– Revelation 17:1. Jeremiah 51:13 shows that the “many waters” upon which ancient Babylon sits are the river Euphrates. Revelation 17:15 tells us what the many waters prophetic Babylon sits on symbolizes – peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues (i.e. languages).
– A woman in the Bible is a symbol for God’s people. In Revelation, God’s true church is portrayed as a pure woman ( Rev. 12:1, 22:17). A harlot thus represents a false apostate church. In Revelation 17:5, this harlot is identified as Babylon the Great. Just as ancient Babylon depended on the Euphrates River for its existence, so will end-time Babylon rely on the support of the masses to enforce her plans.
– End-time Babylon is portrayed as a city, signifying the short term union of political and religious powers of the world in opposition to God’s people.
– Read Revelation 17:2 along with Revelation 14:8 and Revelation 18:2, 3. What two groups of people are specified as being involved in an illicit relationship with, and being seduced by, end-time Babylon?
– The first group is the kings of the earth, the governing political powers. They are portrayed as being engaged in an adulterous relationship with the harlot Babylon. In the Old Testament, the language of fornication is used frequently to describe how apostate Israel turned away from God to false religions ( Isa. 1:21, Jer. 3:1–10). The adulterous relationship between the kings of the earth and the harlot symbolizes an illicit union between end-time Babylon and the governing political powers—a union of church and state.
– The second group in an illicit relationship with the harlot Babylon is the inhabitants of the earth, the governed masses. These are made spiritually drunk with the wine (i.e her teachings) of Babylon’s fornication. In contrast to the governing political powers, the general populace is intoxicated by Babylon’s false teachings and practices, deceived into thinking that she can protect them. Rev 17:16-18 tells us these people will eventually revolt against Babylon when they discover the grand falsehood but then it’ll be too late to repent.
– When people are drunk, they do not think clearly and are controlled easily (see Isa. 28:7). The whole world, with the exception of a faithful remnant, will be led astray by Babylon.
– In the very end, as today, and as has always been the case, the masses of the people get it wrong. What should this tell us about the dangers of following popular sentiment, no matter how popular?
Source reference: SDA 1Q19 Quarterly