“Harlot” “rendered “whore” in the King James Version of the Bible– is a term that denotes a woman that prostitutes herself sexually. In Bible Prophecy, the term is applied, symbolically, to a system of religion that rejects true doctrine from God’s word, and gives itself totally to a false system of worship.
Just as the true church (all born again believers of the Church Age the dispensation of Grace–is known as the Bride of Christ, the Harlot, as depicted in Revelation, chapter 17, can be likened to being the mistress of Antichrist. She is of her father, the Devil.
“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” Rev. 17: 1-6)
This harlot church system will, many prophecy students and teachers believe, be made up of an ectlectic mix of religions in the time following the Rapture of the true Church. The religious system, called “Mystery Babylon,” will work in concert with the Antichrist regime to enslave the world in every realm of life.
Many believe the ecumenical movement among the religions of the world and the falling away within Christian church bodies from the sound, fundamental doctrines is quickly moving the world toward this prophesied harlot system.
Dr. John Walvoord, one of the great Bible teachers of our day, addressed this troubling Bible prophecy for the Tribulation era.
“The great prostitute described in these verses is a portrayal of Apostate Christendom in the end time. When the Rapture occurred, all true believers were caught up to be with the Lord, but left behind were many thousands of those who made some profession of faith in Christ and claimed to be Christians who were not born again. These constituted the apostate Church which will dominate the scene politically and religiously up to the midpoint of that last seven years before the Second Coming.
The apostasy, called adultery and fornication here, of course refers to spiritual unfaithfulness, not to physical adultery. The church, devoid of any redeeming influence, is now completely united with the world, and, as the passage indicates, is working hand in glove with the political powers.
John saw a woman on a scarlet-colored beast with seven heads and ten horns. the beast is obviously the political empire described in 13:1-10. The fact that she is seated on the beast indicates that she is working with the beasts to attain common ends, that is, the subjugation of the entire world to their authority, and that the political power is supporting the apostate church. The woman wears the trappings of ceremonial religion in which purple and scarlet are prominent and which is often enhanced with precious stones. From the title written on her forehead, she is linked with the mystery of Babylon the Great. In referring to this identification as a mystery, because its ultimate truth is learned only by divine revelation, the influence of Babylon for evil is supported in Scripture from as early as Genesis 11 and continues through the revelation of the destruction of the city in Revelation 18.
Babylon is the title that covers all false religions that claim to be Christian in their content. Babylonian influence clearly crept into the church, and much of its ritual is similar to the Babylonian religious rites.
When babylon was introduced in Genesis 11, her true character was revealed as rebelling against God and attempting to build a tower in recognition of her worship of heathen deities. Because this was contrary to the Will of God, He confounded the language the people were using at that time so that they could not understand each other; hence, the term “Babel,” meaning confusion, applies to the subsequent history of Babylon (cf. Gen. 11:9).
It should be borne in mind that the term “Babylon” applies to Babylonian religion; it also applies to the city of Babylon; and it applies to the empire of Babylon.
Babylon had a long history and rose to considerable prominence in the time of Hammurabi (1726-1686 B.C.)….
In this section, however, the revelation concentrates on the influence of Babylon religiously. Because the religion of Babylon was in the form of a secret religious rite in which they worshipped certain idols, it requires divine revelation to understand completely what they held. The wife of Nimrod, who was the founder of Babylon, headed up the mystery religion. which characterized Babylon. She was given the name Semiramis, and according to the adherents’ belief, she had a son conceived miraculously whose name was Tammuz. He was portrayed as a savior who fulfills the promise of deliverance given to Eve. This was, of course, a satanis description which permeates pagan religions.
The prophecy concerning Babylon here as well as other allusions to religion in the Book of revelation demonstrate that apostasy will have its final form in the Great tribulation in the worship of the world ruler and Satan.
In the period of the first half of the seven years leading up to the Second Coming of Christ, Babylon combined with Romanism becomes a world religion–Christian in name, but not in content. Those who do come to Christ will be subject to her persecution, and the woman is described as “drunk with the blood of the Saints” (rev. 17:6). The apostate church has been unsparing in its persecution of those who have a true faith in Christ. Those who come to Christ in the end time will have the double problem of avoiding martyrdom at the hands of the political rulers and at the hands of the apostate church.
One of the outstanding, convincing arguments for worshipping the beast is the fact that he comes back from apparent death to life, as recoded in 13:3. the reference to the Abyss identifies the home of Satan and the demon world. The whole false religion found in Babylon is satanic in its origin and therefore is closely related to the demon world.
The purpose of the alliance between the woman and the beast is that both are seeking world domination. When this is finally achieved, as the end of the chapter indicates, the political power will no longer need the religious power to support it.
Walvoord, John F. “Every Prophecy in the Bible.” Chariot Victor Publishing. 1999. pp 604-607