually accepts what its leaders tell them is true (i.e. “The truth is what I say it is!”). This is why John was temporarily overcome with admiration for the figure before him.
The angel rebuked him, questioning his admiration for the great harlot (Revelation 17:7). He then told John he would tell him the mystery or secret of the woman and the beast that carried her. In other words he would identify them. It was their identity that was secret or a mystery. This doesn’t mean John couldn’t know the woman represented Jerusalem or the high priest acting as Jerusalem’s ruler. Rather, the angel exposed Jerusalem, or the high priest who acted in the interest of Jerusalem, for who she really was before God. In other words the angel was about to remove the façade, behind which the great harlot operated. It was due to this façade that John wondered over her with great admiration (Revelation 17:6). Moreover, the angel would do the same, as it pertained to the seven headed beast with ten horns. It, too, needed to be exposed for what it was, and I’ll speak more of this in my next study.