The final chapters in the Book of Revelation contrast two great cities. These are not just ordinary cities; they are extremely powerful capital cities that rule over the whole world (17:18). In fact, the character of each of these cities describes well the world to which each belongs.
In chapters 21 and 22, the city is Godís city, the New Jerusalem, on the new earth. Here, Godís people will always live in complete safety. It is a wonderful place where everything is perfect.
First, however, we read in chapters 17 and 18 about the city that rules the present world in the present age. That city loves money, possessions and wealth, but it is an awful place. It is a place where Godís people suffer from acts of great cruelty. The wealth and power of this city attract people; but the real character of the city is wicked. It has achieved that wealth and power by its wicked acts.
It was common for people to refer to a city as female. The Book of Revelation does that, too. The New Jerusalem is called a bride in Revelation 21:2. On the other hand, the city that rules this present age is called a prostitute. A prostitute is a woman who is not loyal to her husband; she has sex with other men for money.
We ask, of course, which city chapters 17 and 18 refer to. The answer is that at different times, different cities have ruled the world (or rather, a large part of it). At the time of John, the most important city in the world was Rome. Six centuries earlier, it was Babylon. In Daniel chapter 2, God showed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon that none of these cities would keep their wealth and power. Only the government that God establishes - the rule of Christ in the New Jerusalem - will last always.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.