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Revelation 17:1-18

THE JUDGMENT OF THE BABYLONIAN HARLOT

Intro: In chapter 16 we witnessed the final judgment of God against this world. We saw God destroy this world through a series of powerful plagues. We also witnessed the defiance of fallen man. Even in the face of judgment, man refused to repent.

        Of course, this shouldn’t surprise us; man refused to repent in the face of Law and man has refused to repent in this age of grace. Man is an incorrigible sinner, and apart, from the grace of God, mankind is hopelessly lost!

        The last plague in Rev. 16:17-21 brought about a great earthquake that destroyed the cities of the world. This final, great quake devastated all the places that man had created. This earthquake destroyed everything that represented the greatest accomplishments of humanity. All of mankind’s centers of pleasure and profit are wiped out.

        Since the dawn of time man has been in the business of trying to get by without God. Man rests on his power, his accomplishments, his ability to produce and his ability to enjoy pleasure. In that last great judgment, everything man trusts is taken away.

        We are also told that “great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath,” Rev. 16:19. Babylon is a city, but it is also a system. Babylon represents everything mankind has accomplished apart from God. This system is judged in the seventh bowl judgment.

        What we have in chapters 17 and 18 is another parenthetical passage. These two chapters give us the details of the destruction of the Babylonian system. In chapter 17 we will see the destruction of religious Babylon. In chapter 18 we will see the destruction of economic Babylon.

        Let’s walk through these verses today and seek to gain some insight into them. I want to preach from this chapter on The Judgment Of The Babylonian Harlot. Notice the facts this passage reveals.

 

  I.  v. 1-6     THE BABYLONIAN HARLOT DESCRIBED

(Ill. The first verse tells us that we are going to witness “the judgment of the great whore.” The word “whore” is a word that we do not use in decent company. But, it is a word used by the Bible, so we must deal with it. It translates the Greek word “pornay”, which refers to “a woman who sells her body for sexual uses; a harlot; a prostitute.” It is also used to refer to a woman who is an “idolatress”. In this passage the word refers to the whole system of false religion embraced by this world. These verses teach us about this system of false religion and how it will be judged someday.)

A.  v. 1  The Scope Of This System – We are told that the harlot “sitteth upon many waters”. Verse 15 gives us the commentary on this verse. What we see here is a one world religious system.

        Right now there are thousands of religions on this planet, and there is little agreement between them. The primary religions recognized by most people are Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Most of the world’s population observes one of these religions.

        There will come a day when all the religions of the world will be brought together under one banner. The Antichrist, or the False Prophet, will have a plan that will iron out all the difference between these systems of belief. One day there will be a one world religion.

        There is already a great push in that direction now. There is an ecumenical movement working in our day that is seeking to bring all the religions of the world together.

        Christianity is different from all other religions on the earth because it is not really a religion, it is a faith. When the Rapture occurs, all true Christians will be removed from this world. What will be left will be those who “have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof”. Those people will be easy prey for the devil and demonic religion.

B.  v. 2  The Seduction Of This System – According to verse 2 the entire world will come under the spell of this great end-time religion. Kings and world leaders will be a part of the movement. The whole world will be intoxicated by the teaching of this false system of belief. Like a slick seductress, this great harlot will seduce the world with her promises and her power.

C.  v. 3  The Supporters Of This System – This harlot is supported by the Antichrist. The Antichrist is the “beast” and he carries this religious system to great power in the world.

        The phrase “full of names of blaspheme” reminds us that Antichrist will set himself up as God. He will enter the Jewish Temple and he will demand that the world worship him, 2 Thes. 2:3-4. He will demand worship and a deluded world will give him what he desires, 2 Thes. 2:11. He will give this religion its power.

        According to verse 9, this system sits on “seven hills”. This could be a reference to ancient Rome which was built on seven hills. Some people think that this reference ties this system in with Roman Catholicism. However, the seven hills could be a reference to the seven continents, which would indicate that this system is worldwide in nature.

        Ill. There is a tendency to try and figure out which religion this passage is referring to. I believe that it will contain Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Presbyterians, Methodists, Church of God, and yes, even Baptists. I believe the final construction of this end-time religion is best left in the hands of the Lord!

D.  v. 4  The Success Of This System – Just as a prostitute usually dresses provocatively to draw attention to herself, so does this false religious system. This religion wears the colors “purple and scarlet”. These are the colors of royalty and nobility. She is “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls”. This speaks to her wealth and prosperity. This system will be wealthy beyond words. (Ill. This is true of many of the “great religious systems” of our day. There is big money on religion! Some people grow very wealthy at the expense of others!)

                The Bible tells us that this system is well connected and prosperous, but it is all a pretense. This harlot holds in her hands “a golden cup full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications.” While this religion appears healthy, good and prosperous on the outside, it is really filled with corruption. It is an abomination to God!  (Ill. There is a danger as any church or denomination grows that it will thrive on its prosperity and forget its allegiance to the Lord. There is a subtle seduction in money and power that can easily lead a system of the course of holiness and godliness. Many movements that begin well have gone away from God, having been seduced by power, popularity and prosperity! There is a tendency to change so that the trends may continue!)

E.  v. 5  The Spirit Of This System – In ancient times, it was common for prostitutes to wear identification so that prospective customers could recognize them. This system is identified by God as “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.”

        When we speak of Babylon, many people immediately think of a city. And, it is a city located in the country of Iraq. Babylon the city was once the grandest capital of the most powerful nation in the world. Today, it is abandoned by everyone by archaeologists and historians. But, Babylon is also a system. Babylon is described as the system from which every false religious system in the world originated. That is what the title “mother” implies.

        This Babylonian system first appears in Genesis 11:1-9. The city was called Babel then and was founded by a very wicked man named Nimrod. The people of Babel decided to build themselves a tower so that they could leave their mark on the world, Gen. 11:3-4. The flood was fresh in their minds and they wanted to leave their mark on the world. This tower was not designed to reach into Heaven as some think. It was designed as a temple of Heaven. The constellations were placed on the top of this tower and men climbed it to worship the heavenly bodies, Gen. 11:4. This tower, and the religion in represented, is the first of many false religions started by man. They were the first false religionists, but they would not be the last. However, the same seeds of humanism and pride that are found in their attempt at forming their own religion can be found in every religion founded by man!

        God judged these people for their rebellion and for their foolish worship. Just as He judged them, He will one day judge all the false religions of the world. That is what we see here in Revelation 17. This chapter clearly reveals what will happen to the false religions of this world at the end of the Tribulation Period.

        Ill. Many of our common religious practices have their root in ancient Babylonian worship rituals. Things like Easter eggs, unicorns, the circle of life, yin yang, Christmas trees, etc. have their origins in ancient Babylon.

F.  v. 6  The Slaughter Of This System – This system of belief is responsible for the deaths of every saint of God who has ever died at the hands of false religion. From the death of Abel, to the prophets, to the early Christian martyrs, to the martyrs of the inquisition, all the way the millions of martyrs of the Tribulation; every single death can laid at the feet of the Babylonian harlot. She is responsible for the deaths of God’s children and she will be judged for her blood thirsty ways!

 

  I.  The Babylonian Harlot Described

 

 II.  v. 7-15       THE BABYLONIAN SYSTEM DEMYSTIFIED

(Ill. The verses we are about to consider are among the most confusing to me in the entire book of Revelation. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I hope that I can help them make a little more sense to us today.)

A.  v. 7-11  The Beast Demystified – As I said, these are confusing verses. Verse 8 refers to the miracle of the Antichrist’s death and resurrection, Rev. 13:3, 14. Whether his death and resurrection is real or faked, it doesn’t matter. The result will be the same. Most of the lost people of the world will believe the miracle and will follow the Antichrist.

        Verse 10 refers to the seven great world kingdoms. Five were already passed in John’s day, (Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia; and Greece). One was ruling, Rome. The one to come is the kingdom of the Antichrist.

        Verse 11 refers to the reign of the Antichrist. He will be a world leader, but after the miracle of his death and resurrection, he will become the ruler of the world. But, his judgment is set in stone.  Even with all his power and popularity, the Antichrist is headed to perdition! The word “perdition” means “utter destruction”.

B.  v. 12-13  The Benefactors Demystified – These two verses refer to ten kings who will give their allegiance and power to the Antichrist. In return, he gives them great power and authority. These kings are wholly committed to the reign of the Antichrist. They are given a kingdom, but their reign is short lived, Ill. “one hour”.

C.  v. 14  The Battle Demystified – As we mentioned in our last study, the nations of the world under the direction the Antichrist and his kings will gather to do battle with Jesus Christ at Armageddon. They are fighting a losing battle because they are foolish enough to attack the Lamb. The Lamb they attack is the “king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.” He will destroy them with the word of His mouth, Rev. 19:11-21. We will get to that in a few weeks!

        This verse also refers to those who are with the Lamb when He does battle with the world. These people who are “called, and chosen and faithful” refer to the Bride of Christ. This, my friends, is us! When He comes, we are coming with Him! We will watch the Lamb do battle and shout for Him as He claims victory over all His enemies! What a day that will be!

 

  I.  The Babylonian Harlot Described

 II. The Babylonian Harlot Demystified

 

III.  v. 16-17        THE BABYLONIAN HARLOT DESTROYED

A.  v. 16  The Reality Of The Harlot’s Destruction – After the Antichrist and his minions use the harlot to achieve power, they will turn on her. When they have reached the pinnacle of success, they have no more need of a religious system. They turn on the Harlot and they totally destroy her.

B.  v. 17  The Reason For The Harlot’s Destruction – Antichrist and his followers do not know it, but they are merely doing the will of the Lord. He is the One Who puts it into their hearts to destroy the Babylonian religious system. God uses these wicked men to carry out His will against false religion.

        God hates false religion! In the end of the world, He will use the ungodly to destroy the ungodly. Ill. Organized religion is a disgrace to God! When ritual, tradition and the doctrines of men take prominence over the Lord God, it is false worship. It does not matter what name they have over the door. It does not matter what they claim to be. When anything or anyone but Jesus Christ is the center of attention, it is a false religion and it will be destroyed by God one day!

        When the Tribulation Period ends, all false religion will have been destroyed. This will pave the way for the Millennial reign of Jesus. He will usher in a one thousand year period of time when people will worship no one but Him, at least openly!

 

Conc: Did you know that man is a religious creature? That’s right, all people worship something. Everyone believes something. Even the person who claims to be an atheist believes in his unbelief. When it is all said and done this thing comes down to two simple choices: Jesus Christ or false religion!

        Every belief system in the world that does not center on the Lord Jesus is a false system of belief; it is a false religion. How can I say that? Listen to what Jesus said, John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Listen again, Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  Listen to one more, John 8:24, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

        That is not my word; that is His Word! So what is it with you? Is it Jesus, or is it religion? Do not be satisfied to join a church or be baptized. Do not be satisfied to get you name on the role of some religious organization. Do not be satisfied with anything less than believing on Jesus Christ, and Him alone, for your salvation! Anything else is just religion. Anything less than Jesus is a prescription for Hell.

        One day God will judge and do away with false religion. Be sure that you are in Jesus Christ! Are you?

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