Summary: The end of the apostate religious system going all the way back to Babel.
There is a sense in which Karl Marx statement that ’religion is the opium of the masses’ is true, states John MacArthur. People are religious because God created them to be worshippers. If they will not worship the true God, they will worship someone or something else. We look around and we think America is getting less religious. Actually, she is becoming more religious. Just less Christian.
Sadly, man’s longing to know God has been corrupted by his love of sin. In steps Satan, with the promise to bring man into the spiritual realm without having to give up sin and the pleasures of the world.
How does he do this? Through false religions. It is no wonder that as we study the end times, all false religion will be reunited into one great world religion. It will be known in its finished stage as BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Now that is quite a title. I will just call her THE GREAT HARLOT.
To understand Babylonian false religion in the future, we need to understand Babylon’s role in the false religion of the past.
A. The Ancestry of the Harlot. (1)
’great whore’ is a metaphor for false religion.
The story of Babylon begins with the Tower of Babel, recorded in (Genesis 11:1-9). After the flood, the descendants of Noah arrived at a place called Shinar. There they decided under the leadership of a man named Nimrod to build a monument to themselves for the glory of man. Nimrod means ’rebel’. Babel means ’gate to God’. So they were rebelling in trying to make their own way to heaven. Behind all false religion is the denial of God’s way to heaven and a trust in ones own strength and abilities. In other words, to become as God.
Babel later became known as Babylon. The city of Babylon was ruled by 2 people: Nimrod ruled over politics and economics and his wife, Semiramis ruled over religion.
It was here that the cultic practices of worshipping mother and child began. Semiramis became the first high priestess of idolatry. The legend goes that Semiramis gave birth to a son, Tammuz, who was conceived by a sunbeam. Tammuz was promised to be the deliverer of the earth, the first false Messiah. But Tammuz was killed by a wild boar. Semiramis wept for 40 days and Tammuz came to life again. The power of the resurrection was attributed to the mother; Semiramis, and she began to be worshipped as the Queen of Heaven. And Tammuz was worshipped as the resurrected deliverer. Thus becoming the first mother/child worship.
The celebration of Tammuz resurrection was called the Feast of Istar at which the participants exchanged eggs to signify new life. The word Istar, which was one of the names of the queen of heaven, has been borrowed by Christianity and changed to EASTER to commemorate the true resurrection. You can see how eggs got into Easter, though.
Babel became known not as ’gate to God’, but a word meaning ’confusion’ because God made their one language into many. When their tongues were confused, they dispersed, carrying their false religious system into all the world. As the mother/son worship spread to other cultures the names changed but the practices did not.
In Phoenicia, the mother was know as Astoreth and the son as Baal. The Egyptians knew the mother as Isus and the son as Osiris. The Greeks’ Aphrodite and Eros. The Romans; Venus and Cupid. This kind of worship even sneaked into Israel. (Jere. 44:19)
All pagan religions can be traced back to Nimrod and his wife, Semiramis. 260 times in Scripture the Babylon is used to represent the system of false religions that spun off the first one in Genesis. That is why v. 5 refers to her as the ’mother of harlots.’
John connects the judgment on this harlot to the last 7 judgments called bowl or vial judgments. And we will see the judgment worked out in our next message.
’sitteth’ authority. The authority of the false church during the Tribulation is universal. The entire world will be committed to the worship of the Babylonian system under the Antichrist.
B. The Alliances of the Harlot. (2,3)
The false religion and the state will marry up. It will be state religion supported by political power. And governmental decisions supported by the false church’s moral authority.
’women’ There are 4 women given to us in the Book of Revelation. All 4 are religious symbols. In Ch. 2, Jezebel symbolizes all pagan religions. In Ch. 12, the women clothed with the sun and the moon symbolizes Israel and her religion. In Ch. 19, we will meet the Bride of Christ which is the true church. Here the woman is introduced to us as a harlot. Because it speaks of spiritual adultery. Outwardly, appearing to worship God but really worshipping other gods.