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Studies in the Book of the Revelation.
Babylon the Great (17:, 18:).
pp. 20 - 23
On two occasions during the outpouring of woe and judgment Babylon has come into
notice. First after the announcement of the aionian gospel by an angel, "There followed
another angel, saying Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city", and the reason of
Babylon's fall follows:--"Because she made all nations drunk of the wine of her
fornication". At the close of the seventh vial there comes another reference to Babylon.
"And great Babylon came into remembrance before God." This time instead of speaking
of the wine which Babylon made the nations to drink, a parallel judgment is indicated,
"To give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath".
So important a place does the fall of Babylon occupy in the Revelation, that
chapters 17: and 18: are devoted to it, and the opening verses of 19: contain
Hallelujahs over the destruction of the city. The overthrow of Babylon is introduced by a
vision of a woman. Then follows the explanation of the symbol. These two phases
occupy chapter 17: One of the seven angels that had the seven vials addressed John,
"Come hither, I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon
many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the
inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (17: 2).
The apostle was thereupon carried away "in the spirit into the wilderness", an
expression very similar to that of 1: 10, "I was in spirit in the day of the Lord". The
vision that he saw next described:--
"I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of the names of blasphemy,
having seven heads and ten horns" (17: 3).
There are further descriptions of the beast. The description of the woman follows:--
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and
precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and
filthiness of her fornication" (17: 4).
The symbolic significance of this vision is next indicated. In the A.V. the whole
wording is printed in capitals, as though all formed a part of the title upon the woman's
forehead. The R.V. margin, however, gives it as though the word "mystery" is an
explanation, but not a part of the title. We read the verse then as follows:--
"And upon here forehead was a name written, a mystery, `BABYLON THE GREAT',
the mother of the harlots and of the abominations of the earth" (17: 5).
This passage is threefold:--