2. The Harlot of Babylon Close Up (Revelation 17:3-6)
A Short Supplement - The Fall of the Whore of Babylon (a Parable): Why was John, the experienced patriarch, who had lived in different cultures, so amazed over the mother of all harlotry on earth (Revelation 17:6)? What was it in this woman that appeared to him so inconceivable? How do the texts of the Bible shed light on the parable of this pious woman and of her great fall into the power and dominion of the antichrist?
God had even created this “woman” in His own likeness, that she might reflect His holiness and love (Genesis 1:27). He had also offered her, like unto all people, repentance leading to grace and cleansing from all sin. He had invited her to live with Him in an eternal covenant (Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 31:3; 31-34). In so doing He also set the conditions - that she belong to Him alone, live with and for Him, and remain forever faithful to Him, just as He Himself had spoken His eternal faithfulness to her (Hosea 2:19-20). The woman presumably arose from either the people of the Old Covenant, or from the churches of the New Covenant. She, however, resembled a “warmed-over corpse”, that was neither dead in sin, nor alive in the Holy Spirit. To be sure, she had either Jewish or Christian leanings, but had never accepted Jesus as her Savior, and had never surrendered herself to become the property of her God and Lord. His Spirit did not live in her heart and did not bring complete fulfillment to her subconscious mind. She practically never mentioned His name in her speech or prayers. His Name had not been invisibly sealed on her forehead. She did not love Jesus (Matthew 22:37).
Perhaps the woman was dreaming of a high standard of living and was pursuing her fantastic hopes. She was disappointed with Jesus and ashamed of Him because He was poor (Matthew 8:20; 21:3; Luke 9:58). He, also, possessed no outstanding university diplomas, and was neither a successful sportsman nor a war hero. He was meek and humble and avoided every quarrel whenever possible (Matthew 11:28-29; 26:52). The woman just couldn’t get excited about the Nazarene, for she, herself, wanted the fame and glory. Her whole life rotated around her one proud “I”. She adorned herself extravagantly. She wanted, in contrast to Jesus, to sparkle, and longed for power and influence (Matthew 16:24-26; John 5:41-44; Revelation 17:4). She did not want to leave off with her sins.
In addition, the woman thought this Lord was far away, existing somewhere in distant eternity. She did not excitedly await the return of the Savior. She had no thought of Him, and had convinced herself: He doesn't see me, and He doesn't hear me. That was all right with her, for she wanted to be her own lord. She did whatever she wanted. His commands and offerings were trivialities. She disregarded Him, and finally despised Him.
This woman not only sought, but also nursed contact with famous philosophers, cardinals, writers and kings. The fact that she was attractive, alluring and intelligent benefited her. In a clever move, she hid herself behind Mary, the mother of Jesus, incorporated her into her action program, and propagated that Mary would be the true intercessor in the hour of death. She, the apostate woman, probably maintained regular contact with spirits of the dead and with demons, which had possessed her. Important people and mysterious spirits were more important to her than the coming Lord, with whom she had long ago renounced her faithfulness and obedience. The spiritual adulteress denied the uniqueness of Jesus.
In the depth of her heart she despised and hated the Son of Man, because He had made her neither the middle-point of His church, nor the leading figure in society. She did not want Jesus to become her head or her Savior, but wanted much more to realize her own self, and to sparkle with her achievements. She considered herself to be extraordinarily clever and talented. She stumbled from sin to sin and lived in the prison of her own compulsions (Matthew 12:45; Acts 20:30; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 1 John 2:1-18; Hebrews 3:7-13; 6:4-8; 10:26-29; 2 Peter 2:20).
The woman in the parable preferred the wild beast ascended from the sea of nations to the meek Lamb of God. She totally abandoned herself to the beast and to his vassals. She loved the beast, admired his clever lies, and longed for his power. To that end, the woman motivated the beast, and influenced it with her Biblical experiences. But, at the same time, the beast inspired her, and took terrible advantage of her. The two together became a dreadful harmony in the unity of the evil spirit.
In addition, the great harlot showed her scorn for Jesus by harming His followers wherever she could. The fact that she had absolutely no intention of submitting to Him, and was withstanding His Spirit and His Word, had also made His humble saints a continuous thorn in her heart and conscience. She fought them with all of her cunning and power. The spirit in her resisted the Holy Spirit day and night. The woman acted more viciously against Jesus and His followers than did the beast himself. She did not want to lose his sympathy or her hegemony. She became a vindictive harlot, who felt the thorn of Christian witness in her conscience.
The son of Satan left her alone as long as she was useful to him. She was attracting the masses and leading them to him. But the woman also knew that sex, love, influential connections or incited blood-baths among Christians would not be enough to satisfy a cutthroat dictator like the beast for long. If she wanted to remain the dominant mistress on the back of the beast she would also need to satisfy him with money, gold and power. She, therefore, used her worldwide trade connections, securing at the same time her own privileges. She loved money, treasure in her hand, and power, all of which she felt befit her. She adorned herself extravagantly, so that she could appear glorious. That, however, would ultimately and inevitably lead to her end.
In the mean time, it is possible that the mother of all harlotries had even outdone the false prophet, the advisor of the beast, by diminishing his authority and tacitly relieving him. The revenge he would take on her was dead-certain.
Her wooers finally came to realize the limits of her imaginativeness, and had enough of her beauty. They themselves, wanting to get to the money sources, cold-bloodedly murdered the woman, and took up the battle for her legacy. They literally devoured the mother of all harlotry.
Whoever recognizes in this parable a liberal or fanatic Judaism, or a conformed, power-hungry church in the place of the adulterous woman, comes close to understanding the meaning of these descriptions.
This parable also calls us into question, that we might examine ourselves and see whether we love and trust Jesus with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might. Are we faithful to Him alone, or do we pursue honor, power, money, science or other modern idols and spirits? Does Jesus alone satisfy our conscious and sub-conscious self, or do we still cling to outside helpers? Is He alone the Lord of our lives, or have we given control of ourselves to other masters? We should not be too quick to judge foreign institutions and groups, but instead repent, so that nothing would separate us from Jesus (Matthew 7:1-5).
PRAYER: Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil! Purify and free us of all evil intentions and attachments to foreign spirits, from all wicked thoughts. Help us to love You alone and Your Son Jesus. Help us to hear, and unconditionally trust and obey You in Your strength. Amen.
- How and why did the harlot begin to fall away from God and His Christ?