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.’”—Revelation 17:15, 16.
16. Why will Babylon the Great not be able to rely on her waters for protective support when political governments turn against her?
16 Just as ancient Babylon relied on her watery defenses, Babylon the Great today relies on her huge membership of “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” The angel appropriately draws our attention to these before telling of a shocking development: Political governments of this earth will turn violently upon Babylon the Great.
17. (a) Why will the wealth of Babylon the Great not save her? (b) How will the end of Babylon the Great be far from dignified? (c) Besides the ten horns, or individual nations, what else joins in the rampage against Babylon the Great?
17 Certainly, the immense material wealth of Babylon the Great will not save her. It may even hasten her destruction, for the vision shows that when the wild beast and the ten horns vent their hatred on her they will strip off her royal robes and all her jewelry. They will plunder her wealth. They “make her . . . naked,” shamefully exposing her real character. What devastation! Her end is also far from dignified. They destroy her, “eat up her fleshy parts,” reducing her to a lifeless skeleton. Finally, they “completely burn her with fire.” She is burned up like a carrier of the plague, without even a decent burial! It is not the nations alone, as represented by the ten horns, that destroy the great harlot, but “the wild beast,” meaning the UN itself, joins them in this rampage. It will give its sanction to the destruction of false religion. Many of the 190-and-more nations within the UN have already displayed, by their voting pattern, a hostility toward religion, especially that of Christendom.
18. (a) What potential for the nations to turn against Babylonish religion has already been seen? (b) What will be the basic reason for the all-out attack on the great harlot?
18 Why would the nations treat their former paramour so outrageously? We have seen in recent history the potential for such a turning against Babylonish religion. Official government opposition has tremendously reduced the influence of religion in lands such as the former Soviet Union and China. In Protestant sectors of Europe, widespread apathy and doubt have emptied the churches, so that religion is practically dead. The vast Catholic empire is torn by rebellion and disagreement, which her leaders have been unable to calm. We should not, though, lose sight of the fact that this final, all-out attack on Babylon the Great comes as an expression of God’s unalterable judgment on the great harlot.
Carrying Out God’s Thought
19. (a) How can the execution of Jehovah’s judgment against the great harlot be illustrated by his judgment on apostate Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E.? (b) What did the desolated, uninhabited condition of Jerusalem after 607 B.C.E. prefigure for our day?
19 How does Jehovah execute this judgment? This may be illustrated by Jehovah’s action against his apostate people in ancient times, concerning whom he said: “In the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen horrible things, committing adultery and walking in falsehood; and they have strengthened the hands of evildoers in order that they should not return, each one from his own badness. To me all of them have become like Sodom, and the inhabitants of her like Gomorrah.” (Jeremiah 23:14) In 607 B.C.E., Jehovah used Nebuchadnezzar to ‘strip off the garments, take away the beautiful articles, and leave naked and nude’ that spiritually adulterous city. (Ezekiel 23:4, 26, 29) Jerusalem of that time was a pattern of Christendom today, and as John saw in earlier visions, Jehovah will administer to Christendom and the rest of false religion a similar punishment. The desolated, uninhabited condition of Jerusalem after 607 B.C.E. shows what religious Christendom will look like after being stripped of her wealth and shamefully exposed. And the rest of Babylon the Great will fare no better.
20. (a) How does John show that Jehovah once again will use human rulers in executing judgment? (b) What is God’s “thought”? (c) In what way will the nations carry out their “one thought,” but whose thought will really be carried out?
20 Again Jehovah uses human rulers in executing judgment. “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.” (Revelation 17:17) What is God’s “thought”? To arrange for the executioners of Babylon the Great to band together, in order to destroy her completely. Of course, the rulers’ motive in attacking her will be to carry out their own “one thought.” They will feel that it is in their nationalistic interests to turn upon the great harlot. They may come to view the continued existence of organized religion within their boundaries as a threat to their sovereignty. But Jehovah will actually be maneuvering matters; they will carry out his thought by destroying his age-old, adulterous enemy at one stroke!—Compare Jeremiah 7:8-11, 34.
21. Since the scarlet-colored wild beast will be used in destroying Babylon the Great, what will the nations evidently do with regard to the United Nations?
21 Yes, the nations will use the scarlet-colored wild beast, the United Nations, in destroying Babylon the Great. They do not act on their own initiative, for Jehovah puts it into their hearts “even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast.” When the time comes, the nations will evidently see the need to strengthen the United Nations. They will give it teeth, as it were, lending it whatever authority and power they possess so that it can turn upon false religion and fight successfully against her “until the words of God will have been accomplished.” Thus, the ancient harlot will come to her complete end. And good riddance to her!