18 “And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.” NASB
The harlot is the symbolism of false religion. The term harlot is a metaphor for false religion, spiritual defection, idolatry, and religious apostasy. Besides Babylon, several cities in the scripture are designated as harlot cities because of their idolatry and pursuit of false religion. Nineveh (Nah 3:1,4), Tyre (Isa 23:15-17), and, even Jerusalem (Isa 1:21) are examples of cities that committed spiritual fornication.
The woman is the harlot which John saw earlier in this chapter, but not a woman per se, but the symbolism of false religion, which is also described as Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots.
The woman and the city of Babylon, are one and the same, both describing the components of prostitution and the seat of power, combined into a single policy of Satan’s, to rule the world. Both full of corruption and degeneracy, and the rejection of truth in all forms.
We have seen the development of Satan’s policy from over the ages, and in the next chapter we will see the utter failure it will have in the administration over the earth.
With religion, false religion to be sure, the sense of power is extremely strong. The do-gooders and social engineers perceive that they have a better way to run the world, than do tens of millions of individuals who run their own individual businesses.
And in the end, God will allow Satan to have his way, in running the world, and chapter 18 coming up, will describe the total failure of world economies as a result of Satan’s policies of false religion, the source of all human viewpoint and social reforms. Things that always sound good, but are not. And they are not good, because the system that tries to install them, is corrupt.
All buying and selling and production of every type, will cease to exist. That means extreme hardship, beyond what anyone of us could possibly imagine. There will be no power, no communication, no farming, no food, no clothing, no manufacturing, nothing.
And as a result, people will be crying crocodile tears because of what?
You might think that people will cry for God and enterprise to return, but no. They will cry for the harlot the social systems, the free lunch, if you will, and how they have lost it all, without any regard for why they lost it.
That will be the thinking, universal thinking throughout the world, unfortunately.