A Study of Revelation 17:4
“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.”
The term “golden cup” is used only twice in scripture. Here in Revelation 17:4 and again in Jeremiah 51:7. It is very interesting that both renderings of this term are in reference to Babylon.
In Jeremiah 51:7 we read “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand.”
The theme of Jeremiah chapter fifty-one is God’s judgment upon Babylon. Even though God brought this judgment to pass in ancient history, this chapter nonetheless prophesies of God’s final judgment upon the end-time spiritual Babylon.
God discloses much insight in this chapter with the use of shadows and types in portraying the final judgment upon Mystery Babylon. It must be emphasized again that God used ancient Babylon as a representative of all of the unsaved world, just as He used Egypt and Assyria to also represent the unsaved world.
However, when we come to the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the Book of Revelation we find that both of these chapters cannot be speaking of the world in general, but are speaking of the apostate condition of the church of Christ worldwide. This is precisely why this proposal is so misunderstood. We naturally want to separate the apostate corporate church from the unsaved world. But scripture clearly teaches this is what befalls the corporate church of Christ just prior to the great tribulation. It is termed as “a falling away” in 2 Thessalonians chapter two. To fall away from the truth of God is when the corporate church (minus true believers) becomes as the world.
They think and act no differently than the world with regard to the pure doctrines of God. In other words, they become as the unsaved world; they become as Babylon (which typified the unsaved world). They have opened their doors to the world and have themselves become one with the world.
It is little wonder the apostle John, while inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote “…and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration,” Revelation 17:6.
The Greek defines this as “I wondered; I was amazed, bewitched with great admiration or with great perception.” Many Greek interlinears read similar to this: “and I wondered, having seen her, with great wonder.” To be extremely mystified, bewildered, and to gaze in wonder.
Jeremiah 51:5-6 substantiates the idea that the church (typified by Old Testament Israel and Judah) in its end will be labeled by God as Babylon.
“For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the holy one of Israel.”
During the great tribulation this verse will still carry its relevance. Israel and Judah (the True Church) will not be forsaken, even though their land (the corporate church; the outer shell) will be filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.
“Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.”
Verse six begins by saying: “flee out of the midst of the LAND of Israel and Judah”????
No, this is not what is being said, although this is the correct understanding. The precise reading is as we just read:
“Flee out of the midst of BABYLON.”
God is typifying Israel as Babylon!
God is clearly giving the commandment to flee or escape from among the sins of Israel and Judah (the corporate church at its height of apostasy); c.f. Matthew 24:15-16 “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand); Then let them which be in Judea FLEE into the mountains.”
Jeremiah 51:6 goes on to say this is the time of the LORD’S “vengeance.”
As God brought judgment upon ancient Babylon, He did so as a spiritual “type” or illustration of His global judgment upon – not merely the world – but upon the unbelieving church; Babylon the Great. This appears to be the case, since the description of Babylon’s “destruction” in Revelation chapter eighteen does not (contrary to popular belief) describe any physical destruction of any kind, but rather depicts the absence of the precious attributes of the true Gospel of Christ. It unveils and displays the scarcity of God’s true spiritual merchandise, which is no longer to be found in this woman – now harlot.
Returning to Jeremiah 51:5-7 we see that the land of Israel and Judah (verse 5) was once a GOLDEN CUP IN THE LORD’S HAND, (Jeremiah 51:7). “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand…”
The Hebrew defines the term “golden cup” as to “hold together; a valuable or precious commodity.” (Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
This golden cup is the cup of salvation!
“I will take the CUP of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”
Again in Psalm 16:5 we read: “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my CUP: thou maintainest my lot.”
In Psalm 23:5 we recall “…thou anointest my head with oil; my CUP runneth over.”
“Babylon has been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand.”
The corporate church, as a whole, has faithfully declared the Word of God throughout the Church-Age until the falling away and the abomination of desolation (Satan himself) being placed in the congregations worldwide.
What is the condition of this golden cup within the end-time apostate church of the harlot?
We read that it has become her self-righteousness!
Revelation 17:4 declares that this harlot was seen “having a golden cup in her hand.”
Jeremiah 51:7 tells us that this harlot, this Babylon, was once a golden cup “IN THE LORD’S HAND.”
Once the corporate church fell wholly into apostasy, the salvation that she once declared (the golden cup in the LORD’S hand) has become the golden cup in “HER” hand (Revelation 17:4). She is no longer proclaiming the truth of the Word of God. The salvation that she is declaring is a works gospel; thus the golden cup is no longer in the LORD’S hand, but it is in her own hand.
No wonder God says of this cup, it is : “… full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication,” (Revelation 17:4).
The corporate church no longer cares for the true Gospel, but desires a gospel that they can design – a works gospel.
Thus Isaiah 4:1 has come to fruition:
“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name.”
“Seven women,” the spiritual completion of the false church will not eat of Christ, who is the “bread of life” (John 6:48), rather they will eat their own bread, Isaiah 4:1 says.
Neither will they wear the righteous apparel of the true believer; they too will wear their own apparel. They will have their versions of the gospel.
But will this false church acknowledge their need for the true Gospel?
Will they view themselves as unsaved?
Of course not. As we see in today’s world, the multitude of false congregations eat their own bread and wear their own apparel, but at the same time declare firmly that they are the true Church. They insist that they are indeed true believers ….. “ONLY LET US BE CALLED BY THY NAME, TO TAKE AWAY OUR REPROACH.”
It appears that today’s corporate church – Mystery Babylon – is attempting to build a spiritual “tower,” whose top will reach into heaven, as in ancient times – without the worship and acknowledgment of the Creator.