1. Last week we came to the end of history as we know it. God’s wrath was poured out in its fullness. The battle of Armageddon meant the destruction of the kingdoms of the earth.
2. In chapters 17-18 we go back in time. We see what actually happened in greater detail.
3. We are presented with a description of the great prostitute and told about her fall.
4. And this description is given to us for a reason. A reason we find in Rev. 18:4
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
We need to discern who this prostitute is so that we may get out of her and refuse to have fellowship with her.
5. This woman is Babylon and today we will take a look at what or who Babylon is.
6. There have been many interpretations. One of these is that Babylon represented the city of Rome at the time of John, some have said it represents the papcy and the Roman church. Some even say it represents the evil that comes out of the great cities, such as London and New York, of our present-day world.
7. As we consider who she is, we will notice that she is both a woman and a city.
8. Her appearance is pretentious. There is a difference between her outward appearance and her essential character. She is not what she appears to be. She seems to be a woman but she is a city named Babylon.
9. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls of God’s wrath speaks to John. He tells John to come so that he can show John the punishment of the great prostitute.
10. She sits on many waters. Jeremiah described Babylon as a city which dwells by many waters. The historical city of Babylon was built on a network of canals. But the meaning of the many waters is found in verse 15
Rev 17:15 Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.
11. In other words her influence and presence is in the midst of all the peoples. Her activity amongst the nations was sordid.
Rev 17:2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.
12. Some say that she is the seat of the godless civilization that leads people to sin. Notice that her influence is first with the kings or leaders and them with all the inhabitants of the earth.
13. Hoeksema defines her somewhat differently.
14. In Scripture a woman is continually the symbol of the church, of God’s covenant people. In the Old Testament we are compared to God’s bride. The Song of Solomon may well describe the love relationship the church is to have with God. Paul compares the relationship a husband and wife has to that of the relationship the church and Christ have. We are the bride of Christ. Ad in Revelation that image continues:
Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
And we also see the church compared to both a woman and a city.
Rev 21:9-10 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
These references are to the true church.
15. But when the people of God forsake Him and follow other gods, they are compared to a harlot or prostitute. A harlot, in Scripture is one who forsakes her true husband and chases after others. She is unfaithful. We have the example of this in Hosea with his wife Gomer. Her unfaithfulness is likened to that of the unfaithfulness of God’s people who followed after other gods. They too broke their promise. And a longer description of Israel as a harlot is found in Ezekiel 16:8-22, which we just read.
16. And so the woman is the false church. As we said she is not what she appears. She appears to be the church but is not.
17. She is seated on the beast, the antichrist from whom she gets her power and whom she leads men to worship. The beast we have read about before, but here we are told that he is scarlet, almost the same colour of Satan/