Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Revelation 17:6-14 The Beauty and the Beast

KEY TEXT: Revelation 17:6-14 When I saw her, I marveled greatly. But the angel said to me, "Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful."

KEY THOT: As John was marveling at the Woman, the Great Prostitute (KJV: Harlot), he was shown another creature upon whom the Great Prostitute was seated. And this beast "with seven heads and ten horns... carries her" (v.7). The seven heads apparently refer to a series of seven kings, "five of whom have fallen (dead), one is (still alive), the other has yet to come" (v.10). And the final and seventh king probably will arise in the end-time. But there will arise another king (eighth, v.11) who would then take over as the global Ruler in place of the seventh king. The ten kings would then submit to this new global Ruler who is none other than the Anti-Christ. This Anti-Christ would then make war against the church and the Lamb. But the Lamb who is the Lord of lords and King of kings who will return with his saints to destroy this evil alliance of anti-Christ nations.

Some bible scholars have suggested that the Great Prostitute (Mystery Babylon) may refer to an Apostate Church of the last days who rides on the political power of the Beast. The imagery of prostitution is often used to refer to God's people who have compromised with sin and the world. They may refer to Christians whose love have grown cold and have compromised by denying Christ because they are seduced by the power of the Beast: "And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast" (v.8).  This Apostate Church is not to be identified with any particular denomination as it will encompass all so-called Christians who have aligned themselves with the Anti-Christ.

The basic idea here is that we cannot love the world and love God at the same time. The Apostle John has warned believers in 1 John 2:15-17, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

We cannot wait until the appearance of the Anti-Christ to decide where we stand. We have to decide now to renounce the world and its deceptive seduction of pride, power and passions based on our material possessions. As stewards of God's riches, we must renounce all ownership to all that God has blessed us and to release them for His kingdom purpose. As stewards of God's gifts, we are to dispense them faithfully to further His kingdom and glorify His name.

There are two women mentioned in Revelation thus far. One is mentioned in Revelation 12:1, "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." This first woman is a picture of the Bride of Christ. She is aligned with the Lamb of God. The second woman is mentioned in this chapter as the Great Prostitute riding on the Beast: "And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns" (v.3). The second woman is aligned with the Beast, the Anti-Christ. The first woman is persecuted while the second woman is the persecutor: "And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (v.6).

So the real test is persecution: will you be the persecutor or persecuted of Christ? Jesus has said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). True believers will be persecuted. False believers will be persecuting. And those who are ready for persecution will be blessed. Those who are not ready for persecution will be cursed with the Beast, for "it goes to destruction" (v.11).

Abba-Father, You have said that those who will suffer persecution are blessed. Grant us the grace to be ready for suffering for Christ so that we may inherit the Kingdom of God. Amen.

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