Babylon, the Prostitute on the Beast
17 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
As we have interpreted this book, we have seen that some of the metaphors represent historical people and governments in John's time, but are also metaphorical for all time. Babylon was a specific kingdom who overcame Israel in its history in 586 BC, and Rome was considered the Babylon in Jesus' time. It represented the power in the world, which is ruled by the evil one. One of the symptoms of this system was adultery. Adultery in a literal sense, but also in relation to people who denied God and gave themselves to the gods of the world. In this final revelation, John is seeing this power in complete control of the ever and increasing secular and atheistic world.
Another symptom of this evil system was the blood the martyrs who stood up to testify for Jesus. Because those in power hate Jesus, as he represents their final destruction, they wage war against God's chosen people for a time. But just as Jesus will be victorious over the ten future kings who will wage war against him, so his faithful followers will be victorious with him.
Many people try to associate these 10 kingdoms with different powers and government in our current day, but often these interpretations are good intentions gone awry.
Here is an example of this from a website I was just on,
An issue for Europe is that it is geographically close to Russia, and Russia is a military power that is going through a return to a totalitarian type of government and is showing military aggression now. And Russia is showing signs of using natural gas supplies from Russia as a way to manipulate Europe and former Soviet countries such as Ukraine through price hikes and control of supply. And Russia has taken over Crimea in Ukraine and may take over the rest of Ukraine. This web site includes a section suggesting that Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States could be the red ten horned beast in the Book of Revelation in the Bible, and Europe (and Mrs. Angela Merkel, leader of Germany and Europe) could be the woman named "Babylon" who rides him in Revelation 17, since Europa in mythology was a woman riding a bull. Revelation13.net
This is why it is dangerous to use a literal interpretation and assume one knows how these metaphors apply to today's political landscape.
So then what can we learn from John's description of this system of rule and power? We certainly see aspects of it today in our world both here and abroad. Christians are still being persecuted both in the US and abroad. Some are right now losing their lives for their testimony about Jesus. We live in a world where to live by Jesus' values makes us look increasingly strange. We should not be surprised at this treatment, or the fact it will only continue to grow.
But the Good News is that Jesus has defeated the principalities and powers of this present dark world. We are called to be lights in a dark world. God is still using us to bring others into the light that Jesus has pre-ordained to be his chosen people. One day Jesus' rule will be on earth as it is in heaven, but in the meantime we are called to fight the battle. We need to be in close fellowship with each other to surround ourselves with the truth of God's Word and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We can pray for those being persecuted and love all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.