The apostle John was taken into a desolate place where his vision guide showed him the real picture of the Harlot, Babylon.
In Revelation, Babylon is the Harlot (Rev. 17-18), who is depicted using her charms and allurements in an attempt to draw people in to her, and away from true delight in and commitment to the Lord.
The Beast represents man’s lust for power, when those who have it use it benefit themselves, and when those who don’t fight to get in in order to benefit themselves. Babylon joins forces with the Beast to undermine God’s plan to draw people to himself by appealing to their desire for power and their lust for pleasure.
Are You Attracted to the Beast?
Since those who are inclined to worship the Beast will take his “number” in order to remain in his good graces, how do we know whether we are being marked by his brand of power, rather than by God’s?
- Do you look to government to coerce others to act in the way you deem best?
- Does the idea of gathering people together in coalitions, cartels, and lobbying interests in order to influence lawmakers appeal to you?
- When others don’t act in the way you think appropriate, does it cross your mind that “there ought to be a law” forcing them to behave?
- When various players in culture and society displease you, do you think first how to boycott their activities or business?
- Do you naturally gravitate toward marches, protests, sit-ins, and petition drives to get others to act how you see fit?
Ungodly power-plays appear not just in the halls of government, but in other relationships, such as between husband and wife, child and parent, employer and employee, citizen and ruler.
God expects an appropriate use of power by those who have it for the benefit of the powerless, the hungry, the poor, the orphan, the widow, the sojourner. But if you are attracted to power in order to preserve your own status, wealth, beliefs, or interests, or to gain any of them for yourself, you might be at risk of taking on the mark of the Beast.
Are You Dwelling in Babylon?
In Revelation Babylon, or the Harlot, represents the worst of the economic systems of the world. Babylon is a haven for luxury, wealth, excess, and waste; it is the essence of commercialism. How do you know whether you delight in the world’s pleasures rather than in God himself?
- Do you seek every opportunity to satisfy your sexual desires?
- Are you oblivious of the toll that crass consumerism takes on families, workers, and the environment?
- Are you a consummate consumer, thinking that your life consists in the quantity, quality, and newness of your possessions?
- If tomorrow you awoke with nothing material but clothes to wear and food to eat, would you consider your life as good as it is now?
God gives all people on earth good things to enjoy in the gift of his common grace to all. But delighting in the things of God is not the same in delighting in God.
One of the difficulties we have in detecting our affinity for the Beast or for Babylon is that proximity limits perception. That is, the closer we are to them, the harder it is to see them.
John had to go into the desert, a place of desolation, in order to get a good view of Babylon. The believer is called to remain separate from the Beast and separate from Babylon. For many of us, this means that we must first release our ungodly hold on and desire for power, and cease satisfying the lusts of our flesh in order to see just how attached we are to them.