Summary: God is always with us, even when things seem chaotic. God is always working out His will, even when events seem meaningless.
1. and one of the seven angels having the seven bowls came to me and spoke with me saying, “Come here, and I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute, the one who sits on many waters,
2. with whom the kings of the earth have fornicated, and those who dwell on the earth have become drunk on the wine of her fornication”.
3. And he carried me away in the Spirit to the wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a red beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4. And the woman was clothed in purple and red, and was wearing a very valuable golden stone and pearl ornament having a golden cup in her hand full of the abomination and uncleanness of her fornication
5. And on her forehead a name was written, “mystery Babylon the Big, the Mother of the Fornication and Abominations of the Earth”.
6. And I saw the woman drunk on the blood of the saints, and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And I was amazed with great wonder.
7. And the angle said to me “Why are you amazed? I will show to you the mystery of the woman and the beast carrying her, having seven heads and ten horns.
8. The beast you saw was and is not, and is about to come out of the Abyss and go to destruction (appoleion) ; and those inhabiting the earth will be amazed, who’s names are not written in the Book of Life from the formation of the Cosmos, seeing the beast that was and is not and will be.
9. Here is the mind that has wisdom; the seven heads are seven hills, where the woman sits on them.
10. And there are seven kings; five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come, and when he comes, he will remain only a little while.
11. And the beast which was and is not, even he himself is an eighth and is from the seven, and he goes to destruction.
12. And the ten horns you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but the authority of the kings they’ll receive with the beast for one hour.
13. These have united purpose (thinking), and the power they have is given them by the beast.
14. These make war with the Lamb and the Lamb is victorious over them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and with him are the called and chosen and faithful.
15. And he said to me “The waters you saw, where the woman sits, are people and multitudes and nations and languages.
16. And the ten horns you saw and the beast, these will hate the prostitute, and they will make her a naked wilderness, and her flesh they will eat, and burn her with fire.
17. For God has given into their hearts to do His purpose, until the word of God is fulfilled (finished).
18. And the woman you saw is the big city having rule (kingship) over the kings of the earth.
vv 1-5 Babylon, Gen 10:6-10.
I don’t believe any division of the Church is the Prostitute of Revelation 17 and 18. There are many commentaries that suggest otherwise, and I’ll provide their usual argument in a moment. Afterward, I’ll explain how I understand Babylon and the woman who rides its beast.
BABYLON, THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM
Babylonianism: The woman and Child cult began in Babylon and moved into the world-governing nations with new names, but the same basic teaching. In Babylon it was Ashtoreth and Tamuz, in Egypt, Isis and Horace, in Greece, Aphrodite and Eros, and in Rome, Venus and Cupid. Each of these cults had the following rites: Purgatorial cleansing after death, salvation by sacraments, priestly absolution, holy water, eating of the bread of the mother of heaven, dedication of virgins to the gods, celibacy, monks and nuns. Traditions: The egg and rabbit were symbols of fertility. Tamuz was slain by a wild boar. His mother received him back on the third day. A boar’s head was eaten in commemoration of his conflict. A “Yule log” was burnt, an evergreen tree erected, and gifts exchanged to commemorate his resurrection. His priests wore a fish shaped head gear and wore the ring of the fisherman. The high priest was called Pontifex Maximus. Constantine claimed to be both head of the church and high priest of the Babylonian Mystery religion.
If you read that whole paragraph and are still reading, I’ll guess you may give me the benefit of the doubt that I’m not merely a Protestant dissing the Catholic or Orthodox Church. I believe that as followers of Jesus we all have to acknowledge that the only Church that existed for more than one thousand years was the Catholic and Orthodox Church. To argue that time of history somehow the true Church didn’t exist is to argue the Body of Christ ceased during that time-an assertion that is both blasphemous to our Lord, and dishonoring to our brothers and sisters in Christ who gave their lives and livelihoods for the Good News during that era. The Church did not begin with the Protestant Reformation. Further, the Body of Christ is not divided. There are faithful believers and heretics in Protestant and Catholic traditions. There are wheat and tares occupying the pews of all parts of our Lord’s Body. And the Lord’s Body is not divided. We make the divisions. He does not. So if I am here critiquing Catholicism merely by listing pagan practices that have become part of Christendom, I am doing so as an insider looking round, not as an outsider looking in. There is no valid historical argument that early Christians practiced any of the Christmas, Easter or hierarchical and monastic practices mentioned above that have become so ingrained in portions of the Church. They were accommodated as the Gospel reached groups that, to some extent, added Jesus to their traditions, or from the other side, believers who Christianized pagan practices, pouring simi-biblical meaning into non-biblical practices. But, really, all of this has nothing to do with the Prostitute riding the Beast.