The Great Harlot as Mystery Babylon

By David Sheldon

Should we be concerned with false doctrine, false teachers, and false prophets which the Scriptures clearly warn against? Is it really true that the world is grasping a grand and glorious understanding of faith that will unite in devotion to God? Or, is there something much more sinister and deceptive going on? The book of Revelation does not declare that there will be a "universal opening of our eyes" to God. In fact, it states just the opposite.

There are two "women" in Revelation and both are symbols of faith. The woman in chapter 12 symbolizes true worship of God. "The Great Harlot" woman in chapter 17 symbolizes the false worship of God, or prostituted religion. (The O.T. speaks of both Jerusalem and Israel becoming harlots before God in their disobedience and unbelief.)

"1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, 'Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.'
3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality,
5 and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.
7 And the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.
8 "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.
9 "Here is the mind which has wisdom The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits,
10 and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.
11 "The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction.
12 "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.
13 "These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast."
Revelation 17:1-13

The harlot of Revelation 17 has a name, a mystery, written on her forehead: Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. Who wrote this and what does it mean? The text doesn't say who put this name upon her forehead, but it does reveal her true nature although her claim might be different. The actual false religion is that of "Babylon the Great". What was that religion of ancient Babylon? Babylon had a variety of religions woven along with science and technology. The Scriptures state each false religion was due to self-exaltation through self-worship. Notice this from the following passages:

"How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of the assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." Isaiah 14:12-14 NASB (Please note that theologically many view this as the fall of Lucifer which is probably true, but the actual pronouncement of this passage is against the King of Babylon as seen in Isaiah 14:4)
"Now, then, hear this, you sensual one, Who dwells securely, Who says in your heart, I am, and there is no one besides me….You felt secure in your wickedness and said, 'No one sees me,' Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one besides me.'" Isaiah 47:8a,10 NASB

This self-exaltation can be traced back to Babylon's roots as seen in the story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). They desired to become one and tempted to build a tower that could reach to heaven. They sought comfort and justification which was manifested in what they did together. Unfortunately, there was/is great appeal in being a part of the mass. It looked like one great civilization, but it was really one large corporate fist raised up against the true God. Its' internal dynamic is a result of man's fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Satan's nature can be seen in the subtle progression of the temptation of man:

  1. "Has God said, You shall not eat from every tree?" -  Satan is questioning both God's provision and command by asking Eve this question.
  2. Eve tells Satan that he has it wrong. They can eat fruit from every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Eve actually adds to God's word by saying He told them to not even touch it.)
  3. Satan questions God's verdict of judgment in eating the fruit, "You shall not surely die!" i.e. God is lying to you.
  4. Satan says, "God knows in the day you eat you will be like God," or that God is holding something back from them – divinity. (Amazing statement considering Adam and Eve are created in the image of God and if they simply remain in fellowship with Him as obedient creatures everything will remain as is.)
  5. "God knows in the day you eat of it your eyes will be open." Satan says that inherent in God's withholding the fruit from them is the fact that they will gain great wisdom.
  6. "Knowing good and evil" – Until this point, their standard was God in His love, holiness, wisdom, and fellowship with them. Now, that will not be a reflection of God in relationship to them, but will supposedly be their possession on their own.
  7. Eve succumbs to the temptation and brings Adam in on the fall.
  8. They immediately understand there is a problem. The full results of the fall would become apparent to them as God's judgment regarding death and suffering unfolds in their lives.

Adam and Eve sought (were tempted to) divinity and wisdom and knowledge apart from God. Do you see the progression of self-deification? As such, this mystery we call Babylon is falsely identifying the fallen human's image of God with God Himself. All false religion: the occult, new age, mind sciences, philosophies, and apostate Christianity have this worship of self at their core. God's answer is not that man can now understand his own divinity but rather confess Jesus Christ as Lord:

"The righteousness based on faith speaks thus, 'Do not say in your heart; 'Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or "Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" – that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Romans 10:6-10

That which man could not possibly do, God has done for us. Our need was to be brought back to the true and living God Himself. Provision had to be made for this self-idolatrous creature and all of his sins. Man put up a wall between himself and the true God. No thought, word and deed can bring down this wall nor even understand it exists except that God does a work. He convinces us the wall is there and then He takes it down. That was done at the cross of Calvary where He who was without sin became our substitute for sin by shedding His blood as atonement. Do you believe this? Has He convinced you that the wall exists? Turn to Jesus and trust Him as your Lord and Savior! If not you will fall for this coming unified expression of false religion that will actually and most incredibly be under the banner of Christianity and called The Great Harlot, Mystery Babylon. God will judge her in her rebellion.

Copyright©, 2006, David Sheldon. Edited by Kerri Sheldon.
Can be copied in its entirety for personal use or to be distributed, but not for profit.

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