Filmmakers don’t tell stories with words, though dialogue and narration are often included. Film is a visual medium, and one common visual device used by cinematographers is the zoom shot, which offers the viewer a different perspective.
The chapters we will study today and tomorrow give us a zoom shot that sheds more light on the judgment described in the previous chapter. In today’s chapter, John’s camera zooms out to help us grasp the wickedness of those who opposed the Lamb, describing Babylon the Great as a spiritual enemy. Tomorrow’s chapter examines Babylon as a cultural enemy.
The reference to Babylon is probably symbolic rather than geographic. Babylon had long opposed God’s people. In 586 B.C., the Babylonians conquered Judah, sacked Jerusalem, and carried its inhabitants into captivity. Babylon was also a nickname that some believers in the New Testament era used to refer to the city of Rome (cf. 1 Peter 5:13).
Some scholars conclude that Babylon the Great will be both a worldwide religious system and a political empire similar to that of Rome. As a religious system, Babylon the Great will blend spiritual adultery with worldly power. It will persecute those who follow Christ and put them to death. The chapters we have already studied show that all this will be carried out with the help of satanic miracles. For this reason we can link the Babylon of Revelation 17 to all the false teaching and false religion that preceded it. It will be the culmination of Satan’s enduring effort to deceive humanity and destroy God’s people. Many antichrists have already come, indicating the ongoing opposition to the Lord (1 John 2:18). In the same way, Babylon is already here.
The war against the Lamb is already in progress. It has been ever since Eden, where we got our first glimpse of the nature of the struggle and its eventual outcome. The Lord warned Satan: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).