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REVELATION - THE END OF THE AGE OF MAN
(A Synopsis of the Revelation of Jesus Christ)

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Mystery, Babylon the great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations


The Scarlet Woman and the Scarlet Beast

Revelation 17:1-6

(1)  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,  (2)  with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."

(3)  So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  (4)  The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. (5)  And on her forehead a name was written:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF
HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

(6)  I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
(NKJV)


Three times in Revelation John was told "Come, I will show you...."  This is the second of those three.
4:1 Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this
17:1 Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot
21:9 Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife

The Tale Of Two Cities
Babylon
The Great Harlot
Revelation 17:1
- 18:24
New Jerusalem
The Bride, The Lamb's Wife
Revelation 21:9-27
Identified as Babylon the Great
Identified as the New Jerusalem
John saw her in the wilderness
John saw her descending from heaven
She was called a great harlot
She was called holy
And on her forehead a name is written:
Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Of The Abominations Of The Earth.
She has 12 gates with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel written on them. And she has 12 foundations with the names of the 12 apostles written on them.
Babylon has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
Nothing shall enter it that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life
All the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication
The nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
The light of a lamp shall not shine in her anymore
The glory of God illuminates it. The Lamb is its light

Mystery
Musterion (NT:3466)
From a derivative of muo (to shut the mouth); a secret or "mystery" (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites)
(New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
 
A hidden thing, secret, mystery:
1. a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding: 1 Corinthians 13:2
2. a hidden purpose or counsel; secret will
3. it denotes the mystic or hidden sense
(Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)
  
Primarily that which is known to the mustes, "the initiated" (from mueo), "to initiate into the mysteries"; cf. Philippians 4:12, mueomai, "I have learned the secret," RV). In the New Testament it denotes, not the mysterious (as with the English word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His Spirit. In the ordinary sense a "mystery" implies knowledge withheld; its Scriptural significance is truth revealed. Hence the terms especially associated with the subject are "made known," "manifested," "revealed," "preached," "understand," "dispensation." The definition given above may be best illustrated by the following passage: "the mystery which hath been hid from all ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to His saints" Colossians 1:26, RV.
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Some translators place the word "Mystery" as part of the name, while many other translators place it before the name, as descriptive of the name. This is because in the original manuscripts there were no spaces between words, and no punctuation. A few examples are:
Amplified Bible
And on her forehead there was inscribed a name of mystery [with a secret symbolic meaning]: Babylon the great...
New American Standard Bible
and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT...
Complete Jewish Bible
On her forehead was written a name with a hidden meaning, BAVEL THE GREAT...
Contemporary English Version
On her forehead a mysterious name was written: I AM THE GREAT CITY OF BABYLON...
English Standard Version
And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great...
Holman Christian Standard Bible
On her forehead a cryptic name was written:  BABYLON THE GREAT...
The Message
A riddle-name was branded on her forehead: Great Babylon...
Today's English Version
On her forehead was written a name that has a secret meaning: "Great Babylon...

This same word was used:
By Jesus in Mark 4:11 speaking to the disciples
"To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables."
In Romans 16:25
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God
In 1st Corinthians 15:51
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
In Ephesians 3:9-10
... that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places
In 1st Timothy 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
In 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8
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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

Babylon the Great - Mother of Harlots
Some believe this is a reference to the original city of Babylon (located in Mesopotamia, or modern day Iraq)  that will be rebuilt.
Some believe this is a reference to Rome and the Roman Catholic Church.
Some believe this is a reference to Jerusalem.
Some believe this is a reference to New York or Los Angeles.
Some believe this is a reference to the European Union.
Some believe this is a reference to a future world-wide religious system.
But the fact remains that God chose Babylon to depict the most foul representation of the great harlot of Revelation
.
The literal Babylon was the beginner and supporter of tyranny and idolatry.
The word Babel seems to be connected in its first occurrence with the Hebrew root balal, "to confound" (as if by contraction from the reduplicated form , Balbel), "because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth" (Genesis 11:9); but the native etymology is Bab-il, "the gate of God"
(McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc)
Babylon was situated along the Euphrates River about 485 kilometers (300 miles) northwest of the Persian Gulf and about 49 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of modern Baghdad in Iraq. Its origins are unknown. According to Babylonian tradition, it was built by the god Marduk. The city must have been built some time before 2300 B.C., because it was destroyed about that time by an invading enemy king. This makes Babylon one of the oldest cities of the ancient world. Genesis 10:10 mentions Babel as part of the empire of Nimrod.
(Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Nimrod
According to Genesis 10:6-8:
His father was Cush
His grandfather was Ham
His great-grandfather was Noah
The Bible says that Nimrod was "a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Genesis 10:9).
The Targum of Jonathan interprets this to mean that he was a "mighty rebel before the Lord, the mightiest rebel before the Lord that ever was in the earth."
The Jerusalem Targum reads it that he was "mighty in sin" before the Lord, a hunter of the sons of men, exhorting them to leave the judgments of Shem and adhere to the judgments of Nimrod. Hence, it was the proverb concerning every notorious adventurer in wickedness and oppression.

As the mighty Nimrod in rebellion and sin before God. Jarchi accordingly understands the record to be, that Nimrod was a most brazen offender, who did not fear or hesitate to withstand God to his very face. And every intimation concerning him shows that he was the heaven-defying founder of a new system of rule and worship, instituting a government by brute force and earthly wisdom and policy, and a religion which quite abolished the true God, and set people to the adoration of the sun, moon, and stars, impersonated in himself, wife, relatives, and chief consociates, and represented in the idol standards of his kingdom.
(The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The Bible is full of information about Babylon as the source of false religion (or Mother of harlots), the record beginning with the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis 10-11).
1. The name "Babel" suggests "confusion" (Genesis 11:9).
2. Later the name was applied to the city of Babylon which itself has a long history dating back to as early as 3,000 years before Christ.
3. After a period of decline Babylon again rose to great heights under Nebuchadnezzar about 600 years before Christ.
4. Nebuchadnezzar's reign (605 B.C. - 562 B.C.) and the subsequent history of Babylon is the background of the Book of Daniel.
5. Nimrod, who founded Babylon (Genesis 10:8-12), had a wife known as Semiramis who founded the secret religious rites of the Babylonian mysteries, according to accounts outside the Bible.
6. Semiramis had a son with an alleged miraculous conception who was given the name Tammuz and in effect was a false fulfillment of the promise of the seed of the woman given to Eve (Genesis 3:15).
7. Various religious practices were observed in connection with this false Babylonian religion, including:
Recognition of the mother and child as God
Creating an order of virgins who became religious prostitutes.
8. Tammuz, according to the tradition, was killed by a wild animal and then restored to life, a satanic anticipation and counterfeit of Christ's resurrection.
9 The worship of Baal is related to the worship of Tammuz.
10. After the Persians took over Babylon in 539 B.C., they discouraged the continuation of the mystery religions of Babylon. Subsequently the Babylonian cultists moved to Pergamum (or Pergamos) where one of the seven churches of Asia Minor was located (cf. Revelation 2:12-17).
11. Crowns in the shape of a fish head were worn by the chief priests of the Babylonian cult to honor the fish god. The crowns bore the words "Keeper of the Bridge," symbolic of the "bridge" between man and Satan.
12. Scripture condemns this false religion repeatedly (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-19; Ezekiel 8:14).
Jeremiah 7:18
The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.
Jeremiah 44:17
But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.
Ezekiel 8:13-14
And He said to me, "Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing." So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the Lord's house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.
(Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Copyright © 1983, 2000)

The true church is a pure virgin (Revelation 19:7-8; see also 2 Corinthians 11:2), but the false religious system is a ‘harlot’ who has abandoned the truth and prostituted herself for gain.
In every age, there has been a ‘harlot’ who has persecuted God’s people; and this will culminate in the last days in a worldwide apostate religious system.
Likewise, every age has featured a ‘Babylon,’ a political and economic system that has sought to control people’s minds and destinies.
Just as the contrast to the ‘harlot’ is the pure bride, so the contrast to ‘Babylon’ is the city of God, the New Jerusalem, the eternal home prepared for the Lamb’s wife (Revelation 21:9).

This goes back, not just to ancient Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar where he reestablished the worship of Marduk as god: but all the  way back to Nimrod and the first city called Babel. Every polytheistic, evolutionary, animistic/spiritistic, astrological, and idolatrous form of paganism can trace it's roots to this ancient city and it's culture.
(John Brown's Outlines)

The Meaning of the Woman and the Beast

Revelation 17:7-18

(7)  But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.  (8)  The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

(9)  "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.  (10) There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. (11)  The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.

(12)  "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.  (13)  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.  (14)  These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful."

(15)  Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.  (16)  And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.  (17)  For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.  (18)  And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth."
(NKJV)


The Two Women
1. Both of these Woman are mothers:
The first brought forth a son, a male, who is to rule all the nations.
The second is the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.
2. Both of these Woman are splendidly dressed:
The first is ‘clothed with the sun.’ Her raiment is light from heaven.
The second is ‘clothed in purple and scarlet, decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls. All her ornaments are from below, made up of things out of the earth and sea.
3. Both are very influential in their position:
The first has ‘the moon,’ the empress of night, the powers of darkness, ‘under her feet.’
The second ‘hath rule or kingdom, upon the kings of the earth.’
4. Both are sufferers:
Against the first is the Dragon, who stands watching to devour her child, and persecutes and pursues her, and drives her into the wilderness, and sends out a river to overwhelm her, and is at war with all of her seed that he can find.
Against the second are the ten kings, who ultimately hate her, and make her desolate and naked, and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, while God in His strength judges her, and visits her with plagues, death, and utter destruction
5. Both are very conspicuous, and fill a large space in the history of the world, and in all the administrations of divine providence and judgment.
The first is a pure woman
The second is a harlot.
The first is hated by the powers of the earth
The second is loved, flattered, and caressed by them
The first produces masculine nobility, which is caught away to God and His throne
The second produces effeminate impurity, which calls down the divine wrath of God
The first is sustained and helped by celestial wings
The second is supported and carried by the Dragon – the Beast with seven heads, and 10 horns
The first has a crown of twelve stars, wearing the patriarchs and apostles as her royal diadem
The second has upon her forehead the name of the greatest destroyer and oppressor of people
The first finally comes out in a heavenly city, the New Jerusalem with many jewels
The second comes out in a city of this world’s superlative admiration, which suddenly is gone
(The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Sitting on the Scarlet Beast
The harlot rides the same beast previously seen in Revelation 13:1.
“Her position, that of riding the beast, indicates on the one hand that she is supported by the political power of the beast, and on the other that she is in a dominant role and at least outwardly controls and directs the beast.” (Walvoord)
Her association with blasphemy and the dragon’s beast are clearly seen from God’s perspective.
But to the people of the earth she will look quite religious, and have the “faith” everybody wants.

The seven heads are seven mountains.
Oros (NT:3735) - a Mountain, not a hill.
David calls his mountain his kingdom. (Psalms 30:7)
The Lord calls Babylon a destroying mountain, and He will make it a burnt mountain. (Jer. 51:25)
The kingdom of Jesus Christ is like a stone that becomes a great mountain. (Daniel 2:35)
These represent the 7 kingdoms ruled by the 7 kings of verse 10.

There are seven kings
Five have fallen
This refers to the 5 world empires before John's day:
1. Egypt
2. Assyria
3. Babylonia
4. Medo-Persia
5. Greece
One is (the 6th)
Rome - the world empire of John's day.
The other has not yet come
This one will be quickly taken over by an 8th king.
The beast that was, and is not (the 8th)
The beast that was and is not is the Antichrist.
He is also one of the 7.
Some take this to mean a reestablished Babylonian Empire
Some take this to mean a reestablished Roman Empire
Some take this as symbolic only in that the 8th will have all of the attributes of the 7.

The ten horns are ten kings
Although these 10 kingdoms receive their authority from the Antichrist, in reality they are ultimately ruled and directed by God.
And although the Antichrist (the beast) will think he is in charge, in reality God put it into their hearts and determined that these ten rulers would:
Be allowed to rule only a short time (one hour)
Be as one with the beast, and rule as he commands (give their authority to the beast)
Hate the harlot and destroy her
Make war with the Lamb which will cause their own destruction
Some believe that these 10 rulers are a Middle Eastern coalition
Some believe that these 10 rulers are a European coalition
Some believe that these 10 rulers are a world-wide coalition

The waters where the harlot sits are world-wide, with the whole of earth following her filth.
As a matter of fact, we find it to this day among all the nations of the earth, affecting if not controlling their thinking, their policies, their faith, and their worship.
Not less than two-thirds of the population of the earth at this hour are Pagan idolaters, driveling under the same old intoxication which came forth from Nimrod and Babylon.
The great body of the other third is either Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, infidel, or adherents of some tainted and anti-Christian faith and worship.
Nor is there a kingdom or government on the face of the whole earth at this hour which does not embody and exhibit more of the spirit and rebellion of Nimrod than of the spirit, commandments, and inculcations of God. All the kings of the earth and all the governments under heaven have more or less joined in the uncleanness and fornication of that same old Babylonian Harlot, who has defiled every spot and nook of the whole inhabited world, notwithstanding that God from the beginning set the seal of His wrath upon it.

The Jewish whoredoms, and the Papal whoredoms, and the Muslim whoredoms, and the whoredoms of all perverted Christian religionists, though not entirely letting go the confession of the one only God, are still in essence the same old harlotry which first found place and embodiment on the banks of the Euphrates. It is the same old Babylon, and her harlot daughters, bearing rule or kingdom upon the dominions of the earth, and intoxicating the inhabitants thereof out of the wine of her fornication.
(from The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)



 

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