Babylon is more than just a city in the Scriptures. It is symbolic of the religious world system under satanic control throughout history, especially during the Tribulation. This system is personified as an immoral woman in the book of Revelation who seduces people during the Tribulation. Her seduction includes world leaders, as well as inhabitants from all over the world. Her seduction is tantamount to spiritual prostitution. The worship of anyone or anything other than God is spiritual adultery.
Satan’s greatest counterfeit of Christianity is religion. During the Tribulation, we have seen the rise of the unholy trinity (Satan, the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet), the false messiah (the Anti-Christ) and his apostate representative (the False Prophet).
The woman will be sitting on “many waters,” which is explained in verse 15 to be races, nations, multitudes and dialects. This “woman” controls kings and their nations by reason of her seductive power. This is the seduction of false religion.
The next thing that John saw was the woman sitting upon the beast. We know the identity of this beast from the fact that it has seven heads and ten horns. It is the same beast as described in Revelation 13. This beast is the Anti-Christ who takes over the world and demands to be worshipped as God. Therefore, we have an alliance of the political and religious systems, which will be controlled by the Anti-Christ. The seven heads and the ten horns represent corrupt nations who give their allegiance to the Anti-Christ.
The woman will be adorned in purple and scarlet, which are signs of great power. She will be decked with gold, precious stones and pearls, which are indications of wealth. And the golden cup, which she holds is filled with sensual pleasures and impurity. Upon her forehead, the description of who she really is will be inscribed. This system of religion will be filled with secrets concealed within their customs and ceremonies.
So powerful will be her hatred of God and His servants that she will cause the believers during this time to be martyred. It will be so devastating that John was shocked when he saw it. The Greek word for admiration is “thauma,” which means to gaze in wonder. The angel then explained to John the symbolic meaning of the woman and the beast.
This beast is the demon-possessed Anti-Christ of Revelation 13, who was wounded and came back to life. This is the beast who rose up out of the bottomless pit (abyss) and will ultimately be destroyed in the Lake of Fire forever. When the unbelievers of the earth see this beast they will be amazed by him. He will be a charismatic person with powers to persuade and to deceive the entire world, with the exception of a small remnant of believers.
Revelation 17:9-11 gives further explanation of what has just been revealed to John. The angel says a person must have spiritual wisdom to understand this information.
The seven heads or mountains are seven world powers controlled by the woman (religious power in Babylon). Each world power has a king (head of state). King and kingdom are often interchangeable in Scripture. Five of these seven kingdoms have already fallen when John records this. There have been six nations that have ruled the entire world: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome (ruling at time John wrote). Skipping the seventh for the moment, the eighth world ruling power is the Anti-Christ during the Tribulation according the Revelation 17:11. The only nation not identified is the seventh.
John wrote Revelation in 96 A.D. and, since that time, no one nation has ruled the entire world. However, we do not know when the Tribulation will occur or if there will be a nation ruling the world during the first half of the Tribulation. We do know that when the seventh ruling nation is in power it will be for only a short time. The eighth kingdom comes out of the seventh, which seems to indicate that the seventh is in power the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation.
The ten horns are also kingdoms present during the Tribulation, but will give their power and strength to the Anti-Christ. This is a coalition of nations that come together to make war against Jesus Christ and His army of believers. Jesus Christ will win the victory over the Anti-Christ and his allies. The reason Jesus Christ wins the victory is that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
John has seen how the Anti-Christ will meet his final fate and he now will see the final fate of the immoral woman (religious power in Babylon). Revelation 17:15-18, gives the description of how the woman is destroyed. It is interesting to see that the ten horns (ruling nations) turn against the religious hierarchy (who they hate) and are used by God to destroy her. The fact that the false religion of Babylon reigns over the kingdoms of the earth during the Tribulation is reiterated by John in verse 18.
Jesus Christ is the unique Person of the universe. He is both fully God and fully human in one Person, forever. Colossians 1:15-19 gives us a beautiful picture of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
In verse fifteen, Paul asserts that Jesus Christ is the exact image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation. The first half of this verse confirms Christ’s deity and the second half confirms His humanity. It is this fact that uniquely qualified Him to go to the Cross and pay the penalty for sin for the entire human race. The firstborn of all creation is a reference to rank, noting that Jesus Christ is the highest in rank of all creation, which includes angels and mankind (Lord of Lords).
Not only is Jesus Christ the highest in rank of all creation, He is the creator of all things according to verse 16. Jesus Christ is the sovereign head of the universe and the universe is evidence of His great might and power as King of Kings. The universe was created by Him and for Him – to bring glory to Him. And, He sustains the universe by His mighty power. All known scientific laws of the universe depend on the omnipotence of Jesus Christ (whether the scientific community knows it or not). Jesus Christ is the “nuclear glue” that holds the universe together. (Hebrews 1:3)
There is a specific reason that Jesus Christ continues to hold the universe together. The reason is so that the human race will have the opportunity to appropriate the grace of God by faith in Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 2:10) And for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, they become part of His royal family with Him as the head. “Who is the beginning,” means Jesus Christ is the origin of the Church. In other words, He is the foundation of the church. Firstborn from the dead,” refers to His resurrection, which assures the believer that he too has a future – a shared inheritance with Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:17)
Colossians 1:18, concludes with the phrase, “that in all things He might have preeminence.” Preeminence is the Greek word “proteuo,” which means first. God the Father’s plan called for Jesus Christ to hold first place in all things. As a believer, Jesus Christ is to always have first place in your life. Of course, this depends on your personal volition to allow Him to be first. For most believers, if they are not occupied with Jesus Christ, they are occupied with self or some other person.
You become occupied with Christ when you obey the same mandates that He obeyed, concentrate on what He concentrated on while on earth (Divine Viewpoint Thinking), make positive decisions from a position of strength and use the knowledge of God’s Word constantly as He did. Christ was our example for the execution of the Christian Way of Life: our perfect role model. Therefore, it is our responsibility to learn all that we can about the life of Christ. We do this through the study of what is called in theology, Christology. Christology is the study of Christ our Savior, the God-Man. Christology is one of the most essential doctrines that we will study because it reveals to us the Person and work of Jesus Christ on behalf of us all. We know that the Bible is a progressive revelation of Jesus Christ and it is God’s desire that we all come to know Him. This is why we must be consistent in studying God’s Word. (Hebrews 12:2; I John 4:2; II Timothy 2:15)
Occupation with the Person of Christ means that Jesus Christ has become our best friend. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) It means that we are fully aware of Christ in every area of our lives and that we are staying in fellowship with Him a maximum amount of time. It means that we are thinking divine viewpoint based on our knowledge of His Word and that we have no higher goal in life than to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ in our thoughts, in our words and in our actions (“…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”). (II Corinthians 10:5) “But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16b) Our minds are to be saturated with His mind. The Apostle Paul is a great example of a person occupied with Christ. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is profit.” (Philippians 1:19-21)
Finally in Colossians 1:19, Paul writes, “For it pleased the Father that in Jesus Christ all fullness should dwell.” Fullness is the sum total of all the attributes, character and power of the Godhead. Because God the Father is pleased with Jesus Christ, the potential for the believer who is “in Christ” exists for the believer to share the happiness of God, as Christ did in His humanity while on earth.
Sharing the happiness of God is having permanent contentment as your constant companion. This happiness is permanent because it does not depend on the circumstances in your life. It is actually God’s own perfect happiness that He shares with the advancing believer as a grace gift. Sharing God’s happiness is obtained only by consistently learning, believing and applying the Word of God over time. The more time you log under the power and control of God the Holy Spirit and thinking divine viewpoint, the happier you are going to be. Therefore, sharing the happiness of God is not for the novice believer. It is impossible to share in something that you know nothing about. Being happy is one of the many spiritual blessings that comes with increased capacity. Increased capacity to receive God’s blessing of happiness comes only one way - study and application of Bible doctrine. (Jeremiah 15:16; John 13:17)