|It is a great
temptation in this chapter to rush on to the interpretation -- we get so
little help from the Apostle in this, we cherish all we get -- but we must
resist. He is about to interpret a
vision; let’s see the symbolism of
that vision before he tells us to whom it applies.
the Old Testament is always figurative of idolatry. See, for example, Hosea 1 or Ezekiel
16. We must contrast this picture with
the later one of the pure Bride of Christ.
What most don’t know (didn’t either, until I found this) is that
adultery/idolatry is not an “either/or” proposition; it’s a “one or many proposition.
religions had a creator God named “El” -- sound familiar? It’s one of the names of God. They also had many others, including his
consort, Astarte, the fertility goddess.
So the temptation was not either Jehovah or the other gods; it was “El” AND the other gods. (Very similar to adultery’s temptation of
“your wife” or “your wife and other women.”)
is also used as a symbol for idolatry.
(See, for example, Jeremiah 3:1-9).
It’s worse; you get paid for
it. (What do you think of
“evangelists” who get rich at it?) The
name on the forehead was a common Roman practice; it allowed a prostitute to use a false name
(and one Empress, at least, did just that).
Note particularly the charge is the “mother” or prostitutes -- not
content with being one, she raises more.
|Note one thing: like all sin, this is attractive! The clothing is royal and rich. Note also:
the view is better from a distance -- in the wilderness, the desert,
where the air is clear. The church
sees her Lord more clearly in the times of suffering, too.
takes some explaining. John would have
been familiar with the story. It
begins with Nimrod, who, by rabbinical tradition, was a hunter of souls. He it was who inspired the tower of Babel
(hence the name Babylon) -- the tower of pride. In doing so, he started a mystery
religion. In that religion his consort, Semiramus or Rhea, gave birth -- virgin
birth -- to a son, Tammuz. This
son was slain by a boar, but (surprise!) rose again, celebrated by the feast
of Ishtar. His mother was worshiped as
the “Queen of Heaven” (see Jer. 44:16-22).
The sign of this religion? A
|Now, the chief war
god of this religion was Bel. Remember
the emperor Constantine? He claimed to
be a Christian -- but on the reverse of his coins is a temple of Bel. Many feel that at his time Christianity
merged with this Babylonian cult (still very much alive at the time). This is also the religion that gave us the
“modern” forms of much of astrology, seances, “black magic” and some of
|John knew all
this. He would have seen in Babylon
all that I have just described.
as Jeremiah 51:6-9 and especialliay 25:15-17 would have it, is God’s way of
destroying the mighty. As the Greeks
would have put it, “He whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”
|(Footnote: McGee and Smith see two Babylons, religious
and commercial. The interpretation is
unique, and emphasizes the perils of this book.)