Revelation 17:1-6 / The Mother of Harlots

Posted on April 6, 2016


This is the Forty-third in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on April 3, 2016. This message covers some of the parallels between our society today, and society as it will exist during the tribulation. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes. Please note that the sermon notes are not necessarily a full transcript.

Rev 17:1-6



With the reference to the seven Angels, we see that chapters 17-18 are linked to chapter 16. Chapter 16 gave us a brief description of each of the seven bowl judgments, and those bowl judgments extend all the way to the return of Christ. Chapters 17-18 focus on one part of the bowl judgments, which is the judgment of Babylon. This is God’s judgment on our wicked and corrupt world system. 

Harlotry frequently symbolizes idolatry and/or apostasy, and that will certainly be the case here. 

  • Jeremiah 3:6-9

God will not be the object of worship, the antichrist will. The political leaders of the day will be seduced by promises of power and wealth. They will be absorbed into the kingdom of the antichrist, and will be drunk on the wine of their immorality. This influence will, of course, extend to the population at large, and it will be an anything goes society.

The antichrist and the political leaders will use an apostate religion to control the masses. This will likely be a strange hodgepodge of all the major world religions. We should expect it to include aspects of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, the different eastern religions, along with major new age influences. The result will be that you bring whatever you want into the religion, there will be no absolutes. There will be no sense of morality whatsoever. “If it feels good, do it” will be their creed. No doubt, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual immorality will all run rampant.

Indeed, we see all too many signs pointing to this today. There can be no doubt that our current world is on this very path. Not only are we steeped in substance abuse, violence, and sexual immorality, we also have those who are trying to unite religions. There is that common mantra that all the different religions need to find some common ground. There is this notion that if we do that, there will magically be peace. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The actual result of this is seen here. A society who is drunk on revelry and idolatry is anything but peaceful.

You see, you can never have a union between Christianity and any opposing faith, without abandoning the fundamental principles of our faith.

  • 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

This should be a sober warning to us all, that the forsaking of God can lead to nothing but bitter judgment.

John goes on to describe his vision of the harlot Babylon, which will be explained later in this chapter.

The harlot is a murderer. False religion has killed millions of believers over the centuries, and the final false religion will be far deadlier than any before it.

Throughout history, people have been killed for their faith. Over the last century, millions of Christians have been killed by oppressive governments. Not only oppressive governments, but false religions, particularly islam, kill Christians at an alarming rate today. Christians in many parts of the world know that faith in Christ amounts to a death sentence. Believers such as us, who aren’t subject to such persecution must never forget our brothers and sisters in Christ, who live their faith at the point of a sword. We certainly have an obligation to lift them up in prayer.

  • Acts 12:1-12

How much different might things be, if we spent more time in prayer for the persecuted Christians? When John saw this vision, he “marveled with great amazement”. The NIV and HCSB say he was “greatly astonished”. Given the context, I think that is the most appropriate translation. John must have been greatly disturbed by this vision. The woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs. This persecution of God’s children, gave her great pleasure. If we look around the world today, we see a world who delights in destroying Christians. There are places in the Middle East, among the Muslim nations, were they celebrate the torture and murder of Christians. They are drunk on the blood of the saints and the martyrs. It happens in our world. . . Today!

Many of our own missionaries face this very thing, not to mention the native people who convert to Christianity. But we are not disturbed, we are not astonished, we’d just as soon ignore it. It’s easy to see how the world is conforming to this very image we are shown in Revelation, when even our churches become complacent to the suffering of our fellow Christians. If we would do something so simple as pray, it might save some from a martyr’s death, leaving more witnesses for Christ on this earth. . . Now, when we need them most.

Posted in: Eschatology, Sermons