I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
We continue with our current series we have entitled, “The Harlot Emerges – Protestants March to Rome.” If you have not read the first two installments I would encourage you to go back and read those before you read this one. We have laid a great deal of foundation in the first two posts. I hope to put some, “meat on the bones”, so to speak, in this one.
Our basic premise in this series is that the “Great Harlot” of Revelation 17 is a final religious system founded and led by the “second beast”, or, “False Prophet” of Revelation 13 and 16. The “Beast” or Antichrist will be promoted and propped up for a time by this religious system that will also have great political and economic control over the nations of the world. This false prophet will have control over, or at least work in concert with, the Antichrist. We see all of this in Revelation 17 and 18.
There is a definite agenda at work today promoted by so-called “Progressives”, globalists, Liberals, “Deep State”, and Shadow Government people to establish a New World Order (NWO). This is a big subject and I plan to do a series on this at another time. However it plays at least in part into the subject at hand. At the basis of it all however is a desire to remove boundaries (think borders). I plan to do a complete series on this topic a bit later, so I don’t want to explore that at this time.
The thing we see about this NWO is that it really isn’t “new” at all. Like the so-called, “New Age Movement” (which is really old age occultism), the NWO, which was envisioned by our founders and championed by so many today, is as old as Nimrod’s Babel where the plan was set forth as, “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” [Gen. 11:4 KJV] According to the apocryphal book of Jasher, their plan was to lead a revolt against God, remove Him from His throne, and set up their own god to worship [Jasher 9:26]. Jewish historian Josephus wrote that the people were angry with God for sending the flood, and wanted to build this tower so high that it could never be covered by flood waters should God decide to send another deluge. At any rate, this was far more than a building project to set up a sky-scraper. God personally came down to shut it down saying, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” [Gen. 11:6 KJV]
While there are several implications to all of this we could explore, for now I want to focus on this idea of one. People united as one, one language, one purpose, one goal, one vision. From John Lennon’s New Age anthem Imagine to American Presidents and politicians to world leaders around the globe, the hue and cry of the NWO is, “Unite! No borders, one language, one currency, one government, and one religion.” Of course the ultimate goal is to have one man (or perhaps woman) at the head of it all. A New-Age guru, a political messiah, if you will, who will lead us all into a Utopian “golden age” where we all co-exist as one. While this sounds very attractive to the world, those of us who know the prophetic Word know the end-game here. This is all the out-working of ancient biblical prophecies, and a counterfeit of the ultimate purpose of God in Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” [2 Thess. 2:7 NKJV] This “mystery of lawlessness” (or “iniquity” KJV) is all about establishing a one-world government, one-world monetary system, and one-world religion, led by the “Man of Sin”, the Son of Perdition, the Antichrist, the “Beast”.
This NWO is a counterfeit of the ultimate purpose of God in Christ as well. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church of the, “Dispensation of the fullness of the times” in Ephesians 1:10, “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” [Eph. 1:10 NKJV Emphasis added] This is the ultimate purpose of God in Christ, and the NWO is the evil counterfeit of this.
This brings us to the counterfeit “Super Church” revealed in Revelation 17, referred to as the, “Great Harlot” (or, “whore” KJV). In the book of Revelation we get to see things as God sees them. The religious masses, and even the non-religious for a time will laud this monstrosity of man’s making as wonderful, even referring to it as the, “Mother Church”, but God says it is “harlot.” Let’s sit down beside the beloved Apostle John as he is given a front row seat to view this “woman riding the beast.”
I want to reiterate that the parenthetical chapters Revelation 17 and 18 are two of the most debated chapters among Bible scholars and students. I take the position of many of the early Church Fathers, Reformers, and modern evangelical scholars in seeing chapter 17 as describing a religious system, while chapter 18 describes an economic and commercial system. We again are looking at the one-world religion of the False Prophet, “Mystery Babylon”.
While Revelation 17 does not describe the formation of this system, it does show us this system fully formed and functioning and its judgment. I want to examine this carefully, so we will look at this verse-by-verse.
Verse 1 – “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:”
This vision of the “great whore” was given to John by one of the seven angels who had the vials or bowls of judgment. What this angel is going to show John is the judgment on the harlot, or harlot system. This “woman” sits upon many “waters”, which in biblical typology and imagery if a specific body of water is not mentioned, refers to the mass of humanity or nations, or more specifically Gentile nations. That is certainly what is meant here (see verse 15). The mention of the angel holding one of the vials of judgment links chapters 17 and 18 with the vial judgments, or about mid-tribulation.
This is spiritual whoredom or prostitution pictured here. Prostitution is often used in the Old Testament to picture idolatry or religious apostasy (See Jeremiah 3:6 – 9; Ezekiel 16:30ff; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:3). Also, Nineveh (Nahum 3:1, 4); Tyre (Isaiah 23:7), and even Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:21), are all listed as harlot cities. Satan has used idolatrous religion, governments, and commerce as his chief agents to deceive mankind. All will be judged and brought down before Christ returns to earth.
Verse 2 – “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
This false religious system, made up of those who are Christians in name only, as well as all world religions; will hold tremendous political and financial power over political leaders and governments who will be deceived by this false system. They will be made “drunk”, that is they will swept up in the spiritual intoxication and sin of this harlot religious system. “Have been made drunk”, is the Greek, methuo (meh-thoo-oh), and it simply means, “to be drunken”. When it is used metaphorically, as it is here, it speaks of one who has shed blood or murders profusely. The nations of the world will be made “drunk” with power, wealth, and false religion from this harlot system. This system has a long history of shedding blood, and will shed much prior to it’s judgment.
Verse 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.”
First it is important to remember that the book of Revelation was given to John and written from the perspective of the spirit-realm. This is why so much of it seems so foreign and strange to us at times. Physically John was on the isle of Patmos, situated off the Aegean Sea, adjacent to the Mediterranean. Yet he traveled “in the Spirit” to the time of the prophetic “Day of the Lord”. He saw the catching away of the Church and end of the Church Age, the Great Tribulation period, the final judgment, binding of Satan, and even the judgment on the Antichrist, false prophet and the wicked dead.
We see a great deal of symbolic language here. What about this “wilderness”? Where exactly is this? What is John shown? This is a major key to the “woman’s” identity and location – because the “woman” is both a city and a system. First, “wilderness” is the Greek, eremos (air-ee-moss). It refers to a solitary, uninhabited place. It does not necessarily refer to a wooded area, as we typically think of when we think of a wilderness. This word can refer to a desert or a wilderness. Why is this important? Because there are brethren like Joel Richardson for example in his book, Mystery Babylon, who sees the “great city” referred to toward the end of this chapter as Mecca, and the Beast system as a revival of the Islamic Empire. He sees an Islamic Antichrist and has written and spoken extensively on this subject.
Brother Richardson is a great researcher, and I have the utmost respect for him. I disagree with many of his conclusions, but love and respect him as a fellow Bible researcher and brother in Christ. He believes that prophetic Babylon is Mecca, I happen to believe it is Rome, and that the “Beast” system will be a revived (or revised perhaps), Roman Empire. Joel and others see this “wilderness” in verse 3 as desert in the Middle East. I and many researchers, students, and scholars of the past and present see it as the wilderness surrounding Rome. This area is known as campagna, a low-lying area surrounding Rome, Italy. This wilderness is literal, and points us to the location of the “whore” religious system, and headquarters of the “Beast”. “Wilderness”, while literal I believe, also could describe the chaotic situation in the world this system will cause.
This religious system will be headed-up and led, I believe, by the institutional Roman Catholic Church, although all the major religions of the world will come under the umbrella of this harlot system.
This woman is sitting on a, “scarlet colored beast”, which indicates two things: 1) The scarlet color speaks of royalty, and luxury. This “Beast” system enriches itself at the expense of the citizenry. 2) The “woman” is riding the “Beast”, which would indicate she is separate from the “Beast” and is exercising at least a modicum of control over it, at least for a time. One is religious, the other political, but they work in concert with one another. This will be the ultimate evil mixture of Church and State.
It is, “full of names of blasphemy”. This shows us how far man’s religion will have departed from Christ and the Gospel in the time of the end.
The “seven heads and ten horns” on the “Beast” the woman is riding shows us the political alliances of the Antichrist. They speak of six past empires, and one yet future. The “ten horns” are ten yet future leaders who will align themselves with the “Beast”. This could be ten nations, or perhaps ten regions that will give all of their wealth and political power over to the “Beast”. It is important to understand that in the book of Revelation the “Beast” really represents three things that all work in conjunction with one another: 1) A supernatural angel released from the abyss, an ancient spirit that has empowered wicked leaders from the past, and will enter the “Man of Sin”; 2) A mortal man, albeit an enhanced man; and 3) A kingdom.
Verses 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.”
“Purple” is another clue as to the identity of this “woman” and her location. Purple was the predominant color of Roman imperialism. In the ancient Roman Empire, every senator and consul wore a purple stripe as a badge of his position, and the emperor’s robes were purple. Scarlet is the color adopted by Roman Catholicism. This woman is “decked” with gold and precious stones. “Decked” is the Greek, chrusso (hroo-saw-oh), which is to cover with gold until one is gilded (I.E. to have a pleasing or showy appearance that conceals something of little worth). Man’s religion is always about the show, the facade, the perception of reality. It is a lot of “smoke and mirrors”, and this will be about the ultimate religious deception.
The “golden cup” in her hand is another indication of the great wealth of this system. Interestingly, the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, which some say is really incalculable, is estimated to be between $10 – $15 billion dollars! When one factors in the land, priceless art, gold, and investments held by the RCC it is by far one of the wealthiest institutions on earth. The Vatican Bank which holds about $8 billion in assets, has been at the center of scandal and corruption since it was founded in 1942. To their credit, Pope Benedict began cleaning up the bank, and Francis is reported to be continuing that work. The point is however, the RCC is an extremely wealthy institution, again one of the wealthiest in the world. When you factor in the oil-rich Islamic nations, and all world religions that will bring their combined wealth and assets under the umbrella of this harlot system, it will truly be the wealthiest religious system in history.
Babylon is referred to as a, “golden cup in the Lord’s hand” in Jeremiah 51:7 that has made all the nations “drunk” – that is, the nations of the world have been deceived by what this “woman” has given them to the point they are stupefied. Again, she has made the nations “drunk” with power, prestige, and position.
This “woman” is dressed like a queen, but her decorations are only concealing what she truly is. Man’s religion is always showy, but inwardly filthy, rotten, and worthless.
Let’s think about the name on the forehead of the “woman”. First, it was customary for Roman prostitutes to wear headbands advertising their name and occupation for all to see. This religious prostitute is seen wearing a name that reveals some things about this final harlot religious, political, and economic system. Consider,
- Mystery – While technically this is part of the name of the harlot system, it tells us something very important about it. “Mystery” is the Greek, musterion (moo-stay-dee-on), and it speaks of that which is hidden or unknown. So there are aspects of this system not revealed in John’s time, and not fully known in the present time. E.W. Bullinger in The Companion Bible refers to this as some secret symbol. He goes into a great deal of detail in appendix 193 of The Companion Bible, which we will not delve into here. Suffice it to say this is a “mystery” of things not revealed to mortals and the uninitiated. It is tied to secret rites and pagan practices.
- Babylon the Great – There are a couple of things here. First, Babylon is understood in scripture as the fountain-head of all idolatry and systems of false religion. We are referring here to Nimrod’s Babylon. Nimrod founded not only false religion, but also headed up the first world government where everyone had one language, one purpose, one goal, and one leader. The problem was the people were united as one against Yahweh. Second, it was a common practice in the first century to veil references to Rome by saying Babylon. I submit to you this is what John was doing here. Had John not veiled his meaning behind symbols he would have been killed and never made it off the isle of Patmos, and the what we know today as the book of Revelation would have been lost to the Body of Christ.
It is interesting that E.W. Bullinger’s notes were first published back in 1909, yet he saw, as he put it in his notes on the passage before us, “The “Reunion of the Churches” of Christendom and the “League of Nations” are two of the most arresting signs of the times.” Fast forward to 2018, and while the League of Nations is no more, we now have the United Nations (U.N.) and a concentrated effort by the RCC to bring all churches and world religions under the umbrella of Rome and the authority of the Pope. I submit to you that what we see in this final “harlot” system is Nimrod’s Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, and future Babylon converging into one. It will be false religion and world governance wrapped into one evil package. There is more however.
- The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth – “Mother of harlots” is to be understood in the same sense as the first Gulf War was known as, “The mother of all wars.” It means the biggest, most powerful, and most all-encompassing. This will be the greatest “harlot” system of all that have come before. This one will set the standard for harlots. This final system will be aligned with the “abominations” of the earth. It will normalize, glamorize, and participate in all that God says is abominable.
Verse 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.”
Some see here a contrast between OT saints and NT believers. If that is the case then this demonstrates the fact that this system is much older than the RCC. False religion has always been about blood-shed, but this last system will be the most murderous of them all. We see the RCC, apostate Christianity, cults, and all world religions united as one to shed the blood of true believers in the Great Tribulation. Please understand, I firmly believe that the true Church will not be on the earth at this time. We will be in Heaven with the Lord and all the saints who have gone before. Those who come to faith after the rapture will face this horrible persecution.
Of all that John had been shown up until time, this scene of the “Harlot riding the scarlet colored beast” totally shocked and astonished him. Beginning with verse 7 this messenger will begin to explain this vision to John. We will pick that up next time.
Until next time,
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson