Revelation - Chapter 17
The fall of Ecclesiastical Babylon: 17:1-5.
Revelation Chapter 17 describes the destruction of ecclesiastical Babylon and chapter 18 describes the fall of political and commercial Babylon. In chapter 14:8, the destruction of Babylon was foretold but here John gives the details about its fall. The book of Revelation is not always chronological. These two events do not take place at the same time. One of the seven angels spoke to John saying “Come with me and I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters. The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her. The people of the world have become drunk by the wine of her immorality” (17:1, 2). Religious Babylon represents false religions, including the apostate church. The rapture of the church does not mean it is the end of religions. The false religion was started by Nimrod in the plain of Shinar. This Babylonian religion eventually will become the religions of the world (Gen 10:8-10).
Apostate Church and the Beast: 17:6-14.
In Revelation, Babylon refers to both a city and a religion. The scripture reveals that apostate church is at work today
(2 Tim 3:1-5; 4:3-4; 2 Pet 2:1; Rev 3:15-17). The devil uses the false religions for his evil purposes. Who is the harlot mentioned here? Scripture tells us that this harlot is Babylon the great. Harlot symbolizes religious adultery. The character of the harlot is revealed by her name. The people will come under the evil influences of the false religion. Here the woman refers to the apostate church. Her name is “Babylon the great mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations”. The apostate church is seen sitting on the scarlet beast. The beast comes out of the bottomless pit. He uses the apostate church for own purpose. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. In chapter 13, we had seen that this beast is the revived Roman Empire. The 7 heads is symbolic of 7 kings. Five of them are fallen, one is and the other is not yet come. When he comes he will remain only a little while (17:10). The beast himself is identified as the eighth king, whose destruction is certain. He may be the head of the revived Roman Empire. The ten horns are symbolic of the ten nation confederacy that serves the Antichrist for a short while. These ten kings are unified under the power of the beast. Their resources and armies are at the disposal of Antichrist (17:13). They will go to war against the Lamb. But the Lamb will defeat them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Ultimately Lord will be victorious.
The Destruction of the Apostate Church: 17:15-18.
The religious system of ecclesiastical Babylon is described as a harlot sitting on many waters. The harlot is symbolic of the vast ecclesiastical Babylon. In Revelation woman is symbolic of apostate religion. She is committing spiritual fornication with the inhabitants of the earth. Jezebel represents the pagan idolatry (2:20). The false religious system will promote idol worship and other ungodly practices. The apostate church makes political alliances with the nations in order to gain power during the tribulation period. The ecumenical movement and the one-world church movement may be part of this program. During the first part of tribulation people will have religious freedom. Once Antichrist gains absolute power, he will utterly destroy all forms of religion including the apostate church. Thus God’s plan will be fulfilled. God is not pleased with the system of worship that does not give Him preeminence. Antichrist wants to be God and be worshiped. But unlike God the beast will be destroyed. Only God should be worshiped. He is able to preserve his own from Satanic deception. God also enables his people to remain faithful to Him.