Revelation 17:1-18: The Great Prostitute is Judged

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Revelation 1 - Introduction

Revelation 1:1-3 - Prologue & Benediction
Revelation 1:4-8 - Epistolary Introduction
Revelation 1:9-20 - A Vision of the Son of Man

Revelation 2-3 - The Seven Churches

Revelation 2:1-7 - The Letter to Ephesus
Revelation 2:8-11 - The Letter to Smyrna
Revelation 2:12-17 - The Letter to Pergamum
Revelation 2:18-29 - The Letter to Thyatira
Revelation 3:1-6 - The Letter to Sardis
Revelation 3:7-13 - The Letter to Philadelphia
Revelation 3:14-22 - The Letter to Laodicea

Revelation 4-5 - The Throne Room

Revelation 4:1-11 - A Vision of the Throne Room
Revelation 5:1-14 - The Lamb is Worthy

Revelation 6-8:5 - The Seven Seals

Revelation 6:1-8 - The First Four Seals
Revelation 6:9-17 - The Fifth and Sixth Seals
Revelation 7:1-17 - Who can Stand on the Day of the Lord?
Revelation 8:1-5 - Anticipation of Further Judgment

Revelation 8:6-11:19 - The Seven Trumpets

Revelation 8:6-13 - The First Four Trumpets
Revelation 9:1-21 - The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets
Revelation 10:1-11 - The End is Near
Revelation 11:1-14 - The Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:15-19 - The Seventh Trumpet

Revelation 12:1-15:4 - The Seven Visions

Revelation 12:1-17 - The Woman, Child, and Heavenly Hosts Versus the Great Dragon
Revelation 13:1-10 - The Beast out of the Sea
Revelation 13:11-18 - The Beast from the Earth
Revelation 14:1-5 - The 144,000
Revelation 14:6-13 - The Proclamations of the Three Angels
Revelation 14:14-20 - The Harvest and Judgment
Revelation 15:1-4 - The Glory of God fills the Heavenly Sanctuary
Revelation 15:1-4 - The Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb

Revelation 15:5-16:21 - The Seven Bowls

Revelation 15:5-8 - The Glory of God fills the Heavenly Sanctuary
Revelation 15:5-8 - The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath
Revelation 16:1-21 - Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

Revelation 17-19 - Judgment

Revelation 17:1-18 - The Great Prostitute is Judged
Revelation 17:1-6 - The Vision
Revelation 17:7-18 - Vision Explained

Purpose of Book

The purpose of Revelation is to challenge/encourage believers, who are expectantly awaiting the reign of Christ, to live faithfully for Him despite worldly circumstances, persecution, and the cosmic battle between God and Satan.

Main Point

The woman, Babylon, is exposed by the Lord. She looks luxurious and powerful, but in reality she is a cruel mistress who kills the saints. Ultimately, God ordains for Babylon to be killed by the beast and the 10 kings.

Revelation 17:1-6 - The Vision

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”

Contrast of the two peoples of the world - New Jersualem and Babylon
Babylon leads to death
New Jerusalem leads to life and is beautiful
Babylon is the great prostitute leading countless people to spiritual adultery against the true triune God
Babylon is now judged
She is seated on many waters - authority and enthroned
The kings/leaders of the world have aligned with Babylon AND so have ALL the earth dwellers
The lure of Babylon is overwhelming to the hearts and minds of many

3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.

John is taken away into the wilderness - the place of death
The woman represents Babylon who is Rome
The beast is the first beast from Revelation 13
Blasphemous names - hates God and pretends to be Him
7 heads and 10 hours - just like the dragon
Scarlet - terrifying and the same color as the dragon

4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.

The woman looks beautiful, stunning, and is covered with royal wealth, BUT she is a cruel mistress
Her golden cup that looks luxurious is filled with sin

5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”

The woman is now identified as Babylon
This is Rome, but also symbolic of all godless cities with economic power

6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.

Isaiah 49:26 ESV
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
The cities kill the Christians because they are against her own agenda

When I saw her, I marveled greatly.

John’s response is to marvel at the woman

Revelation 17:7-18 - Vision Explained

7 But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her.

The angel tells John that he will reveal the identity of both the woman and the details of the beast

8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction.

The beast, as we’ve previously talked about, is the roman empire
People assumed the Roman empire was dead due to Nero’s death, but Vespasian brought the empire back to prominence
Ultimately, however, the Roman Empire is going to be destroyed
This is also symbolic moving forward - great human nations will come and go, but ultimately God will destroy them all

And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

The ones who will marvel are not those in Christ, but those who are unbelievers
Book of life
Ephesians 1:4–6 ESV
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.

The seven mountains refer to Rome which was founded on seven mountains
Here is the difficulty, there are over 50 different interpretations regarding these verses… FIFTY!
I believe this speaks symbolically of the totality of rulers who have complete authority

11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.

This verse also is a difficult verse to interpret - this chapter is more challenging than all other chapters in Revelation
The number 8 in Judaism and early Christianity has eschatological significance

12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.

10 Kings
Daniel 7:7–8 ESV
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Together both the beast and the 10 kings will have authority as final judgment comes close

13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast.

The beast attains power because all the kings give him their authority

14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

The Lamb is ultimately going to win this battle regardless of the power given to the beast
He alone is the true Lord of lords and King of kings
Salvation belongs not to people, but to GOD

15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

Revelation 5:9 ESV
9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
Notice the parody between Christ and Babylon

16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute.

Ultimately the beast and the 10 kings will turn on Babylon

They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.

The beast and the 10 kings will help destroy Babylon because it was ordained by God Himself

18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”

Here the woman is revealed - Babylon who is Rome
Rome functions as the great economic city of the world and she has dominion over the kings of the world

Main Point

The woman, Babylon, is exposed by the Lord. She looks luxurious and powerful, but in reality she is a cruel mistress who kills the saints. Ultimately, God ordains for Babylon to be killed by the beast and the 10 kings.

How Should we Live in Light of Revelation 17:1-18?

We should resist Babylon as Christ-followers. We must not marvel at her prosperity and power because her doom is planned by God Himself.

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