- The angel explains that the seven heads are seven mountains. Some translators think that these mountains allude to the seven hills upon which the city of Rome is situated, and for this reason, they translate the Greek word oroi (“mountains”) as “hills.” There are seven kings, too, who are symbolized by the seven mountains. Also, these mountains are successive, not simultaneous.
- These mountains do not symbolize individual kings, because Revelation does not deal with individual persons but with systems. In the Bible, mountains often symbolize world powers or empires ( Jer. 51:25; Ezek. 35:2, 3). In biblical prophecy “kings” represent kingdoms (see Dan. 2:37–39, Dan. 7:17). Thus, the seven mountains symbolize seven great successive empires that dominated the world throughout history, through which Satan opposed God and harmed God’s people.
- From John’s time perspective, five of these empires have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. Many hold that the five that have fallen are the great kingdoms that in Old Testament times dominated and (on occasion) harmed God’s people: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece.
- The “one is” kingdom was the Roman Empire of John’s time. The seventh kingdom that “has not yet come” is the sea beast of Revelation 13—the papacy, which dominated and harmed God’s people—that was to come after the time of John and after the fall of the pagan Roman Empire. History has powerfully attested to the truth of this prophecy, written many centuries before the events unfolded.
- John is further told that the scarlet beast is an eighth world power, although it is one of the seven heads (world powers). Which of the seven? Because these heads are sequential in time, the eighth must be the seventh head that received the deadly wound. It is at the time of this eighth world power that the scarlet beast appears, carrying and advancing the goals of the harlot Babylon. Today, we live at the time of the healing of the deadly wound. This eighth world power will appear on the scene right before the end and will go to perdition.
- The seventh kingdom is the medieval Roman papacy that persecuted God’s people, and the “eighth” kingdom ( Rev. 17:11), which is one of the seven, would be the revived Roman papacy—the Babylon of Revelation 17, which includes the other two members of the satanic triad (the “dragon” of paganism/spiritualism and the “false prophet” of apostate Protestantism). This globalized form of Babylon riding the scarlet beast of secular political power is still in the future.
Source reference: SDA 1Q19 Quarterly