Useful Bible Studies > Revelation Commentary > chapter 17

What causes great acts of cruelty?

Revelation 17:6

When Babylonís army destroyed Jerusalem, its great cruelty astonished the people there. You can read a record of those terrible events, perhaps by Jeremiah, in the Book of Lamentations.

Babylon acted much more cruelly than it should have done (Isaiah 47:6; Zechariah 1:15). Its soldiers killed even people who could not fight against them (Lamentations 2:21). They destroyed the temple (Godís house), the palace, every important building and even the city walls (Jeremiah 52:13-14). They led away most of the few people who were still alive as their prisoners. It was not necessary for them to act so cruelly. It was like the behaviour of a drunk, who cannot control himself.

During Johnís life, similar things had again happened in Jerusalem. This time, it was the army of another city, Rome, that destroyed Jerusalem completely. Romeís anger, however, was not just against Godís people in Israel. It also acted with the greatest cruelty against the first Christians. By the time when John wrote the Book of Revelation, many thousands of Christians had already died. One of the first to die was Johnís own brother, James (Acts 12:2).

There was no proper reason for Romeís cruelty towards the Christians. The Christians were loyal people; they obeyed the law and they paid their taxes (Romans 13:1-7).

The picture of the woman that John saw explained this cruel behaviour - but it completely astonished John. Babylon and Rome were simply acting as many people do. They want to satisfy their desires so they try to control everyone and everything. However, to do that they must carry out more and more evil acts. In the end, they cannot even control their own behaviour. Instead, their own evil desires control them.

Next part: The spirit of antichrist (Revelation 17:7-8)


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© 2016, Keith Simons.