Babylon and the Beast

Revelation 17  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Babylon is a great system in the earth by which men's hearts are drawn away from God. It supplies them with something to have natural enjoyment in besides joy in God. In this Babylon is the great whore drawing out corrupt affections. She is supported by the great power of the earth; but power is not what is presented in Babylon, but the withdrawal of affection from God to have it spent on what ministers to natural lust. There are the kings of the earth, merchants of the earth, and all nations brought in as acted on by Babylon. She ministers to the enjoyment of kings, to the wealth of merchants, and to the excitement of nations: she is borne by the beast whose character is blaspheming power; but she, by corrupt fascinations, rules over the kings of the earth. When she is judged then the beast will rule by blaspheming power, drawing out the wonder of the whole world, and their worship too; but before the beast comes to rule, he supports the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. Open blasphemy is not the character of prevailing evil in the present day; neither is it an astonishing display of combined power, because the beast still carries the woman. But the evil of the present day is enjoyment in the world, not in Christ; riches in the world riot in Christ: and the excitement of these things intoxicates men's minds, so that engagement in the things of Christ are put out of mind. All this may be under a profession of the truth; because it is the beast that is the blasphemer, who, before he himself rules, supports the mother of harlots the parent of all who draw affection from God to the things of the world.
The woman is drunken with the blood of the saints; but the inhabitants of the earth are drunken with the wine of her fornication. When the saints are persecuted, then the spirit that draws the heart away from God becomes excited: it takes fresh stimulus from this to present with attraction its sinful gratifications; and then these abominations act on the spirit of the inhabitants of the earth, and excite them. The kings, as the great ones of the earth, commit fornication with her; the inhabitants, as the common people of the world, are excited by it.
If there is a wicked show in the town, it acts thus doubly: the rich people pay for going in and enjoy the show; the poor people crowd outside the door under the excitement of it. Both are acted on by the evil.
The beast was full of names of blasphemy; but the woman had a cup full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. The effort of the woman is not to make you an open blasphemer, but to mix the things of the world with religion, so that, whilst letting people have the form of godliness, the power thereof is practically denied. The beast has not even the form of godliness, he is full of names of blasphemy: but he is not ruling, he only supports the woman who does rule.
" The beast which thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition." The beast in its first constitution is seen in Dan. 7, thus it was but it has declined and ceased to exhibit itself; but in its revival it will assume a new feature as coming out of the bottomless pit. Its constituted strength was not this, but its restored is. That which has its source in wickedness, and its end in judgment, revealed to the servants, will have its importance lowered before them in some little moment of boast; but they who have not the mind of God, and walk by sight, are altogether dazzled by this display; and so, "they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."