The destruction of Babylon

There is a sense in which Karl Marx statement that ’’religion is the opium of the masses’’ is true, states John MacArthur. People are religious because God created them to be worshipers. If they will not worship the true God, they will worship someone or something else. We look a … More


A detailed description of the judgment on Babylon is given in chapters 17-18. No student of the Bible doubts that in historic times there existed a literal city called Babylon. In fact the Bible is full of information about this city that has a long history dating back to as early as 3,000 years before Christ. Babylon was important not only politically but also religiously. In the opening of this chapter John is invited by one of the seven angels, who had one of the seven bowls, to witness the punishment of the “great harlot,” the religious system of Babylon (v 1). So grievous were her acts of immorality that the results are likened to a drunken stupor (v. 2). It has been suggested that the meaning of her riding the scarlet beast (v. 3), having seven heads and ten horns is that the religious system is controlling the political power. You can not mistake her identity as her name is written upon her forehead (v.5).

This harlot is the symbol of apostasy and idol-worship but is also drunk with the blood of the saints  (v. 6). She represents the ultimate in godless world religion. In fact she will attempt to kill all those who follow the true Church of Jesus Christ. The Angel informs John that the beast’s heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. Many writers identify these seven hills as the seven hills of Rome and teach that Rome will be the capital of the coming world empire. However a close study of this passage does not necessarily support this conclusion. These seven mountains may refer to Kings and not literal mountains. It is stated that the woman “sits on many waters” and these waters are interpreted as peoples, multitudes, nations and languages (v. 15). This indicates that there will be one ecumenical world religious system that embraces all nations.


Lord help me to remember that I’m not in charge and that God always has the final say. It is a relationship with Christ that I need and not a religion.

Revelation 17:1-8 (English Standard Version)

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, 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." 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. 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. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations." And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly. 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 beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. 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."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »