And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Revelation 17:1-6, ESV)
This is one of the most disturbing pictures to me in the book of Revelation.
I live in a country and time where I do not face persecution for my belief in Christ. Oh, there is a little mild inconveniences. People will look at me strangely if I tell them I am a Christian and that other people who do not believe in Christ face hell. Even someone commenting on one of the blog entries in this series said I was a bigot. Those kinds of things are not persecution -- just some oddities.
There are some in this country that face stiffer persecution. I think of florists, bakers, and photographers who cannot in good conscience provide their services for same sex weddings, who face ruinous fines and sanctions. Freedom of religion is eroding in the United States.
There are other Christians in other countries that face real persecution that includes enslavement, rape, taking away families, and death for being a Christian.
Where I live, life is comfortable. I am easily seduced with the comforts of life. I'd like a big computer for Christmas (that won't happen), games to spend lots of time on. I want to keep the comforts of a lifestyle of pleasure. Giving up time to pray, to study the Bible, to spend time with the friendless, those who need encouragement, even my family, well, it is easy for me to put those aside. In other words, I find the whore of Babylon altogether too appealing. That is why I find this vision disturbing -- very disturbing. This vision is a warning to me and people like me. In fact, God warns us:
“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues”
(Revelation 18:4, ESV)
The whore of Babylon is very beautiful. The description in Revelation tells how she is dressed beautifully, with fine clothes, rich accessories. She carries a exquisite golden cup. She is winking at you, at me. She is enticing. But she is drunk -- drunk on the blood of the saints.
The whore rides on top of the beast, the sea beast, who have great military might. They have an alliance -- but not a happy alliance. Ironically, the beast will destroy Babylon the whore. Those who profit from her will morn over her -- for the money and wealth they loose at her demise.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)
Take your delight in Christ. Seek Christ's kingdom above all else. John Piper stated this principle well when he said: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."
Take your full delight in God rather than the pleasures of this world. In pursuing God, you will find your heart's content.