The Great Harlot Unmasked
THE present world system under Satan’s control has three principal elements that are manipulated by “the god of this world.” These are political rulership, big business control and influence, and religion. Over the millenniums of history, these three factors have been the constants of virtually every ruling system. Which of these powerful forces is symbolized by “the mother of the harlots”?—2 Corinthians 4:3, 4, The Jerusalem Bible; Revelation 12:9; 17:5.
According to John’s vision that is here under discussion, the rulers, “the kings of the earth,” have willingly gone to her bed of fornication. (Revelation 18:3) (Historical evidence of this will be presented in the following pages.) Thus, Babylon the Great cannot symbolize the political rulership factor in the world system.
What about the big business sector that plays such a vital role in man’s affairs today? It certainly is a powerful influence in many nations and, in effect, decides who will be rich and who will be poor. Could this be Babylon the Great? An angel gave a vital clue to John that answers this question. He announced a startling event—Babylon’s fall from grace! She loses her clients and paramours, who suddenly find her repugnant. Who else, apart from “the kings of the earth,” have been among her regular visitors? The angel states: “Because of the wine of the anger of her fornication all the nations have fallen victim, and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the traveling merchants of the earth became rich due to the power of her shameless luxury.” Yes, the merchants of the world have benefited by trading and consorting with her and increasing her “shameless luxury.” Thus, she cannot symbolize big business on a world scale.—Revelation 18:3.
Therefore, by a process of elimination, political rulership and big business control and influence are out of the running. What does that leave us with? It has to be that sector of power that also matches the indictment, “for by your spiritistic practice all the nations were misled.” It is the once powerful but now waning element that has deeply influenced the thinking and the actions of the nations ever since the days of ancient Babylon. She is the one who has had “a kingdom over the kings of the earth”—namely, false religion!—Revelation 17:18; 18:23.
Yes, shocking as it may seem to some sincere religious people, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, is a symbol of Satan’s world empire of false religion. She is a symbol of the religions of the world that in one way or another have compromised themselves with the political and financial rulership elements down through history.
Babylon the Warmonger
In accordance with the prophetic vision, Babylon the Great is the great whore that has led nations, peoples, and tribes into bloody wars, crusades, and vendettas, blessing them with incantations, holy water, prayers, and fiery patriotic speeches.*—Revelation 18:24.
Her clergy, especially her chaplains, have been willing tools of the rulers in herding the masses as cannon fodder into the slaughter of two world wars and other major conflicts. Catholic has killed Catholic, and Protestant has dutifully massacred Protestant, with a loss of some 50 to 60 million lives in just the two world wars.
In this enlightened 20th century, religion’s legacy continues to breed hatred and death—not just in the realm of Christendom with its Catholic versus Protestant confrontation but also in the non-Christian world with its Islam versus Judaism, Hinduism versus Islam, Buddhism versus Hinduism, Sikhism versus Hinduism, and so forth.
Furthermore, religion has always wanted to exert a powerful influence over “the kings of the earth,” attempting to decide their destinies and their successors. Let us briefly consider a few examples.
The “holy” Crusades (1096-1270), the Thirty Years’ War in Europe (1618-48), two world wars, and the slaughter of some 200,000 Hindus and Muslims on the partition of India (1947) are just a few examples of religion’s bloodguilt.
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Which of these—politics, big business, or religion—is represented by “Babylon the Great”?