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. Revelation 17:4-5 (KJV)
There are great and timely lessons believers in this day and age can glean from these two seemingly unrelated and innocuous accounts in the Scriptures about the harlot Babylon and the Old Testament high priest. I trust that the Holy Spirit will give us some illumination into the mind of God as we live in these end times.
In the above-mentioned Scriptures, there are some sobering and profound truths that are hidden therein that the Holy Spirit will want you to grasp in order to be able to distinguish the true curch from the false church.
To be sure, the apostle John by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit paints the portrait of the false church (the harlot Babylon). But before he reveals her false beauty, glamour and wealth, he reveals to the church in his days, and as an extension the church in our contemporary culture, the judgment and the ultimate fall of the harlot Babylon (Revelation 17:1).
Revelation 17:1 (KJV)
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:
This is instructive because it is a warning to believers not to invest their lives in this system. Even though, it looks so beautiful, glamorous and wealthy, it is evil, false and temporal.
The apostle John goes further to reveal that the harlot sits upon many waters which are nations, peoples, tongues and tribes. This is symbolic of her captivating multitudes as they love what she is offering, and they are intoxicated with, and euphoric about the wine she serves in her golden cup. She also sits enthroned over them as a King sits on his throne (Revelation 17:15).
Revelation 17:15 (KJV)
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
The preceding Scriptures present a graphic picture of the harlot Babylon, the false church with her adornment and wealth. Surprisingly, they look similar to those of the Old testament high priest. But with adequate discernment, the Scriptures reveal a difference that is indeed profound, timely, relevant and useful to the church in our culture. And any believer who desires to stay true and loyal to Christ to the very end must pay close attention to this!
In the same vein, the apostle John reveals to us that the harlot Babylon is arrayed in purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones
and pearls exactly like the Old Testament high priest. However, there is a major element that the Old testament high priest is adorned with that is visibly absent in the harlot Babylon’s adornment namely: the BLUE (Exodus 28:8-9).
Exodus 28:8-9 (KJV)
And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:
It is instructive to note that only the TRUE PRIEST and the TRUE CHURCH have the BLUE in their adornment, as well as the scarlet, purple, gold and precious stones.
This is the punchline of this discourse! To the undiscerning, the harlot Babylon (false church) looks exactly like the true church, but the BLUE isn’t present in the adornment of the false church. The BLUE represents THE HEAVENLY (Sapphire Blue), THE REALM OF THE SPIRIT, and that which is SPIRITUAL (Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:26).
Exodus 24:10 (New International Version)
and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky.
Ezekiel 1:26 (AMPLIFIED)
Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, it appeared like [it was made of] sapphire or lapis lazuli; and [seated] on that which looked like a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.
It is crucial to note that “lapis lazuli” in the Latin is a beautiful celestial deep blue stone and considered as a semi-precious stone with its intense color display. It consists of deep blue lazurite, sparkly pyrite, cloudy white calcite, and other minerals).
What does this profound thought mean to the church in this evil age? And what lessons can she glean from it?
Astonishingly, the apostle John brings out and further reveals Satan’s main characteristic as a deceiver and master counterfeiter. He tries to counterfeit what God ordained and created in His Omniscience including His true church. He paints a graphic portrait of the harlot Babylon (false church) as one which lives in ostentation, luxury, splendor and showy wealth as she’s adorned with purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones and jewels. However, she has a golden cup in her hand filled with the filthiness of her fornication and her abominations which is the false teaching by which she seduces multitudes of people from the truth.
The harlot Babylon represents in the spirit realm the false church. She is a picture of a church that entices multitudes with tremendous lavish display of wealth, ornamentation, magnificent buildings and architecture. But all it appeals to is the soul of man and it never touches or changes his spirit. The whole drawing power of the false church (harlot Babylon) is that it appeals to the human soul (mind, will and emotions) but it does not touch the human spirit to transform it along the paths of righteousness and Christ-likeness.
Additionally, the false church appeals to the realm of the human soul in aesthetics, music, poetry, oratory and art all of which are legitimate in their ways, but it does not touch the human spirit. This is because it does not have the BLUE element, as there is nothing of the PURITY OF THE HEAVENLY in it (Revelation 18:12-13).
Revelation 18:12-13 (KJV)
the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
Furthermore, the false church mainly operates in the realm of the emotions and the intellect. It only uses fine language, motivation, poetry, tremendously loud music but the true church usually uses simple music which sometimes may be simple anointed songs, hymns and choruses (Colossians 3:16) which the soulish and aesthetically motivated believer will mostly despise.
Colossians 3:16 (KJV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
It is crucial to point out that this does not in anyway suggest that God’s people and His true church cannot have good music and employ fine language, but if its appeal is only in the realm of the soul, it is not from GOD.
The false church also “mainly targets the rich as a means of gaining wealth and influence” . Any church which does this is in error as the gospel is to be preached to both the poor and the rich (Matthew 11:15).
Matthew 11:15 (New American Standard Bible 1977)
the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.
And any attempt to use religion as a means of gaining wealth will ultimately make the church morph into a false church. Sadly, this is so prevalent in our contemporary culture because money is being worshipped as a god, even by the church. The culture preaches that once a thing makes money, it needs no further justifications, whether it is beneficial or harmful, moral or immoral.
The apostle John shows us clearly that “the source of this is spiritual because it comes from the corruption of the church” (Revelation 18:3).
Revelation 18:3 (The Passion Translation)
All the nations have drunk of the wine of her immoral passion, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and merchants of the earth have grown wealthy because of her power and luxury.”
However, the true church possesses the BLUE which is the heavenly and the spiritual and she does not operate at the realm of the soul. Sadly, multitudes of people in the false church are euphoric and excited about what she offers but they’re never transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and their spirits remain famished and dead. We can see a prevalence of this in large sections of the church in different parts of the world.
We are indeed living in perilous times! Hence, we should endeavour to seek God in prayer, and ask Him to give us a discerning heart to be able to distinguish the true church from the false as well as the soulish from the spiritual.