Thursday, July 3, 2014

Revelation Chapter 17: The Whore of Babylon

Revelation Chapter 17: The Whore of Babylon

a graphic of hte The Whore of Babylon dressed in scarlet and purple and adorned with jewels holding a golden cup in her hand sitting on the scarlet seven to eight headed beast of Revelation (c)Erika Grey

The Identity of the Mother of Harlots


Revelation, Chapter 17, describes the Great Whore of Babylon, who represents false religion. Babylon's political and religious aspects bring down God's judgment. While political Babylon's judgment occurs just prior to the battle at Armageddon and results from the Antichrist's reign, religious Babylon's annihilation comes through the Antichrist and his federation of kings. The Antichrist abolishes religion, and persecutes its followers for not worshiping him alone. In Dwight Pentecost's Things To Come: A Study of Bible Eschatology, Pentecost quotes Scofield, who confirms: "Two 'Babylons' are to be distinguished in the Revelation…Ecclesiastical Babylon is 'the great whore'(Rev. 17:1), and is destroyed by political Babylon (Rev. 17:15-18), that the beast may be the alone object of worship (II Thess. 2:3, 4; Rev. 13:15)."

As one reviews history, one realizes the identity of the woman in Revelation Chapter 17. She sits upon many waters, and is arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. Her hand holds a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. Upon her head one sees words written in capital letters: "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." Drunk with the blood of the saints (martyrs) she sits upon seven hills (Rev. 17:4-5, 9).

Harlotry, in the Bible, equals idolatry. When Israel worshiped other gods, God compared the nation to a harlot. The book of Hosea elaborates on this precept by its description of an adulterous wife and a faithful husband, symbolic of the unfaithfulness of Israel to God through idolatry. The bride of Christ is pure and holy, and she embraces truth. The harlot symbolizes all false teaching. She leads individuals away from the true God, to herself. The mother of harlots encompasses all doctrine, beliefs, practices, and ideology that diametrically opposes the truth of Jesus Christ.

Immorality, sorcery, and idolatry imprinted Babylonian society. The nation was famous throughout the ancient world for astronomy. They were astrologers first and foremost. Sorcerers and necromancers were more popular than physicians. Divination and the interpretation of dreams were common practice. Hepatoscopy, a favorite Babylonian method of divination, involved examining the livers of animals. Ezekiel confirms these Babylonian practices in declaring: "For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver" (Ezek.21:21). Heavily superstitious; the Babylonians were idolatrous, with innumerable gods. Historian Will Durant numbered their gods around 65,000.

The Babylonians worshiped one woman in particular. This woman is Ishtar, whom the Babylonians worshiped for being the mother of God. Her titles include "The Virgin," "The Holy Virgin," and "The Virgin Mother." Ishtar represented the divinity of bounteous motherhood. Those who worshiped her considered her a goddess of war as well as love. She stood over prostitutes as well as mothers. She called herself a caring courtesan. Babylonians represented Ishtar sometimes as a bearded bisexual deity, and sometimes as a nude female offering her breasts to suck. Though Babylonians referred to her as "The Virgin," this merely meant that her illicit lovers were free from all bonds of wedlock.

Revelation 18:7 states: "She says in her heart, I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow." Ancient Babylonian prayers referred to her as "Queen of all cities, Queen of Heaven and Earth,…Ishtar is great! Ishtar is Queen! My lady is exalted; my Lady is Queen." Revelation 17:16 names her "the whore." In later centuries, among Babylon's enemies, the upper classes called her the "whore of Babylon."