A Harlot Executed by Her Lovers
IT IS not uncommon to read in the newspapers an account about a clandestine affair in which there is a falling out between lovers and the woman is murdered by her paramour. Usually it is a love triangle and jealousy is the motive. Sometimes we read of where a harlot is murdered by her lovers, even stripped naked, tortured and thrown alongside the road. Often this is because of their disgust at her complete filthiness and degradation or because she was disloyal in some scheme of theirs.
The harlot we are discussing here, however, is no ordinary harlot. She is one that has had kings and rulers as her paramours. Nevertheless, she is executed by them, and not for reasons of jealousy, but because she has deceived them. She has made the world situation much more difficult for the rulers to handle. Actually she leads them into a position where they are found to be fighting against God. They come to the point of disgust and hatred toward her that causes them to want to obliterate her and all thoughts and memories of her.
This harlot, whose activities have affected the lives of everyone on earth, is the one that was portrayed in vision to the apostle John. She is an international harlot and her activities and her final destiny and execution at the hand of her lovers are clearly described in the record John made of the vision. We read in the book of Revelation that John saw a woman, a harlot named Babylon the Great, riding a scarlet-colored beast. He writes: “And he says to me: ‘The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished. And the woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.’”—Rev. 17:15-18.
A RELIGIOUS EMPIRE OVER THE NATIONS
As explained in previous issues of The Watchtower, the scarlet-colored beast is the international peace organization now known as the United Nations. The ten horns represent the complete number of the earthly rulers that make up this organization. They are the powers that hold political control over their respective nations and peoples. The harlot is said to be sitting on many waters (Rev. 17:1), which mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. (Re 17 Vs. 15) These have included people of all nations of the earth. Therefore, Babylon the Great is larger than a kingdom—she is an empire, a religious empire wielding religious influence and control over lives of peoples, just as she is shown sitting upon them. She has wielded so much power and influence in this way that power and influence in this way that the kings and rulers of the earth have found it advantageous to adopt a form of religion, in some places even making a Babylonish religion the state religion. It is in this way that Babylon the Great has a “kingdom over the kings of the earth.” Babylon the Great, being made up of the world empire of multitudinous sects, is therefore greater than Christendom, and older, but includes Christendom.
What is the “one thought” that the “ten kings” have, and how does God put it into their hearts to carry it out? Well, God knows how to reserve the ungodly to the day of judgment to be punished. (2 Pet. 2:9) In letting them go to great limits in their schemes he has a purpose. He, too, has a “thought” of his own regarding the “ten kings” that involves the fate of Babylon the Great the harlot. He maneuvers them all into the position in which he wants them and causes them to be exposed and to show their true colors before they are destroyed.
GOD BRINGS THE HARLOT AND HER LOVERS TO JUDGMENT
The “one thought” the ten kings have is opposition to God’s kingdom in the hands of his Lamb, Jesus Christ. Just as Jehovah did with Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, who he told Moses beforehand would not listen to his voice until He had struck Egypt with all his wonderful acts (which finally ended in Pharaoh’s destruction at Jehovah’s hands in the Red Sea), so Jehovah knows these kings’ heart attitude. He puts them on judgment before him and makes them produce the evidence. On the basis of this evidence he can righteously sentence them to destruction and execute the sentence.—Ex. 7:3-5.
The critical year for the “ten kings” was 1914 C.E., because the Gentile Times ran out in the fall of that year. The “ten kings” as well as Babylon the Great herself were warned of this through some of the clergymen of Christendom as well as by Jehovah’s witnesses, but all of them ignored the warning. But what would the “ten kings” do when their power ran out? Jehovah foreknew their “one thought” and their course of action. In 1914 war over world domination broke out in Christendom. The leaders of the world were unwilling to turn over their sovereignty to Jehovah God’s king, but, instead, wanted to continue their rule and entered into this war. It was accompanied by food shortages, pestilences and earthquakes in one place after another and by the development of more devastating weapons of warfare.—Matt. 24:7, 8.
A DECISION FOR WORLD RULERS
Here began an exposé of the harlot, the world empire of false religion, to her lovers, the politicians of the world, for while she claimed to be an organization of peace and unity, especially the part of her known as Christendom, she was absolutely helpless in preventing a most devastating world war, which the rulers themselves were reluctant to enter. In fact, rather than preventing the war, she took sides in it by means of her harlot daughters, her member religious organizations, even with prayers and imposing religious rites, which actually promoted it. God let the ten kings see how destruction stared them in the face if they persisted in such warfare.
Now a real decision faced the rulers. They were on trial for judgment by God. Just as Pharaoh of old was forced into a decision, God at this point forced the rulers to decide. He foreknew their hearts and knew that they would not give up their sovereignty and bow to his king. He knew that they would turn to creating a man-made organization for ensuring and preserving world peace and security so that their selfish interest would be preserved and they would be able to maintain their various human sovereignties over the distinct nations. As God’s Word foretold, they put their confidence in man to form an association of nations in order to prevent the destruction they saw on the horizon and to preserve rule of mankind by man and not by God. Babylon egged them on in this “one thought.”
The result of this “one thought” was the bringing forth of the political image of the wild beast that had ascended out of the sea. The product was the symbolic scarlet-colored wild beast. The “ten kings” went ahead with their thought by giving their kingdom to the scarlet-colored wild beast, which now stands in the form of the United Nations. They will continue to support this arrangement “until the words of God have been accomplished.”
Just as Jehovah said to Pharaoh: “For this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth,” so he has let these nations carry out the one purpose and thought of theirs. (Ex. 9:16) But they are at the same time carrying out God’s “thought,” just as Pharaoh did. God’s “thought” was for these enemies of his kingdom to combine themselves in one worldwide political organization and, by it, to present to him and his Messianic kingdom a united front, that he might face them all at one time and destroy them all together at one stroke.—Josh. 11:19, 20.
There is a great deal of mercy on Jehovah God’s part here. In his “thought” he spares humankind, and especially his own people, much suffering. For he lets all the nations come to the point of trying to destroy God’s people on earth at one time and themselves suffer destruction rather than let it be carried out over a long period of time, from one nation to another, in which there would be much more prolonged misery. How it magnifies Jehovah’s justice to destroy them when they are brought to the point of exposing themselves as all being united on the one thing, opposition to God’s kingdom, which is at the same time opposition to the best interests of the people!
LOVE TURNS TO HATE
Jehovah lets Babylon the Great continue in her degraded course and come to new low depths in her willingness to sacrifice the welfare of the people for political gain. He allows her to continue to make earth’s inhabitants drunk still more from her golden cup and the wine of her fornication. Then, in his due time and by the force of circumstances that he will produce, Jehovah will bring about the situation where her present lovers will turn on her with disgust and violent design. They will see that she is of no more use to them, in fact, has misled them into a situation which is very undesirable for them. This does not necessarily mean that all the nations will go communistic on either the Soviet Russian line or the Red Chinese line; certainly at the present time the majority of the symbolic “ten kings” in the United Nations are unwilling to turn against the world empire of Babylonian religion. The representatives and officials serving in the U.N. are from various religions of the earth, Mohammedan, Buddhist and others besides those of Christendom. Their attitude toward this matter is indicated by the recent peace-bell-ringing ceremony that was carried out at the United Nations headquarters on October 4, 1966. This ceremony was promoted by the chief delegates from Nigeria and Japan, an observer for the Holy See and the chef de cabinet to Secretary-General Thant of the U.N.a
Of course, these “ten kings,” when they turn on the harlot, are drawing near to the time for their own destruction, but before Jehovah God destroys them in the place Biblically called Har–Magedon, he will cause their passionate love of the “great harlot” to turn to hatred. He has done such a thing before, and in ancient times he warned religious Jerusalem that he would bring her former passionate lovers against her to mutilate and destroy her. He had already caused a like experience to befall Samaria, her sister capital. Read the prophecies on this in Ezekiel 16:33-42 and Eze 23:1-31. Great Babylon is no better than unfaithful apostate Jerusalem. She deserves to be destroyed like a harlot, and Jehovah God will see to it that, ironically, her former lovers will take a hand in the violent destruction of her.
ALL SEE FALSE RELIGION’S SHAME
The order of events of Babylon the Great’s destruction is described for us in Revelation. First, the great river Euphrates will have been completely dried up, in fulfillment of the sixth plague. The waters of the Euphrates here represent the peoples supporting her. (Rev. 16:12) In this manner God will take away the protection and support that she used to get from the people. And it will not be just the symbolic “ten horns” or “ten kings” of the “wild beast” that will be angry at her. No, the whole beastly organization will learn to hate her, losing their pleasure in her. Therefore, the majority of the member nations of this “wild beast” organization in which she relies for protection will not rescue her when the time comes for Jehovah to execute his judgment upon her. The “ten kings” and the “wild beast” will devastate her of the vast wealth she has gathered in carrying on her religious business. They will strip her naked, that is, they will make her appear shameful as a naked woman in public, that everybody may see how false and useless her religion is and stop superstitiously taking part in it. You will recall how wild beasts, dogs, ate up the fleshy parts of Baalistic Queen Jezebel of Israel, leaving only the palms of her hands and her feet and skull. Likewise, these kings composing the wild beast will devour her body with which they once had liked to unite.
Babylon the Great has had many awesome and lavish ceremonies and rites, which appeared beautiful to the people, like a beautiful harlot able to give soothing pleasure to ungodly, worldly men. This harlot loved to drink blood, especially the blood of those killed by religious persecution. Her clergy fed themselves and lived off the masses of people under her, but now the tables are turned: the wild beast feeds on her as long as there is anything left of her to eat. Then they will burn the rest of her frame with fire, as if she were not a Babylonian temple prostitute but an unchaste daughter of a priest in ancient Israel. (Lev. 21:9; Gen. 38:24) What this will mean for the religious buildings of Babylon the Great and for her priests and other religious clergy and orders is something frightful to contemplate. We make no attempt to describe it.
WORLDLY RELIGION NO SANCTUARY
It was a terrible sight for John to behold the judgment executed on the harlot in the vision. Truly it will be exceedingly terrible to see the burning hatred vented on her, when the things of the world empire of false religion, formerly considered sacred, will then be held as disgusting. Her churches, which once provided sanctuary for even the worst of criminals, will be looked upon as filthy, abhorrent places. But it will rid the earth forever of accursed Babylon the Great. Compare Jehu’s destruction of Baal worship in Israel.—2 Ki. 10:25-27.
What about those who are serving Jehovah God as his Christian witnesses? Well, today they declare the judgments that will come upon Babylon, to give all those who are in her an opportunity to escape the horrible destruction that faces her. Note, however, that they will not join with the “ten horns” in expressing bitter, violent hatred against her and they will have no part whatsoever in destroying her. They have no appointment from Jehovah God to act as his executioners against the empire of Babylonish religion. While the destruction of Babylon the Great is really from God, yet he uses the instruments he chooses to do so. But as to the “ten horns” and the “wild beast,” their hatred of false religion does not mean their conversion to true worship of God. No, they will not look with favor upon Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. The servants of God will be in danger, liable for attack by the antireligionists. However, unlike the exposed, unprotected condition of Babylon the Great, Jehovah’s servants will have an invisible “wall” around them. God Almighty will protect and preserve them through that awesome period of his executing righteous judgment on the great harlot.—Ps. 37:32-34; compare 2 Kings 6:15-17; Zechariah 2:5; Daniel 3:24-27.
So while one might feel at this time very safe in a religion of Babylon the Great, we can see from the prophecy that God will turn the tables on matters very quickly. Therefore, it is not something that we should view with unconcern, adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Instead of looking upon Babylon the Great as a sanctuary, flee to the true sanctuary, God’s Christian organization, by studying God’s Word the Bible and taking the action therein commanded. Only in this way will one have a realization of God’s promise: “The salvation of the righteous ones is from Jehovah; he is their fortress in the time of distress. And Jehovah will help them and provide them with escape. He will provide them with escape from wicked people and save them, because they have taken refuge in him.”—Ps. 37:39, 40.
a The New York Times, October 5, 1966, Late City Edition, page 5.