Today's reading is Revelation 17. The first 15 verses are about Babylon's power and luxury. Starting with vs 16 and into chapter 19 we have Babylon's fall that lamented and celebrated throughout the world. Here are some insights that came to me as I read chapter 17 this morning. -vs 1: Babylon refers back to the the godless nation of Babylon and at this moment Rome, but it more refers to all godless societies whose lust for sensual pleasure and rejection of all restraint causes here eventually to become drunk on the blood of God's saints. It's an insidious quest for wealth and power. The "many waters" in vs 1 symbolize all the peoples and nations over which "Babylon" rules.
-vs 2: the "sexual immorality" (the prostitute) symbolizes the infidelity spiritually and sexually that imbibes Babylon, her heart and body totally commitment to wanton pleasure.
-vss 3-5: "carried away in the Spirit" is John being given a spiritual vision where he sees a "scarlet beast" on whom the prostitute rides. She adorned with "gold, jewels, pearls" and all kinds of fine linen. The beast and all his power is driven by the prostitute and the disgusting brew that comes from the golden cup which drives all her other lovers crazy when they drink of it. Her name is "Babylon the Great," the author of all the earth's abominations.
-vs 6: One of the woman's lusts was the blood of Christian martyrs, through the ages, who have adamantly stood against her.
-vss 7,8: The angel that is driving John in the spirit reveals the meaning of this mystery. The beast has been prohibited in his total violence against believers but soon that violence will be unleashed even more, thought it will be short-lived.
-vss 9-11: The "seven mountains" must represent Rome, which is built on seven hills. Interpreters through the ages have tried to say who are the kings. No one really knows. Rome is like Babylon in its wanton pursuit of pleasure and power. It represents all the kings and kingdoms that rise against Christians. But their destructive time is short and will eventually end in destruction.
-vss 12-14: The beast's 10 horns symbolize ten kings not yet in power. They will reign and rule under the beast's command for merely "one hour." Some have tried to identify exactly these 10 kings and rulers. Honestly, it's futile to do so. But they most certainly point to all the ones who have and will continue to unleash a painful assault against the Lamb and "his called and chosen and faithful" followers. But John sees the Lamb triumphantly overcoming the beast and all its conspirators.
-vss 16,17: Eventually, the unfaithful alliance between the beast and the prostitute will unravel and there will be a military uprising that will ravage all economic systems, a part of God's judgment. Even God's enemies are used by God for his purposes. This will eventually be used to save God's people and cause the destruction of God's enemies too!
-vs 18: The prostitute is the "great city" that has dominion over all the earth. Surely it's Rome, but ALL major cities swept into lusts for money, power and sex.
The message is clear: God's day of judgment is certain. He is using all the people of the events of this world as a part of his great and final plan. He is sovereign and in control over all.
He is worthy of our praise!