John’s vision in Revelation 17-18 depicts the other woman – Babylon the Great, mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. This is in contrast with Revelation 12-13 where John sees the woman that is faithful to God the mother of Jesus and those who hold to the testimony of Jesus. In 17-18 the woman is allied to the Beast whereas in 12-13 the woman is fleeing from the Beast. And no matter how dire the circumstances seem, or how great an evil may loom – John is reminded time and time again that God is victorious and as such God’s people are and will be victorious.
John pays careful attention to describe in detail the picture of the immoral woman and the beast. This is deliberate symbolism to show the reality of the world which is hell bent against God. Babylon is symbolic for those who are against the people of God. John is not trying to make a geographical or an ethnic and cultural comment here but rather is drawing on Israel’s history and her invasion and destruction at the hands of Babylon in the 6th century BC. And Babylon’s encroachment on Israel is as real as Rome’s encroachment on the Christians in the 1st century AD as it is for Christians under persecution today - worldwide.
Likewise the Beast is described in such a way to make clear and to prepare John’s readers that things are only going to go from bad to worse. The beast is symbolic of the powers and authorities that will rage against God and God’s people on earth and in fury will even rage and destroy the immoral woman. The heads, the hills, the horns, and the numerology involved all add to the picture of an even more terrifying and devastating force against Christians - one which the world has never seen before. And yet, this beast will come to nothing and will be triumphed over by the Lamb, who is Jesus, because Jesus is the Lord of lords and the King of Kings.
There are only 2 ways to live. In the world with God or in the world against God. With the Lamb or with the Beast. With the faithful woman or with the immoral woman. With salvation or with judgment. With victory or with defeat.
God is calling you to join him by trusting in His good plans and promises. So turn away from Babylon, leave that life of sin and be spared from the plagues that are to come – and take with you as many as you can!
How are you living today? How will you live forever?