This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Revelation. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.
You can listen to the study by clicking here
The great prostitute named Babylon the Great is a symbol of apostate religion, a counterfeit faith.
During the end times this apostate religion will form some sort of relationship with the governmental system that the enemy has in place. This false religion will join in the persecution of anyone who is a believer.
One of the things that you should see in this passage is that religion might actually be the enemy of God. It is not belief that is important, it is all about the one in whom we believe.
Revelation 17:1-18 (NIV)
1 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” 3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. 7 Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. 9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. 12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings–and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” 15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
The destruction of Babylon mentioned in Chapter 16 is described here in greater detail. The great prostitute, (apostate religion joined with the evil government of the unholy trinity is the opposite of the bride of Christ. The great prostitute uses immoral means and practices to gain its own pleasure and prosperity. The bride of Christ, the church is pure and obedient.
The angel takes John into the wilderness to see the great prostitute for what it really is. The scarlet beast is either the dragon or the beast out of the sea that we saw in Chapters 12 and 13.
Persecution is by no means a thing of the past. Christians in many parts of the world know that faith in Christ amounts to a death sentence.
Religious persecution can be defined as the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group simply because of their belief. In other words, the persecution is unwarranted. Christians have been persecuted from earliest times e.g. Acts 8.1 and believers were told to expect it:
‘If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you …’ (Jn 15.20)
‘All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim 3.12)
Why persecution? The root cause of persecution is spiritual, not ideological. The evil one hates the church.
More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined [christianity.com]
It is claimed that 105,000 Christians are martyred for their faith each year [Deseret News, 2011]
Currently over 100 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide [Reuters, 2013]
70 percent of the world’s population lives in a religiously intolerant environment [Pew Forum, 2011]
North Korea: in 2014 it continues to be the worst country in the world for persecution
Iran: Its parliament believes Muslims who change their faith should be put to death
India: up to 70,000 in Orissa have been forced to flee their homes in riots against Christians
Indonesia: Between 2000-2002 Muslims slaughtered 10,000 Christians
Iraq: half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein – Recently Isis caused at least 100,000 Christians to flee the Plain of Nineveh last summer. In Northern Iraq ISIS occupies both the churches and homes of Christians.
Egypt: Under Islamist pressure, Coptic Christians are being forced from their homes
Syria: By 2012, most of the 80,000 Christians in Homs had been ‘cleansed’ from their homes
Even though the enemy was defeated at the cross, evil continues to flourish. Evil is persistent. Even through all of the judgments of God through this time, people will still chose to join forces with the evil one, which will cause them to share his fate of eternal torment.
In these verses John is referring to Rome which was known for its seven hills. John was using Rome as a symbol for all the evil in the world. All those persons, religions, groups, governments, and structures that oppose Christ will face ultimate destruction.
In a dramatic turn of events, the prostitute’s allies turn on her and destroy her. This is how evil operates. Destructive by its very nature, it discards its own adherents when they cease to serve its purposes. No matter what happens, we must trust that God is still in charge, that God overrules all the plans and intrigues of the evil one, and that God’s plans will happen just as he says.