The Prostitute and the Beast: Decoding Revelation 17

April 8, 2024

It’s no secret that this world is crazy. We face wars, broken families, abortion, fatherlessness, hunger…the list goes on and on. In the midst of a broken world, the book of Revelation has given generations of Christians courage and hope. Why? Because it points us to the end. Revelation doesn’t predict the final victory of Christ; it promises it! There will be a day when the knowledge of God covers the earth like water covers the sea. There will be a day when justice will roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. There will be a day when there will be no more tears, and God will reign forever with His people in the place He has prepared for them.

On Easter weekend, we celebrated the resurrection of Christ by looking ahead to the glorious end that God is preparing for us. We began a new installment of our “In the End” sermon series, and we kicked the series off by looking at Revelation 17:1-6. As we dig deep into the book of Revelation, we must see that there is a kingdom of the world and a kingdom of heaven. There are two kingdoms, but one will fall, and one will remain. For week one, our big idea was: Babylon represents a world in rebellion against God. To which kingdom do you belong today?

 

Sermon Recap: Babylon’s Influence: Exploring the Prostitute and the Beast

 

Read Revelation 17:1-6:

“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.”

In some ways, the book of Revelation is extremely confusing. In others, it’s a very straightforward book. Ultimately, the book itself tells a simple story, and that is that Jesus wins in the end.

In this text, Babylon and the prostitute are both metaphors. Babylon represents a world in rebellion, and the prostitute represents Babylon itself. In verse one, we see that the great prostitute “is seated on many waters.” This is because there is a spirit of rebellion throughout the entire world. These problems exist with both the kings of the world and the dwellers. In Babylon, there is a synergy between the kings’ lust for power and the peoples’ lust for pleasure. Every area of the world, our relationships, our environment, economics, sexuality, it’s all broken. Every sphere cracked and distorted.

We were created in Genesis to fall in love with God and to see Him as the object of our greatest desire. We were created to spend our entire lives in His presence. However, sin entered the world, and Adam and Eve found it more desirable to go outside of their relationship with God and find fulfillment in the world. All of us sin in this way. As Pastor J.D. Greear stated, Babylon is a prostitute because all sin is spiritual adultery.

Look back at verse 4 in our text: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls…” The kingdom of rebellion wants us to notice “her.” We are no different when we sin. Keeping our money looks more enticing than giving it away. Chasing pornography looks more exciting than a pure mind. Success in our kids’ sports endeavors beckon to us more than their spiritual health. When we choose to step outside of God’s design in sin, we are committing spiritual adultery along with the prostitute of Babylon.

But praise God! In His goodness, God sent His son Jesus Christ to save us from going down the prostitute’s path to destruction. In contrast to the prostitute, God calls us to be adorned as a bride, presented whole and blameless before Him because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. In Christ, Jesus can make you into the bride even though you chose the prostitute. Seeing God’s love for us, and the kingdom He has for us, is what will break our addiction to the world.

 

Application: Love God and His Kingdom, and Don’t Rebel Against It

 

Christian, it is easy to lose heart in a broken, hostile world that glitters for our attention. We face an imposing and formidable kingdom in rebellion. But this is why the Bible talks so much about Christ’s second coming. It is a dominant theme in the New Testament, and we should be talking about it more and more because what we think about the end shapes our every day now. Revelation helps us see through our foe and to our Savior. Babylon is a scary place, but God is bigger. Death was also a scary place, but what did we celebrate on Easter? God is bigger than death, and Jesus is alive! Take heart, believer, that He will win in the end, and let that fuel your perseverance as you follow Him today.

If you’ve yet to trust in Christ, you can make a choice today! If you aren’t a part of God’s kingdom, then you’re a resident of Babylon, and sin is wrapping you up. Unfortunately, the prostitute won’t save you, and your sin will lead to destruction! But God! He sent Jesus to die for you to pull you from the kingdom of darkness and into His Kingdom of light. Would you trust Him today?

-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)

Watch the full sermon from week one here!

This past week, Pastor Jason continued our series in Revelation. Watch the full sermon from week two here!

 

Additional Resources:

 

Week 1:

For biblical background on Babylon: The Bible Project

For more on William Borden

Week 2:

Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks

This work was written nearly 400 years ago, yet is still profitable for believers today because Satan has been using the same schemes for all human history. Brooks outlines 12 devices Satan uses to lure us into sin and the remedies we have to resist.

“How to Read the Bible: Apocalyptic Literature” (Video) by Bible Project

A 7-minute video that helps us understand how to read apocalyptic literature such as Revelation.

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