Revelation 17:9-18: Self-destruction.
9 ‘This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.12 ‘The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.’15 Then the angel said to me, ‘The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.’ NIV
It’s been pointed out that when someone climbs a hill, he doesn’t then complain that he didn’t see contour lines all around it. He understands these are map symbols intended to convey a certain reality. It may be that the symbols we find here, in our passage, correspond to certain historical realities in John’s day. Or, it may be that one day we will open our newspapers and see what we read here coming to pass before our eyes. But surely there is a key point that shouts to us. It is that evil is ultimately under God’s control. If we witness evil dictators strutting on the world stage (or have to live through their rule), we should remember their time is short, and God is on the throne. Furthermore, evil will ultimately turn on itself and destroy itself. Christ, and His followers, will conquer, even though it be at great cost.