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Mystery Babylon - The Book of Revelation
Week 12, 2018
Next we will cover Revelation 17:7-18, which further elaborates on and identifies this “Mystery Babylon,” the “great harlot” and her works:
Then 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.
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.
"Here is the mind that has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
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.
The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.
"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.
These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.
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."
Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.
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.
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.
And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (NKJV).
Many books have been written on the subject of this “Mystery Babylon”—the “great harlot”—as well as on the “beast” with ten horns and seven heads. The seven heads are identified in verse 9 as “the seven mountains on which the woman sits.” To the ancients, including John and his direct disciples, this clearly identified Rome as the place where the woman would sit. Rome was known as the “city on seven hills” and was also identified at the time of John’s Revelation as the city that reigned over the kings of the earth, as stated in verse 18. So, everyone seems to have concurred that the identity of this harlot was Rome until the 1855 Advent Movement. It was during this movement that eschatology was developed that projected everything in the Book of Revelation as being fulfilled in the future.
Again, this harlot is called “Mystery Babylon” because of the way that it models what happened at the tower of Babel. Men foolishly thought that they could build a tower to heaven by their own wisdom and strength, so the Lord scattered their languages so that they could not go on with this folly. The same thing happened when Christendom was united under one head in Rome. They thought they could establish the kingdom of God on earth by their own wisdom, might, and power, so the Lord thwarted this folly in the same way—by scattering their languages. We now have over ten thousand different denominations, or “languages.”
We must renounce the folly that we can bring about the kingdom of God on earth by our own wisdom, strength, or power. We must keep in mind that the Lord will bless many things He will not inhabit. Because Abraham was His chosen vessel, God blessed Ishmael, but it was not His intent to bring Ishmael forth—rather, it was Abraham’s attempt to help God out in bringing forth His purposes. Thus, we must resolve that we will pursue His presence, not just His blessings.
Jesus will build His church and will be the only Head of the church. He is the only basis for the unity of His church. Every other doctrine or method that we try to use to unite God’s people will only end up scattering them further. It is only by lifting Him up that men will truly be drawn together in unity. This is why the apostolic gospel “preached Christ and the resurrection from the dead” (see I Corinthians 15:12).
The whole church needs to recognize and repent of our history, acknowledging it as “our history,” not just the Catholics’ history. Virtually every other church movement has fallen to the same things the leaders during the Middle Ages fell to, and we will continue to do so if we do not recognize and repent of these same things. We must return to the apostolic gospel, preaching Jesus Christ and the resurrection and resolving to live by the apostolic faith that is in Jesus, not ourselves.
next week 13