Unto you Lord, my heart is open; not to my pet project or my favorite obsession, but to you alone.
Read REVELATION 17
Babylon, the Prostitute on the Beast
17 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. 7 Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectMeditate on these words from Psalm 119: ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law ... The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.’ (vs 18,130).
In Revelation, angelic guides reveal the truth behind two cities: Babylon (chapters 17,18) and God’s Holy City (chapters 21,22). Both are personified as women, but they could not be more different. In 586 BC the Babylonians destroyed God’s temple, razed Jerusalem and exiled God’s people. Thereafter, Babylon became a symbol of earthly opposition to God’s presence, his rule and his people.
Here, John may be using ‘Babylon’ as shorthand for Rome, built on its seven hills (v 9) and resplendent in imperial colors (v 4). The city is supported by the beast from the Abyss (vs 3,7,8). So we are to understand that its foundations come from a place of darkness, chaos and militant opposition to God (see Revelation 13:1–9). That is why God’s people had suffered (v 6) and why they still suffer. Whenever nations and institutions prioritize wealth, power, leisure and pleasure over God, they stand in opposition to God. Despite outward appearances, the spiritual reality is rotten and damaging (v 4). Thankfully, God limits the power of those who oppose him (‘for one hour’, v 12), he brings justice (vs 11,16,17; see also Luke 21:9,10) and he will triumph (v 14).
Use Peter’s prayer (1 Peter 5:10,11) to pray with confidence for those who suffer because of opposition to God in the places where they live and work.
Heavenly Father, I know you are speaking to me. Somehow, the competing voices of culture, family needs, and numerous demands drown out your voice. Help me to listen to you alone.
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