Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Revelation 17 - The Woman and the Beast

Last week we saw the 7 bowl judgments poured out upon the earth.  In chapter 16 the Tribulation is finished.  Chapter 17 goes back and fills in some of what has happened during the Tribulation and covers the specifics of when Babylon is destroyed.

One of the angels invited John to see how God would punish Babylon.  The angel called Babylon a great prostitute who sells her body for sex.  The kings of the earth committed adultery with her.  The inhabitants of earth were intoxicated with her adulteries. (Rev. 17:1-2).  Her beauty is only skin deep.  She many look good, but soon her evil will soon be reveled.  Someone who is drunk has no idea what they are doing.  This is like these kings.  They were so wrapped up in the wealth, greed and evil that they didn’t realize the magnitude of what they were doing.

When and how have you been intoxicated with desires of the world?

This prostitute is not a literal woman.  The woman is Babylon and may represent the city of Rome.  Babylon can be looked at as a world system that is against God or as the city of the Antichrist.  She turns good into evil.  She controls many rivers meaning many nations.  All the kings of the earth shared the trade and culture with her.  They desired wealth, luxury and false gods.  She caused the nations and people of earth to worship the beast.

John was taken by the Spirit into a desert where he saw a woman sitting on a red beast covered with blasphemous names and had 7 heads and 10 horns.  She is dressed in purple and adorned with beautiful expensive jewels on the outside, but inside she was anything but beautiful.  True beauty in found in Jesus alone.  She carried a golden cup filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.  On her head was written, “Mystery Babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and the abominations of the earth”Rev 17:5.  She was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. (Rev. 2-6)  She is a killer of believers.  She represents all who hate God, but someday will face His justice.

This golden cup could mean that all this evil and immorality of the world has been brought into the church.  The church was tolerating almost anything and everything.  They were watering down Jesus and God’s truth. 

We see that today.  We see some churches watering down Jesus and the gospel.  They are tolerating life styles and choices that God does not approve of, because they don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or because it’s the popular thing to do.  They say times have changed and we need to accept those changes.  I think they need to read the Bible to see what God says.

The beast is the Antichrist who was great enemy of Christ and God’s people.  The woman was drunk not with wine, but the blood of God’s people.  Babylon was responsible for the death of God’s people.  They died because they were loyal to Jesus.

The angel explains to John.  The beast we saw in chapter 14 is the Antichrist.  He was killed yet rose from the dead to deceive the people of the earth.  He is red like the red dragon, Satan.  He is full of blasphemous names against God.  The people of the earth whose names are not written in the book of life will worship the beast.  Scripture calls for us to be wise.  The 7 heads are mountains.  They are also 7 kings.  Five had fallen and one had not come yet.  Some believe the five fallen are Julius Caesar, Tiberius Caesar, Caligula, Claudius and Nero.  Domitian was alive in John’s day.  The 7th is the Antichrist, the coming leader revived from the Roman Empire.  He will also be the 8th and rule the entire world. (Rev. 17:9-11) 

How do you gain wisdom?  We gain wisdom by asking God for it.  We stay in His Word and Him to help you understand it.  Then we will be able to discern between a lie and the truth.  Stay in prayer.  Our faith will be strengthened and our trust in God will become stronger and stronger.

The description of the beast and the Lord is very different.  The beast once was, now is not, and yet will come and will be destroyed. (Rev. 17:10)  The Lord is and who was, and is to come.  He will live forever.  (Rev. 1:4; 8; and 4:8)  The beast is a counterfeit of Jesus.  The beast comes to destroy and Jesus came to save.  Jesus triumphed over Satan on the cross.  Satan’s final days will end to total destruction.

The 10 horns are the 10 kings.  They will receive authority as kings for 1 hour along with the beast.  Their purpose it to make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  With Him will be His chosen and faithful followers. (Rev. 17:12-14)

Then the angel said to John that the waters he saw where the prostitute (Babylon) sits are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.  The beast and the 10 horns will hate the prostitute and will bring her to ruin.  The beast seems to have used her for his purposes, but now he and the 10 kings will destroy her.  (Rev. 17:15-16)

“For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.”Rev. 17:17  This was God’s plan in order to punish Babylon.  God is in control and His plans will succeed, because He is the only real God.
We can see Babylon traits in the world today.  There is a cultural system that pulls people away to ungodliness.  It encourages sin, selfishness, tolerance of all things, greed, love of money and material things.  But remember, God will still achieve His purposes in the world.  He is sovereign and in control – and – He wins in the end!

What seductive influences are present in your life?
Do you let Jesus shape and influence your heart or are you captured by an intoxicating Babylon?

Principle:  God turned man’s evil into His beautiful purposes.

Jesus never sought power or authority, but lived as a servant and lived to glorify God.  True beauty is in Jesus.  His punishment on the cross for us brought us peace that is true beauty.
 Next week we will study Revelation 18.  Hope to see you here.

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