The Mystery of Babylon by Don Fortner.
There are only two religions in this world. All religions, when reduced to their essential elements, must be categorized under one of these two: Free-grace or free-will, the religion of God or the religion of man, the church of God or the synagogue of Satan.
These two religions are represented to us in the book of Revelation by two women. In chapter 12 we see the Church of God, the religion of free-grace, which proclaims salvation by the blood and righteousness of Christ alone, who is the Man Child, represented by “a woman clothed with the sun.” Here, in Revelation 17, we see the religion of Satan, free-willism, man centered, works religion, represented by “The Great Whore…Babylon.”
The character of all false religion is described in John’s vision of the great harlot.Remember, the picture is a symbol of false religion. Do not try to get a literal picture in your mind. Try to grasp the spiritual meaning of the whole picture.Notice the features of this woman, by which we are instructed and warned, lest we be deceived by the great harlot, who “with her much fair speech” and “the flattering of her lips” has caused so many to follow her “as an ox goeth to the slaughter” (Proverbs 7:21-22).
The angel calls her “the great whore.”Not only is she a harlot, she is the mother of all spiritual harlots and abominations in the world. This is the standing symbol in the Word of God for false religion (Jeremiah 3:6-9; Ezekiel 16:28-37; Hosea 1-2; Revelation 2:22). This woman is called the great whore and the mother of harlots, because she is the embodiment and representative of all idolatry, false worship and false doctrine in the world.
To give an indication of her age and her vileness, she is given the name, Babylon the Great(v. 5). This is not a prophecy that the ancient city of Babylon will be resurrected and rebuilt. God destroyed that ancient city in His wrath; and He will destroy mystical Babylon in His fury (Isaiah 13:19-20).
(Isaiah 13:19-20) “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.”
This Babylon is any and all religious systems that are opposed to God. Babylon is the religion of man. It is that religion which teaches salvation by the works of man’s hands and the power of man’s will. Though it is seen in the sacrifice of Cain, it began as an organized religion, an organized system of worship in opposition to God, in the fourth generation after Noah, with Nimrod, the cursed son of Noah’s cursed son, Ham (Genesis 10:8-11). The Bible tells us that Nimrod was “a mighty hunter before the Lord.” But our translation is a very poor translation of the text. Literally, it means, “Nimrod was a mighty rebel before the Lord, the mightiest rebel before the Lord in the earth.” His name, Nimrod, means “a rebellious panther.” It was this “rebellious panther,” Nimrod, who built the city of Babel, or Babylon, and began the religion of confusion (Genesis 11:1-9).
Idolatry is not a gradual decline from truth by well-meaning, but unenlightened men. Idolatry began at Babel in intentional rebellion.
- It was the invention of a proud race who refused to come to God by faith in a Substitute and refused to trust God’s grace alone.
- Babylon was born in defiance of God and His Word.
- The men of Babel despised God’s sovereignty, blood atonement, and salvation by grace.
- They attempted to build a tower to heaven by the works of their hands, with no regard for the glory of God.
God scattered those men and brought their religion to confusion.
Yet, wherever these idolaters spread through the earth, their religion is essentially the same. All the pagan mythologies, idolatrous images, and religious rituals of the world, no matter how much they differ, have an underlying sameness, which proves that they are all from one original source. That source is Babel, or Babylon, Nimrod’s plan to defeat the purposes of the God of Noah. The one foundational tenet that is always the same in the worldwide religions of Babylon is this: —Man’s salvation ultimately depends upon and is determined by man himself!
This woman has made the inhabitants of the earth drunk with the wine of her fornication(Habakkuk 2:15; Revelation 17: 2). The religion of old Babylon is not limited to one race, one time, one place, or even one religious order. It encompasses all. All the kings, and merchants, and inhabitants of the earth, from one generation to another, commit fornication with her and drink from her cup until they are thoroughly drunk, beyond the reach of reason.
The cup which she holds out is a golden cup (v. 4). To the carnal, sensual heart, the world’s religion is very appealing. It is bright, glittering, and full of blessings, promising happiness, health, peace, and prosperity to all who drink from its cup.
But the cup is full of abominations, filthiness and fornication.This is a fact that cannot be disputed. — Wherever false religion gains popularity, wherever free will/works religion is embraced, wherever men are deluded into thinking that righteousness is to be obtained by their good works, moral corruption and decadence always follow. Idolatry produces baseness. Will-worship produces perversity of the most hideous description (Romans 1:18-32). The doctrines of self-righteousness, free-willism, and works salvation always produce moral degradation. The cup is always the same.The old harlot has only one cup. It is always filled with the same, head-spinning wine of free-will, self-righteousness, and good works. Babylon’s wine always produces a drunkenness that causes men and women to…
- glory in their shame,
- expose their nakedness,
- and uncover their foreskins,
- showing themselves to be reprobate (Philippians 3:3).
Notice this too: — The woman is also drunk (v. 6). She is drunk “with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” “In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (18:24). — Throughout history, persecution and the murder of God’s saints and prophets have been the work of this great harlot. It is old Nimrod trying still to destroy the kingdom of God. Persecution is not the work of God’s church. It is the work of Babylon.
This woman sits upon many waters(v. 1). The angel tells us plainly that these waters are not literal bodies of water. They are “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues”(v. 15). That is to say, “The false religion signified by this great harlot is universal in its acceptance.” The prostitution of Divine Truth is supported and accepted by the fallen sons of Adam wherever they are found upon the earth. While the false religions of the world may fight among themselves, at times, they will always be found united in their opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the grace of God revealed in him. In this they all “have one mind” (Revelation 17:13).