Revelation 17—18: Beneath the Surface
In every age there is at least one symbol for everything that goes against God. For several of the Old Testament writers it was Babylon, the beautiful city that held captive God's chosen people. Babylon represented everything that was evil and unsightly about humanity. John uses this powerful symbol to interpret his own age and the powers that opposed God in his generation. In these two chapters we see not only John's vision of how those powers opposed God, but the ultimate outcome of that opposition.
Warming Up to God
When have you noticed someone or something that looked appealing, but upon closer scrutiny was unappealing or revolting?
Discovering the Word
- Who or what do you think John had in mind when he described the prostitute (17:3-6)?
- What is the relationship between the prostitute and the beast, and how does it change (chapter 17)?
- What are the crimes of the prostitute, identified as Babylon (17:3-6; 18:1-3)?
- How does the prostitute see herself (18:7-8)?
- What is the reaction of the kings (18:9-10), merchants (18:11-17a) and sea captains (18:17b-20) to the fall of Babylon?
Applying the Word
- Who or what is a contemporary parallel to the prostitute?
- In what way/s is the modern "prostitute" a temptation to you?
- How can you avoid this temptation?
Responding in Prayer
Ask God for protection from the temptations of those who are prideful and oppose God.