Revelation 17-18

ckeller's picture

Revelation 17 and 18, i would like to hear some different views, from people who truly know the Word, from different denominations, in particular.. a Catholic interpretation, a Protestant intepretation. To me, this is an interesting topic, but i want to come to the truth about it... Thanks

Revelation 17 and 18

Every time I go back into Revelation 17 and 18, I'm pulled between two interpretations. The first is that the Whore of Babylon represents Rome, and her destruction is Rome's destruction. This is the interpretation that many people hold to, and it could be correct. I disagree, however, with those who stretch to make this a prophecy about papal Rome.

The second interpretation, the one I lean towards, is that the woman marked "Babylon the Great" is Jerusalem. The Old Testament uses the metaphor of a prostitute to represent Jerusalem several times, and most of the primary passages in Revelation 18 (18.1-8, 9-20, 21-24) are built, almost verbatim, from Old Testament passages which initially described the fall of Jerusalem. *Added note: one of those passages is actually taken from the fall of Tyre, I think...

This particular Harlot is sitting on top of the seven-headed beast. It is this beast which, I believe, represents Rome. There is some overlap between the "beast" and the "waters"--that is, the harlot is alternatively described as sitting on either the waters or on the heads of the beast. Daniel also uses the "waters" to represent the kingdoms of the earth, as a sequence of monsters emerge from the waters representing the various political entities which will war over Jerusalem. The same prophetic symbolism seems to be in play here, as well, as both the world-waters and the world-government carry the Harlot. This also seems to reference the earlier scene, when the Dragon was about to devour the Woman, only to be spirited away, for her own protection, by a flood. Now, we see a Woman sitting atop a flood/beast, but upon her forehead is a mark, "Babylon." This mark may be another representation of the 666 mark with which the wicked were earlier stamped; it is a mark of ownership, of identification with the forces of Satan. It seems like the Woman (Jerusalem) which God tried to protect by sending her into the "wilderness" has now allied itself with God's enemies, and faces His great displeasure.

The passage, then, appears to be a condemnation of Jerusalem for its acceptance of hedonistic Roman culture, injustice, and unrighteousness, especially its acceptance of the persecution of the saints. This type of condemnation is made several times throughout the Old and New Testaments against Jerusalem, who consorts with the various kingdoms of the world, to God's repeated dismay. The scene also predicts that the Harlot will be destroyed by the very Beast with which she cavorts--also an Old Testament prediction aimed squarely at Jerusalem.

I lean towards this interpretation because it treats the symbols involved consistently in light of the biblical canon, and because it is also consistent with the narrative unfolding in Revelation. But it is not the only reading possible or even reasonable.

Best of luck :)