Here’s a shout out to all my ladies! Here’s to nights full of purple and scarlet dresses, gold, jewelry, pearls, aaaaand a golden cup FULL of abominations and the impurities of sexual immorality!
It is this image that caused the apostle John to say, “I marveled greatly.” Wouldn’t it be that John sees so many things in his vision, but it is one of two women in the midst of it all that causes him to marvel. But can you blame him when this is what he saw:
A woman dressed like royalty wearing high roller jewelry sitting on a scarlet beast. She’s holding a “golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.” While the beast is full of blasphemous names, the woman has a name written on her forehead: Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.
This picture is pretty odd, kind of disgusting, and yes, intriguing. And if the visuals weren’t enough, this woman is drunk – not with wine, but drunk “with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”
So what does this all mean? The angel next to John does not find this woman to hold mystery. He asks John, “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.”
He then goes into an explanation of what is to come. There’s a lot to this explanation, so I won’t go into it all in this article, but stay primarily focused on the imagery of the woman.
So, let’s go piece by piece through the description of this great prostitute, Babylon.
We see her make her debut in Revelation 16:19 in the seventh bowl judgment. Verse 19 reads, “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.”
As John sees this powerful act of God’s judgment take place, an angel comes to him and gives John a clearer picture of this Babylon the great that received the wrath of God. Enter in the prostitute:
Her outfit: The prostitute is arrayed with excessive luxury. She has on purple and scarlet clothes which were difficult colors to come by if one did not have money. She is wearing expensive jewelry: gold and pearls. In her hand is a gold cup. This woman just oozes wealth. She looks beautiful on the outside, but on the inside she is drunk with corruption.
Her ride: She is sitting on a scarlet beast with seven heads, ten horns, and filled with blasphemous names. We learn later, from the angel, that the seven heads are seven mountains. Mountains in prophecy resemble kingdoms. So, this woman is being funded by the world’s governments. The angel also explains that the ten horns are ten kings that haven’t received their royal power just yet. The prostitute has in her power not only the established kingdoms, but also the young and upcoming rulers. All of that to say, this prostitute is riding more than a nice Cadillac. She is sitting atop a world empire. It is here that we see a one world religion and a one world government. They have united in power.
Her name: On her forehead, we see her name written: Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations. This is a big clue for us as to who this woman is. In Genesis 11, we see the beginnings of a people working together to reject God and make a name for themselves. Babylon became a city full of false religion and pagan cult worship. This Babylon in Revelation is the antithesis of the one, true God. She sways the world to live a lie and reject God Almighty.
Her drunken state: In Revelation 17:6, we see that Babylon is “drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” This one world religion only has one faith that will not allow itself to be absorbed into her fold: Christianity. Due to the converts during this time of tribulation, the one world religion and government will seek to destroy every believer in Jesus. There will be mass persecution during this time.
Her fate: The angel explains to John, that the one world government will turn against Babylon and follow the beast. We will look into the beast at another time. Revelation 17:15-17 tells of her fate:
“And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it in to 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.”
Babylon’s fate is judgment and destruction by the power and sovereignty of God.