How best should we understand the symbolic language of Revelation? There can be no doubt that today’s chapters (17 & 18) clearly portray the collapse of a great – and false – religious system. It is described as a ‘prostitute’ (AV, harlot). A “voice from heaven” (18:4,5) says, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues … God has remembered her iniquities”.
The language is reminiscent of the Old Testament prophecies about Israel being false to their God; yet God was remarkably patient (by human standards) over a long period before Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.
A powerful unbiblical system has dominated the Christian scene down the centuries. Several of those turning to God in our own personal experience were active members of the Roman Catholic church. I have met two who had been Roman Catholic priests, at least one other who was a nun, and have heard of several others. God is patient, counting as His people those who “come out of her” when they commit to true belief.
Chapter 17:2 refers to “sexual immorality” and in the last few years the Church has been plagued by extensive evidence of pedophilia, about which they have been forced to admit and make apology. But celibacy is unnatural, and has no justification in Scripture. Their alleged first Pope, Peter, was married (Matthew 8:14).
BUT then, note “her plagues will come in a single day … for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her” (verse 8). Even more than this, “in a single hour your judgment has come” (verse 10). The collapse of the system it seems is very sudden. The fact that the European Union was established by “the treaty of Rome” in March 1957 with evident involvement by the Vatican, has to be taken as significant: many important people visit the Pope.
The Eurozone faces its financial challenges and the Vatican has had its financial scandals. But our world is now ‘a global village’! Is God soon to bring ‘plagues’ on those who worship ‘mammon’ (money – see Luke 16:11-13). A Euro collapse would undermine the world’s financial systems. The financial vision is, “The merchants of the earth weep …since no one buys their cargo anymore … for in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste” (18:11,17). This all began with ‘the treaty of Rome’.
When God sees that the ingathering of believers is complete, then the climax will take place – dramatically, suddenly – let us make sure we are part of that ingathering with our convictions and faith firm and strong.