THE GREAT HARLOT
Eventually, Babylon is called "the great harlot" (17:1) and "THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS" (v. 5). Out of her, many harlots were produced. She is the harlot-mother with her harlot-daughters. A harlot is a woman having contact with males without a governing principle. A proper wife is one who keeps the governing principle, which is the principle of one wife for one husband.
One day the Pharisees came to the Lord Jesus and tried to argue with Him about the matter of divorce. They told the Lord Jesus that Moses gave them permission to divorce their wives. But the Lord Jesus told them that Moses did this because of their hardness of heart, but it was not so in the beginning (Matt. 19:3-9). What is the recovery? The recovery means to go back to the beginning. You have to go back to Genesis 2 where there was only one wife for one husband. This is the governing principle without any confusion.
A woman with many men has no governing principle. Today she is with this man, and the next day she is with another man. This is confusion. In a sense, a number of Christians are like this. This month they are in a certain denomination. Two months later they will be in another denomination. They travel from denomination to denomination. This is confusion. There is no governing principle. Confusion causes division, and division produces confusion. Division and confusion are very close sisters. They always go together. This is the character of a harlot!
We have to see that there is only one Christ. There is only one church. There is only one Head. There is only one Body! Regardless of where we are, we must be in that unique church. The unique church may be likened to the one moon around the earth. The moon we see in Chicago is the same moon we see in Los Angeles. Just as the one moon appears in different localities, the one church appears in different localities, such as the church in Chicago and the church in Los Angeles. The church is locally and universally one.
According to the New Testament, there should be only one church for one city and one city with only one church (Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rev. 1:11). This is the governing principle of one wife with one husband. But the situation today is that of one woman with many men. This woman is Babylon, a harlot without a governing principle. Some people say that we are too narrow. But is it too narrow for a wife to have only one husband? We have to reject the principle of the harlot. A proper wife should always be narrow; she should have only one husband.
Some of you may say that you are meeting with the church because the church is full of life. But later you may decide to leave because you do not like some of the brothers. This is the principle of a harlot. She stays with one man because she likes him. Later, she finds someone she likes more and stays with him. Whether a wife likes her husband or not, he is still her husband. It is her destiny to always be with him. In the same way, whether you like the local church or not, you have no choice.
We need to see that Babylon is confusion out of division. The principle of Babylon is the principle of a harlot. In the eyes of the Lord, today’s Christianity is a great harlot. This is not my saying. This is the vision our brother John saw in the book of Revelation. When the Lord Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to call her husband, she said that she had no husband. Then He said that she spoke the truth, because she had had five husbands and the one she now had was not her husband. This describes a woman who is a harlot (John 4:16-18).
The Lord has opened our eyes, and we have seen the principle of oneness: one Head, one Body; one husband, one wife; one Christ, one church. Wherever we go, wherever we are, there is only one church. In a small village, there is one church; in the biggest city, there is also one church. When we get into the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth, there is still one church! There will be no more confusion, no more division.
We do admit that there are gold, precious stones, and pearls in Christianity. The cup is golden, and there are many vessels from the house of God. But these things are utilized by Babylon to make a show in order to appeal to the real Christians. Today’s Christianity appeals to the real Christians by all the outward gilding. But our eyes have to be open to see through the outward appearance to the real situation. We have to see that within the golden cup are many abominations with confusion, division, and idolatry. Babylon is a great mixture.
What shall we do? The Lord’s call in the book of Revelation is for His people to come out of her (Rev. 18:4)! In the eyes of God, Babylon is fallen (v. 2)! The whole Christianity today is the great Babylon in the principle of a harlot. We must obey the Lord’s call to come out of her.
(The Living and Practical Way to Enjoy Christ, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)