Babylon is Fallen and
The Lament for the fallen city
Succession Arrangements continued
Dear Student: I know we have not talked very much about the application of these prophecies and events to the Church today. I think this is a good time to discuss the impact of John's prophecy beyond 70AD. Even though Jesus' message to John is for the Church of the 1st century the message resonates down through the centuries to us.
The Old Covenant Church was good and holy for its time but that Covenant was made to prepare us for the coming of the Lord. The sacrificial system was established to teach us about sacrifice and grace so we would more fully understand the sacrifice Christ would offer on the Cross for the sins of the world and the grace of God would extend to us through His sacrifice. But in Jesus' passion and resurrection the Old Covenant was meant to come to fulfillment and the New Covenant in Christ to take its place. As good as the Old Covenant was and as holy as it was it could not compare to the best and the holiest offered to us in the New Covenant. When what was good and holy in the Old Covenant keeps you from the best and the holiest that God has to offer in the New Covenant, then the Old Covenant is working in opposition to God and becomes the enemy of God's plan for humanity. That is why the Temple in Jerusalem had to be destroyed. Instead of being God's true prophet to the world, Jerusalem and the Temple had become the False Prophet and the False Bride in denying Christ as the Messiah.
The Old Covenant ended with the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, ("It is finished" or "It is fulfilled" were His last words) and the New Covenant was established with His resurrection from the dead. Yet God in His grace gave a 40 year period to the Jews to come into the New Covenant: from 30AD with Christ's resurrection and the second great Pentecost when God the Holy Spirit descended in fire and took possession of the Church, to the destruction of the Temple in 70AD was 40 years. This was similar to the period of grace He gave to the Children of Israel to live under the Old Sinai Covenant in their 40 years from the first great Pentecost, when God came down in fire on Mt. Sinai, to the time they took possession of the Promised Land. The Old Covenant ended finally and completely in 70AD with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant sacrificial system which had become meaningless with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. At that moment the New Covenant was finally complete, just as it was stated in the New Testament book of Hebrews 9:8 "as long as the old tent stands, the way into the Holy Place is not opened up..." The Temple in Jerusalem was God's dwelling place but now, in the New Covenant in Christ, our bodies became the Temple because God dwells in us! St. Paul writes beautifully about our present condition, as the tabernacle of the Lord, our bodies as God's "tent" and the promise of a more perfect, heavenly sanctuary in 2 Corinthians chapters 4 and ch. 5. In 2 Cor. 5:1 he writes: "For we are well aware that when the tent that houses us on earth is folded up, there is a house for us from God, not made by human hands but everlasting, in the heavens." Paul contrasts this earthly body, our present Temple, with the heavenly Temple. But there is still the promise of the Second Advent of Christ and the Final Judgment!
The Old Covenant in one sense corresponds to the whole age of this earth. Even though it ended with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, it doesn't ultimately end until the end of Creation. The macro Temple of the universe will end with fire (as Jerusalem and the Temple ended with fire) and a new heaven and earth will be recreated. See 2 Peter 3:3-10 "First of all, do not forget that in the final days there will come sarcastic scoffers whose life is ruled by their passions. 'What has happened to the promise of his coming?' they will say, 'Since our Fathers died everything has gone on just as it has since the beginning of creation!' They deliberately ignore the fact that long ago there were the heavens and the earth, formed out of water and through water by the Word of God, and that it was through these same factors that the world of those days was destroyed by the floodwaters. It is the same Word which is preserving the present heavens and earth for fire, keeping them till the Day of Judgment and of the destruction of sinners. But there is one thing, my dear friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and melt away, the earth and all that it contains will be burned up."
The fate of Jerusalem in 70AD is a prelude to the destruction of the cosmos at the Final Judgment at the end of time. The Lord came in 70AD in judgment on the Old Covenant Church. He also comes in judgment to each one of us at the end of our lives when our earthly bodies, our New Covenant Temples (see 2 Cor 4:16) perish, and He will come at the end of time in judgment of the whole Church.
Professor Scott Hahn, in his commentary on Revelation, makes the comparison between the Tent of the original Tabernacle (that traveled with the Children of Israel) vs. the Temple in Jerusalem (built by Solomon) and our present "Tent" (our earthly bodies) vs. the Eternal, heavenly Tabernacle.
Tabernacle/ "Tent" in the wilderness Temple in Jerusalem
Tabernacle("Tent") of our earthly bodies God's heavenly Tabernacle
He points out that in relation to God's presence with His people, the Old Testament can be divided up into two parts: from the time of Sinai until the time of David's son Solomon, God dwelled in the earthly Tabernacle, the "Tent" Moses was instructed to make (Exodus 25:8-9). But from the time of King Solomon, when the glorious Temple was built in Jerusalem, God took possession of the Holy of Holies in the Temple and there was His dwelling place (1 Kings 8:10-13). In a sense the original Tabernacle, the "tent" corresponds to our earthly body while the Temple in Jerusalem was a prototype of our heavenly bodies. For 1,000 years the Temple in Jerusalem foreshadowed and prefigured the New Covenant that would be established by Christ. Once the Temple in Jerusalem was built, what purpose was there for the Old Tabernacle? None. Its time was fulfilled. In the same way, once Christ has defeated sin and death and God the Holy Spirit fills and indwells every baptized believer, what purpose does the Temple in Jerusalem serve? In the same sense, once we die, what good is our earthly "tent"...instead we have the promise of the Heavenly Tabernacle where we will be in the presence of our God. (See 2 Corinthians 5:1-16. Verse 1:"..for we are well aware that when the tent that houses us on earth is folded up, there is a house for us from God, not made by human hands, but everlasting, in the heavens." (vs. 4) "Yes indeed, in this present tent, we groan under the burden, not that we want to be stripped of our covering, but because we want to be covered with a second garment on top, so that what is mortal in us may be swallowed up by life. It is God who designed us for this very purpose, and he has given us the Spirit as a pledge." Vs. 8-10: "..and long instead to be exiled from the body and to be at home with the Lord. And so whether at home or exiled we make it our ambition to please him. For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each so us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad.") The last chapters of Revelation address the events of the future and we will discuss the heavenly Tabernacle and the message of Revelation for the Church today and in the years to come.
In my studies of ancient texts my professors often repeated a maxim that is relevant to the study of ancient Biblical texts: "A text without context is only a pretext." The warning for students of the Bible is this: if we do not study Sacred Scripture in light of the context in which it is written, and interpret Scripture in the light of God the Holy Spirit and the living tradition of the Church, than we can make it mean anything we want it to mean. The mark of the Beast can be made to be an imbedded computer chip, the Harlot city can become the Roman Catholic Church, and the angels coming from the four corners of the earth can mean that the earth is really flat. The interpretation then becomes an interpretation from the commentator's imagination. Interpretation of Scripture must be based on context, original language, customs of the times, Tradition of the Church, and in agreement with other passages in Sacred Scripture (reference CCC # 110-113)
"Babylon is Fallen!"
"Babylon was a golden cup in Yahweh's hand, she made the whole world drunk, the nations drank her wine and then went mad. Babylon has suddenly fallen, is broken: wail for her!"" Jeremiah 51:7-8a
"Listen to this word which I utter against you, it is a dirge, House of Israel: She has fallen down, never to rise again, the virgin Israel. There she lies on her own soil, with no one to lift her up." Amos 5:1-2
In this chapter of Revelation, the Harlot, the False Bride, has become like the ancient city of Babylon, the implacable enemy of God. The announcement of her final destruction is like the funeral dirge for the final destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (in 722BC) recited by the prophet Amos (quoted above). The laments in this chapter over the destruction of the city know symbolically as "Babylon" should also remind us of Jesus' lament when He shed tears over the city of Jerusalem when He first caught sight of her as He rode into the city on Palm Sunday of Passion week.
Please turn to Luke 19:41-44 and read Jesus' lament over Jerusalem.
"As he drew near and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, 'If you too had only recognized on this day the way to peace! But in fact it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and your children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you, because you did not recognize the moment of your visitation.'"
Question: In this passage from Luke's Gospel, why does Jesus prophesy that Jerusalem will be utterly destroyed? Answer: vs 44c "because you did not recognize the moment of your visitation" – of Jesus the Messiah. This whole prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem is made up of Old Testament references from Isaiah 29:3; 37:33; Jeremiah 52:4-5; Ezekiel 4:1-3; 21:27 (for vs 43) and Psalms 137:9; Hosea 10:14; 14:1; and Nahum 3:10 (for vs 44). These Old Testament prophecies are about the destruction of the Northern Kingdom in 722BC and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586(7)BC. The connection to the Covenant Curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 would have also come to mind for anyone who hears Jesus' lament. Jesus is linking these Old Testament prophecies to the future destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD for rejecting Him as the Messiah, thereby rejecting God. When the Romans destroyed Judea, Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD it was a fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy in Luke 19 and Deuteronomy 28:49-68 (please read that passage). It begins: "Against you Yahweh will raise a distant nation from the ends of the earth like an eagle taking wing: a nation whose language you do not understand, a nation grim of face, with neither respect for the old, nor pity for the young"........... "During the siege and in the distress to which your enemy will reduce you, you will eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of the sons and daughters given you by Yahweh your God."
All the Covenant curses of Deuteronomy 28 and all of Jesus' prophecy for Jerusalem was fulfilled in 70AD. The historian Josephus even records that during the Roman siege that the famine was so bad that people ate their children and that after the final burning and looting of the city one could hardly tell a great city had once stood on the site of the ruins. This passage is a key link to Rev. chapter 18.
1) Ezekiel 26:15-27:34: The Lament over Tyre. Tyre was a city that had once been in covenant with Yahweh but had abused her blessings and turned to false gods and gloated over the destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century BC. In these passages there is also a connection to the curse on the Serpent who led Adam and Eve into sin in the Garden of Eden (see 28:11-19).
2) Ezekiel 43:1-2 (see the importance of the references to polus hydra in last week's lesson).
"..and there I saw a man, whose appearance was like brass. .....He took me to the gate, the one facing east. I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east. A sound came with him like the sound of the ocean (polus hydra = many or abundant waters), and the earth shone with his glory." Ezekiel 40:3a & 43:1-2
Please Read 18:1-8 The announcement of the fall of "Babylon": Lament of the heavenly messenger:
Verses 1-2 "After this, I saw another angel come down from heaven, with great authority given to him; the earth shone with his glory. At the top of his voice he shouted, 'Babylon has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, and has become the haunt of devils and a lodging for every foul spirit and dirty, loathsome bird."
After the announcement in the last part of chapter 17 that the "Great City" will be consumed by fire like a sacrificial offering, John sees an angel/messenger "come down from heaven."
Question: What three statements does John make about this messenger?
Answer: 1) He comes from heaven. 2) great authority is given to him. 3) the earth shines with his glory
Question: Can you identify this messenger? Compare John's description of this heavenly messenger with statements John made about Christ in his Gospel. Can you remember at least one other passage in Revelation where a powerful angel has the attributes of Christ?
#1) He comes from heaven: please read John 3:13, 31; 6:38, 58
#2) has great authority: please read John 5:27; 10:18; 17:2
#3) the earth is illuminated with his glory: please read John 1:4-5, 9, 14; 8:12; 9:5; 11:9; 12:46
Answer: These various passages in John's Gospel which describe Jesus parallel the description of the messenger in 18:1, and they also closely parallel the description of the messenger in Rev. 10:1 which we have already identified as the Son of God ("Then I saw another powerful angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were pillars of fire.").
In John's Gospel 1) The Son of God comes from heaven 2) He has all power and authority 3) and like the light of Christ which illuminates the earth this angel/messenger gives glory so bright that the earth is filled with light.
The word "glory" doxa, in Greek, is an attribute only of God and the Lamb in Revelation except in the description in 18:1 where this heavenly messenger has this special characteristic in common with God and the Lamb. This description of the messenger's glory is a near repetition of the prophet Ezekiel's description of another heavenly messenger in Ez. 43:2 (quoted in the introduction) "and the earth shone with his glory." Then too, it is important to consider the significance of the song of lament the messenger sings over the fallen city.
Question: Reading the dirge or lament that the messenger announces over the fallen city, do you recall a similar lament made by Christ before the walls of Jerusalem? Hint: Please read Luke 19:41-44 (quoted in the introduction on page 1); Luke 13:34-35 & Matt 23:37-39).
Question: In the Luke 13 and Matt 23 passages Jesus ends His lament by saying: " 'I promise, you shall not see me any more until you are saying: Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord!'" When do we repeat this phrase in the liturgy of the Mass?
Answer: Just before the priest repeats the words of consecration.
Question: After the words of consecration what supernatural event occurs?
Answer: We "see" Christ because He is present with us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the most holy Eucharist.
It is possible that this messenger from heaven is Jesus the Messiah acting in His prophetic roll (the Messiah came as prophet, priest and king). If so, it is Christ Himself who brings the wrath of God down on the Harlot City who has rejected Him and in doing so, has rejected God' plan of redemption for His Covenant people?
Also please notice in the lament of verse 2 that the "Great City" is again identified with Babylon. God's messenger is consistent in this message (see Rev. 14:8). The "Great City" symbolized as Babylon is not only certain for destruction but that destruction is announced as already completed.
Question: This is the first of 5 laments sung over the burning city. Who sings the other laments or dirges? Hint: see vss. 9-10; vss. 11-13, 15-16; and vss. 17-19 and vss. 21-24.
Answer: #1 by the heavenly messenger; #2 by kings; #3 by merchants; #4 by ship owners and sailors of the whole world; and #5 = the chapter will end with the Saint's song of doom. This lament is prefaced (vs. 21) by a powerful angel's symbolic action of throwing a large stone into the sea and saying in this way "Babylon" will be destroyed.
The 5 laments over the "Great City"
1. Revelation 18:2-3
The messenger who illuminates the earth
2. Revelation 18:9-10
The kings of the earth
3. Revelation 18: 11-17a
The merchants of the earth
4. Revelation 18:17b-19
The seamen of the earth
5. Revelation 18: 20-24
Question: In her apostasy what has the "Great City" (Jerusalem) become; how is she characterized in vs 2? List the three characteristics:
Answer: 1) as a dwelling place of demons; 2) and a home for every unclean spirit; and 3) the home of every unclean and hateful bird.
Question: How is the Harlot city contrasted to the New Jerusalem, the Faithful Bride in Rev. 21:2 & 27? What is the New Jerusalem?
Answer: in 21:27 "Nothing unclean may come into it: no one who does what is loathsome or false, but only those who are listed in the Lamb's book of life." The New Jerusalem is symbolic language for the New Covenant Church, the True Bride of Christ. This passage is another identifying passage that contrasts the New Jerusalem (New Covenant Church) to what I believe has to be "Babylon", the Old Jerusalem (Old Covenant Church) as well as contrasting those predestined for life as opposed to those "who dwell on the land" in Rev. 17:8 who belong to the Beast and "whose names have not been written since the beginning of the world in the Book of Life,..".Salvation come through Christ Jesus. In rejecting Christ the Old Covenant Jews rejected God's gift of salvation which was offered to them before Christ extended that gift to the Gentile nations.
Question: Where is the spiritual abode of this Harlot City and what are the spiritual implications of such a location? See Rev. 17:3 and also Matt. 12:43 & 4:1; and Luke 8:27.
Answer: The Harlot is in a desert wilderness in Rev. 17:3 because she has been made desolate by her sins.
Question: How does Jesus identify the desert wilderness in Matt. 12:43 and Luke 8:27 &11:24-26? What is the connection to Genesis chapter 3?
Answer: The desert wilderness is the place of sin and demons. There is a connection to the demon inspired rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden, the place of perfect communion with God. After the rebellion Adam and Eve are sent out into the wilderness "out of Eden" and Cain is also sent out into the wilderness after his sin. This is all a parallel to Jerusalem, located in the midst of the Temple of God'a symbol of Eden restored. Jerusalem rebelled against Christ; she rejected Him when she crucified Him and after His resurrection continued to deny Him. Now Old Covenant Jerusalem will be sent out into the 'desert', the 'desolate wilderness' the 'abode of demons' for her sins.
The reference in v.2 to unclean birds is interesting. It is probably a reference to Isaiah's prophecy of the curse and the destruction of Babylon in Is. 13:21 "But beasts of the desert will make their haunt there and owls fill their houses, there ostriches will settle their home...." These are all unclean birds and ritual uncleanness is associated with sin.
The reference in v. 2 translated in the New Jerusalem Bible is "a haunt of demons" and "a lodging place". The original Greek text uses the words phulake ("lodging place" in the New Jerusalem. translation) which is also translated as "watchtower" or "prison" or "stronghold," and katoiketerion ("haunt" in the New Jerusalem) which is more often translated as "dwelling." The New American Bible translates this passage: "She has become a dwelling place for demons. She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every filthy and disgusting bird". Dr. J. Massyngberde Ford points out in her commentary of Revelation that to a Jewish reader the use of the word katoiketerion (dwelling) would evoke the memory of the sanctuary of the Temple, the katoiketerion /dwelling place of the Lord God (see Ex. 15:17b, IIChron 30:27, etc.). The contrast is that instead of being the dwelling of the Presence of Yahweh, Jerusalem has now become the dwelling place of demons and the watchtower or stronghold of every unclean thing!
Verse 3 "All the nations have drunk deep of the wine of her prostitution; every king on the earth has prostituted himself with her, and every merchant grown rich through her debauchery."
In verse 2 the messenger characterized the city's sins in 3 statements. Now he states 3 reasons for her destruction, which repeat Rev. 14:8 "Babylon which gave the whole world (nations of the world) the wine of retribution to drink", 17:2 "..with whom all the kings of the earth have prostituted themselves.." and 17:4 "dressed in purple and scarlet and glittered with gold and jewels and pearls....filth of her prostitution." and restates her role as a prostitute.
Question: What are the 3 reasons for her destruction?
Answer: She has been a harlot Bride by prostituting herself with 1) nations, 2) kings and 3) merchants. The significance of 3 reasons is that 3 means fullness or completion.
The description of this city fits 1st century Jerusalem: instead of leading the nations to God as she was intended to do (remember Solomon's Temple and the Temple of Jesus' time had a court for gentiles to congregate and hear the message of the Covenant), Jerusalem has used her blessings from God to join with these 3 forces to rebel against God and His Covenant. She has become completely corrupted.
Question: The reference to nations (like Rome) and kings (like Caesar) are more obvious but what is the connection to merchants? Can you remember any confrontation between Jesus and merchants? Hint: see Matt. 21:12-13 and John 2:13-22.
Answer: Jesus cast the merchants selling animals for sacrifice and the moneylenders out of the Temple in two Scriptural accounts and perhaps two separate occasions.
Question: Why did this activity make Jesus so angry?
Answer: The corruption of the Temple through the traffic in goods affected the liturgy of the Church. Everything flowed from the religious center of the Temple of Yahweh. If the core of the tree is rotten–the fruit itself is corrupted and worthless (Mat 17:17 "a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire."). This is why Jesus became so angry with the merchants operating within the Temple precepts. Jesus will later perform a prophetic 'ot (symbolic act) in connection with His visit to the Temple during His last week in Jerusalem by cursing the fig tree (symbolic of Jerusalem and the Temple) in Matthew 21:18-22, and Mark 11:12-13, 20-22.
The Jewish historian, Josephus, characterized the high priest Ananias as "the great procurer of money." According to Josephus the court of the Gentiles, which was meant to serve as a witness and to give instruction to the Gentile nations, was the site of a flourishing trade in animal sacrifice in other items that we would call "sacramentals," and a place where world currency could be exchanged. This was a practice that was, according to Josephus, supported by the high priest and his family who took a cut of the proceeds (J.Massyngberde Ford, Revelation, p.301).
There is another important connection to the accusation that "Babylon" was no ordinary prostitute.
Question: Under the Law of the Sinai Covenant what was the punishment for a priest's daughter who profaned herself by prostitution? Hint: see Leviticus 21:9
Answer: she is to be burnt alive. This is the same judgment that condemned Jerusalem in 586(7)BC. See Jeremiah 4:11-13; ch. 30-31; Ezekiel 16:37-41; 23:22, 25-30. "I shall direct my jealousy against you; they will treat you with fury; they will cut off your nose and ears, and what is left of your family will fall by the sword; they will seize your sons and daughters, and what is left will be burnt." (Ez. 23:25). We have 2 Old Testament connections to the burning of Jerusalem: the punishment for a harlot daughter of the priesthood and the punishment for a city of the Covenant that turned from God (Deut 13:7-19).
Read Hebrews 6:4-8. Question: Is it possible to revive the Old Covenant? Is there a separate means of salvation for the Jews under the Old Covenant? Answer: No. It is impossible to have the Covenant without Jesus Christ. Even the fathers of the Old Covenant Church worshiped Christ under the signs and seals of the "Age to come" (1Corinthians 10:1-4). Now that that "Age to come" has arrived, salvation is only with Christ and the New Covenant Church. (CCC#432; Acts 4:12)
Verses 4-6 "Another voice spoke from heaven; I heard it say, 'Come out, my people, away from her, so that you do not share in her crimes and have the same plagues to bear. Her sins have reached up to the sky, and God has her crimes in mind: treat her as she has treated others. She must be paid double the amount she exacted. She is to have a doubly strong cup of her own mixture."
The last line of this passage recalls Rev. 14:9-10 "All those who worship the beast and his statue, or have had themselves branded on the hand or forehead, will be made to drink the wine of God's fury which is ready, undiluted, in his cup of retribution;". Notice the call to "Come out, my people." The call to "my people" could not be made to the Romans of the city of Rome. This is Covenant language (see Hosea 2:23, etc.)! While it is true that there were "Covenant people" in Rome in the first century, Rome was not destroyed at that time and although Rome was ravaged by various barbarian hordes, she was never totally destroyed. Then too, this address is part of a series of words reminiscent of the formation of the Sinai Covenant and the Exodus experience of God's people Israel. For example the voice calls to the people to "come out" as Yahweh called his people out of sinful Egypt. And again in Jeremiah 51:44-45 when Babylon fell and God called his people out from that city so that their lives would be saved from His wrath.
Question: Here in Rev. 18:4 what is the reason given for the departure of "my people"? Answer: so they do not have to share in her sins and the judgment she will receive.
Question: What about you? Have you heard God's call and have you been "called out" and set apart by Him from this world? Where does your allegiance lie? If we do not head the call and remain trapped in the sins and seductions of this world what is the price we will pay?
Question: How did St. Paul characterize the Jews of the Old Covenant who rejected the Jesus the Messiah in 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16. Answer: "Their conduct does not please God, and makes them the enemies of the whole human race, because they are hindering us from preaching to gentiles to save them. Thus all the time they are reaching the full extent of their iniquity, but retribution (from God) has finally overtaken them."
In verses Revelation 18:5-6 God not only calls for religious separation but physical separation and geographic separation from apostate Israel. And the righteous Judge of Heaven demands full restitution "treat her as she has treated others. She must be paid double the amount she exacted. She is to have a doubly strong cup of her own mixture."
Question: How is this judgment on the city connected to Biblical Law? See Exodus 22:1-9. Answer: This is the required restitution by Biblical Law. To the degree the city indulged in sins to that same degree she give restitution. This is the principle of lex talionis, the principle of equivalence: "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise" (Ex. 21:23-25). This double judgment is also reflected in God judgment on Babylon is Isaiah 47:6-11 for her mistreatment of God's Covenant people.
Question: Did Judea/Jerusalem mistreat God's Covenant people, His prophets, and His Saints? What about Rome?
Answer: Rome persecuted the saints but not the prophets. Jerusalem persecuted both.
Verses 7-8 "Every one of her pomps and orgies is to be matched by a torture or an agony. I am enthroned as queen, she thinks; I am no widow and will never know bereavement. For that, in one day, the plagues will fall on her: disease and mourning and famine. She will be burned to the ground. The Lord who has condemned her is mighty.'"
The New American translation of the beginning of verse 7 is: "In proportion to her boasting and sensuality, repay her in torment and grief."
The Harlot City makes two declarations about herself and uses an interesting choice of words to begin her statement.
Question: What is the significance of the words "I am"? Answer: recalls God's holy covenant name Yahweh= I am who I am. The Harlot city has in effect committed the sin of Eve who committed fornication with the Serpent in seeking to make herself equal with God in Genesis 3:5. When she says, "I am" she contradicts the declaration of the One True God: "I even I am Yahweh; and there is no Savior besides Me": (Isaiah 43:11). Just as the priest's daughter who became a prostitute, Jerusalem would be burned with fire in July of 70AD.
Please read Rev. 18:9-24 The Triple Lament for 'Babylon'
Question: In these passages three classes of people will sing a song of lament for the destruction of the city. Who are they? Answer:
1) The kings of the earth who are the leaders of the nations of the Roman empire who conspired with the faithless Covenant people in their apostasy for God.
2) The traders or merchants of the land who will no longer share in the wealth promised Jerusalem in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.
3) Every shipmaster and everyone who sails and every sailor and man who makes his living by the sea. Judea had become one of the richest trading centers in the Roman Empire but was no longer profitable after 70AD.
Please read verses 9-19 The Triple Lament of the People of the Earth
Verses 9-10 " 'There will be mourning and weeping for her by the kings of the earth who have prostituted themselves with her and held orgies with her. They see the smoke as she burns, while they keep at a safe distance through fear of her anguish. They will say: Mourn, mourn for this great city, Babylon, so powerful a city, in one short hour your doom has come upon you."
Question: The kings who mourn see the smoke of her burning which is a symbol borrowed from the destruction of what Old Testament city?
Answer: Sodom in Genesis 19:28.
Question: Each lament ends in the same words; what are they?
Answer: "mourn, mourn" or " woe, woe" " for this great city."
You may remember the mention of a very similar lament made by a man of Jerusalem named Jesus son of Ananus that was recorded by the historian Josephus prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in about 62AD: "A portent still more alarming had appeared four years before the was at a time when profound peace and prosperity still prevailed in the city. One Jesus, the son of Ananias, an uncouth peasant, came to the feast at which every Jew is expected to put up a tabernacle for God; as he stood in the Temple courts he suddenly began to cry out: 'A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the Four Winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Sanctuary, a voice against the Bridegroom and the Bride, a voice against the whole people!' Day and night he uttered this cry as he went about all the alleys.....Throughout this time, until the war broke out, he never approached another citizen nor was he seen talking to any, but daily like a prayer that he had memorized, he recited his lament: 'Woe, woe, to Jerusalem!'" (Joesphus, The Jewish War, 6.5.3).
Verses 11-14 "There will be weeping and distress over her among all the traders of the earth when no one is left to buy their cargoes of goods; their stocks of gold and silver, jewels and pearls, linen and purple and silks and scarlet; all the sandalwood, every piece in ivory or fine wood, in bronze or iron or marble; the cinnamon and spices, the myrrh and ointment and incense; wine, oil, flour and corn; their stocks of cattle, sheep, horses and chariots, their slaves and their human cargo. All the fruits you had set your hearts on have failed you; gone for ever, never to return again, is your life of magnificence and ease."
Jerusalem of Judea was one of the great crossroads of the ancient world. Historians write lavishly of the wealth that passed through Judea and Samaria on its way to the ends of the Roman Empire. Ancient Jewish writings allow us to identify no fewer that 118 different articles of imported goods from foreign lands. In Alfred Edersheim's extensive work, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, he records in vol. I: "In these streets and lanes everything might be purchased: the production of Palestine, or imported from foreign lands--, the rarest articles from the remotest parts. Exquisitely shaped, curiously designed and jeweled cups, rings and other workmanship of precious metals; glass, silks, fine linen, woolen stuffs, purple, and costly hangings; essences, ointments, and perfumes, as precious as gold; articles of food and drink from foreign lands, in short, what India, Persia, Arabia, Media, Egypt, Italy, Greece, and even the far-off lands of the Gentiles yielded, might be had in these bazaars." (vol. I page 82).
John's list in verses 11-13 seems rather mundane until you come to the last item of verse 13. I prefer Professor Massyngberde Ford's translation of the last item as "human souls." In Greek it is = psyche anthropos, literally "souls of men." That final phrase "slaves and souls of men" may be related to the description of the Phoenician city of Tyre's traffic in slaves in Ezekiel 27:13, but the Revelation passage is expanded to include not just slaves but also the 'souls of men' which is a condemnation of the "Great City's"/Jerusalem's spiritual bondage of men's souls. St. Paul made this comparison in his allegory of the Old vs. the New Covenant using Hagar and Sarah in contrast in Galatians 4:25-26 when he wrote circa 54AD: "There is an allegory here: these women stand for the two covenants. The one given on Mr. Sinai, that is Hagar, whose children are born into slavery; now Sinai is a mountain in Arabia and represents Jerusalem in its present state, for she is in slavery together with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and that is the one that is our mother..."
If the "Great City", the "Harlot" is Jerusalem, then instead of fulfilling God's plan to become "the mother of all mankind", Jerusalem had prostituted her blessings, led her children into demonic bondage and finally to destruction.
Verses 15-17 "The traders who had made a fortune out of her will be standing at a safe distance through fear of her anguish, mourning and weeping. They will be saying: Mourn, mourn for this great city; for all linen and purple and scarlet that you wore, for all your finery of gold and jewels and pearls; your huge riches are all destroyed within a single hour."
The "single hour" reference is not to be taken literally. This term is often used, especially in John, to refer to a particularly critical time period (see Matt 25:13; Mark 14:41; John 2:4; 5:25, 28; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 17:1; and 1 John 2:18). There is, however, in the passage a sense of sudden stunning disaster that was a shock to the world, which literally happened in 70AD with the destruction of this rich Roman province and her world famous capital city and Temple.
Question: What is significant about the description of the Harlot's dress?
Answer: These are all colors used in the liturgy. Again this description indicates her identity as apostate Jerusalem clothed in the glory of the Temple and in the garments of the righteous Bride. (see comments in Rev. chapter 17).
In reference to the traders or merchants, remember that Israel is accused of trading in "human souls' (Rev. 18:13). There is also an interesting reference in Ezekiel 28 to "trading" in the Lament over Tyre in the passages that symbolically point to the Serpent in Eden: vs. 15 "Your behavior was exemplary from the day you were created until guilt first appeared in you, because your busy trading has filled you with violence and sin."
I am not completely certain about the connection but it is interesting in light of our passage that sin and commerce are mentioned together.
"All the captains and seafaring men, sailors and all those who make a living from the sea kept a safe distance, watching the smoke as she burned, and crying out, 'Has there ever been a city as great as this!' They threw dust on their heads and said, with tears and groans: 'Mourn, mourn for this great city whose lavish living has made a fortune for every owner of a sea-going ship, ruined within a single hour.'"
Question: What is the significance of throwing dust on one's head? Hint: see Joshua 7:6; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 27:30.
Answer: Putting dust (or ashes) on one's head was a sign of grief and mourning.
Question: Who makes up the third group of mourners for the fallen City in these verses?
Answer: every captain and seafaring man, sailors and everyone who sails anywhere and makes a living from the sea. Now it is true that all who were employed through sea commerce would be affected by the loss of such a wealthy province, but more likely the ships and seamen points to the nations of the world who were connected to Judea through the buying and selling of goods and to whom Judea was supposed to be God's witness. However, the sea in general Biblically, usually refers to the gentile nations Israel was called to instruct, and to convert to belief in the One True God. I believe this is the connection especially in light of another Revelation passage associated with "Babylon."
Question: All the people in this passage are connected to the water or sea. What did the angel tell John the water represented in relation to "Babylon"? Hint: see Rev. 17:15.
Answer: John was told that the waters over which the city is straddled on the Beast "are all the peoples: the populations, the nations and the languages" of the earth. And in this chapter the angel lists three classes of people affected by the Harlot city's destruction: the kings of the earth, the merchants of the land and all who had ships at sea. These seem to correspond to the threefold designation of those who had been corrupted by the Harlot City in verse 3 (note: these are all gentile peoples; there are no 'code' or symbolic words for Covenant Israel being corrupted by the Harlot City. This is understandable if "the city" is Jerusalem):
Revelation 17:15 Revelation 18:3 Revelation 18:9-19
The addition of the seafarers may be connected to Psalms 107:23-24 "Voyagers on the sea in ships, plying their trade on the great ocean, have seen the works of Yahweh, his wonders in the deep." and Ezekiel 27:10-32 in the lament for Tyre: v.10 "Every seagoing ship and crew frequented you to guarantee your trade." And v.28-30 "When they hear the cries of your sailors the coasts will tremble. Then the oarsmen will all desert their ships. The sailors and seafaring people will stay ashore. They will raise their voices for you and weep bitterly...etc."
When Israel was in fellowship with God, she was rich in His spiritual and material blessings. The nations of the world came to her for both commerce and spiritual wisdom (Deut 28:12; 1Kings 10:23-25). But instead of converting the nations, the nations began to convert Israel! Trade became a snare by exposing Israel to foreign goods and foreign gods. Instead of spreading the worship of the One True God, ecumenism-- tolerance to the point of polluting her own people-- led Israel into apostasy to the point that the "seafarers cried out: "Who is like the Great City?"
Question: Where have you heard that "cry" before in Revelation and in what context? Hint: see Rev. 13:4
Answer: it is like the cry of the worshipers of the Beast in Rev. 13:4 when they called out "Who is like the Beast?". But because Israel (Judea/Jerusalem) had embraced the Beast she was judged, and in "one hour" all her riches and word influence was destroyed, she was "ruined", never to again be the Great City!
Question: If this is Jerusalem, how after 70AD will she never again be the "Great City.?
Answer: She has lost her place as the center of Covenantal worship. From now on Rome will be the home of New Covenant believers. Christians don't want to destroy Rome; they want to convert and conquer Rome. This is why Jesus called Peter the "son of Jonah" in Matthew 16:16-18. We know from other Scripture passages that Simon/Peter was the son of a man named John (John 1:42 and 21:15,16, 17). Jesus called Peter the "son of Jonah" because like Jonah God would send him to convert the capital city of the world superpower. Jonah converted Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, and Peter converted Rome, the capital of the world superpower, the Roman Empire!
Question: Can you give some examples from the Old Testament of the 'pollution' of foreign gods? Hint: see 1 Kings 11:1-8; 1Kings 12:26-33;1Kings; 1Kings 14: 21-24; 1Kings 16:29-34; etc.
Answer: One example: 1K 11:1-8: (vs1) "King Solomon loved many foreign women...(vs 4) "when Solomon grew old his wives swayed his heart to other gods and his heart was not wholly with Yahweh his God...(vs7) "Then it was that Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab."
Now proponents of the "Rome as the great city" theory will point out that Jerusalem is not on the coast but is instead an inland city. The text says the sailors "watched" from their ships. True enough, but guess what? Rome doesn't qualify either. You cannot see the sea from the city of Rome and ships on the sea cannot see the city of Rome! These seafarers could be the fishermen of the Sea of Galilee but they also suffered in the destruction from the rebellion (see last week's passage on blood in the Sea of Galilee). The passage "watching the smoke as she burned" is used figuratively. It does not mean that the "seafarers" literally watch Jerusalem burn. The whole Roman world in 70AD heard of the terribly destruction of the "Great City" of Jerusalem. They all "watched" or stood by. No one came to her rescue.
Please read verses 20-24 The Lament of the Church
Verses 20-21 " 'Now heaven, celebrate her downfall, and all you saints, apostles and prophets: God has given judgment for you against her.' Then a powerful angel picked up a boulder like a great millstone, and as he hurled it into the sea, he said, 'That is how the great city of Babylon is going to be hurled down, never to be seen again.'"
Question: Who is speaking?
Answer: the "another voice from heaven" from verse 4.
Question: Why do the Saints and Prophets celebrate? In Revelation 6:10 what petition did the Saints cry out to God?
Answer: "Holy, true Master, how much longer will you wait before you pass sentence and take vengeance for our death on the inhabitants of (those who dwell on the land) the inhabitants of the earth?" As you may recall the formula "those who dwell on the land" is used 12 times in Revelation. Once for each of the 12 tribes of Israel; this formula statement refers to apostate Israel.
Question: Do you remember the statement Jesus made about judgment on Judea? See Matthew 23:33-36. What is the connection of Jesus' statement in Matthew 23 to Rev. 6:10? "...and so you will draw down on yourselves the blood of every upright person that has been shed on earth....it will recoil on this generation." and "They shouted in a loud voice, 'Holy, true Master, how much longer will you wait before you pass sentence and take vengeance for our death on those who dwell on the land?"
Answer: Jesus' statement in Matthew is the judgment for which the Saints cry out.
Question: Which city do you think Jesus and the Saints are referring to? Is it Rome or Jerusalem? Which city was in Covenant with Yahweh? What did 1st century Christians want for Rome? Was it destruction or conversion? Answer: _______
Question: Do you remember the judgment the Law demanded for a city of the Covenant that has turned away from Yahweh? Hint: see Deut. 13:12/13-16/17.
Answer: it must be entirely burned to the ground.
The key to understanding Rev. 18:20-21 lies in the cry of the Saints for justice and vengeance in chapter 6 and at the same time in the song of victory/lament in chapter 18:22-23. This passage in verses 20-21 is Yahweh's answer to the cries of the Saints for judgment and vengeance in Rev. 6:10.
Question: How is the angel identified in Rev. 18:21? Answer: as a 'powerful angel.' Question: This is the third and final occurrence of this expression in Revelation. Do you recall the other two times this description is used for an angel and in what context? Hint: see Rev. 5:2; and 10:1 Answer:
#1 Rev. 5:2 when the powerful angel is heard calling for someone to open the scroll declaring God's covenantal judgments on the "Great City"
#2 Rev. 10:1ff when the powerful angel is seen as the Witness to the New Creation and is holding the "little scroll" which speaks of the New Covenant and of the Church's role in the history of redemption, in the plan of implementing in the "Last Days" "the Mystery of God", which was revealed to the prophets. As you will recall the "Last Days" are the same "Last Days" spoken about by St. Peter in his great homily in Acts chapter 2 and refers to the "Last Days" of the Old Covenant.
Question: In the third use of the words "powerful angel" what act does this angel perform? Answer: he throws a millstone into the sea.
Refer for a moment back to vs 8. In vs 8 the harlot city's punishment appears to be in the future but all the laments speak in the past tense (see vss. 10, 17 & 20). In Rev. 18:21 the angel speaks first in the future and, after throwing the millstone into the sea, in present tenses. His action of throwing the millstone is a prophetic 'ot (Hebrew), a dramatic symbolic action which brings to pass a future event (for examples see Jeremiah 25:10-14, 51:63; Ezek. 26:13; Deut 32:43; Matt. 18:6). This passage also recalls the Song of Moses in Exodus 15:5 in which the Pharaoh's chariots and men are described as going down into the sea like a stone. It may help to know that a millstone was made of 2 round, flat stones. It came in two types: a small millstone that could be used by hand but also a large type that was introduced during the Greco-Roman period that had to be worked by donkeys. The word in Greek refers to the larger millstone, which indicates the strength of this angel of destruction!
There may be a connection to Jeremiah 51:63-64 where Jeremiah performs an 'ot by writing what Yahweh had ordered down in a book and then by Yahweh's command, tying the book to a stone and throwing them into the Euphrates river while saying: "In this way Babylon will sink to rise no more because of the evil that I am going to bring upon it." But there is another, more significant connection to this prophetic millstone and the Temple in Jerusalem.
Question: Looking at verse 21: Do you recall a statement make by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew after He had driven out the merchants from the Temple in Jerusalem, and after He had cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit (a symbol of Israel) that prophesizes this action of the angel of destruction? Hint: see Matthew 21:12-22.
Answer: This Matthew passage is a good example why you cannot take a passage out to context to correctly interpret it. The Temple, the fig tree, and the mountain are all connected. The Temple of Yahweh was located on Mt. Moriah (sometimes called Mt. Zion in connection with the redemption of God's Covenant people). Jesus cleanses the Temple on the mountain (Matt. 21:12-14). The children acknowledge Him as the Messiah (Matt. 21: 15-16). In verses18-20 He curses the fig tree/Judea by saying "May you never bear fruit again" (vs.20), and then He tells the amazed disciples: "In truth I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt at all, not only will you do what I have done to the fig tree (Judea/Israel) but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be pulled up and thrown into the sea,' it will be done."
Question: What "mountain" was Jesus speaking of? Answer: God's holy mountain, The Temple/Jerusalem.
Question: When was this fulfilled?
Answer: in verse 21 of Revelation 18 and historically in July of 70AD. Please also refer to the notes on Revelation 8:8 concerning these passages and the use of the word "mountain" in Scripture.
Question: Rev. 18:21 does not refer to a "mountain" but to a "millstone." What is the connection between the Temple in Jerusalem and a "millstone'? Hint: for what is a millstone used? Also read 2 Samuel 24:16-24; 1 Chron 21:15-28; 2Chron 3:1; Daniel 2:35
Answer: The Temple of Yahweh was built on what had been a threshing floor for separating the valuable wheat grain from the worthless outer covering. The wheat grains would later be ground by a millstone into wheat.
Question: Do you see any connection between the wheat and the chaff verses the redeemed and those who reject salvation?
Answer: A millstone represents all productivity but more than that is symbolic here. The Temple of Yahweh was the great "threshing floor" of the earth. Here the "wheat" of humanity was separated from the "chaff." We will see more symbolic comparisons to this in the following verses. The Temple "ground out" the redeemed of the earth. You might also think about the connection to Christ's passion and holy Eucharist.
Verse 21b phrase "the great city...never to be seen again" causes some confusion. Of course, Rome was never completely destroyed (although she was 'ravaged' a number of times by invading barbarian tribes. Jerusalem was destroyed about 19 times, historically. She was completely destroyed in 586(7)BC, 70AD, and 135AD (when the Romans rebuilt her as Aelia Capitolina), but in fact she was rebuilt. Jerusalem was not any more destroyed "never to rise again" than Edom or Egypt. In Isaiah 34:9-10 the prophet using evocative language, associates the destruction of Edom with Sodom and Gomorrah the same way the "Great City" is associated with these earlier disasters. In a literal and physical sense the prophecy about Jerusalem was not fulfilled , but it has been fulfilled in terms of its actual meaning and intent in relation to the Covenant with Yahweh.
I do not believe the total destruction refers to the physical city but instead to Israel (Judea) as the Covenant people. This is the "forever" desolation of Jerusalem. The Old Covenant, having been fulfilled, and being announced no longer valid "will not be found any longer." No longer will Israel be a distinct, holy nation of special priests. They will join the in the saved multitude of the earth with no distinction between "Greek and Jew" as St. Paul says in Galatians 3:28 (also in Ephesians 2:14), and as Isaiah prophesized in Is. 19:19-25. The New Israel, has becoming the New Covenant Church, the Bride of Christ. (read Galatians 3:26-29; Eph 2:11-22). There is no salvation outside of Christ and the New Covenant Universal Church! See Acts 4:12; 9:14; James 2:7. Also CCC#432; # 845-6; #847-8 (salvation of those who never heard the gospel message).
Question: Does this mean that Protestants are not part of the Church? Answer: No, this does not mean our Protestant brothers and sisters are excluded! Those who are born into communities of Christians who are brought up in the faith of Christ, and have been justified by faith in legitimate Baptism are incorporated in Christ, although separated from us in other ways. They are united with us in One Body in Christ and are therefore accepted by us as brothers and sisters in the Lord. See CCC# 818
Verses 22-24 "Never again in you will be heard the song of harpists
and minstrels, the music of flute and trumpet;
never again will craftsmen of every skill be found
in you or the sound of the handmill be heard;
never again will shine the light of the lamp in you,
never again will be heard in you the voices of bridegroom and bride.
Your traders were the princes of the earth, all the nations were led astray
by your sorcery.
In her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and all the blood that was ever shed on earth."
Most commentators do not list this "song" as one of lament but instead as one of victory and praise. I think it is both. For me there is great sadness and regret in this song of the heavenly assembly. I also see a connection between the 5 laments and the symbolic significance of the number 5 in Scripture. The number 5 is symbolic of the grace of God. Israel was meant to bring all nations of the earth into God's abundant grace. When she rejected Jesus as the Messiah she lost her place as the conduit of God's grace and salvation, instead the New Covenant Israel would take her place. I am further convinced of this connection because the Lament of the Church falls into 5 parts.
I also think it is significant that the laments for the fall of the "Great City" begin and end with a call from heaven.
Question: Looking at the lament of the Church what 5 parts do you see in the song?
Answer: The loss of
1. Music: harpists, minstrals, flute players, trumpeters
2. Productivity of the people: craftsmen
3. Productivity of the land: millers
4. God's word: the light of the lamp in you
5. Covenantal union: the voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride
These 5 classifications correspond to the functions of the Temple in Jerusalem:
1. Music: the Levitical orchestra and choir (see 1Chronicles 25)
2. Craftsmen: Bezalel, Oholiah, Hiram, etc who built the Temple (see Ex 31:1-11) & 1 Kings 5
3. Mill: the Temple itself /the "threshingfloor" (see 2 Chron. 3:1)
4. Lamp: the Lampstand(s) that symbolized the Presence of God in the Temple: (see Exodus 25:31-40 & 2 Chron. 4:19-22)
5. Marriage: the marriage of Yahweh and Israel (see Ezekiel 16:1-14)
Question: The desolation of "the City" is said to fall on her for two reasons. What is the first reason? Hint: see Rev. 18 the last line of vs. 23
Answer: #1) Her traders (merchants) were the great men of the Land.
Question: The question is, if this city is the capital of Israel/Judea, what were her merchants trading in? Hint: see Rev. 18:13 and Matthew 23:15
Answer: Not just "human cargo" meaning slaves, but the souls of men. Jesus spoke about this when He condemned the scribes and Pharisees and called them hypocrites when He said in Matthew 23:15 that they travel about on sea and land to make one convert and when that one is converted Jesus said they made him twice as much a son of the devil as they are themselves! "Alas for you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and anyone who becomes one you make twice as fit for hell as your are.'"
Question: What is the second reason of the city's punishment?
Answer: #2) All the nations of the world were led astray and deceived by her sorcery. The practice of 'sorcery' is associated with Satan and the punishment under the Law was death.
Israel had been called at Mt. Sinai to bring the "light" of Yahweh to the world and to offer up sacrifices on behalf of Israel and the nations of the earth. The end result of this should have reached fulfillment in the presentation of Jesus the Messiah to the nations of the earth as the "Light of the world" (John's Gospel chapter 1) and the true sacrifice for their sins.
Question: What happened instead and what was the result?
Answer: Israel rejected Christ, the sum, the focus, the fulfillment of Salvation History and in doing so rejected the New Covenant while still trying to hold on the formal structure of the Old Covenant. In doing this Israel turned from a true prophet nation to a false prophet nation and in league with Satan, contriving to withhold Christ from the world. (Remember Jesus twice called the Jewish assembly or synagogue the "Synagogue of Satan in Rev. 2:9 & 3:9). In the end Israel/Judea was torn apart by what she attempted to create.
Verse 24 is for me the final proof that this city is Jerusalem. This is John's final clue to the city's identity. "In her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and all the blood that was ever shed on earth." This is the sum of Jesus' condemnation of Jerusalem at the close of His final Temple discourse before His passion:
"Look, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes: some you will slaughter and crucify, some you will scourge in your synagogues and hunt from town to town; and so you will draw down on yourselves the blood of every upright person that has been shed on earth, from the blood of Abel the holy to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. In truth I tell you, it will all recoil on this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you!" Matthew 23:34-37
You must decide for yourself about the identity of this Harlot city. But for me, this language cannot be applied to Rome or to any other city. Only Jerusalem was guilty of "all the righteous blood shed on earth." Throughout Biblical history it was always been Jerusalem that had been the great Harlot, the False Bride, continually falling into adultry-apostasty and persecuting God's holy prophets (see Acts 7:51-52). John has fulfilled his mission as the prosecutor of God's Covenant Lawsuit against Israel (Judea)/Jerusalem. She has been judged, the Saints, their blood poured out around God's altar, have testified against her. She has been found guilty as charged. In 70AD the sentence was completed'she was destroyed by fire and left desolate. She lost her title as Bride of Yahweh and a New Universal Covenant, a remnant of the Old that was set aside and was "grafted in" and took her place as the Bride with the hope that all of Israel would eventually turn from the fruitless Old and come into the New Covenant in Christ. The Bride of Christ continues, in faith, to show the light of Christ to all the nations of the earth! (See Romans 11:1-24) But Paul also gives a warning: "You will say, 'Branches were broken off on purpose for me to be grafted in.' True; they through their unbelief were broken off, and you are established thorough your faith. So it is not pride that you should have, but fear: If God did not spare the natural branches, He might not spare you either. Remember God's severity as well as his goodness: His severity to those who fell, and his goodness to you as long as you persevere in it; if not, you too will be cut off. And they, if they do not persevere in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for it is within the power of God to graft them back again."
This passage of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good way to close today's study. Please check the course Outline for a list of CCC passages that pertain to the different chapters in our study.
CCC# 2642 "The Revelation of "what must soon take place," the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy but also by the intercession of the "witnesses" (martyrs). The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those, who having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of Him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb. In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the "Father of lights," from whom "every perfect gift" comes down. Thus faith is pure praise."
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.