Thursday, May 29, 2008

When In Rome...

We return to our consideration of that truly enigmatic figure-- the whore named, Babylon. We have pieced together a skeleton built of characteristics extracted from her description in Revelation 17. Let's put some flesh and bone on that and see what we have.

She is first mentioned in Revelation 14:8 where her fall is announced by an angel. Her evil influence in the world is likened to wine and its effects. Her name comes up again in 16:19 in association with the seventh bowl in which God makes her drink the wine of his wrath, the picture of poetic justice. So important is she in understanding the unfolding of redemptive history, chapters 17 and 18 form an interlude which takes the reader aside from the flow of prophetic time just to take a deeper look at her. It's necessary, for she is a mystery that cannot be understood by man apart from divine illumination.

It has not been uncommon, since the Reformation, for the figure to be interpreted as the Roman Catholic Church, despite the fact that most of the Reformers did not take the Petrine remark as a reference to Rome. Evidently, the references within the description of the whore were clear enough to them without any other scriptural references. Exactly how clear are they?

In 95 A.D. there was only one city in the entire world that could have fit the description, and since then, no real contenders have emerged. There are only a handful of great cities renown for sitting on seven hills (or mountains): Rome and Constantinople are the most obvious, a case can be made for Jerusalem (but a lame one in my mind). Either of the capitals of the Roman Empire could be made to fit the rest of the description through chapter 18, but Jerusalem doesn't even come close. When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, it ceased being the center of idolatrous worship in all but name only, which leaves Rome standing unassailable as the target of the figure.

That's not the same as saying that the RCC is the whore, but there is a great deal of sense in seeing her that way, especially in light of 18:4-5. I think the whore imagery reaches far beyond the halls of the Vatican, but suffice it to say, I think she knows her way around those halls in the dark!


  1. the worldly world that could be anywhere...even reminds me of d.c or new york city, any place actually...even a group or groups that have been worshiping things other than the living God.

    kind of like trade and greed.

    where is/was the major place of trade?

    even the twin towers...of world trade.

    one hour

    it took the twin towers one and one half hours to fall after struck.

  2. i know it does not matter what i know about this as much as it matters that i have a relationship with my God throught Jesus. and that i seek to live that out in His Love that is espressed in my Love for Him and His Love given to all. that is what it is all about seeking, to me. and i must continually strive to seek this.

    God made it possible through His son for me to have a living relationship with Him. and i think that this is the main point that i am finding for life.

    i just needed to say that after thinking about this for awhile.

    i can not think of anything more important.

    and i still think that you are
    a sweet sweetie brother.

  3. Nanc,
    I think your point is valid, but if God didn't think this information had a point for us, he wouldn't have inspired Paul and John and the OT prophets to write it. In the face of much speculation (confounding and pointless), my attempts here are to bring simple clarity to the reading of end-times passages of scripture. Getting caught up with eschatological speculations is a waste of time, if one fixates upon it and ceases being and doing what God wants. But for those, in particular, who are being God's servants, God made the effort to give us the Apocalypse to show us what soon must take place (Rev 1:1). If it's that important to him to give us, how important should it be for us to receive it?

    I just went to a wedding with a "Candy Bar". Too many peach gels, Goetze's caramels, and gummi fish will have me too sweet for days to come!

  4. ok...
    i will try to understand without over speculating or shutting down.

    are you going to post more?


  5. Nanc,
    Don't let me shut you down! :-) As you said, nothing is more important than our relationship with Christ. I do have another post left before I give this topic a rest. Hopefully, I've covered enough to give my readers the basis of giving the subject a fresh look, with a slightly different perspective. Above all, I think we ought to be able to understand eschatology, strait forwardly and simply. God bless.


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