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01/01/2009 / Test All Things

A Study Of Revelation 18:1-5

Babylon is both a woman-harlot and a city.

What Does the Woman Represent?

Beyond any doubt as a woman she is a symbol of the church on earth as an institution for the building up of the saints, and for the propagation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ. And when I speak about “the church” we must distinguish between the invisible church consisting of all the truly saved individuals in the world, and the outwardly visible church consisting of all the outwardly visible church organizations in the world who call themselves Christian, and who may contain perhaps a small nucleus of truly saved individuals, or none at all. The language in the Bible does not make such distinction, but wherever the word church is mentioned, from the context we will understand which church is in view.

Every outwardly visible church has some unsaved individuals attending who may be classified as “the show church”. When “the show church” becomes the majority fraction of the local church they tend to crowd out the truly saved individuals in that church, who then will leave and that church will be a dead church. Only the invisible church can be called the Bride of Christ, but all the members of the outwardly visible church are called to serve for the furtherance of the Kingdom of Christ. Initially the woman of Revelation 12 is the Bride of Christ. But then we read in Revelation 12:

Revelation 12:17
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Eventually the Devil was able to multiply the fraction of “the show church”, for today we have many churches that are dead. This then is the condition of the church in the Final Tribulation Period, where the woman-harlot of Revelation 17 and 18 represents the church that has gone apostate. She has forsaken Christ as her rightful Bridegroom, and has surrendered herself to be employed as an instrument of the world-power that is called Antichrist. And as a city her essential character is revealed. For even as the true church of Christ shall ultimately reveal itself as the New Jerusalem, so the counterfeit church shall reveal itself as the counterfeit Jerusalem, which is called Babylon.

Secondly, we found in Revelation 17 that the woman-harlot was sitting on a beast with seven heads and ten horns, who is a perfect image of the dragon, Satan. This beast is the world-power, Antichrist, who is being helped by a second beast, called “the False Prophet”. In Revelation 17 only one beast is mentioned, indicating that a perfect union between the first beast and the second beast had already taken place. Moreover, a perfect union between the woman-harlot and the beast was already formed; the woman serves the beast and the beast supports the woman.

Thirdly, in Revelation 17 we have seen the judgment of the great whore, the harlot woman. We have seen that her harlotry consists in an illegal relation in which she, as the church, stands to the world power. She is called to be the manifestation of the body of Christ in the world, but instead she gives herself to be the body of the beast. She is called to build the saints in the most holy faith, but instead she makes all the inhabitants of the earth drunk with the wine of her fornications.

She is called to be the army of an eternal Kingdom based on the atoning blood of the Savior, but instead she labors for the establishment of a temporal kingdom of Antichrist which has no part with the blood of Christ and is therefore doomed to destruction. She is called to use the spiritual means of the Word, but instead she abandons the truth of the Word of God and seeks refuge in outward means and external ceremony to establish the promised kingdom. She is the harlot, the apostate woman, who labors for the beast instead of for the Kingdom of Christ. And we found that her judgment as harlot is certain: she will ultimately disappear as an institution, because her very lovers shall hate her. The kings who committed fornication with her shall aim at her destruction. Then the woman as harlot shall exist no more.

In Revelation 18 that destruction of the woman, that great city Babylon, is portrayed, both in descriptive and in symbolic language. That is the central thought of this chapter.

Babylon the Great

Revelation 18:1
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

Revelation 18:2
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

Revelation 18:3
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

Revelation 18:4
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Revelation 18:5
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Some people interpret this as if Babylon would be representing the world. That is impossible. Verse 2 states it very clearly: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird”.

How could this harlot be representing the world, meaning the entire kingdom of Satan, and yet only now has the announcement come that she has fallen?

Did not the entire world fall in the days of the Garden of Eden?

People argue that this fall of Babylon refers to the end of the world in the Last Day. But this is also not possible, for verse 2 says clearly that Babylon has fallen and has become the habitation of devils.

In other words after her fall she has become something else. If Babylon would represent the world, and the world will be totally destroyed on the Last Day, then Babylon is no more, and then God would not say that Babylon has become something else. You see, Revelation 18 is not teaching the physical destruction of the world, but Revelation 18 is teaching the curse on that entity that is symbolized by Babylon. She has become a source of astonishment and amazement to those who knew her before as the faithful church in the wilderness of this world. But she has now transcended into a spiritual harlot. And that is why she came under the curse of God and under the judgment of God.

Revelation 18:2 is not a call for the physical destruction of the church, but it is a summons for her spiritual destruction. That is why verse 2 says that she “has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” She has become the source of false gospels emanating from that wicked habitation of devils. That is also indicated by the golden cup in her hand.

A Golden Cup In Her Hand

Revelation 17:4
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

Why did God specify that this symbolic woman-harlot has a golden cup in her hand?

The term “Golden Cup” is used only twice in the Bible, here in Revelation 17:4 and in Jeremiah 51:7.

It is very interesting that in both renderings of this term, “Golden Cup”, are in reference to Babylon. Both Jeremiah 50 and 51 are chapters describing the ultimate destruction of Babylon. This was a comfort for those who were captives of the literal Babylon 2600 years ago. But God used the physical destruction of Babylon as a picture of God’s judgment upon the end time spiritual Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18.

Physical Babylon was a picture of the kingdom of Satan, and the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was a picture of Antichrist. But when Babylon had swallowed up the kingdom of Judah, both the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan had merged into one, just like in the end time the kingdom of God, the church, will be swallowed up by the kingdom of Satan and will be called Babylon. This is repugnant to most church going people. We naturally want to separate the apostate corporate church from the unsaved world. Like Habakkuk we think that the unsaved world is morally far worse than a church that errs in doctrine. But the Bible does not teach that. According to the Bible, God finds an apostate church far more repugnant than the unsaved heathen who do not know any better.

In 2 Thessalonians 2 God uses the term “falling away” for an apostate church. To fall away from the truth of God does not mean to turn away from God and become like unchurched heathen. To fall away from the truth means to turn to other ways of salvation than the salvation of the Bible. It means to serve other gods religiously and to lead our children and our friends also in that direction. God says in:

Jeremiah 51:7
“Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad” (“therefore the nations act boastfully”)

Why do the nations act boastfully?

They do so because the new gospel that they are learning is not giving God the glory, but is giving the glory to man. It means that the church has left the back door open to other interpretations of the Bible that are not altogether God glorifying. It means, for example, that they are turning to gospels that give the glory of salvation to man’s “own free will”. Or perhaps that they are turning to gospels where God is still bringing Divine messages today in the form of dreams and visions and angel visitations and tongues. All these are gospels where people are worshipping other gods, but they are not worshipping the God of the Bible. These are the forms of idolatry that are prevalent in the harlot-church. These are the forms of idolatry that are spawned by Satan, because Satan hates mankind, and that includes the harlot-church. God will judge the harlot-church severely, but God will be merciful and kind to all those who remain faithful to Him. Look at Jeremiah 51:5, and see how our merciful God keeps caring for His sheep. We read in Jeremiah 51:

Jeremiah 51:5
For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.

“Israel hath not been forsaken” refers to those in Israel who remained faithful, and the same refers to Judah in this verse. Apply this now to our time: If we remain faithful we will not be forsaken even if our land is filled with sin against Christ, the Holy One of Israel. But if we do remain faithful we must ascribe this altogether to the mercy and grace of God, and not be stuck up in pride.

Now let’s take a look at what God says in verse 7 of the same chapter:

Jeremiah 51:7
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand.

You see, throughout the centuries the church has always acknowledged that it was the providence of God who caused all calamities and disasters in the world. Babylon was the instrument through which God afflicted His people. The cup of His wrath was in the Lord’s hand. But this will change in the end time church, for we read in Revelation 17:4 that the harlot has the golden cup in her hand. Once the corporate church falls into worldwide apostasy, the golden cup in the Lord’s hand became the golden cup in her hand. The cup of the wrath of God that the Lord Jesus had to drink was changed to a cup in her hand.

She is no longer preaching the truth of the Word of God. The salvation that she is declaring is a works gospel; and thus the golden cup is no longer in the Lord’s hand, but in her own hand. That is why God says that this cup is “full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications”. The corporate church will no longer care for the true Gospel, but will want to design their own gospel, a works gospel. And so, it appears that the majority of the corporate church even in our day today is attempting to build a spiritual tower whose top will reach into heaven, but without the real Christ or the God of the Bible.

The Ten Horns Shall Hate the Whore

Like I said before, Satan does not love the wicked of mankind whom he is dragging into Hell. Satan hates all mankind, for they are all part of that same organism that he intended to destroy in the Garden of Eden. Now we read in Revelation 13:1 and Revelation 17:3 that the beast, Antichrist, has seven heads and ten horns, where the ten horns are symbolic for the complete dominance of Antichrist during the Final Tribulation Period over the whole earth. It is then not surprising that the ten horns hate the harlot.

Revelation 17:16
And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

Revelation 17:17
For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

This is the same event that we read about in Revelation 18. This destruction of the harlot-church, Babylon, in chapter 18 is carried out by the ten horns, “for God has put in their hearts to fulfill His will”. And that this is the same event is evident when we compare Revelation 17:16 with Revelation 18:8, where we read:

Revelation 18:8
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

The woman-harlot sitting on Antichrist has become part of the kingdom of Satan, and the ten horns representing rulers in the kingdom of Antichrist are also part of the kingdom of Satan.

Does this mean that Satan is divided within his own kingdom and that infighting would cause him to become weaker?

No, that is not the situation. Satan will delight to do away with the woman-harlot, for she is made up of mankind, and Satan hates mankind. If he can operate without the woman-harlot he will be delighted.

In our days we can already see the tools Satan uses to bring this to pass. For example, movies about Christ will appear more often in the near future, the latest ones more blasphemous than the previous ones, and the movie-going public will be utterly brainwashed and will totally lose interest in reading the Bible themselves.

They will be thoroughly convinced that the Bible was written by man, and that it is full of contradictions, and that the Bible cannot be trusted. This was Satan’s approach all along in the Garden of Eden. Since the unsaved are prone to believe lies, the truth will be much harder to sell. This kind of blasphemy will be repeated a hundredfold in books and magazines and newspapers and on the Internet until the public loses interest in these things altogether, and they will resort to other more exciting spiritual things which do not require study and dedication.

Churches will be closing for lack of interest. We are seeing this already in Europe where churches are closing, or are converted to museums, or converted to restaurants, or are demolished entirely to make space for more housing. Just as the true church shall disappear when her work is done, so the harlot church shall disappear when her work is done. The rulers in charge of the government of the beast will see to it. This is not something that will come suddenly, as Revelation 18:8 seems to suggest, but will come very gradually.

Does this make Satan or Antichrist weaker?

On the contrary; Satan shall become stronger, for the shadow of Christ shall have been erased entirely. Sexual immorality shall increase more and more, and will penetrate into the churches. More priests and pastors shall be accused of adultery, and fornication, and child molestation and it will be front-page news. And so, the kingdom of Antichrist shall reign supreme, because Babylon is Fallen.

Babylon Is Fallen, Is Fallen

Revelation 14:8
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

Three times does God say in the Bible, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen”. Here in Revelation 14:8 is one time, and God also states the reason why she has been judged: “because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication”. Symbolically it means that she has been spreading her false gospels to all nations. If pure water is the symbol for the true Gospel, then this foul drink is the symbol of false gospels, particularly works gospels and gospels that feature signs and wonders and tongues. If we must compare Scripture with Scripture then we must reference each one of these three times that God repeats this formula. Thus we need to compare Revelation 14:8 with Revelation 18:2.

Revelation 18:2
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

Here we see not the reason but the result of her judgment. “She has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird”. Babylon, the harlot-church, has become the dwelling place of demons, and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean bird. God emphasizes the word “every” to indicate to us that there is nothing that is foul, or unclean, or hateful that is left out. The church has become an adulterous, spiritual harlot that has opened her doors to every foul spirit and to every uncleanness. That is how bad the corporate church has become.

In Isaiah 21:1 we read the third instance where we find the expression, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen”. In Isaiah 21:1-10 God announces a judgment on Babylon, referring to the destruction of Babylon in 539 BC. This was the time when the Jews were held captive in Babylon, and thus they might be delighted to know that Babylon would be destroyed.

Isaiah 21:1
The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.

Isaiah 21:2
A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

Isaiah 21:3
Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

Isaiah 21:4
My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.

Isaiah 21:5
Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

Isaiah 21:6
For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

Isaiah 21:7
And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

Isaiah 21:8
And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

Isaiah 21:9
And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

Isaiah 21:10
O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

What in the world does this mean?

Babylon is named here as “the desert of the sea”.

At that time Babylon was not at all a desert for it was full of lakes, abundantly watered by the Euphrates, and Babylon was not located by the sea. Thus we must interpret these words spiritually, or symbolically. Spiritually Babylon was a desert, for even the presence of the Jewish captives was not sufficient to give Babylon a spiritual lift. It was spiritually a desert. And it was of the sea of wicked mankind, for we read in Isaiah 57:

Isaiah 57:20
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

Then we read that this was a grievous vision. This is the only passage in all of Scripture where God labels a vision to be a grievous vision. It means that this is an extremely sorrowful vision for those in Babylon. Then God tells us where this vision comes from. It comes from a dry land, from a terrible land. Then God speaks about a treacherous dealer and about a spoiler. Paraphrased it says, “the deceiver deceives and the plunderer plunders”. Then God commands Elam, meaning Persia, and Media to besiege Babylon, and we know that this meant that Babylon would be taken over by the Medes and the Persians under the leadership of Cyrus. Then God says that He has made the sighing to cease. When we compare Scripture with Scripture we find that “sighing” is a distinctive characteristic of those who are being saved when they truly sigh over their sins. And thus this parable has something to do with the church.

Has God made the sighing in the church to cease?

In verse 3 we read that Isaiah experienced the pangs of a woman in travail. That is a code for the fear that grips mankind when a punishment from God is in view like an enemy army, or like the rumbling of Judgment Day.

Literally Isaiah says in verse 4: Terror overwhelms me. He has turned the twilight of my pleasure into trembling.

Paraphrased God says in verse 5, “Prepare the table, eat and drink, but watch in the watchtower. Be ready, for the enemy, like a roaring lion, seeketh whom he may devour”.

Apply this to our day.

How do we watch today?

The church is our watchtower.

How do we watch?

Not by watching the skies, but we watch by reading and studying the Word of God. This is where our defense is.

And why should we anoint the shield?

To anoint carries the meaning of setting apart.

What is the shield in our days?

Christ is our shield, and our faith in Christ is our shield, according to Ephesians 6:16.

And what does the watchman see?

The watchman sees one single chariot with two drivers, one driving two asses and the other driving two camels. We know that the number “two” is a symbol for the church.

What is so grievous about this vision that Isaiah sees?

There is nothing grievous about it yet. The chariot of camels and asses (from the South) are passing through the watchtower in this vision. Then the watchman cries out, A Lion! We do not know what this means, for the watchman assures us that he is continually in the watchtower keeping watch that no enemy slip into the church. Then in verse 9 God gives us the turning point to this vision. Literally verse 9 says, “Behold here cometh the chariot of a man”. The Hebrew word is mistranslated in the KJV as plural men, but the Hebrew text says “a man”, singular. It is this same symbolic man riding two war horses into the watchtower that causes Isaiah to say, “My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me”.

We have to understand that Antichrist enters into the corporate church at the end of time, causing the church as never before to slide into spiritual decay. And he, the man, said, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.”

Why would this be such a grievous vision?

Is it not because the Old Testament church that consisted of the Jews in captivity was already well on the way to be called Babylon?

They were not delighted by the siege of the Medes and the Persians. They considered it grievous, because they did not want any change in government now. They were settled in Babylon, and they wanted to keep it that way. And now all the graven images were destroyed. And she, the church, is the mother of harlots, for she has abandoned God and has turned herself into a servant of dumb idols. She is a worse harlot than all harlots because she once had the truth. And when Isaiah says, “O my threshing, and the corn of my floor” Isaiah is sorrowing over God’s threshing floor, the church. It is fallen. The Word of God fans the threshing floor, separating the wheat, the saints, from the chaff, the unsaved. God said, through the mouth of John the Baptist, in Matthew chapter 3:

Matthew 3:12
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

God gave us this vision to emphasize that we must constantly watch, for the enemy desires to take over our church. For the deceiver deceives and the plunderer plunders.

The next question we are faced with is:

When does the judgment of the harlot-church take place?

Is it going to be long before Christ comes, or is it going to be soon before Christ comes?

The answer is found here in Revelation 18:1.

The Earth Was Lightened With His Glory

Revelation 18:1
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

Is this the appearance of an angel?

When we see the words, “having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory” we know unmistakably that this must refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. No angel would light up the sky from East to West as if he was imitating Christ. For example we read in Luke chapter 17:

Luke 17:24
For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

We see similar words in Matthew 24:

Matthew 24:27
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

When Christ comes He will come with power and great glory, and with much light. God says in Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica:

2 Thessalonians 2:8
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

God gave us that verse in the beginning of Revelation 18, in the beginning of the judgment of Babylon. It means that when Christ comes, first He will judge the harlot-church as described in Revelation 18, and then He will judge all the rest of the world. There will not be much time for Satan to gloat over a kingdom where even the shadow of Christ has been removed. But another call from God applies much earlier.

Come Out of Her, My People

Revelation 18:4
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Revelation 18:5
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

We must already now come out of the harlot-church.
When God spoke in Jeremiah 51 about the destruction of Babylon, He also said in Jeremiah 51:

Jeremiah 51:6
Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.

If we sense that we are in the midst of a congregation who holds on to another gospel, or if we sense that we are in the midst of a Bible Study who firmly adheres to a works gospel, we must leave that congregation or that Bible Study.

Why should we subject ourselves to the company of people who do not know the Christ of the Bible, and who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Are we not called to edify our fellow believers in Christ?

Are we not commanded to love our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Then why do we waste our time with unbelievers who do not want to hear the Word of God anyway?

We must shake the dust off our feet and move on.

For Her Sins Have Joined Together Up to Heaven

We read in our King James Bible,

Revelation 18:5
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

How have her sins reached to heaven?

Literally the Greek text of verse 5 reads, “For her sins have joined together up to heaven”. Her sins placed next to each other are like a string that reaches from earth to heaven.

Why would we want to remain in the company of those whose sins have reached unto heaven?

In social events we may be in their company, but in worship we must separate ourselves from them. They serve other gods, and their entire outlook on life is centered around their idolatry.

Why would we want to be sucked up in their idolatry?

We do not have to be polite and tolerate such sins. The Lord Jesus called them dogs and swine and hypocrites. Let us remember this when we find ourselves in the midst of a congregation that blasphemes our Lord Jesus Christ. And certainly those who engage in a serious discussion of the Da Vinci Code are practicing blasphemy.

Who are we going to please, God or the people?

So if you find yourselves under such conditions, walk out, for this is pleasing to the Lord.


By Alfred Chompff

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