The Whore of Babylon


The book of Revelation is difficult to understand, and is much twisted and misused in our day, as many Christians today are not well studied in the secular histories of either Israel or Rome, and without that knowledge it can be very hard to grasp all of the clues.   But, there are internal evidences in both Old and New Testaments to know many of the mysteries of the book of Revelation.

Revelation was deliberately “coded” or signified so that the early Christians to whom it was written in the first century A.D. would understand, without bringing it to the notice of the ruling emperor in Rome.   It was circulated under his nose, so to speak.

We know that Revelation is a book of prophesy, so the reader must acknowledge that, as with all Old Testament prophesy, most of the language will be the figurative prophetic language that God uses when prophesying.   For instance, suns and moons and stars are ruling kings, princes, and governors.   Shaking the earth, and melting the mountains is an upset in, or overthrow of a ruling nation.   The earth and the heavens stand for a nation, and most often Israel. (See my previous post on “Heaven & Earth…)  The “sea” best known to the geographical area of the readers was the great Mediterranean Sea, and therefore was referring to the gentile nations around it, of whom the most prominent was Rome.

God used a great deal of numeric symbolism in the book.  These numbers are not literal, just as other figurative language in the book is not literal.  For instance, the number 1,000 is a symbol of the completeness of fullness of time.  The number 144 is generally recognized as the 12 tribes of Israel squared, which is another symbol of a perfectly complete number, and when multiplied again by 1,000 for 144,000 is a double statement of perfectly completed fullness.  As entire books have been written on the meanings of these symbols, we are just noting a few here.

It is also helpful to identify some of the players in the drama that unfolds in Revelation.   One of those is the “woman”.   There are many clues as to the woman of Revelation, but we will hit some of the critical ones here.

Rev. 11:8,  And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” (KJV, all bold emp. mine throughout.)

The “great city” is identified as the place where our Lord was crucified.   So, we know that the “great city” is Jerusalem.   Therefore, Jerusalem is spiritually called “Sodom” and “Egypt.”   Sodom had been destroyed for its wickedness.  God is comparing that great city, Jerusalem, to the wicked and evil Sodom.  He is also calling Jerusalem “Egypt” by calling to mind their exodus from that land.  The first century Christians easily recognized the comparisons.

Rev. 17:4-5, And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.”

The woman was guilty of fornication.  God calls her “Babylon The Great” and “The Mother Of Harlots.”   Fornication is a sin of intercourse without the bonds of marriage.  The woman is guilty of having intercourse with those to whom she is not married.  Then, we have another comparison to another nation which God destroyed for their evil, Babylon.  And, in the same sentence, and the same title on her forehead is the reference “The Mother Of Harlots”.

A harlot is a whore.   A whore is paid for her services.   Do you remember another reference to the whore of Babylon?

Ez. 23:17, “And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.”

Ez. Chap. 23 is discussing two sisters, two whores whom God identifies as Samaria and Jerusalem in Ez. 23:4.   Jerusalem is the whore of Babylon in Ez. 23:17.

Ez. 23:30, I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.     and….

Ez. 23:35, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.”

God called Jerusalem a whore, and an adulteress, because she was turning her back on her marriage with God, her covenant relationship with God, and following after idols.   She was making treaties, having intercourse with heathen nations, and forgetting her promise to God.   She was fornicating with the nations around her.

We go back again to Rev. 17 verses 4, 5 and now can see the mystery.  “Babylon The Great” and “The Mother Of Harlots” is the whore of Babylon of Ezekiel Chap. 23, which is Jerusalem, and which is also called the “great city.”  The woman and the great city are the same.  They are Jerusalem.

Rev. 14:8,  And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

We have established that in Revelation God refers to Jerusalem as Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon.  In the verse above, Jerusalem is again referred to as “that great city” just as in Rev. 11:8.   That great city was guilty of fornication with the nations around her.

Jer. 22:8-9, And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.”

The great city of Jeremiah was Jerusalem.  Just as in Ezekiel and Jeremiah, Jerusalem is the “great city” of Revelation.   She was again guilty in the first century A.D. of following after idols because of her fornication and adultery with the heathen nations around her.   She was a great trading center of the day, and was making treaties for gain (profits) with all who came to her.

Rev. 18:9-11, And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. 11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:”

Rev. 18:17-19, 17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, 18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.”

Also, there had to be a relationship to God for the great city of Revelation to be accused as a harlot, or a whore.  The only city or nation with a covenant promise to God was Israel.  Rome did not have a covenant with God to break.  Israel did.  The great city guilty of fornication and adultery had to be in Israel, and therefore was Jerusalem.

Jer. 31:32, Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

The Lord considered Israel as a bride, a wife.  After many years, before the Assyrian captivity, because they continually followed after idolatrous nations, God gave her a bill of divorcement. (Is. 50:1; Jer. 3:8.)

In Rev. 17:3 the woman is sitting upon a beast.  The beast has seven heads, and ten horns.  I do not want to digress here with a discussion of the beast as it deserves its own attention, but mostly to point out that the woman is sitting on the beast.  She is not the beast.  She is directing, or influencing the direction of the beast.

Rev. 17:3, “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

The woman is separate from the beast.   They are not the same.   As she is sitting upon the beast, the comparison would be as a rider sits upon a horse and directs the horse.

Rev. 17:6, “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

The woman, the great city, Jerusalem was drunk with the blood of the saints.  The saints are the Christians.  The woman was responsible for killing the Christians.  As she was directing the beast, she was using the beast to kill and persecute the Christians.

That describes the political state of Jerusalem under the occupation of Rome in the first century A.D.  In the first century A.D., the Sanhedrin Counsel could not exercise a death penalty.   They had to apply to a Roman governor to do so.

So, in identifying the woman of Revelation, we have also identified the time period of the prophesy.  Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, most probably 66 – 68 A.D. to the first century Christians as a warning to know when to get out of her.

I have detailed the time period for the dating of the book of Revelation in a previous post, “It’s Not The End of The World, Part V,” which provides many more evidences.

The woman of Revelation is that “great city“, and is the “Mother Of Harlots“, and is Babylon, Sodom and Egypt, which is Jerusalem.   It is the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 that is the subject of the prophesy of Revelation.   Chap 14 continues the downfall of the great city, “Babylon” which is addressed in verse 8, where verses 19-20 conclude:

19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” (Rev. 14:19-20)

And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and 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)

‘Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” (Rev. 18:10)

God’s judgment was declared upon Jerusalem.  Revelation was the prophesy of that judgment to the first century Christians.  Everywhere you see the reference in Revelation to the “woman” or the “harlot” or “Babylon”, “Sodom”, or “Egypt” you need to decode it and read “Jerusalem”.

 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (Matt. 23:37-38)

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.(Rev. 18:19)

Recommended reading: http://www.preteristcentral.com/Exposition%20of%20Revelation%2022.html

http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/whore.html

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