The Angel with the Open Scroll
The failure of God's purpose is not the last word. In order to transcend failure and bring about repentance, human participation is required--and human suffering. Therefore John himself becomes an actor in the unfolding drama. He sees another angel (10:1) in addition to the four who had released the terrible invading cavalry from the east (9:14-15). This angel is distinguished from those four, and from most angels in John's visions, by being called mighty, or strong. The only "mighty angel" we have met before is the one John had seen in heaven "proclaiming with a loud voice, `Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?'" (5:2). The mighty angel in the present scene also has "a loud voice" (NASB) like the roar of a lion (v. 3). Moreover, the rainbow above his head (v. 1) recalls the rainbow encircling the throne of God in John's first glimpse of heaven (4:3), while the comparison of his face to the sun recalls the angel in John's introductory vision (1:16) who identified himself as the risen one (1:17-18).
In short, this mighty angel has an aura of divinity about him that prompted some older commentators to see him as none other than Jesus Christ himself. This is highly unlikely, yet the angel does represent God, or the power of God, in a way that most other angelic figures do not. He stands astride land and sea as one who is sovereign over both (v. 2; compare God's judgment on the land and the sea in connection with the first two trumpets). Although he is not Christ in person, he can be viewed as a divine agent acting on behalf of God and the Lamb. That Jesus uses certain angels to represent him in John's visions will become explicit in 22:16: "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches."
The mighty angel here, like the one in 5:2, is introduced in connection with a scroll (v. 2). The scroll in chapter 5 was last seen in the possession of the Lamb, and if this angel holds the same scroll, now open, it is clear that he is acting as the Lamb's agent or representative. Most commentators hesitate to identify the two scrolls because the first was called simply "a scroll" (Greek biblion, 5:1), while this one is a little scroll (using a diminutive form, biblaridion, vv. 1, 9, 10). Moreover, John mentions it as if seeing it for the first time (v. 2). Yet later (v. 8) he is told to take the scroll (Greek to biblion) from the angel's hand, indicating that the terms "scroll" and "little scroll" are used interchangeably. Perhaps the scroll is "little" only in relation to the gigantic angel who holds it. Its most conspicuous characteristic is that it lies open in the angel's hand (vv. 2, 8). By contrast, the scroll in chapter 5 was sealed. The overriding question in that chapter was when and by whom it would be opened (compare 5:2, 3, 5, 9). The simplest conclusion is that the scroll John will take from the angel's hand in this chapter is none other than the scroll taken by the Lamb in chapter 5 (see Mazzaferri 1989:271-74; Bauckham 1993:80-81). John has witnessed the breaking of its seals (6:1--8:5), so there is no reason why the scroll should not be open. Just as in chapter 5 the Lamb took the scroll in the presence of a "mighty angel" in order to open it, John must now take the open scroll from a mighty angel's hand in order for the plan of God to run its course (vv. 8-11).
First, however, the mighty angel and a voice from heaven (v. 4), acting together, supply a kind of fanfare to raise our level of excitement and expectancy. When the angel shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke (v. 3). John is about to write down their messages when the heavenly voice stops him: Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down (v. 4). Richard Bauckham rightly observes that "the process of increasingly severe warning judgments is not to be extended any further" because "such judgments do not produce repentance" (Bauckham 1993:82). He implies, however, that the seven thunders were somehow canceled simply because John did not write them down. On the contrary, John's point is that he has heard and therefore knows far more than he is telling. If anything, the seven thunders are more mysterious and more frightening for not being described in detail. Like the best modern writers of horror and fantasy (M. R. James, for example), John knows that sometimes "less is more," and that understatement can be an effective vehicle for wonder and suspense.
Nevertheless, the suppression of the seven thunders does hasten matters toward their conclusion. The mighty angel backs up the command not to write them down by swearing a solemn oath (vv. 5-7). His gesture of raising his right hand toward heaven (v. 5) recalls the "man clothed in linen" in one of Daniel's visions. He announced an interval of "a time, times, and half a time" before the prophecies would be fulfilled (Dan 12:7). The mighty angel, by contrast, swears that there will be no more delay (v. 6). Like the figure in Daniel, he swears by him who lives for ever and ever. But adds to this oath an elaborate reference to God's sovereignty as creator over the sky and earth and sea and everything in them (v. 6). This comes as a further reminder of the first four trumpets, with their demonstrations of God's power over each of these spheres of the created order (see 8:7-12).
The solemn assurance that there will be no more delay should not be taken literally. We have, after all, twelve more chapters to go. All it means is that seven thunders will not intervene before things move to their conclusion.
That the fulfillment is still future to John is shown by the expression in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet (v. 7). This does not happen until 11:15, after a period spread out over at least forty-two montes (11:2) or 1,260 days (11:3)--the prophetic equivalent of Daniel's "time, times and half a time" (see note on 11:2). The accent falls less on no more delay (v. 6) than on the fact that what is to come is God's mystery (v. 7). Because the future is in God's hands, it is bright, despite all the terrible things John has seen. Mystery does not imply a deep, dark secret. On the contrary, it is an open secret, or divine plan, that God announced to his servants the prophets (v. 7). The word "announce" is literally "to preach the gospel, or good news" (Greek euangelizo). The purpose of the mighty angel's oath is to assure John that the "bad news" of the first six trumpets is not God's last word. But in order to transform "bad news" into "good news," John himself must be drawn into the action, and with him all the people of God.
John's part in the realization of the mystery of God is made known to him by an experience similar to one that the prophet Ezekiel had (Ezek 2:9--3:3). Again the "voice from heaven" (vv. 4, 8) and the "mighty angel" act together (vv. 8-11). The voice tells John to take the scroll from the angel's hand. When he does so, the angel gives him further instructions: Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey (v. 9). The thought of eating the scroll instead of reading it is arresting. It is a thought that would probably not have occurred to any of us had we been writing the story. It appears that the common metaphor of "devouring" an interesting book has been taken literally!
We must know Ezekiel's story in order to understand what is going on. Ezekiel too was told to eat a scroll and "then go and speak to the house of Israel" (Ezek 3:1). Unlike John, Ezekiel had seen the scroll actually being unrolled. "On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe" (Ezek 2:9). When he ate it, "it tasted as sweet as honey" (Ezek 3:3), suggesting that Ezekiel's message would be sweet to him, though bitter to his hearers. John's experience is more complex. Nothing is said of what is written on the scroll, but the message is sweet as honey in John's mouth and sour in his stomach (v. 10). Even though John (and his fellow prophets) have the sweet privilege of hearing and delivering God's "good news" (v. 7), their prophecies will inevitably bring them sorrow and suffering. John knows this, for he is already a "brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus." He is on Patmos "because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (1:9).
+The Prophecy of the Two Witnesses
Black Elk's rainbow
Black Elk's Vision
[The following is taken from the book Black Elk Speaks, by John G. Neihardt (New York: Washington Square Press, 1972), originally published in 1932. The book is Neihardt's recreation in English of the oral history that Black Elk, a medicine man (or "shaman," of the Oglala Sioux Indians, recounted for him in the Sioux language in 1931. I have selected those chapters and sections of chapters that deal most directly with Black Elk's visions and this ritual enactment of them for his tribe.]
From Chapter 2: Early Boyhood
I was four years old then, and I think it must have been the next summer that I first heard the voices. It was a happy summer and nothing was afraid, because in the Moon When the Ponies Shed (May) word came from the Wasichus [the White Men] that there would be peace and that they would not use the road any more and that all the soldiers would go away. The soldiers did go away and their towns were torn down; and in the Moon of Falling Leaves (November), they made a treaty with Red Cloud that said our country would be ours as long as grass should grow and water flow. You can see that it is not the grass and the water that have forgotten.
Maybe it was not this summer when I first heard the voices, but I think it was, because I know it was before I played with bows and arrows or rode a horse, and I was out playing alone when I heard them. It was like somebody calling me, and I thought it was my mother, but there was nobody there. This happened more than once, and always made me afraid, so that I ran home.
It was when I was five years old that my Grandfather made me a bow and some arrows. The grass was young and I was horseback. A thunder storm was coming from where the sun goes down, and just as I was riding into the woods along a creek, there was a kingbird sitting on a limb. This was not a dream, it happened. And I was going to shoot at the kingbird with the bow my Grandfather made, when the bird spoke and said: "The clouds all over are one-sided." Perhaps it meant that all the clouds were looking at me. And then it said: "Listen! A voice is calling you!" Then I looked up at the clouds, and two men were coming there, headfirst like arrows slanting down; and as they came, they sang a sacred song and the thunder was like drumming. I will sing it for you. The song and the drumming were like this:
Behold, a sacred voice is calling you;
All over the sky a sacred voice is calling.
I sat there gazing at them, and they were coming from the place where the giant lives (north). But when they were very close to me, they wheeled about toward where the sun goes down, and suddenly they were geese. Then they were gone, and the rain came with a big wind and a roaring. I did not tell this vision to any one. I liked to think about it, but I was afraid to tell it.
Chapter 3: The Great Vision
What happened after that until the summer I was nine years old is not a story. There were winters and summers, and they were good; for the Wasichus had made their iron road along the Platte and traveled there. This had cut the bison herd in two, but those that stayed in our country with us were more than could be counted, and we wandered without trouble in our land.
Now and then the voices would come back when I was out alone, like someone calling me, but what they wanted me to do I did not know. This did not happen very often, and when it did not happen, I forgot about it; for I was growing taller and was riding horses now and could shoot prairie chickens and rabbits with my bow. The boys of my people began very young to learn the ways of men, and no one taught us; we just learned by doing what we saw, and we were warriors at a time when boys now are like girls.
It was the summer when I was nine years old, and our people were moving slowly towards the Rocky Mountains. We camped one evening in a valley beside a little creek just before it ran into the Greasy Grass and there was a man by the name of Man Hip who liked me and asked me to eat with him in his tepee.
While I was eating, a voice came and said: "It is time; now they are calling you." The voice was so loud and clear that I believed it, and I thought I would just go where it wanted me to go. So I got right up and started. As I came out of the tepee, both my thighs began to hurt me, and suddenly it was like waking from a dream, and there wasn't any voice. So I went back into the tepee, but I didn't want to eat. Man Hip looked at me in a strange way and asked me what was wrong. I told him that my legs were hurting me.
The next morning the camp moved again, and I was riding with some boys. We stopped to get a drink from a creek, and when I got off my horse, my legs crumpled under me and I could not walk. So the boys helped me up and put me on my horse; and when we camped again that evening, I was sick. The next day the camp moved on to where the different bands of our people were coming together, and I rode in a pony drag, for I was very sick. Both my legs and both my arms were swollen badly and my face was all puffed up.
When we had camped again, I was lying in our tepee and my mother and father were sitting beside me. I could see out through the opening, and there two men were coming from the clouds, headfirst like arrows slanting down, and I knew they were the same that I had seen before. Each now carried a long spear, and from the points of these a jagged lightning flashed. They came clear down to the ground this time and stood a little way off and looked at me and said: "Hurry! Come! Your Grandfathers are calling you!"
Then they turned and left the ground like arrows slanting upward from the bow. When I got up to follow, my legs did not hurt me any more and I was very light. I went outside the tepee, and yonder where the men with flaming spears were going, a little cloud was coming very fast. It came and stooped and took me and turned back to where it came from, flying fast. And when I looked down I could see my mother and my father yonder, and I felt sorry to be leaving them.
Then there was nothing but the air and the swiftness of the little cloud that bore me and those two men still leading up to where white clouds were piled like mountains on a wide blue plain, and in them thunder beings lived and leaped and flashed. Now suddenly there was nothing but a world of cloud, and we three were there alone in the middle of a great white plain with snowy hills and mountains staring at us; and it was very still; but there were whispers.
Then the two men spoke together and they said: "Behold him, the being with four legs!"
I looked and saw a bay horse standing there, and he began to speak: "Behold me!" he said. "My life history you shall see." Then he wheeled about to where the sun goes down, and said: "Behold them! Their history you shall know."
I looked, and there were twelve black horses yonder all abreast with necklaces of bison hoofs, and they were beautiful, but I was frightened, because their manes were lightning and there was thunder in their nostrils.
Then the bay horse wheeled to where the great white giant lives (the north) and said: "Behold!" And yonder there were twelve white horses all abreast. Their manes were flowing like a blizzard wind and from their noses came a roaring, and all about them white geese soared and circled.
Then the bay wheeled round to where the sun shines continually (the east) and bade me look; and there twelve sorrel horses, with necklaces of elk's teeth, stood abreast with eyes that glimmered like the daybreak star and manes of morning light.
Then the bay wheeled once again to look upon the place where you are always facing (the south), and yonder stood twelve buckskins all abreast with horns upon their heads and manes that lived and grew like trees and grasses.
And when I had seen all these, the bay horse said: "Your Grandfathers are having a council. These shall take you; so have courage."
Then all the horses went into formation, four abreast--the blacks, the whites, the sorrels, and the buckskins--and stood behind the bay, who turned now to the west and neighed; and yonder suddenly the sky was terrible with a storm of plunging horses in all colors that shook the world with thunder, neighing back.
Now turning to the north the bay horse whinnied, and yonder all the sky roared with a mighty wind of running horses in all colors, neighing back.
And when he whinnied to the east, there too the sky was filled with glowing clouds of manes and tails of horses, in all colors singing back. Then to the south he called, and it was crowded with many colored, happy horses, nickering.
Then the bay horse spoke to me again and said: "See how your horses all come dancing!" I looked, and there were horses, horses everywhere--a whole skyful of horses dancing round me.
"Make haste!" the bay horse said; and we walked together side by side, while the blacks, the whites, the sorrels, and the buckskins followed, marching four by four.
I looked about me once again, and suddenly the dancing horses without number changed into animals of every kind and into all the fowls that are, and these fled back to the four quarters of the world from whence the horses came, and vanished.
Then as we walked, there was a heaped up cloud ahead that changed into a tepee, and a rainbow was the open door of it; and through the door I saw six old men sitting in a row.
The two men with the spears now stood beside me, one on either hand, and the horses took their places in their quarters, looking inward, four by four. And the oldest of the Grandfathers spoke with a kind voice and said: "Come right in and do not fear." And as he spoke, all the horses of the four quarters neighed to cheer me. So I went in and stood before the six, and they looked older than men can ever be--old like hills, like stars.
The oldest spoke again: "Your Grandfathers all over the world are having a council, and they have called you here to teach you." His voice was very kind, but I shook all over with fear now, for I knew that these were not old men, but the Powers of the World. And the first was the Power of the West; the second, of the North; the third, of the East; the fourth, of the South; the fifth, of the Sky; the sixth, of the Earth. I knew this, and was afraid, until the first Grandfather spoke again: "Behold them yonder where the sun goes down, the thunder beings! You shall see, and have from them my power; and they shall take you to the high and lonely center of the earth that you may see: even to the place where the sun continually shines, they shall take you there to understand."
And as he spoke of understanding, I looked up and saw the rainbow leap with flames of many colors over me.
Now there was a wooden cup in his hand and it was full of water and in the water was the sky.
"Take this," he said. "It is the power to make live, and it is yours."
Now he had a bow in his hands. "Take this," he said. "It is the power to destroy, and it is yours."
Then he pointed to himself and said: "Look close at him who is your spirit now, for you are his body and his name is Eagle Wing Stretches."
And saying this, he got up very tall and started running toward where the sun goes down; and suddenly he was a black horse that stopped and turned and looked at me, and the horse was very poor and sick; his ribs stood out.
Then the second Grandfather, he of the North, arose with a herb of power in his hand, and said: "Take this and hurry." I took and held it toward the black horse yonder. He fattened and was happy and came prancing to his place again and was the first Grandfather sitting there.
The second Grandfather, he of the North, spoke again: "Take courage. younger brother," he said; "on earth a nation you shall make live, for yours shall be the power of the white giant's wing, the cleansing wing." Then he got up very tall and started running toward the north; and when he turned toward me, it was a white goose wheeling. I looked about me now, and the horses in the west were thunders and the horses of the north were geese. And the second Grandfather sang two songs that were like this:
They are appearing, may you behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
The thunder nation is appearing, behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
The white geese nation is appearing,
And now it was the third Grandfather who spoke, he of where the sun shines continually. "Take courage, younger brother," he said, "for across the earth they shall take you!" Then he pointed to where the daybreak star was shining, and beneath the star two men were flying. "From them you shall have power," he said, "from them who have awakened all the beings of the earth with roots and legs and wings." And as he said this, he held in his hand a peace pipe which had a spotted eagle outstretched upon the stem; and this eagle seemed alive, for it was poised there, fluttering, and its eyes were looking at me. "With this pipe," the Grandfather said, "you shall walk upon the earth, and whatever sickens there you shall make well." Then he pointed to a man who was bright red all over, the color of good and of plenty, and as he pointed, the red man lay down and rolled and changed into a bison that got up, and galloped toward the sorrel horses of the east, and they too turned to bison, fat and many.
And now the fourth Grandfather spoke, he of the place where you are always facing (the south), whence comes the power to grow. "Younger brother," he said, "with the powers of the four quarters you shall walk, a relative. Behold, the living center of a nation I shall give you, and with it many you shall save." And I saw that he was holding in his hand a bright red stick that was alive, and as I looked it sprouted at the top and sent forth branches, and on the branches many leaves came out and murmured and in the leaves the birds began to sing. And then for just a little while I thought I saw beneath it in the shade the circled villages of people and every living thing with roots or legs or wings, and all were happy. "It shall stand in the center of the nation's circle," said the Grandfather, "a cane to walk with and a people's heart; and by your powers you shall make it blossom."
Then when he had been still a little while to hear the birds sing, he spoke again: "Behold the earth!" So I looked down and saw it lying yonder like a hoop of peoples. and in the center bloomed the holy stick that was a tree, and where it stood there crossed two roads, a red one and a black. "From where the giant lives (the north) to where you always face (the south) the red road goes, the road of good," the Grandfather said, "and on it shall your nation walk. The black road goes from where the thunder beings live (the west) to where the sun continually shines (the east), a fearful road, a road of troubles and of war. On this also you shall walk, and from it you shall have the power to destroy a people's foes. In four ascents you shall walk the earth with Power."
I think he meant that I should see four generations, counting me, and now I am seeing the third.
Then he rose very tall and started running toward the south, and was an elk; and as he stood among the buckskins yonder, they too were elks.
Now the fifth Grandfather spoke, the oldest of them all, the Spirit of the Sky. "My boy," he said, "I have sent for you and you have come. My power you shall see!" He stretched his arms and turned into a spotted eagle hovering. "Behold," he said, "all the wings of the air shall come to you, and they and the winds and the stars shall be like relatives. You shall go across the earth with my power." Then the eagle soared above my head and fluttered there; and suddenly the sky was full of friendly wings all coming toward me.
Now I knew the sixth Grandfather was about to speak, he who was the Spirit of the Earth, and I saw that he was very old, but more as men are old. His hair was long and white, his face was all in wrinkles and his eyes were deep and dim. I stared at him, for it seemed I knew him somehow; and as I stared, he slowly changed, for he was growing backwards into youth, and when he had become a boy, I knew that he was myself with all the years that would be mine at last. When he was old again, he said: "My boy, have courage, for my power shall be yours, and you shall need it, for your nation on the earth will have great troubles. Come."
He rose and tottered out through the rainbow door, and as I followed I was riding on the bay horse who had talked to me at first and led me to that place.
Then the bay horse stopped and faced the black horses of the west, and a voice said: "They have given you the cup of water to make live the greening day, and also the bow and arrow to destroy." The bay neighed, and the twelve black horses came and stood behind me, four abreast.
The bay faced the sorrels of the east, and I saw that they had morning stars upon their foreheads and they were very bright. And the voice said: "They have given you the sacred pipe and the power that is peace, and the good red day." The bay neighed and the twelve sorrels stood behind me, four abreast
My horse now faced the buckskins of the south and a voice said: "They have given you the sacred stick and your nation's hoop, and the yellow day and in the center of the hoop you shall set the stick and make it grow into a shielding tree, and bloom." The bay neighed, and the twelve buckskins came and stood behind me, four abreast.
Then I knew that there were riders on all the horses there behind me, and a voice said: "Now you shall walk the black road with these; and as you walk, all the nations that have roots or legs or wings shall fear you."
So I started, riding toward the east down the fearful road, and behind me came the horsebacks four abreast--the blacks, the whites, the sorrels, and the buckskins--and far away above the fearful road the daybreak star was rising very dim.
I looked below me where the earth was silent in a sick green light, and saw the hills look up afraid and the grasses on the hills and all the animals; and everywhere about me were the cries of frightened birds and sounds of fleeing wings. I was the chief of all the heavens riding there, and when I looked behind me, all the twelve black horses reared and plunged and thundered and their manes and tails were whirling hail and their nostrils snorted lightning. And when I looked below again, I saw the slant hail falling and the long, sharp rain, and where we passed, the trees bowed low and all the hills were dim.
Now the earth was bright again as we rode. I could see the hills and valleys and the creeks and rivers passing under. We came above a place where three streams made a big one--a source of mighty waters--and something terrible was there. Flames were rising from the waters and in the flames a blue man lived. The dust was floating all about him in the air, the grass was short and withered, the trees were wilting, two-legged and four-legged beings lay there thin and panting, and wings too weak to fly.
Then the black horse riders shouted "Hoka hey!" and charged down upon the blue man, but were driven back. And the white troop shouted, charging, and was beaten; then the red troop and the yellow.
And when each had failed. they all cried together: "Eagle Wing Stretches, hurry!" And all the world was filled with voices of all kinds that cheered me, so I charged. I had the cup of water in one hand and in the other was the bow that turned into a spear as the bay and I swooped down, and the spear's head was sharp lightning. It stabbed the blue man's heart, and as it struck I could hear the thunder rolling and many voices that cried "Un-hee!," meaning I had killed. The flames died. The trees and grasses were not withered any more and murmured happily together, and every living being cried in gladness with whatever voice it had. Then the four troops of horse men charged down and struck the dead body of the blue man, counting coup; and suddenly it was only a harmless turtle.
You see, I had been riding with the storm clouds, and had come to earth as rain, and it was drought that I had killed with the power that the Six Grandfathers gave me. So we were riding on the earth now down along the river flowing full from the source of waters, and soon I saw ahead the circled village of a people in the valley. And a Voice said: "Behold a nation; it is yours. Make haste, Eagle Wing Stretches!"
I entered the village, riding, with the four horse troops behind me--the blacks, the whites, the sorrels, and the buckskins; and the place was filled with moaning and with mourning for the dead. The wind was blowing from the south like fever, and when I looked around I saw that in nearly every tepee the women and the children and the men lay dying with the dead.
So I rode around the circle of the village, looking in upon the sick and dead, and I felt like crying as I rode. But when I looked behind me, all the women and the children and the men were getting up and coming forth with happy faces.
And a Voice said: "Behold, they have given you the center of the nation's hoop to make it live."
So I rode to the center of the village, with the horse troops in their quarters round about me, and there the people gathered. And the Voice said: "Give them now the flowering stick that they may flourish, and the sacred pipe that they may know the power that is peace, and the wing of the white giant that they may have endurance and face all winds with courage."
So I took the bright red stick and at the center of the nation's hoop I thrust it in the earth. As it touched the earth it leaped mightily in my hand and was a waga chun, the rustling tree, very tall and full of leafy branches and of all birds singing. And beneath it all the animals were mingling with the people like relatives and making happy cries. The women raised their tremolo of joy, and the men shouted all together: "Here we shall raise our children and be as little chickens under the mother sheo's wing."
Then I heard the white wind blowing gently through the tree and singing there, and from the east the sacred pipe came flying on its eagle wings, and stopped before me there beneath the tree, spreading deep peace around it.
Then the daybreak star was rising, and a Voice said: "It shall be a relative to them; and who shall see it, shall see much more, for thence comes wisdom; and those who do not see it shall be dark." And all the people raised their faces to the east, and the star's light fell upon them, and all the dogs barked loudly and the horses whinnied.
Then when the many little voices ceased, the great Voice said: "Behold the circle of the nation's hoop, for it is holy, being endless, and thus all powers shall be one power in the people without end. Now they shall break camp and go forth upon the red road, and your Grandfathers shall walk with them." So the people broke camp and took the good road with the white wing on their faces, and the order of their going was like this:
First, the black horse riders with the cup of water; and the white horse riders with the white wing and the sacred herb; and the sorrel riders with the holy pipe: and the buckskins with the flowering stick. And after these the little children and the youths and maidens followed in a band.
Second, came the tribe's four chieftains, and their band was all young men and women.
Third, the nation's four advisers leading men and women neither young nor old.
Fourth, the old men hobbling with their canes and looking to the earth.
Fifth, old women hobbling with their canes and looking to the earth.
Sixth, myself all alone upon the bay with the bow and arrows that the First Grandfather gave me. But I was not the last; for when I looked behind me there were ghosts of people like a trailing fog as far as I could see--grandfathers of grandfathers and grandmothers of grandmothers without number. And over these a great Voice--the Voice that was the South--lived, and I could feel it silent.
And as we went the Voice behind me said: "Behold a good nation walking in a sacred manner in a good land!"
Then I looked up and saw that there were four ascents ahead, and these were generations I should know. Now we were on the first ascent, and all the land was green. And as the long line climbed, all the old men and women raised their hands, palms forward, to the far sky yonder and began to croon a song together, and the sky ahead was filled with clouds of baby faces.
When we came to the end of the first ascent we camped in the sacred circle as before, and in the center stood the holy tree, and still the land about us was all green.
Then we started on the second ascent, marching as before, and still the land was green, but it was getting steeper. And as I looked ahead, the people changed into elks and bison and all four-footed beings and even into fowls, all walking in a sacred manner on the good red road together. And I myself was a spotted eagle soaring over them. But just before we stopped to camp at the end of that ascent, all the marching animals grew restless and afraid that they were not what they had been, and began sending forth voices of trouble, calling to their chiefs. And when they camped at the end of that ascent, I looked down and saw that leaves were falling from the holy tree.
And the Voice said: "Behold your nation, and remember what your Six Grandfathers gave you, for thenceforth your people walk in difficulties."
Then the people broke camp again, and saw the black road before them towards where the sun goes down, and black clouds coming yonder; and they did not want to go but could not stay. And as they walked the third ascent, all the animals and fowls that were the people ran here and there, for each one seemed to have his own little vision that he followed and his own rules; and all over the universe I could hear the winds at war like wild beasts fighting.
And when we reached the summit of the third ascent and camped, the nation's hoop was broken like a ring of smoke that spreads and scatters and the holy tree seemed dying and all its birds were gone. And when I looked ahead I saw that the fourth ascent would be terrible.
Then when the people were getting ready to begin the fourth ascent, the Voice spoke like some one weeping, and it said: "Look there upon your nation." And when I looked down, the people were all changed back to human, and they were thin, their faces sharp, for they were starving. Their ponies were only hide and bones. and the holy tree was gone.
And as I looked and wept, I saw that there stood on the north side of the starving camp a sacred man who was painted red all over his body, and he held a spear as he walked into the center of the people, and there he lay down and rolled. And when he got up, it was a fat bison standing there, and where the bison stood a sacred herb sprang up right where the tree had been in the center of the nation's hoop. The herb grew and bore four blossoms on a single stem while I was looking--a blue, a white, a scarlet, and a yellow--and the bright rays of these flashed to the heavens.
I know now what this meant, that the bison were the gift of a good spirit and were our strength, but we should lose them, and from the same good spirit we must find another strength. For the people all seemed better when the herb had grown and bloomed, and the horses raised their tails and neighed and pranced around, and I could see a light breeze going from the north among the people like a ghost; and suddenly the flowering tree was there again at the center of the nation's hoop where the four-rayed herb had blossomed.
I was still the spotted eagle floating and I could see that I was already in the fourth ascent and the people were camping yonder at the top of the third long rise. It was dark and terrible about me, for all the winds of the world were fighting. It was like rapid gunfire and like whirling smoke, and like women and children wailing and like horses screaming all over the world.
I could see my people yonder running about, setting the smokeflap poles and fastening down their tepees against the wind, for the storm cloud was coming on them very fast and black, and there were frightened swallows without number fleeing before the cloud.
Then a song of power came to me and I sang it there in the midst of that terrible place where I was. It went like this:
A good nation I will make live.
This the nation above has said.
They have given me the power
to make over.
And when I had sung this, a Voice said: "To the four quarters you shall run for help, and nothing shall be strong before you. Behold him!"
Now I was on my bay horse again, because the horse is of the earth, and it was there my power would be used. And as I obeyed the Voice and looked, there was a horse all skin and bones yonder in the west, a faded brownish black. And a Voice there said: "Take this and make him over; and it was the four-rayed herb that I was holding in my hand. So I rode above the poor horse in a circle, and as I did this I could hear the people yonder calling for spirit power, "A-hey! a-hey! a-hey! a-hey!" Then the poor horse neighed and rolled and got up, and he was a big, shiny, black stallion with dapples all over him and his mane about him like a cloud. He was the chief of all the horses; and when he snorted, it was a flash of lightning and his eyes were like the sunset star. He dashed to the west and neighed, and the west was filled with a dust of hoofs, and horses without number, shiny black, came plunging from the dust. Then he dashed toward the north and neighed, and to the east and to the south. and the dust clouds answered, giving forth their plunging horses without number--whites and sorrels and buckskins, fat, shiny, rejoicing in their fleetness and their strength. It was beautiful, but it was also terrible.
Then they all stopped short, rearing, and were standing in a great hoop about their black chief at the center, and were still. And as they stood, four virgins, more beautiful than women of the earth can be, came through the circle, dressed in scarlet, one from each of the four quarters, and stood about the great black stallion in their places; and one held the wooden cup of water, and one the white wing, and one the pipe, and one the nation's hoop. All the universe was silent, listening; and then the great black stallion raised his voice and sang. The song he sang was this:
My horses, prancing they are coming.
My horses, neighing they are coming;
Prancing. they are coming.
All over the universe they come.
They will dance; may you behold them.
A horse nation, they will dance.
May you behold them. (4 times)
His voice was not loud, but it went all over the universe and filled it. There was nothing that did not hear, and it was more beautiful than anything can be. It was so beautiful that nothing anywhere could keep from dancing. The virgins danced, and all the circled horses. The leaves on the trees, the grasses on the hills and in the valleys, the water in the creeks and in the rivers and the lakes, the four-legged and the two-legged and the wings of the air--all danced together to the music of the stallion's song.
And when I looked down upon my people yonder, the cloud passed over, blessing them with friendly rain, and stood in the east with a flaming rainbow over it.
Then all the horses went singing back to their places beyond the summit of the fourth ascent, and all thing sang along with them as they walked.
And a Voice said: "All over the universe they have finished a day of happiness." And looking down, I saw that the whole wide circle of the day was beautiful and green, with all fruits growing and all things kind and happy.
Then a Voice said: "Behold this day, for it is yours to make. Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see, for there they are taking you." I was still on my bay horse, and once more I felt the riders of the west, the north, the east, the south, behind me in formation, as before, and we were going east. I looked ahead and saw the mountains there with rocks and forests on them, and from the mountains flashed all colors upward to the heavens. Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.
Then as I stood there, two men were coming from the east, head first like arrows flying, and between them rose the daybreak star. They came and gave a herb to me and said: "With this on earth you shall undertake anything and do it." It was the daybreak-star herb, the herb of understanding, and they told me to drop it on the earth. I saw it falling far, and when it struck the earth it rooted and grew and flowered, four blossoms on one stem, a blue, a white, a scarlet, and a yellow; and the rays from these streamed upward to the heavens so that all creatures saw it and in no place was there darkness.
Then the Voice said: "Your Six Grandfathers--now you shall go back to them."
I had not noticed how I was dressed until now, and I saw that I was painted red all over, and my joints were painted black, with white stripes between the joints. My bay had lightning stripes all over him, and his mane was cloud. And when I breathed, my breath was lightning.
Now two men were leading me, head first like arrows slanting upward--the two that brought me from the earth. And as I followed on the bay, they turned into four flocks of geese that flew in circles, one above each quarter, sending forth a sacred voice as they flew: Br-r-r-p, br-r-r-p, br-r-r-p, br-r-r-p!
Then I saw ahead the rainbow flaming above the tepee of the Six Grandfathers, built and roofed with cloud and sewed with thongs of lightning; and underneath it were all the wings of the air and under them the animals and men. All these were rejoicing and thunder was like happy laughter.
As I rode in through the rainbow door, there were cheering voices from all over the universe, and I saw the Six Grandfathers sitting in a row, with their arms held toward me and their hands, palms out; and behind them in the cloud were faces thronging, without number, of the people yet to be.
"He has triumphed!" cried the six together, making thunder. And as I passed before them there, each gave again the gift that he had given me before--the cup of water and the bow and arrows, the power to make live and to destroy; the white wing of cleansing and the healing herb; the sacred pipe; the flowering stick. And each one spoke in turn from west to south, explaining what he gave as he had done before, and as each one spoke he melted down into the earth and rose again; and as each did this, I felt nearer to the earth.
Then the oldest of them all said: "Grandson, all over the universe you have seen. Now you shall go back with power to the place from whence you came, and it shall happen yonder that hundreds shall be sacred, hundreds shall be flames! Behold!"
I looked below and saw my people there, and all were well and happy except one, and he was lying like the dead--and that one was myself. Then the oldest Grandfather sang, and his song was like this:
There is someone lying on earth
in a sacred manner.
There is someone--on earth he lies.
In a sacred manner I have made him to walk.
Now the tepee, built and roofed with cloud, began to sway back and forth as in a wind, and the flaming rainbow door was growing dimmer. I could hear voices of all kinds crying from outside: "Eagle Wine Stretches is coming forth! Behold him!"
When I went through the door, the face of the day of earth was appearing with the daybreak star upon its forehead; and the sun leaped up and looked upon me, and I was going forth alone.
And as I walked alone, I heard the sun singing as it arose, and it sang like this:
With visible face I am appearing.
In a sacred manner I appear.
For the greening earth a pleasantness
The center of the nation's hoop
I have made pleasant.
With visible face, behold me!
The four-leggeds and two-leggeds,
I have made them to walk;
The wings of the air, I have made
them to fly.
With visible face I appear.
My day, I have made it holy.
When the singing stopped, I was feeling lost and very lonely. Then a Voice above me said: "Look back!" It was a spotted eagle that was hovering over me and spoke. I looked, and where the flaming rainbow tepee, built and roofed with cloud, had been, I saw only the tall rock mountain at the center of the world.
I was all alone on a broad plain now with my feet upon the earth, alone but for the spotted eagle guarding me. I could see my people's village far ahead, and I walked very fast, for I was homesick now. Then I saw my own tepee, and inside I saw my mother and my father, bending over a sick boy that was myself. And as I entered the tepee, some one was saying: "The boy is coming to; you had better give him some water."
Then I was sitting up; and I was sad because my mother and my father didn't seem to know I had been so far away.
from Chapter 4: The Bison Hunt
When I got back to my father and mother and was sitting up there in our tepee, my face was still all puffed and my legs and arms were badly swollen; but I felt good all over and wanted to get right up and run around. My parents would not let me. They told me I had been sick twelve days, lying like dead all the while, and that Whirlwind Chaser, who was Standing Bear's uncle and a medicine man, had brought me back to life. I knew it was the Grandfathers in the Flaming Rainbow Tepee who had cured me; but I felt afraid to say so. My father gave Whirlwind Chaser the best horse he had for making me well, and many people came to look at me, and there was much talk about the great power of Whirlwind Chaser who had made me well all at once when I was almost the same as dead. Everybody was glad that I was living; but as I lay there thinking about the wonderful place where I had been and all that I had seen, I was very sad; for it seemed to me that everybody ought to know about it, but I was afraid to tell, because I knew that nobody would believe me, little as I was, for I was only nine years old. Also, as I lay there thinking of my vision, I could see it all again and feel the meaning with a part of me like a strange power glowing in my body; but when the part of me that talks would try to make words for the meaning, it would be like fog and get away from me.
[From this point much of Black Elk's narrative is taken up with the description of the suffering that his people endured at the hands of the "Wasichus" or White Men. By the time Black Elk was sixteen years old his tribe had been decimated, and what remained of his people would soon be subjected to living on the terms of the White Man, on what were to become Indian reservations. All during this time Black Elk avoids speaking of his vision to anyone, although he often draws strength from it privately. Eventually, however, his uncertainty about its significance and the continued secrecy begin to be too much for him.]
From Chapter 13: The Compelling Fear
I was sixteen years old and more, and I had not yet done anything the Grandfathers wanted me to do, but they had been helping me. I did not know how to do what they wanted me to do.
A terrible time began for me then, and I could not tell anybody, not even my father and mother. I was afraid to see a cloud coming up; and whenever one did, I could hear the thunder beings calling to me: "Behold your Grandfathers! Make haste!" I could understand the birds when they sang, and they were always saying: "It is time! It is time!" The crows in the day and the coyotes at night all called and called to me: "It is time! It is time! It is time!"
Time to do what? I did not know. Whenever I awoke before daybreak and went out of the tepee because I was afraid of the stillness when everyone was sleeping, there were many low voices talking together in the east, and the daybreak star would sing this song in the silence:
In a sacred manner you shall walk!
Your nation shall behold you!
I could not get along with people now, and I would take my horse and go far out from camp alone and compare everything on the earth and in the sky with my vision. Crows would see me and shout to each other as though they were making fun of me: "Behold him! Behold him!"
When the frosts began I was glad, because there would not be any more thunder storms for a long while, and I was more and more afraid of them all the time, for always there would be the voices crying!: "Oo oohey! It is time! It is time!"
The fear was not so great all the while in the winter, but sometimes it was bad. Sometimes the crying of coyotes out in the cold made me so afraid that I would run out of one tepee into another, and I would do this until I was worn out and fell asleep. I wondered if maybe I was only crazy; and my father and mother worried a great deal about me. They said: "It is the strange sickness he had that time when we gave the horse to Whirlwind Chaser for curing him; and he is not cured." I could not tell them what was the matter, for then they would only think I was queerer than ever.
I was seventeen years old that winter.
When the grasses were beginning to show their tender faces again, my father and mother asked an old medicine man by the name of Black Road to come over and see what he could do for me. Black Road was in a tepee all alone with me, and he asked me to tell him if I had seen something that troubled me. By now I was so afraid of being afraid of everything that I told him about my vision, and when I was through he looked long at me and said: "Ah-h-h-h!," meaning that he was much surprised. Then he said to me: "Nephew, I know now what the trouble is! You must do what the bay horse in your vision wanted you to do. You must do your duty and perform this vision for your people upon earth. You must have the horse dance first for the people to see. Then the fear will leave you; but if you do not do this, something very bad will happen to you."
So we began to get ready for the horse dance.
Chapter 14: The Horse Dance
There was a man by the name of Bear Sings, and he was very old and wise. So Black Road asked him to help, and he did.
First they sent a crier around in the morning who told the people to camp in a circle at a certain place a little way up the Tongue from where the soldiers were. They did this, and in the middle of the circle Bear Sings and Black Road set up a sacred tepee of bison hide, and on it they painted pictures from my vision. On the west side they painted a bow and a cup of water; on the north. **white geese and the herb; on the east. the daybreak star and the pipe; on the south, the flowering stick and the nation's hoop. Also, they painted horses, elk. and bison. Then over the door of the sacred tepee, they painted the flaming rainbow. It took them all day to do this, and it was beautiful.
They told me I must not eat anything until the horse dance was over, and I had to purify myself in a sweat lodge with sage spread on the floor of it, and afterwards I had to wipe myself dry with sage.
That evening Black Road and Bear Sings told me to come to the painted tepee. We were in there alone, and nobody dared come near us to listen. They asked me if I had heard any songs in my vision, and if I had I must teach the songs to them. So I sang to them all the songs that I had heard in my vision, and it took most of the night to teach these songs to them. While we were in there singing, we could hear low thunder rumbling all over the village outside, and we knew the thunder beings were glad and had come to help us.
My father and mother had been helping too by hunting up all that we should need in the dance. The next morning they had everything ready. There were four black horses to represent the west; four white horses for the north; four sorrels for the east; four buckskins for the south. For all of these, young riders had been chosen. Also there was a bay horse for me to ride, as in my vision. Four of the most beautiful maidens in the village were ready to take their part, and there were six very old men for the Grandfathers.
Now it was time to paint and dress for the dance. The four maidens and the sixteen horses all faced the sacred tepee. Black Road and Bear Sings then sang a song, and all the others sang along with them, like this:
Father, paint the earth on me.
Father, paint the earth on me.
Father, paint the earth on me.
A nation I will make over.
A two-legged nation I will make holy.
Father. paint the earth on me.
After that the painting was done.
The four black-horse riders were painted all black with blue lightning stripes down their legs and arms and white hail spots on their hips, and there were blue streaks of lightning on the horses' legs.
The white-horse riders were painted all white with red streaks of lightning on their arms and legs, and on the legs of the horses there were streaks of red lightning, and all the white riders wore plumes of white horse hair on their heads to look like geese.
The riders of the sorrels of the east were painted all red with straight black lines of lightning on their limbs and across their breasts, and there was straight black lightning on the limbs and breasts of the horses too.
The riders of the buckskins of the south were painted all yellow and streaked with black lightning. The horses were black from the knees down, and black lightning streaks were on their upper legs and breasts.
My bay horse had bright red streaks of lightning on his limbs, and on his back a spotted eagle, outstretching was painted where I sat. I was painted red all over with black lightning on my limbs. I wore a black mask, and across my forehead a single eagle feather hung.
When the horses and the men were painted they looked beautiful; but they looked fearful too.
The men were naked, except for a breech-clout; but the four maidens wore buckskin dresses dyed scarlet, and their faces were scarlet too. Their hair was braided, and they had wreaths of the sweet and cleansing sage, the sacred sage, around their heads, and from the wreath of each in front a single eagle feather hung. They were very beautiful to see.
All this time I was in the sacred tepee with the Six Grandfathers, and the four sacred virgins were in there too. No one outside was to see me until the dance began.
Right in the middle of the tepee the Grandfathers made a circle in the ground with a little trench, and across this they painted two roads--the red one running north and south, the black one, east and west. On the west side of this they placed a cup of water with a little bow and arrow laid across it; and on the east they painted the daybreak star. Then to the maiden who would represent the north they gave the healing herb to carry and a white goose wing, the cleansing wind. To her of the east they gave the holy pipe. To her of the south they gave the flowering stick; and to her who would represent the west they gave the nation's hoop. Thus the four maidens, good and beautiful, held in their hands the life of the nation.
All I carried was a red stick to represent the sacred arrow, the power of the thunder beings of the west.
We were now ready to begin the dance. The Six Grandfathers began to sing, announcing the riders of the different quarters. First they sang of the black horse riders, like this:
They will appear--may you behold them!
They will appear--may you behold them!
A horse nation will appear.
A thunder-being nation will appear.
They will appear, behold!
They will appear, behold!
Then the black riders mounted their horses and stood four abreast facing the place where the sun goes down.
Next the Six Grandfathers sang:
They will appear, may you behold them!
A horse nation will appear, behold!
A geese nation will appear, may you
Then the four white horsemen mounted and stood four abreast, facing the place where the White Giant lives.
Next the Six Grandfathers sang:
Where the sun shines continually,
they will appear!
A buffalo nation, they will appear, behold!
A horse nation, they will appear,
may you behold!
Then the red horsemen mounted and stood four abreast facing the east.
Next the Grandfathers sang:
Where you are always facing,
an elk nation will appear!
May you behold!
A horse nation will appear,
The four yellow riders mounted their buckskins and stood four abreast facing the south.
Now it was time for me to go forth from the sacred tepee, but before I went forth I sang this song to the drums of the Grandfathers:
He will appear, may you behold him!
An eagle for the eagle nation will appear.
May you behold!
While I was singing thus in the sacred tepee I could hear my horse snorting and prancing outside. The virgins went forth four abreast and I followed them, mounting my horse and standing behind them facing the west.
Next the Six Grandfathers came forth and stood abreast behind my bay, and they began to sing a rapid, lively song to the drums, like this:
They are dancing.
They are coming to behold you.
The horse nation of the west is dancing.
They are coming to behold!
Then they sang the same of the horses of the north and of the east and of the south. And as they sang of each troop in turn, it wheeled and came and took its place behind the Grandfathers--the blacks, the whites, the sorrels and the buckskins, standing four abreast and facing the west. They came prancing to the lively air of the Grandfathers' song, and they pranced as they stood in line. And all the while my bay was rearing too and prancing to the music of the sacred song.
Now when we were all in line, facing the west, I looked up into a dark cloud that was coming there and the people all became quiet and the horses quit prancing. And when there was silence but for low thunder yonder, I sent a voice to the spirits of the cloud, holding forth my right hand, thus, palm outward, as I cried four times:
Hey-a-a-hey! hey-a-a-hey! hey-a-a-hey! hey-a-a-hey!
Then the Grandfathers behind me sang another sacred song from my vision, the one that goes like this:
At the center of the earth,
behold a four-legged.
They have said this to me!
And as they sang a strange thing happened. My bay pricked up his ears and raised his tail and pawed the earth, neighing long and loud to where the sun goes down. And the four black horses raised their voices, neighing long and loud, and the whites and the sorrels and the buckskins did the same; and all the other horses in the village neighed, and even those out grazing in the valley and on the hill slopes raised their heads and neighed together. Then suddenly, as I sat there looking at the cloud, I saw my vision yonder once again--the tepee built of cloud and sewed with lightning the flaming rainbow door and, underneath, the Six Grandfathers sitting, and all the horses thronging in their quarters; and also there was I myself upon my bay before the tepee. I looked about me and could see that what we then were doing was like a shadow cast upon the earth from yonder vision in the heavens, so bright it was and clear. I knew the real was yonder and the darkened dream of it was here.
And as I looked, the Six Grandfathers yonder in the cloud and all the riders of the horses, and even I myself upon the bay up there, all held their hands palms outward toward me, and when they did this, I had to pray, and so I cried:
Grandfathers, you behold me!
Spirits of the World, you behold!
What you have said to me,
I am now performing!
Hear me and help me!
Then the vision went out, and the thunder cloud was coming on with lightning on its front and many voices in it, and the split-tail swallows swooped above us in a swarm.
The people of the village ran to fasten down their tepees, while the black horse riders sang to the drums that rolled like thunder, and this is what they sang:
I myself made them fear.
Myself, I wore an eagle relic.
I myself made them fear.
Myself, a lightning power I wore.
I myself made them fear,
Made them fear.
The power of the hail I wore,
I myself made them fear,
Made them fear!
And as they sang, the hail and rain were falling yonder just a little way from us, and we could see it, but the cloud stood there and flashed and thundered, and only a little sprinkle fell on us. The thunder beings were glad and had come in a great crowd to see the dance.
Now the four virgins held high the sacred relics that they carried, the herb and the white wing, the sacred pipe, the flowering stick, the nation's hoop, offering these to the spirits of the west. Then people who were sick or sad came to the virgins, making scarlet offerings to them, and after they had done this, they all felt better and some were cured of sickness and began to dance for joy.
Now the Grandfathers beat their drums again and the dance began. The four black horsemen, who had stood behind the Grandfathers, went ahead of the virgins, riding toward the west side of the circled village, and all the others followed in their order while the horses pranced and reared.
When the black horse troop had reached the western side, it wheeled around and fell to the rear behind the buckskins, and the white horse band came up and led until it reached the north side of the village. Then these fell back and took the rear behind the blacks, and the sorrels led until they reached the east. Then these fell back behind the whites, and the buckskins led until they reached the south. Then they fell back and took the rear, so that the blacks were leading as before toward the western quarter that was theirs. Each time the leading horse troop reached its quarter, the Six Grandfathers sang of the powers of that quarter, and there my bay faced, pricking up his ears and neighing loud, till all the other horses raised their voices neighing. When I thus faced the north, I sent a voice again and said: "Grandfather, behold me! What you gave me I have given to the people--the power of the healing herb and the cleansing wind. Thus my nation is made over. Hear and help me!"
And when we reached the east, and after the Grandfathers had sung, I sent a voice: "Grandfather, behold me! My people, with difficulty they walk. Give them wisdom and guide them. Hear and help me!"
Between each quarter, as we marched and danced, we all sang together:
A horse nation all over the universe,
Neighing, they come!
Prancing, they come!
May you behold them.
When we had reached the south and the Grandfathers had sung of the power of growing, my horse faced yonder and neighed again, and all the horses raised their voices as before. And then I prayed with hand upraised: "Grandfather, the flowering stick you gave me and the nation's sacred hoop I have given to the people. Hear me, you who have the power to make grow! Guide the people that they may be as blossoms on your holy tree, and make it flourish deep in Mother Earth and make it full of leaves and singing birds."
Then once more the blacks were leading, and as we marched and sang and danced toward the quarter of the west, the black hail cloud, still standing yonder watching, filled with voices crying: "Hey-hey! hey-hey!" They were cheering and rejoicing that my work was being done. And all the people now were happy and rejoicing, sending voices back, "hey-hey, hey-hey"; and all the horses neighed, rejoicing with the spirits and the people. Four times we marched and danced around the circle of the village, singing as we went, the leaders changing at the quarters, the Six Grandfathers singing to the power of each quarter, and to each I sent a voice. And at each quarter, as we stood, somebody who was sick or sad would come with offerings to the virgins--little scarlet bags of the chacun sha sha, the red willow bark. And when the offering was made, the giver would feel better and begin to dance with joy.
And on the second time around, many of the people who had horses joined the dance with them, milling round and round the Six Grandfathers and the virgins as we danced ahead. And more and more got on their horses, milling round us as we went, until there was a whirl of prancing horses all about us at the end, and all the others danced afoot behind us, and everybody sang what we were singing.
When we reached the quarter of the west the fourth time, we stopped in new formation, facing inward toward the sacred tepee in the center of the village. First stood the virgins, next I stood upon the bay; then came the Six Grandfathers with eight riders on either side of them--the sorrels and the buckskins on their right hand; the blacks and whites upon their left. And when we stood so, the oldest of the Grandfathers, he who was the Spirit of the Sky, cried out: "Let all the people be ready. He shall send a voice four times, and at the last voice you shall go forth and coup [hit] the sacred tepee, and who shall coup it first shall have new power!"
All the riders were eager for the charge, and even the horses seemed to understand and were rearing and trying to get away. Then I raised my hand and cried hey-hey four times, and at the fourth the riders all yelled "hoka hey," and charged upon the tepee. My horse plunged inward along with all the others, but many were ahead of me and many couped the tepee before I did.
Then the horses were all rubbed down with sacred sage and led away, and we began going into the tepee to see what might have happened there while we were dancing. The Grandfathers had sprinkled fresh soil on the nation's hoop that they had made in there with the red and black roads across it, and all around this little circle of the nation's hoop we saw the prints of tiny pony hoofs as though the spirit horses had been dancing while we danced.
Now Black Road, who had helped me to perform the dance, took the sacred pipe from the virgin of the east. After filling it with chacun sha sha, the bark of the red willow, he lit and offered it to the Powers of the World, sending a voice thus:
"Grandfathers, you where the sun goes down, you of the sacred wind where the white giant lives, you where the day comes forth and the morning star, you where lives the power to grow, you of the sky and you of the earth, wings of the air and four-leggeds of the world, behold! I, myself, with my horse nation have done what I was to do on earth. To all of you I offer this pipe that my people may live!"
Then he smoked and passed the pipe. It went all over the village until every one had smoked at least a puff.
After the horse dance was over, it seemed that I was above the ground and did not touch it when I walked. I felt very happy, for I could see that my people were all happier. Many crowded around me and said that they or their relatives who had been feeling sick were well again, and these gave me many gifts. Even the horses seemed to be healthier and happier after the dance.
The fear that was on me so long was gone, and when thunder clouds appeared I was always glad to see them, for they came as relatives now to visit me. Everything seemed good and beautiful now, and kind.
Before this, the medicine men would not talk to me, but now they would come to me to talk about my vision.
From that time on, I always got up very early to see the rising of the daybreak star. People knew that I did this, and many would get up to see it with me, and when it came we said: "Behold the star of understanding!
From Chapter 18: The Powers of the Bison and the Elk
I think I have told you, but if I have not, you must have understood, that a man who has a vision is not able to use the power of it until after he has performed the vision on earth for the people to see. You remember that my great vision came to me when I was only nine years old, and you have seen that I was not much good for anything until after I had performed the horse dance near the mouth of the Tongue River during my eighteenth summer. And if the great fear had not come upon me, as it did, and forced me to do my duty, I might have been less good to the people than some man who had never dreamed at all, even with the memory of so great a vision in me. But the fear came and if I had not obeyed it, I am sure it would have killed me in a little while.
It was even then only after the heyoka ceremony in which I performed my dog vision, that I had the power to practice as a medicine man, curing sick people; and many I cured with the power that came through me. Of course it was not I who cured. It was the power from the outer world, and the visions and ceremonies had only made me like a hole through which the power could come to the two-leggeds. If I thought that I was doing it myself, the hole would close up and no power could come through. Then everything I could do would be foolish. There were other parts of my great vision that I still had to perform before I could use the power that was in those parts. If you think about my great vision again, you will remember how the red man turned into a bison and rolled, and that the people found the good red road after that. If you will read again what is written, you will see how it was.
To use the power of the bison, I had to perform that part of my vision for the people to see. It was during the summer of my first cure that this was done. I carried the pipe to Fox Belly, a wise and good old medicine man, and asked him to help me do this duty. He was glad to help me, but first I had to tell him how it was in that part of my vision. I did not tell him all my vision, only that part. I had never told any one all of it, and even until now nobody ever heard it all. Even my old friend, Standing Bear, and my son here have heard it now for the first time when I have told it to you. Of course there was very much in the vision that even I cannot tell when I try hard, because very much of it was not for words. But I have told what can be told.
It has made me very sad to do this at last, and I have lain awake at night worrying and wondering if I was doing right; for I know I have given away my power when I have given away my vision, and maybe I cannot live very long now. But I think I have done right to save the vision in this way, even though I may die sooner because I did it; for I know the meaning of the vision is wise and beautiful and good; and you can see that I am only a pitiful old man after all.
3-19-10 - DREAM - I was observinig a chaotic, multi-colored grid which represented various factions of aliens-extraterrestrials. I was able to move them around at will as to which color was more prominent. There was no definite pattern at any time.
I then went into an office where men were working on drawings of lines which would eventually become blueprints. I took a red pen and made certain lines more prominent, but was careful not to 'change' the lines in any way except to darken them.
While I was doing this, I was watching a film about a man who was demonstrating hairpieces for men. He looked familiar to me, but I can't remember his name. He was tall and thin and bald to begin with, but he modeled these hairpieces to make himself look more human. I noticed that there was series of projector lamps and boxes to make it look like he was in a different place than he actually was, and this series of projector lamps and boxes had to be precisely placed to hide the fact of where he really was broadcasting from. Was this Project Bluebeam?
4-8-10 - DREAM = I was the observer of a rainbow-colored beehive of aliens factions. There was a hierarchy of sorts to the beehive. Each faction was a different pastel color and no two were the same size either. They were represented by little colored squares and came and went from the beehive - just like a bee might do, and they could only re-enter the beehive when there was a space available to them.
The aliens were aligned in their beehive similar to this British beehive.
4-17-10 - DREAM - This was another grid dream. I was working with a rainbow grid and it wasn't exactly pretty. It had a lot of 'dark' in it. I was trying to make the words of Revelation in front of me fit into the grid and could only get so far and when I got to the word 'everyone' I couldn't get it to fit into the grid.
Dream 2: I was again working on the rainbow grid, trying to get the word 'everyone' into the grid, when water began to rise ominously and it covered everything below the word 'everyone' and it stopped rising at that point.
Dream 3: I was working in an office, writing a short book about the grid and this particular verse of Revelation where it mantions 'everyone' and was putting pictures on each page to demonstrate what the page was about. I was getting the pictures from magazines and books. My boss liked what I was doing and gave me high praise for it, and gave me time during work to complete the book including researching in the businesses library. I showed him page 17 in my book, but I hadn't yet put a picture of the God that belonged on that page.
Dream 4: I was back to working on the grid itself, wondering why the word 'everyone' was where the water stopped rising, and why I couldn't get it to fit, so I looked in the Bible myself where I thought the word was, and it wasn't there. (The word 'everyone' is in the last chapter)
Dream 5: I went to the company lunchroom and didn't want to sit alone, so I looked around to see who else was there and would ask if I could sit with them. I discovered that every chair in the lunchroom was also a potty chair even though there was a bathroom in the corner. I figured it was because so many people had to go to the bathroom at the same time.
When I sat down with the woman at a table, she started showing me things she had. One of which was a Christmas ornament. It was an odd shade or reddish orange, and had the word 'lenticular' on it and was supposed to be a kind of 'light'.
I know the word 'lenticular' is a type of cloud that hangs over mountain tops usually.
17:1 One of the
seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me,
saying, "Come here. I will show you the judgment of the
great prostitute who sits on many waters,
Revelation chapter 17 commentary
by Don Koenig
In the previous vial judgments, the Beast world system is destroyed. In chapters 17 and 18, John is taken to see much more detail about the life, deeds and end fate of the religious and political systems that had control over the world since the rebellion against God became formal at Babylon in the days of Nimrod. These two chapters in Revelation are probably the most difficult to understand in the book of Revelation. A broad understanding of prophetic scripture is essential to properly discern what John is seeing in these chapters. The difficulty is mainly in determining the identities of “Mystery Babylon” of chapter 17 and “Babylon the Great” of chapter 18 and ascertaining the differences between the two identities. The timing of the events related to them during the tribulation also raises some controversy
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
One of the seven angels that has the vial or vials tells John to come and he will show him the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters. The phrase “sitting upon many waters” means the whore sits over many nations or peoples of the earth. This is specially defined for us in verse 15.
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
The kings of the earth commit fornication with this whore. Therefore, the whore herself is not likely to be one of the nations under the kings. Those who inhabit the earth become intoxicated with the adultery that this harlot commits because they love to drink what she offerers.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
John was carried away in the spirit into the wilderness where he saw the things described. Since he was carried into the wilderness the woman cannot be harlot Israel (as some think). The word for wilderness in Hebrew usually means a large pasture or tract of land and the Greek word means pretty much the same thing. I believe here the word “wilderness” simply means to be in carried to a large land area somewhere other than in the land of Israel. The word wilderness could also mean a high mountain pasture and this could have been where John was taken. I believe John was taken to Europe to see the revival of the Holy Roman Empire (one of the names of blasphemy).
John sees a woman in the wilderness that sits upon a scarlet colored beast. This woman on the beast is obviously the whore that the angel said he was bringing John to see. The woman rides on a scarlet colored beast that has names of blasphemy and the beast she rides has seven heads and ten horns. We have already seen in chapter twelve that the Dragon (who is Satan) fits this description. Therefore, we can be certain that the woman on the scarlet colored beast is being carried along by Satan.
There have been seven world governments that have controlled the known civilized world. They were all under the administrative control of Satan. When Jesus was shown and offered all the kingdoms of the world by Satan and was told that he had the authority or power to give them to Him, Jesus did not contradict his claim (Mat 4:8). The seven world governments are the seven heads of the beast but we shall also see that the seven heads also represent seven hills where the end time Beast is physically located. The ten horns represent the leaders who give their power to the Beast in the last world kingdom that rises just before Jesus comes to set up His kingdom on earth. These same ten horns are also spoken of in Daniel Chapter7.
We are told the harlot woman rides this Beast, meaning she has some control over the direction of all seven world governments. There is only one entity that fits that description and that entity is “world religion”. Man rebelled against the God of heaven when he started worshiping created beings rather than the creator (Satan is the chief of created beings). This paganism became a formal mystery religion at the tower of Babel under the rule of Nimrod. Most of mankind remains under the influence of Babylonian pagan practices today.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
The woman has the name “Mystery Babylon”. Mystery Babylon is not the same as the physical place of Babylon in Iraq. Mystery Babylon is the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. She is a seen as a harlot because she has a relationship with someone other than God. She is the mother of all abominations because she is playing the harlot with Satan who is the prime source of all evil on the earth. The clothing the woman wears and the wealth she displays reflects that she thinks that she is a queen instead of a whore. The priests of formal religions often wear similar colors today. Many of them also use golden cups for the practice of their religious rituals. In her hand is a cup that is full of abominations that comes from her fornication with Satan.
Purple was the color of Roman imperialism and scarlet is the main color adopted by Roman Catholicism. The Vatican is the chief entity that speaks for religion on the earth and that is not just a coincidence. The Vatican is the only religious state and it has embassies in most nations of the world and has a non-voting seat at the UN as a consultant to this world body. In the end times, she will be the head of the harlot world religion when she and many other religions merge into a one-world religion with its headquarters being at the Vatican in Rome.
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
The woman is drunk with the blood of the saints and with the martyrs of Jesus. The saints are Old Testament people who were put to death by the religious whore. They include all the prophets and Old Testament believers who were persecuted and killed by the religions system (Judaism) that fornicated with Babylonian demonic gods. Most members of the leadership of Israel’s religious system were controlled by “their father the Devil” according to Jesus (Joh 8:44). This proves that the harlot was in existence and was well established in Judaism even at that time. These satanic leaders of Israel killed the husbandmen of the vineyard (the prophets) and even the Son of the owner of the vineyard (Jesus) so that God would get nothing out of His field (Luk 20:13).
The martyrs of Jesus are the followers of Jesus who died for their faith in Him. Martyrdom of the true followers of Jesus will continue to take place under the hand of the whore until the day the great whore is devoured by the Beast she rides. After Judaism, most of martyrdom was by the hands of satanic leaders that rose to the top of Christian and later Islamic religion. In the future, martyrdom will be by the hands of the World Church. Finally, the whore herself will be devoured and burned with fire by the Babylonian pagan Beast she prostituted herself with.
Why did John marvel about her? John marveled because until the angel explains it to him, the woman and the beast she rides is a hidden mystery. Maybe John also marveled because God’s plan that allows Satan to play God through the religions of the world is simply astounding. John must have realized that through death, these martyrs actually won victory over the Devil and obtained eternal life and glory. Thus, the satanically inspired desire of the harlot to kill the children of the promise actually brought the elect children to eternal salvation and rewards. The plan of God is a mystery simply beyond human understanding.
7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
Do not take my word for it - the angel himself will clearly explain to John and to us the mystery of the woman, and the satanic Beast that she rides.
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
The angel first explains to John the mystery of the Beast that John saw. This Beast is an entity that ascends out of the bottomless pit and that eventually goes to eternal damnation. We have already studied that when Satan is cast out of heaven he will inhabit the Beast that comes out of the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit is probably the center of the earth where the demons and enemies of God are being held for this time of judgment. In a sense, the bottomless pit is a fifth dimension that we know little about. As we previously studied, the Beast is both a man and a world empire.
The people on the earth will wonder after the Beast when they behold him. They will think that he is God. All who do not know the true God will be truly astonished by the Beast. Those God chose before the foundations of the world will not be deceived but all the rest in the world will be deceived. Anyone who thinks that the Antichrist is a plain man with a few magic tricks simply is not reading the script. Satan will come in the body of a man with supernatural powers and with all his angels. He will claim to be God and the world will believe him because of the power he demonstrates.
“The Beast that was and is not and yet is”, is talking about the resurrection of a man who had died and probably also about a kingdom that had a deadly wound. A contemporary world leader will be killed and rise from the dead by the power that God permits Satan to have to perform this deception. The deception is for all those who have rejected the truth given by the two prophets, and who wish to believe a lie. This passage talks about a world leader and also talks about his kingdom, as do other prophecies in scripture. The same wicked spiritual forces control both. The kingdom of the Beast that was and is not and yet is, can only be a revival of the Roman Empire that later becomes Satan’s counterfeit kingdom of God.
As we studied previously, the book of Daniel chapter two makes it clear that there would only be four Gentile world empires from the time of Daniel to the time that Jesus sets up His kingdom over the world. These four empires were The Babylonian, The Medo-Persian, the Greek and the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire will rise again in these last days as is portrayed by the feet with ten toes on the statue of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:42). This statue represents all the remaining world governments until God sets up His kingdom. The world governments are sequential from the head to the toes. The two legs of iron represented the eastern and western division of the Roman Empire. The final gentile government is represented by the feet with ten toes of iron and clay. They represent strong and weak nations that will come together in the same area as the legs to form this revived Roman Empire.
The resurrection of the Roman Empire is underway today with the forming of the European Union. The Roman Empire was the seventh world empire on earth but the fourth from Daniel because there were also three world governments prior to Daniel’s prophecy. The Beast Government that comes when Satan is cast out of heaven onto the earth will be the eighth world government. It is the eighth because the Beast that comes out of the pit will take control of this revived Roman Empire, move the world government and religious capitol to Babylon Iraq, and rename it the “Kingdom of God”. It will also be called “Babylon the Great”. The Beast man that controls the eighth world government is the eighth king but is of the seven because the same resurrected man that also ruled the end time revived Roman Empire was also the leader of the seventh before he was assassinated.
Let me clarify this a little - this seventh world leader will die and rise again by the power given to Satan and become the leader of the eighth world empire. Nevertheless, he was the leader of the seventh empire as well before he was killed.
The prophecy about the “empire” identified as the Beast is similar. It originally will evolve out of the area of the old Roman Empire. This new Roman Empire will receive a deadly head wound in an internal revolution and three nations and kings will no longer exist. The “empire” with the deadly head wound will rise again as the end time Beast when the Beast man rises from the dead, claims to be God incarnate, moves the headquarters from Europe to Babylon and then takes his Beast kingdom worldwide.
There are only seven Gentile world empires on earth until Jesus comes but there are eight, because the eighth is just phase two of the seventh when the leader becomes supernatural, moves the capitol and expands his kingdom to the whole world.
Now that the angel explained who the Beast is, he tells us about the mystery of the “woman who rides the Beast”. The angel tells John that the woman that rides the Beast will sit on seven mountains (mountains, mounts or hills). Rome sits on seven hills. The harlot woman that becomes the World Church will rule from the Vatican.
I have seen photos showing the Pope entering a mosque and kissing the Koran. I have read that he said eastern religions also provide paths to God. One of his closest friends is the Dali Lama who is the world leader of eastern and “new age” paganism. All this contact with unbelievers is ongoing at the very same time that he attacks fundamental true Christianity in South America. This is typical of the thinking in much of the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. There also is quite a parallel to the idol worship of statues by “some Catholics” and the idol worship by Buddhists and Hindus. It is not hard to see how all world religion will unify on a central theme once the influences of the true Christians are removed in the rapture. (There are true Christians in the Roman Catholic Church but they will leave as well.)
All religion is pretty much the same at its core. Religions are methodologies for man to evolve to become like God, to appease God and earn brownie points by one’s own good works, or to manipulate God or some “higher power force” into doing one’s own will. There is always an inner circle of elite that set themselves up as being on a higher spiritual plane and more like God or closer to God than the common membership. Those who believe they are on this higher plane then make rules and rituals to enslave the masses to enforce what they believe are God’s requirements for man.
Religion other than “true Christianity” (which really is not a religion but is being born into a new creation by trust in God), is always a salvation by man’s own works theology and always denies that salvation can be acquired from trusting in the work of Jesus alone. Jesus had little good to say about the religious leadership over Israel and He will have little good to say about the religious leadership over Gentile religions in these last days. This includes most of the leadership that identifies with Christianity.
The scriptures say there is but one way to God through His Son Jesus Christ and that He paid the price for all mankind at the cross. To be saved one has to trust that God loved mankind enough to have prepared a plan of salvation and that He actually has the power to carry it out. This plan for redeeming man is what the Bible is all about.
The great difference between the bride of Christ and the whore is that the bride knows she is made pure by the blood of Jesus but the whore believes she must become acceptable to God by her own self effort. She is forever trying to find ways to appease and please God. Since she rejects the true nature of God. she fornicates with every filthy spirit in a self effort to become like the God she believes exists but the God she thinks exists is actually her father the Devil. Those who say they worship God and who do not worship or accept His Son are deceived or liars because Jesus is the only image of God.
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Verse 11 of this passage tells us the end time Beast that the woman rides will go into utter destruction. The destruction of the Beast kingdom is described in the next chapter.
12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
The ten horns are the ten world leaders that will receive a kingdom with the Beast. Whether they will be leaders of ten nations on the earth or 10 zones of the world is open to speculation (the world is divided into 10 zones under plans made by the global think tank called the “Club of Rome”). Under the zone scenario, the Beast would appoint a leader over each of the ten world regions. I think both views are correct; it will start as 10 nations out of the area of the old Roman Empire because the prophecy of the ten toes spoken of by Daniel requires that they come out of the two legs of this Empire. It will then expand to ten world regions when Satan incarnates the leader. We are also told three of the world leaders will be eliminated and replaced when this happens. They probably will be replaced with leaders from other areas of the world.
The Beast government will have power over the entire earth in the final 3 ½ years before Jesus returns. The Roman Empire will first rise in Europe but when Satan is cast to the earth, he will move the world headquarters to Babylon. The final ten kings have power one hour with the Beast but they have no kingdom at the time of John. The political borders these ten kings rule over may not have even existed in the time of John (especially if they are world zones).
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
The ten rulers will think alike. All their power and strength will be used to carry out the wishes of the Beast Antichrist. It is pretty safe to assume by this statement that these ten leaders will be demonically possessed.
14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
The Beast and the ten world leaders will make war against Jesus. What complete deception has to take place for the kings and people of the nations to think that they can war against the same person who created them!
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
The angel explains what I said previously, that the waters where the whore sits actually represents the people she has influenced that come from many nations and languages. Only religion fills that role.
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
When the Satanic man appears, the world will believe he is God and his government will not tolerate any worship other than worshiping him. They will claim that the Beast is God and declare the” Kingdom of God” is now on earth. They will take all the possessions and all authority away from all world religious organizations that will not worship him. Many in the harlot religious system will not accept the Beast as being “Almighty God” or the Beast Kingdom as the “Kingdom of God” and many will see the errors of their ways. In the end, it will cost most of those who will not worship the Beast their physical lives. However, by gaining the belief that Jesus is the real Savior their souls will be saved. The ten world political leaders will turn on and destroy all that worship any entity other than the Beast.
Verse 16 describes how and why the woman who rides the beast will be judged. She will be eaten by the Beast she rides and her buildings will be burned. She will have the same fate as Jezebel in the Old Testament whose bones were eaten by dogs.
17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
God made Pharaoh and hardened his heart to bring about the judgment of Egypt. These ten kings’ hearts are hardened by God to war against Jesus and to give their kingdoms to the Beast until this prophecy is fulfilled.
18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
This is a key passage that tells us the identity of the “woman that rides the beast”. “Mystery Babylon” is the great city that is ruling over the earth. Rome was ruling over the earth in the time of John and fits the bill but Mystery Babylon could not be the city of Rome or the Roman Empire. “The woman rides the beast”, so the woman could not at the same time “be the beast”. The woman could not be the church at Rome at the time of John because the church was not ruling over the earth at that time. The religious system reigning over the earth in the time of John was Babylonian paganism and Caesar worship. The city in this passage is a city that reigns over the earth. At the time of John, that city was Rome. The city may also be a city that reigns over the earth at the end time judgment of the woman. That also is likely to be fulfilled by Rome. For these reasons, the woman in this prophecy can only be identified as a world religion that has also been infiltrated by Babylonian paganism and that is located at Rome.
So we can be sure of the true identity of the woman we will examine this a little closer. We are told the woman sits on a seven hilled city (Rome) and is drunk with the blood of the martyred saints and from that we can determined that “Mystery Babylon” is a religious system that claims to worship God but has incorporated Babylonian religious practices (that is why she is described as a harlot). She has to be at a physical location that not only had Babylonian practices in the time of John but the religious system “must martyr all the saints” (verse 6). The Roman Empire did kill saints but all the blood of the saints and martyrs cannot be placed at the hands of the political and religious powers of the Roman Empire. The harlot was obviously born before Rome (in Babylon) and she did not die in Rome in 312AD when the Church joined with the political system of the Roman Empire. After the Jewish and then the Roman Empire persecutions ended, only the religion that identified with Christianity could be blamed for true Christians being martyred (e.g. the inquisitions). That remained true until Islam took over the leadership role of the slaughter of true Christians.
There is only one location and religious entity on earth that makes sense of this prophecy and its greater fulfillment in the last days. The harlot woman of the last days has to be all organized religion that at the fulfillment of this prophecy will be headquartered in Rome. It should be obvious that I am not saying the present Roman Catholic Church can be named as the denomination that fulfills the end time role of the woman. All Babylonian influenced world religion makes up this woman on the Beast. The world religion that will become headquartered at the Vatican may take on an entirely different name from Roman Catholicism in the last days. However, there is little doubt in my mind that this woman who rides the Antichrist Beast will be a pagan Babylonian infiltrated harlot headquartered at the location that is now called the Vatican in Rome.
If more clarification of the woman is still necessary let me further explain. The Babylonian harlot was born in the time of Nimrod in Babylon and eventually corrupted Judaism. The pagan Babylonian religious practices actually moved from Babylon to Pergamos. (where Satan’s throne is -- Rev 2:13). After the church merged with the state in 312 AD, the harlot took residence in the top ranks of the Christian church. At this point, the Babylon priest system had already joined with the Roman system. By approximately 600 AD, the Christian institutional church became what we know today as the Roman Catholic Church. During this period of Christianity mingled with pagan practices the inquisitions took place and killed many more true Christians than did any prior persecution of God’s people. After the inquisitions, the woman can be seen within the Protestant churches who had their own persecutions and witch-hunts in which many took part in their own holocausts against God’s people. Today the woman’s attributes are seen in Islam as the primary murderer of God’s people. In the end time, the woman will ride a one world religious system. The woman actually never leaves Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism or Islam because the woman is in fact all harlot religion of all eras. However, the woman rides the Beast as the religion that has the most influence on the governmental empire that happens to control the earth. Today the Vatican represents the religion that has the most influence on the earth but Protestantism also has world influence and Islam is rapidly coming to the forefront. All harlot religion will play a part and complete the fulfillment of the prophecy about the woman who rides the beast.
When the rapture of the true Church of Jesus Christ takes place, true Christians from many different denominations including faithful Catholics will be taken to be with Jesus. The apostate Christians left behind in all denominations will form a world religion led at the headquarters of the largest Christian denomination.
I want to make one thing clear here: By mentioning the Vatican as the future headquarters of the world harlot, I am not Catholic bashing. There are many practices in the Catholic Church that I believe are heresies but there are just as many or more heresies in most mainline Protestant Churches today. For a thousand years, there was only one church government on earth and that was the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is still the largest Christian denomination in the world by far. Therefore, if there is going to be harlotry throughout history since Babylon and the harlotry is among those who claim to know the God of creation, it has to be among the only organized Christian Church that exists during this period.
The harlot woman was among this organized body called Catholics, but so were true Christians as wheat among the tares. Today Islam has taken over the role of the chief harlot religion that persecutes the saints. Islam is founded on paganism and in our time has actively martyred millions of Christians. The end time harlot religious system that John is seeing is headed in Rome in the last days and it was founded in Babylon, but all major organized world religions in the last days that reject true Christianity are part of the harlot. Even Islam in the end will join with this world religion leadership in Rome although it may take a great religious war first.
The church that identifies with Christianity, like ancient Israel, has true believers and phonies. That is why Paul said that not all Israel is true Israel, and that is why not all named Christians are true Christians. The new covenant promise to Israel and the Church is to believers but a large part of the Church like Israel is in unbelief. In the eyes of God, she has committed harlotry with the world of paganism.
The tale of two nations or two women. The struggle between the woman from the flesh (harlot woman) and the woman from the promise (those who believe and trust God) can be followed in the following timeline (This is only a sample to help you understand and it is not meant to be all conclusive):
· The Babylonian rebellion against God by Nimrod - the mystery religion and the Babylonian priesthood is founded at Babylon.
· Abraham is taken out to be the father of all who live by faith in the true Creator. He believes God’s promise.
· Ishmael is born of the flesh from Abraham’s slave girl - Ishmael mingles with the pagans of Babylon.
· Isaac is born of the promise and follows the God of his father (Abraham).
· Esau is the first son of Isaac but Esau puts no value on the promise of his birthright and sells it to Jacob for a meal.
· Jacob becomes Israel and becomes a nation that is to keep the oracles and promise of God for the benefit of all the people of the promise.
· Israel’s son Joseph speaks of the vision God gave him for the people of promise.
· Joseph is sold into slavery to Egypt by jealous half brothers.
· Joseph becomes prime minister of Egypt with the help of God and saves the descendents of Israel from physical starvation.
· The Egyptian world government forgets Joseph, becomes totally corrupted by Babylonian pagan practices, and enslaves and persecutes the descendents of Israel.
· God raises up Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt and the Law is given to Israel to lead them to the promised Savior.
· Judaism becomes corrupted by harlotry with pagan gods.
· The world empire of Babylon enslaves Israel.
· The Mystical Brotherhood of the Babylonian order moves its headship to Pergamos after the fall of Babylon.
· Some of the Jews return to Israel and rebuild God’s temple.
· The Babylonian priesthood is moved to Rome by the last will of Attalus king of Pergamos.
· Julius Caesar becomes supreme Pontiff (high priest) of the Babylonian Order in BC 63.
· John the Baptist is born to restore Israel so they are ready to receive their promise.
· Jesus “is the promise” and comes to save all mankind.
· The Babylonian influenced Jewish priesthood and the Roman world system kill Jesus. The priests rejected the promise for adultery with Rome.
· Jesus rises from the dead and the promise is given to all who by faith trust in this risen Savior.
· There is a secession of Pontiffs from Julius Caesar to the year when the Babylonian Order becomes the ruler of the Roman Church in 378 AD (a very long story).
· The wheat grows in the same field (the institutional church) as the harlot tares and grows up with them.
· Islam is born and it teaches the sons of Ishmael and Esau to worship a single pagan God that persecutes those born of the promise.
· The tares in the institutional church choke to death many of the people of the promise in the inquisitions.
· The Protestant reformation is born by those who teach that salvation comes from trusting in the promise of Jesus alone.
· Most of Protestantism plays the harlot with philosophy, psychology, new age paganism, humanism, pragmatism and materialism.
· The people of the promise are now the wheat among the tares in the Catholic and Protestant Churches.
· The printed Bible becomes available to the public. Smaller fields grow so much wheat the tares find little room to root.
· Higher critical thinking philosophies war against those who believe the promise in God’s word.
· The people of the promise are removed in the rapture and all the wheat not entangled with the tares (harlot) is removed from the earth.
· All religions of the world unite after a great world religious war to form a world religion led by the Vatican at Rome. This woman will ride the Beast into her end time role.
· The Beast devours the woman that rode on his back (world religious institutions and leaders). The tares are burned.
· Satan through the lying wonders of His Beast and False Prophet sets himself up as God, declares the Kingdom of God has come, and he moves the political and religious capitol of the world to Babylon where he builds a city of gold for himself.
· The wheat bound with paganism is threshed during the great tribulation the Beast brings on the earth.
· All people of the promise that were in adultery return to her husband - the true God of heaven - and are gathered into His barn.
· God avenges all the people of promise by destroying the Beast and by setting up the real kingdom of God on the earth ruled by Jesus.
The woman who rides the Beast has actually existed since the days of Babylon but she will play her major role in the last days. She in the end will be eaten by the Beast she rides because he will claim to be God and will not tolerate the worship of anyone or anything other that himself. Many who were in harlotry will come to understand the truth in those days through the teaching and the judgments that take place in this time of trial for the whole world. These who come out of Babylon will not worship the Beast and these along with a remnant in Israel will return to the true God of heaven but it will cost many of them their mortal lives. In those days all who seek to save their lives by worshiping the Beast will lose their soul and those who lose their life for Jesus’ sake will gain eternal life.
Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
For a more detailed study on the history and future of the woman who rides the Beast I highly recommend the book “A Woman Rides the Beast” by Dave Hunt, Harvest House, 1994. I have a link to his website on my website home page.
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RAINBOW NDE - http://www.nderf.org/nannci_r_possible_nde.htm