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Lesson 12: Judgment on Babylon *

Introduction: When we left Revelation 16 last week we closed with the enemies of God assembling for the Battle of Armageddon. This week we are introduced to a new character, the "great prostitute." War and sex, this is beginning to sound like a modern novel. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more about what God has in mind for the future!

  1. The Great Prostitute

    1. Read Revelation 17:1-2 and Revelation 14:8. The great prostitute is obviously not a good woman. What do you think that she represents? (She sounds like Babylon the Great. This is obviously a power aligned against God's people.)

      1. What do you think the mention of her gender tells us? (We previously decided that the woman of Revelation 12:1 was the group following Jesus. Thus, this prostitute likely represents a religious power that is opposed to God.)

      2. When the text says that she sits on many waters, what does that mean? (Read Revelation 17:15. Recall that we previously discussed this issue. "Waters" means people and "earth" means a relatively uninhabited place. This is a religious power that operates in a highly populated area.)

      3. What is the prostitute's relationship to the secular powers of the earth? (She has won them over to her point of view. They have "committed adultery." This means that they are unfaithful to God. The average "man on the street" is also taken with her because he is "intoxicated" with her "wine." Thus, both secular leaders and the general population are in agreement with her anti-God point of view.)

    2. Read Revelation 17:3-4. Why would you travel to a desert (or wilderness) to find a woman who sits on waters? (Recall the Ten Horn sea beast and Earth beast of Revelation 13? This may refer to their relationship, or it may tell us that the woman is operating outside of her normal base.)

      1. This How does the Great Prostitute look? (Fancy! Rich! She wears clothes of royal colors. She has lots of expensive jewelry and she drinks from an expensive cup. She clearly has lots of money.)

      2. Does she have to walk to get places? (No, she rides on a scarlet beast.)

        1. Have we seen her ride before? Is this a taxi? (No! This sounds exactly like old "Ten Horn," the Sea Beast of Revelation 13.)

        2. When we studied Ten Horn in Revelation 13, we decided that it represented Pagan and Papal Rome. I suggested to you that the Earth Beast of Revelation 13 represented the combined powers of Islam, pagans, and Christians (in the United States and elsewhere) who did not study their Bibles. They combine their power when Satan impersonates the Second Coming of Jesus. See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Is the great prostitute the same as the Earth Beast? (That is likely - but it refers to a time when pagans, Muslims, and shallow Christians make their anti-God religious views paramount.)

        3. If the Great Prostitute is the Earth Beast, why would it ride on Ten Horn? (It shows an alliance of all religious powers coming together to oppose God's saints.)

        4. Does the "ride" for the Great Prostitute simply mean she does not have to walk? (No. This means that she controls Ten Horn. She directs the use of its powers.)

    3. Read Revelation 17:5-6. Why does the name of the Great Prostitute start out with "Mystery?" (I think this is a clue that we might not have things exactly right. Understanding this is not obvious, it is difficult.)

      1. How does the Great Prostitute's description as a "mother" aid us in understanding what she is? (She is the source, the "mother," of all the powers that cause people to be unfaithful to God. She is the source of all abominations.)

      2. Think about that a minute. How does that aid us in understanding the Great Prostitute as a symbol? (This cannot be an organization or even an identified religion. This is a religious philosophy that undergirds all of the combined groups and organizations which are represented by the Great Prostitute.)

        1. What is your suggestion about that religious philosophy? (Mine is this: a belief that life without God is not only possible, it is superior. This is a "spiritual," or "ethical" view that is in opposition to the teachings of God.)

      3. Is this religious philosophy something that we can ignore? (No. It will kill us if given the opportunity.)

  2. The Great Prostitute Explained

    1. Read Revelation 17:7. Did we go through all of this analysis for nothing? Is an angel now going to explain the "mystery" to us?

    2. Read Revelation 17:8-9. Did that solve the mystery for you? (This sounds like our prior discussion because we linked the Ten Horn to our prior discussion of Revelation 13. The "seven hills" is also consistent with our prior discussion because Rome is built on seven hills.)

      1. Not so fast. This beast arises from the "abyss." Didn't Ten Horn arise from the sea in Revelation 13:1? Is the Abyss something else?(When we looked at Revelation 9:11 we decided that the Angel of the Abyss was Satan. It seemed that the Abyss is hell. In Revelation 20 we will learn that Satan is bound in the Abyss. Perhaps arising from the abyss means that it arises from Satanic philosophy.)

      2. There is another serious problem. Although the NIV (and other versions) translate this as "hills," it seems more appropriate to translate it as "mountains." That makes the identification of Rome much more problematic. What do you think "seven mountains" could mean? (This goes back to a discussion we had when we first saw Ten Horn rise from the sea in Revelation 13. We had previously seen the dragon that represents Satan, and that dragon had seven heads. At the time, I suggested that it meant the dragon was smart. But, since then I've thought about the idea that a "mountain" refers to an area of influence in the world. For example mountains could be law, entertainment, business, and government, to name some. Thus, this might mean instead that its Satanic influence covers many important and influential areas of life.)

    3. Read Revelation 17:10-13. Does this further explain the mystery to you? (There are many explanations for these kings and kingdoms. However, to the extent that we have been discussing that the Ten Horn is a combined religious and secular power, this makes sense.)

  3. Victory

    1. Read Revelation 17:14. Who wins in the battle with the Ten Horn? (Our God! Our side!)

    2. Read Revelation 17:16-18. What other victory do we see? (There is conflict among the opponents of God. Ten Horn and the Great Prostitute have a falling out. Ten Horn and the beast attack the prostitute.)

      1. Let's consider this. If the Great Prostitute is the combined forces involved in the fake Second Coming of Jesus, what does that reveal about the future? (When the whole world believes that the redeemer of all faiths and religions has come, and that combined religious power turns against the people of God, there comes a time when its true character becomes clear. At this point there is internal rebellion.)

      2. Notice that the Great Prostitute is also associated with a city. Should we understand that the Great Prostitute for a time has headquarters in one great city of the world? (Read Revelation 16:19. This is an earlier reference to the "great city" and it also refers to its destruction. We should understand that the Great Prostitute has a headquarters.)

    3. Friend, the time to be ready is now! Become a serious student of the Bible so that you will not be deceived by the Great Prostitute.

  4. Next week: I Make All Things New.
* Copr. 2019, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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