The 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation deal with the destruction of Babylon in both its ecclesiastical and political forms. Chapter 17 deals with the religious side of Babylon, and chapter 18 concerns Babylon as a political entity. Many commentators deal with whether Babylon is Rome, ancient Babylon rebuilt, or a name that represents an evil world system in the end time. Without settling that issue, we can learn much from this passage.
One, we learn that God's wrath is both real and certain. Only through Christ can we be saved!
John tells us about seven angels who pour out the bowls of God's wrath. Now, one of these angels speaks to John. The angel declares that he will show John "the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters."
Many think that the "great harlot" is the religious aspect of Babylon. This religious aspect includes all false religions, false cults, and apostate churches. During the Tribulation, such false religion is expressed in the worship of the Antichrist. The "great harlot" sits upon many waters. According to verse 15, the many waters represent the peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues of the world. This shows how powerful Babylon will become in controlling the world.
God's judgment of Babylon and all others who deny Christ and oppose Him is certain. Many people go about their lives ignoring God and His commands. Some are more overtly sinful than others, but all who deny Christ will be lost. They will suffer the judgment of God on their lives. It is only through Christ that we can be saved.
Two, the kings of the earth become drunk with the wine of the harlot's immorality. Let us pray for our national leaders.
Although the kings of the earth are many and are powerful, they succumb to the wiles of the "great harlot." They cannot resist the temptation to blaspheme God and unite with the religious influence of Babylon. They bow before the power of the Antichrist. One can almost hear them say that they think they are acting in their "national interest." Instead, they are selling their nations out to evil power and certain judgment.
We must pray for our national leaders. We live today in a secular age. The pressure for national leaders is unrelenting to lessen the influence of God and His Word in their nations. In the name of tolerance and fairness, the nations become unfair to all who believe in Christ. Unless the nations turn to God, they will be judged. We must keep praying that people will turn to God.
Three, John was carried away in the Spirit. Sometimes the Spirit works in unusual ways!
When John saw a vision of a woman sitting on a beast, he was carried away in the Spirit. What he saw while he was "in the Spirit" had the authority of God stamped on it. He would convey his message with full confidence that God had spoken. John passed on this authoritative word to us through his wrtten report.
John was carried away in the Spirit. This could mean that John was carried away in his own spirit, but it can also mean that he was carried away in the Spirit of God. Another possibility is that he was carried away in his spirit which was under the influence of God's Spirit. In my view the key point is that John was under the influence and control of the Spirit.
John's experience with the Spirit went beyond the normal daily Spirit-influenced life. However, it serves as an example of what God can do when He chooses. We must keep our lives open to the unusual as well as the usual. Let us live our lives in such a way that the Spirit can move upon us and within us in special ways!
Four, compromise with the world leads to destruction and judgment.
John sees a woman sitting on a scarlet-colored beast. As we have indicated above, the woman may represent the religious aspect of Babylon. Many regard the beast as the Antichrist. Others put the emphasis on the empire ruled by the Antichrist. Still others say that the beast represents both an individual and the empire he rules.
The woman is carried away by the beast. This means that she compromises with political power and seeks the favor of the godless world. Thus, the religious system of the times will be blasphemous, corrupt, and aligned with the forces of evil. Such compromise always results in spiritual disaster and divine punishment. We must avoid compromise with the world at all costs. Our faith in Christ must remain pure and strong.
Our text which forecasts what will happen in the Tribulation has a strong message for us today. The world, with all its vain philosophies, is calling for us today. The forces of evil want us to compromise and to give up our faith in Christ. However, we know that the Spirit will sustain us in our determination to remain true to Christ. Eternal victory will be ours!