“Death of the Harlot”
It would appear that the previous chapter dealt with the sins and judgement of a false religious system – Rome. The signs seem to point toward that great city of old that wields immense power on the earth through its Vatican State, and has done since about 300 AD. I say ‘appear’ because the signs give us probable cause to say they speak of Rome.
In this chapter, if the above is correct, we see the destruction of Rome and its influence over the world, along with those who followed her and obeyed her commands. This particular vision is swift and though using many words says one thing. Hence this article is brief – there is no need to expand on something that is so concise!
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.”
Here comes the fatal end of the whore, Babylon… or, as we have come to believe, Rome. As one who reads the newspapers and magazines of Roman Catholicism for their information, I can see how so many people are sympathetic toward, or join with, Rome. It is like trinkets and toys to a child. It has pomp, glory, colour, glittering emblems and layer upon layer of activity and dignitaries. Between them, they bewitch and deceive in grand manner, and whoever joins it in commerce and power receives rewards and money.
In Rome we do not have a temporary, localised, relatively poor scheme, but a centuries-old, rich, bejewelled, attractive system that embraces everything secular man wishes to see and have. That is why it is called a ‘whore’… outwardly attractive but carrying deadly spiritual diseases and the spores of death.
The angel came down from heaven and spoke with a voice of authority. His message was quick and final – Babylon/Rome has fallen. When such a deception falls its outer skin is shed and it returns to its actual appearance. Thus, when Roman Catholicism falls, demons will rush to make themselves known. They will rush upon her with delight and tear her apart, as they do with all who foolishly think they are in control of demonic activity.
The demons will not just be in that place and in that false church – they will be imprisoned by it, as ‘hold’ implies. Rome and its slaves will become the focus of every unclean spirit, whether human or demonic, whose thoughts and lives will reflect their abandoned condition. In the USA, every one of the Roman Catholic dioceses is fighting in law courts because their bishops and clergy have been found guilty of sexual offences against children! Every single one of them!
That, friends, is merely the tip of the iceberg, yet these cases show the real face of Romanism. Rot must erupt somewhere at some time! A cancer does not stay hidden for long. The Revelation is telling us that when Rome is brought down its true nature will be shown to the world and the filth of centuries will spill out. These evils are spoken of in scripture as unclean birds, detested by God, because they fly swiftly to carcases and feed.
We are told that ‘all nations’ are guilty of supporting this great whore, Rome. Rome has habitually rewarded all who give her their obedience, and peoples of all countries who embrace Rome enjoy her riches. Not the ordinary folk, for they are simply deceived, but the leaders and those who know the real nature of Rome. It is they who enjoy the ‘fat of the land’, as they are paid-off for their loyalty. In this way many kings have come to power.
But, their loyalty to Rome will bring the ‘wrath (of God) of her fornication’. His anger will reach all who prefer earthly sin and reward to God’s word and holiness. Many rich men are rich because they trade with Rome and its ways. Leaders of Romish countries have grown fat on the spoils gleaned from terror and attacks on other, weaker countries. These ‘merchants’ have enjoyed the luxury of Rome. But, they will all fall.
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works; in the cup which she hath filled to her double.
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Therefore shall her plagues comes in one day, death and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”
God then called from heaven. He calls everyone who claims to be His, to ‘come out of her’. These are saved people, but they have been deceived. I readily include charismatics in this category, because the link is very strong. Amongst Rome’s adherents and those of charismaticism, there are a very few saved people. They are weak and growing weaker, because of their sympathetic stance toward Rome, but they belong to God nevertheless. Here God is giving them an opportunity to repent and escape the clutches of Satan. They must get away from Rome immediately, or share in its plagues from God.
They must get away, repent, and start to believe and live holy lives, because God is fully aware of Rome’s evils and falsity. There will come the time when He will ‘remember’. He never forgets and always knows everything, but here we are told He will bring her sins to the forefront prior to His destruction of that cancerous system of religion.
When that destruction comes, God will pile upon her twice as much pain and woes as she inflicted upon the world. Rome has glorified herself and lived in sheer luxury and wantonness. Look, too, at the cronies of Romanism, such as charismaticism, Anglicanism and the Alpha Course, major recruits for Romish practices and faith. I do not mean that they are Roman Catholic necessarily; I mean that the errors found in Rome are also found in these movements. Therefore, they are Romish lackeys who point the way to her walled city.
Rome will receive twice the penalty for her whoredom. We are told in scripture that teachers of evil are twice as guilty and will receive double the judgement, because it is they who have taught others to live godlessly. So it will be with Rome. Another clue is shown to us, that ‘Babylon’ is also Rome… she is identified as a ‘queen’, and that is how Rome portrays Mary and how Rome positions Mary in the modern European Union. With its immense power and authority in the world, Queen Rome believes she is invincible.
Because of her delusion of grandeur and power, God says He will destroy her in one single day. God will visit her with many tortures and punishments ‘in one day’. Properly, the word ‘day’, hemera, can mean a literal 24 hour day. But, it can also refer to a time when things happen. Thus, we can speak of the ‘day of war’. It is a time when things are fulfilled. The meaning here suggests that God will deal quickly with Rome, so that the world can witness her fall. This would not be the case if Rome simply diminished slowly. The enormity of God’s judgement is spoken of in terms of absolute obliteration: ‘death… famine… utterly burned’. The total strength and power of God, which is far greater than that of Satan and his envoy, Rome, will come upon the whore and she will die in shame and horror.
“And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning.
Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgement come.
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing.
And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.”
When Roman Catholicism falls we will note two things – those leaders who gave support will bemoan her passing, because they will have lost a great supplier of their wealth and power, but they will also remain aloof, because they do not wish to receive the same fate. What does all this mean in modern parlance? Well, you will have noticed how Rome is currently placing herself in the front line of world power struggles? Her pope is already proposed as a world leader in Jerusalem.
Thus far, many leaders will back such a move, because it promises them a share of any power and booty that will follow such enormous influence. But, when political giants decide Rome is in the way of their own desires, they will remove her, and those who gave allegiance will back off so as not to be brought down with her. The friends of Rome are only so whilst Rome is powerful! An alliance of convenience.
The merchants (who might also be those who peddle Romish doctrines, such as priests and others reliant on Rome) will wail because their own powers are lost and they have no evil benefactor. People of the world will see Rome in its true light and will marvel that they were so deceived. They will no longer follow the glitter and glory of Roman Catholicism, so the ‘merchants’ of Romanism will falter and fail.
A long list of Rome’s false finery is given, including that of thyine wood, a wood much prized by Rome at the time of John, for its beauty. Also called citrus, it was much sought after by Rome and Greece alike. A fragrant tree, it draws people with its smell and looks. But, the time is coming when everything that makes Rome appear to be good and sweet will be stripped away, showing the old cancerous hag under its skin.
I have come across many Reformed men who attempt to put Rome down by saying its attractions do not exist… but they do exist, in great abundance! That is the very reason why so many are attracted to a whore! Preachers must not concentrate on trying to say Rome is not attractive. They must get below the surface and peel it away, to show the evil beneath the attraction. This must be done because all the finery of Rome results in the binding of the ‘souls of men’ (verse 13).
Rome will lose everything (verse 14) and those ‘fruits’ people wanted from her will vanish. She will lose everything – the financial losses, counted in their millions, caused by legal actions over sexual abuses are just the beginning. Those who supported Rome (the ‘merchants’) will stand back watching their source of riches disappear. Again (verse 17), God emphasises the speed with which Rome will fall. All will recognise that Rome has been judged, because of the ‘smoke of her burning’. Who, or what else, is so great? they will cry out. They will be in dismay, because she who appeared to be of God and of power, will crumble to nothing. Then, the ‘day’ becomes one hour. Rome will pass into oblivion in just one hour. Whether or not this literally means one day or one hour is not clear, but it does mean that Roman Catholicism will pass away so swiftly, it will be seen as a judgement.
Those who think we should not take delight in the passing away of evil, should think again, for here we are told to ‘rejoice’, because the apostles and prophets are thereby vindicated and avenged. I often come across those do-gooders who say it is wrong to rejoice over the fall of another. This is folly – we should call upon God to destroy evil ones and their influence. We should pray for the downfall of false preachers and those who do wrong. We may also, if led, pray for their repentance and salvation, but their downfall is of primary importance.
Those who do not understand the Almightiness of God tend to be soft on sin, and so hate the idea of rejoicing in the downfall of another. They believe wrongly that they must offer dual prayers, for both the removal of sin and the repentance and salvation of those who sin. This is not always what is needed. There are times when we must pray solely for the downfall and judgement of those who sin.
“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpets, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no more craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found anymore in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.”
As I read the material published by Romish writers, I note how overwhelming and all-encompassing such writing is. I note how all-embracing the lifestyle of Romanism is, and how it soaks into the very heart of adherents. No wonder few Catholics are saved! That is why it will take a ‘mighty angel’ to deal Rome a death-blow. It is described as a huge millstone being thrown into the sea. That is, in one big, swift act, God will remove the influence and existence of Roman Catholicism forever.
Rome will lose everything that made her great, shown here as craftsmen, musicians, merchants, and even occultism. The false light (for Satan appears as an angel of light) will at last be put out and any opportunity to repent will be removed (the bride and bridegroom will not be found in her).
God tells us that the world is deceived by Rome’s ‘sorceries’. That is, the way of Roman Catholicism is shown to be that of witchcraft and the occult. Indeed, in many countries where Rome is predominant, you will find the occult in its churches and amongst its peoples. What else is the supposed ‘host’ in its mass? What else is its prayers to saints? What else is its devotion to shrines and relics? What else are its so-called ‘miracles’? They are the natural links with idolatry and the list is endless.
Finally, the chapter ends by stating that ‘in her’, Rome, is found the blood of all who died by her hand, because they obeyed the Lord God. With astounding audacity, Rome today celebrates the lives of her ‘martyrs’ who died for the ‘faith’. That is, men and women who died because they tried to overthrow legitimate thrones and free peoples, or who were found to be plotting against rulers in order to bring them into subjection to Rome! There is no way Rome can wash its hands of such blood, so she must herself die in ignominy. Along with Rome will go all other movements of Satan, whose foundations are built upon that false religion he promotes.
Verse 2. Some see Rome as having ‘some’ errors. But, if this text speaks of Rome, we have a truly horrific picture of it – full of foul stench and every wickedness, the place where demons live, unclean and hateful. Look at every aspect of this fake church and you will find every imaginable (and unimaginable) sin of mankind. It would not be hard to find Satan ‘living’ in this opulent and hellish place, his image branded on everything Rome does and on every forehead of every priest. Yet, it will fall hard, to perish by God’s wrath.
Verse 3. Note, too, how Rome has affected or subjugated every nation it came in contact with, using threats of hell, damnation and violence as a motivator to remain loyal. God sees this wicked liaison as fornication, idolatry. See how many rich men have made their fortunes by aligning with Rome and its popes. See how (verse 4) the only possible way to escape the wrath of God is to come out of Rome.
Verse 8. In the time of Nero fire almost destroyed Rome, but this was well before the popes took real power. This biblical destruction of Rome by fire, with all its fineries, will occur in just one day... a fire kindled and oxygenated by God Himself. It will also spiritually burn every vestige of its former power, causing great grief in its fornicating idolaters.
Verse 20. While Rome’s fawning masses lament, God tells believers to rejoice, for God will have avenged them! The suffering they once endured will be visited upon the popes and his worldwide army of demonic liars.
Verse 23. The clue is given – Rome’s power came not from normal authority, but from Satan... what Rome did and still does was/is sorcery, witchcraft.
© March 2002 (Revised September 2013)