HOW THE MIGHTY ARE FALLEN
Lord, give us eyes to see what truly is valuable in this life.
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.
Forgive us when we are drawn to wealth, ease, and popularity, thinking them the way to life. We confess that they provide no lasting satisfaction.
Babylon’s fall is first foretold in 14:8. Her destruction is recounted in 16:19. Here the story is told in full. If the first beast is the persecuting force and the second beast or false prophet the reli-gious idolater, then Babylon the harlot is the cultural conduit used to corrupt. The church is at-tacked on three fronts – physical (persecution), moral (compromise), and intellectual (false teaching). Babylon is a code word whose true identity is shown to John. Depicted as a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, Rome the persecutor and Rome the prostitute are brought together. Roman civilization advanced with the Roman army’s conquests. Babylon’s story in Genesis (Gen-esis 11:1–9) and Daniel (Daniel 4, 5) is rooted in pride and independence.
Glittering, flaunting, and powerful, Babylon brooks no rivals and corrupts everything it touches. It offers so much, but nothing it gives actually satisfies – it gives materialism without morality, pleasure without purity, and wealth without wisdom: an empty life. Here secularism is exposed and the bankruptcy of the great cities like Sodom, Nineveh, Tyre, and Babylon gets revealed. Such cities have enormous international influence as trendsetters and cultural pioneers. They act as magnets, drawing people to them and encouraging imitation. However, their glamour is arti-ficial, their beauty skin-deep. Extravagance is blatant and exploitation rife. The world of the city trader, the multinational, the entrepreneur selling to the consumer society, may at times be pro-foundly anti-Christian. It will know times of boom and of bust, life and death, but it will always rise again in some form until finally God steps in and brings it to a halt. Though persuasive and attractive, it is strangely fragile. Power can be switched off, people can go on strike, a natural disaster can strike, and chaos results. In the end, it will be Christ who brings about the end of financial corruption. Its final fall will be complete.
Recognize where things are smoke and mirrors. Pray for discernment, that you may not be duped.
We understand, oh Lord, that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be. Keep our affections lined up with Yours.
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