The Weekend Word
The Great Prostitute and the Beast
- We finished chapter 16 witnessing the 7th bowls being poured out – judgment has come, the end has come – but we notice that the book Revelation has not ended – what’s up with that?
- The great prostitute = false religion. The true church is attracted to her.
- False religion comes from the false prophet. The false prophet is the description given to the 2nd beast out of the land.
- At various points in history, some religious entities, which are false / non Christian, are working in the service of the beast. They will sing the gospel of whichever political power is in play – whichever philosophy is currently turning heads and running the landscape.
- They are there preaching a gospel other than Christ, but in the name of Christ. Example, Hitler takes over the Christian church saying we now have a German Christianity – Jesus is now replaced as he is no longer a Jewish boy but a perfect Arian god.
1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters,
- I thought we already saw the judgment? Now we will be shown the details of the judgment as John is invited to go “behind the curtain” to see the ‘the rest of the story.’
- This is the zoom in shot of the events. I have used the football broadcast in the past and the many angles of the same play. This is where the football fan will see the facemask infraction that he did not see in chapter 16 as we saw that judgment scene from the sideline camera.
- This may be compared to what critics call the “two creation” stories of Genesis 1 and 2. No, it is one story, first told in broad terms and then the follow up is focused more.
- This is the judgment on Babylon the Great, the great prostitute. Remember, in the Bible the prostitute is a symbol (in this case a great city) but in turn a symbol of great wickedness.
- God often refers to cities as women. Isaiah 37 – Ezekiel 16 and many times cities as prostitutes, Isaiah 23.
- What are the “many waters”? The peoples, the multitudes, the nations, languages – the prostitute city is not just one geographical city / location.
- It represents all people who live and are actives in organized rebellion against God and the lamb who is slain. How does the rest of Revelation describe these people? “The inhabitants of the earth who would not repent.”
2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”
- Kings of the earth = the power structures of the world – which would be described as all the world’s cultures, again all people in rebellion against God – this would be all unbelievers.
- The world is drunk on her immorality. Sexual immorality = adultery which is the symbol for sin.
- We must not forget, in John’s day, everyone wanted a piece of Rome – they had the riches and the power and opportunity. Everyone is drunk with their own form of idolatry.
3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.
- “carried me away…” – this is the third time John is carried away in the spirit. 1:10; 4:2 and here. We will see it once again at 21:10. This is perhaps similar to Ezekiel 8:3 & 11:24 when he was in Babylon.
- John is carried away to a safe place. Keep in mind – John is in a vision, he is seeing things from God’s perspective. He is taken to the wilderness / desert – note the contract to the city.
- The reintroduction of the beast we saw in Rev 13:1.
- Here we see the religious thing – the harlot, riding the beast. The harlot seems to be in control. At this time it seems that Caesar is lord and savior and you are to worship him.
- Clarification – perhaps the harlot is the imperial cult and the beast is political Rome.
4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.
- As we look at this woman’s description, keep in mind how the bride / the church is dressed – white representing purity.
- The woman is dressed in colors and materials which represent power – glory – royalty – wealth and all the things that lead us astray in this world.
- She is a painted prostitute – her makeup and clothing make her look so good and alluring and tempting to the church. The modern day conversations go this way – “pastor, surely we can give in on this one point can’t we?”
- This is part of the deception of a painted prostitute. Look at the description – this is important to the American church. She is oozing with prosperity and luxury versus the alternative woman, the bride, the New Jerusalem whose only adornment is the righteous deeds of the saints, whose dress is fine linen – bright and pure Rev 19:8.)
- At the beginning of Revelation, Jesus holds something in his hand – he holds the saints of God. The prostitute holds a golden cup and the contents stand in contrast to her outward appearance. It is what is in the cup that reveals her identity. Such a contrast to the other city, the other woman – the New Jerusalem who is holy. The painted prostitute’s problem? She commits adultery which is idolatry.
5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”
- “On her forehead” – the people of God have a name written on their forehead also, given at baptism – God’s name. Her name is a name of mystery – why? Because it is revealing something (the code name for Rome. It is supposed to be a secret, but…
- Look how Babylon is described – as everything bad and deceitful. Written on her forehead – is this like wearing a name tag – “Hello, my name is Babylon.”