Study Guide: Politics and Religion - Revelation 17:1-18
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. But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”
Wickedness, worldliness, and rebellion wreak havoc on the world, but their time is short because God will eventually defeat all who oppose him
Chapter 17 is a continuance of the bowl judgments and in this chapter we see the Great Prostitute enter the scene. She has come to seduce, attack, and destroy the people of God. But her time is short, God will eventually defeat her and all who follow her. The rulers who follow her will then turn on her and collectively give their power and authority to the Beast, just as God-ordained.
- Verse 1-2 tells us that judgment is coming for the Great Prostitute, why?
- Read the description of the Great Prostitute in verses 3-6
- Who or what is the beast that she is sitting on? Why is this significant?
- What does her appearance communicate about her?
- What is the identity of this individual (v.5)? What does her name symbolize?
- The kingdom brought by the Beast will be similar to the previous world powers before it in what ways? What is its fate, and who will conquer it?
- Why do the Kings turn on the Great Prostitute and collectively give their power and authority to the beast?
- How do you see the world that we live in currently being seduced and deceived by the worldly system of Babylon?
- It can look like the worldly systems of Babylon are winning. What assurance do we have in this passage that faithfulness to Christ in the midst of intense temptation will be worth it?
- What are some ways that lust for power, pleasure, or comfort has distracted you away from faithfulness to Christ?
It is often said that the greatest challenge facing American Christians is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world. Spend some time praying to God to identify areas in your life where you have been seduced into the ways of the world. Repent and ask God to provide you with the wisdom and strength to resist this temptation.