Summary: Week 37 in a Wednesday evening study through the book of Revelation
The Harlot or Apostate Church
Date: May 14, 2003
Place: Allendale Baptist
Text: Revelation 17:1-18
The Description of Religious Babylon
Verse 1. John is called to come and see the judgment of Babylon, but in the process he also gets a description of the woman (Babylon). The subject of this section is the judgment of religious Babylon. The judgment describes her condemnation, sentence, and penalty passed. The emphasis is the particular character and nature of the penalty that God has in store for Babylon.
In keeping with the laws of the harvest, Scripture teaches that whatsoever man sows that shall he also reap. The harlot system has seduced men and nations and tried to rule them politically. Nations have bowed and scraped to her for centuries, but a time will come when they will revolt and destroy her.
Babylon’s description as “the great harlot” refers to the spiritual prostitution and fornication that categorizes the apostate church of the Tribulation which is unfaithful and rejects the Lord Jesus Christ as her husband (2 Pet. 2:1-2).
“Great” refers to the harlot system which will reach its zenith after the removal of the true church (genuine believers) by way of the rapture. The prostitute exists today in many forms (Roman Catholicism, liberal Protestantism, the cults, etc.), but after the church is gone, or perhaps even before it is gone, they will unite and become one great ecumenical religious system.
“That sits on many waters” refers to world-wide unification and control. “Waters” refers to the “nations” and the many people of those nations.
“Sits on” suggests the concept of control as well as unification. The nations are religiously united and politically affiliated with each other through the power and control of this religious system and its head. When the church is raptured, the apostate system which will already have spread its tentacles all over the world, will quickly unite and become the one-world church.
One of the things we should be watching for are tendencies and movements among the religious groups of the world toward a united world church, and we have been seeing this for years.
One of the recent “uniting factors” is the present day tongues movement. It seems the tongues experience becomes a uniting force that unites Roman Catholics, Charismatics, liberal Protestants, and even the cults, and this regardless of the divergent doctrinal views, many of which are clearly contrary to Scripture.
Verse 2. “With whom (the harlot) the kings of the earth have committed fornication” is a reference to the leaders of the non-communist block of nations in which the religious system has her tentacles.
This is an alliance of church and state which is an unfaithful act for both. This causes both to prostitute (compromise) their responsibility before God.
Both state and church were established by God, but must remain separate if they are to carry out their purpose. They are to support one another, but the moment they merge, both liberty and spiritual freedom are lost (at least eventually).