A popular question during the Vietnam War was, "What if they threw a war and nobody came?" This illustrates that we condone and lend support to activities we attend. If everyone obeyed God by refusing to keep pagan holidays, one of Satan's ploys to obscure God's plan for mankind would be thwarted. The Bible is very clear that we should avoid, flee, or turn away from the ways of this world and beware of their entry into the church of God (II Timothy 3:1-5).
Martin G. Collins
Revelation 18 is not describing a church, but a city/nation involved in massive, worldwide merchandising, shipping, and manufacturing. It is a prophetic picture of globalism. What church has sufficient economic power that, when it ceases to exist, worldwide trade quickly comes to a grinding halt, throwing hardheaded businessmen into a panic? Except possibly as an investor, the Catholic Church has never been involved in manufacturing. Revelation 18 provides no information whatsoever tying the Woman riding the Beast to religion.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Five): The Great Harlot
The phrase "drinking of the cup" eventually symbolized sharing the consequences of what was in that cup. It also came to mean accepting what the king dealt out. The whole world drinks of Babylon's cup, full of the wine of her fornications and abominations. Since "drinking of the cup" means accepting whatever is appointed for one to experience—both good and bad, joyful or sorrowful—all who drink of Babylon's cup will share in her future.
In the Bible are numerous references to this cup of God's wrath and how Babylon and other nations will drink from it, symbolizing the divine punishments being inflicted (Revelation 14:10; 16:19; Psalm 11:6; Isaiah 51:17, etc.). Revelation 14:10, for example, speaks of drinking "of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation." Drinking of a cup means participating in whatever that cup contains.
Those whom God is calling out of Babylon are asked to drink of another cup. The psalmist writes, "I will take up the cup of salvation" (Psalm 116:13). This cup has far more positive ramifications for us than the curses boiling within God's cup of indignation! The cup of salvation contains all the blessings of God, especially those of eternal life and reward in His Kingdom.
Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and especially Ezekiel and Hosea use this same metaphorical form to illustrate Israel's faithless relationship with God, connecting directly to the same usage in Revelation 17 and 18. Why is this important? Virtually the entire Bible is devoted to God's purpose for and relationship to Israel and the church. They are the focus of God's intention to reproduce Himself, beginning with His promises and then His covenant with Abraham. God went so far as to enter into a symbolic marriage with Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, revealing the intimacy He considered their relationship to have.
He did this with no other nation. Even when the time came to summon Gentiles into His purpose, the great bulk of those called into the church have been Israelites dwelling among fellow Israelites in Israelitish lands. A person even becomes a spiritual Jew when converted! God's pattern of focusing on Israel continues throughout the Bible to the end-time prophecies. We live in the end time, and God's concern in Revelation, the ultimate end-time book, does not turn from this pattern. God's purpose for the nation of Israel is not yet complete, as Romans 9-11 makes clear.
Thus Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, and the church, the Israel of God, Abraham's spiritual descendants, are still His major focus. Other parts of the Bible reveal that Israel has fully earned the title of "the Great Harlot Babylon" even as she has earned the titles of "Sodom" and "Egypt."
The Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18 is not a Gentile church or a Gentile nation because neither of these has ever qualified for that title by corrupting a covenant relationship with God as Israel has. Of this, God says in Amos 3:2, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Having done only what comes naturally without the revelation of God, the Gentile world will have its opportunity to have a covenant relationship with Him following Christ's return.
In defiance of God, Israel has rebelled against her responsibilities and played the harlot with the world. She has embraced its ways to such an extent that she has outdone the Gentiles in their manner of life, becoming appropriately named "Babylon the Great." In Revelation 17 and 18, God is describing the influence and character of end-time Israel. He depicts all of Israel in close relationship with the Beast, influencing it, but with the two Joseph tribes, America (Manasseh) and Britain (Ephraim), as the Woman's strongest components - and perhaps America is the one primarily described, as it is the most influential at the end.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Eight): God, Israel, and the Bible
Was Babylon ever really a city? Yes, it was. Was Babylon ever really a nation? Yes, it was. Revelation is an end-time book, and just as Babylon of old was literally both a city and a nation, the Babylon at the end-time also is a city and a nation.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 5)
Babylon the Great is clearly the economic nerve-center of world trade, not of religion. Notice, first the kings of the earth bewail her destruction, and then the businessmen follow suit. It is hard to imagine both the kings of the earth and hardheaded businessmen bewailing the destruction of a church! These leaders are bewailing the destruction of an entity in which their power and wealth are involved, placing them in grave danger of overwhelming loss because Babylon is no longer able to consume their products.
Notice in Revelation 18:3, 7, 19, and 23 how clear the inferences and direct statements are regarding wealth, not only of Babylon itself, but also of those who trade with her. How can these scriptures apply to a church? Modern Israel has been largely responsible for causing the prosperity of Germany, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and now China through trade.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Ten): Babylon the Great Is a Nation
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Revelation 18:3: