Arrayed and decked
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:" (Rev. 17:4)
The colors of her clothes
and the precious stones help build the picture of what is happening here.
The wicked woman is pretending to be Christ in His role as high priest.
Aaron, as high priest in the tabernacle, was appointed to represent Christ.
Let's read about the clothing Aaron was to wear.
"And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate [jeweled chest piece], and an ephod [simple dress-like garment], and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work." (Ex. 28:3-6).
Gold and precious
Continuing to quote: "And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel. . . . And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be . . . . And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings" (Ex. 28:9, 17, 18, 20).
"Many Protestants suppose that the Catholic religion is unattractive and
that its worship is a dull, meaningless round of ceremony. Here they mistake.
While Romanism is based upon deception, it is not a coarse and clumsy imposture.
The religious service of the Roman Church is a most impressive ceremonial.
Its gorgeous display and solemn rites fascinate the senses of the people
and silence the voice of reason and of conscience. The eye is charmed.
Magnificent churches, imposing processions, golden altars, jeweled shrines,
choice paintings, and exquisite sculpture appeal to the love of beauty.
The ear also is captivated. The music is unsurpassed. The rich notes of
the deep-toned organ, blending with the melody of many voices as it swells
through the lofty domes and pillared aisles of her grand cathedrals, cannot
fail to impress the mind with awe and reverence.
"This outward splendor, pomp, and ceremony, that only mocks the longings of the sin-sick soul, is an evidence of inward corruption. The religion of Christ needs not such attractions to recommend it. In the light shining from the cross, true Christianity appears so pure and lovely that no external decorations can enhance its true worth. It is the beauty of holiness, a meek and quiet spirit, which is of value with God." The Great Controversy pp. 566, 567. Image from Corel.
"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein." (Dan. 5:1, 2) 1408e.
Several drink offerings of the sanctuary would have used the cups. We will return to this scene during chapter 18.
A name in her forehead
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." (Rev. 17:5)
Quoting again from Exodus:
"And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the
engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on
a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre
it shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear
the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow
in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that
they may be accepted before the LORD." (Ex. 28:36-38)
God's redeemed people will have His name in their foreheads 1401c. The name thus describes the character. We turn to examine the character of the woman on the beast.
Instead of being one of the woman's names, we may see this word as indication of the their cryptic nature.
Babylon the great,
the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth
Babylon was the system of false worship which confronted the captives from Judah. It may be seen in chapter 13 as the beast which arose from the sea of people claimiing the name of Christ and dominated that see for over a thousand years. Babylon at the end of time (and earlier) mothers two other sources of error: false reformed religion (end-time Protestantism), and direct pagan practices (abominations).
The three marks of identification for the woman correspond to the unclean spirits in the symbolism used in announcing the plagues. 1613b.
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial . . . And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." (Rev. 16:12-14)
We examined these names for the woman in connection with the end of chapter 13. I suggest you examine the concepts there 1318e.
During the Protestant Reformation new churches were developed by sincere people who realized the problems of the "mother church." Prophecy had predicted it 0228, and God was leading. The picture we see here is that they, too, would later be found unfaithful to Christ, their husband thus becoming harlot (prostitute) daughters. This is not a matter of sinners in the churches — we all need to grow in the grace of Christ. It is a matter of keeping some or most of the false doctrines that the church adopted in order to make it appealing to the pagan nations of the fallen Roman Empire. It is a matter of refusing new light as revealed by a careful study of the Scriptures. This is not to say that God has turned His back on either mother or daughters. Many of His people are among these communities of faith. In the end, they are called out. I am certainly not urging people to make any moves that they have not considered carefully. The Holy Spirit is the one who does the calling. I want to keep in tune with His direction in my life. Compare ho0204f.
The following Bible passage shows how "abominations" brings desolation. Literally “unclean acts, the filthiness which is her fornication.” Thus "abominations" are not actually mentioned but the progression of evil is still significant.
Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
– people gone, temple gone, and city gone
Twice drunk with blood
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration." (Rev. 17:6)
Rational thought is forfeited by sin which is irrational. Compare je5011.
The saints and the martyrs seem like the same group, but two are mentioned. This reminds us that two times of religious oppression are described in chapter 13. 1311 We have seen them related to two times of apostasy in the experience of the children of Israel. When 10 of the 12 spies came back saying that they could not conqueror the land after God had called them to do just that, the nation was sent back into the wilderness for 40 years nu1426. At the end of that time, just before crossing the Jordan River, apostasy again arose led by Balaam 1703a, nu25. These failures correspond to the persecution of the Middle Ages and the end-time persecution.
Those attacked at the very end "have the testimony of Jesus Christ" and thus are His witnesses. The Greek word for martyrs also means witnesses.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." (6, 7)
|And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (12:17)|
And they [all the world] worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast [from the sea]: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months [1260 days of years] . . . . And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (4-7)
|And he [the beast from the earth] had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all . . . to receive a mark. . . . (13:15, 16)|
Why did you marvel?
"And I saw the woman drunken
with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus:
and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said
unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the
woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and
ten horns." (Rev. 17:6, 7)
Why would the plague angel,
under the direction of the Holy Spirit allow John to have a feeling of
"great admiration" then questioned him about it? The lesson is for us.
When this power arises, everyone, including the righteous like John, will
have a sense of awe. I believe it will present itself as a wonderful solution
for the world's problems. The literal reading of the sentence is "I was
amazed with great amazement."
Listen to the words of Jesus' prayer for us: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:20, 21). It will be argued that we must unite with the massive religious movement — that to refuse would be a denial that Jesus Christ was sent! We saw the issue in the final struggle while studying the message of the first angel in chapter 14. 1407e. When we look at Jesus' prayer, we need to look at all of it. In fact whenever we find a text that seems to disagree with what we feel is right, we need to examine the context. Let's back up to verse 16:
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:15-17). We are to be made holy through the truth of the Word. Satan, who wants worship for himself, has long urged the world to deny the simple truth about how we are to worship God. For example, if God tells us when to worship Him and we come at a different time, our worship will find another objective, no matter how logical it may seem. What is the standard? Always the Word. Never the ideas of human religious leaders. The woman on the beast will have a whole bundle of "new" unbiblical ways. We must not admire them!
I will show you
The plague angel shows us the "mystery," but leaves us with a complex pattern of information to decode. My conclusion is in a table which you may access by a link shown in the bar below, or you may wish to continue to the next page where we look at the situation on which it is based.
May God bless us each as we prepare to resist the awesome end-time religious movement.