Who is the great harlot?

by Mike Ratliff

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” (Revelation 17:1-2 NASB)

John the Baptist was the one who was sent to make the way straight, to prepare the way for the one who was to come. Of course the one who was to come is our Lord Jesus Christ the long awaited Messiah of the Jews. Gabriel told Zechariah, the father of John, “he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb, and will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Of course he did that very thing and our Lord was born of a virgin soon after John.

John the Baptist called the Jews to repentance and obedience. His major focus was to call them out of the works based religion which the scribes and Pharisees had created. Their religion, while based within the Law of God, had not the spirit of the Law, but only the letter of it. The focus was not on knowing God through the Law, but on attempting to become acceptable to God via keeping the Law plus the thousands of other rules and regulations the scribes and Pharisees had piled up on top of it. Their religion was all performance with no mercy or grace. John’s message was to turn from this works based religion back to seeking the face of God with a penitent heart. When Jesus came and began his ministry those whom the Father had given the Son believed and followed Him. These had been prepared by the ministry of John. Even some of our Lord’s 12 Apostles were formerly John’s disciples.

Right now as you read this God is calling His people again to turn away from empty religion in brokenness and repentance to walk before Him with penitent hearts in full obedience. The Church in our time is very sick. Its leaders have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power. They minister perfunctorily and pragmatically which are fruits of unbelief. The Gospel presentation has become a set of steps followed by the rite of saying a sinner’s prayer. Jesus is presented as a wimp who would not dare rebuke anyone or violate their “Free Will.” Neither would he demand that His disciples must deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him. Lordship? What’s that? Christianity is seen as a set of add-on options that are all subject to choice. There is no teaching of the wrath of God or of sin or of Hell. Salvation is seen as a way to have Jesus come into your life so it will be better.

Of course, there are many forms of the “great harlot,” more than we can talk about here. But suffice it to say that any form of Christianity that is not totally bound to Christ as Lord who with the Father and Holy Spirit are Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Immutable and Omnipresent is not genuine, but is a prostituted version of it. Salvation is by Grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God. Any other teaching than Justification by Faith which is a gift from God is either works based or antinomian based and, therefore, part of the “great harlot.” Churches that exist for themselves or for the power and glory of the leaders are part of “great harlot.” Any form of Christianity that is not bound totally to the Glory of God Alone is part of the “great harlot.” Who is the “great harlot?”

3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, 5 and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “ BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” 6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly. (Revelation 17:3-6 NASB)

In Roman times, prostitutes wore a head band with their name on it. This “proudly” portrayed their debauchery. This “great harlot” wears a head band as well. We must remember that to God any form of religion that is counterfeit is akin to sexual infidelity in marriage. These churches that exist totally outside of true worship and service for His glory alone are spiritual prostitutes in God’s eyes. Those churches are run by leaders who have bought into the lie that Christianity is marketable or can be sold, or merchandised, or soft-sold, or peddled, or made into entertainment. They have prostituted their ministries by sacrificing the sheep in their care on the altar of self. Who needs God when we have a system that “works?”

Try standing against the tide of these abominations in a 21st Century church that has gone pragmatic and you will quickly find out what it is like to be excluded or run off, or cast out, ignored, and made a pariah. However, God is calling His saints to come out of the “great harlot.”

1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. 2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “ Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “ Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. 7 To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘ I sit as A queen and I am not A widow, and will never see mourning. ’ 8 For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. (Revelation 18:1-8 NASB)

That final call will come, but for now the way is being prepared for our Lord’s return. Those who “get it” and “see it” who have ears to hear and eyes to see recognize the “great harlot” and have come out or are coming out as the Lord draws them from darkness to light. The sins of the “great harlot” will only increase and fill up the cup of wrath God has for her. God’s people, however, should have nothing to do with these abominations, but should worship the Lord their God in spirit and in truth while obeying Him in all things, abiding in Christ and being Spirit-filled. They must stop seeing religion as the focal point of their relationship with God. Instead, it should be an expression of their living and growing faith.

The foundation of our Faith is Christ not some church building nor even the people in it nor the religious things that go on there. Churches that fear and honor God, follow the Bible rather than what men say, teach their sheep to work out their salvation with fear and trembling are not part of the “great harlot.” Those who are part of churches like that are truly blessed by God and should not neglect the gathering of the saints.

Before Jesus comes back, Elijah will return to prepare the way just as John the Baptist prepared the way for our Lord’s first coming. Elijah will come, however, God has awakened many of us right now to shine His light of rebuke into the “great harlot.” He is calling the Remnant out of her. The Great Apostasy appears to be upon us. The leaders within the “great harlot” have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power. These “fellows” call themselves Christians but deny the veracity of scripture. They contend that we are not Christlike because we rebuke them. They cry for unity at all costs. However, the spirit of Elijah listens to no man, but is subject only to the will and purpose of God. There will be no compromise. Jesus said offensive things directly to many people while He ministered on Earth as did John the Baptist and Elijah. We are called to proclaim the truth no matter who is offended by it. We fear God, not men. God is preparing to bring His Kingdom to fulfillment. When Elijah does come will the Lord’s return be far behind? Are these things coming to light at this time so God’s people can be prepared? Whatever God is doing, this message is the one I cannot get past, “Now is the time to repent, turn from sin, turn your hearts to God for forgiveness and cleansing, walk in repentance, abide in Christ, deny yourselves, take up your crosses and follow Jesus, and be Spirit-filled!”

Time is short. We are quickly approaching the time when seals will be broken, trumpets blown and bowls poured out. We must examine ourselves, asking God to show us what needs to be severed from our lives and what must be taken up. When Jesus does return, and He will, will He find faith on the Earth?

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “Who is the great harlot?

  1. Where do you get Elijah returning to prepare the way again? I have never heard that. He prepared the way as John the Baptist, but I haven’t know about a second time.


  2. Thanks for another great article. On another post, I said how my wife and I left two chuches because of contemplative prayer and false teacher issues. I also said that I have been hearing names of various false teachers being tossed about in the church we are presently attending. Well, this past Sunday the pastor announces from the pulpit a series that they are about to start from books and material written, here-it-comes…..a FALSE Teacher! It was like someone hit me in the chest. The name does not matter but a check of the old Ken Silva website (Apprising Ministries) quickly verified what I knew already. Following the announcement, I could not concentrate on the sermon at all. I personally believe the great blindness is already underway or at the very least we are seeing the beginning edge of it. I do know the time is short! I am praying about all of this but at this moment I don’t really know what to do nor do I know of any other church to go to within a reasonable driving distance that is not interlaced with apostacy. Why do they insist on running after junk with their itching ears? Why can’t they simply stick to the Bible? You could study the Bible for a hundred lifetimes and still not get it all. Yes, I know it is all happening exactly as prophesied in Scripture. I guess my biggest surprise is I never thought I would actually be alive to see all of these things unfold.


  3. Marion, Malachi (4:5-6) -> 5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”(Malachi 4:5-6 NASB)


  4. Mike: sorry, but I don’t read it like that. Malachi is a prophesy to the Jews and Elijah referred to is about John the Baptist.


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