Revelation 17 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
This morning we are introduced to another symbolic figure, the great harlot of Babylon. She stands in continual opposition to the chaste woman in Revelation 12 and the bride of Christ in Revelation 19-22. She is depicted almost as a church in her own right but is meant to represent an empire that holds sway over the world. She is in league with the devil, sleeps with all the kings of the earth and entices the masses by her golden cup full of abominations and sexual impurities. She is meant to remind us of that wicked Jezebel of old who held sway over many men and kings in her day.
At the time of this writing, Babylon the city and the Babylonian empire as a whole were waning in power. However, numerous prophets of old spoke of Babylon as the earthly seat of evil and often compared her to a prostitute (see Jer. 50,51; Ezek 27). Most commentators believe that John is making reference to the Roman Empire or at least to the city of Rome as a contemporary version of Babylon of old, but any modern day world power, could just as easily fit into the same scheme with its false religions and sexual promiscuity. Thus, the spirit of the harlot continues on today, even though Rome and Babylon fell thousands of years ago.
In his vision, John sees this whore sitting on many waters, which he says represent “people and multitudes and nations and languages,” proving that this harlot is not a literal woman but rather an empire of sorts, or at least a spiritual force behind an empire that seeks to drag entire nations and peoples down into hell. Her goal is not to kill them immediately but merely to get them drunk that they might continue to obey her rather than the Lord Almighty.
She seems to be a very alluring figure donning a royal wardrobe and adorned with gold and many precious jewels, but she is a filthy and foul fiend who continually carries around poison in her golden cup. Those who drink from it join with her in her many abominations, but for those who refuse to partake she spills their blood and are drunk by her. They are the Christian martyrs in every age.
This murderous prostitute is seen riding the beast with multiple heads and horns, representing another demonic creature from the bottomless pit in league with many of the kings of the earth. Together they all hand over their power to the beast in order to wage a world war against the Lamb of God, but John assures us that the Lamb does indeed conquer them all for he is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. As a result, in that latter day the kings will turn against the prostitute, strip her of her power and pleasure and burn her with fire, in accordance with God’s sovereign purpose. In other words, the kings of various nations will destroy the evil empire as a whole. And in the next few chapters we see the celebration of all God’s people when this happens, whereas there is a different reaction altogether for the kings and the traders of the earth, but for now, it is sufficient for us to know that the harlot will be destroyed.
For now, the spirit of the harlot is still alive and kicking, and she seeks to deaden and devour all those in her wake. Every young man and woman should be warned today that she is coming for their souls, and that only those who have been sealed by God will be able to withstand her advances.