Today, Tuesday June 28
The Apostate Church
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
In these next two chapters we will be looking at the destruction and desolation of Babylon. It appears that there are two Babylons that are described here. In Revelation 17, the apostate religious Babylon, which is called a harlot and a woman is judged. In Revelation 18, the political, commercial, economic Babylon is destroyed. Finally, in Revelation 19 the Lord Himself returns to earth and He judges Satan, "the beast," and the false prophet and then establishes His kingdom on the earth.
One reason John used symbolism was so that his message would encourage believers in any period of church history. The true church is a pure virgin (Rev. 19:7-8; see also 2 Cor. 11:2), but the false religious system is a "harlot" who has abandoned the truth and prostituted herself for personal gain. In every age, there has been a "harlot" who has persecuted God's people; and this will culminate in the last days in a worldwide apostate religious system.
Likewise, every age has featured a "Babylon," a political and economic system that has sought to control people's minds and destinies. Just as the contrast to the "harlot" is the pure bride, so the contrast to "Babylon" is the City of God, the New Jerusalem, the eternal home prepared for the Lamb's wife (Rev. 21:9). Each generation of believers must keep itself pure from the pollution of both the "harlot" and "Babylon."
For sure, in these two chapters, John prophesies of two divine judgments that are both on “Babylon”. So many great issues are brought to a crisis in the Great Tribulation that it is difficult to keep them separated, and many fine expositors disagree on details. We have already noted this as we have gone through this Book of Revelation. Although we agree with the system of interpretation, we might disagree on details. This fact should not be disturbing to believers, as many details will not be clarified until the world enters the Great Tribulation period and actually faces the climax to each crisis.
This is especially evident relative to the two Babylons in chapters 17 and 18. The questions are: "Are there two Babylons, and are they in two different geographical locations? Are they representative of two systems? Are they two literal cities, or are they the same?" The answers to these questions will become more apparent as our redemption draws near. It appears at the present time, in my judgment, that two distinct cities are in view.
Especially in Revelation 17, when John mentions Babylon, you can’t help but notice that he calls it a woman and a harlot. He saw: “a woman sitting on a scarlet beast” (v. 3). “The woman was arrayed…” (v. 4). “The Mother of Harlots…” (v. 5). “The woman, drunk with the blood…” (v. 6). The mystery of the woman…” (v. 8). “…Mountains on which the woman sits” (v. 9). “Where the harlot sits” (v. 15). “These will hate the harlot” (v. 16). And then John concludes this chapter by specifically saying, “And the woman whom you saw is that great city…” (v. 18)
We can go into more detail later, but a brief overview might help here. Just before the Tribulation begins, the true pure church, the bride of Christ, is raptured and is no longer on the earth. But the apostate false church is still here. It is the ecclesiastical ecumenical church that comes together with the help of the Antichrist as a one-world religion for everyone for the first three and a half years. But at the middle of the Tribulation, with the appearance and help of the False Prophet, he will destroy it and set his image and his own religion. This is basically what Revelation 17 is about!
Even today, there is no need for us to compromise with the ecumenical apostate church!