1And one of the seven angels who had the seven vials came out and spoke with me, saying, “Come! I will show you the judgment of the great whore who sits on many waters, 2with whom the kings of the earth have fornicated and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk from the wine of her sexual immorality.” 3And he took me into the wilderness, in the Spirit. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, being full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was wearing purple and scarlet and was adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand that was full of abominations and the unclean things of her sexual immorality. 5And on her forehead had been written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Whores and of the abominations of the earth.” 6And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled greatly. 7Then the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and the beast carrying her, that has the seven heads and ten horns. 8The beast you saw was, and is not, and is about to ascend from the Abyss and go to destruction. And those inhabitants of the earth, whose name is not written in the book of life from the creation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast because he was and is not and will be here. 9Here is the mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains, and the woman sits on them. And they are seven kings: 10five are fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come, and when he comes, he must remain a little while. 11The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and goes to destruction. 12And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority over to the beast. 14These will make war with the Lamb and the Lamb will defeat them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” 15Then he said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. 16And the ten horns that you saw, and the beast—these will hate the whore and will make her desolate and naked and they will eat her flesh and burn her up in fire. 17For God has placed in their hearts to do His purpose and to do one purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God have been fulfilled. 18And the woman you saw is the great city, who has rule over the kings of the earth.”
Some of the most infamous imagery of the Apocalypse occurs in this chapter. Throughout scripture, god has frequently employed sexual imagery to describe the Man-God relationship. Faithfulness to the marital sexual ideal is symbolic of faithfulness to the one true God, while adultery is used to describe apostasy. This chapter introduces us to the Great Whore of Revelation. She is wealthy, comfortable, and adulterous, which is a symbol of apostasy. She is the religious aspect of Babylon, and it is preferable to see Babylon as the world system. It is also important to note that this activity doesn’t follow the seven bowls, but rather “is supplying details of the angelic announcement of Babylon’s fall in 14.8” (Horton). The woman in this chapter provides a stark contrast with the woman in chapter 12 who was “clothed with the sun.” The word “Babylon” is a corruption of “Babel” from Genesis 11, and Babel has always symbolized human pride and rebellion against the one true God—yet another place where God intended a sort of booked to a scene in Genesis. Her cup is full of “abominations,” and Horton observes that “the word ‘abomination’ is used of anything that is detestable in the sight of God, especially everything connected with idolatry, astrology, fortune-telling, spiritualist mediums, heathen magic, witchcraft, drug-induced experiences, and the occult.” She has martyred the saints, and John is perhaps astonished that she lounges comfortably, unpunished for this outrage.
And what of the beast? This is the world political system that existed in empire form but hasn’t since Rome. Right now, this system is the “iron and clay of nationalistic state as described in Da 2.41-43” (Horton). The Empire concept will be back, and it will come straight from the Abyss and will be heading for its own destruction. The world union will ultimately succeed with help from the dragon, Satan. She sits on seven hills, which seems an obvious reference to Rome. The people in John’s day were in the “Roman stage of the history” of this world system (Horton). There are five fallen empires—Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonia, Medo-Persian, Greek. Rome “is” when this was written. Antichrist belongs to this system and will culminate the same Babylonian system. Daniel treats Antichrist similarly in chapter two, when he speaks of the “little horn that rises out of the fourth beast.” Rather than concern ourselves, Hal Lindsey-like, with a high level of speculative specificity concerning the identity of the ten horns within this system, it might be preferable to take their number (ten) as symbolic of completeness. There will be a fullness of kingdoms at the end of the age. The scene fast-forwards to the end of the Great Tribulation, at which time Jesus returns to defeat the armies of Antichrist (Man). The fighters who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. Finally, we see the doom of the woman—the Antichrist’s confederation will ultimately turn on the churches, possibly in the middle of the Great Tribulation when Antichrist declares himself God and demands worship (Horton).
The gospel is, and always has been, about love. It is about God’s love for Man, and Man’s love for fellow man. It is about Man’s love for his God. It is about selfless sacrifice for the “other,” in the ultimate model of the Savior, and often at great cost. But the Great Whore of Revelation has turned the gospel on its head; she has made it a message of individual achievement and selfishness. She has turned it into an organization that is wealthy and powerful and influential. And she will be the perfect partner of the coming man of perdition who will ultimately betray her as he demands worship of himself. The contrasting picture of the crowd who returns to earth with the Messiah to defeat the man of perdition is simple and uncluttered in its loyalty: called, chosen, and faithful. They are those who considered the true gospel to be of more worth than their own lives. They are those who loved others more than themselves. They have been called by Jesus. They have answered His call and are chosen. They are faithful to Him, despite the great costs associated with it.
Everybody’s “churched up” somewhere or another—they just may or may not realize it. If you are living for yourself and your accomplishments and your habits, then you might be drinking from Babylon’s cup. If you are diligently pursuing the path of the called, chosen and faithful, then your day of victory is yet to come.
But it’s coming.
The preoccupation with the spiritism, astrology, channeling, and other aspects of the satanic lie are popular today, just as popular as individualism and selfishness. Have no part of them or that system, for that is the vehicle of Antichrist. You are called, chosen, and designed to be faithful. You have been saved from Babylon.
Let your day reflect that.